Category Archives: social change

Vaccine refusers choose natural immunity

What do you do when the laws of the land require you to vaccinate your children and where failure to comply means, no child care or kindergarten and no government family payments or rebates?

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Allona Lahn is the leader of the Natural Immunity Community group, which is a supportive group for parents who do not choose to vaccinate their children and are finding other ways of child rearing and schooling out of the mainstream.

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I have Auto Immune issues, Anaphylaxis, Eczema and Severe Allergies and you want ME to Vaccinate MY child without ANY Genetic or Allergy testing?!…


In Anti-vaxxers establish own social services after No Jab, No Play policy crackdownJanel Shorthouse writes:

A network of anti-vaccination families on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast are creating their own social services, including childcare and schooling, in a bid to counter the Federal Government’s landmark No Jab No Play policy, implemented in January.

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If you have a pre-school child and you happen to live in the Australian states of New South Wales or Victoria and unless your child is up to date with the national vaccination schedule, they are unable to attend child care services such as long day care, preschool/kindergarten, family day care and occasional care. While in the sunny state of Queensland the No Jab No Play policy allows for early childhood education and care services to cancel or refuse the enrolment of an unvaccinated child. In Western and South Australia, Tasmania, and the Territories, no such vaccination policy applies to child care services.

Such is the state of our punitive vaccination laws in Australia which also include loss of family benefits/rebates and family tax benefits for failure to comply with our strict vaccination schedule. It is little wonder that Allona Lahn’s network is growing stronger and at present, numbers 800 members.

“We’ve been forced out of the mainstream,” Ms Lahn told Shorthouse for the ABC.  She explained that they have established the community network to protect themselves and provide support for the increasing numbers of people who choose not to vaccinate their children and find themselves fearful and isolated.

“The policy and crackdown targets us, our beliefs and discriminates against our families, our children,” she said. And so, the network have organised their own childcare and are in the process of setting up homeschooling. They have also turned away from mainstream medical services choosing to use health practitioners from the wider anti-vaccination networks.

It’s a great name for the network: A Natural Immunity Community, a support system where there is no need to comply with forced vaccination because there are alternative structures in place such as schooling and care which are not dependent on having been vaccinated and where the opportunity is granted for children to acquire permanent immunity as opposed to transient immunity gained via vaccination.

As more vaccines are rapidly added to the vaccination schedule it is vital that we understand what is happening to natural immunity.

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In Vaccination Illusion: How vaccination compromises our natural immunity and what we can do to regain our health, Tetyana Obukhanych, Ph.D. discusses how,

“Vaccination does not lead to permanent immunity.”

She explains how before the practice of vaccination:

“Infants were protected from these diseases by maternal immunity, whereas adults were protected by their own life-long immunity, which they had acquired in the childhood. The use of vaccines changed this.”

Before the measles vaccine was introduced into the U.S in 1963, the majority of children were naturally immune to the infection by the age of 15. By then, most children had experienced a case of measles and recovered. Then when the females grew up and had their babies, they were able to pass on this natural immunity via the placenta and through breast milk. This maternal protection lasts 6 months but is extended by breast-feeding hereby lessening the mortality associated with very young infants getting the measles infection.

Nature is wonderful!  But what have we done?

Now that mothers are vaccinated with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, they no longer pass this valuable natural immunity and protection on to their babies. This not only applies to measles but to other childhood infections such as mumps and chicken pox. Take the case of chicken pox, a mild infection. Before children were routinely given the chicken pox vaccine, immunity among adults was regularly reinforced by the young around them who had the natural disease. In this way, elderly people, often susceptible to shingles, were protected from the painful and debilitating disease. This naturally acquired immunity is disappearing now that children are vaccinated for these mild childhood infections and everything else – even against influenza.

This is tragic!

As Tetyana Obukhanych, Ph.D states:

“Mass vaccination undermines maternal immunity.”

How can we not see this as a tragedy? The situation is really grave and benefits no-one but those who profit from the vaccine industry. Vaccination has only been around for over 200 years.  It is time to admit the mistake that it is.

Congratulations to Allona Lahn and her contribution to the survival of natural immunity. May the network flourish!


