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Messages - Mary-Jane

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1
General Discussions / One Missing Child Is One Too Many
« on: February 19, 2018, 01:33:46 PM »

One Missing Child Is One Too Many

Missing Children’s Statistics:

The lack of a common definition of “missing child,” and a common response to the issue, results in few reliable statistics on the scope of the problem around the world.

Even with this challenge, we know that:

Quote
In Australia, an estimated 20,000 children are reported missing every year. Australian Federal Police, National Coordination Centre.

In Canada, an estimated 45,288 children are reported missing each year. Government of Canada, Canada’s Missing – 2015 Fast Fact Sheet.

In Germany, an estimated 100,000 children are reported missing each year. Initiative Vermisste Kinder.

In India, an estimated 96,000 children go missing each year. Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Missing Children of India.

In Jamaica, an estimated 1,984 children were reporting missing in 2015. Jamaica’s Office of Children’s Registry

In Russia, an estimated 45,000 children were reported missing in 2015. Interview with Pavel Astakhov MIA “Russia Today”, Apr. 4, 2016.

In Spain, an estimated 20,000 children are reported missing every year. Spain Joins EU Hotline for Missing Children, Sep. 22, 2010.

In the United Kingdom, an estimated 112,853 children are reported missing every year. National Crime Agency, UK Missing Persons Bureau.

In the United States, an estimated 460,000 children are reported missing every year. Federal Bureau of Investigation, NCIC.

This, however, is only a snapshot of the problem. In many countries, statistics on missing children are not even available; and, unfortunately, even available statistics may be inaccurate due to: under-reporting/under-recognition; inflation; incorrect database entry of case information; and deletion of records once a case is closed.

The lack of numbers, and the discrepancy in the numbers that do exist, is one of the key reasons why ICMEC developed and advocates for the Model Missing Child Framework, which assists countries with building strong, well-rounded national responses, and facilitates more efficient investigations, management, and resolution of missing children cases.

We firmly believe that one missing child is one too many, and we are committed to improving the global understanding of and response to missing and abducted children.

Rapid Emergency Child Alert Systems

In the United States, the AMBER Alert Program – named for 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and murdered near her grandparents’ home in Texas in 1996 – is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, and transportation agencies in which an urgent bulletin is activated in the most serious child-abduction cases.

AMBER stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response.” The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of the child. Broadcasters use the Emergency Alert System to air a description of the abducted child and suspected abductor. The alert is distributed through various technology (e.g., text message, e-mail, fax, radio and television broadcast, social media, etc.) to reach the largest number of people in the fastest time possible.

In addition to the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, emergency child abduction alert systems are in place in the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. Each country has its own criteria and guidelines for how and when to launch an alert.

Within the European Union, an EU-wide alert system is being considered with the aim of all EU Member States sharing information if a child has gone missing and there is the possibility that he or she has left his or her home country. This system will be led by law enforcement with the help of NGOs. The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), with the support of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S.-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, assists countries around the world with developing alert programs and sharing best practices.

For more information on how to develop a rapid emergency child alert system please read ICMEC’s Framework.


2
General Discussion Law / A Same-Sex Domestic Violence Epidemic Is Silent
« on: February 19, 2018, 12:05:36 PM »
A Same-Sex Domestic Violence Epidemic Is Silent

Typical framing of partner abuse as a heterosexual issue—with men abusing women—does a disservice to victims in abusive homosexual relationships.

MAYA SHWAYDER  NOV 5, 2013
   
 
Two months into their relationship, Chris's boyfriend José pushed him to the ground in a fit of anger and ripped the clothes off his body. "We had gone out dancing, and when we got home, I was changing in front of him," said Chris, 34.

"I had on my favorite pair of underwear; it was the pair I had worn the first time we went out. He saw the underwear, and just flew into a rage, saying, 'How dare you wear those! Those are for me!'"

José threw him on the floor of their bedroom closet, and smashed the only light bulb in the room, leaving them in darkness. He loomed above Chris on the floor as he tore the underwear away. That was the first time things had ever turned violent between the two.

"I was in such a state of shock," Chris recounted seven years later, his fingers tapping at a wine glass stem and his brown eyes drifting. "I thought, 'Oh, he's just jealous; it's the drinking,' and I let it go. There was a lot of drinking in this relationship. No drugs, but lots of drinking."

"The idea that a woman can be the one who's abusive throws a wrench in the traditional view. The idea that only men can be batterers makes it a lot harder for men to get access to shelter."

The second time was worse. "He was angry at something—I can't remember what—and I was laughing," said Chris. José again became incensed, strode into the kitchen and grabbed a butcher knife. "He pulled me by my hair, had me on my knees and had the butcher knife at my neck."

Chris says he didn't react. At the time, his sister was pregnant, and he wanted to live to see his niece. "I talked him down, told him to give me the knife. I put my hand on his, and we put the knife back in place together," said Chris, demonstrating by holding his two hands together.

That night, José locked their bedroom door for fear that Chris would escape and tell someone. The next morning, he told Chris, "You know I didn't mean it, right?"

"That was his way of apologizing to me," Chris scoffed. The relationship lasted nine months, but continued to affect Chris for years after it ended.

***

Sam, 25, describes himself as having been "naive and impressionable," during the time he was dating David. "He's not a stupid person," Sam told me over Skype. "He never hit me or threw things directly at me, but he would frighten me enough to make me back down."

According to Sam, David became increasingly controlling after they moved in together, three or four months into their relationship. At that point, because of the apartment lease, he said, "it was too late to just up and go."

One of David's main methods of control was evoking pity and threatening to harm himself.

"He would get very sad and upset which, in hindsight, was a plea for compassion," Sam said, "As time went on, he became controlling through jealousy. Any attention that I didn't give to him—whether I gave it to friends, family, or other guys, even just other gay men who were my friends—he would get very upset if I hung out with them too much."

David eventually forced Sam to open a joint bank account so that Sam couldn't "stockpile" any funds and move out. He increasingly tried to cut off Sam’s contacts with friends and family.


After two and a half years, Sam managed to end the relationship after David admitted he had returned to using cocaine.

***

LaTesha, 18, is a consummate Queens girl. Tough and stoic behind her soft voice and hooded sweatshirt, she is about to graduate from high school and wants to study criminal justice in college. She has already been beaten up by a girlfriend. "It only happened when we got into an argument," she said, her brown eyes getting serious. "If she felt like she was being disrespected, she would swing at me."

"We always argued," she continued. "But you know how a couple can argue and then just be back to normal? We would argue, be back to normal. When we argued again, she would bring up the last argument. And it would just build up.” There was always something to argue about and usually, LaTesha said, it was girls.

"She was so insecure," LaTesha recalled. "If I'd be hanging out with one of my friends who was a girl, she'd see me and say 'What's this? You cheating on me?' And I always told her, 'You need to stop.' And then we would get into it. It was a pattern. We would break up for one week, get back together another. We must have broken up about 20 times."

The final break-up happened when Monique landed several punches on LaTesha in front of the staff of Safe Space, an LGBT community center in Jamaica, Queens.

***

Quote
"There can be a fear of making the community look bad. Some people might have a legitimate fear of being looked down on."

Chris, Sam, and LaTesha are smart people with educations, plans, and busy social lives. They all identify as homosexual, and they all have had experiences with physically or psychologically abusive partners who left them financially, mentally, or emotionally damaged. Domestic violence—or as it's often referred to today, intimate partner violence—is usually discussed in the context of heterosexual relationships. But partner violence is also an issue in the LGBTQ community, a fact that has only come to light in recent years.

Tre'Andre Valentine, the Community Programs Coordinator at The Network/La Red, a Boston-based domestic violence support group specifically for LGBTQ people, says that because domestic violence is still thought of as a heterosexual problem, there can be major hurdles when trying to find funding and conduct research, as well as when providing services to people who don't fit in the stereotype of a domestic violence survivor. "The idea that a woman can be the one who's abusive throws a wrench in the traditional view," Valentine said. "The idea that only men can be batterers makes it a lot harder for men to get access to shelter."

Yejin Lee, an associate at the Anti-Violence Program in New York City, said that the assumption of heterosexuality has been a huge stumbling block for gays and lesbians seeking refuge from an abuser. "One problem is the way domestic violence has been framed for the past 30 years," she said. Since the entire movement against domestic abuse started as a battered women's movement, Lee said, we are ingrained to think that victims are all are married, straight women.

As a mental health counselor with the Violence Recovery Program in Boston, Jessica Newman says that because the default assumption is that people are straight, there can be an attitude within shelters that a gay person somehow “deserved” the violence. "Same-sex relationships are often demonized or marginalized," she said, "So some people's attitudes are 'it serves you right.'"

But Newman, Lee, and Valentine all added that there are also internal factors that keep a cover of darkness over the issue of domestic violence in the gay community.

"There can be a fear of making the community look bad," said Newman. "Some people might have a real and legitimate fear of being looked down on, or not finding services through the police, judicial system, or a shelter. People don't want that negative image of the community out there."

Valentine added, "There's the idea that we'll be airing dirty laundry. It sort of discredits the community to say that abuse is happening, after all the work we've been doing [to enter mainstream society]. There's the feeling that we don't want to attach something additionally bad to us, so it's not talked about."

Sitting in a small restaurant near Madison Square Garden, Chris mulled over his past. "I know gay couples in the Bronx who beat the shit out of each other," he said. "The weird thing is, it's like fighting with your brother. You're going at each other, and you're not taking it seriously, and you don't think of it as a problem, it's just the fabric of your relationship. But you don't realize it's a piece of fabric you can cut out."

Raised in a conservative, military family, with a history of sexual abuse running on both sides, Chris said he always felt like the odd one out growing up. "I was raised to tolerate what was dished out," he remembered. "It was just dysfunctional. I grew up with a closeted uncle who died of AIDS and a mother who hit my father, who would then turn around and hit us."

Chris moved from Chicago to New York when he was 21 so that he could live life as an out gay man, he said. "I had a full time job, full time benefits, and my own apartment," he said. "That didn't last."

Chris met José at a lounge in Washington Heights in late September 2004, and for him, it was love at first sight. "I saw his eyes, the way he dressed," he said. "He made me feel secure. He was a husky guy. My ideal: a masculine Latino."

A honeymoon period ensued and within three months the two were living together. Chris said he doted on José, alienating friends and family in the process. But the honeymoon period ended soon after José moved in. He started taking over everything in Chris's life. "It started with verbal abuse," Chris said. "Little things: put downs about the apartment, about me, and then it turned into everything. He wasn't happy with anything."

"I grew up self-conscious. I was made to feel inferior at school and at home," Chris continued. "And I just lost all the self-esteem that I had found when I came here and came out. I'm smart! I graduated from college, I've won awards. And he just made me feel like so much less than I was. [But] the less happy he was, the more I would try to fix things."

Chris sensed José wasn't happy, but it never occurred to him that the relationship had turned bad, or would soon turn physically violent.

"I didn't tell anybody [about the violence in the relationship],” Chris said. “I didn't want to! They're just going to tell you what you don't want to hear."

The summer after José moved in, after those first incidents of violence, Chris was mugged on the street outside their apartment. The thief punched him in the nose, but when Chris went to run after him, José grabbed his arm and stopped him.

"He wouldn't let me call the cops," recalled Chris. "José didn't have legal papers to be in the U.S. and he was scared of what might happen."

Furious, traumatized, and gushing blood, Chris turned around and backhanded José on the street. The two stood looking at each other. Chris remembers this as the moment when the relationship truly began to go downhill.

"I didn't think about leaving until that moment," he said. "It got to the point where I was crying in public. I was crying at work. I couldn't speak my feelings."

The very last time José turned violent was close to the end of their relationship. "He was always on the phone a lot," Chris said. "So one time I reached for his phone to go through it and see who he was talking to, and he just grabbed my wrist and twisted."

By this point, Chris remembers, José was out all the time and coming home late, or not coming home at all. In August of 2005, Chris kept a promise to himself. "I told him, 'I can't count on these fingers how many times you've lied,'" Chris said, spreading all ten fingers out on the table in front of him. "And I promised myself once I couldn't count your lies on these fingers, it would be over.'"

That night, Chris went out without José. "I told myself if I could kiss someone else, then I didn't really love him. Well, I kissed someone else, and I went home and told him to move out."

Data on the rates of same-sex partner abuse have only become available in recent years. Even today, many of the statistics and materials on domestic violence put out by organizations like the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Justice still focus exclusively on heterosexual relationships, and specifically heterosexual women. While the CDC does provide some resources on its website for the LGBT population, the vast majority of the information is targeted at women.  Materials provided by the CDC for violence prevention and survivor empowerment prominently feature women in their statistics and photographs.

Quote
"[LGBTQ people] have not had a very good relationship with police and law enforcement, so folks may not be reporting it."

In 2013, the CDC released the results of a 2010 study on victimization by sexual orientation, and admitted that “little is known about the national prevalence of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking among lesbian, gay, and bisexual women and men in the United States.” The report found that bisexual women had an overwhelming prevalence of violent partners in their lives: 75 percent had been with a violent partner, as opposed to 46 percent of lesbian women and 43 percent of straight women. For bisexual men, that number was 47 percent. For gay men, it was 40 percent, and 21 percent for straight men.

The most recent statistics available on same-sex intimate partner violence from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which focuses on LGBT relationships, reported 21 incidents of intimate partner homicides in the LGBT community, the highest ever. Nearly half of them were gay men and, for the second year in a row, the majority of survivors were people of color—62 percent.

