Budget 2019


The contents of the Australian Budget, 2019, struck me as being staggeringly cruel. No money for housing, funds pulled from the NDIS, TAFE stretched thin and services unable to cope with demand. There was no celebration in my household last night.

Doctors are campaigning for a Trauma Recovery Centre to be established. This and other incentives would have been most welcome!

NDIS

I know of families trying to access funding for their children, and being kept waiting in no-man’s land. They aren’t as yet funded for all the treatments their children need and deserve, and aren’t eligible for any other help whilst their claim is being processed. It is a long, excruciating and expensive journey.

I was referred to a support service, who have been trying to help me access the NDIS. I mentioned that I was diagnosed with complex PTSD many years ago, and have been battling alone, unable to locate adequate services. An assessment was organised, the doctor agreeing that indeed I had complex PTSD. He made the error of remarking that I am coping well, considering the amount of trauma endured. I was informed that this assessment had been knocked back, and I would not be funded for specialised help. No matter that I experience flashbacks on a daily basis, and that I have nightmares each night.

An appointment was made with my doctor, and a case worker was scheduled to accompany me. I had to ring the NDIS to ask that they email the access request form for my doctor to fill out. I tried for two days to get through, without any luck. Yesterday, I nearly fell over when my call was answered. I explained the situation, and asked that they email me the appropriate form. The operator told me that he would put me on hold, whilst trying to track down somebody to help. Eventually, he came back on the line and said that he was unable to rouse anyone in the department, and that it was highly unlikely that they would respond to the memo in time. The case worker had to cancel the appointment with my doctor. This support service are trying to help me access funding due to my spine. I spend around $120 a week on catheters alone, so am in need of assistance!

Newstart

The unemployment benefit called Newstart has not gone up for 25 years! It is well below the poverty line. How is one to keep their phone on, buy food,  pay rent and afford travel and clothing for job interviews? A friend of mine has major physical limitations and has suffered unspeakable cruelty in her married life. Instead of being a lifeline, Newstart has made her stress about the $50 she has to spend on medications each week.

I have another friend who had to give up her job in November. Her specialist insisted, saying that she would never be able to resume work. He promised to help her by filling in reports so she could get onto a Disability support pension, which is a much higher rate than unemployment benefits. Her medical treatment has been all-consuming and brutal. Four months after she applied, her application for a Disability Support Pension was denied. Devastated, I accompanied her to Centrelink. The staff member was lovely, and one could feel their frustration at not being able to help. My friend-who is a single mother-has had no income since she had to give up work, and because she still had a small amount left in her savings account, she was told that once she had burned through that, her application for Newstart would be expedited. She is now on Newstart, which is just enough for a little bit of food and her rent each fortnight.

Housing and Domestic Violence

I have a friend who was forced to flee her marital home with her children, and ended up living in her car for a time. Here is the experience of many women.

  1. Locate a local service, and turn up desperate, pleading for help. You have no money, you are already battle-weary and the kids need emotional support.
  2. The service promises to help, but they are stretched to breaking point. Even getting your child into specialised counselling means hopping onto a waiting list for a year. Your child- who was ready to open up and talk- has closed down in the interim, and the opportunity has passed by the time their names are at the top of the list.
  3. You go from service to service, all wanting to help you start anew, but unable, with their limited funding.
  4. You learn of a scheme wherein your rent is subsidised for a year or so, whilst you get back on your feet. Unfortunately, there are strict guidelines you must adhere to, including locating a property with a tiny rent attached. There is nowhere in your area, nor near your child’s school at or under this price.
  5. The public housing waiting list stretches to 60,000 people. The chances of you and the kids being offered a property in the near future is remote.

A friend of mine applied to have security cameras and other measures put in place at her rental property. The funding was finally approved, and the company came out to instal the devices. Pulling up the paperwork, they told her that it was an old quote, and as it had taken so long to be approved, their prices had gone up. She would have to reapply and start the process anew.

TAFE

On a personal note, I made contact with NSW TAFE, and was told that I could apply for a concession for the particular courses I was keen on. Excited, I arranged a loan to cover the deposits, and called up to enrol. TAFE apologised, and said that at this time, they were unable to complete my enrolment, as their system was having issues with Centrelink. I have the amount for the deposit in my account, and am eager to begin, but at the moment, can’t proceed.

There are many families and individuals in the same predicaments as above. I wouldn’t have thought that the ability to fund one’s education, have a stable place to live, be able to afford medications and support, and to feel safe, would be requests deemed frivolous. Don’t even get me started on the necessity of having dental work included in Medicare!

Joy wasn’t found in last night’s budget. I hold onto the miracle that is found within the human spirit, which can somehow survive setbacks and knock-backs and frustrating delays. I hold dear the resilience contained in a battle-weary person, who gets up each day and dares to hope.

Advertisements

White Ribbon Day, 2015


untitled (4)

Today is White Ribbon Day and a plethora of emotions rise to the surface, as do memories. I recall when I was living in a small town, there was a single mum of three little girls. She had been subjected to much violence, and was now starting again. She owned her own business, and she and the girls were finally happy. Her ex-husband starting drinking more, which fuelled his aggression. He was verbally aggressive on the phone and in person, when she dropped the girls to the designated meeting spot for access visits. This lady was a fey-like creature, huge orbital eyes, tiny with long golden hair, and it would break my heart when she recalled the nights of violence she had endured. He was a mountain of a man. I was at her place when he rang one evening, slurring his words. I heard him promise to shoot her when she dropped the girls off in the car park of a fast-food restaurant. He did indeed own a rifle. She had the hide to start her own business and offer her children safety and security. I insisted that I go in her place. It wasn’t an offer, but an order. She was terrified that if she didn’t obey the court order, he would come after her and the courts would again punish her. I got out of the car with the girls, and he appeared startled to see me. This bear of a man was frightened! I nervously offered forth commentary on the weather, and other inane subjects. I got back in the car and my clenched hands were dripping with sweat.

