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Oz Brick Wall

A path to Australian apartheid

(The first part of this series on Australia can be found here)
Tanya Plibersek, Australian Minister for Housing and Minister for the Status of Women in the Rudd Labor Government, wrote in 2002;
“At the weekend, the National Party voted against special measures to increase their number of women parliamentarians. The ALP and the Liberals, in contrast, want more women, but can’t agree on the best way to get them. This should be good news for the feminists who fought to make it happen, yet some – like the former federal MP Susan Ryan – ask whether it was worth it. After all, we haven’t defeated patriarchy. Yet.”[1]
Seven years later, Plibersek played a critical role in championing Australia’s new ‘National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children’. Plibersek, along side Jenny Macklin, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, put together a consortium of academics and domestic violence experts, to spearhead a team which would go on create the national report that became official policy. Since the early 2000′s, Plibersek never made it secret that she strongly supports feminist and even some radical feminist ideals. Indeed, in 2005, when Sheila Jeffreys came to Sydney to make a speech, it was Plibersek that introduced her with warm welcoming remarks.[2]
In April 1999, Plibersek gave an interview to Peter Lewis, during which she spoke about these ties of the Labor Party to the feminist community:
“I think that our historical relationships with groups outside the Labor Party like the peace movement, the anti-nuclear movement, the environment, the feminist movement. Our links with community feminist organisations have been about promoting grassroots activism around sexual assault services, domestic violence services; that sort of activism within the community and collective responsibility..”
She went on to weigh in about giving help to families with disabled children, but also clarified that she felt families are strictly women and children, and that any of their responsibilities should become the state’s responsibility;
“But it is also fair to say that the State owes a responsibility to those kids and their parents. We don’t want to return to a situation of voluntarism where individual parents may not have the skills or the patience or the time or the financial ability to look after their children in the ways that would benefit them the most. And I don’t know if it’s an ideal situation to necessarily throw the responsibility back on them. I don’t want to go back to a situation where families — and that means women — are being told its their responsibility all over again.”[3]
Plibersek’s special hand-picked legal advisor to the council was former Tasmanian Attorney-General Judith Jackson. Jackson, who labels herself as a “committed feminist,” has had a career filled with controversy. In the 2004 Tasmania Family Violence Act, [7] she was roundly criticized for her insistence that people accused of domestic violence not be granted bail before trial unless a series of nearly impossible steps were taken by the judge. When Jackson was criticized for attempting to bypass the Justice system, and for violating the human rights of men, she lashed out at her critics;
“How can anybody say that somebody should be let out on bail, so they can go back and re-offend and commit a crime again, and that’s what you’re saying and I find that disgusting.”[4]
But despite the fact that the data used as justification for the bill was based on very poor research, which according to many human rights advocates and several of her critics, never examined how often men were battered in similar circumstances, the bill was passed into law. The ramifications of the law went on to see hundreds of Tasmanian men spending weeks, many times months in prison before trial, for being accused of crimes like ‘economic’ or ‘emotional’ abuse. Ms. Jackson, when confronted about what the law was doing in practice, appeared quite amused and replied:
“We do have some of the best legislation in the world for protecting women and children,”[5]
The reality of the ‘National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children’ is that it was promoted and shepherded through Australian government by Plibersek, a woman that admittedly was heavily biased towards a hardline feminist perspective that entailed a goal of destroying what she saw as a patriarchy and  associated with radical feminists like Sheila Jeffreys.  Plibersek also believed that women and children are the only parts that constituted a family and felt that the parental responsibly of raising disabled children lies solely with the state. Plibersek hand chosen, as her legal expert to the National Council, Judy Jackson, was a “committed feminist” who has openly disregarded due process of law for men, ignored compelling data or research when drafting radical legislation and has been often accused of “incessant sexism” by her fellow colleagues. [6]
It is not known exactly how the Rudd Labor Government choose the 11 members of the National Council in May 2008, but their members were: Libby Lloyd AM (Chair),Heather Nancarrow (Deputy Chair), Moira Carmody, Dorinda Cox, Maria Dimopoulos, Melanie Heenan, Rachel Kayrooz, Andrew O’Keefe, Vanessa Swan, Lisa Wilkinson and Pauline Woodbridge. [8][9] The council in conjunction with Plibersek, Jackson and Macklin, sought the help of several other academics, domestic violence experts and other individuals that the report refers to as “critical friends” to complete and finalize what became known as ‘Time for Action: the National Council’s Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2009-2021‘.[19][20][27]
The Sources of New National Policy
The sources of data, research and analysis that were gathered and referenced by the national council and used as justification for their plan were formally acknowledged in the Government’s press releases in early 2009. Those sources were:[24][25][26]

The Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACSSA)
The Women’s Services Network (WESNET)
Women, Domestic Violence and Homelessness: A Synthesis Report
National Association of Services Against Sexual Violence (NASSV)
The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
were also used, but only as the information they provided was delivered via other research papers and analytical reports

Another detailed list of the National Plan’s sources can be found here.
