This page contains a selection of recent news articles and commentary about male victims of violence and abuse plus related issues. These articles are presented as a community service, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the One in Three Campaign.

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Concerns regarding the SA Government's management of their domestic violence campaign

The following speech was made by the Hon Stephen Wade MLC in the South Australian Legislative Council on 23rd June 2010.


The Hon. S.G. WADE (15:59): I want to speak today about my concerns regarding the government’s management of the domestic violence campaign. Our society is becoming increasingly intolerant of violence—including domestic violence—against women. Like a number of members of this chamber, I am a White Ribbon ambassador, a movement of men to urge men to speak out against violence against women. A White Ribbon survey found that 98 per cent of Australian people today say that domestic violence is a crime, compared with 93 per cent in 1995.

I am sure members throughout the chamber would share my concern regarding anything that would undermine progress and allow anyone to diminish the importance of dealing with violence, including violence against women. It is in that context that I express my deep concern about the government’s management of the Don’t Cross the Line campaign website.

In September last year, the state government launched the Don’t Cross the Line campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence. In the same month, Men’s Health Australia wrote to the Office for Women expressing concern at what it perceived as a selective use of statistics which it considers overstates the impact of domestic violence on women and understates the impact of domestic violence on men. I asked a question of the Minister for the Status of Women on Men’s Health Australia’s concerns in October and, in response, she said:

I acknowledge that there is research and data from a wide range of different sources and there can be different interpretations of such data. However, I am advised that the data on the Don’t Cross the Line website is sound.

We did not hear anything from the government until yesterday, when the Minister for the Status of Women made a ministerial statement in which she admitted that the Office for Women has been found by the Office of Crime Statistics and Research to have distributed misleading information. Further, the minister advised that the Ombudsman is investigating similar concerns about the website. She indicated that it would be inappropriate for her to comment while the Ombudsman’s investigation is underway.

I am concerned that the minister’s statement is not clear. When she says the OCSAR report was sought—and I quote—‘following concerns by some individuals’, was she referring to Men’s Health Australia only or to other complaints as well? Does the Ombudsman’s investigation relate to the Men’s Health Australia concerns? What is the scope of the Ombudsman’s investigation? Considering that she does not think it appropriate to comment while the investigation is underway, what matters are within the scope, such that it would be inappropriate for her to comment?

I am concerned that the government often tries to use investigations as shields against accountability. We have seen it in relation to Burnside council. Of course, it would be inappropriate for the minister to pre-empt the findings of the investigator. However, the minister is still responsible to this house and should be accountable for the costs and time lines, especially in terms of what she is doing to make sure that voters have the facts they need.

Likewise, in relation to the Don’t Cross the Line campaign, it is inevitable that the OCSAR report and the Ombudsman’s investigation will increase the scrutiny of the government’s management of the program. I assure the council that the opposition will not be deterred from pursuing the important matter of the promotion of safety for women against domestic violence because the government may choose to use an investigation as a shield against accountability.

Also, I am concerned that this incident raises an overarching concern about the level of public ethics under this government. From base level public servants to the Premier, the Rann Labor government needs to lift its performance in communicating with the public. We need to make sure that we raise the standards so the public can be completely confident that when they are getting public information they are getting reliable information. It is very worrying that the effectiveness of important public information initiatives—such as the domestic violence campaign—could be undermined by the distribution of misleading information.

The public expects government information to maintain the highest standards of truthfulness and accuracy and, often in campaigns such as this, public health and safety depends on it. I have no doubt about the sincerity and the depth of minister Gago’s commitment to eradicate domestic violence. I call on her to do whatever she can within the government to repair the damage done to the campaign and urge her to that end to maintain full and frank communication with this council and with the public.


Minister admits misleading public on domestic violence

The Minister for the Status of Women, Hon Gail Gago MLC, yesterday admitted in a Ministerial Statement that statistics on the Don’t Cross the Line respectful relationships website were incorrect and had been removed.

The incorrect and misleading material was brought to the attention of the Minister by leading men’s health organisation Men’s Health Australia and is still under investigation by the SA Ombudsman.