In 2012, NCAVP programs around the country received 2,679 reports of intimate partner violence, a decrease of around 32 percent from 2011. However the report noted that many of the NCAVP’s member organizations were operating at decreased capacity due to limiting the number of cases they were able to take. The report said that excluding data from organizations, there was actually a 29 percent increase in reports of violence from 2011 to 2012.

"Statistics are very controversial," wrote Curt Rogers, executive director of the Gay Men's Domestic Violence Program, in an email. "And it's possible that men are underreported. The bottom line for me [is that] it happens to men, period, so we should be inclusive in our approach and not marginalize the male victim population."

Valentine, from The Network/La Red, said that in his experience, the rates of violence in the LGBTQ community seem comparable to those in the straight community. "The rate of domestic violence that has been documented is one in four women, and it's pretty much the same for LGBTQ folks," he said.

"Reporting can be really difficult, and historically we [LGBTQ people] have not had a very good relationship with police and law enforcement, so folks may not be reporting it."

In any case, he continued, the police might not believe the victims when they call, the attitude often being, "You're both men, work it out between yourselves," or, "Women aren't violent; they don't hit each other."

Indeed, according to the NCAVP report, only 16.5 percent of survivors reported interacting with the police, but in one-third of those cases, the survivor was arrested instead of the abuser. A mere 3.7 percent of survivors reported seeking access to shelters.

"We need to change the way we look at domestic violence," Rogers said. "I don't see it in any way as a gender issue. I see it as a power and a control issue."

***

Sam met his first and, so far, only boyfriend, David, outside of a club one night while he was in his second year of college. "The first thing I remember thinking when I saw him was 'Oh God, never,'" he said, laughing. "As in, I would never date somebody like that. He was very assertive; almost a purposely bitchy persona, which is not uncommon in the club scene."

But date they did. After a bit of flirting back and forth on Facebook, within three or four months, as Sam remembers it, they were living together.

"In hindsight," said Sam, "I sort of already knew things were off, which really should have been my chance to get away. But it wasn't until we moved in when I started to realize that amount of control that was going on."

David soon became aware that Sam was unhappy and, according to Sam, he increasingly tried to force a façade of a stable life and healthy relationship on him.

"He went from using emotions to manipulate me, to smashing things, to threatening to commit suicide, to threatening to harm our cat, to threatening to ruin me in various ways—socially, academically, that kind of thing. About a year in, I tried twice to get out of it. He would say 'Okay, that's fine,' and then he would smash up the apartment. He would smash mirrors or push the Christmas tree over or threaten to kill himself. That's usually when the threats became the worst, when he was trying to control me into staying," Sam said, recounting once incident when he tried to break up with David, and David smashed an entire rack of drying dishes, saying, 'Well I guess we don't need any couples dishes anymore.'"

Sam insisted that David was delusional and trying to cling to the idea of a stable, normal life with Sam. David, as it turns out, did not have a stable background. He came from a troubled family: His mother was alcoholic, and his parents, while loving, were dysfunctional and destructive. In addition, David told Sam that an older boy had molested him when he was 12 or 13. He developed a cocaine habit that, he told Sam when they met, he had kicked.

Both men eventually grew depressed, and Sam felt increasingly frightened and isolated by David's behavior—not to mention embarrassed that the neighbors could always hear when David flew off the handle. He had only one friend he felt he could turn to, who of course pleaded with Sam to break things off.

During this time, David began slipping back into cocaine use, and Sam buried himself in his studies. Focusing on earning an honors degree, he said, helped get him through.

"Often he would try to 'guilt trip' me about the time I spent doing school," Sam recalled. "But I was able to hang on to that as sort of a hope and a goal."

In December 2010, David forced Sam into an engagement. "I was so afraid of what he was capable of," Sam recalled. "It was less problematic to keep this up than to break it up." Then, in mid-August 2011, David came forward and admitted he had started using cocaine again.

"I was in the shower," said Sam. "And he came in the washroom and said, 'I have something to tell you. I've been doing cocaine again. A lot of it, and spending a good chunk of our money on it.' We'd been really struggling money-wise, like, probably below poverty line at some points."

Sam got out of the shower and went out, and David began making calls to friends and family, admitting his problem, telling them that he'd been lying to them and taking money from them.

"Years ago, he had had one slip up," Sam said. "And I said, 'Okay, I get it, you're a recovering addict. But you do it again, you slip up again, and it's over.' And that's the card I pulled. I'd been looking for a way out for two years."

The psychology of domestic abuse, both those who perpetrate it and those who survive it, has been studied for years. Multiple factors have been shown to contribute, including childhood abuse, mental illness, cultural norms, stress, and unbalanced power dynamics in the relationship.

Brian Norton has been a therapist in New York for 12 years, specializing in "challenges related to gay men (homophobia, coming out, etc.)" and couples therapy. He said that often a controlling or abusive personality forms in childhood.

"We all recreate the same dynamics over and over again. Ninety-nine if not 100 percent of the time, victims have had previous abusive relationships."

Abusive relationships are, of course, emotionally draining for the victim. "It's disorienting," Norton said. "One minute they're telling you they love you, and being strong, and loving and positive; then they're cheating on you, or not respecting you, and not paying attention to what you need."

Benjamin Seaman, also a New York-based therapist who has been practicing since 2001, specializes in polyamorous relationships and has also seen the "full spectrum" of gay couples. In Seaman's philosophy, violence and abuse are "usually the tools of someone who feels powerless." Seaman agreed that bad relationships fuel other bad relationships and that sometimes the lingering stress of abusive childhood incidents leads to an ongoing shame in adulthood. This can further contribute to stress in a gay relationship, said Seaman, when one or both of the people are "self-loathing" gays.

Norton gave the example of one couple currently in his care. "One person in the couple doesn't have his life together, and his partner does. He feels intimidated and threatened by the success and stability of the partner. So he became abusive."

***

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"I didn't see it as [her] beating me. But I had to realize that's not the answer for when we get into altercations.”

LaTesha, the high-school student from Queens, admits that when she was in first grade, she used to "do things that we weren't supposed to do" with a next door neighbor's daughter. The first person she came out to was her best friend when she was 15. Her mother found out by reading her diary. "She was just like, 'You love girls now? Not in my house!' and she started bashing me. And so I told her I would never tell her anything ever again."

LaTesha was 16 when she met Monique, who was 18, in school. The two started dating, and soon after, started fighting. "This scar, on my neck? Her," she said softly, massaging the thin line with her fingers. "That's from her nails."

LaTesha insists the two didn't physically fight often in their 19 months together. "I'm not the type to do that," she said. "If I love somebody, I will never put my hands on them. I just figured that she got mad, and she swung. That’s what happens when people get mad—I didn't see it as she was beating me. I didn't see it as that. But then I had to realize that's not always the answer for when we get into altercations.”

Others noticed. "People would come to me and ask what happened, 'cause I would usually have scratches or a little bruise on my face. I'd tell them I got into it with her and they'd say, 'I don't' understand why you're putting yourself through this.' I'd be like, 'Well, I love her, and I'm going to accept her for who she is.'"

Monique began trying to manipulate LaTesha, telling her who she could and couldn't hang out with. She bought LaTesha a cell phone and then took it back when she thought LaTesha was texting other girls. When they fought, Monique would hurl insults at LaTesha, saying, "I hope you die of AIDS," and calling her a slut. After the last time the two broke up, LaTesha said, "She just wouldn't let it go. She tried to get back with me. I was still in love with her [Monique], but I didn't want to be with her anymore."

At the time, LaTesha had started dating another girl. Monique didn't like this, tracked the pair down at Safe Space, and came in swinging at the new girlfriend. A final confrontation occurred in front of staff, counselors, and peers at Safe Space. LaTesha had begun volunteering as a peer educator there after she and Monique broke up for the last time. "I could have gotten banned from Safe Space," LaTesha said of the fight.

"We weren't even together, and she was, quote-unquote, in love with me. I was just like, 'No. You're not going to hit her. You got a problem, it's between me and you.' And she swung at me. She got in my face and said, 'What are you gonna do?' And she hit me, and then she did it again."

The Safe Space staff managed to separate the two, and LaTesha remained a peer counselor with the group.

Lesbian women can have a very hard time finding shelter. And sometimes, an abuser will call a shelter claiming to be a victim. "What may happen," said Valentine at Network/La Red, "is that both a survivor and an abuser can access services, so it might not be the safest harbor for a lesbian survivor."

Newman at the Violence Recovery Program said that proper screening techniques can help enhance shelters' safety. "We screen both parties," she said. "And we won't work with batterers. We'll refer them to a batterer's intervention program. But I've definitely seen it. People will see themselves as victims when they're not."

It's tough enough to get into a domestic violence shelter if you're straight, no matter your gender. Kristen Clonan is a spokesperson for Safe Horizon, which claims to be New York City's largest provider of domestic violence residence with nine shelters and around 725 beds throughout the city. Clonan said that in 2011, nearly 2,500 women, children, and men sought out shelter at Safe Horizon, and Safe Horizon's three hotlines field 163,000 calls annually.

Quote
"The staff might have a non-discrimination policy, but it's not enforced, and that definitely affects a lot of survivors."

That's a lot of demand for 725 beds. And shelters that cater to LGBT people are even more perilously few and far between. Cassildra Aguilera, the LGBTQ program coordinator for Safe Space, said there is one shelter in New York City that identifies as LGBTQ-specific, with 200 beds. Of the mainstream shelters, only 12 are LGBTQ friendly, and all are based in Manhattan. According to Network/La Red in Boston, only two of the 30 domestic violence shelters in Massachusetts are specifically geared toward LGBTQ people: Network/La Red, and the Gay Men's Domestic Violence Program. Of mainstream programs, only eight accept LGBT people. Many shelters, even if they say they're LGBT-friendly, reportedly fail when it comes to providing for LGBT safety needs.

Valentine of The Network/La Red said there's a lot of homophobia in shelters among shelter residents. "The staff might have a non-discrimination policy, but it's not enforced, and that definitely affects a lot of survivors."

Transgender people have an especially hard time, according to Newman. They might not find a shelter, because often neither men's nor women's shelters take transgendered people. If they find a place in a homeless shelter, they might be housed with the men, which could be dangerous, or with women, which can agitate shelter residents. Curious people may ask intrusive questions, or they might not be seen as "real" women or "real" men, which, Newman said, is tremendously demeaning.

A month after breaking up with José, Chris tried to commit suicide. He failed, and shortly after began a course of therapy that, he says, helped him come to terms not only with this damaging relationship, but also with his tumultuous family life. After a rough few years during which he suffered from depression and severely decreased libido, he has just begun to make his way into the dating scene again. He has a steady job working in children’s after-school education.

Sam graduated from college and has begun a master’s degree program. He and his friends work to actively ignore and cut David out of their lives, despite David's repeated attempts to be in touch and get back together. And Sam says he has begun to date again, as his mental health has slowly improved with the help of his psychiatrist and his counselor.

Soon after the last violent encounter with Monique, LaTesha met the girlfriend she is currently seeing and says that she has definitely learned from her experience with Monique.

"The girlfriend I have now, she's so much different than before. You know, if we argue, we just won't talk to each other. If we play-fight, and we know it's about to get serious, we'll stop."

LaTesha is still a volunteer peer educator with Safe Space. Every week, she works to educate the Queens community about the LGBT population and spread the message of safe sex and healthy relationships.

In May 2013, President Obama re-authorized the Violence Against Women Act. While the law still focuses on women in heterosexual relationships, it has a new section that includes coverage of same-sex partners—a big sign that attitudes are changing. Rogers and Newman both agree that circumstances are improving for gays seeking shelter and help.

"Twenty years ago there was nothing," Rogers said. "Now there are significantly more resources and a much higher likelihood of a positive response from mainstream providers and first responders."

As individuals and society come to recognize same-sex partner violence as an existing problem, there is hope.


3
Forgotten Stories of Violence Against Gay Men in New Zealand and Australia

Tess McClure Feb 16 2017, 2:33am

We spoke to photographer Sean Coyle about his work memorializing sites of homophobic violence.

A toilet block, a seaside clifftop, a lamp-lit street: The scenes photographed by Sean Coyle don't immediately give away signs of a dark past. But all are the sites of horrifying violence, inflicted on gay men in Australia and New Zealand since the 1970s.

Many of the locations have had their violent histories erased or forgotten, but Coyle's new exhibition, Cruising Wonderland, acts as a memorial to the notorious sites of homophobic hate crimes across Australasia. We spoke to Coyle about his project, his work, and his hopes for the future.

VICE: Can you tell us a little about the "Wonderland" that lends the title to this latest body of work?
Sean Coyle: I was looking at the history of New South Wales in Australia, which has a horrific history of homophobic violence, especially in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. I was looking at where that had happened, and the cliffs of Bondi were one of the significant sites. A number of men were thrown off the cliffs, and it was ignored by police or just treated as a suicide. Multiple men this happened to, and they didn't think to connect the dots. It was a particularly tough time in New Zealand and Australian history because it was in the height of the AIDS epidemic and the panic about AIDS by society, and that sort of fueled these groups of youths that took it on themselves to dish out violence to men and treat it as a sport, "poofter bashing." Anyway, in looking at this particular site, Bondi, I did a bit of research about the surrounding area and discovered that for about five years an early colonial theme park had existed there called Wonderland. I felt, having done the research about the site, it was quite a poignant historic reference: Wonderland.

And some of the other locations that appear in your photographs, are they each historically significant for acts of violence? What are their stories?
Yeah, the different places are. I photographed this toilet block in Hamilton, where a man was stabbed in the back by another man. The attacker also stabbed another man in a different toilet block as well. In court, he said he wanted to rid the world of homosexuals. And the other photo is Inverlochy Place, which is a Wellington Street where the 14-year-old Jeff Whittington was bashed and left for dead a number of years ago, because he was wearing nail polish on his way home one night. [Editor's Note: Whittington died from his injuries].

