Friday, 25 January 2013

What's with the Hate?

As a parent of a child with a Disability and a child who is Gay*, I have had to learn to look at life from a different perspective. I now try to incorporate a little bit of love and understanding into everything I see, hear and learn. So, what's with all the hate in our society?

It will probably be difficult for you to believe that I was  ...  a teenager once. Yeah right! I hear you cry ... alas, it is true.

I was angry, I hated my parents, I just wanted to leave school, I only wanted to speak real words with my friends and grunted at adults, I knew everything (wish I had written it down) and, I called a spade a spade! ONLY, because I was ALWAYS right; which happens when you know everything! Right?

I had time for only those that I considered friends (which, when you are a teenager, is any friend who is speaking to you on that particular day) and, as I was a bit of a social butterfly, I had many passing conversations with just about anyone, so I had many "friends".

Which is why, when I organised a school reunion some 20 years later, I was surprised to find out how many people I went to school with who actually had life long illnesses, family tragedies, different sexual orientations* to me, genetic disorders, drug or alcohol addictions and a list of other things that I thought I would have known ... particularly since I knew everything! Right?

It turned out that while I thought I knew it all, I had in fact been walking around with my head in the clouds. Which for a teenager is pretty normal, and all I really knew about was me! My needs, my wants, my needs, my wants ... you get it? Right? This probably explains why I really didn't understand much about Sexual orientation* or our Gender Diverse* communities, OR .... The Hate!
I simply wasn't aware of it. Didn't concern me? Right?

So, it was quite a surprise for me to learn, many years later, that until South Australia decriminalised homosexuality* in 1975 (first Australian State to do so), that it had actually been illegal to be Gay*, and not just in Australia!

Hang on ... I went to school with two people that were Gay*, right? I know that because they were my friends too (on the days they spoke to me). Right?


There were approximatley 180 people in my Year 10 at High School, so based on what we now know statistically, that meant I actually went to school with at least 18 people who identified as GLBTI (Gay*, Lesbian*, Bisexual*, Transgender*, Intersex*) and more who were probably gender questioning (Q*) and probably never resolved their gender or sexual orientation* because of the disgusting discrimination and abuse that was rampant at that time. (And lack of information or support) 1970s. Thank God much has changed ... but not enough!

(If you or someone you know are seeking support or information about any of this, I have supplied some links at the end which may help.)

I now know of men and women who simply married the opposite gender, had kids and built a life (probably in misery) just so they would not be a victim of abuse or worse ... murder! Which by the way still happens today in other countries. See here (with caution). Simply to preserve their opportunity to have a fair shot at a "normal life" like their heterosexual* peers had the legal right to!

Discrimination wasn't just obvious then, it was an expectation! If you were different and you wanted to be seen in the "normal community" for who you were, you were expected to cop the crap that was dished up to you. That was your CHOICE!

AND .... there it is .... that ridiculous, uneducated opinion.  YOUR CHOICE!

The GLBTIQ community do not choose their sexual orientation, NONE OF US DO!

AND, as some famous person once said "Baby, I was born this way!" ALL OF US WERE!

While I am on THAT discussion, saying you do not choose to be a specific sexual orientation*, does not mean you wouldn't choose it!!!

Being GLBTIQ is not like being a member of any Religious or Political group that we do choose to be a part of, (not to target anyone in particular by providing theses links GaynorCorbett).

We can not only choose the group we wish to be a part of, but we can also choose how to incorporate the teachings of that group into our lives. We can take or leave as much as we like of what we learn when we go to these meetings at those places of worship or group studies.  We can apply it to our lives firstly based on our own interpretation of those teachings and, how we logically choose it will fit into our lives based on the person that we are and how we choose to present ourselves! So we research, assess, decide and apply, all by choice. And have a great deal of faith, that at the end of the day, we have got it right. However, not everyone gets it right! Like here for example. Where religious beliefs were imposed on others, and ruled discrimination by a court of law.

Even if we have been raised in a home where specific beliefs have been instilled and demonstrated to us, we still have an ability as humans to think for ourselves and decide what side of an argument we will take. (like Jimmy Carter did after a life in the church, read here in Losing my Religion) What is moral and what is not, what is right or wrong! Those are choices, such as how we choose to think about other people's differences, how we speak of them and ultimately, how we treat them! All Human Beings are capable of undergoing this decision making process.

