From: Geoff Holland Sent: Friday, 27 April 2007 11:50 PMTo: Cairns Electorate OfficeSubject: Qld Govt Domestic Violence campaign
Minister for Child Safety
I would like to congratulate you on your recent comments about child abuse, to the effect that women's role in child abuse has been largely overlooked while the focus has been on men's role in child abuse.
I therefore forward a letter to you (please see below) that recently came my way, for your consideration.
I am not out to villify women. Nor am I attempting to diminish the urgency and seriousness of Domestic Violence (though indicators tentatively suggest a general trend for the better).
However, there is a clear distortion of the reality concerning Domestic Violence in society, and the Queensland Govt. must share some responsibility for this in funding the recent Domestic Violence campaign which shows that all victims of Domestic Violence are women and all perpetrators are men.
The campaign is a blame game. Men are to blame for Domestic Violence. This only serves to heighten fear and to reduce men's self-esteem. Reducing self-esteem in the long run is a sure fire way to get the worst behaviour from people. The whole approach is fundamentally flawed. Domestic Violence must be seen as a Community Problem !
There are many forms of Domestic Violence - men against women, women against men, women and men against each other (the most common form), women against women, men against men, men against children, women against children, children against children, children against parents etc. Why single out one form of Domestic Violence, and in a discriminatory way ?
A friend of mine recently complained to the Advertising Standards Board regarding the latest State Govt. Domestic Violence campaign. They wrote back stating that their client, the Qld Dept. of Communities, had based the advertisements (women 100% victims, men 100% perpetrators) on a study by Access Economics which demonstrated that the figures were in fact 98% which was close enough to 100%. This is absurd ! This is deceiptful ! I know the Access Economics Report. They were obliged to publish a corrigenum. Also, they never conducted the study, they merely drew from a study which was commissioned by Brisbane City Council and was hopelessly flawed. Why use an obscure study anyway ? Why not use the ABS Personal Safety Study ?
Just over two years ago I was advised to accept a Domestic Violence Order without admission of guilt. This was the advice from the Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Centre since they said it would be impossible for me to overturn the charge (though I had not physically assaulted anybody, nor threatened to, not even verbally abused anybody - it was a total sham in the context of a Family Court case). The case was never investigated. The police never asked me what happened (or rather, what didn't happen). I regret following the advice of the Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Centre. Following the hearing I wrote an eight page letter to the judge. She refered me to my State member. I believe I contacted you at the time.
I could continue ad nauseum. Suffice to say, I hope you have enough critical awareness to reevaluate the situation for yourself, and enough courage to advocate a different policy direction should you feel the status quo is seriously flawed and counterproductive.
Desley, I would appreciate at least a brief acknowledgement from you that you have personally received this e-mail.
In the interests of a fair and GENUINE approach to the issues of Domestic Violence in both Australia and internationally, and in response to the Government Task Force dealing with DV in women and children it is undeniably essential that the matter be considered at its true face value.
The ABS Personal Safety Survey 2005 (PSS), http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4906.02005%20(Reissue)?OpenDocument, provides some disturbing accuracy in its statistics regarding the occurence of DV across a variety of populations of which I Mr Andresen has made you well aware.
The http://www.monash.edu.au/pubs/eureka/Eureka_95/domviol.html "Men also hit by domestic violence", shows clearly that Men make up almost one-third of all domestic violence cases that result in hospitalisation, according to a Monash University study. The study looked at 53,320 cases of "partner-inflicted injuries" at the emergency departments of four Melbourne hospitals and one regional Victorian public hospital. And according to the report, Domestic Violence: Patterns and Indicators, social and cultural factors such as men's reluctance to report their abuse indicate the rate may be even higher. While women are injured more often than men, men who are assaulted by their female partners sustain more serious injuries and spend more time in hospital. The report indicates that men were lacerated or punctured by knives far more frequently than women, especially to the head and arms,"
It should be noted at this time that patients with Acquired Brain Injury resulting in permanent institutional care are only recorded as DV victims if they are women. It is considered politically uncomfortable to place this diagnosis on the greater proportion of these victims who are male victims of violent female partners. These men are simply labelled "assualt victims" and are not protected from visits from their assailants as are female DV victims in the same care facility just as they are not compensated for the loss of their lives.
However, the report found that up to 70 per cent of domestic violence victims went undetected by hospital emergency departments in Victoria. And only 11 per cent of those detected were referred on to an appropriate domestic violence service.
Such reports as the Monash University study are not uncommon as researchers initiate Genuine Efforts to ascertain the impact of this social issue across all demographics with no underlying group skewing the outcomes and results to meet a personal or group agenda. All such reports indicate the concern that men consistently underreport themselves as Domestic Violence victims. Health care providers, Family and Community workers, Religious Groups, Shelters, Housing services, Police forces and Law Courts are notoriously ineffective in identifying Domestic Violence as a whole, but this situation is worsened by notably deficient education on the matter and distortion of information on DV sources, victims and related victims (particularly significant others and children).