The Greater circle of Australian Radical Feminists
One little known portion of the website, which is the site that hosts the Radfem forums, is a series of pages that they call ‘The Fury’.[10] The amount of information that is on The Fury is not large, but what is on there is very telling about Australian radical feminism and how the site’s members are connected outside of their small circle. On one of the pages, there is a list of names and short biographies, which the site considers to be radical feminists of note inside Australia. There list includes,Diane BellSusan Hawthorne, Sheila JeffreysRenate KleinJocelynne A. ScuttMary Lucille SullivanDenise ThompsonBronwyn Winter and Betty McLellan.[11]
Several of these names were attendees of the 2011 Perth SCUM conference, including Hawthorne, Jeffreys and McLellan. Bell, Klein, Scutt, Sullivan and Thompson are also part of this close knit group of radical feminist authors, speakers and/or professors, each of whom have been published through Hawthorne’s Spinifex Press.[14] Two of these are of particular interest to this story for the moment; Dr. Bronwyn Winter, an Associate Professor at The University of Sydney,[12] and Dr.Betty Mclellan, who was the principle founder for ‘A Coalition for a Feminist Agenda‘.[13]
Dr. Winter has been a frequent guest speaker at several feminist and radical feminist gatherings, three of which were hosted or organized by Dr. Betty McLellan. [15][16] Dr. Winter also wrote an article in November of 2006 in support of White Ribbon Dayfor the website Online Opinion. [18] White Ribbon Day is an event that was created from the White Ribbon Foundation, which was founded in 2003 by a woman named Libby Lloyd. Lloyd is the current Chairperson for the National Council’s Violence Against Women Advisory Group. [17] More interesting however, is the end of the article, in which Dr. Winter and Ms. Green list who they feel are other leading voices for women. Most of the names are from the organization known as WESNET, but they also name a few other individual women’s rights advocates in Australia.
“Written by Bronwyn Winter, University of Sydney, and Betty Green, domestic violence advocate, on behalf of WESNET (Women’s Services Network): peak body grouping 380 women’s domestic and family violence services across Australia); Pauline Woodbridge, Coordinator, North Queensland Domestic Violence Resource Service; Julie Oberin, Manager, Annie North Women’s Refuge and Domestic Violence Service; Marie Hume, National Abuse Free Contact Campaign; Veronica Wensing, Executive Officer, Canberra Rape Crisis Centre; Beth Tinning, Facilitator, Domestic Violence and Family Law Support Action Group, Townsville; and women’s rights advocates Desi Achilleos and Julieanne Le Comte.”
Many of these names will reappear again, including WESNET and its role in Australia’s ‘National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children’, but what is of primary note here the last name mentioned in the article, a women’s rights advocate named Julieanne Le Comte. I did an extensive search for a women’s rights advocate under that name in Australia, or indeed, anyone connected with a domestic violence or battered shelter group, and found nothing except some links to some very old internet list servs about feminist science fiction.
According to the AO files, Julieanne Le Comte is the person who is also known under the alias Rain Lewis. Rain is the owner and the main administrator of the Radfem Hub and forum, and she was also a speaker at the 2011 Pert SCUM conference.  [19] Dr. Winter is also public friends on Facebook with Rain Lewis, as well as the organizers of the Perth SCUM conference Allecto and Amazon Mancrusher. Does this mean that Dr. Winter is saying that Le Comte is an Australian women’s rights advocate leader because she runs the Radfem hub and forum, which as we all know, often discusses things like violence against men and infanticide?
WESNET, Political Action and Patriarchy
Dr. Betty McLellan has been on the Australian feminist scene for some twenty years, and has written several books published under Susan Hawthorne’s Spinifex Press. [20] McLellan has also hosted or chaired several conferences and gatherings of mostly radical feminists, including the 2002 Townsville International Women’s Conferenceand the 2007 International Feminist Summit. [15][16] Her Feminist Agenda coalition was also co-founded in 2002 by Dr. Joanne Baker, a Senior Professor at James Cook University, Chantal Oxenham, who works for the Australian Department of Human Services in the Northern Queensland Service Zone as a Regional Manager and Coralie McLean. [21][22][23]
The 2002 Townsville International Women’s  5 day conference hosted about 50 different feminist speakers from 15 countries. Over a dozen panels and workshops took place as well, several of which took place in women only sessions. From the  Australian speakers, a large portion of them were some of the same radical feminists we’ve seen above; McLellan, Jeffreys, Winter,Scutt, Renate Klein, Hawthorne, Sullivan, Baker and Oxenham.