These processes of choice are not something that we can apply to our sexuality/sexual orientation*! NOBODY CAN!
Sexuality/sexual orientation* is not a choice, it is a part of who you are! Baby, you were born that way! "No matter gay, straight or bi Lesbian, transgendered life" etc Full Lyrics "Born This Way"

So, simply because specific people have a set of beliefs/values that were taught to them by people who quote from books that were written before even our Great Grandparents were a twinkle in their Father's eye, does not mean those opinions can be imposed on others in an attempt to disguise those opinions as law! Just because you think you know everything. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter how you disguise it. Let's stop the hate!

The Happy Ending in all this, will be when the laws of our country reflect the view of the people who have grown beyond thinking like I did as a teenager, the laws will reflect that all people are to be treated as equals, morally and legally, it is a matter of equality in HUMAN rights. Full stop.

So who will you be? Will you be a person who accepts others for who they are and respects the way they live their lives? Or will you be, to quote a friend of mine, "an ignorant bigot ... pure and simple"?

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it.  ~  Mary Engelbreit
* Footnote: Please do not confuse any of the terms above as being descriptive of any sexual act. THEY ARE NOT. These terms have been framed over many years for the benefit of people who cannot just accept others for who they are but need a descriptive term that is ultimately irrelevant to anyone other than the person it describes. People that identify within these descriptives, are Human Beings! THAT is really the only descriptive we need for any person.

Helpful Supportive Links:

If you are a part of the GLBTIQ community or have a child who is coming out and would like some support please find some links below.

If you have a family member or are the parent of a child in the GLBTIQ community you may like to know about PFLAG Australia to help you to learn to support your family member.

Sydney Twenty10
Melbourne GLHV
Perth WA Gender Project
TransGender Victoria
Canberra Based - GLBTIQ Rights (Human Rights) A Gender Agenda
Australia wide Lifeline
USA Our True Colors

Monday, 21 January 2013

Losing My Religion - Jimmy Carter

I had not planned this post, but could not let it ride after discovering this very powerful piece that was published in The Age today ...

Losing my religion, for equality - Jimmy Carter

It is an absolute MUST READ for all, not just Women, so ... tell a friend!

