Arts and Letters Report, May 2020

By Jennifer Ann Davies, NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser

Click here for a special book preview!

Queensland is blessed with space, fresh air and sunshine; thusly offering little as Host to the virus! Our populations are not dense; our rules are perfectly clear and we are immeasurably lucky, although we must remain alert and care-taking.

Much has been said, in these unusual times, about the ‘place’ and value of all the arts, letters and community events; performers, poets, writers, musicians, singers, specialist and technical practitioners habitually involved.   Ironically, as more and more funding for some elements of this enriching and uplifting domain has been removed, public praise and promotion of all those involved in arts/letters/music has reached a crescendo!

QAGOMA is offering virtual art visits on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For the kids, QAGOMA KIDS is an online portal to keep kids ent3ertained as they explore art and artists from Australia and around the world.

DANCE in the lounge room provides a ‘lift’, with curat3ed playlists on SPOTIFY – musical magic in the “Up Late” series.

COMPOSITIONS inspired by Art: These on your YOU TUBE channel – music by Brisbane’s contemporary classical group “Nonsemble”, inspired by the art of Margaret Olley, Ben Quilty and James Turrell’s ‘Night Life’ – just one of many past performances to enjoy! SDGs 3/4/12

ENTRIES OPEN for BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM AWARDS!

Calling all Filmmakers!! 

Submit your short film now.

All entries will be considered for screening during BIFF2020 with prizes awarded in several categories. enews@qagoma.qld.gov.au

University of Queensland Australia is offering Podcasts and Webinars.

PODCAST: Investigative journalism in an era of ‘fake news’. The new rhetoric with a proliferation of unreliable sources, the disregard for evidence and the denial of accountability raises serious questions. WHY is this happening now? Do FACTS still matter?  Is TRUTH dead?

In this podcast, award-winning investigative journalists, Professor Peter Greste and Marian Wilkinson examine the very real threats to justice, democracy and progress, in this era of post-truth!  advancement@uq.edu.au  SDGs 3/4/11/16

‘We must take care to indulge only in such generosity a will help our friends and hurt no one – for nothing is generous, if it is not at the same time just.’ Cicero

Whilst all the online innovations are wonderful, entertaining and time-filling, many of our artists, performers, technical operators and contracted workers are suffering. One of Australia’s Audio-Visual Technicians, Anna DAVIES, gives us a rare insight into the reality of effects of COVID-19 through the eyes of a “non-essential” worker, in the audio-visual industry.

 “So when are you going to get a real job?” – asked too many well-intentioned friends and relatives over the last five years. “I have one,” I would say defensively.

What they didn’t understand is that casual and temporary contract employees are what make the AV industry go round. It’s the norm. It is incredibly unusual to have full-time sound and lighting engineers. Why? Well, it has never even really occurred to me to question this, as it was simply the way things were done. Perhaps it’s the inconsistent hours, or the late nights, or perhaps it’s to do with the fluctuation in business throughout the seasons.

Each lighting and sound company would have a pool of casual staff, some of whom they relied on more regularly than others. Some lucky staff would get “guaranteed hours” or higher responsibilities – agreements often made verbally; not useful in these times. Companies that provide technical services for large-scale festivals and events with upwards of 5000 guests operate on a daily basis with less than 5 full-time staff members (generally heads of departments, management and admin); they rely solely on their highly skilled casual staff to set up (bump in), operate (sound, lighting, vision etc.) and pack down (bump out). There was never any fear of work running out, or drying out, and thus the structure remained.

Until … the day all events “over 500 people” were no longer to proceed.  This was the day that we realised how precarious our employment was. No more big crowds. Overnight, all of my closest friends became unemployed. Instead of “How are you?” the question was “Have you found other work?”

