We all know that volunteers keep this country going. From the Rural Fire Service (RFS), the Volunteers Rescue Association (VRA), scout leaders, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens, to caring for wildlife, supporting hospitals, supporting people living with a disability, and just plain old lending a hand. Volunteers continue to do what needs doing to keep services up and running…READ MORE
Pets are loving the pandemic. Having their pet humans at home all the time is a lifestyle they are enjoying, and it’s a symbiotic plus for all earthlings concerned – but, not all pets or humans have it so good.
President Pets For Life Animal Shelter Billinudgel Jean Conway, says that one of the most heartless requirements by accommodation providers in this country forces people to abandon their pets. ‘Grown men, women and children often weep as they surrender their dog or cat to the pound or animal shelter…READ MORE
With a larger proportion of people staying at home and the unusual circumstances we now find ourselves in, another downside of isolation is the rise in domestic violence (DV).
Even people who don’t usually have aggression issues within their homes are feeling stressed, and with services at a distance, or inaccessible, there has been a rise in DV incidents.
‘I’m in a lovely, respectful and kind relationship,’ says a local nurse. ‘We had our first proper argument in forever this week. No violence, threats or safety issues, but it highlighted how tense things are and how quickly they could escalate if one of us couldn’t regulate our emotions.
‘I was the one yelling. I felt misunderstood. I stopped yelling. We were both quiet for a bit, gave each other space. He apologised, I apologised.’
She said that she and her partner are both usually reasonable and neither likes conflict. ‘We were both quite startled by it. For families with high levels of conflict as a base line, I could see how the heightened tensions would increase the likelihood of violence.’
Another woman who was once the mayor of a large town and is married to a doctor, said that even though her partner is the most wonderful person, recently they had a ‘little tiff’ about her not wanting him to go to the supermarket. ‘We never argue but I felt so stressed about it. It settled after ten minutes but how do people cope who don’t have our situation?’
The remedy was to give each other space. ‘I am the fuming one, the sulker. My lovely human just walks away and then comes back in about ten minutes with a cup of tea, looks at me to see if I am still cross, gives me a bit more space then tries to make me laugh.
‘I was so stressed about him going to the shops and I became quite irrational. I even said he could go and live elsewhere and yelled!
'Now we are negotiating what it looks like for him to return to GP work (after retiring last December) with trepidation, and trying to look after each other.’
Another issue coming to the forefront is for people with disability (PWD) and their carers, especially families who now have more care responsibilities with kids at home from school or with services shut.
People with disability work, play and live in the same way other people do, but need support to access the community – with more and more service providers shutting their doors, carers are increasingly responsible for supporting a family member. Time apart can be important for self care, but there’s little help available, especially for people with high support needs.
There can be additional challenges to help people with a cognitive disability understand the risks that COVID-19 presents.
How do you explain to someone that they can’t see their friends or support workers any more? How do you help someone understand why they are now trapped in their own home? For people who were already segregated and isolated, losing the small freedoms they once had can feel much bigger and can lead to stress and an increased need for support.
Another tension for families who are living with a disabled person is that often that person is at higher risk of contracting coronavirus. Do you all go out for exercise and potentially risk a family member’s life? What if you need to shop for essential items and possibly come into contact with someone with the virus? What impact does close proximity have for both disabled people and carers living together without a break? The pressure cooker heats up.
Chief Executive NNSWLHD Wayne Jones says in the Northern NSW Local Health District, COVID-19 planning and response includes support for all members of the community, including vulnerable people like those affected by homelessness and domestic violence.
‘Our existing understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and anecdotal evidence to date suggests that for many people experiencing domestic violence, social distancing and self-isolation measures may place them at greater risk of harm.’
Mr Jones adds that the mental health implications of living through natural and other disasters can be cumulative and can intensify existing experiences of trauma.
‘People’s complex coping responses to violence, abuse and childhood neglect, such as alcohol and other drug use, or the impacts on existing mental health issues, may also increase during times of natural and other disasters, requiring enhanced health care.’