They are really dark and heavy subjects to be dealing with. How's it been for you, the experience of making the work and engaging with the stories as well?
The work is dark, and it's dark on purpose. Not just thematically dark, but the works are actually dark to see—so that they sort of just appear out of darkness, and I think that's really important for the work and in thinking about it. For me, lightness means clarity, and because I don't have that much clarity on the reasons behind why these things happen, the darkness is a really important aspect of it. Highlighting the dark history, for me, in particular the queer dark history in Australasia, I think is important. They become memorials, and it's important for us to remember. To remember our histories and move forward.

I imagine that these locations aren't memorialized in other, more formal ways, like the cliffs at Bondi and so on. Is this a way for you to begin that?
Yeah, it is. The tricky thing is trying ways to memorialize without sensationalizing as well. The work is somber and reflective in content, and actual material surface as well. Most of the work you see, they're printed on metal, so it's an incredibly glossy surface: When you are looking at the work, you're also seeing yourself in the work reflected into it. They're self reflective, and the somber nature of the content does allow for us to think and remember.

You're exhibiting as part of pride festival. Do you have any particular hopes with how people react with the work? Or what they take away from it?
I hope that people see beyond the images and are aware of the history and the place that it comes from. In the writing surrounding it, I hope that I've been clear about that. It is an opportunity to reflect on some of the dark history that queer people in New Zealand and Australia have been subjected to, and continue to be around the world, so while it's dark, I hope that people leave with some sense of hope, as well, of where we're moving to, and there are some works in the exhibition that do speak of hope, and are not hopeless.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Cruising Wonderland is running until April 2 at TSB Wallace Arts Centre in Auckland as part of pride festival.


4
Barriers to male victims accessing formal support services

While some male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence may experience a range of significant and negative consequences as a result of their victimisation, the literature and findings from stakeholder consultations suggest a large proportion of male victims may not be accessing formal support services following an incidence of violence. For many men, this is probably because they do not actually need formal support. Others, however, who may benefit from contact with formal support services, do not do so. The perceived and actual barriers to men engaging with formal support services that were raised by stakeholders and/or suggested in the literature are discussed here. Some of these barriers are quite specific to men, whereas others are more generic yet potentially more potent for men in combination with other, recognised obstacles.
Personal and social barriers to male victims engaging with formal support services

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Men set up their own barriers and boundaries (Service provider personal communication September 2012)

In describing the personal and social barriers that may inhibit male victims from seeking formal support, it is important that generalisations about male responses are not liberally applied. Nonetheless (and while stakeholders were hesitant about supporting generalities), there was agreement that social norms about what it means to be a man, privacy concerns and knowledge about the availability of victim support contributed as much as systematic barriers in discouraging contact with formal support.

Social norms and the concept of shame

Men, as observed by one stakeholder, were ‘victims of endemic machismo’ (Service provider personal communication September 2012). The effect was an unwillingness by some men to show any weakness, a default response of putting on a ‘tough front’ and a consequent denial of need for support, either informal or formal. Stakeholders attributed this trend in part to strong social interpretations of masculinity within some cultural groups. However, it should not be assumed that gender constructs only apply to men from backgrounds with acknowledged or overt cultural norms about masculinity, as they were just as valid for men (eg young men) from other social or cultural backgrounds.

Tied to male reticence about seeking support is the concept of shame. Again, the effect that shame can elicit on both male responses to victimisation and their help-seeking behaviour was largely identified as being more acute among Indigenous or CALD (eg Pacific, Middle Eastern, Sudanese) men but certainly not absent among other adult male victims. This shame originated from the experience of victimisation (ie being in circumstances where they were ‘helpless’ and unable to ‘protect themselves’ or others (Service providers personal communication September 2012)), compounded by self, family and/or social disapproval about perceived inability to cope and possible need for assistance. Indeed, shame was almost universally cited among the stakeholders interviewed as a highly influential constraint.

Help-seeking behaviour

The literature on help-seeking behaviour was shown in an earlier section of this report to be limited and the findings inconsistent. What emerged from the consultations, however, was a view that some men were less inclined to look for victim support and were less likely to know where to look.

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Men don’t know where to turn to (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

Indeed, it was suggested that men’s denial of need for support required the use of external prompting to encourage contact with victim support services. As one (male) service provider observed:

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This macho bullshit…means that men won’t go and find services themselves, they need to be referred (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

Men may deflect attention away from their support needs by focusing the service provider’s efforts towards their family members. As one stakeholder observed ‘[a] bloke feels obliged to put himself in the backseat and focus attention on everyone else’ (Service provider personal communication October 2012). One of a few examples provided by stakeholders was that of an elderly man whose relative had been a victim of a homicide. This man, who saw his position as the ‘protector’ of the family and contended that any support should be provided to the sister of the deceased, in spite of the service provider’s opinion that the man was the one more in need of support (Service provider personal communication September 2012). It was mentioned in the previous section that female relatives sometimes take it on upon themselves to enquire about services for male victims, often because they know their male relative will not make that step.

Interestingly, a few service providers suggested that male victims may be more willing to engage in support services if they came in the guise of structured and purposeful activity, such as Men’s Sheds and other forms of male cooperatives. Some men may be disinclined to seek or respond to support services if it is provided in conventional formats (eg one-to-one counselling) but more willing in situations where support is an outcome rather than the focus of the activity. These cooperatives were likened to ‘group therapy over a cup of tea’ (Service provider personal communication October 2012) and in a sense, represent an alternate way for male victims to respond to and cope with the effects of their victimisation. This feedback is supported by the literature, which suggested that

many men define themselves via their work, often feeling more comfortable in the workplace than in health oriented settings such as community health centres, hospitals, maternal and child health centres and general practices (Malcher 2009: 92).

This observation sheds some light on why men may be more comfortable undertaking structured activities that are underpinned by therapeutic principles and aims, rather than engaging with services that are easily identifiable as having a health or support focus.

Past experience and trust

Past experience and trust was nominated by stakeholders as a possible contributory factor in low reporting rates to police for male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence, and were suggested again when explaining disconnection from formal support. The consequence of past experience with Australian victim support services, unfortunately, was not raised and hence cannot be expanded upon here.

Stakeholder discussion of the effect of previous experience and trust generally referred to what individuals had been exposed to outside of Australia, which translated into fear or suspicion of local authority, such as law enforcement and potentially government-sponsored support services. This was potentially more potent among refugees and persons from countries characterised by civil unrest or where law enforcement operated less ethically. In some cases, one stakeholder explained, the professionals or service providers who had worked with refugees in their country of birth or while in transit had been involved in that person’s mistreatment (Service provider personal communication September 2012). The mistreatment, and its impact on other traumas experienced, sometimes meant male refugee clients withdrew or did not engage with the support services being offered to them in Australia.

More locally based trust issues, particularly with the police and other government services, were suggested as potentially affecting Indigenous male victims’ willingness to engage with victim support. If the support offered was perceived as being in some way connected to the police, however tenuous the link, then men were potentially less likely to engage with the service. Yet stakeholders also highlighted the importance of this first contact between the victim and police, suggesting that it was critical for the establishment of trust in the broader criminal justice system and in turn, victim engagement with formal support services. In situations where male victims felt the police did not take the matter seriously or assumed they were in some way responsible for their victimisation, trust may be irrevocably broken and formal engagement lost.

Small community and cultural effects

The small community effect is not exclusive to men but may interact with other more recognisably male-specific barriers to influence choice about engaging with support services. ‘Small communities’ is used here to refer to small population groups resident in regional and remote areas of New South Wales (eg ‘small country towns’) and/or members of specific community groups (typically but not exclusively Indigenous and CALD communities).

The protection of privacy and confidentiality is a significant factor in whether victims of violent crime (be they men or women) choose to report the incident to police and if they choose to consult with support services, either independently or where referred. Fears about a breach of privacy may be considerable when victims are experiencing shame, there is the risk of reprisal or social condemnation for reporting the matter and/or there is the risk of misunderstanding from the family or peer group about using victim support services. Stakeholders who worked in regional settings or who had contact with male victims from regional and remote parts of New South Wales noted that the limited number of services available outside of Sydney almost certainly added to concerns among some male victims that the nature of their victimisation or their use of formal support, even from General Practitioners, could become more widely known. In other words, ‘your business inevitably became everyone else’s business’.

Fear of exposure was similarly recognised for men from communities in which the acceptance of support per se and support from outside the immediate family or peer group was an ‘unfamiliar way of doing things’ (Service provider personal communication September 2012). Such social/cultural pressures have already been discussed in shaping men’s responses to victimisation. In this context, men may be worried about the judgement they will receive from the family and possibly the community if they acknowledge their victim status (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

Often contiguous with fear or distrust of police described above is community censure. These social effects are not unique to men but cultural constructs around solidarity could enact stronger pressures to comply with what the community expects.

It was observed that members of some communities are fearful of reporting because community mores, be they broadly held or stipulated by a smaller group of influential elements, make it ‘highly dangerous’ for them to interact with the police. These scenarios generally refer to the risk of reprisal from the offender(s) or their associates and family members if contact with the police is made. Community censure also encompasses disapproval of making a complaint (in this case, reporting a matter to the police) against another member of the community. It was acknowledged, for example, that among Indigenous communities ‘you don’t go to the police and “dog” another Indigenous person’ (Service provider personal communication September 2012). This maxim was felt so strongly in the community this stakeholder worked with that the majority of male victim witnesses they encountered only rarely were providing evidence against an Indigenous defendant. In other words, there was an apparent and significant reticence to report a violent offence committed by another Indigenous person, particularly if they were from among the victim’s immediate community.

Transient lifestyle

A small number of stakeholders highlighted the effect of transient lifestyles on retention rates with support services among men. Young Indigenous men, for example, often travel back and forth between different parts of the state, making it difficult for them to stay connected with formal support services. In such situations, services may have to eventually disengage with the client. For men leading transient lifestyles who wish to access or maintain some form of formal support, flexible options of service provision may be difficult to find. One service provider recounted their experience trying to organise counselling for one male victim who was moving around the state. The client wanted to access counselling over the phone, but did not want to call a service such as Lifeline. The service provider attempted to locate a counsellor who would be willing to provide their services over the phone but was unsuccessful.

Structural/systematic barriers to engaging male victims in formal support services

Structural and systematic barriers encompass broader issues of availability, accessibility and appropriateness which are common themes when discussing service provision.

Non-identification

It was suggested that generally speaking, men have not been seen as a priority for victim support services. This has led, according to a number of stakeholders, to unevenness in the focus of service provision and a prevailing belief among some court partners and service providers that male victims are more capable of coping with their victimisation than women. Consequently, male victims of violence who potentially would have benefitted from being referred to a formal support service may not be. This oversight prompted one service provider to produce a pamphlet specifically for male victims after an assessment that there was little information available to this group of victims (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

In particular, a number of service providers observed that the kinds of support and assistance they could offer victims attending court were in part influenced by the gender of the victim. As one court-based service provider argued:

   
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If you’re a female victim of violence I can put you in a safe room, offer you a cup of tea and a biscuit and three support workers will be there. You don’t even have to be a victim of actual violence as long as you have an AVO [Apprehended Violence Order] you are protected from seeing the offender and their family. If you’re a male victim I’ve got nothing for you. I can give you a newspaper and that’s about it…There’s a huge difference between the services that are there for women and men (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

The main example provided by stakeholders in relation to this issue concerned the use of ‘safe rooms’. Safe rooms are areas situated within court facilities that have been allocated to victims and witnesses of crime so they do not have to sit in the court or the general waiting area. A number of stakeholders noted that being asked to sit in court or the general waiting area could be stressful for victims, particularly if they were afraid or nervous about seeing the perpetrator and their family. Although the availability of safe rooms differs between courts, it appears that most safe rooms are for the exclusive use of women. Consequently, male victims have little option but to sit in the court or the waiting area.

That being said, a number of stakeholders argued that court partners, service providers and the police are adept at identifying high-needs male victims when they came into contact with them. Victims often identified as requiring assistance were characterised as showing signs of emotional distress and agitation, needing constant reassurance and not appearing to have informal support such as family and friends. Service providers noted that court partners had demonstrated a willingness to refer these high-needs victims to formal support services. This suggests, however, that male victims who do not exhibit these behaviours may not be identified by court partners and service providers and therefore referred. In these circumstances, it may be difficult for the court partner or service provider to recognise need for additional support, unless interaction with the victim after the initial contact is for some reason continued and/or evidence of need for support is demonstrated through some other means.

Service provider priority areas

As noted in previous sections of this report, some of the victim support services that are currently available in New South Wales focus their resources on a small number of priority crime types and victim groups. This means that in practice, male victims who do not fall into these priority areas may not be referred to specific formal support programs. For example, one program operating in New South Wales focuses on male and female victims of sexual and domestic violence, and children victim/witnesses. Thus, this service usually had few male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence on its client lists.

Resource issues and a high demand for services are common factors in the establishment of provider priority areas and violent crimes that are collectively seen as particularly serious will justifiably be the focus of support attention. However, it does mean that in practice male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence are often not prioritised by these services and may have fewer options to receive formal support and assistance.