Some have diversified, stepping into live streaming, facilitating e-learning and more; but by and large, the hard working, highly skilled technicians whom I have spent my life admiring and working with are sitting at home, waiting to hear back from the government on how they can be supported. Whilst there have been a number of grants specifically for the arts industry, very little can be done for the thousands of temporary and casual staff who have been working in this industry for years, with skills that have now been deemed virtually useless; certainly “non-essential.” 

Historically, throughout all periods of conflict, the arts have thrived. Through music, poetry, literature, performance and visual art, people have expressed their joy, sorrow and pain and hope. The fundamental desire to have the arts is core to human society – quintessential to the human spirit.

There has been an incredible outpouring of art, especially music, though social media. Artists as renowned as Andrew Lloyd Webber have skipped the barrier usually put in place by stages, purchasing tickets, record labels and production companies, and are feeding content directly into the hands of viewers. One of his famous musicals is now available each week under the initiative “The Shows Must Go On.”

The shows are going on… we are all so grateful for it. They just don’t need technicians, like us, anymore. (With permission, Anna Davies. Copyright. ACT 2020) SDGs 1/3/8/10/12/17

New Publications available during existing ‘lockdown’ conditions – best prices K-Mart.

  • Harlan Coben – ‘The Boy from the Woods’
  • Fiona McCallum ‘The Long Road Home’
  • Lynda Plante ‘Buried’ 
  • Kathy Reichs ‘A Conspiracy of Bones’
  • Sophie Hardcastle ‘Below Deck’
  • Nora Roberts ‘Savour the Moment: Happy Ever After’ 
  • Stephanie Wrobel ‘The Recovery of Rose Gold  
  • Lauren Chater ‘Gulliver’s Wife’
  • Cassie Hamer ‘The End of Authbert Close’
  • Jackie French ‘Lilies, Lies and Love
  • Leah Swann ‘Sheer Water’   There are many more titles @ $16 each and other great value reading @ 9 each. Not good news for our local friendly and valuable Book Stores – however, they were unable to provide access to stocks throughout this time. ABC online has been a favourite for booklovers during COVID-19.

PARIS – FRANCE – LES LIBRARIES – SBS ….French bookstores have been packing orders and customers have been able to collect their books outside the doors of these bookstores.  Hundreds of wonderful books had been packed into paper carry bags, and handed over the barricade in the doorways! – Myriad smiling faces and “Merci beaucoup!” A brief and delightful interlude in the horrific news that continues to pour out of Europe because of the dreaded virus!  #restez au maison 28/04/2020 

“A life affirming novel” Sunday Express – Nina GEORGE – ‘The Little Breton Bistro’.  “…people here were allowed to see the marks, because the gaze of friends was a balm for all the tears a woman shed over her lifetime – tears of passion, longing, happiness, emotion, rage, love or pain.” p 69.  Marianne passed an old thatched granite cottage with stooping eaves, a house as old as hope…Trees like cathedral buttresses and walls overgrown and ivy arched over the slender path. The fragrance of the woods blended with the peculiar aroma of seaweed, salt and spray.” p 90. 

“On the night of Samhain …the veil between worlds is gossamer- thin like cobwebs. Yet some of us are able to push that veil aside on any day of the year.” p 127.

Marianne Messmann longs to escape her loveless marriage. On a trip to Paris, she throws herself into the Seine, but is rescued by a passer-by. While recovering in hospital, Marianne sees a painting of a beautiful port town and decided to embark on a final adventure.

Once in Brittany, she befriends a host of colourful characters in a seaside bistro called “Ar Mor”. Among food, music and laughter, Marianne discovers a new version of herself – passionate, carefree and powerful. That is until her past comes calling…

‘The Little Breton Bistro’ is a captivating love letter to second chances! SDGs 1/2/3/4/5/10/17

ICW Brief Arts & Letters Report January – April 2020. Jennifer Ann Davies

The joyful songs, dance, diverse cultural traditions, celebrations and classical music that welcomed 2020, have had to ‘shape-shift’, as the Virus continues to devour lives and our former way of life. Arts & Letters continue to inform the development of Social Protection Systems.

