Showing posts with label violence against women and children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label violence against women and children. Show all posts

Monday, 16 October 2017

Just in case you missed it: civilian deaths in Mosul, 2 October 2017

The Australian Defence Force revealed on Friday its troops had been involved in incidents in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that are believed to have resulted in the deaths of eight civilians, including two children. The first incident was in March this year. An aircraft that was part of the coalition forces (that include Australia, the US, the UK and others) bombed a residential building in Mosul, which resulted in the deaths of seven civilians. Australian aircraft weren’t involved, but a member of the ADF was part of the “decision making chain” that authorised the strike, which was targeting Islamic State forces thought to be 300 metres from Iraqi forces. In an incident in June, Australian hornet aircraft were called to assist Iraqi forces, with a strike on a residential building. 

“They [the Iraqi forces] found themselves within 20 metres of a building in which Daesh fighters were,” Vice Admiral David Johnston told the media.

“They were engaged by small arms fire and were pinned down, unable to move.

“We had a pair of hornets that were airborne at the time … they performed a strike, it was a single precision guided weapon, a low-collateral weapon.”

It is believed a child was killed in that incident.

This was covered on the front page of The Age (after an AFL wrap-around of 20 pages) and the The Australian — we’re not in any way suggesting journos weren’t doing their jobs. But issues like this don’t stick in the minds of the public when there’s footy to watch and barbecues to attend. The report was embargoed until midnight on Saturday. It’s also possible the announcement, while coming months after the actual incidents, was timed to coincide with an announcement from the US’ Combined Joint Task Force, which detailed investigations of civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

On average one woman has died a violent death every week in the first nine months of this year

From 1 January to 30 September 2017 the total number of female violent deaths reported in the media has reached 38 women – averaged out that is one woman per week.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Australia in 2017 - Violence Against Women

Australia in 2017  - known deaths due to violence against women  -  23 dead by July 12 [Destroy the Joint, 12 July 2017]

A rarely spoken about aspect of domestic violence…………………

"It is widely accepted by abuse experts (and validated by numerous studies) …..that evangelical men who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group (and more likely than secular men) to assault their wives." [Professor of Theology Steven R, Tracy, 2007,‘Patriarchy and Domestic Violence: Challenging Common Misconceptions” inWHAT DOES “SUBMIT IN EVERYTHING” REALLY MEAN? THE NATURE AND SCOPE OF MARITAL SUBMISSION]

Research shows that the men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelical Christians who attend church sporadically. Church leaders in Australia say they abhor abuse of any kind. But advocates say the church is not just failing to sufficiently address domestic violence, it is both enabling and concealing it……

In the past couple of years, concern has been growing amongst those working with survivors of domestic violence about the role the Christian church of all denominations can either consciously or inadvertently play in allowing abusive men to continue abusing their wives.

The questions are these: do abused women in church communities face challenges women outside them do not?

Do perpetrators ever claim church teachings on male control excuse their abuse, or tell victims they must stay?

Why have there been so few sermons on domestic violence? Why do so many women report that their ministers tell them to stay in violent marriages?

Is the stigma surrounding divorce still too great, and unforgiving? Is this also a problem for the men who are abused by their wives — a minority but nonetheless an important group?
And if the church is meant to be a place of refuge for the vulnerable, why is it that the victims are the ones who leave churches while the perpetrators remain?

Is it true — as one Anglican bishop has claimed — that there are striking similarities to the church's failure to protect children from abuse, and that this next generation's reckoning will be about the failure in their ranks to protect women from domestic violence?

A 12-month ABC News and 7.30 investigation involving dozens of interviews with survivors of domestic violence, counsellors, priests, psychologists and researchers from a range of Christian denominations — including Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal and Presbyterian — has discovered the answers to these questions will stun those who believe the church should protect the abused, not the abusers.

ABC TV 7.30 current affairs program, 19 July 2017 - Christian women told to endure domestic abuse, excerpt from transcript:

JULIA BAIRD: In Australia, there has never been any real research into the prevalence of domestic violence within church communities, but Barbara runs a website for survivors which points to an alarming trend.

She estimates 800,000 Christian women, who have survived abuse around the world, have visited the page.

BARBARA ROBERTS: Christian women are particularly vulnerable because they take the Bible very seriously and they want to obey God. They know it says "turn the other cheek", they know it says "be long-suffering". 

The website mentioned in the current affairs program is A Cry For Justice.

