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Tuesday
Mar152016

Andrew's personal story

15th March 2016

Jay Weatherill
Premier of South Australia

Dear Premier,

Please be aware that this is an open letter that will also be given to media sources.

Many years ago I was in the unfortunate situation of being in a relationship and was the victim of domestic violence. This abuse was physical, psychological and financial.

At the time I felt quite isolated. There were domestic violence support groups around, but these appeared exclusively for women.

I considered reporting the incidence to the police, but there seemed little to be gained from doing so. I simply did what I have since discovered most men do and suffer alone.

Life was definitely a struggle, and I do feel fortunate that I found a doctor who understood the issues and was able to offer support.

After separation from my ex-wife, there were complex legal battles involving both children and finances. It became apparent at this time that any assets are simply a complication in the family court system that distract from the important issues of the welfare of children. The main asset I own at this point in time is an old car I paid $1000 for. I do not own much else.

I was still subject to physical and physiological abuse from my ex-wife when I collected and dropped off my children.

Eventually I insisted that handovers occur at a police station for my own safety. I will clarify that I sought this change after I was physically assaulted my ex-wife’s father.

It was a difficult conversation to have with my children to explain that I was scared to take them to their mothers place, but it was a necessary conversation. Handovers at the police station have lessened the abuse and the trauma the children suffer, but there have still been a few times where the police have felt the need to intervene. My approach as much as possible is to always remain silent during handovers. All discussions with my children’s mother take place via phone message or email.

Since this time it has become apparent to me that there are many male victims of domestic violence. There appears however to still be quite a bit of stigma associated with this and very little in the way of support.

Given this lack of support and stigma, it is little wonder that most male victims of domestic violence feel there is little to be gained by making formal reports. Indeed, the small amount of men that I know of that have made reports were not believed at first. It appears to take quite serious physical injuries for male victims to be believed by police.

It is therefore little wonder that there is not the statistical data to suggest men are regularly victims of domestic violence.

Last year while working in a public school as a disability support worker, I was exposed to the White Ribbon campaign by the Department of Education and Child Development management. Given what I have previously been through, this campaign aimed specifically at women devalued the suffering I had been through and further aided the alienation and social stigma I felt as a male victim of domestic violence.

This caused me to become distressed and made it difficult for me to work. I reported this distress to the school leadership, and they suggested I contact the CEO which I did. The CEO Tony Harrison simply brushed off my claims. This left me with little option but resign immediately.

Given that Tony Harrison was made aware of the discriminatory effect of the White Ribbon campaign and the distressful effect it had on me, and he chose to continue it, the Department of Education and Child Development is clearly in breach of their employment contract with me.

With the support from medical professionals and a high dose of anti-depressants, my mental health gradually improved.

The Minister for Education and Child Development, Susan Close alleges that I was overpaid by about $450 after I resigned. I dispute this because, as I mentioned above the department breached the employment contract.

I have also explained to Recoveries that I felt a legal and moral obligation to work at a level beyond what I was paid for. I also felt a legal and moral obligation to work longer hours than I was paid for. I provided detailed supporting documentation to verify my claims.
I specifically emailed the minister so she could be clearly aware of the issues. I have explained the specific areas of the Equal Opportunities Act (SA) 1984 and the Disability Discrimination Act (Cth) 1992 that the Department of Education and Child Development are in breach of.
I have not lodged a wage claim on DECD forms. Quite simply it is not my responsibility to jump through the bureaucratic hoops of the Department for Education and Child Development. The Minister at least ought to be aware of this information.
I have discussed with the school principal that I am the primary carer of a young baby and a primary school aged child. Included in this discussion were the facts that I had very little in the way of personal assets or income.

I also emailed details of this to the Minister for Education and Child Development. Given the above information, it appears bizarre the Minister for Education and Child Development, Susan Close has chosen to launch legal action in the Magistrates court with regard to the $450 she alleges I owe.

I have been involved in court cases where the welfare of my children is at stake. A court case involving money I do not have is of little personal consequence. As I have indicated to the minister I am not particularly interested in the money, and should I be successful, I will distribute as much as possible to charity. This will probably be Novita as they also support the children I have been working with. I will also transfer some money to the Child Support Agency in the hope it is used to support my children.

The above issues are of upmost importance and I do appreciate the opportunity to be involved in a court case as significant as this. I will obviously need to file a counter claim to cover the breach of employment contract, having a legal obligation to work at a higher level and having a legal obligation to work longer hours than I was paid. I will complete this in the coming weeks.

I believe the residents of South Australia have a right to know;

• Why did the CEO of the Department of Education and Child Development, Tony Harrison brush off a sexual discrimination claim when the facts were clearly conveyed and the issue was clearly causing distress?

• Why did the Minister for Education and Child Development condone such behaviour and launch a court case?

• Why did the Minister for Education and Child Development condone the lack of legally required disability support required in a school?

• Why is the Minister for Education and Child Development spending tax payer money on a court case when there is little to no chance of recovering funds?

I will also clarify that I strongly support action against domestic violence, but domestic violence does not discriminate and nor should government departments.

Yours sincerely

Andrew

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