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ROLE MODELS AND RESPECT
Parents need educating to set the right example
Education and role modelling begin the moment a baby comes home from hospital. Boys and girls don’t suddenly start behaving badly once they hit adolescence. They learn how to behave from their parents who are their first role models.
Michael Carr-Gregg is spot-on when he talks of “catastrophic spinelessness and weak-willed parenting”. He is not insulting or vilifying parents (Jan Matthews, Letters, 20/3); they are doing a fine job of vilifying themselves. They need to stop playing the victim blame game and get on with the job of educating their own children about all things needed to be a decent human. Including sex-ed, social manners and courtesy, respect and personal hygiene. These are parental responsibilities, which begin the moment one becomes a parent. By the time children are teenagers and are spouting obscenities in public, it’s already a bit late.
And while schools have an enormous task of developing and expanding the education of young people, can we please stop putting all the responsibility on the education system? It’s overloaded as it is. The recent appalling and unacceptable behaviour from Wesley students did not manifest spontaneously overnight. Nor did previous examples from St Kevin’s and Xavier colleges. These are “home-grown” behaviours learnt from the way their own significant male role models interacted with other people. Nor is it exclusive to private schools.
Now those schools have to not only accept blame, they have to battle to undo the damage done, as well as educate the parents.
Pam Athanasakis, Victorian secondary school teacher
Who is to blame for teens’ misogynistic behaviour?
Who are the fathers and role models of these elitist, entitled, arrogant, misogynistic boys and young men? Is it the home, politicians, sportsmen?
Pay attention, chaps; women are 50 per cent of the population and we vote.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East
Shift the discussion from consent to choice
Thank you Julie Szego (“Sex is not just a ’transaction’”, The Age, 20/3) for shifting focus from “consent” when it comes to addressing the huge problem of sexual violence. Sexual congress is but one interpersonal interaction among many that include friendship and everyday invitations, to have a coffee, a meal, go on a date.
The level of intimacy of sexual activity, however, demands heightened attendance to the choice of each person to participate, from the initial frisson of attraction to whatever follows, including a change of mind.
Like other negotiations about sharing social activity, over time we learn how to invite another, and how to explicitly and implicitly express interest, lack of interest, or change of heart. General levels of civility, fairness and respect enable interpersonal activity to function as effectively as it does; however, for some people, statistically some men, sexual interaction is quarantined from these social mores.
To date, respectful relationships have been the best approach to accelerating education about appropriate sexual behaviour. Our focus must be redirected from a reliance on the legalistic consent to the sociable “c” word choice. Therefore, “Did you consent?” is always the wrong question. “Did you want that to happen?” or, “Is that what you wanted?” are the ones that matter.
Jill Duncan, Eaglehawk
Holistic approach to sexuality required
Thank God someone finally said it. Szego appreciates the importance of consent education but sees that our cultural context shows how easily a predominantly transactional attitude to sexual activity can become institutionalised. I share her concern “that our framework for fighting sexual violence unwittingly reinforces the sexual inequalities from which the violence sprouts”. A holistic approach to sexuality needs to be based on ethical issues of respect, commitment and relationships.
Fr Kevin Burke, Sandringham
What price, environment?
The Portland smelter is by far the largest single drain on Victoria’s electrical power grid (“Portland smelter secures lifeline”, The Age, 20/3). Underwritten and heavily subsidised by successive governments, the Portland smelter emits highly polluting aluminium byproducts, poisoning the surrounding environs, coastline, wildlife and domestic food production.
The smelter’s employees should be retrained and repurposed to prop up clean wind power developments in south-western Victoria. Governments must demonstrate more innovation in reducing carbon emissions and retooling industries for a cleaner future.
It’s no wonder Victorians pay exorbitant charges for electricity when the lion’s share of a limited supply is handed to a foreign company on a platter by both federal and state governments. What price, environment?
