May 27

Just putting this out there for you to think about.

The Australian Christian Lobby and other religious people are always telling us that allowing same-sex couples to get married will mean that they will want to have children.  They tell us that this is unnatural as it deprives the child of either a mother or father.  The argument is that it doesn’t matter about children who find themselves without one of their biological parents from desertion, accident or some other misadventure, from their recent media release:

“Every time a child loses their mother or their father, whether by family breakdown, death, desertion, it is a profound tragedy.”

But why doesn’t it matter?  Why don’t they agitate to fix what they must surely see as a huge social issue.

In June 2012 there were 641,000 single parent families with dependents in Australia1.  Of those families 84% where single mothers.

In the 2011 Census there where around 33,700 same-sex couples.  Of those couples, 6,300 children live with them2

toddlerpinkI would think that since the ACL is so worried about thinking about the children that they would be much more concerned with the amount of single parent families.  After all, it’s clear that they see a child’s right to be raised by their biological mother and father. Where is their campaign to either restore both parents or prevent them from having children in the first place?

This seems like a much bigger issue from their moral ‘christian values‘ and one that they seem happy to overlook.

Instead we find their focus on the children of gay couples, children that have two parents and live in really happy circumstances, children that are wanted, loved, nurtured and doing really well.

The only reason I can think of is that the ACL is determined to victimise gay people as evil.

Society’s focus should be on the children, and we should look after all of the kids, regardless of their family situations.  Families need our support, if they are struggling then lets help them.

Just so we’re clear, plenty of single parents raise really good kids.

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May 25

It seems like only yesterday that I wrote about the ACL trying to force their opinion on the rest of the world.  Oh, wait it was.  I just can’t help myself when they release another ill-thought out media release.

MEDIA RELEASE

For release: 24 May 2015

The Australian people should have a say on same-sex marriage through a national plebiscite, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

Why?  There was no plebiscite when the government amended the marriage act to exclude same-sex couples from getting married.  We don’t have plebiscites on any other issues.

ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said he respected Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s view that marriage was probably not an issue for a constitutional referendum.

“Probably not” – I don’t think it’s probable at all.  There is no constitutional change, unless you’re trying to insert something into it?

“However, changing the definition of marriage in law is a monumental and very divisive issue with big consequences.

rainbow flagHow?  Allowing same-sex couples to marry won’t fundamentally change anything, it will just allow adults to marry whomever they wish.  How is that divisive?  And what are the big consequences?  Has New Zealand disappeared up its own long white cloud?  Has Canada stopped exporting maple syrup?  Has the UK stopped ruling the waves? Has Ireland disappeared overnight?  No.   Let’s just say some whacky things and hope nobody notices what a monumental cock-up this media release is.

“The people should have a say through a plebiscite before it goes back to the Parliament,” Mr Shelton said.

It’s still not clear why you would advocate for such a thing Lyle.

“Those seeking to change the definition of marriage always seem confident of public support. Let them put it to the test by asking for the peoples’ endorsement.

And then what?  If we get 70% as the polls indicate what happens then?  If we get 40% what happens then?  Since when should the rights of people be dictated by others?

“A plebiscite would allow parliamentarians to then cast their votes in Parliament guided by the will of the Australian community.”

Strange as this may sound, our parliamentarians seem quite able to cast their votes now without a plebiscite, that’s how it works.  We elected one of our community to represent our views in the parliament so that we don’t have to keep telling them what to do every time a vote comes up. I suspect, more to the point, a plebiscite would allow the christian right to put their case.  Can you imagine the rhetoric?  It’d be about crazy things like “natural marriage” “think of the children” and something about gay people not being able to breed.

In designing the conduct of a plebiscite, Mr Shelton said two conditions should be laid out.

  1. Modest but equal public funding for the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ case.

  2. A prohibition on international donations.

Oh, so now he wants conditions least the big gay lobby should find big gay supporters to support their big gay weddings.