Africa’s Alice ACHAN is currently locked down in Australia, where the launch of her important book The School of Restoration is prohibited by the Virus. Students from The Pader Girls Academy are currently studying at home. An important publication of terrorism, sexual violence, captivity and kidnap; the author has helped hundreds of girls left with babies and HIV as a result of enslavement. www.collinsbooks.com 2019 publication   SDGs 1/2/3/4/5/10/16

Christy LEFTERI is the child of Cypriot refugees. The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a book of international significance; born of the time the author worked as a volunteer at a UNICEF supported refugee centre in Athens. “This book dips below the deafening headlines, and tells a true story with subtlety and power.” Esther FREUD.  www.beekeeperofaleppo.com 2019 publication SDGs 1/2/3/4/10/11/16

Charities in UK and Europe who work with refugees and asylum seekers at a local level. Cited in ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo’ by Christy Lefteri. 2019-2020. Open Cultural Centre: an NGO and informal education & integration project in North Greece. www.openculturalcenter.org

Faros (The Lighthouse): Humanitarian support for refugee children and young adults. www.faros.og.gr  Salusbury World: Refugee support for 20 years; based in north-west London, providing clubs, mentoring, careers advice, guidance and practical support for new arrivals of all ages. www.salusburyworld.org.uk The Buzz Project: West Yorkshire, founded by Professor Ryad Alsous, a refugee who was a beekeeper in his native Syria for over 40 years; lecturing in modern beekeeping and food quality control, teaching young people to keep bees, tend gardens and make honey. www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

The National Geographic Image Collection, of more than 64 physical and digital assets, is a global chronicle of the lives of women, up to the present day, taken over the past century. Snapshots show how women were perceived, treated, and how much power they had – or didn’t have. An extraordinary issue with all female contributing writers, artists and photographers assessed the greatest strengths of each. Shopng.com/books Nov 2019 Melinda Gates alerts us that DATA is power. p.32 Susan Goldberg National Geographic Veteran war reporter, Christiane Amanpour reminds us that we need to get men on our side when looking for equality. p.33 National Geographic: WOMEN: A Century of Change. SDGs 4/5/8/10/12/17

Great strain confronts National Councils, support staff and law providers in most countries, because of the rise of domestic abuse and violence throughout lockdown! Working groups, media and UN liaison cite Brussels, France, Morocco, Britain, Israel, Thailand and Netherlands, in particular; whilst Belgium and France relay cases of ‘femicide’ which were being discussed pre-virus. NCWs, UN, BBC, SBS, ABC 2020. SDGs 1/2/3/4/10/11/16.  Closed borders offer new opportunities for sourcing, trafficking and changed destinations – penal laws are demanded. Despite all, there is a whisper that ‘the Darkness never lasts…’Jennifer Ann Davies

 Returning to the world of Letters – JANE SMITH – “A New World” – retrieving some of Women’s history in Australia with grand spirited adventures and outstanding and beautifully illustrated characters!

Wow! A launch thwarted by the dreaded virus, yet a glorious EXPLOSION of excitement, action and Aussie history, as country girl CARLY, launches into an extraordinary adventure, in ye olde Sydney-town, hurled back in time, where she learns the super-values of kindness, friendship and wonder, from our very own CAROLINE CHISOLM!  A superb blend of fiction and history for young readers; a superb blend of fiction and women’s history for all readers!

Congratulations to acclaimed Queensland author, JANE SMITH! This series, I believe, will make educational and literary history! “A New World” is the first of Jane’s series – readers will be busting to read more….Promotional material providing succinct detail used with permission. SDGs 4/5/17

Congratulations also go to JESS HILL, who has won the Stella prize for “See What You Made Me Do”! “Domestic abuse and coercive control steals people’s language away from them,” says Jess. She has spent the past six years of her life trying to give it back! www.theguardian.com

The following overview has been published and dates exist in the document. This document has been acknowledged at a State level, by the Office of the Honourable Di Farmer MP, Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence. It also sits with Senator, the Honourable Marise Payne, and Minister for Women at a Federal level. 