There’s more to the Boob than meets the eye …

In this latest climate of Human Rights, and in relation to where Babies have a right to eat, I have found myself becoming very involved in a debate around Breastfeeding, which really has never had much relevance in my life!  Why? I ask myself am I drawn to this?
At first I thought it was just simply the annoyance of the fact that legislation already exists to allow Mothers to Breastfeed where and when they need to, which you can read here, therefore,  it is not a debate that should be had at all! It is legal. So that's that … RIGHT?
So what is it that has piqued my interest on this one?
After reading the  "SEX DISCRIMINATION ACT 1984 - SECT 7AA", the issue for me lay in the fact that the point is being missed!
It is actually ILLEGAL to discriminate against a Mother who is feeding her child in a public place, in which she is entitled to be with or without a baby.  The debate has been about the Mums "offending others" where in fact, legally, the onus is the other way around!
If a woman is sitting by a pool, or at a Cafe', or in the line at Coles, as long as the only other thing she is doing is Breastfeeding (other than using the facilities in each place legally) then she is to be treated equally as any other person in those places doing the same things.  Unless any of those people are committing a crime.
So, it seems it comes down to the spectator. Which then raised the question for me ... Is there more to the Boob than meets the eye?
The fact is, History shows people are attracted to look at things that are different, hell, they used to pay money to go to travelling shows to see things that were different! (We still do, in less inhumane ways.) What is it about having to look?
I have a son who happens to have Down syndrome, so I can tell you a little of people having to look. Down syndrome, for those who are unaware, brings with it a range of characteristics, some physical and quite obvious, some intellectual and not so obvious. There are also some behaviours that are of higher incidence in people who have Down syndrome.  One such behaviour is what is referred to as "Self Talk" or "Monologuing". 
BORING ALERT - SORRY SOME TECHNICAL INFORMATION. Self Talk for people with Down syndrome (and sometimes people without) actually serves several purposes.  When LJ talks to himself it can be because he is trying to engage with the people around him (get attention), he can be acting out a scene from a DVD he has just watched, he can be trying to process or make sense of a situation that may have occurred by recounting it or he may simply be bored and trying to entertain himself. BORING STUFF FINISHED.
Makes sense when you spell it our like that RIGHT??? But if you are at the Pool, or in a Cafe' or standing in the line at Coles and you saw this, you would stare or you would be trying NOT to stare, because it is different, it is something you are not used to seeing, you would be wondering "What is wrong with that kid?", "Is he OK?" you may even become a little distressed yourself.  Sadly, it is also extremely apparent by some of the comments that have been made to me, it is offensive to some people and I should try to "tone it down". Well I can tell you ... I AM OFFENDED EVERY TIME SOMEONE STARES AT MY CHILD BUT THERE IS NO LEGISLATION TO PREVENT THAT!
Now as I say, LJ has some apparent physical characteristics that make it very quickly obvious he has a disability ... What if this was a child who has Autism and was having a sensory response to their environment? (Which could be mistaken for a tantrum) What if this was a child with Epilepsy and he was fitting? (Also could be mistaken for a tantrum) What if this was a teenager with his undies hanging out of the top of his pants that were around his knees? (Possibly be mistaken as a tantrum) What if this was a boy child dressed as a girl? Or a Mother Breastfeeding? These are all things that some people will not have seen before and may find a bit odd, unsettling, strange etc., describe it as you may, but these situations are not a grand plan to make you feel that way! If that is what you think, dillusional is a word that comes to mind.
If you are seeing something you don't see everyday, it may well be a bit unsettling as it is unfamiliar or you may simply not understand it (particularly the teenage pants thing?), but it does not mean we have the right to SUGGEST CHANGE or CHANGE anything about any of these situations, because none of these people are breaking the law ... and if you feel you must intervene, then you are being discriminatory. You must give them the same legal right to be as you are in public ... left to your own devices, unless you are breaking the law. Looking at them with a disapproving or a disgusted look on your face will not help either ... THAT to the guy in Coles the other week!
THERE IS SOMETHING YOU COULD DO: You might try being considerate! You could offer some reassurance to the parent of the fitting child, you could offer to hold the groceries of the parent of the child with Autism while they soothe their child, you could even offer to shield the Mother who is Breastfeeding so to give HER SOME PRIVACY! None of which may be required, but you could try to be kind.
When did our standards get to the point where our own well being was based on how strangers conduct themselves in their own attempts to get about their day? Are we that shallow that we have no consideration of people's differences? Well it seems we are, that is why we need ANTI DISCRIMINATION laws to guide us.
Our standards should be about how WE behave, the example WE set our kids.
Be more sensitive to others, embrace differences, offer your support or walk away if you can't or won't help.  Don't hang around to tell someone what they are doing wrong (by your standards) or how it offended you or what they can do next time so it does not offend you.
People are just trying to get on with managing their day based on their own set of circumstances and who they are (Homeless, Disabled, GLBTIQ, Working, Unemployed, Carer, Australian, NESB Australians, Indigenous Australian, Man, Woman, Mother, Father, Child etc *), just the same as you.
A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.
A. A. Milne (Winnie-The-Pooh)
Let's commit to making a positive contribution, or getting out of the way so someone else can ...

Sounds like another Happy Ending to me!

What have you done to support a person who just needed a helping hand?
* My apologies for any incorrect terminology or omissions - feel free to add or correct in the comments if you wish to.
Warmest regards,
Sandra xo

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

My Solution to the Public Housing problem - Well it's a start!

I have written before about my situation in this piece, and I have bravely suggested I had a few ideas about how to fix some systems of Welfare in this wonderful country of ours (Australia for those of you who have no idea where I am), and after watching The Project tonight (with my phone in my hand, which I will NEVER do again), I found myself having spat out three tweets before I could stop myself. On reflection, I decided to cop the fall out.

What I heard on The Project, was a perfect example of the issues of the Public Housing systems in NSW and I would imagine, all of Australia.  What I heard was Heather Holt of HomeGround (Victoria) reiterating her comments already made here where she denies ANY criminal activity by tenants in Public Housing.

Unfortunately Heather is not alone, NO PUBLIC HOUSING OR COMMUNITY HOUSING ORGANISATION  will admit this is a very serious problem, or they would not be able to house people.  These organisations have their hands tied.  They are charged with managing properties that are the "hand me downs" of a system put together many years ago to solve the situations as they were at that time.