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We must stop the damage from GMOs and vaccines

Untitled-3Many anti-GMO activists are convinced there is a connection between glyphosate along with genetically engineered foods, and the increasing levels of autism in children. My research has led me to put the blame for autism and other developmental disorders at the feet of the vaccine industry but in reality I think that both the biotechnology and the vaccine industries are implicated in the exponential rates of these diseases and other adverse health events.

  Jeffrey Smith is the author of Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating, and Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives. In a presentation called The Real Truth about GMO’s he speaks about how the consumption of genetically modified foods are causing all sorts of health issues such as gut problems, brain fog, allergies, skin rashes, fatigue, asthma, and autism and that these conditions improve when eating GMO food ceases. In fact, thousands of US doctors are now prescribing GM free diets.The revolution is beginning.

However a few notes on how we have arrived at this point are in order.

Tragically, Monsanto, otherwise known as the “most evil corporation on Earth” with their dirty products such as Agent Orange and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s), is in charge of our food supply. This is a company which along with Archer Daniels Midland, Sodexo and Tyson Foods were responsible for  The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009: HR 875   which gave the corporate factory farms a virtual monopoly to police and control all foods grown anywhere, including one’s own backyard

The FDA declares that testing of these novel genetic modifications is not required before they are released. Monsanto merely needs to tell the FDA that their products are safe. That is all that is needed before they are sold, and then eaten by the public.

However many studies show very real problems in animals fed GM food. One of these independent studies found that buffalo, goats and sheep in India are dying after grazing on Bt cotton plants. Those who care for the animals are also getting sick with skin rashes and respiratory issues.

Jeffrey Smith describes the production of a genetically modified organism (GMO)

A bacterium such as Bacillus thuringiensis is used to create a corn plant that is able to produce its own toxic insecticide. The Bt toxin from the bacillus makes holes in the cell walls of insects to kill them. From there the gene from the bacterium is used to make millions of copies which are shot via a gene gun into millions of corn cells – with the hope that genes find their way into the DNA of some of the cells, which are then cloned, becoming Bt corn.

Massive damage is caused to the DNA of the plant by this process of insertion and cloning in that 2-4% of the DNA is changed. This is significant, for these changes may result in an increase or decrease in the amount of proteins in the plant. The changes may also mean that some genes are shut off or that silent genes are turned on.

But did the regulators and the biotech industry look for these changes before the GM corn went on the market? Incredibly and inexcusably they did not. With the GM corn already in the food supply an independent scientist found there were 43 proteins that had changed in the process of creating the corn. One gene that was previously silent had been switched on and was a known allergen, able to cause allergy or death in the susceptible consumer. There were also other proteins that during the process of cloning had changed shape.  According to Smith such changes are important and can cause no harm or can be lethal. And yet the regulators don’t believe this experimental stuff needs testing.

This is really alarming in that greater than 90% of all soybean, cotton and corn acreage in the U.S. is used to grow genetically engineered crops. Other approved novel foods include sugar beets, alfalfa, canola, papaya and summer squash.

Of this runaway technology Jeffrey Smith claims:

We are taking the products of this immature science causing massive damage to the most compactified level of nature – the DNA.

But in the eyes of Monsanto the ideal future looks like this:

One hundred per cent of all commercial seeds would be GM and patented.

As Jeffrey Smith has said:

They are planning to replace nature. This is a pivotal time.

The main reason for genetically engineering plants is to sell more herbicide. Yes, this gamble with the very basis of life is so our food can be sprayed with poison.  Every year 2 billion kilograms of the water soluble carcinogen – Glyphosate is used worldwide. It’s in our air, in our rainfall, in the plants, our food and in our bodies.

Glyphosate binds with plant minerals so these nutrients are unavailable for the plant. In the process, plants are made deficient in nutrients and become weak and sick and so do the animals who eat the plants. We eat the crops and the sick animals and it’s no surprise that we too, fall ill. The reason it is such a successful herbicide is because it deprives the plants of nutrients and creating diseases in the soil around it.

As to how the consumption of Glyphosate affects humans…

Glyphosate blocks the shikimate pathway in our gut. The bacteria in our bodies use this important pathway to create L-Tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is so important to our well being. Mood and behaviour are improved when we switch to organic foods.