The Domino effect of this mishandling becomes more and more evident the the depreciation of societal values, increasing DV rates, Street violence, drug use, suicide rates, mental illness and crimes of emotion that we see today.
Whilst I understand that the subject is an emotionally and societally uncomfortable one, it is nonetheless very real. Whilst the true data on DV raises some very disturbing trends and and acceptance of the facts raises by default the moral and ethical obligation to take action in a potentially politically inflammatory vessel, the failure to do so fails an enourmous proportion of the voting population and even more future voters.
Please remember that, as a country of 2.2 children per couple, there are a great deal many more children affected than there are either male of female victims. Why are they blatantly neglected?
Why does a man calling the police as a DV victim get brushed off, even arrested, told "slap her one and wise her up", or referred to "anger management counselling"?
Why does a man removing his children from such a situation get branded and treated as a kidnapper?
Why does a man calling a shelter for he and his children get turned away and referred to "anger management counselling"?
Why does a man presenting in family court seeking the custody and therefore safety of his children from a violent mother get ignored, his children placed in the custody of their violent mother, and behold the father is then referred to "anger management counselling"?
Why does a man presenting at a religious shelter suffer immediate separation from his children, traumatised by their violent mother, to be placed in the care of a woman, "as a father is not able to nurture!!", and then the father referred to "anger management counselling"?
Why is a man calling VAWA treated with contempt and provided with, lo and behold, provided with a referral to anger management counselling.
Why is a man presenting to a trained psychologist (at his own expense of course) for support and coping strategies, informed that he must "learn to manage his anger".
Why do housing services refuse to provide emergency housing to men and their children fleeing a violent situation?
Why do women have the highly funded VAWA, television advertising, health centres, CYWHS, shelters, Women focussed support services in SAPOL, Family Court, Religious groups, housing services?
Why does a woman contacting police as a DV victim get immediate attention, protection and is not required to provide any evidence of DV although her partner may be in the same home, injured from her beating.
Why does a woman running from a DV partner receive full supports from Centrelink, Housing Services, Police, Courts?
Why does a woman attending a shelter receive this care, or get referred on to other shelters/safe houses where places are limited?
Why does a woman in family court (where over 70% of DV claims by women are known to be falisified), succeed in alienating her chidlren from a loving and supportive father, despite the provision of substantial and irrefutable evidence of her unprovoked violence?
Why does a womea presenting at a shelter after leaving the family home remain with her children in her care? Why is she instructed to claim DV even where she emphatically denies its existance so that the shelter can obtain funding for her placement?
Why is a woman calling VAWA or other DV services treated with respect, consideration and care and provided with all available references, supports and services?
Why is a woman attending counselling services provided an ongoing outlet, at taxpayers expense? (and if necessary guidance in falsifying DV claims to maintain child custody and alienate a father)???
Why is a woman able to obtain emergency housing for herself and her children, trust housing, financial support and guidance, and why is she advised to claim DV in order to expidite the process?
Why does Violence Against Women exist? Why not Violence Against Humans, Violence against People, Violence against Population, Violence against Children? Why this grossly irresponsible discrimination? Why this blatant determination to support an exacerbate a dysfunctional mien and service?
Mrs Keryn Eden
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Mobile: 0416 028 497
Qld Minister for Child Safety
Thankyou Desley, I appreciate your interest. I hope you have an opportunity to suggest a more enlightened approach to reducing Domestic Violence in the community in the future.
Perhaps we could have a balanced campaign - for example one which depicted a female public figure (eg singer, sports personality) speaking to women to refrain from violence, and a similar male public figure speaking to men to refrain from violence ?
Perhaps we could look at how children suffer both directly and indirectly from Domestic Violence ?
Since verbal abuse and psychological violence are grounds for a Domestic Violence Order (rightly so - provided allegations can be substantiated), then we should perhaps also look at non-physical forms of violence in future Domestic Violence campaigns.
I think that we should also acknowledge that things have improved - eg give some statistics - but then remind ourselves that we have a long way to go before we become a truly non-violent society... The message should always, in my view, contain a positive element (eg at least show families that have been able to work through and overcome Domestic Violence). The Qld State and Federal Domestic Violence Campaigns that I have seen have been 100% negative. I believe it shows a lack of understanding of human psychology and how best to influence behaviour patterns. (Yes, the same can be said for speed-driving and anti-smoking campaigns).
Perhaps you are able to forward these suggestions to relevant people in the Dept of Community Services ?
From: Cairns Electorate Office
To: Geoff Holland
Sent: Saturday, April 28, 2007 12:08 PM
Subject: RE: Qld Govt Domestic Violence campaign
Geoff, thank you for y our letter. I agree we have a long way to go to get a fairer system wherein any violence, and most particularly in the home, is not acceptable. Regards, Desley.
Desley Boyle MP Member for Cairns Ph 4051-2868 / Fax 4051-6760