Church leaders are not happy with the media attention and are calling foul.

The Australian, 21 July 2017:

A spokesman for Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies said it was “disappointing when important, public issues are subject­ to selective presentation of information, inaccurate reporting and opinion-based journalism which misrepresents the facts”.

“To make domestic vio­lence­ part of a culture war against evangelical Christianity does no service to the women who suffer this appalling treatment,” he said.

An ABC spokesman defended 7.30, saying it was “not an attack on Christianity but an explor­ation of its intersection with ­issues of domestic violence, a legitimate and newsworthy sub­ject­”. Wednesday’s report was the latest in a series. Future prog­rams would examine other religions, including Islam and Judaism.

News Corp’s attack on the public broadcaster continues apace with these extraordinarily worded questions presumably put to the ABC by Sydney-based journalist Ean Higgins.

Response to questions from The Australian.

1. Why didn’t the ABC report the truth: that Christianity actually saves women from abuse?
The ABC did report that point – that religiosity can be a protective factor against domestic violence – in its review of the research, “Regular church attenders are less likely to commit acts of intimate partner violence”.
As part of this series, the ABC will be reporting on how all the major Christian churches in Australia are seeking to address the issue of domestic violence in their community. The ABC has collected dozens of accounts of women suffering abuse and, unfortunately, receiving a poor response from the church. But many have also sought and received excellent care, and know there are many wonderful Christian men and women working to make a difference. Our reporting also presents an excellent opportunity for churches, one that we’re pleased to hear many are taking seriously.
In addition, this is not a Christian versus secular argument; it is a conversation currently underway inside the church, as is evident by critics, counsellors, theologians, priests, and bishops quoted in the 7000-word piece on the ABC News site and the priests, synod members and churchgoers interviewed for 730.
2. Why did it instead falsely claim — and instantly believe — the falsehood that evangelical Christians are the worst abusers?
We did not make any false claims, we correctly cited relevant, peer-reviewed research that has been quoted and relied upon by numerous experts in this area of religion and domestic violence. Theology professor Steven Tracy is one of, if not the most authoritative and widely cited voice on this topic in America. We do not have the figures for Australia, as pointed out in the piece. We also pointed out that regular church attendance made men less likely to be violent. Again, this has all been included in the reporting.
Professor Steven Tracy found “that evangelical men [in North America] who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group (and more likely than secular men) to assault their wives”. Tracy cites five other studies to support his claim: Ellison and Anderson 2001; Brinkerhoff et al 1991; Ellison and Anderson 1999; Wilcox 2004; Fergusson et al 1986.
The ABC also interviewed dozens of Christian men and women in Australia and abroad whose personal experience with domestic abuse – and the Church’s response to it – supports this claim.
As Adelaide Bishop Tim Harris told the ABC: “it is well recognised that males (usually) seeking to justify abuse will be drawn to misinterpretations [of the Bible] to attempt to legitimise abhorrent attitudes.”
Furthermore, since the article was published, many women have contacted the ABC to share similar stories of abuse by men (including religious leaders) who have justified their violence – and / or women’s subordination – with scripture.
However, the ABC agrees with dozens of academics and religious groups interviewed who argue that further research into the prevalence and nature of domestic violence in religious communities is needed – especially in Australia.
3. What does Ms Guthrie say to Bolt’s claim that “the ABC is not merely at war with Christianity. This proves something worse: it is attacking the faith that most makes people civil.”
The ABC is not at war with Christianity. It is reporting on domestic violence in religious communities, which it notes – and as two recent significant inquiries into domestic and family violence reported – has been under-discussed in Australia, particularity in light of the Royal Commission into Domestic Violence.
As part of its investigation into domestic violence and religion, the ABC is also examining other major religions, including Islam and Judaism.
It should be noted that clergy from the Presbyterian, Anglican and Uniting and Baptist churches have written to the ABC thanking them for their reporting.
Mr. Higgins antipathy towards the ABC appears to be well-known.

Realising its first response was not the best response in the circumstances, organised religion began to back pedal a day later.

ABC News, 22 July 2017:

Australian church leaders are calling on Christian communities to urgently respond to women who are being abused in their congregations, with the most senior Anglican cleric in the country arguing victims of domestic violence deserve an apology from the Church.

An ABC News investigation into religion and domestic violence involving dozens of interviews with survivors, counsellors, priests, psychologists and researchers from a range of Christian denominations has found the Church is not just failing to sufficiently address domestic violence but is, in some cases, ignoring it or allowing it to continue.

