“DRINK was downfall of sex-abuse former carer”.
This was the headline about a man found guilty of two counts of rape and one count of assault causing bodily harm. The woman he raped and abused, who suffers mobility and health issues, was his former partner.
Rape and abuse is his “downfall”? Really? That’s the headline about a man’s choice to commit sexual and domestic violence against a woman with disability issues?
Headlines like this tells the public that rape is primarily a problem for the perpetrator not the victim, and that the she is invisible and irrelevant.
This headline also tells people that his choice to commit rape and domestic violence wasn’t really his fault, it was the drink that made him do it.
The MEAA code of ethics says the purpose of journalism is to describe society to itself. When journalists describe sexual and domestic violence as a perpetrator’s “downfall” and blame it on something other than his choice to be violent, we are failing at our purpose.
Men’s violence against women is not caused by alcohol or a man’s downfall, it is caused by a power imbalance most commonly defined by gender.
Rape is not about sex, it is about power and control.
According to Women With Disabilities Australia, “women with disabilities are 40 per cent more likely to be the victims of domestic violence than women without disabilities, and more than 70 per cent of women with disabilities have been victims of violent sexual encounters at some time in their lives”.
None of these issues are recognisable in a headline that describes rape and domestic violence as a perpetrator’s downfall.
Sadly, this is all too common in media reporting of men’s violence against women and children.
A brief google search of news headlines over the last few days brings up five different stories about “child sex charges”. The Leader, Yahoo 7 News, the ABC, The West Australian and The Newcastle Herald. Some of these cases haven’t been to court yet, so the guilt or innocence of the accused has yet to be determined, but the description of the charges against them is deeply troubling. Sex requires consent and children cannot give consent, so any sexual interaction with a child cannot be described as sex. It’s rape, sexual abuse or child abuse.
The influence of headlines like this should never be underestimated. Even if the body of the article provide more details and context, around 60 per cent of people will never read beyond the headline. People who see these headlines may not pay a great deal of attention or think very deeply about them, but the insidious message that violent men are not responsible for the actions still seeps in.
Responsible, ethical reporting of men’s violence against women requires an understanding of the broader context and a willingness to report without sensationalism. And it is possible to do in a way that is both respectful of victims and attractive to audiences. The Guardian recently published an article about the murder of Claire Hart and her daughter Charlotte. Claire’s two surviving children, Ryan and Luke, spoke bluntly about the way the media ignored their father’s controlling behaviour prior to the murders and made excuses for the killings afterwards.
Again, this is a common approach to men who murder their partners.
In May this year Greg Floyd shot and killed his partner, Orla Holt. Almost every news outlet in the country included some commentary on how “nice” Floyd was.
The ABC: John Suta said like the rest of Wangaratta, he was shocked by the tragedy. “He seemed to me to be a decent young fellow, who worked hard in order to protect and feed his family,” he said.
The Herald Sun: (quoting Floyd’s sister) “Everyone will tell you he was an excellent person, there wasn’t a bad bone in his body.”
News.com.au: A former neighbour said there had never been signs of trouble at the property. “They’re pretty good people,” he said.
Kidspot: “The family have been described as loving and normal. Neighbours say they had never even heard Floyd yell at his kids.”
The Age: “They were very nice people.”
Floyd chased his partner and their four children to a neighbour’s house with a loaded gun. The children managed to escape, but he shot and killed Orla Holt, who was a person, a woman, his partner and the mother of his children.
His family and neighbours may not have recognised violence in him or his relationship, but that is not the story. The story we should be reporting is that Greg Floyd killed his partner and this happens, on average, once every week in Australia.
Journalists have a responsibility to their audience and the society that depends on them for information and truth.
The Our Watch Awards for exemplary reporting to end violence against women is not just about recognising the work of journalists who shine a light into Australia’s dark corners. The awards also highlight the victim blaming, invisible perpetrators and dangerous gender stereotypes that are still all too prevalent in media reporting of men’s violence against women.