Limitations of support services currently available

While there are a range of services that male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence may engage with, there are a number of limitations associated with these programs that may act as specific barriers to this group of victims. First, as presented in Table 4, not all NSW services are available across the state, with most operating in metropolitan Sydney and larger regional centres. Male victims attending court or residing in areas not covered by these services have fewer options for engaging with services. Stakeholders said this was a particular issue in regional and remote areas. Men living in these areas often had only one of two options—their General Practitioner or telephone-based referral and support. Similarly, many court support services are only located in one level of court, typically the local courts. While there are notable exceptions to this rule (eg Mission Australia Court Support Service and the DPP WAS), some male victims attending district or higher courts may not have access to similar levels of support.

Of the victim support services operating in New South Wales, there is currently a lack of services that address the needs of men and specific groups of male victims. MensLine is the only male-specific service available, but its focus is on men experiencing familial and relationship issues, rather than victim support per se. Male victims of sexual assault have some options open to them but services for other male victims of violence were described as ‘generally lacking’ in the state (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

Finally, there appears to be a shortage of services for specific groups of men who are perceived as being particularly vulnerable, either because of their victimisation or because they may sit outside mainstream service provision. For example, the lack of targeted services for homosexual men was highlighted by a number of stakeholders, who noted that this may act as a barrier to homosexual male victims engaging with formal support services. Communication barriers for victims who do not have English as their first language, combined with identified problems about the availability and proficiency of translators, was raised too, although as an issue for CALD communities more generally rather than men specifically.

The scarcity of culturally appropriate services for Indigenous victims in New South Wales, particularly in regional areas, was another concern. One of the reasons for this shortage was the emphasis of attention on offenders and ‘getting them back on track’ (Service provider personal communication September 2012). Hence, the bulk of culturally appropriate support services for Indigenous victims in New South Wales are undertaken by a relatively small group of support workers. Where appropriate services were not available, support workers had to refer their clients to mainstream services, which were not necessarily suitable for some of their male clients. For example, one service provider attributed their clients’ reluctance to accept referrals to the reason that ‘black men do not want to talk about how they feel with white women’ (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

The experiences of this service provider and others referred to throughout this report, is supported by a broader body of literature that has found that many health services currently operating in Indigenous communities are not culturally appropriate for their target population. One of the most common explanations for this gap is that Western understandings and conceptions of health issues, particularly mental illness, are at odds with those held by Indigenous communities (see Vicary & Bishop 2005, Vicary & Westerman 2004; Ypinazar et al. 2007 for an overview of these differences). For example, many Indigenous communities believe that feelings of distress, depression and anxiety are caused by a ‘spiritual or law transgression’ (Vicary & Bishop 2005: 11), or spending too much time away from country, rather than a discrete disease or traumatic event (eg experiencing violence). As a result of this gap, many Indigenous persons prefer traditional methods of healing and will only approach Western services when they have exhausted all other options (Vicary & Bishop 2005).

In light of the disparities, commentators have increasingly emphasised the importance of Indigenous services being culturally competent—services that integrate the ‘practitioner’s cultural awareness and knowledge into the clinical context’ (Berry & Crowe 2009: 7). Culturally appropriate practices that have been identified in relation to the Australian Indigenous population include the use of cultural consultants (Indigenous persons who are willing to vouch for non-Indigenous practitioners), non-direct questioning of patients by practitioners, assessing patients within the context of their culture, family and community, and encouraging practitioners to develop a thorough understanding of the family, tribal and skin groups living in the area (Berry & Crowe 2009; Westerman 2004).

Another culturally competent practice that is relevant to the current research concerns the gender of practitioners and service providers. Research indicates that Indigenous persons are raised to relate to and interact with other people of their own gender (Westerman 2004). Indigenous men may not engage with services staffed predominantly by women. However, the suggestion that Indigenous men may prefer to engage with male practitioners was not unique to this group.

As mentioned earlier, all of the support services consulted as part of this project were staffed predominantly by women. Many stakeholders did not perceive the female-dominated support workforce as being a particular barrier for male victims seeking assistance, yet a small number acknowledged that it had caused some issues. Occasionally, male victims specifically asked to speak to a man, a request they sometimes found logistically difficult to accommodate. Further, some service providers said that from time to time they had difficulty interacting with male clients and had wondered whether a male support worker would have been more appropriate. In debating the relative merits of male and female support persons’ responses to male victims of violence, it was suggested that male support workers may be better at normalising victims’ feelings of fear and shame and reinstating their perceived masculinity. Conversely, some stakeholders argued that men may be able to approach women with an expectation of support and emotional comfort. Men may be reluctant to appear vulnerable in front of another man.


5
Male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence: Service needs and experiences in court - Executive summary

Reported crime and crime victimisation data from Australia shows that, with the exception of sexual assault and kidnapping/abduction, men are more likely than women to be victims of violent offences (ABS 2013a, 2013b). However, a review of the victimology literature revealed that adult male victims of violence were largely missing from broader discussions around the impact of violent offences on victims and their subsequent support needs. In response to this apparent omission, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) was funded under the Victims of Crime Research Fund (administered by Victims Services, NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice), to undertake a small exploratory study examining the:

support needs and experiences of adult male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence, including when they participate in the trial of perpetrators; and
accessibility and appropriateness of existing formal victim support services in New South Wales for this group of victims.

For the purposes of the research, the victim population was defined as adult males (aged 18 years and over) who had experienced some form of non-sexual/non-domestic violence (eg aggravated or non-aggravated physical assault, armed robbery or stalking) that was committed in New South Wales.

The focus of the research project was to explore the:

    availability and appropriateness of support services in New South Wales for male victims of non- 
    sexual and non-domestic violence;
    perceived barriers for male victims in accessing support services; and
    impact of participating in the court process on these victims.

The project involved two interrelated research methods—a comprehensive literature review and interviews, and focus groups with representatives from victim support and criminal justice agencies who had contact with male victims of violence as part of their everyday work. The AIC conducted nine focus groups and six interviews involving a total of 33 stakeholders during the research period. Key findings from the research are outlined below.

Support services for male victims of violence—A snapshot

In New South Wales, there are currently a number of support agencies and programs that male victims may choose to engage with following a violent offence. These programs and agencies differ from one another on a number of points, including their location, service delivery model, identified priority areas and types of support provided. None of these programs, however, were specifically targeted at men.

A review of these victim support programs and organisations indicated that support services were best placed to engage with male victims at a number of points—immediately following the incident, prior to attending court and during court proceedings. Some service providers acknowledged that they had experienced difficulty engaging with some male clients and a number said they used different engagement techniques when approaching men. While there was variability between programs in the proportion of their caseload that comprised male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence, male victims tended to represent only a small proportion of clients.

Stakeholder perceptions of the experiences of male victims of violence

To assist in understanding the factors that influence a male victim’s decision to engage with a formal support service, stakeholders were asked to comment (based on their experiences working with male victims of violence) on how this victim group respond to both their victimisation and participation in court as victim/witnesses. Stakeholders admitted their reticence in making general statements about male responses to victimisation, noting that other factors besides gender (eg prior victimisation and the circumstances, and level of the harm inflicted) influenced the way that men and women respond to experiences of victimisation. However, some noted that male victims were likely to experience feelings of shame as a result of the offence, which was attributed to feelings of failure and emasculation. Further, there was general consensus that male victims experiencing distress as a result of the offence often ‘presented’ differently to women (at least publicly) and were more likely to display emotions such as anger than were their female counterparts. Some of the more belligerent responses displayed by some men were particularly pronounced when they were attending court as a victim/witness. In these situations, stakeholders attributed victim behaviour to feelings of fear and frustration, and a lack of knowledge about the court process and the role of the victim/witness in the proceedings.

Of particular significance were stakeholder observations that some men normalise certain types of violence (notably ‘pub brawls’ and their ilk). In these circumstances, men may not acknowledge the impact of the victimisation nor see any reason to report the matter or seek assistance, other than from medical services to treat injuries sustained.

Groups of men who were identified by stakeholders as potentially vulnerable included:

    young men (ie 18–25 years);
    homosexual men;
    Indigenous men;
    men from culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD);
    men with a mental illness and/or an acquired brain injury (ABI);
    drug-affected men;
    refugees; and
    victim–offenders.

Some of these victim groups were identified as being particularly vulnerable because they were constrained by social or cultural influences that affected acknowledgement of their victim status (eg Indigenous men and young men). Other groups were identified on the basis that their previous experiences with the criminal justice system (either domestically or in their country of origin) meant they did not believe the offence would be responded to appropriately and so were less likely to report the offence and/or engage with services (eg victim–offenders and refugees). Finally, some groups were identified as potentially more vulnerable because the support services that were available did not meet their specific needs (eg men with ABI and homosexual men).

The pathway of contact

The process through which victims of crime negotiate the criminal justice system and are presented with opportunities to engage with formal support services, may be likened to a pathway where points of contact take place, or preferably should take place, between victims and formal support services. The ‘pathway of contact’ described by stakeholders suggests that services for male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence were more readily available when males were formally linked into the criminal justice system. However, access to these services in the first instance and their likelihood of remaining engaged with the service, appears to be dependent on a range of factors. These include:

    the nature of first contact between the victim and attending police officer;
    service provider identification of the victim as requiring support;
    service provider priorities;
    appropriateness and accessibility of services, and referral options;
    service provider formal follow-up processes; and
    victim self-initiative.

The way in which programs came into contact with clients is similarly variable, but all program representatives were consistent in their view that the quality and content of the first contact with male clients was particularly crucial. Further, most of the stakeholders observed that male victims were much more receptive to an offer of assistance if it focused on guidance and information, with underlying emotional support.

Male victims were less likely to engage with formal support services if they did not report the matter to the police and if they were unable to establish rapport with the attending police officer (or the support worker). The support services that are available to male victims also appear to decrease significantly following finalisation of court proceedings. While these trends are not necessarily unique to male victims, the identified points of disconnection were potentially more acute among male victims and particularly male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence.

Barriers to male victims accessing formal support services

Barriers to formal victim support were described by stakeholders as comprising a mix of personal, social and structural factors. Personal and social barriers included:

    the shame of the victimisation and being seen as ‘weak’ and unmasculine;
    lack of knowledge about the availability and accessibility of support services;
    privacy concerns and fear of reprisal for reporting the offence (particularly among men living in
    small communities);
    prior negative experiences when dealing with the police and/or support services; and/or
    transient lifestyles.

Structural and systematic barriers included criminal justice partners failing to identify male victims as requiring assistance, support service eligibility criteria and priority areas, and the location of services. It was also suggested that some male victims may choose not to engage with services if they were not seen as appropriate or meeting their needs. In particular, the lack of male support workers was seen as a potential barrier for male victims who wanted to talk to a man rather than a woman.

Some of these barriers were quite specific to men, whereas others were more generic yet potentially more potent in combination with other recognised obstacles. Some groups of men were confronted with multiple barriers that acted to foster self-denial regarding the need for support and/or gave few options to the victim or referring service provider in providing support services. It is the combination of these barriers that may be perceived as potentially ‘discriminating’ against this group of victims from obtaining support where needed.

Male victims were described by one stakeholder as a ‘hidden group’ in that they were not being recognised as requiring the assistance of formal support services and hence resources were not being allocated to them. This ‘non-recognition’ may represent the most profound barrier for male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence, as the violence they experience, unless perceived as being particularly ‘serious’ (eg homicide), is infrequently identified by service providers as a priority for assistance. This is not to suggest that male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence are overlooked, but rather that services may not be as accessible to them as other victim groups.

Conclusion

The findings from this research suggest:

    violent offences and participating in the trials of perpetrators can have a significant impact on male
    victims;
    while many male victims of violence will obtain the support they require from informal sources,
    some would benefit from engaging with formal support services;
    there were, at time of writing, a range of victim support services operating in New South Wales
    that had some capacity to assist male victims of violence, particularly when they were participating
    in court proceedings; and
    there were a range of barriers that could influence whether a male victim engaged with formal
    support services, including social and personal factors (eg privacy concerns among men living in
    small communities) and structural barriers (eg support service eligibility criteria).

However, while the stakeholders who were interviewed as part of this research have considerable experience working with victims of crime as part of their everyday duties, to present a more complete discussion, the thoughts and experiences of the victims themselves should be compared and coalesced with the perceptions and experiences of service providers.

It is recommended that further research, which incorporates the observations of male victims, be pursued to develop a better understanding of the experiences and support needs of this under-researched victim group, as well as indicating where support options may be expanded or adapted to meet the needs of men.



6
Emerging issues in domestic/family violence research

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Abstract

This paper presents an overview of the key emerging issues in Australian domestic and family violence research. In particular, the paper considers this research in the context of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities; the elderly; those with disabilities; people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; Indigenous communities; homelessness; the impact on children; and issues around perpetrator programs.

This paper presents an overview of some of the key emerging issues in Australian domestic and family violence (D/FV) research. In particular, the paper considers research in the context of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) communities; among the elderly; those with disabilities and people from cultural and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds; family violence and Indigenous communities; the relevance of homelessness; the impact of D/FV on children; and issues around perpetrator programs.

Domestic and family violence in gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities

Jeffries and Ball (2008) argued that the Australian criminological and social science research community has largely been silent on the issue of same-sex domestic violence (SSDV). Pitts et al. (2006) conducted an online survey with 5,476 Australians who identified as GLBTI and described D/FV as a hidden issue in the gay and lesbian community. Indeed, the authors suggested that ‘many GLBTI people do not identify family violence when they experience it because of a lack of recognition of its existence in same sex relationships’ (Pitt et al. 2006: 51). Notwithstanding this limitation, the report found that 33 percent of respondents had been in a relationship with an abusive partner, although it was not clear whether this was within the context of a same-sex relationship. In a later study of 390 Victorian respondents, 31 percent of GLBT respondents had been in a same sex relationship where they were subject to abuse by their partner, with lesbians more likely than gay men to report such abuse (41% vs 29%; Leonard et al. 2008). A recent study has found that the prevalence, types and contextual triggers of violence in male same-sex relationships parallel abuse in opposite sex relationships (Kay & Jeffries forthcoming).