In Sydney I am aware of areas where NSW Housing have started to relocate many tenants as the opportunity arises into housing that has been purposely built spattered throughout other communities; communities other than those known as "Housing Commission Areas" of old.

Departments are turning their backs on building whole suburbs of social housing as was the way when it was purpose built to house groups of people close to work etc. They are closing the ghetto style communities such as the well known areas of Villawood, Redfern and Cartwright, although many of those still exist and they DO have high crime rates.  Sadly this is an issue within itself.

There ARE generational inhabitants in Public Housing, simply because of the stigma that comes from having to be housed in such a way as to be treated as a statistic and a "social problem" and in most cases having no access to services or even role models to help these people aspire to a different life.

While crime and other closely associated social issues are high in these areas so are issues of Health, Mental Health, Lack of services for the Disabled, Educational standards are low as children stay home to help care for ailing parents or family members.

People who live in Public or Community Housing are generally low income earners AND, in most cases, if they had a choice, THEY WOULD NOT BE LIVING THERE! Nor caught in a system that does not allow a way out.

This is a system of Welfare that provides a HAND OUT and not what is really required by most, which is a HAND UP!!! We are living in a time where the difference between "We're going OK" and "We are homeless" is often only a month's wages.

I have mentioned before here a wonderful organisation called Habitat For Humanity Australia who help people help themselves. The way they operate their Australian arm of the organisation is, I believe an idea that should be embraced by the Australian Government in their attempts to help reduce this issue of Homelessness, after all, names like "Housing Stress" or "Technical Homelessness" or "Temporarily Housed" don't go far enough to provide the knowledge that many people are actually HOMELESS even though they are housed.  I know, seems like an oxymoron, but it is true! (That will probably have to be a separate post based on how this one is going).

Last time I checked on the finer details of the Habitat program, a person needed to qualify to be a "Habitat Recipient", one of the criteria being around household income, the household should be the recipient of a Centrelink Payment (or partial) and also be working in some way (self employed, part time etc) but must fall into their category of "Low Income" earner. They explain the overall program much better here.

If our Australian Government could subsidise such a program, over time, it would grow, their capacity to GIVE REAL HELP TO THOSE WHO WANT IT would increase exponentially.

This would not do away with the Public Housing that would still be required by those who have no other means of income other than maybe a Carers Payment, Old Age Pension, Disability Pension etc and would hopefully mean an increase in the standard of housing available to that group of people and a decrease in wait times.  Hence, another Happy Ending!

Wait times by the way are currently about 10 - 15 years (depending on where you live) and for Priority Clients, about 2 years wait time ...

Now to get this message to the thinkers of our Political Parties ... or is that just another oxymoron?

You got any ideas?

Friday, 11 January 2013

Political Correctness or is it simply Respect?

I was born in the 1960s, a time when "You called a spade a spade" a time when a slap on the back and a good "wog joke" went a long way! (Even with the wogs.) By the way, my Mother told me WOG stood for Worthy Oriental Gentleman, so, at the time, I never realised it was a derogatory term!

When I left school and moved on into the "real world", I quickly became aware of other cultures, peoples sexual identities, their religions, their abilities and I became aware of the ever growing awareness that was soon to be called "Political Correctness".

I had previously been exposed to how hurtful it was to be intentionally described in a way that was meant to harm, you see, I was the chubby kid, so I understood this outcry for equality, for respect.

Now, I am a Mother. I am a Mother of two sons, one has Down syndrome and the other is Gay.  What I did not know before about being Politically Correct, I now know about in terms of respect, inclusion and equality.

My sons, my neighbours, my Chemist, the girl at Woolworths, the Mechanic up the road ... all have one thing in common; they are all Human Beings. The fact that they have those roles in life or the fact that they may have Blue or Brown eyes makes no difference, they are entitled to fair and equitable treatment which also includes referring to them or addressing them in a respectful and appropriate manner.

My son who has Down syndrome is not "A kid with Down syndrome" nor is he "A Downsie", not even "The Boy with Downs" and most certainly not "A Down's child" he is "LJ" who also happens to have Down syndrome. 