We know attitudes and behaviours grounded in gender inequality drive violence against women, and the media has a strong role to play in changing these attitudes.
The thousands of women, children and men who suffer from men’s violence deserve far better than they get from the profession that exists to tell the truth about our society.
This article was written by Jane Gilmore who is a journalist and author of #fixedit — a website fixing media reports of male violence against women. This article is an excerpt of her TedX talk in Sydney on Thursday last week and has been copied from here.
It's never ok - the children of Ravenswood Heights Primary School in Tasmania teach a wonderful lesson saying NO to Family Violence: It's Never OK
A group of schools in Darwin's northern suburbs are working together to teach their students about domestic and family violence by flipping the topic on its head.
Instead of focusing on what an abusive and violent relationship might look like, schools in the Sanderson Alliance teach their students the importance of self-respect and what defines a healthy relationship.
After recognising the prevalence of domestic and family violence in the broader Darwin community, the schools in the alliance chose to focus specifically on how they could help their students who might be dealing with violence at home.
What is the Sanderson Alliance?The Sanderson Alliance is a group of educators, service providers, philanthropists and government agencies in the suburbs of Anula, Wulagi, Malak and Karama whose goal is to work collectively on the ethos that children have "a right to be safe and cared for".
Susan Kilgour is the principal of Wulagi Primary school, part of the alliance, and said the goal was to "address social and complex issues that no single organisation or family [could] improve on their own".
"We try to know and notice that we can't do it on our own, we can't do it alone," she said.
Karen Cieri from the alliance said choosing to focus on domestic violence as a community issue was a collaborative decision.
"We had to find a place to start and so the idea was we were going to do a 100-day challenge on an issue that we all agreed was important to all of us," she said.
"For 100 days we would have some impact on that issue, that in doing so we would learn something about that issue and we would learn something about how to work together."
Ms Kilgour said the program gave her the courage to acknowledge that they were looking at domestic violence statistics.
"We were looking at that as an impact on children and we flipped it to talk about positive relationships," she said.
"But under that flip was domestic violence and disrespectful relationships and people hurting people."
Students were also given the opportunity to express themes taught at school at an art exhibition by the alliance held in May.
What do the schools teach?For Wulagi Primary School students, education focuses on instilling self-respect and self-awareness.
Their programs Rock and Water, for younger years, and Blue Earth, for older years, teach those values through literature, roleplay and games.
"[They] unpack and explore the values of respect, resilience and persistence," Ms Kilgour said.
Liz Veel is the principal of Sanderson Middle School and said the focus on positive relationships continued once children left primary school.
"Building on the foundations year after year and strengthening on already existing strengths is a very important part," she said.
"In that aspect it's very important for the primary schools and the middle schools to align what they're doing in those approaches.
"That's part of the responsibility of the Sanderson Alliance."
Ms Veel said once students reached Year 9 they took part in a course by the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) called Love Bites.
"The focus is really on promoting positive relationships in many ways, not just your thinking but also through behavioural change," she said.
The Northern Territory manager of NAPCAN, Lesley Taylor, said Love Bites also taught students the signs of an unhealthy relationship.
"They need to talk about what's going wrong in relationships ... so that young people can see when their friends are entering into or engaging in unhealthy behaviours in their relationships and can take action and support them."
Has it worked?While the way students disclose violence differs, Ms Kilgour and Ms Veel agreed that having the confidence and knowledge helped children come forward.
"As opposed to early childhood and primary, middle-year children mainly confide in each other way before they'll tell an adult," Ms Veel said.
"They're then connected to an adult in the school that they can tell."
She said in particular the number of older students raising issues increased after they undertook the Love Bites program.
"Our counsellor's workload rises over that time because students become empowered with the language to verbalise what they're thinking and feeling," Ms Veel said.
Given the ages of students at Wulagi Primary School, Ms Kilgour said their disclosures were usually to teachers or other staff.
