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We Joined in a Journey

A few short weeks ago (seems much longer ago than that), PeakCare in association with other peak bodies involved with the Combined Voices Campaign – the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak, Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Human Services Coalition, the CREATE Foundation and Queensland Council of Social Services – came up with an idea to commemorate National Sorry Day.

This idea involved placing a full-page open letter to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Queensland in the Courier Mail.

I am not about to tell you the words that will feature within our open-letter – they will be there for you to read in this Saturday’s Courier Mail.  What I do want to talk with you about now is the journey we took in bringing our idea to fruition.

Some of the thinking underpinning our idea to publish an open-letter in the Courier Mail was as follows:

  • In preference to writing about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, we wanted to write a letter to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Queensland – a letter containing a personalised and heartfelt message to them.
  • Whilst addressed to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Queensland, we wanted to make a public statement – one that would be accessible to, and potentially read by, all Queenslanders – Indigenous and non-Indigenous
  • We wanted this public statement to be read not only by our Member Agencies and people involved in the delivery of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families – we wanted it to be accessible to, and read by, Queenslanders from all walks of life so that they could also be informed about the significance of National Sorry Day
  • We are also hoping and confident that our open-letter will attract other mainstream and social media attention so that further attention can be brought to the findings of the Bringing Them Home Report.
  • As most signatories to the open-letter will be non-Indigenous organisations, we wanted the letter to clearly state that we do not presume to speak on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, nor do we pretend to fully comprehend the pain caused to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by forced child removal policies of the past or to understand the best paths for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to take in their healing and recovery.  That is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples themselves to determine.
  • As leaders of Queensland society however, we do claim the right and moral responsibility to speak out about the kinds of values, beliefs and attitudes we bring to our relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to denounce racism in all its forms.
  • We have an obligation to stand by, and to be seen as standing by, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends, colleagues and clients in addressing injustices of the past and the ongoing impact of these injustices on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities today.
  • That is what our letter is seeking to achieve.

A little over 3 weeks ago, we sent out our request to you, our Member Agencies and Supporters, to help us raise the funds needed to pay for the full-page open letter.  The letter itself is costing $19,500 but we decided to set a target of $30,000.

It is testament to your generosity and commitment that in such a short period of time, we have raised around $24,000 – a little short of our $30,000 goal but more than sufficient to pay for the full-page letter and leave us enough left over to invest in other future projects and activities of the Combined Voices Campaign.  As we are continuing to receive pledges, it may well be that we eventually end up reaching the $30,000 target.

We appreciate that for some organisations, the tight time frame was insufficient for you to obtain the necessary approvals from your Boards or Management Committees to make a pledge.  We apologise for this and will attempt to give you more notice in the future.  We were aware that the time frame was short, but thought it was nevertheless worth a shot at not letting the opportunity pass us by.

We also appreciate that for some organisations, more time was needed for them to internally discuss and debate whether or not they agreed with the notion of the open-letter and what the letter represents.  If the open-letter has prompted your organisation to enter into these kinds of discussions and debates, then we think that this is a good thing.  They are discussions that all organisations need to have and we wish you well as you pursue them further.

In formulating the wording of our open-letter, we consulted with the National Sorry Day Committee and the National Healing Foundation.

In drawing this post to a close, I would like to draw your attention to the following extract of an email received from the National Healing Foundation:

The Healing Foundation would like to express our thanks to the organisations of Queensland that have elevated this issue and have meaningfully made a contribution to our national debate, keeping the apology alive as we all strive to address the many issues that past government policies have resulted in for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We have a long way to go in healing the many hurts inflicted, but this letter will let many people know that they are not alone in that journey and this is not to be underestimated in its impact.

We are proud to be associated with this project.

Perhaps the most meaningful feedback that we received came to us from a member of the Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Reference Group.  This feedback was magnificent in its simplicity.  It stated:

Just say to them – THANK YOU!

I am now passing on that thanks to you.  Thank you for your pledges and of your generous support of this project.  I am hoping that when you read the letter in Saturday’s edition of the Courier Mail that you will feel pleased with, and justifiably proud of the part that you have played, in delivering the very important messages contained within our open-letter to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Queensland.

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director – PeakCare Queensland

Artwork by Nyree Reynolds, sourced from Aboriginal Art Directory Online

Insurance Myths and Mysteries

PeakCare dares you to join us in a frightening journey into the unknown.  Our journey’s mission is to unravel the mysteries of insurance and clarify how it affects you, your organisation and clients.

Together and with the help of some expert advice, we will debunk the myths and discover the facts.  No stone will be left unturned nor small print defeat us, as we courageously tackle the beast named INSURANCE.

Can you be sure that your understandings about insurance are correct?  How confident are you that your organisation, your staff or clients are not being disadvantaged by having succumbed to a mis-placed belief in some of the myths?  Are you brave enough to join us in this quest and find out the facts?

As a first step in our journey, you are invited to submit any questions you have about insurance that you have never felt quite brave enough to ask before.  Alternatively, you may like to send us stories or scenarios that describe some of your own encounters or difficulties that you have experienced with insurance.

These questions and stories can be entered as comments to this post – anonymously if you prefer – or alternatively you can email your questions and stories to groberts@peakcare.org.au.  These questions and stories will then be added to the post by us.  If you prefer to not be identified as the author of a question or story, please let us know this within your email.

Your questions or stories may relate to insurance issues that are of concern to your organisation or to members of your staff, contractors or carers.

We are expecting that as questions and stories are entered into the post, they will generate more queries, questions and online conversation.

Periodically, we will obtain expert industry advice in formulating responses to your questions and stories.  Eventually, these will be compiled in a “Question and Answer” format and be made available online to all PeakCare Member Agencies and Supporters.

Debunking the myths

As previously noted, the aims of this exercise are to de-bunk the myths that often seem to feature in the understandings held by organisations and/ or individuals about insurance.  These myths can sometimes significantly disadvantage organisations, their staff, carers or clients.

As an example, what’s your opinion of the accuracy or otherwise of this statement:

“Any damage to property by a young person living in a residential service- either accidental or deliberate- must be reported to the Police Service in order for the service to claim on their insurance.”

Is this a myth or fact?  What are the possible implications of the understandings held by your organisation and staff about this issue in relation to their practice?  Perhaps you may like to enter some comments below in response to these questions.

Another example:

“The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services has a policy that states that any property damage caused by a child or young person living in either a residential service or foster care must be reported to the Police Service.  The Department’s position is that this is the only way in which children and young people can learn about the consequences of their behaviour and the Department will not accept any claims for ex-gratia payments if the property damage has not been reported to the Police.”

Myth or fact?  Is this entirely true, only partly true or completely false?  Enter some comments below that indicate your understandings about whether or not such a policy exists.

All questions great and small

No questions that you submit will be regarded as too big or too small.  All will be viewed as important and deserving of a response.

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director – PeakCare Queensland

May Day… All May long

“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years.  To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”  Winston Churchill

Here we are again in May – Domestic Violence Month – 2012.  Here we are again with a whole month dedicated to domestic violence.  Why a whole month?  Do we really need to focus attention on this issue for that long?  I’d love to say that it is not necessary given that many other significant issues only require a day or a week to highlight the concerns.  However, given the realities of domestic abuse, we need this issue on our radar the whole year through.

Why?

Domestic violence is still one of the most pervasive issues in our society.  Abuse against women is rampant.  The impacts on women and children in our society cost us sociologically.  It also costs us to the tune of billions annually economically in paying individually and collectively for the short and long term impacts of such abuse against women and children.

Most significantly domestic violence kills. It is our silent epidemic.   Each year at least a quarter of murders in Queensland result from domestic violence.  This is a fairly consistent statistic throughout recent years.

Whilst we have all the research about patriarchy, complacency, victim blame and the like, it is still hard to make sense of why any human being would be either accepting of or complacent with regard to those who exert power over their partners. Particularly when the statistics so clearly demonstrate the likelihood of horrific outcomes such as long term trauma impacts for the victim, children and other family members or death.

Last May I wrote the blog post Permission to Perpetrate, which outlined the need for our society to pay attention to the acts of perpetrators and address biases by recognising that women do not invite abuse, but rather that perpetrators plan it, defend themselves against any backlash and gather pawns in their game to support their perpetration.  This year not much has changed.  Thus we again highlight that domestic violence is the choice and responsibility of the perpetrator.  Their actions not only hurt women who are their current or former intimate partners, wives and mothers of their children, it also harms their children and their families as a whole.

So why are we still so focused on the women who are abused?  Why are there so many myths about women who experience domestic violence such as: they don’t tell the truth, they nag and invite it?  We know through on-going research that women are more likely to stay silent about domestic violence than to speak out against their perpetrator so such myths act only as excuses for perpetrators.  Click here for some of the common myths and fact responses to these myths.

Some advances however have been made in Australia since PeakCare’s 2011 May blog post:

In Queensland the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 1989 was reviewed and federally the Family Violence (and Other Measures) Bill 2011 was passed in December 2011.  This bill contains a number of amendments designed to strengthen the Act in relation to the protection of children in environments where family violence has been present.

PeakCare responded to the call for submissions for these legislative changes. When I placed these proposed legislative changes on my ‘google alerts’ to keep myself abreast of the issues, I was dumbfounded by the on-going commentaries that spoke of such proposed legislative amendments as sexist, feminist and an affront to men.  Most significantly the feedback suggested such legislation designed to address domestic violence and child abuse was undermining fathers in Australian society.