Overview of Revised Law and Constitutional Changes relating to Domestic Abuse/Domestic Violence in Argentina and Brazil. OVERVIEW relates to suggestions of alternative ways to genuinely PROTECT Women and Children, following widely published review of Jess HILL’S text: ‘SEE WHAT YOU MADE ME DO’ Power, Control and Domestic Abuse.  Some of the following has already been published by NCWQ and NCWA. The information herein is important to understand the problems, context and potential solutions with an emphasis on the SOLUTIONS provided by changing the Law and establishing POLICE STATIONS FOR WOMEN as was done in Argentina and Brazil.

Notes on book “SEE WHAT YOU MADE ME DO” ‘Power, Control and Domestic Abuse’. Author: Jess HILL, published by Black Inc., an imprint of Schwartz Publishing Pty Ltd. Carlton Victoria 3053 Australia 2019 enquiries@blackincbooks.com  www.blackincbooks.com

The content of this book is too important to disappear! In the words of Helen GARNER, “A shattering book: clear-headed and meticulous, driving always at the truth.” I think the content, data, research and cold, hard facts deserve to be known to all of us working with issues of abuse, towards safety and wellbeing and a potentially 50/50 world. 

NOTES ON Hill’s METHODS: “In this book, wherever possible, I have replaced the term ‘domestic violence’ with ‘domestic abuse’. I did this because in some of the worst abusive relationships, physical violence is rare, minor or barely present.” Jess Hill 2019. The author supports her substantial research with eighteen pages of ENDNOTES.

INTRODUCTION: “…A year into reporting on domestic abuse, I had a terrible realisation. It was 2015, and I was hanging clothes out to dry on a stunning summer night alive with the screeching of fruit bats. The air was cool on my skin. I felt content, peaceful; safe…….a cascade of thoughts swept through me with such force it made my eyes sting. How many women would never feel safe in their backyard? How many would be approaching their back steps with a sense of dread? How many would feel their breath quicken at every rustle of leaves, terrified that somewhere in the dark, the man they once loved was waiting for them?”

Statistics like these may shock! “Of the 87,000 women killed globally in 2017 30,000 were killed by an intimate partner, and another 20,000 by a family member. In Australia…one woman a week is killed by a man she’s been intimate with.” This is a book about love, abuse and power. It’s about a phenomenon that flourishes in private and in public, perpetrated mostly by men who evade scrutiny. It’s about all the questions we don’t ask, like ‘Why does he do it?” It’s about turning our stubborn beliefs and assumptions inside out and confronting one of the most complex – and urgent – issues of our time.” p.2

The text is abundant with sound statistics. Hill makes it very clear that abuse occurs everywhere and constantly. It is not confined to particular women and men….it does not occur only to the poor, the vulnerable, the mentally ill or those with a ‘victim mentality’! Hill argues that we must ‘trace the breadcrumbs back to where the destruction begins’! 

She states that, to address the myriad issues generated by abuse, we MUST understand that it is ENTRENCHED throughout societyp.5 To address the problems; to change anything, we must ALL acknowledge this entrenchment*

THIS POINT MUST BE CLEAR to appreciate the truths, research, stories, reality and urgency of the book: ‘Domestic abuse is not just violence. It’s worse. It is a unique phenomenon, in which the perpetrator takes advantage of a partner’s love and trust and uses that person’s most intimate details – their deepest desires, shames and secrets – as a blueprint for their abuse.’p.6

Simply – “Men abuse women because society tells them they are ENTITLED to be in control.” In a cruel twist, increased attention generated by the #MeToo movement has been seen by many to amplify abusive traits in the home and making some perpetrators of abuse more dangerous. Precis p.8. Amplification also occurred in the years following the murder of Luke Batty and the subsequent publicity given to Rosie Batty, in her role as Australian of the Year.* (Not author’s note: Jennifer Ann Davies).