Ms Kilgour said having such a strong emphasis on self-respect and self-care was "a way of giving [students] permission" to come forward.
"Which then brings in some of the disclosures and our teachers are trained in protective behaviours so they know what they're listening for and know what to do".
Written by Georgia Hitch and published at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-09/domestic-violence-education-being-flipped-on-its-head-in-darwin/8601670
This doesn't make for comfortable viewing. Although that said, nothing about domestic violence is comfortable. It's a shameful, hidden problem that exists throughout Australian society and around the world. That shame is palpable through both Jerry and Worrell, two men who admit to using violence in their homes -- be it physical, psychological or emotional. But they're also two men who have been through men's behaviour change programs and want to share their experience to help other men recognise and stop their own abusive behaviour.
By Emily Verdouw published at Huffington Post
Watch the video at http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/05/29/an-uncomfortable-conversation-with-two-men-who-abused-their-part_a_22115530/
A DOMESTIC violence victim who was “unable to force” her distressed children to attend school has been convicted and fined after being prosecuted by authorities to “send a message to the community”.
The 57-year-old Greenacres mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Thursday to 10 counts of failing to send her children – aged 13 and 15 – to school.
The Education Department elected to prosecute after her son did not attend a north-eastern suburbs primary school between July and August last year, and her daughter failed to go to her high school in September and October.
A department spokesman said the children did not attend school for about 100 days.
But the case has angered SA domestic violence advocate Arman Abrahimzadeh, who says the real perpetrator in the case was the children’s father.
The Zahra Foundation co-founder — whose mother Zahra was killed by her husband in 2010 — said if the mother was not subjected to violence, her children may not have missed school.
“The perpetrator is a significant person in this court case and they are missing (from the proceedings),” he said. “Where is the perpetrator to take at least half of that punishment?”
Magistrate Elizabeth Sheppard read a letter in court written by the mother, who wrote that she knew education was important.
“You say you had gone through a breakdown of a relationship with the children’s father ... characterised by domestic violence, which the children have witnessed,” she said.
“You believe the children have suffered because of that – both refusing to attend school at times. The stress of forcing the children to attend school ... overwhelmed you, so you allowed them to stay home.”
The department’s lawyer acknowledged that the mother was a domestic violence victim, suffered from mental health issues and struggled financially.
“(But) there should be a conviction recorded — a message needs to be sent to the community of the importance of making every effort possible to make sure children attend school,” he said.
He said the department had offered the mother counselling, transport and support to help her keep the children in school, especially given her son was struggling.
“It’s very difficult for the child to get the help he needs (if he’s not in school),” he said.
“It’s understandable you’re struggling to cope (but) there were resources available to help you.”
When imposing the conviction, which was the “most significant part of the penalty”, judge Sheppard said a message needed to be sent to ensure parents in difficult situations were not neglecting their children by keeping them from school.
She imposed a $300 fine and victims of crimes levies.
The Andrews Labor Government today launched the next step to build a state free from violence, with the release of a Primary Prevention Strategy as part of the Family Violence Rolling Action Plan.
Free from Violence: Victoria’s Strategy to Prevent Family Violence and All Forms of Violence Against Women sets out the path for all Victorians to experience equality and respect in their homes, workplaces and communities.
The Royal Commission recognised the need for a state-wide Primary Prevention Strategy to address the attitudes and behaviours that lead to violence in the home.
Free from Violence takes a world-leading approach to changing the attitudes and behaviours that lead to family violence, and stops the violence from occurring in the first place. An initial investment of $38.7 million has been provided to support its implementation.
The Strategy will be supported by the establishment of a dedicated Prevention Agency to drive focus on prevention over the long-term.
With a further investment of $12 million in the Victorian Budget 2017/18, the Prevention Agency will develop, support and coordinate prevention initiatives across the state.
The Strategy was developed in close consultation with victim-survivors, prevention experts and family violence service providers and in conjunction with the Rolling Action Plan to drive family violence reform.