Spokesman Greg Andresen said, “We are pleased that the Minister now acknowledges that her campaign misled the public and the media for nine months about the reality of relationship abuse in Australia. However, her claim that the errors have been rectified couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“The original errors have been replaced by a page of statistics about violence against women. As the Minister notes, the underlying aim of the campaign is to educate young men and women about respectful relationships and about the difference between acceptable and abusive behaviour. To equate abusive relationship behaviour with violence against women is simply mind-boggling.”

“Firstly, at least one in three victims of family violence and abuse are male. Why has the minister deliberately misled the public in an attempt to deny that one third of victims – men and their children – exist? Secondly, most violence against women takes place outside of relationships – in the workplace, on the street, at the pub, etc. Why is the minister inflating statistics on relationship abuse by including these types of violence on the website?”

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Relationships website 'one-sided', says men's group

A complaint has been made to the South Australian Ombudsman about a State Government website promoting healthy relationships.

Men's Health Australia says the Don't Cross the Line website has misleading and one-sided information.

SA Minister for the Status of Women Gail Gago admits a review of the site found transcription errors and problems with how it used statistics about violence by men against women.

Greg Andresen from Men's Health Australia says the website also fails to mention violence against males.

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For every 3,500 GBP spent on female domestic violence victims, 1 GBP is spent on their male counterparts (UK)

Last week a hugely significant and historic debate took place in Scotland when the Parliament got round to finally discussing domestic violence against men. As highlighted in the discussions it's quite shameful that it took 11 years after the initial Liberal Democrat proposal to actually have the debate, particularly given that debating “violence against women” is quite literally an annual event.

The debate itself makes fascinating viewing and a number of those taking part really should be commended for their knowledge of the issues and determination to expose the truth with particular credit going to Mike Rumbles of the Lib Dems. The most positive aspect of the proceedings was the recognition of how badly the Scottish Parliament was failing male victims. It was noted that the Scottish Executive had spent some £100 million helping females victims, compared to £28,000 on men. Feminists moan about all sorts of inequalities such as supposed discrimination in pay, yet even with their skills at fiddling the figures I doubt they can find any area where the disparity in government spending between the sexes amounts to more than 350,000%. As noted in the debate, such a lack of funding means there's no actual helpline based in Scotland for men, and further still no services that victims can be referred to one they call the helpline. It's akin to setting up a “999”call centre but neglecting to employ any fireman, police or paramedics.

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No Support for Male Victims of Domestic Violence | Australian Women Online

According to those who work in the area of men’s health, the current approach to domestic violence ignores the one in three victims of family violence who are male. While not wanting to undermine the decades of effort that have gone into establishing services for female victims of domestic violence, they want the government to do more to raise awareness about the plight of male victims, many of whom find they have nowhere to turn when a female partner becomes violent or abusive.

Gary’s ex-wife had punched him in the face with a closed fist on several occasions. But it wasn’t until she punched the couple’s 16 month old daughter while he was holding her, that the father of two decided enough was enough. “She walked over and punched my baby daughter in the middle of the back, sending us both flying. It was a terrific blow. I fled the house with my daughter and looked for somewhere to stay, but all my friends were at work or on holidays. So I phoned an emergency refuge who literally laughed at my request for help and proceeded to tell me that the service was only for women,” Gary told the One in Three campaign website.

“I tried another shelter without success. I had no money left and couldn’t afford accommodation. So I spent the night sleeping under a derelict building without blankets and I held my daughter close to keep her warm. She cried for most of the night because she was afraid and hungry. I could only give her water from a nearby tap. My daughter was traumatised and so was I (and we both still are). The next morning we returned home because we had no alternative. I later asked my wife why she punched our daughter and her answer was literally ‘because I knew that would upset you more than if I had hit you’ and she apologised profusely.”

Gary added, “At the moment she hit our daughter I knew instantly that the marriage must finish. I now have sole care of my two beautiful children after a court found her unfit to be a parent for a number of reasons. Violence against men and their children is real.”

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