What stands out was the large contingent of WESNET board members, who were part of four different panels. Over the past decade, WESNET has had only about two dozen board members, the most prominent two being Pauline Woodbridge and Julie Oberin. WESNET describes itself as:
“Established in 1992, the Women’s Services Network (WESNET) is a national women’s peak advocacy body which works on behalf of women and children who are experiencing or have experienced domestic or family violence. With almost 400 members across Australia, WESNET represents a range of organisations and individuals including women’s refuges, shelters, safe houses and information/ referral services.”[29]
While having individual speaking assignments, here are the four panels in which WESNET board members were involved. (WESNET board members in bold)
  • Panel – “Many Pieces Make a Whole – Providers of Anti-violence Education (PAVE)” Members - Jennyne Dillon, Ines Zuchowski, Joanne Baker, John Brown, Catherine Bessant, Jo Stewart, Shirley Slann, Jane Collyer, Pauline Woodbridge
  • Panel -”Joined Up Responses to Violence Against Women – Townsville Women’s Services Collaboration” Members - Lindy Edwards, Morgan King and Pauline Woodbridge
  • Panel – “Domestic and Family Violence Peak Round Table – Reflections, Future Directions/Strategic Directions for Advocacy and Lobbying” Members - Julie Oberin, Pauline Woodbridge, Shirley Slann, Ara Cresswell, Maxene Schulte
  • Panel – “National Strategy for Family Law Act Reform” Members - Julie Oberin, Ara Cresswell, Pauline Woodbridge
Obviously the focus of much of the conference was on consolidation of feminist groups within Australia,  to lobby and advocate for new laws and new programs on a national level. Indeed, less than two years latter, in March 2004, five members of the 2002 Townsville Feminist conference (under the banner of the Feminist Agenda Coalition)went to the capital Canberra and met with several Labor Party leaders.[30] They discussed their idea for a blueprint of a national plan, which basic concepts were laid out in Townsville. Interestingly enough, many of the same 2002 Townsville plan basics were incorporated into the 2007 Rudd Labor Party platform, which led to the ‘National Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children’.
This topic will be addressed further in the next article, but two items are very important from this 2004 Canberra trip:
  • Only one of the five Feminist Agenda delegation that went was a WESNET representative. The other four were into differing degrees of radical feminism and were led by McLellan.
  • The politicians the delegation met with are some of the politicians who were directly involved with the 2009 national plan, including Tanya Plibersek and Jenny Macklin.
At the 2007 International Feminist Summit, which was a far more radical feminist conference than 2002, saw Woodbridge and Oberin of WESNET take a much larger role individually. They both even gave back to back speeches:
Pauline Woodbridge – “Challenging Patriarchy in Men’s behaviour Change Programs”
Julie Oberin – “Perpetrators of domestic violence: Can we? Should we?”
Less than 6 months after this conference took place Rudd’s Labor party won the election and took power. And less than 10 months after the 2007 conference Pauline Woodbridge would be appointed (from all indications by Plibersek) to the National Council chaired by Libby Lloyd. Woodbridge and Oberin, under the banner of WESNET, would go on to play a crucial role in the analysis and direction of the National Council. In fact, not only is WESNET listed as one of the main sources for information, Woodbridge and Oberin, along with the WESNET organization were recognized and used extensively as references and analysis in the 2008 Flinders University Synthesis Report; another of the Council’s primary sources.
From Woodbridge and Plibersek  past speeches and remarks, and by the policies outlines in the report,  much of what was recommended  seemed to draw heavily from the feminist theory of Patriarchy. Furthermore, if the 2007 International Feminist Summit was any indication, WESNET’s top two people were increasingly moving in radical feminist circles, including interaction with people like Jeffreys, McLellan, Winter, Bell, Sullivan, Hawthorne, Klein, Catharine MacKinnon, Melinda Tankard-Reist, Ryl Harrison and Beth Tinning.[16] The question is if they did become radicalized, how much? And to what extent did their influence with the National Council’s sources and analysis moved in a radical direction?
Other question remain, which we will examine in the next article:
  • Who were the other members of the National Council and what is their story? Were any of them less than friendly to Feminist ideology than Plibersek, Jackson or Woodbridge?
  • What exact data and statistics were used? Was the data accurate and factual? Was the information used honestly and in context?
  • What did the 2004 Feminist Agenda delegation to Canberra produce, and how much of McLellan’s agenda did the Labor party buy into?
  • What other feminists and radical feminists were used as sources for the study?
  • What role did the White Ribbon Foundation play?
  • What exactly is the plan, and how does the Australian government intend to enact it?
  • How does this fit into the already extensive Australian governmental agencies dedicated to women?
  • Have any men’s groups or father’s rights groups had a say in the plan?
  • How much more marginalized will men become in Australia because of these actions?
This subject is complex, but hopefully many of these connections are a little more clear to everyone. I’ve been as detailed and thorough as possible  to avoid any confusion, and to stay away from generalized accusations. The men’s rights movement is, for me,  at its root about equal protection under the law. Much of Feminism has been about changing the way government operates to further their ideology, often with radical feminists leading the way. It’s happened in Sweden and I hope our research here shows how it is happening in Australia.
Other links
(AIC) –
Synthesis Report –
The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS)