Speak even if your voice shakes

In the past couple of years, we as a society have removed the stigma around some previously ‘taboo’ subjects. Assuming the Turnbull conservative government ever stops infighting, they might actually get around to legislating the support mechanisms recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse. Regardless of inaction from the Government, it is now an accepted fact that several groups failed to adequately discharge their responsibility to provide care and concern to those in their care who deserved far better.

Less than 20 years ago in some jurisdictions, homosexual acts were still illegal. It is a sad indictment that even more recently the criminal convictions as a result of homosexual acts between consenting adults were still recorded against the ‘offenders’, resulting in restrictions in travel, employment and other areas of daily life. Recently, Australia’s first legal same sex marriages were held.

Unfortunately, there are still some ‘taboo’ subjects for ‘polite’ discussion in this country. Bullying is one of them, self-harm and suicide are also closely related. Unbeknown to her, a talented and intelligent 14-year-old young lady from the Northern Territory helped to start a discussion in January 2018 linking bullying and suicide – something that is way overdue. Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, the young lady in question suicided after repeated cyber bullying. A short time prior to her death, she completed a drawing that contained the words ‘speak even if your voice shakes’ which is an abridged quote from Maggie Kuhn, a leader of the US ‘Gray Panthers’ movement and author.

Amy had a higher profile than most 14-year-olds – she was the face in a number of marketing campaigns for Akubra hats. A number of well-known and lesser known Australians made sincere tributes to the tragedy of a life taken far too soon. One of them was Prime Minister Turnbull who posted on Facebook

"Dolly's passing highlights the devastating impact that bullying can have on its victims," he said.

"Every step must be taken to reduce the incidence of bullying, whether offline or on, and eliminate it wherever we can."

Mr Turnbull said the rise of online social media platforms presented new challenges.

"Cyber bullies can harass and intimidate their victims from any location and at any time of the day," he said.

"Much more work is needed, from governments, health groups and the internet companies themselves, to prevent cyberbullying, stop it when it occurs and to minimise its impact when it does occur."
Turnbull is correct, cyber bullies can harass and intimidate their victims from any location and whenever they like. Turnbull’s words are also obviously sincere, meaningful and convey his sense of shock.

So why does he do nothing when Immigration Minister Dutton (and Morrison before him) bully and victimise refugees, both in this country and those held in what could be described as concentration camps both on-shore and off-shore?

To be brutally honest here, the current jailers are not the only offenders. The current round of victimisation goes back to Howard and Reith before the 2001 election claiming that refugees coming to Australia by boat were throwing their babies overboard and those that were picked up by the freighter ‘Tampa’ were ‘jumping the queue’. All sides of politics since then have not been afraid to invent increasingly nastier punishments to refugees when in power to demonstrate they are ‘better’ than the other mob. The ALP and Coalition governments of Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Abbott and Turnbull stand equally condemned.

Early in January, Immigration Minister Dutton let fly at the Victorian Government for ‘not doing enough’ about claimed gangs of African people in Melbourne and Turnbull claimed

“[But] this is a failure of the Andrews government. Victoria police is a huge organisation. Much larger than the federal police. It’s got the capacity to do the job.

“But what it is lacking is the political leadership and the determination on the part of Premier Andrews to make sure the great policemen and women of Victoria have the leadership, the direction and the confidence of the government to get on with the job and tackle this gang problem on the streets of Melbourne and, indeed, throughout other parts of the state.”
Dutton is an ex-police officer and Turnbull is an ex-lawyer. Both of them should be well aware of the need for evidence before making accusations against others.

First of all, are there organised gangs of African youth in Melbourne? Victorian Deputy Police Commissioner Shane Patton suggests there aren’t:

Patton’s preferred term is “networked criminal offenders”, which is harder to work into a headline.

A “gang,” he says, is something like an organised motorcycle gang. That’s the kind of body groups such as the gang crime unit were established to target.

“From a Victoria police perspective, we have been consistent all the way along that what we traditionally view as organised crime gangs are those high-level organised crime gangs,” he told reporters. “We don’t shy away from calling people gangs, it’s not an issue for us.

“It’s about the offending … Let’s not elevate them to a status they should not be elevated to.”
While you could suggest ‘he would say that’, the statistics seem to bear Patton out in this case. According to the Crime Statistics Agency youth crime rates have dropped in Victoria in the past 10 years and while

About 1.5% of criminal offenders in Victoria are Sudanese-born, the Victorian Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) told a federal parliamentary inquiry on migrant settlement outcomes, while the Sudanese and South Sudanese communities together make up just 0.14% of the state’s total population.