The Strategy can be found at www.vic.gov.au/familyviolence/prevention-strategy
Quote attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“Any form of violence against women in unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We have to change the behaviours of all people who resort to violence and make Victoria a safer place for everyone.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Women Fiona Richardson
“Free from Violence is our plan for creating a safer Victoria and the dedicated Prevention Agency will ensure we focus on preventing violence before it begins.”
“Changing behaviour will not happen overnight. This Strategy will look beyond the usual whims of electoral budget cycles.”
“What TAC has done for road accidents we want the Prevention Agency to do for family violence. By ensuring long-term behavioural change campaigns, we can change the attitudes and behaviours that lead to family violence in Victoria.”
From the Media Release which can be downloaded from here.
Finally a parliamentary inquiry into a better family law system to support and protect those impacted by domestic violence including children.
If you know someone who has been impacted by the family court following domestic violence, share this email and help them to find their voice to make a public statement or complete the questionnaire for a better family court system.
Together we can create a better, more efficient system that protects vulnerable people. Kyhesha-Lee’s case was a criminal case, however we must take action at every level of law to protect children therefore the family law system extremely relevant.
Stand together to demand a system that protects children, rather than treats child abuse with suspicion and disregard. Perhaps if Kyhesha-Lee’s mother felt there was a better system to support Kyhesha-Lee she would have taken action, perhaps other family members would have stepped in, sadly we will never know. What we do know is that safety starts with getting the judicial system right by taking domestic violence seriously.
Link to video to explain the parliamentary inquiry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=gQSuZNrKAeI&app=desktop
Link to the parliamentary inquiry:
Link to parliamentary inquiry questionnaire:
Link to place to make your community statement:
In 2015, Australia was rocked by another horrifying crime of intimate partner violence when Gold Coast man Lionel Patea brutally murdered his ex-partner, Tara Brown. Brown had just dropped the pair's daughter off at childcare when Patea chased her down in his car, ran her vehicle off the road and – while she was trapped in the upturned wreckage – proceeded to viciously beat her with a metal plate. Brown was taken to hospital with six skull and face fractures and died 24 hours later. She was only 24 years old.
Last week, Patea pleaded guilty to murder on the first day his trial. He has been sentenced to life in prison. It seems like a fairly open and shut case, sadly reflective of the state of affairs in which men's violence against women in Australia results in the murder of at least one woman weekly. And yet, in a reprehensible letter intended for Brown's family, Patea wrote "The questions that haunts us all (is) how such a tragedy like this could ever have happened."
Patea could offer no answers except to say, "I can't clarify it for myself either."
How can a person accept responsibility for a crime in which they knowingly slaughtered not just another human being but someone with whom they shared a child and yet still wonder how a "tragedy" like this could have occurred?
This is not accepting responsibility or ownership – this is recognising that the evidence mounted against you (which included CCTV footage) is so comprehensive that a court could have no option but to find you guilty and attempting to negotiate a lower sentence by avoiding a drawn-out fight. In refusing to accept real responsibility for his actions, Patea is only further exercising the control over Tara Brown that he expressed in the days and months before he chose to kill her.Tara Brown's death was not a "tragedy" in the way Patea is attempting to frame it. This was a deliberate, horrific act of violence that formed the deadly culmination of increasing abuse perpetrated by Patea against Brown. I can tell him exactly how and why it happened – because no matter how much awareness we raise and feminist action we mount against family and intimate partner violence, there are still not enough people paying attention, and responses from law enforcement and the justice system are still not good enough.
Until we take a sustained and committed approach as a community, men like him will continue to terrorise women whose bodies, hearts and minds they think are theirs to pour their anger and entitlement into.
How could Brown's life have been spared the brutal anger of Patea? Being taken seriously by the police might have been a good start. According to Natalie Hinton, Brown's mother, Brown went to the police in the days preceding her murder to apply for a domestic violence order. It was ultimately granted, but not before officers probed her about why she hadn't come immediately following the incident (unnamed in news reports) that had led to her filing for an intervention order.