WHV noted that one form of violence which is specific to GLBTI relationships is the abusive partner ‘outing’ or threatening to ‘out’ their partner to family, friends, colleagues or the general community (WHV 2009); similar issues may arise in terms of disclosing HIV positive status (Chan 2005). Irwin (2008: 208) found that the lesbians she interviewed were unsure about ‘what was acceptable, unacceptable or normal behaviour’ in such relationships. In addition, SSDV victims may be particularly vulnerable due to isolation from their support networks and may feel that acknowledging the existence of the violence may further feed any homophobia (WHV 2009).

In a study by Pitts et al. (2006), of those participants who had experienced abuse, only one in 10 had reported the abuse to the police; this rose to 18 and 19 percent respectively for those who reported being hit or forced to have sex. Pitt et al. (2006: 52) acknowledged police measures to improve relationships with GLBTI people which ‘appear to be having some positive impact and should be developed further’. By way of example, the NSW Attorney-General’s Department (2003) Domestic Violence Interagency Guidelines state the importance of police officers contacting gay and lesbian liaison officers in appropriate circumstances. It was also recently reported that NSW Police and the Anti-Violence Campaign would collaborate in 2010 on a campaign to encourage GLBT victims of crime to come forward, with specific reference to D/FV incidents (Potts 2009).

One issue of concern to Pitt et al. (2006) was the lack of referral options for female perpetrators and male victims within mainstream services. Leonard et al. (2008) found that only six percent of GLBT people who reported same-sex partner abuse to police were referred to advice or support services. In 2006, Victoria Police reported that there were no publicly-funded family violence counselling agencies to which they could refer male victims of same sex partner abuse and Leonard et al. (2008: 50) inferred that ‘domestic and sexual violence services may not be meeting the needs of victims of same sex partner abuse’.

Zhou (2009) has suggested that although the NCRVWC’s Plan of Action explicitly acknowledges domestic violence in lesbian relationships (eg see Zhou 2009: 138), it excludes such violence in gay male relationships and does not recognise the unique aspects of SSDV. Future research in this context should include research on the frequency and prevalence of GLBTI D/FV and the contexts in which it occurs; consideration of the impact of such violence on the individual and community generally; information on help seeking and the provision of safe and relevant services; furthering awareness of the incidence and perceptions of and responses to GLBTI domestic violence; and the development of inclusive policy responses (see Irwin 2008; Jeffries & Ball 2008).

This is an extract from: "Emerging issues in domestic/family violence research" by Lorana Bartels (ISSN:1836-9111) https://aic.gov.au/publications/rip/rip10


7
General Discussion Law / A Deeper Look at Stalking
« on: February 18, 2018, 03:29:37 PM »
A Deeper Look at Stalking

Lorraine Sheridan is an author of several books and more than 50 articles on the topic of stalking. Now the Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Curtin University and her colleagues are conducting research on stalking within the LGBTIQ community.

The team are looking into the types of harassment behaviours that people judge to be unacceptable and acceptable. 

The study will compare the experiences of people in the LGBTIQ community with those of people in wider society and their looking for people to take part in the research.

Dr Sherdian spoke to Graeme Watson on RTRFM’s program ‘All Things Queer‘ earlier this week.

How do you define what stalking is?

That’s a really big question. I did a PhD on stalking nearly 20 years ago, that makes me feel old, but I think my first ten studies were on how to define stalking. It’s really difficult compared to other crimes, because your average stalking case is about two years.

It’s not a quick thing like a robbery or a sexual assault. Stalking goes on and on and it’s often lots of little things put together. So we tend to look at it in the ‘eye of the beholder’ that somebody feels like they are being harassed, it feels like things are out of control, somebody’s not being treated appropriately – we tend to say it’s stalking. Anything can constitute stalking, sending somebody texts, walking past their house, asking questions about them, right up to rape and murder.

It’s quite a big spectrum that we’re talking about isn’t it?

It’s a really big spectrum. Half of all stalkers will have had a romantic relationship with their victim as well, so it cuts across domestic abuse issues. You can have stranger stalkers, you can have mentally ill stalkers, you can have stalkers who generally want to have a relationship but don’t have the social skills – so they’re not actually very harmful but they may appear harmful. It’s actually really really difficult to identify stalking.

Is it a modern phenomenon or is it something we’ve always had?

It’s always been there, funnily enough we got a law against it 15-20 years ago,  ancient Rome had a law against it, it’s mentioned in Shakespeare’s dark sonnets,  its always been around.

I guess on of the more common things we hear about is cyber stalking, stalking happening through the online world.  Where do we draw the line, if I’m looking a someone’s Facebook page too often – when do we move into the world of stalking?

It’s when it’s taken your life over as well. As the actual stalker, when you’re feeling consumed and that you can’t really operate without looking at this person, without following this person, without finding something new about this person, without monitoring this person.  When it starts to consume you, as well as affecting the victim, then you’ve got a problem.

You and your colleagues are about to look into stalking in the LGBTIQ community, what do we know about stalking in our community?

Amazingly very little, we’re hardly talking about a very small minority group, but there have actually been no studies about harassment in the community, and there is over a thousand studies now in general stalking. So we thought it was high time, just in case there are any kind of special needs for the LGBTIQ community; there may or may not be.

I did some research on male rape, particularly in the queer community, about twenty years ago in England. We found there that there were some special needs. I just wondered if there were any here, and if we find a need, we can feed that back into service providers.

We do hear a lot of anecdotal stories, we hear people say ‘My stalker’s back’, is there anecdotal evidence to warrant this new research?

Yes, there’s lots of story evidence on social media, more scientifically we do know that about one in four or five women will be stalked in their lifetime, and about one in twenty men. But of the men, they are more likely to be stalked by other men. Women are more likely to be stalked by men. What we don’t know is anything about their former relationship. We don’t know if it started as romantic or if it’s homophobic. We don;t know where it comes from, and that’s what we’d really like to know. We don’t know anything about the trans or intersex communities at all.

When we talk about stalking it’s often linked to violence, or escalates to violence. Are their key things that let us know when that behaviour is moving in that direction?

The people who are most likely to be violent, the stalker’s most likely to be violent, not exclusively, but they are normally the people that the victim has had a relationship with. Usually you will see trigger and warning signs. We’ll see close monitoring while the relationship was intact and we will see basically jealousy signs.

But these are the times of cases where people will say ‘Oh, your so lucky to have that kind of attention, wish I had that kind of attention,” because stalkers are often very attractive, well educated with a high economic social status. They’re not like normal criminals. These are the cases that are most likely to resolve in murder.

High status, decent individuals, stalking an ex, they’re the ones most likely to lead to the death of the victim.

If someone feels  that they are being stalked, what should they do? What actions should you take?

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Record everything, no matter how innocuous it seems, because sometimes you can have a bit of a job convincing the authorities that this is a serious incident. You have demonstrate that lots of little things are adding up. Sometimes two plus two, plus two, plus two, ends up at one hundred and two. You’ve got to demonstrate these things adding up. You have to re-create a course of conduct that would give a reasonable person fear and then get straight to the police and keep recording, recording recording!

Keep stuff that you’re being sent, no matter how horrible or distasteful it may be. Keep a hold of it, keep a record always.

How can people get involved in your research?

We’ve got a questionnaire online, so it doesn’t cost people anything to come and see us, you can do it in the privacy of your own home.  We’re looking at people’s experiences, but also what they think of various harassing behaviours. We’re interested in what people think is acceptable. We’re doing it in twelve different countries as well.

We’re already seeing that the experiences that people have are quite similar and are pretty constant between countries. We’ve had results from Egypt, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Finland, Japan, Indonesia and Italy. The experiences are pretty constant between countries but people’s judgments about what is acceptable vary radically.

You find in countries where it’s a lot more normal, particularly for women, to be routinely sexually assaulted – or treated in a submissive manner – these countries tend to be more accepting of the behavior.


The survey is open to everyone and takes between 10-15 minutes to complete.


8
General Discussion Law / Domestic Violence Statistics and Facts
« on: February 18, 2018, 03:00:49 PM »
Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence Statistics and Facts

Definition: Domestic violence involves violence or abuse by one person against another in a familial or intimate relationship.

Domestic violence is most commonly thought of as intimate partner violence, but can also include violence or abuse from a family member.

Description

The term “intimate partner violence” includes the following acts as inflicted or caused by a current or former intimate partner:

1. Actual or threats of physical violence
2. Actual or threats of sexual violence
3. Emotional or psychological abuse (e.g., name calling or putdowns, threats to “out” a person’s sexual orientation to family, work or friends)
4. Stalking (e.g., excessive calls/texts/emails, monitoring daily activities, using technology to track a person’s location)
5. Financial abuse (e.g., withholding money, ruining credit, stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job)
6. Threats to “out” a person’s sexual orientation to family, work or friends

Intimate partners can include:

    Current or former spouses
    Boyfriends or girlfriends
    Dating partners
    Sexual partners

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Domestic violence can occur in heterosexual and same-sex relationships.

Statistics and Facts: National Domestic Violence Statistics

1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (CDC, 2017)
1 in 10 women in the United States will be raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime. (CDC, 2010)
Approximately 16.9% of women and 8.0% of men will experience sexual violence other than rape by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. (CDC, 2010)
           
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Data on sexual violence against men may be underreported.

An estimated 9.7% of women and 2.3% of men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime. (CDC, 2017)
Nearly half of all women and men in the United States will experience psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (CDC, 2017)
Over half of female and male victims of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner experienced some form of intimate partner violence for the first time before 25 years of age. (CDC, 2010)

Domestic Violence Experienced by Race/Ethnicity

Almost half (47.5%) of American Indian/Alaska Native women, 45.1% of non-Hispanic Black women, 37.3% of non-Hispanic White women, 34.4% of Hispanic women, and 18.3% of Asian-Pacific Islander women experience contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (CDC, 2017)

Domestic Violence and Sexual Orientation

2 in 5 lesbian women, 3 in 5 bisexual women, and 1 in 3 heterosexual women will experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (CDC, 2010)
1 in 4 gay men, 1 in 3 bisexual men, and 3 in 10 heterosexual men will experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner
in their lifetime. (CDC, 2010)

Domestic Violence in New York City

Intimate partner homicide accounts for over half of all NYC family-related homicides. (NYC DV Fatality Review Committee, 2016)
The New York City Police Department responds to approximately 230,000 domestic incidents each year. (NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence)






9
Grindr security flaw has potential stalking implications for Australians

A security flaw found in Grindr, that led to serious issues of violence and harassment overseas recently, has potential implications for Australian men who use the app, according to a Curtin University researcher.

A PERTH university researcher has commissioned a study into the high rates of stalking within the LGBTI community, which comes in light of recent news of security flaws found in a popular hook-up phone app.

Based on anecdotal evidence, the study by Curtin University senior lecturer Dr Lorraine Sheridan will examine the apparent higher-than-average rates of harassment and stalking experienced by LGBTI people.

Dr Sheridan has been researching issues surrounding stalking and has campaigned for survivor rights for 18 years. Her work, which has appeared in over 50 scientific papers, on stalking has also been influential in informing change within federal laws.

The Curtin University research comes on the heels of recent news from SBS2’s The Feed about a security flaw found within the popular gay hook-up/dating phone app, Grindr, which led to several serious cases of stalking and harassment in Russia.

Grindr has over 500 million users in almost 200 countries, many of which still have varying views on homosexuality that has resulted in wide-spread violence and discrimination.

Apps like Grindr are reportedly popular within these countries as it can provide a much more discreet means to meet other gay men, instead of public spaces.

A security flaw was revealed recently where accessing Grindr’s servers from three different places and triangulating the information could extrapolate specific data of a user’s location. The data was said to be so precise, it could pinpoint where a user was within their house.

In Russia, 2311 users were found, making them vulnerable to the country’s infamous “gay propaganda” legislation and homophobic violence. In Iran, where the death penalty is enforced, 349 men were identified.

On September 5, Grindr’s blog explained that the company was taking measures to keep its users safe in places prone to violence against the gay community.

The “show distance” function has been completely removed in certain regions according to messages now published within the app.

In a country like Australia where gay and bisexual men who use the app are fortunate to not have to worry about law enforcement crackdown, security flaws within the cyber world could still be a potential problem, according to Dr Sheridan.

“Phones are probably the most important tool that a stalker has… Phones can be used to send messages, speak to victims, track victims, etc,” Dr Sheridan told the Star Observer.

Cyber harassment was very common in results from a study of 1051 self-defined stalking victims conducted by Dr Sheridan two years ago in Australia, the UK and the USA.

“Almost half (47.5 per cent) reported harassment via the internet, but only 7.2 per cent of the sample was judged to have been cyberstalked,” Dr Sheridan said.

“A majority of cases that started online then moved into the physical world. Almost 90% had been bothered via phones. The study set out to examine whether cyberstalking represents a distinct form of stalking, or is simply one more invasive technique available to the stalker.

“Overall, the findings provided a picture more of similarity between stalking cases that range from purely on-line to exclusively off-line, than of marked difference. So, we concluded that cyberstalking is a question of degree, rather than a distinct form of contact.”

While the very nature of offline stalking and harassment made physical assaults and abuse more common, verbal abuse was common in the cyber world.