There is not a chapter in this book that is unimportant.  However, for those who need to do a fast read, Chapter 5: PATRIARCHY is vital. Even if one may disagree, at first, please read on…  “Patriarchy is an invisible mainframe that regulates how we live. It sets parameters around ‘acceptable’ behaviour for both genders: men should be ‘strong, independent, unemotional, logical and confident’, and women should be ‘expressive, nurturant, weak and dependent.’” p.135 and explored further in Chapter 11.

Being able to trust police to help is questionable.  It was in the 1980s into the 1990s when I lived with repeated abuse, enforced poverty and violence and despite some changes to our laws and infrastructure, more than 80% of women living ‘underground’ (so they’re not abused anymore or murdered) have not reported to the policePersonal fact Jennifer Ann Davies/statistic Jess Hill p.253

For women with children…no system is as punishing – or as dangerous – as the family law system.” It is exceptionally, completely vital that ALL readers understand this explicit statement, and absorb ALL the reasons WHY this is so* The ways in which we operate our ‘systems’ and ‘supports’ very often inflames an abuser and the same, most certainly, continue to place immense stress, fear-laden practices, demands and huge debts, on abused women and children. p.285

In Brazil, young women were kept in captivity, made to have babies for the officers, and then had their babies stolen – this is claimed to be the basis for The Handmaid’s Tale. p.254 Women, brutalised by the state, looked for an answer. Brazil had introduced a new model of policing: delagacia da mulher – POLICE STATIONS FOR WOMEN – These new stations looked different and were brightly painted houses in the heart of neighbourhoods…led and mostly staffed by female police officers. p.284.

Argentina introduced its first police station for women in 1985, and today in Buenos Aires alone there are 128 police stations for women and children* staffed by around 2300 police. “They have all the powers of regular police – they conduct investigations, make arrests……Their structure (however) is completely different – they report to the police minister via their own Commissioner for Women’s Police, not the head of the common police – and their mission is different too. Their primary purpose is not to enforce the law; it’s to PROTECT THE VICTIMS. …”They never turn a woman away, and they never take their power away from her, which is what abusers do” says Professor Kerry CARRINGTON, head of Queensland University of Technology’s school of justice. “Sometimes they will help a woman apply for a prosecution order. Other times, she may want them to kick her abuser out of the house…she may just want them to talk to him…No matter is too trivial – (the police are there to listen and protect, not to decide whether a law has been broken.” p.254

For a woman with kids, “Crucially, all the services she needs – lawyers, social workers, psychologists – are under the same roof, and police will also help her to get medical and financial aid. Instead of having to contact several different agencies, as most women do in Australia, they can get everything they need in one place.”  It is important to know that the women’s police don’t just wait for the women to come to them. They visit hospitals, community centres, churches and gatherings – they are not afraid and they know where the pockets of resistance are. p.255

Following changes because of Argentina’s system and because of a particularly violent incident, BRAZIL introduced ground-breaking legislation on domestic violence, called Maria da PENHA Law, on 22 September 2006. – The Law was so-called to honour a woman who was almost KILLED by her husband, but there was not a single police station she could go to for help or which was specializing in violence against women. Maria da Penha is now a paraplegic as a direct result of that night of violence and she is in a wheelchair!! She is my age – 71 years – and still a vibrant and tireless worker for future PROTECTION FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN. www.bbc.com  @BBCNewsMagazine