Plebiscites are non-binding but can help settle matters of great national importance, Mr Shelton said.

Hmmm… plebiscites help settle matters of great national importance do they?  Wow.  The power of the people!  Since Federation we’ve had 3.  The first two about 100 years ago were about military conscription and the last one in 1977 was about which song we should sing at football grand finals (and other times).  Yes, I can see why Lyle thinks that they are useful for settling matters of great national importance.

It’s actually time that we got this off the table and simply amended the marriage act to remove the discriminatory language placed in there in 2004.  To continue to treat part of our society as second class citizens is wrong and divisive.  Trying to suggest it needs everyone to have a say is just playing for time.

It’s really not a big deal.

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May 24

My eyes have been focussed on Ireland as they voted in a referendum to change their constitution to broaden the definition of marriage in that country.

“marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”

Just so we’re clear, it’s not gay marriage nor is it the right to marry a dog, several hundred other people or a bridge. It’s the right to contract in accordance with the law the right to marry another person.  You could be gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered or just plain and simply you.  All you need is another single person and you can get married.

vote yesThe people said yes.

There has been much celebrating in Ireland and around the world.  It’s historic as it’s the first country to vote on marriage equality.  Of course, there are those that are upset about the result, such as Lyle Shelton – head straight man at the Australian Christian Lobby – scared of anything that isn’t just like him.  He very quickly published a media release to tell everyone else just what we should be thinking!  He sums up his whole approach right there in the headline:

Irish marriage referendum a blow to the rights of children

He seems to ignore the 18 countries where it’s ok to get married and guess what, the kids are ok!  He’s not focussed on the Royal Commission on Institutional sex abuse where the rights of kids have been ignored and destroyed.  Nor has he focussed on the rape and abuse of asylum seekers.  No, no, he in his writings suggest that gay people are somehow causing harm to the rights of children.

The redefinition of marriage and family in Ireland this weekend is a wake-up call to Australians who value the rights of children and freedom of belief.

Yes, it’s a wake up call – the decision has been made by the people.  Not by a few lobbyists who head an outdated religious lobby group.   Of  course, family has not been redefined in Ireland.  Just who is allowed to get married, and even then, it’s not so much as a redefinition, but simply a small adjustment.  Opposite-sex couples are still able to marry.   As to the rights of children, last time I check my two were still ok, as are my nephews and nieces.  No impact at all.  Also, it’s Sunday today, no churches have been harmed so freedom of belief endures.

The Australian Christian Lobby is disappointed that the Irish movement to redefine marriage, funded by $16 million US dollars, has succeeded at a national referendum today.

ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said, “Over $16 million US dollars has been provided to organisations to deliver same-sex marriage over a period of 12 years in Ireland.”

Actually Lyle, that would be illegal.  Foreign entities may not fund or donate to Irish referendum campaigns. It is rather naughty of you to suggest it, especially since you seem to ignore the counter claims that the No vote has been funded by extreme right-wing American fundamentalist organisations.

Mr Shelton said despite the result in Ireland, Australia was different and he called on parliamentarians to carefully consider the consequences for children and to freedom of conscience.

“Australia should not pass a law which forces millions of Australians to pretend that a same-sex couple with children is the same thing as a mother and father with children.

Lyle is right – we are different.  Our marriage act can be changed by parliament.  No referendum is needed.  In fact, it was former Prime Minister Howard, ably assisted by the current PM Abbott that changed the marriage act to make it clear that in Australia marriage is between one man and one woman for life.  It’s ok, you can ignore the ‘for life’ bit if you like and get a divorce, but you can’t ignore the man and woman bit.

As to this rather silly notion that the law will force millions – millions I say – to ‘pretend’ that there’s something wrong with the kids of gay couples.  I mean really Lyle.  What are you going on about?  You do know that already there are plenty of couples who aren’t married raising children?  Some of those couples are married overseas but their relationship is not recognised here.  And some of them are same-sex parents.  And guess what – their kids are ok!  Perhaps you should go and meet with some of them to find out how well they’re doing.