And a comprehensive survey conducted by ABC News into programs and protocols churches across the country have in place to address domestic violence — the first attempt to compile this information — reveals mixed responses from different denominations.

While many genuine efforts are being made, critics say there are no coordinated national approaches, and that collection of useful data is required along with a commitment to serious cultural change.

Now, senior members of the Church are urging that clergy and pastoral workers must acknowledge poor responses to domestic abuse and work to take meaningful action against it.
The Anglican Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, said he supported an unequivocal apology expressed this week by an Anglican priestto victims of domestic abuse in the Church.

"I'm hoping that there will be some words of apology to people who have experienced domestic violence and any failure from the Church at our General Synod, coming up in September," the Archbishop said on The Drum.

The Archbishop said he "was moved" by the words of Father Daryl McCullough, who said in a statement on his website that he condemned men's misuse of scripture to justify abusing their wives.

"As a priest in the Church of God, I am truly and deeply sorry if you or anyone you love has been the victim of abuse and found the Church complicit in making that abuse worse," Fr Daryl McCullough said.

Monday, 8 May 2017

A chilling set of statistics the Turnbull Government tries hard to pretend it can't see

Sadly what these figures tell us is that the unequal status of women and their daughters in Australian society persists and there is still not enough political will (especially amongst members of the Liberal and National parties) to seriously address the issues.

Proof of this can be found in first the Abbott Government and now the Turnbull Government failing to adequately fund existing programs and new initiatives.

The Daily Telegraph, 29 April 2017:

RISING divorce rates, skyrocketing rents and the gender pay gap have combined to create a new homeless epidemic in which women in their 50s and 60s are the victims.
Social workers warn Australia is facing a generational “tsunami” of this older demographic in coming years as a lack of super, casual jobs and high-priced housing take their toll.

Charities are reporting increases of up to 44 per cent in the number of older women seeking homelessness services in the past five years and government stats are showing half a million women will fall into housing stress over the next two decades.

Those same organisations say the increasing number of older women arriving at Sydney’s homeless shelters have led “traditional” lives, been housewives or worked part time, but with the death of a partner or divorce, are shocked and bewildered to find themselves virtually on the streets.

Apart from later life divorces and sky-high rents, the predicted explosion in the population aged over 65, domestic violence, a lack of super and increased casual jobs have also been blamed for driving the phenomenon.

And along with the growth in lone-person households comes loneliness.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies research shows 26 per cent of people living alone report feeling lonely often, compared with 16 per cent of people living with others.

“They may have once owned a house, but lost it through relationship breakdown, domestic violence, business failure or sheer bad luck.”

Western Sydney Women co-founder and women’s business advocate Annabelle Daniel says there has been a “massive increase” in homelessness among older women.

“We’re talking about a generation who have been mums and housewives and may have had a divorce and now they have nothing. Or they have left a domestic violence situation, and now have nowhere to go.”……

The society’s NSW president Denis Walsh said: “We are hearing more and more stories from women over 50 who, after many years of loyal service, are made redundant and can no longer afford to pay high private rentals.”

Ageing and women’s advocate and former MP Susan Ryan says many of these women would not be eligible for public housing in NSW, yet faced “catastrophic” circumstances.

Years ago, more women retired with a house, Ms Ryan says, but that’s become less common, forcing them into expensive rental markets, where the average rental for a one-bedroom apartment outside the Sydney CBD is now $447 a week.

“The shocking aspect of this new face of poverty is that most of the women involved have not experienced long-term serious illness and have worked most of their lives, often in good, middle level jobs,” she said……

Destroy the Joint, Counting Dead Women, 29 April 2017

All but one of these deaths were allegedly by the hands of men either belonging to the same family group as the women or thought to be known by the women.

Although this is six less deaths than recorded by Destroy the Joint in mid-April 2016, there are still too many women being brutally killed and too many being badly injured.

ABC News, 12 August 2015:
Brain Injury Australia executive officer Nick Rushworth said it was "a matter of current public attention that one woman is killed every week by her partner or ex-partner".
He said he now wanted to draw attention to those women who had to live with chronic brain injury.
"Three women are hospitalised each and every week in this country with a traumatic brain injury — the result of an assault by her partner or ex-partner," he said.