“Physical violence was more common in the purely offline group but stalking that began online frequently led to physical violence and vandalism. Verbal abuse occurred in a majority of cases,” Dr Sheridan said.

“In terms of effects on the victim, offline stalking was associated more with changes to the victim’s social and employment spheres, while online stalking was more strongly associated with loss of family and friends.

“Perhaps the most important finding in terms of effects on victims was that levels of all medical and psychological effects, and most social and financial effects did not differ significantly according to degree of cyber involvement.”

According to Dr Sheridan, disabled people were over-represented as online stalking victims.

“In the current work, disabled persons were over-represented as the victims of online stalkers, and it is possible that the disabled can yield heightened benefits from using the internet to order and arrange various services,” she said.

The Curtin study — which is now available online — is seeking LGBTI people along with the heterosexual community, to complete a survey that aims to increase understanding of harassment, how it’s viewed and experienced and further inform support and investigative services.

“We did some work on male rape in London and found that gay men who had been assaulted has particular needs that were not being met,” Dr Sheridan said.

“Maybe this work could also identify that stalking victims in the LGBTIQ community mate have particular needs that service providers need to know about.”



10
Hall of Shame / Salvation Army reject vulnerable transgender people
« on: February 16, 2018, 01:06:32 PM »
Salvation Army rehab centre faces charges for rejecting vulnerable transgender people


By Nick Duffy 14th July 2017, 8:38 PM #PinkNews #CurrentAffairs

A substance abuse center that refused to serve transgender people is one of four facing action in New York over discriminatory policies.

The NYC Commission on Human Rights this week filed four complaints against substance abuse centers across the City for discriminatory policies involving the intake of transgender patients. 

The complaints, filed on behalf of the City, come after the Commission investigated reports of discrimination from advocates.

Following tips from the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, the Commission began testing substance abuse centers for discriminatory practices.

The Commission’s testers approached more than a dozen substance abuse centers citywide to inquire whether the centers accepted transgender patients for treatment and where those patients would be housed.

The Commission found that one center outright refused to accept transgender patients, telling a Commission tester that “no, we don’t [accept transgender patients].”

Representatives at other centers told Commission testers that transgender women would be housed according to their gender assigned at birth, in violation of gender identity protections under the NYC Human Rights Law.

One representative said that “people with moving male parts would be housed with men,” while another said “it depends on how far along the person is in the process.” Representatives also said that they perform physical examinations on transgender patients to determine whether they are on hormone medication or have had surgery.

It has been illegal in New York City to discriminate against individuals based on their gender identity since 2002, when the New York City Council passed legislation to include gender identity as a protected class under the NYC Human Rights Law.

The rehab centres could face fines of up to $250,000 over discriminatory practises.

Noah Lewis of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund had made the tip, after hearing of transgender people being turned away from the centers.

He said: “People seeking drug treatment are being turned away simply because they’re transgender. That’s unacceptable.

“Transgender people are disproportionately discriminated against in their daily lives, at their jobs, in restaurants, and on the street. Enough is enough. No one seeking treatment for drug use should be met with discrimination or harassment, and I’m glad the Commission is taking action so that people seeking treatment can get the help they need.”

The centers include Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (Brooklyn), Addicts Rehabilitation Center (Manhattan), Promesa Residential Health Care Facility (Bronx), and the Thomas and Marie White Health Center (Queens).

The Commission’s complaints, filed by its Law Enforcement Bureau, charge the centers with gender identity discrimination for refusing to accept transgender patients and for discriminatory housing policies, including assigning rooms based on a patient’s gender assigned at birth rather than their gender identity, subjecting patients to physical examinations, and forcing transgender patients into separate rooms.

The substance abuse centers involved in these investigations have been notified of the alleged violations and the Commission continues the investigations.

New York’s First Lady Chirlane McCray, who leads the city’s mental health and substance misuse efforts, said: “The last thing New Yorkers battling addiction, depression, or any mental health challenges need is discrimination and harassment at the door.

“Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity when receiving health services, just like anyone else. I am proud to live in a city that fights for transgender rights and look forward to further strengthening anti-discrimination protections for all New Yorkers.”

The  Deputy Commissioner of the Law Enforcement Bureau at the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Hollis V. Pfitsch. said: “At a time when the federal government is rolling back LGBTQ protections, New York City is doubling down on its efforts to make sure everyone is treated equally and with respect.

“Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have been targets of bias and discrimination for far too long. The Commission fights to protect every person regardless of their gender identity in New York City and will hold accountable anyone who discriminates against another person for being who they are. In New York City, everyone has the right to be themselves without hatred, violence, or discrimination.”

NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said: “New York City welcomes all genders, gender identities, and gender expression — this includes health care facilities.

“I applaud the Commission on Human Rights’ efforts to redress these facilities and ensure that those who need help can get it without being discriminated against.”

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11
General Discussion / Positive Organisation Western Australia (POWA)
« on: February 15, 2018, 01:20:53 PM »
Quote
[Their Image Not Ours]

Quote
Positive Organisation Western Australia (POWA)
Western Australia's peer-led HIV Organisation

#SupportingpeoplewithHIV

#Fightstigma #Enddiscrimination #PreventHIV

"Under Construction"

#OurVision

POWA shares the vision of #NAPWHA: of a world where people with HIV live their lives to their full potential, in good health and free from discrimination.

#OurMission

#POWA is a peer-led organisation for all people with HIV in WA. POWA’s mission is to provide advocacy, services, leadership and representation across the diverse needs of all people with #HIVinWesternAustralia.

#OurGoals

We have three key strategic goals:
    Excellent health promotion programs and services that inform and enable wellbeing
    Effective advocacy that enables and empowers individual and community participation
    A model community organisation that has sustainable development and excellence in governance and operations

Quote
[Their Image Not Ours]

In early 2017, members of the WA HIV community called for a peer-led HIV representative body to be formed.

POWA was incorporated on 9 May 2017 and is led by openly HIV+ Western Australians to advance the health, welfare and lives of all people with HIV in WA.

POWA is taking steps to being recognised by the National Association of People with HIV Australia (#NAPWHA) as the peak peer-led HIV organisation in WA.

POWA shares the vision of #NAPWHA: of a world where people with HIV live their lives to their full potential, in good health and free from discrimination.

POWA is by HIV+ people, for HIV+ people. We are volunteers and rely on memberships, grants and donations to operate.

You can become a POWA member and/or volunteer - just send us a message for more information.

#powacontact@gmail.com
0490 504 951



Quote
Stay up to date with PrEP: Register your interest

The WA AIDS Council (WAAC) have established a new mailing list to keep you informed on the upcoming changes to PrEP access on the west coast.

With our state’s first PrEP trial expected to begin in the second half of this year, WAAC are offering a new service to ensure those who are interested in accessing PrEP can stay in the know.

WAAC are also providing information on other impending changes surrounding PrEP, including pending applications for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, prices of generic PrEP and which WA GPs can prescribe the treatment.

If you want to stay informed about PrEP access in WA, click here to register your interest.

OIP Staff, OutinPerth @ https://www.outinperth.com/stay-date-prep-register-interest/

Quote
#WeKnow #ReleaseALLtheCures   #DiamondAndSilkKnowToo
#WeKnowTheyExist @AbbeyBlackSwan1


12
WA Police seize drugs and firearms in gang raids

Gabrielle Knowles and Grant Taylor | The West Australian
Saturday, 24 June 2017

Police have seized 15 guns,drugs and ammunition during a crackdown targeting the Brothers 4 Life street gang in the past fortnight.

Seven alleged members are facing a combined 27 charges over assaults, illicit drugs and firearms offences after searches of homes and cars uncovered the arsenal of handguns, rifles and ammunition.

Methamphetamine, cannabis, cocaine and steroids were also seized during the raids.

The investigation has prompted a second Department of Housing inquiry into suspected illegal activities in taxpayer-funded houses, after the gang crime squad raided a Waikiki home on Wednesday.

A woman who claims to be the secretary of B4L lives at the Mornington Boulevard home, where police allegedly found ammunition, methamphetamine and drug utensils.

The woman will be charged by summons over the illicit items.

It comes just two weeks after police allegedly discovered the gang had set up its clubhouse at another public housing property in Waikiki. Department of Housing staff advised the principal tenant of that Woodlark Close home that she appeared to be in breach of her lease after police allegedly found evidence the home was used as a base for gang meetings and social events.

The tenant, who is not facing charges from the raid, is believed to be the partner of the gang’s founder, who lives with her at the home with two of his sons who are also in the gang. She refused to voluntarily vacate the home — which bears a mural on a garage door featuring the gang’s distinctive logo of a pair of AK-47 assault rifles — so the department will have to seek a court order to have the lease terminated.

In the past fortnight, police have searched nine properties linked to suspected members and associates of B4L as part of efforts to disrupt the activities of street gangs.

“This operation has also been motivated by concerns over alleged offending and antisocial behaviour by members,” Det-Sen. Sgt Jason Blaine said. “Our officers continue to work with other State Government departments and law enforcement agencies to achieve these results for the community.”

Department of Housing general manager of service delivery Greg Cash said illegal use of public housing would not be tolerated. “The Housing Authority continues to liaise closely with WA Police in relation to their ongoing investigations of potential illegal activities at our dwellings,” he said.

“If illegal use of any public housing property is substantiated, action can and will be taken to terminate the tenancy.”


B4L established in Perth last year and is believed to have about 20 members.

Anyone with information regarding any gang is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or crimestopperswa.com.au. Information can be provided anonymously and rewards are offered.


13
'We Are Ticking Time Bombs': Inside Australia's Meth Crisis

By Sharon Verghis / Rockhampton May 4, 2017

On a warm Thursday evening, at a community center in the pretty coastal town of Yeppoon, central Queensland, fifteen women around a table listen intently to another. Daphne is a middle-aged, burly woman with a dark topknot and a turquoise t-shirt. She’s known, infamously, as “the cage lady.”

Among the harrowing personal stories TIME will hear tonight about families struggling with crystal methamphetamine, hers is the starkest. Two years ago, she spent $2,250 building a reinforced steel cage for her son Wylie in their modest home in Rockhampton—a city of 80,000 souls on the Queensland coast. She kept Wylie, then 17 and addicted to crystal methamphetamine, in it for four weeks.

“I was desperate,” she tells the room. “It was the only thing I could do.” Traumatized by a string of family tragedies, her son had gone from dabbling in cannabis and alcohol at 13 to crystal meth—or ice, as it’s popularly called—by 15. “He had an ice pipe in the bathroom at his cousin’s. That was the start of it.”

Wylie became increasingly violent and volatile, but no help was available, she says—he’d been turned away from drug rehabilitation centers due to his suicidal tendencies, run away from a mental health ward at the local hospital, and couldn’t stay away from his dealer. He was erratic and angry. In desperation, she became Wylie’s jailer to stop him harming himself or buying drugs. “That’s when we made the cage, because he would have died on ice. He was a very sick boy.”

When her story went public, it caused a national uproar. She was branded a bad mother. Police told her she could be charged with deprivation of liberty and Wylie was asked if he wanted charges to be laid. But, Daphne says, “he told them ‘mum saved me.’ And I did.”

Wylie isn’t out of the woods yet, Daphne sighs. “He’s depressed. He’s not on ice but he’s back on marijuana. The [brain’s] dopamine center gets affected by ice, and when he’s on it, he thinks he’s the greatest rap star in the world, and when he’s off it, he’s suicidal. It’s hard,” she says.

The world may know Australia as that great southern land, famous for its open spaces, endless surf, scary spiders, sporting prowess and Steve Irwin. But as much as Australia is about sunshine, shark documentaries and beautiful bodies, it is about crystal methamphetamine and tweaking addicts. Ice first washed up on the country’s shores in the early 1990s. Former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer tells TIME that it “sort of snuck up” on law enforcers. “Initially it was not seen as a serious problem.”

Now, however, it is ravaging the country. When the world visualizes the current hotspots of drug addiction, it pictures the depressed meth-ridden rural communities of Montana or Appalachia, or the corpse-ridden cities of Mexico’s cocaine trade, or perhaps the pallid victims of Iran’s heroin epidemic. It does not think of champion Australian athletes slowly self-destructing after a day of training, or respected businessmen dealing ice in country towns.

But, in fact, Australia has the highest use of methamphetamine in the English-speaking world or indeed almost any other country. According to the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, about 1.3 million Australians, an astonishing 7 percent of the population, have used methamphetamine and 400,000 (or just over 2 percent of all Australians) have done so in the last 12 months. In comparison, only 0.4 percent of Americans say they have used the drug, according to the 2012 U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

While the proportion of users as a percentage of the population has remained at a relatively stable 2.1 percent, the total number of users is now growing rapidly—tripling over the past five years, according to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre—and far outpaces the growth of drug treatment facilities, particularly in rural areas. Users are also getting much younger.

These developments — along with a deeper understanding of how Australia’s geography make it uniquely vulnerable to the drug — bring the crisis under a fresh spotlight. So has the spread of addiction, with unimaginable ferocity, from the inner cities to all parts of Australian society. Finance professionals in Sydney and Melbourne, miners in Western Australia’s vast Goldfields, indigenous children prostituting themselves for ice: None are immune. There are private schoolboys, who come to ice through “pharm parties,” and long-distance truck drivers, who use the drug to stay awake and relieve the boredom on the country’s endless highways. Use of ice is even found among military personnel and sailors: six recent suicides on HMAS Stirling revealed just how shockingly prevalent drug use is in the Royal Australian Navy. The nation is struggling to cope with what former Prime Minister Tony Abbott described as an epidemic “way beyond anything we have seen before.”