Mr Jones says the NSW Government has committed to a series of changes to enhance the support available to victims of domestic violence during COVID-19. ‘The NSW Health website and new Department of Communities and Justice COVID-19 (coronavirus) website contains information about how the community and frontline services are being supported during the COVID-19 pandemic.’
NSW Health currently provides a response to domestic and family violence through the Domestic Violence Routine Screening (DVRS) Program, Social Work services, Emergency Departments, specialist Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol services, and Aboriginal Family Health services.
‘Northern NSW Local Health District is working with key service partners to ensure that the needs of individuals and their families who are victims of domestic and family violence continue to be met,’ said Mr Jones.
‘Violence Abuse and Neglect service provision continues to be a priority of the LHD during this time, and domestic and family violence support services will continue to support people to stay safe.
The nurse I spoke to said kindness helps. ‘When he apologised, it wasn’t to get it done with, it was because he cared about how I felt.’
The ex-mayor says it is a really stressful time. ‘I think sometimes we think we’re ok and coping, when underneath the surface we’re really anxious and frightened and we aren’t operating at our best because of this.’
There are a range of services providing immediate support to individuals experiencing domestic or family violence.
• 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732 – is a confidential information, counselling and support service;
• NSW Domestic Violence Line – 1800 65 64 63 – is a state-wide telephone crisis counselling and referral service for women;
• Child Protection Helpline: 132 111;
• NSW Elder Abuse Helpline: 1800 628 221;
• Men’s Referral Service – 1300 766 491 – provide telephone counselling, information and referrals for men;
• Link2Home – 1800 152 152 – can help refer women experiencing domestic violence to crisis accommodation; and
• Lifeline – 13 11 14 – is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
If you are in danger or in an emergency, always contact Triple Zero (000).
There’s isolation and there’s isolation.
For most folk, isolation means just doing the right thing to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
For some folk, the very old, the very young, people with some pre-existing conditions and many people with a disability, isolation is a matter of life or death, and making sure they are truly isolated holds a greater weight for them. READ MORE
There have been lots of photobombing opportunities for pets recently, with many more humans working from home and virtual meetings being interrupted by all sorts of happy animals with no respect for social distancing.
Furry friends have a big upside though – a growing body of research suggests that getting a pet is one of the best things you can do for your health. READ MORE
Fundraising events for causes have always been a big part of Australian life. Old standbys like cake stalls, raffles, garage sales, trivia nights and car washes are taking a hit at the moment with social distancing limits, but with a bit of creativity, you can still raise funds for your worthy cause.
There’s no shortage of those! READ MORE
Don’t panic! Now that we’re all spending an unhealthy amount of time on the internet, it’s easy to get swept up in strange human crowd behaviours even while we’re self-isolating. What to believe? Who to trust? Is that thing everyone’s sending around actually true? READ MORE
Bluesfest isn’t happening, Splendour has been postponed and even James Bond is on ice while we all learn about social distancing, but that doesn’t mean humans aren’t still getting together. Technology, so often blamed for isolating people, is also making new connections possible. READ MORE
David Kingston and I before we were parents – How much we thought we knew. What little we actually knew – about life and love and parenting and adulting. What little we knew about being gentle with each other when it was needed most. What little we knew about the mental health help we BOTH needed. Photo Paul West.
The Wikipedia entry for feminism says: ‘Feminism is a range of social movements, political movements, and ideologies that aim to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes’.
Yep, that’s me. Equality for all. In fact, if you took a peek at my sensis entry for ‘religion’ you’d see ‘equalitarian’, though I think it will be a while before the movement catches up to ‘Jedi’.
Equality for all, including animals (I am an annoying vegan), women, children and even men – ALL earthlings… READ MORE
I’m often told how nice my lunch looks, so I thought through 2020, I share some of my meals on Tasty Bowl Tuesday.
This weeks Tasty Bowl was made by my sister. She was visiting from interstate and she kindly prepped lunch while I was out running errands.
Eve practises veganism and so she created a wonderful plant based lunch for us.