Some members of the public might ask the same thing. Others still might be tempted to judge this young woman and others like her for "getting involved" with someone like Patea in the first place. Blaming women for the abuse men inflict on them is not unusual and "why doesn't she just leave" remains a common refrain. But Brown, like so many other women murdered by men in this country, was trying to leave when Patea chased her down and beat her to death.
Rosie Batty had left her violent ex-partner and he murdered their son in an act of revenge. At only 16 years old, Anj Barker broke up with her abusive boyfriend and he retaliated by beating her so brutally that it took her five years to learn to speak again. She now lives with a permanent brain injury.
In fact, it's in the period immediately after leaving a violent relationship that women are most at risk of being killed by their ex-partners. And given abusive people don't tend to reveal that side of themselves to people they become intimate with straight away and certainly not all at once, it's plain ignorance to suggest that any of the blame should lie with the victims.
Men like Patea rely on the public's ignorance about these matters to continue perpetrating violence against their partners and family members. They rely on the normalisation of violence to slip beneath the radar. They are bolstered and protected by the false sense many people have that their friends, their colleagues, their family members couldn't possibly be guilty of this kind of behaviour.
And what this subtle acceptance of a broader view of women tells men like Lionel Patea is that their actions aren't really that bad. That they just lose their temper. That they would be able to keep it under control if she didn't provoke him so badly. If she just kept her place.
But in the end, the simple answer to Patea's pretense at confusion is that Tara Brown wasn't taken from this world and her family because of an unnamed "tragedy", nor are the circumstances around her murder unexplainable or mysterious.
Tara Brown is gone because Lionel Patea murdered her in an act of revenge for her leaving him. She is gone because a man took her life away from her rather than let her take herself away from him. Her final hours were full of terror, pain and anguish, and she leaves behind a 4-year-old daughter who will forever live with the knowledge that her father murdered her mother.
The real tragedy of it all is that this story, so heinous, so horrible and so difficult to accept, was one of more than 80 murders of women in 2015 alone, many of which were under far too similar circumstances. In 2017, the number is rising again.
A woman has escaped serious injury after a man tried to set her on fire in far north Queensland.
Police say the woman, aged in her 60s, suffered non-life threatening injuries after a 67-year-old man poured an accelerant next to her and lit a fire at a home in Cairns around 6.30pm on Sunday.
The woman was taken to Cairns hospital for treatment while the man has been charged with attempting to maim and endangering property by fire.
He will face Cairns Magistrates Court on Monday.
The pair are known to each other.
A Victorian man who bashed his wife because she wouldn't get an abortion has been given a good behaviour bond, but no jail time.
The 31-year-old from Brunswick, who cannot be named, allegedly hit his wife of three years, three times the morning after she announced she was pregnant with their first child.
The man had pleaded to the Melbourne Magistrates Court to be spared conviction because he could lose his visa and his job.
On Thursday, Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt acknowledged a conviction would carry a greater burden for him than other members of the community, given his migration status and job prospects.
He handed the man a one-year good behaviour bond and ordered him to continue behaviour change counselling. He also fined him $1000 without conviction on the assault related charges.
"Since this matter was last before the court you've done what you were required to, to better manage your behaviour toward your former partner and hopefully other members of the community," Mr Kledstadt said.
Police said on August 7 last year, the woman revealed she was pregnant and her husband said he didn't want the baby, then demanded she have an abortion.
She said she wanted to keep the child.
The next morning, the man called his wife into their bedroom and again demanded she abort the baby.
She refused and he became enraged. He struck her across the face, causing her spectacles to break, according to police.
It is alleged she then said, "Why did you hit me again?" and he hit her again in the same place.
She began screaming for help so he struck her a third time, this time causing her to become dizzy.
He told her to lower her voice so people wouldn't hear, police say.
When she went to the police station, he followed her, apologising via text message and asking her not to report it, the court previously heard.