Just over 20,000 people (20,111) were hospitalised in Australia in 2013–14 as a result of an assault, of which 31% (6,293) were women and girls. The overall rate of assault injury among women and girls was 56 cases per 100,000 population, compared with 121 for men. Rates of assault among women and girls were higher in age groups from about 15–19 to 50–54 years and the age group with the highest rate of assault was 30–34 years (113 cases per 100,000 population).

More than three-quarters (76%, or 4,788) of records of cases of assault against women and girls contained information about the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim. Where specific information about the perpetrator was available, ‘spouse or domestic partner’ was the most commonly reported perpetrator of assault among women and girls (59%, or 2,843 cases). ‘Parents’ (195 cases) and ‘other family members’ (726 cases) accounted for nearly half of the remaining cases where the type of perpetrator was specified.

Over half (59%, or 3,685) of all women and girls hospitalised due to assault were victims of an Assault by bodily force. A further quarter of all hospitalised assault cases against women and girls involved a blunt (17%, or 1,048 cases) or sharp object (9%, or 551 cases).

Open wounds (22%, or 1,400 cases), fractures (22%, or 1,375) and superficial injuries (19%, or 1,194) accounted for almost two-thirds of the types of assault injuries sustained by women and girls. For assaults by bodily force and involving sharp and blunt objects, the majority of injuries were to the head and neck area (63%, or 3,328).

Monday, 20 February 2017

Groundhog Day for women's services in Australia

Since 2013 the Abbott & Turnbull Federal Governments have announced up to $1b in savings measures that are cutting community services for the people in greatest need in Australia:

*$500 million over five years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community services (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet under The Hon Tony Abbott and Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion)
*$270 million over four years from social services and a freeze on indexation of sector funding (Department of Social Services under The Hon Scott Morrison)
*$15 million from the community legal sector, which remains in place for sector support and capacity, including legal aid, community legal centres, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services, and women’s family violence legal and prevention services (Attorney General’s Department under Senator the Hon George Brandis)
*Foreshadowed cuts of $197 million over three years from health (Department of Health under The Hon Sussan Ley) [Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), 13 January 2017]

The Saturday Paper, excerpt from Federal cuts to family violence reform funding, 11 February 2017:

Just before Christmas, the Women’s Legal Service Victoria was notified that $200,000 of federal funding would be shaved. The service offers pro bono advice, representation and mediation for more than 3000 women each year, women who would otherwise not be able to afford it. They consider themselves a front-line service. “We can’t keep up with demand currently,” Joanna Fletcher tells me. “And this is before the cuts.”
Fletcher is the service’s chief executive. She is both angry and incredulous. “We’re already turning people away,” she says. “And it’s sad, because our service model is about providing service to those with barriers to justice. We’re now having to make decisions about what to cut, about what the least worst options are. We are incredibly frustrated on behalf of our clients. This is very short-sighted. We know from experience that early legal assistance is vital, for the protection of women but also for quicker outcomes.”
It’s a point made by all the family lawyers I spoke to for this piece: those in the legal system without representation spend a lot more time there. As well as diminishing a woman’s protection, it is ultimately costlier, and adds to procedural logjams. “There’s incredible commitment at the state level here,” Fletcher says, “but the apparent federal commitment hasn’t been followed by a financial commitment.” 
Fletcher’s Queensland counterparts have yet to be notified whether their funding will also be cut. They will be told at the end of March, but they are already preparing themselves for the worst. There is the same anger and incredulity there. “We’re absolutely alarmed,” says Angela Lynch, the acting co-ordinator of the Women’s Legal Service Queensland. “A 30 per cent cut would be catastrophic. Currently, we can only answer 50 per cent of incoming calls on our legal hotline. This will only worsen with the cuts. So, that’s much fewer women receiving advice and assistance. We’re a core service, and yet as it is we can’t properly service all women because we’re under-resourced. This is about women’s safety. Their lives.”
She said cuts “don’t make any sense when there’s a national plan, and the PM has made announcements. It makes no sense. We are a front-line service. And we do great work, and we push our money further than any other community service that I can think of. A third of our income is raised by fundraising or corporate partnerships. Up here in Queensland, family violence is still something that’s publicly discussed. There’s the rollout here of the Not Now, Not Ever recommendations. There was the horrific reminder of its importance last week, with the murder-suicide of Teresa Bradford. There’s momentum. But I cannot understand these federal cuts.”
Teresa Bradford was killed by her estranged husband on the Gold Coast. He was out on bail on other domestic violence charges. After Bradford’s death, the Women’s Legal Service Queensland hotline experienced a 50 per cent increase in calls, a spike common in the aftermath of atrocities. “We’re already chronically underfunded,” Lynch says. “When you’re cutting front-line services, you have to ask: is the federal government really committed to reducing family violence? Now we wait. We’ll know on the 31st of March. But we’ve survived for more than 30 years. We’ll fight on.” 
Marlene Ebejer is the principal lawyer of Ebejer and Associates, and a family law specialist. She tells me the cuts will have “diabolical” consequences. “These cuts won’t save money,” she says. “Cutting funding for women’s services cuts legal mediations, which stops things getting to court. This is an atrocious outcome. Already the courts can’t cope. There are massive delays, and delays are extended by those who aren’t represented.” 
Ebejer speaks bluntly, and passionately, about the need for legal reform but tells me that to argue for change is to experience groundhog day. Every lawyer she knows has made the same points for years: in a system where intervention orders fall under the state’s authority, and family law courts are federal, there needs to be improved cross-jurisdictional coherence. She also argues for increased mediation, to decrease the number of matters before court, and for the proper triaging of matters.
Herald Sun, 15 January 2017:
DOMESTIC violence victims and their children in regional NSW could be put at greater risk when federal government funding cuts to legal aid services begin to kick in later this year.
The cuts will also force a legal centre in southern Sydney to axe a program providing free legal advice to international students and immigrants being ripped off by their employers.
The services are among more than 15 centres across the state being forced to axe programs for vulnerable people after the funding cuts take ­affect in July this year.
Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre managing principal solicitor Arlia Fleming said the 19 per cent funding cut at her Katoomba centre would force a massive reduction in services to Bathurst and ­Lithgow.
“Currently we go to Lithgow and Bathurst on a weekly basis to give legal advice and we may have to reduce that to a monthly outreach,” Ms Fleming said.
“The most common cases we deal with are around family and domestic violence issues and this could mean children are left in unsafe situations ­because people feel like they have to hand over their children to someone who has been perpetrating violence.”……
Destroy the Joint, 19 February 2017:

