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08 April 2015

Destroy the Joint, a site dedicated to all women who, according to radio announcer Alan Jones, are “destroying the joint”, has this year been counting female deaths in Australia due to violence. By March 31, 28 women had been killed. If I am reading the other statistics I have been able to research correctly, that puts us ahead of the “national average”, which stood at about one woman a week.

What an absolutely shocking and deplorable human number to be quoting in any circumstance.

Just as worrying is VicHealth’s National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women 2013 (NCAS) survey of 17,500 Australians. The survey found a growing number of Australians think that “a victim is at least partially to blame for incidents of domestic and sexual violence; almost half believe that rape results from men not being able to control their need for sex. And one in six people surveyed think that women who say ‘no’ to sex, really mean ‘yes’.”

I recently saw the documentary by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin, India’s Daughter. It tells the story of the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey, in Delhi, two years ago, and has been banned in India.

The rape and murder of the young medical student brought women and men out onto the street in protest, not just at the crime and its brutality but because of the way women are treated in India by the whole of Indian society. The banning of the documentary by the Indian government has brought further protest.

Violence is a choice – it is not inevitable because ‘a man cannot control himself’, and certainly it is not the fault of someone catching a bus home at night or walking home from a train station, or whatever. Surely, as a choice we can plan to stop it.

Ashleigh Haylee 200X200 2

I believe our work with Young Vagabond (pictured above) is one strategy that will create change and have a lasting impact. YV has been holding gender equality workshops in Victorian - and soon NSW - high schools to create young women and men who question gender stereotypes and inequality. YV wants to foster a sense of individual power in students and respect.

Speaking from my own perspective, and having brought up two daughters, I know how important a healthy sense of self-awareness and having the confidence to know your own worth is. If you’re going to feel and be equal and have the strength to ignore the generalisations society may try to saddle you with, then you need to have a plan – a personal plan about what you will and will not accept and what you are looking for in the way others treat you and you treat others. You also need a healthy sense of self-respect and a financial plan, which I know is not always easy, but certainly in Australia is easier than in some other countries. (I am talking about compulsory superannuation, of course.)

Without personal financial freedom - which provides choice – you are at the mercy of others: partners, family, government, community, society.

At present, I’m in pre-retirement phase, working on what I will do with my time after September this year. Financially, I took myself in hand some time ago – but not, I have to admit, without a few prompts. Some of you have probably read before in this blog about the failed venture I went into with my ex-husband, leaving a great job in banking and finance to fund and work with him in hospitality in a business that failed and that left me holding the bag – a very empty one.

Lately, I’ve been catching up with past mentors, bosses, people I respect, to chat about the future. One of those catch-ups happened to be with a boss I had at the time I made the rash decision to back my ex’s business with all my savings and super. He cautioned me against the move and when I did return to the bank, tail between my legs, it was he who sat me down to plan out how I would have the financial security I now have. I will always respect and thank him for that, and it’s why I can never stress enough the need to plan your superannuation and start young with saving for later.

I am also planning what I might do post retiring. There are offers both here and overseas. I’ve made no decisions on anything yet but I will, in due course, tell you all about them. In the meantime, I can say, none of those offers will be at the expense of my ‘me’ time, which will include looking after myself and my health. Not that I am sick, but like all of us, work and stress have sometimes crippled my best intentions: daily exercise, relaxation, hobbies and a few more positive food choices are in need of nurturing.

hot cross buns

One final thing I have to ask: what is it about Christmas and Easter that brings out the worst in people? Is it stress and being time poor? Or is it that many of us launch into them without a plan?

Take hot cross buns. Over three days of Easter I heard about and witnessed some truly awful lapses in dignity, all tied to whether or not people queuing for hot cross buns (albeit these were from a fabulous boutique bakery in Melbourne and much sought after) were successful or not. It may seem very minor but the choice to explode at those behind the counter – to shoot the messenger, so to speak – goes some way toward proving that we all have the potential to behave well or badly and the choice is yours.

I don’t believe you can get up on Good Friday morning and expect to get buns easily, but if you planned ahead and ordered them I bet you weren’t thwarted. I also understand the importance of customer service but more importantly, when do we ask ourselves to own our own behaviours?


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  • Kate Cutri

    Kate Cutri 5 years ago

    A great stream of thought. Thanks for a light, insightful read. It compelled me to comment to say: "you made me stop and think".