So, I started to read more closely in an endeavour to make sense of such relentless diatribes espousing this legislation as the work of ‘man haters’.  Men or fathers aren’t the target of the legislation, perpetrators of abuse are.   Little recognition was given to the fact this legislation was designed to protect children and adult victims of domestic violence regardless of gender.

Even if we were to see this legislation as protection for women and children, which it largely is due to the fact that they are the most common victims of domestic violence, why is protecting women and children from violence and abuse a process of undermining fatherhood or maleness in any way? In what way were the rights of loving fathers being undermined as major contributors to their children’s lives?

Why is there a sense that by affording equal rights and mutual respect to women and children, most notably the right to safety and well-being, men are somehow being vilified?  Their rights are somehow being trampled.  How?  As the White Ribbon Campaign, a campaign led by men internationally against violence towards women states:  The majority of men are not abusers but all men need to speak up and be united against violence perpetrated on women.

In closing, a quote from an icon of our time, a man who has a real grasp of horror:

“There’s a phrase, “the elephant in the living room”, which purports to describe what it’s like to live with … an abuser. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, “How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn’t you see the elephant in the living room?” And it’s so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth: “I’m sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn’t know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture.” There comes an aha-moment for some folks – the lucky ones – when they suddenly recognize the difference.”  Stephen King

The elephant is not just in living rooms.  These elephants are part of our society and indicative of our silence in accepting and remaining silent about domestic violence.

A society intent on equality and mutual respect is not an affront to men or masculinity.  It is a society that respects all citizens regardless of gender, creed or any other difference.  It is one that endorses respectful behaviour and freedom from abuse for all.

Click here to visit the Queensland Government’s Act as 1 campaign webpage

Lorraine Dupree

Policy and Research Manager PeakCare Qld

Munro Campaign Reflections

PeakCare Queensland is pleased to release reflections by Gayle Carr following her meeting with Professor Eileen Munro at a roundtable discussion in late 2011.

Gayle Carr is the co-ordinator of the Family Inclusion Network – Brisbane.

Gayle draws parallels between the messages promoted by Professor Munro and her experiences in the Family Inclusion Network.

Now that you have watched the video do you have any comments you would like to share on Gayle’s observations? You are also invited to enter queries or comments about other aspects of the Munro Review that you would like PeakCare to feature in forthcoming editions of our E-News.

Click here to comment on the YouTube Video or comment on this blog post below.

Revisiting Reflections on Munro

After watching the reflections of Lindsay Wegener’s attendance at a roundtable meeting with Professor Eileen Munro in late 2011, please feel free to enter comments about the issues he discussed.

You are also invited to enter queries or comments about other aspects of the Munro Review that you would like PeakCare to feature in forthcoming editions of our E-News.

PeakCare’s Election Video Series: Video Six

In this video, Lindsay Wegener, Executive Director of PeakCare sums up the key policy directions of the Labor and LNP parties announced during the 2012 State Election Campaign.

Have you got a view about the matters discussed by Lindsay?

If so, please feel free to enter your comments below or email your thoughts to PeakCare via election2012@peakcare.org.au

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director

PeakCare Queensland  

PeakCare’s Election Video Series: Video Five

In this video, Minister Phil Reeves and Shadow Minister Tracy Davis discuss ways in which they would make sure we have a child protection workforce, within both the government and non-government sectors, with the right mix of qualifications, personal attributes, training, skills and experience.

Have you got a view about the matters they discussed?

If so, please feel free to enter your comments below or email your thoughts to PeakCare via election2012@peakcare.org.au

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director

PeakCare Queensland  

PeakCare’s Election Video Series: Video Four

In this video, Minister Phil Reeves and Shadow Minister Tracy Davis talk about the ways in which they would better coordinate the types of services that young people need and support them in their transition to independence.

Have you got a view about the matters they discussed?

If so, please feel free to enter your comments below or email your thoughts to PeakCare via election2012@peakcare.org.au

 

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director

PeakCare Queensland  

PeakCare’s Election Video Series: Video Three

In this video, Minister Phil Reeves and Shadow Minister Tracy Davis discuss the range and mix of out-of-home care options needed for children and young people.

Have you got a view about the matters they discussed?

If so, please feel free to enter your comments below or email your thoughts to PeakCare via election2012@peakcare.org.au

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director

PeakCare Queensland  

PeakCare’s Election Video Series: Video 2

After watching Minister Phil Reeves and Shadow Minister Tracy Davis talking about ways in which they will reduce the over-reliance on tertiary child protection responses if elected to government, have you got a view about the matters they discussed?

If so, please feel free to enter your comments below or email your thoughts to PeakCare via election2012@peakcare.org.au

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director

PeakCare Queensland