The majority of crimes in Victoria, unsurprisingly, are committed by people born in Australia. The second-highest cohort were New Zealanders, which are the fourth-largest migrant group in Victoria.

However, by pulling out particular offences you can highlight certain groups. For example, in charges of riot and affray, people born in Sudan made up 6% of all recorded offenders, compared with 71.5% born in Australia and 5.2% born in New Zealand.
It is also interesting to observe that the Victorian Opposition and Liberal Party Leader, Matthew Guy, is rolling out a Law and Order election campaign while

Media coverage of the issue, led by the News Corp tabloid the Herald Sun, has dubbed Victoria “a state of fear” and reported that it could undermine the incumbent Labor government’s chances in the November state election.
For a country built on immigration, we really don’t do the welcoming part very well. While most people just want to live in peace and harmony, there are significant minorities of all the different ethnic groups that have found their way to Australia that hate and detest those that have immigrated subsequently. For example, at the end of the 19th century, the Russians and Chinese were going to overrun the country; as attested by the old gun emplacements in places like Thursday Island, Fort Lytton in Brisbane and the Heads in Sydney.

Despite being on the same side in World War 1, Asian immigrants were going to rape and pillage the country if they were allowed to immigrate. After World War 2 the sponsored immigration of northern Europeans was accepted however the southern Europeans were going to take our jobs and expatriate the money to their families who were left behind in Italy and Greece, despite logic suggesting that as a nation we had helped destroy their country and lifestyle so had to bear some of the responsibility for the countries’ lack of ability to support all its residents.

In the 70’s there was bipartisan political agreement to accept a large number of refugees from the Vietnam War – again we helped reduce their country to the stone age through bombing and chemical weapons and had a moral obligation to help support the people we had forced from their homes and lifestyles. Over time, each group has become less threatening and accepted as productive members of our society.

More recently, the majority of refugees have come from the middle east or northern Africa. When Australia wasn’t involved in the destruction of their country, as we were in the middle east, we sat on our hands and watched others do the destruction, the prime example being Sudan. 

So when Dutton starts dog-whistling fallacies on Sydney ‘ratbag radio’ station 2GB on the ‘dangers’ of African gangs in Melbourne, it is bullying. It also gives ‘permission’ for thugs to bully and harass those of the same ethnic background as this poor excuse for humanity recently did to an African family in Brisbane. And whether you like it or not – that is bullying. It is also very confronting, even if you have a computer screen between you and the screen door of the house in question.

As discussed up the page a bit, more New Zealanders commit criminal acts in Australia than people from Africa or anywhere else except people that were born here. If the object of harassing immigrants is to convince them to leave the country, surely those that feel the need should be targeting New Zealanders. It must be far harder to detect people that understand the symbolism of the silver fern than people with different skin colours. And while we’re doing a bit of fact checking, there is a significant community of northern Africans living around Moorooka in Brisbane with seemingly no more than normal levels of crime – but there isn’t a Liberal Party law and order campaign or upcoming state election in Queensland in the next couple of years.

Dutton, Morrison, Turnbull and all the other politicians since Howard have implicitly given permission for bullying and harassment against groups of Australians who have recently arrived in this country, especially those that have different appearance to the majority of Australians. How many other deaths and serious examples of self-harm have there been as a direct result of politicians giving implicit approval for thugs and ‘supremacists’ to abuse, bully and harass at will?

Any untimely death or serious injury to a person is a tragic event and if the cause is known, we all have an obligation to address the issue. Turnbull has made a start deploring the death of Amy Everett, however one has to doubt the sincerity if he doesn’t hold himself and his Ministers to account when they are clearly bullying refugees, unionists or those with a different political view to themselves for solely political ends. After all, he said

"Every step must be taken to reduce the incidence of bullying, whether offline or on, and eliminate it wherever we can."
What do you think?

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I have renewed the Featured Video on the Homepage with a contemporary one: 'How Turnbull and Joyce blew up the Coalition'.

Take a look.

lawrence winder


But isn't that all the ruling rabble are good at?

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lawrence winder

You are right. And their expertise at internal dissent has now gone up several notches. As in aerial skiing, their accelerating downhill momentum has now been embellished with multiple backflips, somersaults, pikes and twists. What will they come up with next? More spectacular crashes? Is that possible - they already hold the gold medal for crashing out!

T-w-o take away o-n-e equals?