We can drill down one step further than that and talk about awareness when it comes to people who have disabilities or conditions of health etc., we can take enough of an interest in them and the issues that impact their daily lives, by getting their diagnosis right too.

To spread awareness, we first must know what we are talking about and today my friends I am here to tell you, my son has Down syndrome NOT Downs NOR Down's syndrome. Medically know as Trisomy 21, often referred to as T21.

So if you feel the need to identify a person by their, height, their weight, their IQ, then just remember this one thing, we are all People before any of our characteristics ... It will sound something like this ..."Wow have you read that great blog post written by Sandra, the person who writes great posts!" Well, maybe one day ... The Happy Ending is of course, that we all get it right!

How do you show your respect for others?

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Half Century

Another year has passed, we have seen Easter, another End of Financial Year, Christmas, New Year (and all the other celebrations that I have not mentioned for no other reason than it would take all night) come and go, and for me, a full 365 day cycle has passed.

I have today, seen out another birthday!  Not just any birthday mind you ... no, no, no, this, this birthday is a BIG one ... well, at least that was what I had been lead to believe!

I suppose for many, who are settled and cruising along in most ways in life, the thought of a big celebration for such a 'milestone' birthday might have been well planned, it might even have been planned for more than a few months, or even a few years, and ten years ago, I thought my 50th was going to be different too.

In fact, ten years ago, I thought my 40th was going to be different!

I had started to plan a huge 40th. I had invited friends over many months before to sample hors d’Ĺ“uvre I had planned to serve on the night, I had looked into catering companies and had received quotes, it was all I was thinking about, other than the pending birth of the child I was carrying in my body!

Son #2 was due in October though, so, hey, not a problem, my birthday isn't until January right?  All will be fine ...

I had a wonderful pregnancy as I had with son #1 who had been born five and a half years earlier. I was healthy, I was working, I was winning, and I was cruising along just fine.

What I did not realise then, was what a surprise I would get when son #2 was finally born!

So on the 12th October 2002 (Bali Bombing Day - but that is another story), I gave birth at 12 minutes to 4am to a beautiful, blonde, healthy, squirming little boy with perfect skin and a gorgeous face, who I was in awe of and, who also happened to have Down syndrome.

At first it was all I could do to get my hands on a computer and start to Google! I needed to know more about this! I needed to know how my little boy would be different, what he would need, what I could do and what I needed to do. The first thing I knew I needed to do, was to love him ... and pretty much, that is where I started.

And here I am, ten years on ... the 40th fell flat on its face. I was at a hospital that day instead (Yet another story). I don't even recall going out for dinner! But, I don't really care, because today, as I celebrated my 50th birthday with some beautiful friends (whom I would not have met but for my connection with the Down syndrome community), my life is far from perfect, I am still just Googling to find out what to do next or how to do it, I am acknowledging the changes that have transpired in the last ten years and I am grateful.

I am grateful for the love of friends (new and old), for the understanding of my friends that my life and I are not perfect, and yet they love me anyway and accept me for who I am.
I am grateful for those who have come and gone in my life, as from many of them, I have
learnt so much.
I am grateful for all the support I have had from Down Syndrome NSW and all the people I have had the opportunity to meet through this organisation.
I am grateful for the many phone calls, play groups, Early Intervention groups, Therapy sessions and all the books I have had to read, I have learnt so much about my little boy and other people.

As far as Happy Endings go, I have learnt how to truly love. Not just my children, but my friends, many of whom I have known for most of my life, I have learnt to appreciate people for how they have added to my life, how they have inspired me, supported me through good and bad and my only hope now is that I have been able to be there for them also. 

That would very much make my 50 years seem like a Half Century well spent!

What do you plan to do for your 50th (or did you do?)

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Jenny Macklin Schmacklin

Once again it seems the point has been sadly missed.

A politician goes on record (or doesn't, more to the point) as having said something stupid and the focus is on the STUPID, not the real point!

We all know the system of Welfare in Australia is broken, we all know that there are those who "take advantage" of the system and its flaws (loopholes), we all may NOT know how hard it is to actually pull yourself out of a deep black hole once you have slipped into it, despite your best efforts not to.

Yes there are those whose expertise in staying on a benefit far outweighs the knowledge of the system that most Centrelink Employees have (as most of them are on contract and don't have permanent jobs either).

There are many scenarios, all different and very individual, but the one thing that single parents have in common, is the obvious, they are single!