The meal included - A green salad with tomatoes, olives and cucumber, as well as tofu cooked with ginger, zucchini and roasted capsicum. Raw corn was added after cooking with a dollop of hummus.
Rachel Jeffery Dietitian
People ask what they can do to help the planet then they stick their fingers in their ears and ‘la la la la la’ when you give them an answer.
Well, the answer is – a food trend is shaping up to be the biggest lifestyle change in 2020 as veganism takes hold of growing numbers of climate activists.
Animal welfare aside, people are turning to veganism as it becomes clear that animal agriculture is causing a lot of harm to the planet as it produces less food per square hectare than cropping, and we just need the extra tree space that cows, pigs, chickens and sheep on death row are currently using.
Also, the oceans are a lot healthier with sea life in them rather than in your belly.
People are also working out that you are fitter, faster, stronger and healthier on a plant-based diet which is taking the strain off the medical industry – if you haven’t watched The Game Changers* yet then you haven’t seen Schwarzenegger at his best.
We double-dare you to watch it.
(*Nothing gory or judgey people, just some
awesome athletes winning, winning, winning
on quinoa, carrots and chickpeas!)
As part of the V-Day events for global revolution to end violence against women and children, the fifth edition of the Vagina Conversations played to sold-out houses last Friday and Saturday in Byron Bay… READ MORE
Survival Day in Byron Bay played host to a very special visitor when the Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra, a senior Yolngu man of the Dhurilli clan nation of Northeast Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, spoke to the crowd gathered on Main Beach.
Dr Djiniyini Gondarra has spent much of the last 50 years of his life as a civil rights activist for his people.
From his early years he has walked gracefully in two worlds as a Yolngu lawman, spiritual leader, freedom fighter and community leader.
A day that everyone can celebrate
Dr Gondarra believes that the day Australians celebrate being Australian should be a day that everyone can celebrate, not a day that Indigenous people are in mourning. ‘The 26th of January, this “Australia Day” we are being asked to celebrate the day Captain Phillip came and put that flag here? For us, this is the invasion day.
'I would like to see them change the date so that we can celebrate something about mourning and how we lost our great people.
'Then, I would love to see them choose another date for Australia Day when we all, whether we are Aboriginal or white or anyone who has been naturalised an Australian, can celebrate the birth of a nation, when the seven colonies came together: January 1.
Land Rights Act designed to divide
Dr Gondarra says he wants to see a way that Indigenous people can make a treaty with the government but believes many of the obstacles are seated in the Land Rights Act and that only people from certain parts of country can be recognised on that country.
'In this area here there are the Arakwal, the Bundjalung and you are all allies but there is a particular clause in the Land Rights Act that says in this country here, only Arakwal people can be recognised here, not somebody else. That’s written in there. That’s a divide and conquer, because, if you are allies you are stronger.’
Dr Gondarra says the way Aboriginal people work is to have allies – there are pathways to visit another nation and enter into a treaty with them.
’We enter a parley system to do business, we sell something to them and they sell something to us – there is a pathway. That’s what it’s about. What I am trying to do is find a way that the government can come and sit with us, parley with the elders of all the nations – forget about land councils, forget the people that the government have “shaped” and we are told “this is your leader”. No! This is not my leader. You shape them and give them to us. No! They are not our leaders, we didn’t chose them – send the government diplomats to talk to us, to the elders, to our chosen leaders.’
A new film made with people power
Dr Gondarra is set to make a new documentary with local film director Sinem Saban who has worked closely with him for the last 12 years, in particular for her first documentary Our Generation.
Ms Saban and Dr Gondarra are joining forces again for a new project, Luku Ngarra, which Saban says will not only celebrate the humble yet profound life of Dr Gondarra, but also his vision and wisdom for a better Australia.
‘This film is a sign of the times more now than ever,’ says Ms Saban. ‘But it would have been just as relevant 10 or 20 years ago, it’s just that perhaps audiences might not have been ready to actually stop and listen to the message back then.