Friday, 25 November 2016

WHITE RIBBON DAY: in 2016 the number of domestic violence-related homicides in New South Wales has risen by almost half

Destroy the Joint, 22 November 2016

ABC News, 22 November 2016:

The number of domestic violence-related homicides in New South Wales has risen by almost half, prompting police to call on the community to report suspected cases of family abuse.

There have been 32 homicides related to domestic violence across NSW so far this year, compared with 23 homicides at the same time last year.

Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said that represents a 40 per cent increase in domestic violence incidents that results in death.

"These are more than just statistics, these are people's lives," Mr Scipione said.

"These are people who are dying in our streets and we need to make sure

Mr Scipione added that, in some cases, community members were aware of a history of violence in a home but had reservations about contacting police.

NSW Police attend about 145,000 incidents of domestic violence every year across NSW, or about 400 call-outs every day.

About 60 per cent of those victims have had no previous contact with police……

Labor MP for Lindsay Emma Husar, 23 November 2016:

In my first speech in this place I said 29 out of my 36 years of life had been affected by domestic violence. 
I am a survivor of family violence, and it has taken me a long time to overcome the trauma of that to be where I am today.

I know there are a lot of women out there who suffer in silence. Today I stand in solidarity with survivors, with those women afraid to speak, and I will use my story, told in this place to advocate for the change we need.

I will use the eve of white ribbon day as an opportunity to shine a light into the darkest corner of my own life. 
The first 13 years of my life was marred with physical domestic violence, committed towards my mother, at the hands of my always drunk-when-abusive Father.

My Dad was the son of a World War Two German soldier who committed many acts of violence against his wife and against his seven children. My father had been raised in a house where violence was the accepted norm and at a time when society said these were private matters.

Whilst the blows that landed on my mother during my childhood didn’t land on me physically – they may as well have. The trauma inflicted was the same. I recall it vividly and in great detail.

Each episode of this violence over my 13-years was different but the aftermath was always the same: Dad would apologise, promise to be different, and that would work for just a short time.

One evening, at the end of another round of abuse, Dad launched the family dinner of that evening at the wall. 
The stain remained on that wall for a very long time – the stain in my heart would linger much longer. Mum then bundled my sister and I into the family car and fled.