‘It is the biggest threat to Australia’s future’

Andrew Scipione says that meth “would be our number one problem in terms of the drug that would be causing us the most grief,” and adds that it is far more socially damaging than heroin, cocaine, or other illicit drugs. (When he was interviewed by TIME for this article, Scipione was the police commissioner of New South Wales, but retired in March from his role as top cop of Australia’s most populous state.) “We are in danger of losing an entire generation of Australians,” he says wearily.

Australian federal senator Jacqui Lambie concurs. In 2015, she gave a now famous address to parliament in which she painfully, and frankly, recounted her son Dylan’s harrowing battle with the drug. Dylan is now in recovery but she can’t rest easy.

Motorcycle gang members—or bikies, to use the deceptively cute Australian name for them—are taking over the main streets of tiny towns all over her native Tasmania, the remote island-state long known as the cheerily wholesome “Apple Isle.” Lambie says they have infiltrated Tasmania from the mainland, in pursuit of virgin markets across the Bass Strait. “It is the biggest threat to Australia’s future,” she tells TIME. “Those asshole vulture dealers prey on the vulnerable—they should be strung up.”

Ice now infests Australia’s rural heart, tainting the national mythology of self-reliance and stoic individuality. It has attacked the nation’s proud sporting culture: former addicts include Olympic gold medal diver Matthew Mitcham and world champion surfing legend Tom Carroll.

Carroll tells TIME that it got to the point where he couldn’t even be in the water. “The drug was incompatible with surfing,” he recalls. “I was way too sped up to get into synch with the rhythm of the waves. Normal-circumstance surfs for me would last one to one and a half hours. Under the influence of meth, I struggled to stay in the water for 15 to 20 minutes.” Ice, he says, “almost robbed me of my life, it certainly robbed me of time with my kids and threatened to take everything I had built in my life away.”

If the drug doesn’t kill users, dealers threaten to. In Cairns—a tropical city billed as the gateway to Australia’s fabled Great Barrier Reef—nurse Tracey Devonport speaks of her son Maitland, who was almost murdered last year by ice dealers over a $2,200 drug debt. He was tortured in three locations, beaten with axe handles, stabbed, had a noose wrapped around his neck, and was found, bloody and disoriented, near a crocodile farm, she says.

Scipione tells TIME that the magnitude of Australia’s meth crisis is recognized as unique by global law enforcers. “The demand is incredibly high. I talk to colleagues around the world, including not that long ago to [former New York City Police Commissioner] Bill Bratton about ice and he was saying they don’t have the same problems in New York.”

‘It’s more economical to buy ice, because it’s stronger’

The reasons for Australia’s ice epidemic lie in a confluence of market forces, cost, culture, and geography.

The country is distant from the source markets of cocaine and heroin. But its neighboring regions of East and Southeast Asia are considered among the highest producers of amphetamine-style substances globally, along with India. China has the largest number of clandestine ice labs in the Asia-Pacific region and is the source of most such substances in Australia, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Scipione says the country’s major vulnerability is this relatively position close to China, which supplies not only the finished drug but also the common precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of ice, including ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. These are ostensibly exported for industrial production but often diverted, in Australia, for the production of illicit drugs by both local organized crime groups and transnational organized crime syndicates. A key problem, he adds, is that there is limited or no control on these chemicals in source countries. Even in Australia, some chemicals aren’t subject to the same import restrictions as the precursors they collectively help make, so they pass easily through the ports.

Detective superintendent Tony Cooke, the New South Wales Police Drug Squad commander, says Australian law enforcement authorities have been “working hard” to impose tighter controls, including building a national end-user declaration system to track sales of precursor chemicals. But such measures will take time to have an effect and, in the meantime, ice is flooding the country. April saw the nation’s largest haul of methamphetamine ever: some 903 kilograms of ice, worth close to a billion Australian dollars (around $758 million), were discovered inside 70 boxes of wooden floorboards.

Cooke says Australia is seeing “an increase in importation of finished product,” mostly from China, but many countries are involved. The Australian Crime Commission’s landmark report, The Australian Methylamphetamine Market: The National Picture, released in March 2015, found that the importation, manufacture and trafficking of methylamphetamine—to use the full name of methamphetamine—and the importation of precursor chemicals were “supported by members of Australian-based outlaw motorcycle gangs, Australian organized crime groups as well as persons of Middle Eastern, Eastern European and West African backgrounds, and Vietnamese, Chinese, Canadian, U.S. and Mexican serious and organized crime groups.”

A big factor fueling the market is the price meth fetches in Australia. Local users consider ice a bargain compared to, say, costly and exotic cocaine—even so, the price they pay is one that international drug gangs regard as extremely attractive. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the average street price per gram of methamphetamine in China is $80; in Australia, it is $500. Wholesale prices have been recorded as high as $245,000 per kilogram.

“The price paid for methylamphetamine in Australia is among the highest in the world. This has driven interest in the market by transnational organized crime groups with access to offshore industrial-scale manufacturing, as well as by domestic organized crime groups,” the commission’s report says.

Australian demand for ice has led to a huge spike in production in China and other Asian countries such as Cambodia and Thailand, which in turn has made the drug highly affordable. A “point” of ice (a tenth of a gram) is now available for as little as 40 Australian dollars ($30) in some rural towns—equivalent to half a tank of gas or a meal in a modest restaurant, and far cheaper compared to a night of drinking. Alcohol is highly taxed in Australia. In terms of bang-for-buck, that makes meth far cheaper than mass-market whiskey.

A single point of meth can keep a user high for a couple of days depending on purity. “So it’s more economical to buy ice, because it is stronger,” says Nicole Lee, adjunct associate professor at the National Drug Research Institute of Curtin University. “You get more effect for the same cost.” She also cites the drug’s highly addictive nature. Data based on Nora Volkow’s work on the brain has found that ice can increase dopamine levels by as much as 1000 percent.

A former addict, who asked to identified only by his first name of Robert, can testify to this. A small business owner, he came to ice through Sydney’s gay party scene and relied on a daily point of ice for six years to get through work. He was hooked, he tells TIME, after only the second time he used the drug. “It was the most euphoric high.”

Cooke believes that part of the problem is cultural, lying in the national predilection for machismo, bravado, and risk taking. “We like to drink too much, or drive faster than anyone else,” he says. “It appears that we have the same issue around drug use.”

‘You would not imagine one human being would do that to another’

If there are two Australias—the sunlit country of G’day mate cordiality and the plutonic dystopia of meth—then nowhere encapsulates the dichotomy better than Rockhampton.

On a balmy Friday evening in the nation’s beef capital, bisected by the Tropic of Capricorn, all appears wholesome. Tourists pass through on their way to Yeppoon, where they board ferries for Great Keppel Island on the southern Great Barrier Reef. At Rockhampton’s historic Great Western Hotel, families tuck into steak and fries around a big rodeo ring where riders attempt to cling on to snorting, angry, 500-kilogram bulls. One cowboy is thrown off his beast in a violent arc and slams into a steel fence. He is knocked out for five minutes, but comes to, and is carried off to polite applause, and the admiration of a quartet of Japanese tourists who take photographs.

There is nothing, initially, to suggest a town in trouble. But to many families, Rockhampton is the seventh circle of Hell.

An analysis of Queensland’s waste water suggests that its major cities have seen a nearly five-fold increase in methamphetamine use since 2009. The effects in the region have been devastating, with Queensland child safety minister Shannon Fentiman saying that “one in three children coming in to out-of-home care had a parent who was using ice.”

In Yeppoon, a 35-minute drive away, mothers swap tales of violent assaults from their meth-addicted teens and describe being half-killed by grown children in the grip of psychosis. One speaks of a daughter who blew a $30,000 inheritance in six months on ice: she’s now couch-surfing with her worldly possessions in a bag after having lost her kids, house, job, and car. The founder of a local narcotics anonymous group, Lynn Graham, is tearful as she talks of her son’s battle with the drug: It’s like they’re dead, “but still living” she says.

The picture is repeated elsewhere in the state. On the Sunshine Coast, about 500 kilometers south of Rockhampton, desperate grandparents gather for free legal advice on how to get access to their grandchildren in battles with their ice-addicted children, says Debbie Ware, a no-nonsense, brunette mother of a recovering ice addict son who founded local support group ICESUP.

The region’s indigenous community has also been hit hard, says Lyn Anderson, the manager of Helem Yumba or the Central Queensland Healing Centre. She says the typical indigenous user used to be a male aged 28 to 40, but users are now to be found across every age group. She is also seeing soaring levels of child neglect and abuse, as well as cases of prostitution among indigenous boys and girls: “They are offering themselves sexually to dealers.”

Despite the crisis, Rockhampton, like so many small Australian towns, is critically under-resourced. There are some drug and alcohol services at local hospitals, and there is a small, residential center for indigenous addicts that takes others only if it has beds, says Ware. Generally, addicts from outside the indigenous community have to travel hundreds of kilometers to Brisbane and other major centers to access help—often dragged there in long car rides by desperate families.

All over the country, the distances and isolation are crippling. “We are 400 kilometers from Kalgoorlie, 500 from Albany and 800 from Perth,” says retired nurse Deleine Congreve, of the Western Australian town of Esperance. Congreve, whose daughter is a recovering addict, is quietly proud of the nearly 2000 signatures she has collected, in two urgent petitions she delivered to the state government, for a detox unit, community counseling service and a mental health service at Esperance Hospital. But the community is still waiting for help and fearfully so.

Around the country, ice—which leads to psychosis, hallucinations, aggression, insomnia, paranoia and delusions in heavy users—has been responsible for a range of particularly gruesome homicides and a surge in domestic violence. Karen Harrison, a mother of an addict in the economically depressed steel town of Whyalla, South Australia, runs a support group for families where ambulance workers come to give lessons in “netting”—physically restraining grown, violent children in the grip of psychosis. “[Parents] are scared of their children,” Harrison tells TIME.

In New South Wales, Scipione recounts the ritual Sunday morning briefing he was used to getting from police officers who had been victims of ice-induced violence the night before: he cites broken arms, broken teeth, and fractured eye sockets. Ice, which can give some users a surge of strength, was the reason he managed to get tasers introduced in the state. “Some of these injuries are just terrible. You would not imagine one human being would do that to another, but they do. This is the scourge we are dealing with.”

‘They are sitting ducks’

The problem is magnified in small country towns and remote rural communities like the New South Wales town of Wellington, which has been dubbed “Little Antarctica” because of its ice crisis. In Esperance, where Sergeant Richard Moore is part of a team that patrols an area the size of France—the world’s largest police beat—there has been a surge of ice-induced violence at the local hospital as well as rising assaults against officers. One officer was recently saved by his safety vest after being stabbed by a psychotic addict, Moore says.

“This young fella came out of the bedroom at us with a knife. He had self-harmed so there was a lot of blood everywhere. So it’s not just physical injuries to police, it’s hep C, all those sorts of things. We’ve had users spit in our mouths and eyes.”

The head of the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association, Sam Biondo, partly attributes the problem to chronic joblessness—in the Victorian country town of Wangaratta, for instance, more than a fifth of young people are unemployed—as well as a lack of support services to deal with mental health issues.

“I think all regional communities here are just like some parts of the United States,” he says, “which are suffering from the effects of transformation fueled by globalization, industry closure, the effects on local farming. The traditional means of employment are going. They are sitting ducks.”

Scipione grows emotional as he speaks of watching a close friend’s son go from life as a married father to bankrupting his family business to eventually being jailed for attempted murder. Ice “rapes people of their dignity,” he says. He doesn’t pretend to have all the answers: “You can’t arrest your way out of this problem.”

On that, there is broad agreement. Palmer, the former federal police commissioner, typifies many when he says the crisis requires a holistic approach that takes in everything from law enforcement and mental health services, to the establishment of a national network of detox and rehab centers, and a review of social programs looking at housing and employment, family support services, and education.

Late last month, Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk held her first summit on tackling ice, in Rockhampton. It looked at everything from youth support to seizing the assets of criminal gangs. A statement from the Queensland government says that the summit was born out of the premier’s meeting with “the brave mothers of ice victims.”

At least it’s a start. But until federal and state governments can work out how to deliver ambitious and costly programs to remote communities, ice users and their families will be left to improvise their own desperate solutions to a crisis that has no precedent.

“We are ticking time bombs” says Jenny Wayman, who works with the Salvation Army in Rockhampton. And local parents, she adds, have nothing but admiration for Daphne, the cage lady. “They’d like to do what she did.”



14
Sex, guns and ice at Australia’s most notorious high-rises

NEEDLES, ice-dealing, violence, sex work — but a sense of community. This is what it’s like to live in a public housing tower.

“THAT needle smell.” Marie Delmar winces as she sniffs the rancid air in the stairwell of the 17-storey high-rise she calls home. “It’s blood, I can smell blood.”

The graffiti-covered stairs of Kendall Towers are where the drug addicts go to shoot up or smoke meth, and the overpowering stench only gets worse as we climb higher. We see a syringe stuck into a pipe near the ceiling, and pass a shifty looking man who hastily hides a spoon used for inhaling methamphetamines behind his back. The sex work happens at the very top.

“People who just want money, they hang around in the stairs and if someone wants sex, they go there,” Marie, who has lived at the block in Sydney’s Redfern for almost 40 years, explains.

“They’re young kids, it’s just so upsetting, young kids who want money. They’ll do anything for it. They’re usually taking some sort of drugs. They don’t live here, they come here to work.”