‘Many people now are witnessing the faults of the colonial ideology we live under, the cracks are expanding. And I don’t just refer to what we have done to the environment, but also to the way our so-called democratic government system is a shambles, how we can wage a war at the drop of a hat or how the patriarchy treats women.
‘Indigenous culture and law has a lot to teach us about these things. Women are revered just as mother earth is, and priorities are not with warmongering but with societal cohesion and balance.
We need to listen to our Indigenous people
‘I can’t think of any other people that we need to be listening to right now other than our Indigenous people. More so than scientists and academics.'
Ms Saban says she is forever humbled and honoured to have the trust of her Yolngu family to make this film. ‘I don’t take it lightly. I think it is imperative that when non-indigenous film-makers make films about them that they are involved in every step of the process. They are the executive decision-makers. They are the ones who make the final call. I am just the facilitator of their messages.
'If I don’t do this with full integrity, I run the risk of doing more damage than good. I am driven to make more educational resources for our classrooms, lounge rooms and global community.'
Ms Saban believes wholeheartedly that funding for the film must come with no strings attached in order for the film to be made with full integrity and for this reason she and all the stakeholders have chosen to crowdfund. ‘I want to demonstrate that independent film and media is one of the most important forms of communication in our society. It is gravely at risk of being homogenised.’
Dr Gondarra, who turns 75 this week, will head home soon to continue his work forging a better Australia for all of its people.
‘I want to be a bridge-builder,’ says Dr Gondarra. ‘I want to help both sides’.
This article first appeared in The Echo in December 2019
The latest national gambling statistics make sobering reading. In spite of horse racing ads on the Opera House, poker machines are by far the biggest contributor, with $12 billion lost across Australia in 2016–17 and almost half of that in NSW.
Over $200 million of that comes from the northern rivers, making it one of the worst-affected areas in the state…READ MORE
Is it a coincidence that national Anti-Poverty Week starts on the calendar the week right where Responsible Gambling Awareness Week finished off? Or that the week where we look at homelessness also falls the week after Mental Health Week?
One would have to say that two of the main contributing factors to homelessness are gambling and mental health.
Nothing makes poverty and homelessness more poignantly apparent than six days of solid rain. There’s nothing quite so sad as a homeless person bedraggled and wet.
It’s becoming far too common. I saw it today on my way into work – a man huddled on a step with a blanket around him, right in the centre of Mullumbimby…READ MORE
According to the Christian bible, the prophet Jesus tells us we must love one another. There’s no addendum stating that the love can be retracted if the recipient turns out to be LGBTQI+, that is, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and other gender and sexual preferences.
Apparently a new document has superseded the ancient text – a report that suggests Jesus’ love has conditions attached.
On 22 November 2017, the Prime Minister, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, announced the appointment of an Expert Panel to examine whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion…READ MORE
There are few who would disagree that Arakwal woman Yvonne Stewart is a strong, intelligent woman who is a role model for indigenous people, in particular, Aboriginal girls.
This assumption is flawed in that Yvonne is actually a strong, intelligent woman who is a role model for all people regardless of race and, in particular, a wonderful example to all girls regardless of nationality or creed. And there’s the rub for reconciliation.
Too often white fellas, in their ‘tolerance’ of the first peoples, relegate Aboriginal Australians to a ‘them and us’ status as a nation and a people. White Australia, in its rush to fall over itself over-compensating for the horrors of the past, is missing the point: we can only be reconciled when we are one body of humanity.
It has become a habit in recent years for the worst type of separation to happen and it is not helping the ‘Aboriginal problem’…READ MORE
Once upon a time the Merlyn (a title, not a name), would stand on a hill beside a field and watch two opposing sides beat the crap out of each other.
These clashes always resulted in death, and the victorious team would sing bawdy songs and prance around the paddock with the day’s trophies: anything from metal rings stolen from arms and fingers, and animal skin jerkins pilfered from lifeless opponents, to parading the head of the other team’s captain on the business end of a spear.
Think Mel Gibson and blue face paint. You get the idea. But I digress into gore.