Yes, as I said, each situation is different, some people have family to support them, some have good working relationships with the other parent that means the responsibility can be shared (as it should be), some do work and earn a sufficient income to pay for childcare or other types of help (domestic support etc.), but there are many that are simply SINGLE.

The sole parent, the only person who can provide care of any kind to that child or children, they are alone.

I am one of the lucky ones, while I am a single parent who has no hands on support available to me from anywhere else, I have in the past been able to work from home (currently that is not the case), but, as I said, I am luck, because I don't need to be on the Single Parent Payment and, as my youngest child is now 10 years old, I also do not have to be on New Start, because my youngest child has a disability and I am able to be on a different Centrelink payment, until such time as I can re-establish my independence.

Re-establish my independence! That is what the Welfare system is supposed to be there for. To help people get back on their feet, to help those who, usually due to unforeseen circumstances have found themselves in need of some assistance.

We talk about those who cheat the system or "long term unemployed", we talk about fixing the system, but at the core of all this talking is the problem I mentioned at the start of this rant, WE ARE FOCUSING ON THE STUPID!!!

As a Nation, we need to look at why there is a Welfare System in place at all, we need to get back to the basics of helping those who are willing to help themselves and support them in a way that allows them to do that.

I had not intended sharing all of the following, but I think getting some real perspectives on this problem is very important. And so ...

For EIGHT YEARS, (since the collapse of my marriage due to nothing I could have changed, God knows I tried) I have tried many ways of re-establishing my independence.

Up until a year ago, I was self-employed so that I could support my children, I tried to apply for the waiting list for the opportunity to own my own home through a GREAT organisation called Habitat for Humanity Australia (but it was closed due to the length of the list and now I do not qualify as you must be working to be on the waiting list not just receiving a Centrelink payment), I have had to fore go my employment to take care of my kids due to my inability to source any hands on support. Instead they pay me a wage to stay at home with my son a "wage" which is far greater than the cost of the support I required to enable me to do my job as a parent and as a paid full time worker.

If I had been able to received 2 hours a day 5 days a week hands on support, and a respite package to assist in times of crisis through the year, I could have returned to work on a full time basis as I had the capacity to earn a decent living. I could have then paid for my own before and after school care and vacation care, I could have paid substantial taxes, I could have maintained my own private rental accommodation, and possibly through Habitat, eventually owned my own home again, (I am now living in subsidised Community Housing), I could be paying for Speech Therapy for my son as I used to (not sitting on a list waiting for a free service funded by the Government) and I could have retained my dignity, self-esteem and mental health.

As a result of the Full Time Carer status that I now have, I STILL require respite (probably more than I would need if I were working, as work would also provide me with a social outlet which I do not get now).

So there it is, the truth of my situation, I asked the Government for a HAND UP, and they gave me a hand out, which has systematically made my situation worse than I could have ever imagined it to be.

I have also seen on Twitter tonight many other similar conversations that show we are not doing the right thing. We have fully qualified Teachers on New Start simply because they cannot get enough work in the areas they need to work, as they are single parents too.

And let's not mention our Broken Public Housing System, which due to the way it works, only makes people dependant on that service long term.

I hear the cries of, "You can't be doing too badly; you have a computer and the Internet!" I have heard these cries before, a fair call if you have no concept of how the reporting system works with Centrelink.

If you are constantly looking for work or accommodation, in this day and age, the Internet is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity. When I was searching for private rental properties, many of the Real Estate Agents will no longer list you for a viewing of a property unless you register on their website, they will not even take your name over the phone, they will also not notify you by text as it is all put through their on line automated email system! Unless you have access to a computer, you miss out. Using the Library computer is not efficient enough as most notifications of property viewings only go out the night before and many are on a Saturday.

Centrelink is also moving to automation. If you go to their office to report your income or change address or report your "looking for work" status, they will sit you down at one of their public computers, sign you up, get you a password etc. and show you how to do it on line there and then, rather than being served at the counter that you just caught two buses to be served at.

And THAT, is where my rant ends.

I have many ideas of how to fix these systems, but will not go on for now.