The currently accepted dogma is that glyphosate is not harmful to humans because the shikimate pathway is absent in all animals. However, this pathway is present in both human and mammal’s gut bacteria, which play a massively important and heretofore largely overlooked role in human physiology

Some actions we can take to remove our food supply from this corporate power:

  • Ensure that what we eat is natural
  • Grow our own food
  • Ask restaurants whether their food is GM. Menus are now gluten free so how about asking for a GM free menu.
  • Sharing information about GM foods and how to avoid them

And as we spread the word about GMO’s we must also protest the number of chemically laden vaccines our children now receive. In the US the number of vaccines given to children from birth to the age of 18 years is now 74 doses.

True health cannot come from a needle. Injecting people with something to try to keep them well is a 200 year mistake.

The rate of autism in the US is now 1 in 25. Of course autism isn’t the only adverse event that frequently occurs after vaccination. Chronic pain conditions, seizures, gastro-intestinal disorders, arthritis in its many forms, diabetes and infertility are among the huge and ever growing list of side effects.

SPN-Gardasil CoverA vaccine that has the highest number of adverse events of any vaccine is Gardasil the HPV vaccinethat is marketed as preventative against cervical cancer even though there is no proof that the vaccine has ever prevented a single case of cervical cancer in the world. Brian Hooker, father of a vaccine-damaged child speaking in Vaccines Revealed calls it:

A dirty vaccine…loaded with aluminium. Aluminium doesn’t belong in the human body.

But in spite of the fact that there are now over 81,000 recorded adverse events following the administration of Gardasil the manufacturers are trialling it on babies. This sadly is true. We urgently need to turn this around.

But not before a new cohort of 12-13 year-olds are injected with the latest HPV vaccine. Gardasil 9 has 5 more antigens and more than twice the amount of aluminium per shot than Gardasil.

From the start of this school year Australian teenagers will be injected with Gardasil 9 replacing the quadrivalent Gardasil.

Lack of safety studies on Gardasil 9

In 2014 the US FDA approved the use of Gardasil 9 for females ages 9 to 26 years and males ages 9 to 15 years for prevention of vulvar, vaginal, anal, and cervical cancers. Gardasil 9 is marketed as protective against nine HPV types: 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.

Even though the vaccine is new, the approval by the FDA was completed without the usual review given by the VRBPAC (the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee). The committee is responsible for reviewing and evaluating the safety of vaccines and other health products.

letter to the FDA from Marion Gruber, Director of Office of Vaccines Research and Review CBER gives the reason for their decision:

 Our review of information submitted in your BLA (biologics license application) including the clinical study design and trial results, did not raise concerns or controversial issues which would have benefited from an advisory committee discussion.

But there is much evidence to suggest that this review needed to be done. Rather than use an inert placebo such as normal saline, Gardasil 9 was compared directly to the quadrivalent Gardasil in two of the studies. A comparison with Gardasil is hardly reassuring for there have been thousands of adverse events and hundreds of deaths  following its administration.

These are 2 very different vaccines. Gardasil 9 has 5 more antigens than the quadrivalent Gardasil. Also in Gardasil 9 the HPV antigens 6, 16, and 18 have been increased.

Gardasil                                   Gardasil 9

How do the changes to the number and strength of the antigens affect the recipients of this new vaccine?

Increased amounts of the aluminium adjuvent

Gardasil 9 contains 500 mcg of aluminium per dose. This is more than double the amount of aluminium contained in a dose of Gardasil which has 225 mcg.  It is alarming that this huge amount of aluminium is to be injected into young bodies. This is because aluminium causes the body to turn against itself. This is what we are seeing in many of the girls who have had their lives severely affected after their Gardasil shots.

One of the severe adverse events is premature ovarian failure in young teenage girls. POF occurs due to the destruction by aluminium of the maturation process of the eggs in the ovaries. Shockingly this condition is underreported at the present time because many girls are on the contraceptive pill but once they stop the damage will be obvious. This is very serious, more infertility and loads of heartache to follow.

Disturbingly the aluminium adjuvant in these vaccines does not require clinical approval. Gardasil and Gardasil 9 contain amorphous aluminium hydroxyphosphate sulphate (AAHS) a new form of aluminium which causes the immune system to become 104 times more powerfully stimulated than would occur naturally. It is important to be aware that this HPV vaccination program continues despite the fact that there is no scientific proof that the vaccines have ever prevented a single case of cervical cancer. And the adverse events continue to increase after administration of the HPV vaccines.