“The redefining marriage movement in Ireland made a big effort to downplay the rights and interests of children, which ought to be at centre stage of all public policy.

The No vote played this game very well and made it front and centre of their campaign.  And guess what?  The rest of Ireland saw through it and told them how silly they are.

“Because marriage confers the right to form a family, it will be very difficult to resist further law changes allowing the exploitation of women through commercial surrogacy.

No, marriage does not confer that right.  We have a right to form a family and plenty of people do that without marriage.  Even those who get married may choose not to have children.   Surrogacy is an issue that is quite separate from marriage equality.  In fact, the attempt to wave a red flag about the exploitation of women while talking about marriage equality is a nice attempt at distraction.  The two aren’t connected.

“The only way the benefits of marriage equality can be provided to two men is to reform surrogacy laws so they have open access to donated women’s eggs and through the provision of ‘carrier’ wombs.

Uh huh.  Benefits of marriage equality?  What has this to do with two people getting married?  It would seem Lyle that you are suggesting that the reason people get married is to have children.  I don’t understand what makes you think this is a benefit of marriage as it can and does happen outside marriage.  Surrogacy again is a separate issue not connected with marriage equality.

“While some same-sex couples are already acquiring children through various means of assisted reproductive technology, this does not make severing the primal bond between a child and their mother or father right.

Acquiring?  Are you talking about a couple of women – you know, lesbians?  Nobody acquires children.  We have them.  You also turn a blind eye to those thousands of children already adopted by same-sex and opposite-sex parents.  This is the reality now and has been for a very long time.  Quite frankly Lyle, this is a furphy.

“Marriage equality abolishes in law and culture the idea that, wherever possible, children have a right to both their mother and father.

Perhaps you can point to which law and which culture that says a child has this right.  When you’ve found it then please embark upon a campaign to remove children from single parents, divorced parents and same-sex couples.  Of course, marriage equality does not abolish anything of the sort.

“If gender matters for company boards and jury selection, then how can we deny that it matters for parenting?”

Huh?

Mr Shelton said the freedom of Christian and Islamic schools teaching the truth about gender complementarity in marriage would likely come into question if marriage was redefined.

You forget about the Jewish faith.  And so it should come into question.    You seem to be of the misunderstanding that christian and islamic schools have some sort of truth that places them outside reality.  They don’t.  What you’re saying is that homosexuality is morally wrong according to your ‘truth’.  Time to get out and face the reality that there is nothing wrong with being gay, there is nothing wrong with being straight.  How long must the rest of us sit back and allow you to use your religion to deny reality?  The world isn’t flat anymore Lyle.

People providing services to the wedding industry, who because of conscience declined to participate in a same-sex wedding, would risk being punished under Australia’s anti-discrimination laws.

OK.  So we don’t yet have marriage equality in Australia – so this isn’t really an issue.  However, I would hope that if you are a baker, for example, and your website says that you make wedding cakes, then that’s what you do.  If a couple arrives and you refuse to make a cake because of your conscience, then I’d suggest you are probably in the wrong business and if you are breaking the law then you should be prepared for the consequences.  Are you really saying that religious people are outside the law?  We get to work with lots of people every day and we don’t get to discriminate based on our conscience.  It’s how we get along in life Lyle.  And my suggestion to you is that you take a good hard look at your opposition to gay people getting married.   The thing that is driving your protests is your christian belief.  Let me quote it for you straight from your bible:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

So, if you want to talk about the right to exercise your religious conscience – is this what you mean?

 

 

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Mar 30

Every now and then I think of my mate – Geoff.  I think of his wife, Marie.  My heart breaks.

Tonight I’ve spent the evening out with Michael.  We’ve had a good time.