The 59-year-old has seen a strung-out boy who looked as young as 14 hanging around up here, and as a mother, she says, that’s hard to take. One tenant’s ice-addicted girlfriend repeatedly set light to his unit to get hold of drugs until she was banned from the building. There are fires all the time.

Waiflike, wide-eyed Marie is sweetly concerned for my welfare as I visit tenants in the city’s tallest towers to find out more about life in public housing today. “I don’t want you to get hurt,” she says nervously, peering out into the stairwell. She’s more relaxed about her own safety, bounding up to drug users and mentally ill neighbours to pepper them with questions about the building’s condition. One tells us he’s locked in a battle with bedbugs and that cockroaches are nesting in his cupboards, but proudly flings open the door to his “penthouse suite” on the top floor, a piece of fabric hung over the window. “It’s fantastic,” he says.

‘THEY USE THE UNIT TO DO THE SELLING’

Marie sees herself as an unthreatening, helpful neighbour. But even she knows her limits.

A 40-year-old drug dealer with schizophrenia used to live across the hall, his door scrawled with “ICE HERE” and “F*** OFF”, and her sleep was constantly broken by loud music, knocks on his door and screaming arguments.

One day, she got up to ask for quiet, but something about the man standing by the door made her retreat. It looked like he was stroking a gun in his pocket. Later, the neighbour told her the man was one of Sydney’s biggest ice dealers.

Marie broke down in tears of gratitude when she heard Rob was being moved on after “10 years of hell”, but the pattern continues: now an alcoholic on the third floor is doing the same. “He’s easily taken advantage of so they use the unit to do the selling,” she says. “He’s drunk 24 hours a day, that’s the worry. The drug dealing that goes on, he lets every homeless person come up. We’ve been reporting him for over seven years: the music, the shocking violent fights, the yelling, the screaming that comes out of that unit. It can be day and night, 24 hours, he’s a real problem tenant.”

Marie has done all she can to make her unit look pretty. She has two tropical fish and has decorated everything in pink. She says the only thing that’s been added to the place is the lino flooring. “We had the option of a new kitchen or lino,” she says. “That’s the only thing we’ve got in 39 years.” There was a window in the bathroom, but it’s been boarded up because of all the break-ins. A man known as Spider-Man used to make it the highest — to level 10, to reach the apartment of an attractive aerobics instructor.

Outside, a man is rummaging through the skip. For a while, there was hoarder on level five, and the stink from her house travelled along the whole floor. “I was heaving, it was unbearable, it smelt so bad, like five-year-old excrement, that’s what it was, it got into your throat, this smell,” says Marie. “There was a cat that had died under there, rubbish that was months old. They finally called the Salvation Army to get all out. Apparently, she was transferred here because she’d done it somewhere else. They’re not managing it, just moving her.”

‘THEIR MEMORY OF CHILDHOOD: POWER-OUTS AND NEEDLES’

The neglect at Kendall is evident everywhere we turn. Wires spilling out of the ceiling near the electricity box, a dripping tap in the laundry, broken doors, and drug paraphernalia dumped beside the fire hoses. The hoses now have to be switched on elsewhere, Marie’s not sure where, because “vindictive people were flooding all the units”.

A NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) spokeswoman told news.com.au it has maintenance contractors to do scheduled cleaning of tower blocks, including daily internal and external cleaning and maintenance of common areas, lawns and grounds areas.

In the past two years, the department has introduced 24/7 building security and front desk services, fob key building access to restrict entry.

A RedLink Integrated Service Centre, to provide residents with legal and financial assistance, tenant advocacy, social groups and a soup kitchen, was also opened on the site.

Following the devastating blaze in London’s Grenfell Tower, there have been meetings with fire safety teams, emergency services and Housing NSW at all the blocks I visit, in an effort to calm residents’ anxieties.

The department confirmed properties do not use the combustible composite aluminium cladding for external facades that contributed to the blaze at London’s Grenfell Tower.

Properties are fitted with smoke alarms and tower blocks have sprinklers, hydrants, alarms, fire hoses and compartmentalisation to prevent fire from spreading.

A “sharps graph” has been distributed to tenants at Kendall, showing how the cleaners are keeping the needle issue under control. It doesn’t seem like enough.

These days, Marie doesn’t come back home after 4.30pm. “I’ve had too many experiences, people try to grab my purse or a few people approach me. They’re on the prowl looking for money. It’s lodged in my mind, there’s something about 4.30.

William Morgan, 61, on the fourth floor, has taped up his bathroom ceiling with duct tape. It has been peeling and leaking beside a bare light bulb for a year, since the man upstairs flooded his unit. “I had to sit there with an umbrella,” he says, pointing to the toilet, which is also leaking. Mould is seeping out from William’s apartment into the corridor. Marie has called to report it, but nothing has been done.

“I know we don’t pay a huge rent but like me, I’ve worked all my life,” she says. “I’m starting to wonder if housing is running out of money, it never used to look like this. Maybe there’s nothing left.”

There used to be hundreds of families here but they seem to have evaporated, although the kindergarten is just next door. “We were without power for three weeks in the corridor about a week ago; the lady downstairs has two kids. I get a glimmer of light, but she doesn’t. It would stay in their memory of childhood: power-outs and needles.”

‘THEY EITHER JUMPED OR WERE PUSHED’

This is ordinary life for many in high-rise public housing in New South Wales and around Australia. The tenants are philosophical about the consequences of having so many people living below the poverty line or tackling substance abuse and mental health issues in such proximity.

All human life is here. At nearby Northcott, the infamous “Suicide Towers” in affluent Surry Hills, Alison George has seen more dead bodies than most. “It’s got worse because of ice,” the 76-year-old tells news.com.au. “The last one was probably last year, the body had dented a car and was under a sheet. They either jumped or were pushed.”

She shows me photos on her phone of the belongings her drug-addicted neighbour threw out of his window — syringes, parts of a bed, a crutch. Bags of his rubbish fill the communal area near her door.

There have been many murders here over the years — shootings, two beheadings and a dismembered body dumped in a bath. But Alison is beyond feeling scared. She escaped an abusive home life in Queensland, and has grown used to Northcott, with its former prison inmates, their spotless units devoid of furniture; the homeless visitors and people everywhere battling their own mental health issues.

When we visit, she is taking part in an exercise class at the community centre while other tenants serve soup from a hatch.

One of the volunteers, Graham Brecht, 62, says he’s encountered gangs of 12 dealers, faced a sexual advance and been forced to steer his young visiting nephew away from a body. But, for a block of 436 units housing 1200 people, he believes “it works.”

FACS said it was working with agencies including NSW Police, St Vincent’s Mental Health and the Kirketon Road Centre to improve the security and amenities in the Northcott Estate.

“To date, 200 security cameras have been installed at Northcott to monitor activity in the foyers and fire stairs. These are monitored onsite and all incidents are reported to the local FACS Housing office,” the FACS spokeswoman said.

New fobs are being issued to all Northcott tenants, which will restrict access to their floors only.

‘SOME PEOPLE TRASH IT’

The wind is howling and whistling around the 14-storey tower. At night, says 12th-floor resident Charmaine Jones, it sways in the wind and “makes noises like people rolling bowling balls.”

Charmaine runs community group Inner Sydney Voice. “The nature of public housing is you are going to have people with complex issues,” she says. “You see these people all the time because you get in lift with them. For all its complexities, it’s a strong and resilient place.”

Alison agrees. “Some people trash it, the mentally ill, people with drug problems,” she says. “Drugs have become a problem.

“The cleaning budget has got smaller and smaller and the needed for cleaning has increased.

“But just because you’re living in a tower block doesn’t mean there’s not a community. People don’t want the community broken up.”

‘I GO TO BED THINKING, WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ME?’

That’s what’s happening in nearby Waterloo, where tower blocks Turanga, Matavai, Cook, Solander, Marton and Banks are due to be demolished to make way for a metro station and shopping precinct. These high-rises were also nicknamed “Suicide Towers” in the past, and had a reputation for squatters, vandals and ice-fuelled violence.

The concierges, gentrification and a greater police presence have made it feel far safer. Now, residents are desperate to stay. They’ve been promised they will be returned to new public housing afterwards, but they aren’t sure whether to believe it. From September 9, they will illuminate the windows of the towers with multicoloured lights as part of a campaign called “We Live Here”.

Affie Adagio — a former community worker who lives on level 8 of Turanga in an apartment crammed with belongings, two cats and a dog — is taking it in her stride. “The ageing population is increasing, they’ve got to do something to make it affordable,” says the 73-year-old. “I land on my feet. I’m one of those people that believe the redevelopment will be good for Waterloo and public housing.

“There are units that are in a terrible state ... one room units two people use as a bedroom, dining, living room, and it’s small. I have a friend on the sixth floor, in her unit, the tiles in the kitchen are falling apart, there was water leakage and for a year she had asked for them to come and fix it. All of us have asked for the windows at least once a year to be washed.

“The problems are the same as anywhere else. I had my own unit in Potts Point and in that block of units we had drug addicts, we had violent people.

“Anywhere you live you will have troublemakers, violent people and good people.”

Those living in the run-down, low-rise “walk-ins” will be moved first. Some have agreed to be moved west to free up some of this prime real estate for private housing. The final residents are not due to move for ten years.

The FACS spokeswoman said the redevelopment of the Waterloo estate was currently in a planning phase.

“The first relocations will not commence before mid-2018. There will be no loss of social housing and all residents will have the right to return to the Waterloo Estate,” she said.

“The intention is for the majority of residents to be able to move from their current homes directly into new social housing, as buildings are completed.”

She said there would be 23,500 new and replacement social and affordable housing dwellings built over the next 10 years with a focus on mixed public and private dwellings.

FEARS REMAIN

Meanwhile an action group at Waterloo meets weekly as they try to protect the elderly and disabled long-timers who face being forced out. “They’re selling off family homes for $1.8 million saying they’re ‘beyond repair’,” says Waterloo Public Housing Action Group chair Richard Weeks. “They won’t be replaced. We have 60,000 on the waiting list.

“They’re decreasing the housing stock. They’ll give back 30 per cent, the rest will be private. We’re talking social and private mixed. It won’t work. They won’t want to live next door to someone with mental health issues.

“We’ll lose all our green space. Some people won’t even see sunlight. It’s a debacle.

“People are here because of special circumstances. The community keeps them together, especially elderly people, they feel better off than if they were staring at the wall in a nursing home.”

At the meeting, a man in a black beanie raises his hand. “Why move a person to new accommodation and then back to the old?” he asks. “It’s moving people around as if they’re objects that can just be slotted in. People are people.”

Anna Kovic, an 80-year-old who was the fifth person to move to Solander 45 years ago, says it’s the uncertainty that’s the hardest. “They say maybe they will shift me somewhere else then put me back,” she says.

“I go to bed thinking, ‘Where will they put me? What will happen to me?’”


15
General Discussions / 27 drug labs found in public housing
« on: February 14, 2018, 03:01:03 PM »
27 drug labs found in public housing as taxpayers are slugged a $21m clean-up bill

Alison Sandy Right to Information Editor, The Sunday Mail (Qld)
August 24, 2013

QUEENSLAND taxpayers are unwittingly subsidising illegal drug labs with 27 being found in public housing in the past year.

The clean-up bill has topped $21 million since 2007 after bad tenants have also been caught burning their taxpayer-funded homes down or vandalising state-owned residences.

The State Government says new laws are expected to lead to 200 evictions this year alone due to its new 'three strikes you're out policy' - up 37 per cent from the year before, according to a report obtained by The Sunday Mail under Right to Information laws.

However, Housing Minister Tim Mander said the Government was amending laws to further strengthen its ability to end tenancies when required.

He said this would particularly occur in cases of "severe anti-social behaviour such as extensive deliberate property damage and/or criminal activity like drug labs at the premises".

"Tenants need to know that if they insist on doing the wrong thing, there will be serious consequences," Mr Mander said.

"Taxpayer-subsidised housing is there to house the most vulnerable members of our society, not to act as a shopfront for vandals and drug dealers."

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said housing commission homes should be for the needy, not drug lords.

"Police have had enough of continually being called to housing commission homes where residents are seemingly committing crimes with impunity,'' he said.

"Convicted drug dealers should not be entitled to housing commission homes."

Some of the worst public housing abuse cases in the past year included:

- $126,794 of "extensive fire damage" caused at a Fortitude Valley property in Brisbane's inner city where "extensive drug paraphernalia" was also found;

- $20,875 at a Toowoomba property where bathrooms were wrecked, fence palings removed, tiles and doors damaged and the kitchen needed replacement;

- $42,000 at a Cairns property requiring the removal of hazardous chemicals from a clandestine lab; and

- $43,000 of damage caused by an ex-tenant including the "illegal use of property, objectionable behaviour (and) police involvement".

Other issues included holes in walls, doors broken and windows smashed in Maryborough, and extensive graffiti at a home in Caboolture.

The cost of unfair wear-and-tear damage to public housing properties since June 2007 is $27,473,956.

The total number of complaints received over the last five years is 118,503 (or 23,700 per annum).

Last financial year, 6400 breaches were issued to tenants.


Under the three-strikes policy, a social housing tenant who receives three breach notices within a 12-month period is evicted.

"Since the three-strikes policy came into effect on July 1 this year, four households have vacated after being issued with notices to leave," Mr Mander said.

"One household vacated their property before being served with a Warrant of Possession.

"The department has also lodged a further three applications for Termination Orders with QCAT.

"Since the start of July there have also been 18 households evicted for failure to pay rent.''

Western Australia introduced the same legislation in 2011 and its eviction rates increased by about 70 per cent in 2011/12.


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