In FDA approved Gardasil 9: Malfeasance or Stupidity?  researcher Norma Erickson has examined the Gardasil 9 package insert where she found that the rate of serious adverse events in the trials of Gardasil 9 was 2.3 %. This means that for every 100,000 people who are given Gardasil 9 there will be 2300 serious adverse events and yet the cervical cancer rate in the US is around 7 women per 100,000. Talk about insanity!

And that’s not all she found when she examined the insert package. During the trials 2.4% of the recipients developed an autoimmune disorder which means that 2400 people could now be suffering from new diseases just because they had this new Gardasil 9.

And there’s more to be learnt about the development of autoimmunity. Norma Erickson explains the process of molecular mimicry as it applies to Gardasil in a presentation Humphries/Erickson – What Biologically Plausible Mechanisms of Action are Health Agencies Ignoring? Within the many proteins found in our bodies there are 82 peptides. One of the antigens in Gardasil, the HPV 16 LI protein, almost identically matches 34 of these peptides. The importance of this information is as Erickson explains:

It is extremely possible that when you develop an antibody to the HPV 16 protein you are also developing an antibody reaction to your own system in multiple locations. The number of viral matches and locations makes the occurrence of autoimmune cross reactions in the human body following HPV 16 vaccination almost unavoidable.

We need to keep protesting the under-reported tragedy that is the theory and practice of vaccination. Our recent ancestors managed to live healthy lives without genetically engineering their food supply and over vaccinating their children.

Let’s turn this around.

This article was first published by Collective Evolution

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We are losing what it is to be human

When my daughter Tamara was born I was fortunate to have a sensible down to earth mother who encouraged me to breast feed. This was 1971 when it was becoming fashionable for young women to ditch the breast and take up formula feeding. I happily followed mum’s advice and never regretted it for a moment. Breast feeding is natural and of course really convenient and more importantly a perfect feed for baby. Not just nutritionally but replete with immunity. This brings me to the subject of herd immunity – natural herd immunity. We hear our so-called health experts speak of the need for herd immunity in the context of vaccines. But herd immunity is not obtainable from vaccines. Vaccine-acquired protection from childhood infections does not last whereas the natural infection with its fever and rashes extends immunity and is reinforced by others when they come down with the illness.

Herd immunity is gained in the following way. As a child before the age of vaccines it was common to have infections such as measles mumps, rubella, and chicken pox. A few days off kindergarten or school and then you were well again. We never heard of children having complications from the natural infection. When babies are breast fed this natural immunity is passed on and is protective of  baby in the early months of life. Then when our children have measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox the adult immunity to these illnesses is reinforced – this I think of as herd immunity. Take the case of chicken pox, a mild infection. Before the current age of vaccines chicken pox immunity among adults was regularly reinforced by the young around them who had the natural disease. In this way elderly people, often susceptible to shingles were protected from the painful and debilitating disease. This naturally acquired immunity is disappearing now that children are vaccinated for these mild childhood infections and everything else – even against influenza. Nature has it right. Breast is best, and a dose of a mild infectious disease makes us stronger.

Fear is a great motivator and our media at the behest of health departments and the pharmaceutical industry have exploited the fear of disease to such an extent that most of society think that vaccines will prevent childhood disease and the rare death. Before the age of vaccines there were around 10 cases of death from measles in Australia and these sadly occurred in areas of poverty and disadvantage. Infectious disease deaths fell before widespread vaccination. Factors that resulted in reduced deaths were improved nutrition, sanitation and hygiene.

Similarly when we turn to the issue of cervical cancer and prior to the 2006 release of Gardasil, the media message was intense and scarcely a day passed without a horrifying cervical cancer story accompanied by the promotion of an auspicious, imminent vaccine. This message reached an uninformed public, most of whom had never heard of this virus but were now  anxiously waiting for a vaccine to become available as quickly as possible. Poverty and environmental factors such as smoking, poor diets and even natural ageing were displaced as causation in favour of the human papilloma virus or wart virus. The outcome of this propaganda has led to over 70,000 adverse events and 314 deaths in young girls and boys after HPV vaccination.