Maria also makes an interesting point that many, including our own organisations and institutions avoid or circumnavigate when trying to understand WHY? Maria states, repeatedly that there was NO SINGLE TRIGGER for changes in the behaviour of the abuser…which means that the abuse or violence is NOT, necessarily, CAUSED by alcohol, drugs, or other ‘triggers’. It is truly ENTRENCHED and I can guarantee all readers that this is 100% correct! The abuse, then, can be directed at the wife, children, babies – the time could be 5am, 12noon or 7.38pm. Personal fact: Jennifer Ann Davies

CHANGES TO THE LAW – heralded as landmark legislation on domestic abuse by The United Nations: BBC World Service Witness Programme

  • Increased punishment for offenders
  • Establishment of special Domestic Violence Courts
  • Requirement of Authorities to open 24 hour shelters for abused women

I have become aware that many members of the public believe that the Family Law Court HELPS women who have been abused and their children – Too often, our existing legislation and laws do NOT protect women and children WHILST THEY ARE BEING ABUSED – nor are there always avenues, shelters or places where they can possibly be safe. There are many facts and factors related to this and this, perhaps, needs further publications. Personal observation: Jennifer Ann Davies

The purpose and function of the special DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURTS differs from the long-winded, highly expensive and crude system we have in place in our country. ‘Specialists’, counsellors, advisors, psychologists etc. are expensive – they have little cohesion OR some work for particular lawyers, with particular agendas and they do NOT view, compile or transmit immediate and relevant FACTS to KEEP WOMEN AND CHILDREN SAFE! 

Existing ‘Cases’ processing through our Family Law Court are still based upon and biased by laws and protocols that have been challenged myriad times by intelligent professionals; and we are aware that there sit, in an IN BOX, 60 recommendations, which could CHANGE THE WAYS IN WHICH THE COURTS ARE WORKING – particularly for the children currently being placed 50/50 with a parent whose ABUSE has been established!  The models and changes in Argentina and Brazil are underpinned by acute awareness of this contradiction and the dangers inherent. This fuelled the fire of CHANGE – to genuinely protect Women and Children IN THE TIMES OF DANGER – Not later!!!!!!

As already stated, substantial acknowledgements and ENDNOTES support this text. Jess HILL is an investigative journalist who has been writing about domestic violence/abuse since 2014. She has been an ABC Radio producer, a Middle East Correspondent for The Global Mail and an investigative journalist for Background Briefing. She was listed in Foreign Policy’s top 100 women to follow on Twitter and her reporting on domestic violence has won two Walkley awards, an Amnesty International award and three Our Watch awards. The author may be contacted at her publishers: enquiries@blackincbooks.com I will repeat the comment from Jimmy Barnes – “One Australian a week is dying as a result of domestic abuse. If that was terrorism, we’d have armed guards on every corner.” 

Domestic ABUSE is a national emergency: one in four Australian women has experienced violence from a man she was intimate with. But too often we ask the wrong question: why didn’t she leave? We should be asking: WHY DID HE DO IT?  Our systems enable perpetrators – the abuses are often reinforced by the justice system we trust to protect us. ‘Critically, it shows that we can drastically REDUCE the violence – not in generations to come, but today!’ excerpts from blurb: www.blackincbooks.com

Jennifer Ann DAVIES    Advisor Arts/Letters/Music National Council of Women Queensland – Advisor Arts/Letters International Council of Women/Conseil International des Femmes gramunicorn75@gmail.com      Part of this paper was published on 20th October 2019 by NCWQ and also NCWA  This overview remains a ‘work in progress’ and this portion is compiled on the 19th day of January 2020.    Editing for Co-ordinator 2nd February 2020.    

UPDATE FOR NCWQ ADVISOR MEETING EDEN GARDENS Saturday 29 February 2020: Having listened to media since the savage murder of yet another mum and her children in recent times heightens the urgency to suggest alternatives to the dictates of our rusty Family Laws* Our systemics cannot possibly change overnight – however, MORE FUNDING WILL NOT CHANGE THE BRUTALITY OR CREATE SAFETY EITHER!!! Please remember this as we proceed – MORE FUNDING WILL NOT CREATE SAFETY FOR WOMEN UNLESS AND UNTIL OUR MODELS/SYSTEMS CHANGE!!!