Kirsten Anderson, Glen Iris
Alcoa black hole
So now the federal and state governments have given Alcoa another $160 million to secure operations and jobs for five years. This is after the previous “… $240million in taxpayer subsidies expired this year” ). And also Alcoa is to get a special low pricing for the vast amounts of electricity used, while all the other consumers get no special deal and effectively subsidise it. In 2012 the federal and state governments handed $275million to General Motors to ensure production in Australia until 2022. What happened to that? The Alcoa black hole is sounding the same as the money poured into GM.
Andrew McNicoll, Kew
Footy’s unwelcome return
Am I the only person not happy about the return of football? As the former secretary of the first AFL (the Anti Football League) founded by the late and great Keith Dunstan, I protest. The return of the season means the front and back pages are plastered with football news. Really, is it newsworthy?
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East
Mind your language
“She seems to be the go-to-girl at the moment” (“Meet the lawyer defending Christian Porter”, The Sunday Age, 21/3). And there’s another one! John Coates would you really refer to a high-profile male lawyer as the go-to-boy? Just doesn’t have the same ring to it does it? In fact, it sounds patronising and ridiculous.
Sue Goff, Northcote
A pointed comment
While most of us might chuckle at the “say no to the prick” sign carried by protesters (“Hundreds rally in Melbourne over COVID jab”, The Sunday Age, 21/3), someone somewhere will surley take offence at “prick” as derogatory and demeaning to men.
Susan Caughey, Glen Iris
Many Victorians still remember the devastation wrought by the Kennett government in the 1990s. So if the Liberal Party hopes that Mr Kennett will lead it back from the wilderness (“There will be no blood on the floor’: Kennett”, The Age, 20/3) via the state presidency it may be sadly disappointed.
Phil Alexander, Eltham
Rules of protest
Over the past few days two protests have occurred in the city, the civil liberties-focused Reignite movement and the environmental group, Extinction Rebellion.
Only one of them involved deliberately parking a truck outside Flinders Street Station, with the express aim of causing as much disruption, mayhem and publicity as possible. They must think the rules of lawful protest do not apply to them.
Jeremy C. Browne, Ripponlea
The performance factor
Wesley College has been a school with a fine record and although perfection is not achievable, one would expect better performance for $30,000-plus-a-year fees when the state school up the street performs just as well in the gold standard, the VCE median score.
Recently state schools had a per student funding increase of $116 while private schools were funded with a $336 rise. When we realise that all teachers are graduates from the same universities and colleges, where is the benefit in private schooling?
Graeme Lee, Fitzroy
Native forest plea
It’s great to see groups as diverse as graziers and conservationists coming together to oppose the destruction of native forest (“Graziers, greenies unite to save the forests”, The Age, 20/3). Mature forest is more important than ever and critically so following the inferno of summer 2019-20. The facts have changed but Victorian government policy hasn’t. If it is serious about slowing the decline in biodiversity and preventing extinctions then felling native forest should end immediately, not in 2030.
Lawrence Pope, North Carlton
Need for change
The Close the Gap strategy cannot work without structural change. If the system itself drives the disadvantage, failing to target parts of the system for reform means the disadvantage is maintained, not overcome. If the cause of high imprisonment, for example, is because of social, political and economic disadvantage and the courts treat all wrong-doers alike, it is understandable that of the 1200 prisoners in NT jails, 1000 will be Aborigines.
The Aboriginal response of meaningless phrases “knowing, being and doing,” or “programs led by our people” changes nothing. Aboriginal groups have now partnered with government based on the idea that a faulty system will deliver better results just because they are involved. Not one suggestion of legislative change, political empowerment, land rights or guaranteed resource arrangement.
Michael Mansell, chairman, Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania
Farewell Wendy Squires
My world is shattered! No more my weekly dose of honest feminist thought; potent common sense; passionate exposes on politics and flawed humanity; and no more the angst and the humour of a deeply courageous woman. Wendy Squires you will be deeply missed.
Maggie Lardi, Richmond
Freedom may be limited
That word “freedom” has been hijacked by anti-vaxxers and others to give leverage to their protests. There is no coercion to have a jab, but a COVID-free passport will surely be required to travel overseas and interstate, to get a job and to enter certain premises.