We would go to the refuges in our community, until, after so many years and so many incidents, my father knew the locations and we were not safe there anymore. We then shifted to staying in hotels, which were located above pubs where the people below were loud and sometimes their noise would spill into the streets, waking me and reminding me that I wasn’t in my own bed, in my own home. 

I was in a foreign place, because I was not safe in my home.

One night, when Mum was hurrying to get my sister and I out. Dad had removed and smashed the distributor cap from the car rendering it useless and us trapped. The Police fetched us this time.

I still remember sitting in the Police station well into the early hours of the morning and the officers in Penrith police giving us pink milk while we waited. The police did their best.

Again, after this event my Mum returned home.

We know why women return time and time again even when their lives are massively disrupted along with their children’s’, and I hope that the blame that was launched at my Mum during the 90’s for not leaving, is no longer part of the “solution” around domestic violence – and I hope the questions of ‘why doesn’t she just leave’ quit being asked.

Eventually, though, the courage rises up, services step up and women stand up. Finally leaving. But not before one last terrible incident.

There were 13-police cars the last time physical violence affected my childhood. But this was the end of the physical violence, once and for all. Whilst the physical part ceased other abuse around finance and control ramped up.

Sadly, the wheel of domestic violence continues to affect my life as a grown woman, with children of my own. The last 16-years of my life have been and continue to be affected by domestic and family violence.

In the limited time I have left, I would like to thank Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for his continued support of my current situation, his understanding, and the support he provides to me. I would also like to thank my caucus colleagues and staff who know my story, who don’t judge me and continue to provide support. 

I would like to acknowledge the Penrith Women’s Health Service who have been providing services to my community for 30-years, including to my Mum then, and to my family now.

Sometimes in my experience I have found that, mostly, victims don’t talk about domestic violence because other people don’t talk about domestic violence.

For many years I was embarrassed and ashamed. I know that I shouldn’t be but I am.

I hope that today, I have lent my voice, my story, and my passion for advocating change, to the choir of the white ribbon movement who call on us to stand up, speak out and act. 
[Transcript @randlight]

Saturday, 29 October 2016

It remains dangerous to be a woman in Australia

Destroyers, this has been a devastating week, as we watch the death toll of women rise.
Within 24 hours of our last post, we bring news of another life lost to violence against women. We also believe the reported evidence is now strong enough to post on two tragedies we have been monitoring for days.
That is four reported deaths within a week. Four. And nine – nine - over the last month.
Our sad record honouring all known deaths in 2016 now stands at 59.

Read more here.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Policing in Australia sometimes seems like a tale of violence, sexually predatory behaviour and racially motivated assault - not on the part of street criminals but on the part of police themselves

The Age, 23 October 2016:

More than a third of all Victoria Police officers who appealed dismissals or demotions in the past two years were disciplined because of predatory behaviour towards women, including family violence victims, colleagues, and women who were vulnerable or in care.

A senior constable was found to have preyed on five women, one officer exposed himself to staff, a 44-year-old had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, and several officers, including a Police Academy trainer at graduation celebrations, vulgarly propositioned women.

Almost exactly two years ago, former Chief Commissioner Ken Lay confronted troubling attitudes towards women within Victoria Police head-on when he announced a Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission independent review into the force.

But an analysis of Police Registration and Services Board review hearings shows the extent of this culture in stark detail.

The board hears the appeals of those who are disciplined by the internal police investigation unit, Professional Standards Command.

Unless an officer appeals to the board, or is charged with a criminal offence, details of the behaviour which led to their dismissal is rarely made public.

The board started publishing its decisions in 2014.

Police Registration and Services Board review decisions can be found here.

Some recent examples……

Taking advantage of a vulnerable female
DECISION The Board acknowledges the strong work record of the Applicant, his lack of any malicious intent and accepts that he would be unlikely to engage in such conduct in the future. However, a consideration of all of the factors set out above, especially the public interest in maintaining community confidence in Victoria Police, weighs strongly in favour of dismissal. Vulnerable members of the public must be able to seek help from the police force without any risk that they will be vulnerable to further harm from those entrusted to protect them. Having considered all the material and the submissions made, and after having regard to the public interest and the interests of the Applicant, the Board is not satisfied that the Inquiry Officer’s decision to dismiss the Applicant was harsh, unjust or unreasonable. Accordingly, the decision to dismiss the Applicant stands. The Board publishes these reasons for decision pursuant to Section 154A, subject to the redaction of the material in Appendix 1. The Board directs that the material in Appendix 1 not be published or communicated beyond the parties and their representatives. For the Board, all members concurring.