The nebulous quotes on ‘breaking news’ horrify those of us who have lived in danger and with brutality, threat, abuse and fear. Mutterings about ‘Women’s Legal Service’ cannot possibly help – not even WAY down the track when clients may be offered ‘mediation’ – when they may, possibly be in a relatively safe place, temporarily – when nothing at all has changed in the way the perpetrator behaves – and please do NOT let us pretend that ‘an order’ stops such a perpetrator from threatening, stalking, abusing, murdering. PLEASE LET’S STOP PRETENDING! 

It is true that in the larger cities with denser populations and perhaps greater diversity than may exist in some regional areas, that there may appear to be more places, organisations or call centres to contact. Many women DO use the DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WOMENSLINE on the 1800 81 1811 number. Responses vary – SAFETY remains a major issue.

In our own region we have the DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICE CAIRNS www.dvcairns.org who can be called on (07) 4033 6100. In a number of recent cases of abuse/violence here this has been of little assistance. Pre-Christmas, a mum and one of her daughters was LOCKED OUT OF THE HOME SHARED WITH THE PARTNER OF THE MUM AND IN WHICH WERE ALL THEIR BELONGINGS. This is usually considered a CIVIL MATTER and all but dismissed by local Police – primarily, I believe, but have not yet confirmed, because no ‘orders’ exist! SAFETY IS NOT CONSIDERED THE ISSUE. (Because this is current I am not able to reveal further details*)

Not long after that, a young mum who had been abused and violated was also LOCKED OUT OF THE FAMILY HOME WITH TWO YOUNG CHILDREN! This young woman was referred to a Domestic Violence agency, to whom she relayed copious details – yet when speaking with police officers, was also told that hers was A CIVIL MATTER, and she was given a contact for yet another Domestic Violence agency, for whom she had to repeat all details, with no real result and NO POSSIBILITY OF BEING SAFE NOR OF OBTAINING ANY OF THE NECESSARY ITEMS OR POSSESIONS FOR HERSELF OR HER TWO CHILDREN. Each of these cases is much more complex but this is as much as I am able, legally and ethically, to reveal*

I had attended a large gathering to which I had been invited at our local University – the meeting was with a female politician. The issue was stated to be HOW we can assist to lower the levels of domestic abuse and domestic violence and the primary question asked by myriad members of the audience, was: WILL I STILL HAVE A JOB?  WILL WE STILL GET FUNDING? A very real question remains for those who persist in demanding MORE FUNDING? WHO AND WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT FUNDED?  HOW WILL THIS ADDITIONAL FUNDING POSSIBLY HELP GENERATE OR EVEN CONTRIBUTE TO THE GENUINE SAFETY OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN?

Even re-discovering the 60 suggested reforms to FAMILY LAW for which many of us had awaited, cannot create SAFETY WHEN women and children – and sometimes men and children – are in need! The reforms are primarily to change the systemics and directives in the Family Law Court System. Whilst believed to be of huge value, we need to change possibilities for women and children; and at times, for men and children, LONG BEFORE THEIR ‘CASES’ REACH THE FAMILY LAW COURT. SO WHAT CAN WE POSSIBLY DO?

