12 July 2016

Addressing the attitudes towards domestic violence in sections of the Australian Media

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During Monday nights Q&A, radio shock jock Steve Price shocked the viewers at home as well as the audience in the studio with his dismissive and cavalier attitude towards domestic violence.

It was a question from audience member Tarang Chawla that brought the night to a heated close.

Mr Chawla, whose 23 year-old sister was stabbed to death with a meat cleaver by her partner in January 2015 asked the panel about the prevailing attitudes towards female violence, highlighting the recent Eddie McGuire and Sam Newman scandal where McGuire joked about drowning a female journalist. Newman, one of the hosts the Victoria Footy Show, came to McGuire’s defense.

“How will politicians and the media play a better role in bringing about long overdue cultural shifts so tragedies like mine are not normalised,” Mr Chawla asked at the end of his question.

Price responded first to the question suggesting the uproar over McGuire’s comments was too much, and that it was simply a case of men laughing at what they shouldn’t be laughing at. Despite various attempts to rebut this conclusion – in which Price constantly cut off, or spoke over commentator Van Badham – Price took umbrage at what he saw as Badham’s ‘hysteria.'

It was a very telling moment in Australian television. The absolute dismissal of a woman’s right to an opinion because it differed from a man’s.

Social media reacted negatively to Mr Price’s comments and drew attention to the gravity of Domestic Violence, while also highlighting the pervading misogynistic attitudes that keep domestic violence an issue where much is said, but little done.

Estimated to cost the Australian economy upwards of $25 billion a year, domestic violence has gone from the secret whispered about behind closed doors, to the front pages of the nation’s newspapers. Funding of frontline services was a key election platform for both the Liberal and Labor parties in the just completed election.

But for Australia to put an end to domestic violence it’s going to take more than some television commercials, or extra funding.

It’s going to take a fundamental shift in the public discussion and the absolute commitment of policy makers to make ending domestic violence a priority.

The main problem, facing both political parties in Australia, is a lack of action. Money provided for frontline services is extremely important but until the judicial system and the laws of the land step up and act as a real deterrent, it’s all just noise.

2 women in Australia are killed every week by their partners or ex-partner. 2 women a week is just the tip of the iceberg. For the victim, it is the end of a tragic and horrifyingly  painful time. For those left behind, their families, friends, co-workers, children, it is the beginning of a living nightmare.

In situations like McGuire’s ‘joke’, you have to stop and ask yourself; “Would it be funny if it was my wife, mother, sister, niece, granddaughter who was the butt of that joke?”

If you answer yes, you need to give your attitudes a good hard review.

If you answered no to that question, you need to step it up and make your voice heard.

To stop domestic violence and families like Mr Chawlas, and hundreds of others each year, from experiencing this sort of tragedy Australia’s media and policy makers need to heed the advice of His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales and former Chief of Defence who is quoted by Australian of the Year Lieutenant General David Morrison AO as saying;

The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept.

If this is the standard Australia accepts in relation to violence against women, it’s time to raise the bar and demand a higher standard.

This is just one of many situations that arise on a daily basis and it is imperative that this is addressed now. Akolade's 2nd Breaking the Cycle of Domestic and Family Violence Conference discusses utilising behavioural change programs and reforming perpetrators and the role of men in addressing the issue of domestic and family violence. Attend to further understand how to implement leading-edge perpetrator behavioural change programs. 

Mike Cullen has recently returned to Akolade after a period as the conference producer for one of Australia's leading economic think tanks. Mike began working in the conference industry in 2007 after looking for a career change from the high pressured world of inbound customer service. Mike has worked for some of the most well-known conference and media companies in the B2B space and in his spare time is working on his first novel in a planned Epic Fantasy trilogy.

Mike’s most recently published story, Seeds of Eden, is featured in the Sproutlings Anthology released in March 2016.

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