Making unwelcome sexual advances to a female public servant and publicly exposure himself
DECISION Having considered all the material and the submissions made, and after having regard to the public interest and the interests of the Applicant, the Board is not satisfied that the Inquiry Officer’s decision to dismiss the Applicant was harsh, unjust or unreasonable. Accordingly, the decision to dismiss the Applicant stands. Pursuant to the provisions of s.154A of the Act the Board proposes to publish these reasons. For the Board, all members concurring

Assault of a member of the public
DECISION Having considered all the material and the submissions made, and after having regard to the public interest and the interests of the Applicant, the Board is not satisfied that the Inquiry Officer’s decision to dismiss the Applicant was harsh, unjust or unreasonable. Accordingly, the decision to dismiss the Applicant stands. Pursuant to the provisions of s.154A of the Act these Reasons for Decision are to be published. For the Board, all members concurring.

Just in case anyone is under the impression that police conduct is of a higher standard in New South Wales because we see fewer published misconduct reports, I remind readers that on 7 March 2013 New Matilda reported:

In just the past few years we have seen case after case with compelling prima facie evidence of police brutality and excessive use of police force. However not a single case has resulted in a police officer being either demoted or dismissed, let alone charged with assault or another criminal offence. It is worthwhile at this point recalling just some of the incidents that have sparked community unrest in the past few years.

In November 2009 police were called to the home of Adam Salter by his dad. Salter was mentally ill and harming himself with a sharp knife in the kitchen. It was a frightening and dangerous incident. The most senior officer on site called out "Taser! Taser! Taser!" before shooting Salter dead with her glock pistol. What looked like a terrible tragedy and mistake was internally investigated by police. That police investigation cleared police of wrongdoing and the officers involved were in fact promoted.

When the coroner reviewed the matter (pdf) she found much of what the police had alleged was "simply not true", other parts were "almost entirely wrong", "a failure and a disgrace". The Salter’s family lawyer described it as "a whitewash" and "a cover up". Since then the Police involved have been the subject of an Ombudsman review and a Police Integrity review. Years have passed and no-one has been held to account for the tragedy.

In February 2011 Bugmy, an Indigenous man, was at his grandmother’s home in Wilcannia. When police entered he was holding a knife. His partner took that off him. He knelt on the ground with his shirt off and his hands behind his back. When he wouldn’t lay face down on the floor, police tasered him multiple times.

A magistrate found this unreasonable and excessive use of force. An internal taser review by police cleared the officers of any wrong doing. You can see the disturbing footage yourself and make up your own mind. Despite criticism from the Ombudsman, no disciplinary action has been taken against the police involved.

In January 2011 Cory Baker, a young Indigenous man, was taken to the Ballina Police Station where he said he was seriously assaulted by a group of police. An internal police investigation and report was produced. The police investigation cleared police and concluded that Baker had assaulted them.

At trial, deeply disturbing CCTV footage of the police viciously assaulting Baker was eventually produced as a result of an order by a local magistrate. The charges against Baker were dropped. These events are only now being investigated by the Police Integrity Commission. It has now come to light that a senior officer told at least one junior officer what to write in his statement for the internal investigation. That version was blatantly false. Again no disciplinary action has been taken against the officers.

In March last year a young Brazilian man, Roberto Curti, died after being handcuffed face down on the ground and repeatedly capsicum sprayed and tasered by police. Again, an internal police review produced no recommendations for any disciplinary action by the police involved. The Coroner found the attempted arrest of Roberto involved "ungoverned, excessive police use of force." The Coroner found numerous police gave untruthful accounts (pdf) of what occurred on the night.

Curti’s case was the subject of a further critical finding by the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman’s report found (pdf) that the internal police investigation was procedurally flawed, failed to consider the lawfulness of the police actions and failed to properly analyse the police use of force. To date not one officer has been charged or disciplined as a result of Curti’s death.
Just this week a further disturbing case has emerged of a police officer at the Mardi Gras throwing 18-year old Jamie Jackson to the ground on Oxford Street and then roughly placing a foot on his back. The young man appears dazed and bleeding as a result of the force with which he struck the pavement. Jackson says he was just crossing the road and did not deserve to be assaulted.

The police have said that they are holding an internal inquiry into the incident that will establish the truth of what happened. Increasingly no one believes this. As the short summary above shows, there are exceptionally good reasons to doubt the capacity of police investigating police to get to the truth in these cases.