We need to turn this around. There are many awful things happening in the world today but this one could be stopped tomorrow if there was a will. In the words of Dr Sherri Tenpenny: “True health cannot come from a needle. Injecting people with something to try to keep them well is a 200 year mistake.”






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Breast is best

Like most things in life these days feeding a baby has become very complicated and no doubt really expensive. I took a look at some of these infant formula websites and found that babies are not just being fed infant formula for the first few months of life but they can also have a follow on formula when they are  6-12 months old. Even toddlers who are 1-3 years are being catered for with a new product called toddler milk drink. Continue reading


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A Centenary worth celebrating



While the Centenary of Anzac received blanket media coverage, the three-day conference marking the centenary of the historic 1915 Congress of Women passed largely unnoticed.

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Cheap berries – their true cost

Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 3.27.26 PMAs fearful consumers rush to their freezers and toss out their bags of frozen berries in the wake of the current hepatitis A scare, it’s high time to take a good look at why these berries, dubbed ‘superfoods’ have become so popular and why such importation is problematic beyond the threat of hepatitis A.

Just call them the “blue dynamos,” writes Angela Haupt. ‘Blueberries’, she argues are packed with manganese, an energy-boosting mineral and vitamin K, which helps build bones. Haupt quotes research which suggests that a blueberry-rich diet improves motor skills and helps fight diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The worried-well can scarcely resist getting their hands on their daily dose of these powerfully marketed commodities. In fact this summer, supermarkets have been using berries as a draw card into the fruit and vegetable section and industry leaders say demand is outstripping supply. But does the hype stand up to scrutiny?

Madonna loves coconut water, Michelle Obama rates sweet potatoes, and Gwyneth Paltrow can’t get enough of quinoa, writes Her research into the superiority or otherwise of ‘superfoods’ has led her to Susan Jebb, new professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford, who asserts: “Evidence that any one food has specific effects on long-term health is lacking and usually more to do with PR and celebrity endorsement than scientific evidence of the kind that would be required if a drug was to make such claims. She claims that superfoods aren’t unhealthy and are good to eat but they rarely live up to the hype. Doctor and science journalist Michael Mosley, thinks that  blackberries and blueberries are good for the brain, but he agrees that many superfoods are generally overrated. “The most important thing is a rainbow diet, lots of different colours on your plate so you are getting lots of different phytonutrients, he says. Also berries aren’t unique in containing high levels of beneficial phytonutrients. Other foods including berries, fruits, vegetables, and even black tea contain generous amounts of antioxidants, including vitamins and polyphenols.

Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 3.17.44 PMWhen seeking good nutrition it’s important that food should be as fresh as possible, since the vitamin and mineral content tends to fall with storage. The answer is fresh local food-fruit and vegetables preferably grown in our local areas from organic seed. The other good piece of advice is to eat seasonal produce. When the berries are in season eat them and enjoy them. There are many other beautiful fruits in winter such as oranges and apples and a huge array of vegetables packed full of phytonutrients. We really don’t need to have mangoes and watermelon and berries all year round.

Screen shot 2015-02-20 at 3.15.56 PMWe now know that a growing number of people have been diagnosed with hepatitis A after eating frozen berries imported from China. Latest reports are that thirteen people in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia have become ill. As hepatitis A is transmitted by the “faecal-oral” route, this means either that people have handled the berries with contaminated hands transmitting the virus, or the contamination may have occurred because the water used in the processing may have been contaminated with sewage.

This unfortunate episode highlights the absurdity of buying berries from China when we grow them in Australia. Australia recently became a net importer of processed food, this being aided by the high Australian dollar, high domestic overheads and wage costs.

Then there’s the food miles such imported food must travel. According to the food miles calculator the berries from China to Australia have travelled 5599 miles (9008km) as the crow flies. And there’s very little chance of this situation changing with the Australian government signing an increasing number of free trade agreements and with the potential for more food contamination. It is ironic that these unfortunate people seeking to eat healthy foods have become ill with hepatitis.


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So much more than good cooks!

This week, The Australian published an obituary for beloved and best-selling Australian author, Colleen McCullough. Her obituary opened with:

Screen shot 2015-01-31 at 1.37.42 PMCOLLEEN McCullough, Australia’s best-selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth. In one interview, she said: “I’ve never been into clothes or figure and the interesting thing is I never had any trouble attracting men.”