Before we left my 21 year old son, Tomas, wasn’t home.  That’s a bit odd.  Caitlin my 23 year old daughter didn’t know where he was.  I don’t worry.  At least, I think I’m not worrying.

That’s until I get home some 5 hours later to see his bedroom door is closed.  Caitlin’s bedroom door is also closed.  That means that no matter what has transpired today – both of them are home and in bed.  It’s only then that I realise that the closed doors offer me comfort and remind me that my children are safe.  It’s then that I realise that I worry.

To lose a child would be devastating.  Every time that thought cross my mind, I think of my mates, Geoff and Marie.  Because they lost their two children in a road accident 10 years ago.

Their pain is my nightmare – but I’ve not spent 10 years living it.  I’ve not spent 10 years seeing the open bedroom doors.

A flash of memories of Kate and Daryl is all I have. Quiet words said at the funeral.

My words will never describe the deep sense of loss.

I see it in myself, I can feel the despair.  It will pass for me because the bedroom doors are closed.

Mar 26

Here’s Lyle Shelton, head of the Australian Christian Lobby:

“Whether or not the Greens like it, the taking of human life in the womb is an issue that should be debated politically and not silenced.

“Our society’s inability to support women with unsupported pregnancies to the point where abortion is so widespread is a matter of serious public policy and people are right to express a view publicly by way of protest or prayer.”

Let me call bullshit on this.  Taking the life of a foetus in the uterus has been settled and is not a political debate on anyone’s radar other than some out of touch christians.  Women are supported in pregnancy.  There are plenty of organisations helping.  Sometimes women have abortions, for whatever reason.  There is nothing wrong with that.

lyleShelton is protesting that a Greens Senator has taken a stance against christians standing on the footpath praying.  He doesn’t see why that is a problem.  I do.  You can pray anywhere.  What makes him think that praying near an abortion clinic is going to make any difference to the way his god responds.  They could all sit at home and pray, but no, instead they gather quietly and peacefully, just like a bunch of hyenas, waiting for the right moment to pounce on their unsuspecting victim.  If you challenge them they smile and say that they are going about the lord’s work.  What they are really doing is providing a barrier between the front door and the women who are within their rights to seek the service of the clinic inside.  This deliberate act is designed to shame women into not having an abortion. It is a device to intimidate women and deprive them of their choice.  It is not peaceful or pleasant, no matter how much the nice christians in their beige cardigans and corduroy trousers look.  This is an aggressive gesture that has no place in our society.

Women have the right to an abortion.  This isn’t something that needs further discussion.  The matter is settled.

Oh, and stay at home to pray.  It’s warmer.

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Mar 06

It’s pretty hard for me to think about violence against women at the hands of men.  I find the notion of violence truly disturbing and that hit, beat, maim and kill women are detestable.

shoesI also have little time for those who seek to find justification for maintaining the patriarchal model in society.  The whole concept that women are somehow required to accept that the men are in control and they need to simply accept it, but it’s OK, because we men folk will look after you and respect you, that I find ugly and unnecessary.

I often find that fundamentalist religious people struggle with the whole equality notion. One in particular is David Ould, a fundamentalist Anglican Minister in charge of a small parish somewhere just outside of Sydney.  We’ve had dealings before.

He thinks that the ‘headship’ of a family is the right of a man.  That’s what the bible says, and his example is Jesus.  It was Jesus who sacrified all for his ‘bride’, that’s you and me, and we should follow that example.

Clearly David finds violence  against women abhorrent; that’s not in question here.  He says he does and will intervene as part of his work.  That’s commendable.

However, the patriarchal model is the cause of this scourge in our western society.  Christianity has a lot to answer for, from the biblical perspective, and David sums it up well in his recent blog post where he highlights this passage from his ‘gold standard’ book:

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands

He explores a bit about the term ‘in the same way’ but in a nutshell this is referring to the previous chapter on slaves.

Slaves … submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh…  But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? … To this you were called,because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

Read it to get the full context.