Good luck with your “strongly held” beliefs.
Moray Byrne, Edithvale
Evidently the Murray-Darling Basin Authority omitted the legally required climate science in its plan to protect these rivers; and senior counsel assisting at the royal commission Richard Beasley is rightly furious at the consequences of a “million dead fish” and pools of “toxic algae” (“Negligence continues with absurd Basin Summit”, The Age, 19/3).
Our fundamentally important natural environment is breaking down so the government must bring together all relevant aspects – rivers, water resources, climate and climate change, biodiversity and habitats – into a unified, sustainable reform. This may also necessitate the end of certain water-guzzling types of farming.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood
Jeff Kennett’s mooted return to state politics is a reminder of the massive damage done to the social, economic and environmental fabric of our state during his term as premier. The neglect of infrastructure, the privatisation of essential services, the gutting of education and public transport and so much more – all these nightmare memories are returning.
More than 20 years after he laid waste to our state the reconstruction still has a long way to go. The beacon of light we see is that shining on the reinstatement of the pact between Victorians and their government. Even the intervention of the pandemic has not slowed our efforts to rebuild and strengthen our community.
I welcome Mr Kennett’s return on the political scene as it will make his party unelectable for the foreseeable future.
Hans Paas, Castlemaine
We did not have to wait long to hear the NSW Premier announce the floods a “once in a hundred-year event”. Last year it was “unprecedented fire events”. We have to wonder how long it will take conservative politicians and commentators to announce that these are climate change events and are going to happen more and more frequently.
If they still deny the science or at least ignore it, will they perhaps listen to economists when they speak of the untold economic results of not recognising reality?
Jeremy Sallmann, Crib Point
It seems clear that justice is better served if women promptly report assaults. But the Chief Commissioner of Police in NSW has identified the inhibitions to reporting assaults are the unsympathetic stressful reporting and investigative processes they have to endure, before the daunting legal processes begin. Thus it is understandable why many assaults are not reported or that complaints are subsequently withdrawn.
To make it easier for women to report assaults the Victorian government could lead the nation by trialling and establishing women-only police stations as they have done in many South American countries, with female officers trained in dealing with assaults.
A review of that system by researchers from the Queensland University of Technology found that “Women-staffed police stations empower women, widen access to justice and prevent gender violence”. If adopted here the dedicated stations could be linked with existing assault support services, aided by a mobile phone app for making quick contact by women.
Thomas Hogg, East Melbourne
AND ANOTHER THING …
“Wesley accused of not telling parents or police of assault” (The Age, 20/3) says students with a “story” are advised to contact the college. No. The advice should be if any laws were broken contact the police.
Dan Drummond, Leongatha
Behaviour modelled is behaviour learnt. Don’t worry, the teachers will fix it!
Joan Segrave, Healesville
“Classes in consent to be mandatory in schools” (21/3), meaning students don’t get to choose. Is there an irony here?
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills
I note they are going to teach about consent in schools. What about teaching general respect for others? It’s not just about sex.
Lee Stanelos, Huonville, Tas.
The AG to work part-time for full pay – for the PM to suggest that women fleeing domestic abuse should use their super to survive smacks of privileged white male syndrome.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South
If I thought that monumental ambition and ego were the primary attributes needed to make a good local member and (future) prime minister, I’d vote for Josh Frydenberg in a heartbeat. But I don’t so I won’t.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn
Scott Morrison’s recent comments make it clear he’s keen to wipe his hands of the JobKeeper wage support and get back to his favoured “trickle down” economic policies.
Hugh McCaig, Blackburn
Please don’t smirk your responsibilities, Mr Morrison.
Keith White, Red Hill South
If hygiene products were rationed in childcare as they are in aged care, causing painful skin inflammation, the community would be vocal and the government would act and spend to ensure the problem was eradicated. Why is fixing aged care optional?
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South
Wow, imagine how much worse it would be if climate change was an issue.
David Allen, Bayswater North
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