Readers responded angrily to McCullough’s obituary, labelling it sexist. McCullough, who died on Thursday at the age of 77, worked as a neuroscientist in the United States before turning to writing full-time and yet her obituary began by describing her as “plain of feature” and “overweight”.  ABC journalist Joanna McCarthy tweeted the article along with the words: “Award for worst opening lines of an obituary goes to …#everydaysexism.

But sadly it’s not unusual for women to spoken about in terms of beauty and sex appeal, rather than with respect for intelligence and a lifetime of achievement. Effie Mann writing in The Age recalls The New York Times’ obituary for rocket scientist Yvonne Brill, whose professional achievements were listed below her cooking prowess  and success as a dedicated wife and mother. The first paragraph of her obit described her as a woman who “made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. 

I recall being at my mother’s funeral where I overheard a remark made by one of her former acquaintances who’d been surprised by the stories she’d heard of the richness of our mother’s life before she became ill. ‘I didn’t know Marion did all that,’ she said quietly to her companion. What this person didn’t know was that mum was very talented in dressmaking, gardening and crafts. She had left school early to care for her large family after her mother had died at the age of 47 years, so although she hadn’t had the career chances that her daughters have had, she made the very best of her situation.

Many of those attending her funeral service only knew Marion as our father’s wife and our mother. Father was the successful Managing Director and the local church elder. He sang in the church choir and helped elderly ladies with their finances. It was mostly all about Morrie.

So when friends and relations listened to the many splendid speeches devoted to Marion they heard about a woman in her own right: Talented in crafts, always quick to knit or sew or bake what was required for the village fete. She was a keen and skilful gardener, devoted to her beautiful garden, loved playing lawn bowls, and she enjoyed the company of her many women friends. This personal testimony to our mother preceded any mention of her role as a dutiful wife and mother.

Whereas my mother’s singular life was respected, the same cannot be said of the funerals of my aunts. Sadly, I can only recall the lives of these women being remembered in terms of how well they cooked. Speech after speech spoken by loving daughters, sons and grandchildren remembered my aunts, Jean, Marge and Betty as great cooks, willing babysitters and little else. I’m so glad that Marion was remembered as a woman who was very talented in the crafts, was great at sport and a keen and fruitful gardener. Mum and her sisters weren’t career women – their lives were largely spent caring for us and supporting their men. But mum sought an outlet in her very many interests even so.

I understand why our mother was remembered as a woman first and mother and wife second. My sisters and I had grown up in the 1950s with a very controlling father. We had married early but divorced and were at the time living as single mothers. My sister’s speech and respect for our mother emanated from the changes in society wrought by feminists.

But as Colleen McCullough’s sexist obituary revealed this week we still have a long way to go yet before due respect is shown for the complexity of the lives women lead.







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In search of cerebral content






What happened to the opinion page? Remember The Age  when it was a broadsheet and there were three or more opinion pieces in the middle pages that bordered the letters to the editor. These were lengthy pieces of analysis  on topics relating to current public debate. Usually 800-1000 words of worthy content  engaging the reader and leading to enjoyable swapping of ideas and information among family and friends later in the day. Of course there are still opinion pieces  in The Age but these are poor replacements, and badly positioned so as not to be  easily seen and rarely read.

And as for ABC radio: Jonathan Holmes former host on ABC TV’s ‘Media Watch’ and now a columnist at The Age recently wrote about content in this digital era lamenting the fact that on Radio National, long-form, specialist journalism is being down-sized in favour of the radio equivalent of fast food. This is sad for those of us who like to read and listen to programs that make us think and not just designed to dumb us down.

Article%20Lead%20-%20narrow6376523111ysdvimage_related_articleLeadNarrow_353x0_11ypkf_png1417557002488_jpg-300x0And it’s not just radio, TV and newsprint that are changing for the worse, it’s the cinema too. Reflecting on her 28 years presenting ‘The Movie Show’, retiring presenter Margaret Pomeranz says: the big change has been how much money has come to dominate the industry, with studios bankrolling sequels but not taking risks on smaller films.

And then there’s the publishing industry – same problem, different product. This time it’s books and the wonderful ideas within that are at risk from technology giants such as Google, Amazon and Apple .