To any sane person the suggestion that a wife needs to submit to a husband and endure a beating is crazy talk and surely not appropriate.  But there it is, in the bible.  Of course, Christians like David insist that the man is to treat the woman with respect, based on this bit of text

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

These passages cause David to call into question the real meaning and he needs to do some verbal gymnastics to make it make sense in his world view:

I find this incredibly challenging. What do those of us who want ourselves to submit to the Scriptures make of it?…

But perhaps as we think these things through a little more we need to just stop and consider exactly what we’re saying and who we are seeking to please when we say it.

Again, you need to read it to get the full context of his writing.

I would have thought that the obvious answer to this is very straight forward.  The words in the bible are out of touch with a modern world and have no right to be used by modern thinking men.

The whole ‘headship’ ‘submission’ and notion that it’s all for Jesus is wrong.  If we can accept that a slavery is wrong and a ‘slave’ has rights and that this passage has fallen by the wayside, then surely it’s time to let go of the other ridiculous passages.

David doesn’t come out and say it, but makes the point that the wife needs to submit to her husband, as he is head of the house, like Jesus is head of the church.  He uses the oft used symbol of Jesus as the groom and the church as the bride.

This little gem is the most repulsive bit of justification that I’ve ever read:

None of this means we ought not seek to empower and help her if she chooses to remove herself from an abusive situation. But is it so wrong, was Piper so wrong, to suggest that her choice to submit might have a flavour of “in the same way” and that this might actually be a Godly wise choice?

How to balance that thinking with his earlier statement:

And I think it says something incredibly shocking to all of us.

Yes, it is incredibly shocking.  The problem for me is that after putting this all together, doing the verbal gymnastics, rather that decide to ditch the bible as an irrelevant book, he persists in maintaining it as the guide-book for how men and women should be.

By that justification fundamentalists get to maintain their power base of the patriarchy, women are not allowed to be priests, nor the head of the household, nor to tell their husbands what to do.  They can choose to stay in a violent situation and the fundamentalist won’t interfere and will probably just shrug their shoulders when death comes and say “What could I do?  At least she’s in a better place now”.

No matter how they try to read the words and give them meaning in a modern context, the words will be abused by others because at the end of the day the passage is quite clear.  It says you as a woman need to submit and if that means a beating, then your only hope is that it’s given with respect.

While the Christians trip themselves up trying to work out the meaning, they miss the obvious thing right in front of them.

God should have said, with no need to check translations or go back to the old testament or a different book, “It’s not OK to beat or kill your wife under any circumstances”.

Why isn’t that there in plain text for all the world to see?  Because the bible is not the word of god, but simply the made up words of a bunch of men written long before a modern understanding of the dignity of each person.  The words are either written or translated by men that think women are not equal and need to comply with the wishes of their husbands, because in their reality of 2,000 years ago (or whenever it was translated into English) the men with the dicks are in charge.

 

 

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Mar 02

unicornHis hand was trailing along the ground behind him.  Which sort of meant that somehow he was travelling along on his knees because as far as he knew his arms didn’t really normally touch the ground as he walked.  He looked down to find his feet, only to discover that somehow they had disappeared so he glanced over his shoulder and yes, there indeed, on the end of this legs where his runners.  He was thinking that perhaps his feet weren’t in his runners, but that seemed a silly concept so he just accepted the current reality. That was strange in itself as his reality normally made some sort of sense.  Well, it did if you ever understood what was really going on around the corner.  He’d been around the corner a couple of times and never really understood that either.  When he was a lad, going around the corner was always exciting as you never quite knew just what it was that you would find.  Most of the time he would find small gnats flying about mouth level and would always inhale several of them before coughing uncontrollably and running in the other direction.

Running.

