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Listening Tour Diary

Zero tolerance on violence against women – ACT Listening Tour – 5 February 2008

What a great turnout for our public consultation in Canberra! Thank you to the ACT Human Rights Commission for co-hosting the event.

Many women related to Margaret’s story and we heard about some innovative seminars with young women to build financial literacy skills.

Once again we heard about the policy and practice mismatch where flexible work policies exist but the workplace culture is a barrier to their uptake. This tells me that we need to seriously think about how we get that critical mass to make flexible work mainstream.

Carers ACT has devised an “Employee Carers Program” to assist both employees and employers to extend their thinking around flexibility. They act as an intermediary in the discussion about how a job might be redesigned for a flexible work arrangement. They bring with them a knowledge of other workplaces which assists employees and employers to think creatively. The program has been very successful and with only two caseworkers there is much unmet demand.

In the consultation, there was a strong view that gender equality needs to be given greater prominence in the public arena. Participants agreed that discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence were part of a continuum of gender related violence in our society. For example, we were asked why there has been a strong zero tolerance approach to racism on the sporting field, and yet a much less clear position when it came to overt sexism and sexual harassment in sport?

Do you think that sex-based discrimination and harassment are part of a continuum of violence against women?



  1. Anonymous Said,

    February 11, 2008 @ 10:39 am

    Why isn’t this called zero tolerance on violence against men and women???

    Is somehow female violence regarded as being less of a problem than male?

    Isn’t it about time that the act of violence is acted upon, instead of making everything a gender issue?

  2. Luke Said,

    February 11, 2008 @ 4:20 pm

    In relation to a point made above; gender equality (or gender sameness) definitely needs to be given greater prominence in the public arena. It is inequitable that men make up in excess of 85% of work related deaths and injuries and constitute the same percentage of the workforce in 24 out of 25 of the most hazardous jobs.

    In regards to another point; unfortunately we still deal with social problems such as violence, sexual assault, discrimination and harassment as gender issues. This clouds our perception of the underlying causes for these issues which then prohibits us from dealing with them comprehensively and preventing them from occurring in the future. An example is the industrialisation of domestic violence which does not acknowledege or provide support for male victims or female perpetrators.

    When we look at social problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, excessive gambling, violence and even behavioural issues such as physical inactivity and poor eating, in the context within which they occur, we can see that at the core of all of these issues is social and economic disadvantage. When we ignore this fact, minimise it or merely focus on gender’s involvement we cannot expect to address the problem adequately. A case in point here is the national “Violence against women; Australia says no” campaign. This is obviously sexist as it ignore two thirds of the victims of violence in Australia (ie men). It also implies that women are only ever victims of violence at the hands of men; this is not true as almost a third of the violence women experience is perpetrated by other women. When we acknowledge that harmful social problems are related to low socio-economic status and social marginalisation we can begin to address them.

  3. Anonymous Said,

    February 20, 2008 @ 10:15 am

    Luke, what makes you believe the facts are ignored?

    Do you really think that the Commissioner is NOT aware of all the dubious reporting practices and what is going on?

    Good thing is, I never have been a discriminatory person what so ever, gender, race, religion. I have never judged a person on these characteristics in my life. So I’m pretty well a gender neutral person. For the life of me, I will never comprehend people, male or female, who will go through almost their entire life promoting such silly things as triviallising or covering up violence, abuse based on gender.

    Things truly are really simple. If something by law constitutes violence or abuse, then what is actually the point in trying to make gender an issue and if you try to trivialise or make differentations based on gender, than in my honest opinion, yo’re nothing more than an extremist.

    And extremists, no matter what their “cause” is, always have more in common than differences.

    I’m dealing with my daughters being alienated, but I’m living in South Australia, where the only guideline in this abuse and known to authorities is Maternal Alienation.

    The author, Anne Morris, claims she “discovered” an new phenonoma in violence towards women and children. You will check a bit further on this person and you will find, she discovered nothing new at all, maternal is all based on Parental Alienation. You will find Maternal became into existence because Morris doesn’t like gende equallity and doesn’t like the fact that fathers can use this in court.

    So they discredit Parental for the mere reason it is gender neutral, call it Maternal and suddenly the same type of abuse becomes an horrible form of violence towards women and children.

    So anyone with even the remotest sense of justice would query something like that.

    You can bet your bottom dollar, if it was some extremist male version floating aound and this was called Paternal Alienation, the entire femisnist movement would be screaming out loud that this is discrimination, including the commissioner and rightly so. But now it is the other way, the silence is deafening.

    I have literally eing recommended and advised to bring this to the attention of Child Abuse by a FamiliesSA social worker (female)

    Child Abuse simply says, how do you know it is STILL happening. I said because FamiliesSA recommended me to contact you and havent seen my girls for more than a year.

    But this operator went on about STILL, so I asked her if she was prepared to repeat her comment of still in court, because I reported this to Child Abuse before.

    Her answer was ” are you threatening me”

    I sincerely do not understand people who play gender games with childrens safety.

    There is no equallity under law, because people don’t want equallity under law, even at the expense of childrens safety

    The gender issue and statistics are more important to them

  4. Fin Said,

    February 23, 2008 @ 9:18 am

    Inadequate whistleblower protection and other systemic issues mean that workplace harassment and violence (physical and psychological), often perpetrated by serial ‘offenders’, can be allowed to continue unchecked. Unfortunately, what seem to be innocent victims of harassment and assault in the same workplace become a mere ’sideshow’ in the more ’serious’ game of investigating bribes. Systems, including law enforcement and HR/internal audit systems, that are more interested in financial crimes, ignoring the much more devastating human cost of workplace harrassment, intimidation, bullying and violence are among factors that allow these abuses of power to go unchecked and the behaviours to escalate.

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