I have had knocks at my door at night, and my home has offered refuge to mums and their kids. One dear lady came by with her little boys, having caught a bus from her house. She had been shoved and she had been hit. I took photos of her bruises. When she went to the bathroom, her seven-year old whispered to me, “he yells all the time.” I drew him close to me, desperate to vanquish this hell from their precious lives.

I have had women come visiting, and delight in keeping me company for ten hours straight whilst I tended the routine chores of everyday life. They have simply not wanted to go home, fearing what may happen. Imagine getting into trouble for talking to a barista at the café, for not having dinner on the table. Imagine flinching when there is silence, and at the screaming to come. Imagine having to deal with rage, not knowing what shall set it off from one day to the next. Imagine being left without money. This heartbreaking pictorial appeared this morning, and I sat and reflected for a while, both on the sketches and also on the description of the women therein. It is up to us all as a society, to be vigilant and to be vocal. It is my dearest wish that the next generation don’t have to be termed ‘survivors,’ for they won’t have any horror to survive.

untitled (5)

The Old Guard


The Old Guard is going down. The paradigm is finally shifting. I remember a time when harassment was put down to “having a joke.” I recall a time when domestic abuse was laughed off. It was not that long ago. I recall a friend’s uncle making lurid suggestions to me at a sleepover at her home when I was eleven. I recall the grown men thinking that certain commentary was okay.

Years ago,  I had a neighbour who was in his sixties. He didn’t give me a good feeling upon meeting him. By meeting him, I mean he peered over the fence at me, and always seemed to be loitering. He studied my visitors, and a conversation outside was never private. He had  a weather-beaten face, loved a drink, and chain-smoked. I invited he and his wife in for a meal to break the ice. He drank beer and mumbled. When he went outside to smoke, his wife confided that their marriage hadn’t been a barrel of laughs. She talked of his violence, of his erratic behaviour with money, his unpredictability. He was what one could call a larrikin in the Australian vernacular. He never called his wife by her name, rather she was “the missus.” She was a bundle of frayed nerves.

The thing I have noted about these men are that they take up space. They want more than their share. He introduced  a dog to their small yard. This breed of dog is designed to work on farms. It grew insane prowling their small  yard and barked day and night.  We tried talking to him, suggesting he may walk the dog, get him some exercise. He couldn’t have cared less. He used his power tools day and night, taking up every inch of space he was entitled to. He tinkered right on the fence line. Other men in the neighbourhood visited him, smoking and drinking out the front. “A good bloke.” A good bloke alright.

John Singleton has been in the news this week. He threatened a friend over lunch with the stem of a wine glass. He then joked about domestic violence. The next day, he said they were just mucking around. Yes, it is hysterically funny. It is wondrous to witness the woman next door with her anxious voice continually wringing her hands due to anxiety. It is wondrous to hear him bellowing at her, and prowling around like he is a grand old General. The old guard is leaving the building, and  fellows who respect  women and children are coming in. “Flirting” with children is out, as is mocking domestic violence. Sexual innuendos and commentary aren’t laughed off. To my mind larrikins are good men with a cheerful spirit and sense of adventure. They are not the above. Not any more. Thank God.

White Ribbon Day, 2014.


d469f6d2a135e3897cdb26d51ea78716_400x400

Today is White Ribbon Day. I was planning on going to a function today, but instead I am in bed, in agony. I took my daughter to a Katy Perry concert last night, and the only tickets I could get were in General Admission. I stood for several hours, yet it was necessary. This lady leant my daughter the encouragement to find her voice, not only as a singer but as a little girl. I had to take her. There was no option.I am not in agony because of the concert. I am in agony because I was thrown off a building at fifteen. I have known violence. I have a scar running the length of my left index finger. I have never had (nor will I), a knife block in my kitchen. These were weapons, not cooking implements. As a matter of fact,  I have no sharp knives.

Katy Perry's Prism Tour
Katy Perry’s Prism Tour

Today I raise a toast to all the beautiful girls and women I have known. Here’s to those who rapped on my door, children in tow. Here’s to those who bravely let me photograph their bruises and cuts. Here’s to those who released  the contents of the fetid garbage they were trying to contain behind closed doors. Here’s to those too ashamed to let anyone know what was going on. I understand. Here’s to those who did. I think of those who tried to defend their abuser, as the truth at that time was too horrible to bear. I commend you on facing the agonizing truth; that he wouldn’t change and you had to leave. I am honoured to have my story told in White Ribbon Writing 2014, under the title, A Scarred Butterfly. This e-book is available from Amazon and all proceeds go to the White Ribbon Foundation. I am so proud of the White Ribbon Foundation. Their sponsors, Suzanne Grae, dressed me for my book launch, an ambassador spoke with heartfelt passion in front of the guests, and more people are taking the pledge to stamp out violence against women each day. There is no more hiding. No more excuses. It has to stop, and we are the one’s to do it.

White Ribbon Writing, 2014
White Ribbon Writing, 2014

 

 

DV


The hidden, silent epidemic, wounding our children, scarring families and killing partners. We see the end result on television, and picture the scene we have once viewed in a movie. The partner arrives home, after visiting the pub, his dinner is set down in front of him. “What’s this muck?” he yells, before throwing the […]