Yes, that was it, he recalled, a few minutes ago the runners with his feet embed in them at the end of his legs were running.  Now he was doing a sort of shuffling motion like some zombie from “The Walking Dead”.  He tried to do the moan like the zombies do but all he could muster was a small burp and a simultaneous fart.  The resulted in him chortling.  His knuckles hit a rough patch and he stopped chortling and stopped the zombie shuffle, brought his hands around in front of his face and inspected them.  They seemed ok on the palm side, so he turned them over and to his horror discovered a large welt with little tattoos of unicorns had appeared just below both his left thumbs.  That wasn’t there before he thought.  Desperately his mind tried to make a connection between unicorns, running, zombies and being able to burp and fart at the same time.  Apart from this very moment he couldn’t make a connection.

Suddenly he became embarrassed as he realised how rude it was to burp, both mouth and bottom, in public.

He blushed.

Said sorry to the small gathering of adoring unicorns just out of sight, stood up and continued on his run.


No, nothing is wrong and no, I can’t explain it.

 

Feb 24
Drawing: Picture by a child in immigration detention.

Drawing: Picture by a child in immigration detention.

While our Federal Government is busy saying that the problem with the Human Rights Commission report “The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014″ is its author, Gillian Triggs and they’re trying to find a way to get rid of her, they ignore the substance of her report.

Regardless of the motivation, we have reports from the Immigration Department of 44 allegations of sexual assaults in detention centres.   They can’t say how many of the 44 cases involve children.  However, the HRC report does – it says

233 assaults involving children and 33 incidents of reported sexual assault, with the majority involving children.

The HRC report, “The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014″ in its forward says this:

It provides compelling first-hand evidence of the impact that prolonged immigration detention is having on their mental and physical health. The evidence given by the children and their families is fully supported by psychiatrists, paediatricians and academic research. The evidence shows that immigration detention is a dangerous place for children. Data from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection describes numerous incidents of assault, sexual assault and self-harm in detention environments.

Just dwell on that, assault, sexual assault and self-harm.

How is this OK?  I’m sending a letter to my local member asking for an explanation and what actions the Government is taking to address these very serious matters.

What will you do?

 

 

 

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Jan 11

Last night Michael and I along with Andrew, a friend, went out for dinner to a lovely Vietnamese restaurant in Fitzroy.

Michael dropped me off and drove off to find a car park.  Andrew was waiting on the street for me.  We greeted each other with a smile and a hello.  I would have like to have kissed him on the cheek.  A small gesture of friendship.  The right way for me to greet him.  But I didn’t.  Nor did I shake his hand, because that just felt too formal and business like.

We three sat at a table and after a time the table next to us was taken by 4 men, clearly a couple of couples out for a similar night of good food and company.

Here we are, a group of homosexual men surrounded by straight people.  All enjoying the company of our friends, eating, drinking, talking, laughing, looking.

handholdingI sit next to Michael because I like to be near to him.  I rarely touch him in public.  When I do there’s a risk analysis that my mind runs through before I reach out and place my hand on his knee or around his shoulder.  I’m looking around me to see potential threats.  Is that bearded bloke behind me with the tattoos of a skull on his elbow ok?  Will that mother over there try to shield her daughter from me?  Will the staff treat me differently?

Then I have to remind myself where I am.  I’m in funky Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.  It’s a pretty happening crowd with all sorts of people from all walks of life.  Surely they’re all gay friendly?  This won’t be an issue for anyone.

Only after that do I reach my arm out and place it around Michael’s shoulder.  Michael responds to my touch by either touching my hand or relaxing into my arm and moving closer to me.  It’s a natural, normal response.  A shared intimacy that I love.  Mind you, it only last a minute when I realise that he’s sitting to my right and my right shoulder aches too much for me to sustain it.  I wonder if I always sit with him to my right as an unthinking way of protecting my perceptions of threats.

Nothing happens, of course, apart from my shoulder aching.

When I walk down the street, I never simply slip my hand into to his.  Holding hands requires me to do another assessment of my surrounds.  I’ve had the looks of both support and scorn from others.  I’ve heard the phrase ‘faggot’ muttered when people pass me by.  That, quite frankly, scares the fuck out of me.