The blurb for  Bibliodiversity: A Manifesto for Independent Publishing written by Susan Hawthorne reads:  In a globalised world, megacorp publishing is all about numbers, about sameness, about following a formula based on the latest megasuccess. Each book is expected to pay for itself and all the externalities of publishing such as offices and CEO salaries. It means that books which take off slowly but have long lives, the books that change social 269norms, are less likely to be published.

Independent publishers such as Susan Hawthorne of Spinifex Press are seeking another way. A way of engagement with society and methods that reflect something important about the locale or the niche they inhabit. In  Bibliodiversity Hawthorne writes that Independent and small publishers are like rare plants that pop up among the larger growth but add something different, perhaps they feed the soil, bring colour or scent into the world.

We need to cherish our remaining newspapers, our beleaguered ABC , and nurture our book and movie industries from which we gain so much.  And in the words of author P.D James who died last week: Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.

And hang on to the dwindling hope that good content sees the light of day in a world where money, not thought, rules.


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I am feminist: Hear me roar!

2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

 If you hear that word one more time, you will definitely cringe. You may exhale pointedly. And you might even seek out the nearest the pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids. What word is this? You tell us, Katy Steinmetz wrote, urging readers of Time Magazine to vote in the 2015 annual word banishment poll.

‘Feminist’ along with words such  as ‘disrupt’ and ‘kale’ and internet slang words such as ‘yaaasssss’, and ‘turnt ‘ is on Time Magazine’s list for banning.

Julie Bishop, Australia’s only female cabinet minister also has a problem with the word feminist. Bishop doesn’t describe herself as such, saying she doesn’t find the term useful today. “I’m a female politician, I’m a female foreign minister … get over it.”

feminism_is_evilJulie Bishop’s a very successful woman. She’s the Foreign Minister and the only woman in Cabinet. She was class captain, school captain, managing partner, completer of a short course at Harvard Business School, deputy leader of the opposition under Brendan Nelson. Bishop may not call herself a feminist but much of her success must surely come as a result of the work of feminists who fought for women’s rights to study and work, for suffrage, and the opportunity to be elected to political office. Bishop has also been fortunate to have been born at a time when marriage and motherhood were not crucial to a woman’s survival- again the work of feminists who fought for women to have independent incomes and lives.

So how do we account for Julie Bishop’s stance on feminism? Raewyn Connell, now a professor emerita but for decades a professor of sociology at the University of Sydney explains Bishop this way: She is the product of fifty years of neoliberalism . . . and in this environment, there is a much more insistent individualism than there was even in the same class, a generation or two ago. Jenna Price suggests there are other reasons not to call yourself a feminist  such as: the fear your male colleagues already feel when your ambition is just like theirs. The word feminist might further terrify the strikingly incompetent.

While Julie Bishop and Michaelia Cash, the Minister assisting the Prime Minister Tony Abbott on women’s affairs are unwilling to embrace their inner feminist, it is reassuring to read that Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek  is proud to be a feminist and understands how fortunate she’s been. Plibersek points out the many pertinent reasons for believing in the relevance of feminism today such as: The existence of the 18 per cent gender pay gap and the fact that there are many older women who will retire on much less superannuation than men. Then there’s the truly deplorable fact that one in every five Australian women will experience sexual assault and one in every three Australian women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. It is also important to the deputy opposition leader that her sons get to experience a truly equal relationship with their life partner, and the satisfaction of being a hands-on father along with the rejection of unhealthy stereotypes.

I_Hate_Feminists!_300_450_90Fear and hatred toward feminists exists. On December 6, 1989, a man walked into the engineering school École Polytechnique de Montréal, armed with a semi-automatic rifle. Declaring I hate feminists! Marc Lépine killed fourteen young women.

And in February this year, in the Melbourne suburb of Tyabb, Greg Anderson,  killed his 11-year-old son after cricket training, in front of dozens of other parents and children. At the recent inquest into her son’s murder Rosie Batty began the conversation when she said: “It was to get at you… someone wants to make you suffer the rest of your life.” Similarly in his suicide letter Marc Lépine wrote “I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their Maker. For seven years life has brought me no joy…I have decided to put an end to those viragos.”