  1. We need specialist POLICE TEAMS who truly understand the sanctity of Life and who can respond to THE ISSUE AT HAND and not be side-tracked, fearful or nonchalant about the IMMEDIACY OF THE NEED FOR SAFETY. This would not be as demanding on the budget as establishing whole new stations – although the latter is preferable and I believe would have far greater integrity.
  • We need specialist DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURTS – and please, please do NOT delude ourselves that what exists ‘covers that’! – if so we would NOT be sending beautiful, beautiful CHILDREN back to a person who has abused, raped, violated, with-held finance to enforce poverty, cut, burned, hit, punched etc. (In the absence of applying/legislating any of the 60 suggested reforms to address this issue, Courts and legal practitioners are still FORCING mothers to ‘share’ their children whom they have protected and nourished; 50/50 with a KNOWN PERPETRATOR OF VIOLENCE!!!!!!!!)
  • We need more SPECIALIST SAFE HOUSES or facilities for those beaten, bleeding and under further threat.In some remote regions, police are known to keep women safe for a night or more – however, often, then, they return to their tribes, homes, and the cycle recommences. This is not unusual, as it takes HUGE courage and inner resources as well as practical ones to LEAVE. Often women still love husbands, partners and want to believe this will not happen again. (expanding on this later*) Many choose not to put family and friends at risk – many are still too afraid to let others know what is occurring, which demands OPEN-NESS and much, much more HONESTY about the facts*

4. We need INCREASED PUNISHMENT for perpetrators. That is unequivocal! The public would scarcely believe what brutal and abusive men get away with and who supports their brutality, actions or secrecy. THAT is a huge problem – thusly, again we need HONESTY about the problem. This demands brave, well informed and honest LAW REFORM. SDGs 3/4/5/10/11/16/17/1/2 

The wonderful Maria da PENHA continues to present via BBC and she continues to state that violence is not only physical, but also psychological, moral and sexual. Whilst Brazil’s LAW now lists these kinds of abuses, it is still only in the cities or state capitals that there are shelters and specialised police units and all the needed facilities. The building of the changed facilities is a slow one. There’s still a long way to go to CHANGE ATTITUDES – however – 98% of Brazilian people are AWARE of the altered LAW…Many more women would have been dead without this change!! @BBC News Magazine    www.bbc.com    Update added 29th February 2020.

 Addendum 12th day of March 2020 – Further research has revealed that even though women’s stations have been proposed in Queensland; this proposal was not included in the 2015 Queensland Government’s NOT NOW: NOT EVER policy. There was some consultation with members of the public to which I had been invited, at James Cook University – however a dominant theme and the bulk of questions from the invited audience was whether or not attendees would still have a job and what funding will be provided for existing organisations! Some discussion on this was conducted between ABC’s Matt Eaton and Professor KERRY CARRINGTON of Queensland University of Technology’s School of Justice. ABC radio Mar 2015 7:01pm   www.abc.net.au/2015-03-09

Professor CARRINGTON had spoken of alternatives such as those proposed in the book on which I did a review and by the women in Argentina and Brazil. Carrington spoke at the United Nations 63rd Commission for the Status of Women in New York in March 2019; yet apart from information online, none of the suggestions or successes have been promoted, discussed publicly or implemented in policy at any level. In 2019, Carrington included in her information the fact that today there are many more women’s police stations and she interviewed 100 employees from 10 women’s police stations. Of those interviewed, 82% were employed as police and 18% as lawyers, psychologists or social workers. www.edu.au/law

The distribution of roles, in the context of keeping women and children SAFE, is very different from the distribution of roles we have in our system – one that is not working efficiently enough to SAVE LIVES or prevent harm. Our system does have many organisations and is costly in terms of the federal and/or state budgets. However – how effective are they?  Honestly?

Many Australians would not be at all clear about the law or laws that apply to those involved in domestic abuse or domestic violence. It is clear that the AWARENESS generated in Brazil, of CHANGES TO THE LAW, is significant and effective. www.bbc.com

The objectives of our National Councils of Women are broadly humanitarian and educational and work towards the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. 

Book review and related overview compiled by: Jennifer Ann DAVIES/ Advisor Arts/Letters/Music National Council of Women Queensland Incorporated/ Advisor Arts/Letters International Council of Women/Conseil International des Femmes/Mobile Phone: 0488 037 422/International: +61 488 037 422/Email:  gramunicorn75@gmail.com /Work updated 12th March 2020/compressed 30th April 2020.