The Happy Ending I hope to get from all this, is that my experiences over the last eight years, will eventually lead to improving the systems that are so, so broken and the good news for Jenny Macklin and any other Politician who says they can live on the dole is, they cannot prove anything we do not already know by carrying out such stunts, we know the payment for New Start is actually below the poverty line, nobody can live like that, nor should they have to.

What are your suggestions to fix the system?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Justice for Women

Today is the first day of the rest of my life!

A statement that I am sure will be familiar to most ... A statement that I thought would mean, I knew what I would do next. As it turns out, for me, it is quite the opposite.

In the past I have spent so much of my time planning my behaviour, shielding people from the me that I have been bursting at the seams to be, so I sometimes forget to, well, "Just Do It", another catch phrase that will be well known lol.

I forget to simply be me. So today I got on with the last of the unpacking, the fall out of our recent house move, I got on with preparing meals for the week, I got on with tidying the house and I finally sat down with some left over shortbread and a home made cappuccino to check out the 'goings on' on Twitter ...

I had been so caught up in the stuff I had needed to do in the last couple of weeks (including celebrate with my kids the coming and going of a wonderful Christmas and the wonder of the coming in of a New Year) that I had not really paid much attention to those things external to my world.

And there it was ... the mention of a 23 year old girl in India, who had died as a result of the injuries she received during what can only be described as the most brutal gang rape I have ever heard of outside of Australia.

In Australia recently, we all grieved the loss of Jill Meagher, her death incited a nation because of the lack of safety in our streets and the continued crimes against women. Jill was raped and murdered by one man, does that make it not so bad? HELL NO!!!

Crimes against women can be found happening every day. Crimes that have been happening since the beginning of time. We can go back to our own horrific history and find names such as Anita Cobby, Janine Balding, Virginia Morse, Ebony Simpson and the list goes on.  Brutal, rapes and/or murders. Crimes against "the fairer sex".

We can analyse these crimes until we are exhausted, but there is NO good reason for them. Does that mean however, we must live in a world of hate for these perpetrators? (not all men by the way), does it mean we should become immune to the occurrence of these crimes and accept this is our history and therefore our future?

As a group, a species, a race (the human race that is), we have become far too numb to the crime that continues to take place on a daily basis in our world, our country, our state, our suburb and yes, sadly, sometimes in our homes.

We can argue we have become desensitised because of video games, it is because the news is so graphic now, the police shows we see every night on TV depict crime in such detail with their special effects that we have all come to accept these events as being a part of life, and nobody is shocked (when we should be).

We can try to guess what brings people to the place where they are capable of such crimes ... bad luck, bad breeding, no love, no discipline, mental health, drugs, alcohol, culture, etc., but we may never know, each one being so different.

When it comes down to it, I personally can't feel anything for these perpetrators. I don't hate them, I don't pity them, I don't understand them nor do I try to, nor do I want to.

I do feel compassion, love, heartbreak, sorrow and a feeling of complete helplessness to make the families of the victims feel any better, to speed their healing, to bring back their loved one, to assure them, it won't happen again, to turn back the hands of time and make it so the crime that came to their home, place of work, neighbourhood had never happened.

In the absence of magical powers, we have what is called a Justice System (well at least we do in this country) and it was this system precisely that called for public silence when Jill Meagher was killed so as to not hinder due process in the fair trial of her alleged rapist and murderer, for fear he would not be jailed.

It was with great restraint that a nation that was steaming mad, refrained from any further public comment and laid quiet, so the Justice system can do it's work. Let's pray it does.

In India, the law is not as advanced as ours is, particularly in the protection of women.

So what do we do?  We are obviously in a state of turmoil about this crime, it is in our news, it is being discussed in our social media and at times with great passion.

We do not hate the men (unless you feel you need to), we cannot judge them (unless you think you know them), but we can call for Justice, we can call for them to be held accountable, to take responsibility for their actions, for a crime that is simply WRONG and there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for; no reason in the world that can make what they did acceptable by ANY human being upon another!

I also found on Twitter tonight a Petition ... think of Petitions what you may, but beyond this blog post, I felt it was the only other thing I could do, so I have signed it; I hope you will too!
(Click on the following link and fill in your details)

The only Happy Ending we can hope for with this, is that we can somehow make a change.

Change that will bring us all closer together as people, change that may one day mean crimes like this do actually shock us and cause us to come together as one to demand it never happens again.

What would you like to see done to bring about change and justice?