When Michael visits me at work we always kiss each other on the cheek.  What I really want is to be able to do that without thinking about it.  The same way I don’t give a second thought to that goodbye kiss in the morning, or the hello kiss at the end of the day in the safety of our own home.  I work in a wonderful diverse environment, and nobody raises an eyebrow about my sexuality.  Yet, I still do a scan of where we are before and after a kiss.

Why don’t I feel safe in my own country?

The ongoing threat to safety is there for me.  Real or perceived it doesn’t matter.  Years of growing up in a world where gay people have been derided and despised takes it toll.  Reports of gay bashing, discrimination and verbal abuse are presented to me on a daily basis.

I want to walk down the street and hold his hand.

I want to put my arm around him.

More than anything, I want him to sit to my left.

Take 20 minutes now and watch Panti speak at TED in Dublin.

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Oct 22

We all have impact on the people around us in many ways.  My recent television experience with Michael has had a number of people comment that they couldn’t do what we did.

Influence is important when you have a passion and a drive to make changes.  I have a passion to see all people in our society treated equally, in particular the GLBTI community and women.  It seems so odd to me that a large section of our society has to struggle for recognition and equality.

The Financial Review and Westpac have been running a recognition program to identify 100 women of influence for the last 3 years.

Their website says that they are wanting to increase the visibility of women’s leadership in Australia.  What a stark contrast of how valued Australian women are when we consider that only one woman is in the Federal Cabinet.  Where are the voices of the other half of our population?

There’s 100 of them being recognised today.  One of them is Jo Cavanagh.  In male speak, she’s my boss.  That’s right.  I work for a woman.  I would not refer to Jo as my boss.  I would say, this is Jo, she is the CEO at Family Life and we work together.  If pushed further, yes, I do report to her and we have many robust conversations, we have a good working relationship that is honest and trusting.

Let me now talk about why I admire Jo Cavanagh, OAM – CEO.

2014-Jo-CavanaghJo is without a doubt a simply amazing person.  Through her own family life and history she has a passion for fixing the injustices in the world.

Her life is dedicated to her own family – and they are equally amazing, and to her work.

She heads up an organisation of 530 people, made up of volunteers and employees.  Her passion for the well-being of children, women and families, the most vulnerable in our society is foremost in her mind.  Our mission at Family Life is through effective services, support and connections, enable children, young people and families to thrive in caring communities.

Without a doubt that is what we strive to accomplish.  It’s not easy, however, Jo is up for the challenge.

I’ve heard her speak on many occasions.  Her passion is right there.  From the moment she starts to tell the story it’s clear that she knows what she’s talking about, she knows what is required and she knows how you can help.

When Jo engages with the staff of the Agency I know that she is trying to get the best out of us to reach our mission.

When Jo advocates for our clients, our community, to our Government she does it with that same drive.

Jo is always open to learning new things, she keeps up with the latest research, she understands the nature of people’s lives and uses her skills to try and make the world a better place.

I’ve worked with Jo for over 15 years now.  I’ve been a part of the growth here at Family Life.  When I started we had about 20 staff and 1 office.  We are now 130 staff and 13 sites.  The budget has likewise grown.

This doesn’t happen through anything but hard work.  For that to happen you need someone who can drive the program forward.  You need someone with passion, love and concern for those around them.  You need someone who is forward thinking, can see what has happened in the past and what should happen in the future.

You need a clear vision, a clear mission and you need to be influential.

Jo Cavanagh is one of Australia’s Women of Influence.

She has been recoginsed with an Order of Australia Medal and now as the 2014 Woman of Influence in the Social Enterprise and Not-for-profit category.

It is fantastic to work with such a dynamic person and a true inspiration.

Congratulations Jo.

Long may you influence.  Long may you be inspirational! The world needs more people like you!

 

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