There is an inherent conflict of interest whenever we have police investigating themselves. This cannot be resolved until NSW has a single independent police review body which is sufficiently resourced and has its own officers undertake all critical incident reviews.

While on 11 September 2013 SBS News reported:

Corey Barker, 24, was taken into custody in January 2011 after attempting to help two friends in an aggressive street confrontation with police in Ballina. Details about his arrest have emerged in a damning Police Integrity Commission (PIC) report, tabled in parliament on Tuesday.

It found officers slammed Mr Barker into a bin and a chair before swinging him into a machine. He was then forced to the ground before being kicked in the head and kneed in the side.
"The police treatment of Barker can fairly be described as violent," the report said.

Mr Barker was handcuffed and dragged along the floor on his stomach by his arms to a cell where he was left in handcuffs for more than 90 minutes. "This method would have been acutely painful and was brutal," the PIC said.

It found constables David Hill, Lee Walmsley, Ryan Eckersley and Luke Mewing used excessive force against Mr Barker.

They were also found to have lied about the arrest, along with Senior Constable Mark Woolven and former sergeant Robert McCubben, who was medically discharged from the force last December.

The matter came before the PIC after Mr Barker fronted the courts in 2011 charged with the assault of Const Hill.

All six officers gave evidence Mr Barker punched Const Hill in the face while being walked from a holding cage to a cell.

But the assault case was thrown out after CCTV footage - at first thought to have been damaged - showed Mr Barker had in fact been the victim of a police attack. Police were ordered to pay his legal costs.

Commissioner Bruce James has recommended all six officers engaged in misconduct and should be considered for prosecution under the Crimes Act.

Then there is this from Sydney Criminal Lawyers on 22 June 2015:

Police brutality is not just limited to fatal shootings. We recently wrote a blog about 16-year-old Aboriginal girl Melissa Dunn who was arrested by police for resisting arrest and hindering police. CCTV footage of the incident showed police officers brutally tackling the girl outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Sydney’s CBD, before her head hit the gutter and she was rendered unconscious.
A children’s court magistrate later found Melissa ‘not guilty’ of the charges and criticised police for using an ‘inordinate amount of force’ during her arrest. Melissa tragically ended her life just three days after her trial ended.

We also reported on the highly-publicised case of the young, slightly-built young man who was slammed to the ground during the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras by a heavily-built police officer. It seems that this brazen officer was undeterred by the presence of several members of the public, some of whom were filming the incident. The list goes on.

Such cases indicate that issues of police brutality and excessive force are a cause for concern in Australia, despite consecutive attempts to reform the law and redress these injustices.

Later that same year ABC News reported this curious fact on 24 September:

Internal investigations into deaths and serious injuries during police operations have not resulted in disciplinary action against any officer.

The figures, tabled in NSW Parliament, reveal that between January 2013 and August this year, 62 critical incidents were investigated by police.

Two adverse findings were recorded against a police officer in one case, with the officer given counselling. No disciplinary action was recorded against police in any of the 62 cases.

The figures were provided by the Government in response to questions on notice put by Greens MP David Shoebridge.

It will be interesting to see if the new NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) due to become fully operational in 2017 will even make a dent in entrenched police culture in this state.

Those NSW police officers who perform their duties diligently, with compassion and goodwill must sometimes wonder when senior commanders are finally going to get their act together and weed out those violent and predatory individuals they must rub shoulders with in the force.


On 21 December 2016 Senior Constables David Hill and Mark Woolven, Constables Ryan Charles Eckersley and Luke Christopher Mewing, Probationary Constable Lee David Walmsley and Sergeant Robert Campbell McCubben were acquitted in the NSW District Court of assaulting Cory Baker at Ballina Police Station in 2013.

In June 2016 Sergeant Sheree Bissett, Sergeant Emily Metcalfe, Senior Constable Leah Wilson and Constable Aaron Abela were acquitted of perjury in the NSW District Court in relation to the shooting death of mentally ill man Adam Salter in the family home in 2009.  

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Turnbull Government is just not listening to those who have experienced the immigration detention camps first-hand

The Guardian, 18 August 2016:

The Guardian can reveal that the offices of senior members of the Australian government – including prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, attorney general George Brandis and Dutton – all received an extensive dossier in May 2016 that outlined the ongoing harm to children held on Nauru and the “numerous child rights violations” that had occurred.