Male violence towards women persists . All the more reason that Time Magazine‘s call for banning of the word Feminist is surely premature.







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The women roar


Last Woman Hanged written by journalist and author Caroline Overington is the story of Louisa Collins. Twice married, Collins endured not just one, but four trials for the murder of her second husband and was finally convicted of his murder and hanged. It’s also story of how the courageous women of New South Wales and beyond rallied to fight for the life of this unfortunate woman and in the process women’s rights and suffrage were won.

It’s an engaging book! This Australian story takes place in the latter half of the nineteenth century where life was extremely hard for women. It concerns Louisa Collins, a young woman who had been forced into an early marriage to a man she didn’t love, and to whom she bore nine children. Her youthful days were spent feeding, washing and caring for her family. When hardship struck and the young couple found it difficult to make ends meet, Louisa and her husband Charles Andrews took in borders and very soon one of these, Michael Collins became Louisa’s lover. It was just a few months later that Louisa’s husband suddenly became sick and died. Friends and acquaintances noted and were appalled that Louisa failed to mourn the loss of her husband and all too soon became Michael Collins’ wife.

From what we read Louisa was in love with Collins even though it is suspected that Collins married her for the insurance money left to her on the death of her first husband. Collins soon gambled this away leaving the couple in debt with many mouths to feed. It wasn’t long before Louisa’s second husband Collins also became sick with ‘gastritis’ and despite medical attention succumbed. This time the sudden death of a relatively young man was noted and Louisa was accused of slowly poisoning Collins with arsenic.

The evidence gathered at the four trials into Collin’s death was circumstantial. No-one saw Louisa administer any arsenic neither was she seen to purchase the poison. Whereas the first three trials had failed to reach a guilty verdict the fourth trial saw her guilty of the crime of murdering her husband. Those involved were determined to find the woman guilty. Life in the 1880s was difficult for women who were often at the mercy of abusive husbands from whom they could not escape. Employment for women was rare and refuges even rarer. Therefore Louisa Collins must be seen to be punished for the murder of her husband – it wouldn’t do for her to escape punishment for other women suffering at the hands of her husband might get similar ideas.

But the evidence that convicted her was circumstantial. The testimony obtained from May, Louisa’s young daughter claiming that she had seen a box of rat poison containing arsenic in the house and the evidence from the expert who doubted that the men would absorb enough poison from handling fleeces to cause them death was crucial and led to Louisa’s conviction.

But not before the women of the colony had their say. The women roared. For they had very few rights. A woman’s place was definitely in the home. Women could not vote, and they did not sit on juries. Women had no say on the question of capital punishment. Many women supported Louisa and wrote to the governor and newspapers declaring that while Louisa may have done a terrible thing and poisoned her husbands, she should not be hanged. This they considered was barbaric. The women would have their say and they did.

In January 1889 a committed group of women set about to try to save Louisa’s life. One of the most determined was Mrs Eliza Pottie, a fifty-year-old mother of ten who among her other activities was president of the Mission Home for Women at Glebe, established to help unmarried mothers. But most importantly Mrs Pottie was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union which believed in controlling the supply of alcohol to protect women from violent husbands. They advocated for women to be able to work and vote. Together with ten other women, Pottie drew up a resolution arguing that it was abhorrent that a woman and a mother should be hung till she was dead. Other women such as Elizabeth Parsons was responsible for the so-called petition of the women of Victoria which was signed by more than 500 women who declared that although the crime was loathsome the punishment by hanging was barbaric and was anathema to the spirit of modern civilisation. Although the Governor Lord Carrington promised to consider the petition he did nothing and Louisa was hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol on Tuesday 8 January 1889.

As well as being a really absorbing  story about Louisa Collins, her life and crimes, throughout the latter pages of the book Caroline Overington tells the little known stories of the wonderful women who as a result of their involvement in Louisa’s awful plight, underwent consciousness raising leading to a better life for all women.

Louisa’s ordeal led Australian women to become aware of the injustices that confronted their sex and to work towards suffrage and the right for women to earn a decent living and the right not to lose their children after divorce.

Caroline Overington correctly labels Last Woman Hanged a terrible true story but it’s much more. It’s also a wonderful and inspiring story of women’s fight for justice and this needs to be told!




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