Forget men in tight kilts, and let your mind wander to our dear Merlyn on the grassy knoll. His job was to oversee the action and hold his staff above his head for the duration of the battle.
The reason for this being that in those days of yore, the definitive primates of the time were a superstitious bunch and believed that the Merlyn had mystical powers. Standing up high for all to see, in clan colours under the tribal flags, he was a constant reminder that the gods were on their side. Any given Merlyn’s stamina in keeping his trusty wand aloft showed that he was wise and strong and able to out-Merlyn the other wizard – and probably that his penis was larger and that he had a cherry red cart in his stable as well.
This mystical fellow had to literally ‘uphold’ the army if they were to win. Soldiers would sneak sidelong glances to the hillock betwixt parry and thrust to make sure that the magic was still guiding their swords, and bloody Merlyn had better be there.
The ultimate barracker.
The problem was that these battles sometimes lasted for hours and even days and his arms would get a tad sore; one suspects that he may have had a stunt magician for such occasions and kept himself fresh for the victory par-tay.
Jump forward several hundred years and things haven’t changed all that much. The troops still battle it out on the paddock and encourage fans to sing and swish banners and scream till they’re hoarse. The punters still paint their faces and wear the right colours but have let weary arms fall, and in an attempt to placate the warriors have renamed upholding the battle the ‘Mexican wave’.
Sport fans are a breed apart, well actually a half breed. Those that can be seen to be normal, holding down jobs, raising families and being solid community members, don colours and become animals – and I am not talking about the other mongrel breed, the ‘sport parent’, who should be bound and muzzled (the umpire is not a poof – not that there’s anything wrong with that) – but the folk to whom the mere mention of the words guernsey, pitch and, dare I say, ball creates a simultaneous desire to yell obscenities and drink beer or, as my mate Grumpy Gutz used to say of his Victorian compatriots: drink bee-ah.
I once had an English boyfriend. A gentle man who was kind to children and old folk and a person who I have a hard time believing would harm a fly. He told me of a misspent youth in the UK as one of waiting in soccer stadium car parks for the families and older fans to go home before he and his brothers in arms would face off against their counterparts from the opposing team. He doesn’t ever recall there being a death, but there were certainly blood and bruises. He recounted, ashamedly, how he once held someone down while his mate kicked the man into unconsciousness. In the face. This was a common after game ‘sport’ among his contemporaries, all in the name of fanhood. He was a mild mannered courier by day.
Does sport turn fans into fanatics?
I like sport. I used to play sport. I can tell you what a tennis racquet looks like. I was a champion netballer until my boobs got too big and I was in danger of a broken jaw every time I shot for goal. But I have never been a huge fan of sport, unless of course by fan you mean my one big, black and white eyed, Colliwobbling, men in tight shorts ogling, Hot Pies eating love of the one true Australian game of aerial ping-pong: F-O-O-D-Y!
I am mad. I have to make sure I am distracted on Grand Final day, because no matter who is playing (God help my house if it’s Collingwood), I get a knot in my belly and my kids look on in horror and embarrassment as I scream at the tube and call the ump the most disgusting names in the bluest of Carlton blue language. It’s like a switch is turned on somewhere.
One minute I am normal (well normal for me), the next I am a total lunatic (well lunatic for me, which is pretty bad). Inexplicable.
Maybe I am the reincarnation of an ancient wizard. Does Nathan Buckley really think I have a magic wand and command over the gods?
C’arna Mighty Mighty Hot Pies!
In 1994, Faith was tortured and raped for five hours on Main Beach, Byron Bay.
The monster who did this to her came close to killing her yet today Faith feels lucky.
Not lucky that she survived and certainly not lucky that she was raped, but lucky that in the days after her attack she was not treated as if she was somehow to blame for her ordeal, as if she had asked for it.
When Echonetdaily spoke to Faith last year she chose to tell her story anonymously for fear of exposure to the perpetrator under the very real threat of her assailant being given parole, but the impending SlutWalk in Byron Bay has moved Faith to come forward and speak out against those who blame and shame women… READ MORE