One Week Later

I did go to Canberra. I took the names of 48 people with me – friends, family members, colleagues, church people, and a few precious strangers who found me here or on social media and asked to be represented.

I stood among the others at the protest, with my sign, and listened to the speakers. Afterwards, I took myself and my sign to the smoking ceremony offered by the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, before adding my own name to the sign, and depositing it with the National Library of Australia. We are all part of the record of history, now.

And then I flew home, and went back to work, where I was promptly buried in grants and the logistics of in-person seminars, followed by an extremely full weekend of singing and writing work. It feels like there has hardly been time to think, let alone to write anything here.

I’ll be putting up a couple of backdated posts in the next few days, with my thoughts from just before and just after the rally. But it feels right to reflect a little on where we are a week later.

Mostly, I am a week angrier.

I mean, I didn’t really expect immediate change. I didn’t even expect that Morrison would come to the rally. Listening to women isn’t something he does. If he couldn’t even be bothered to read the accusations against Porter, he was hardly going to bother with the likes of us.

On the other hand, I really didn’t expect him to come out with that line about protestors in other countries being met with bullets, either.

He has been saying since that he was misunderstood and mis-characterised, but every woman I know (and plenty of men) heard it for what it was.

Aren’t you lucky we are letting you come and protest like this? Aren’t you lucky we are only raping you and not killing you? How good is Australia? Now, go home and be quiet and be grateful that we aren’t hurting you more. Because we could, if we wanted to.

I actually do believe that Morrison didn’t mean it the way it sounded. I think he is genuinely so utterly oblivious to the idea that women might have thoughts that are not his thoughts that he really just thought he was cleverly distracting us with talk about Myanmar. No wonder he is so offended to have been misunderstood.

(Though… you would think a guy who used to work in advertising would be a little better at communicating his message, wouldn’t you?)

I also want to talk about how it feels to be a woman, and a survivor of sexual assault, reading the news in Australia right now.

While there are some really fantastic journalists (mostly women, but a few good men, too) and politicians who are saying the right things, I am seeing plenty of messages like this:

What if it wasn’t true?

Look at her diary, she’s clearly crazy.

How can we believe her? It’s just he said, she said…

This should be left to the police.

The poor man is devastated by these accusations.

She was drunk, what did she expect?

Let’s create an app to record consent and prevent misunderstandings.

I think the people who write things like this are afraid. Afraid that they will be misunderstood, or lied about. Afraid that maybe they have done something that wasn’t quite consensual, and they will get called out for it. Afraid that suddenly, something they did a long time ago which they have mostly forgotten about will come back to haunt them. They are thinking of one specific person or one specific incident.

The trouble is, they are talking to all of us.

Here’s what survivors see when they read these messages.

You’re lying.

You’re crazy.

You’re overreacting.

It’s your fault anyway.

He probably didn’t realise you didn’t want it.

Do you really want to ruin his life over a misunderstanding?

If you come forward, nobody is going to believe you.

One friend tweeted that it’s like being raped all over again. It’s definitely re-traumatising. We already have the voices inside us that say maybe we really are over-reacting, maybe we are being unfair, maybe we are crazy. We already have that fear that if we say anything we will be forced to justify our clothes, our location, our activity, our reasons for associating with that person in the first place. We already suspect that we won’t be believed.

It’s really not helpful having senior political figures and journalists reinforcing that.

And speaking of things that are unhelpful, here is a tangible example of where this sort of denial and stonewalling leads to. Kenja Communications, a spiritual self-help group, has refused to join the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, citing the Porter case as precedent:

“Anyone can contact the scheme and say they were abused as a child and without due process, in fact it appears without any real process, can receive up to $150,000 in compensation,” the statement said.

“We are of the view that recent events including the Christian Porter case confirm the legitimacy and appropriateness of the position we have taken regarding not joining the National Redress Scheme. In our respectful opinion, if it is proper for the Attorney-General to invoke the rule of law, it is also proper for us.”

Thank you so much, Mr Porter.

As for today’s revelations… look, I think it is essential that we do not conflate consensual sex acts (even ones in extraordinarily inappropriate locations) with sexual violence. We cannot allow today’s reports to turn the narrative from one of sexual abuse into one of sexual scandal.

But it cannot be denied that a workplace where men feel free to masturbate on the desks of their female colleagues and share the photos with their friends is clearly a workplace with some extremely concerning ideas about sex and gender. And while these may not rise to the level of condoning rape, they are absolutely indicative of a culture that has a big problem with women in power.

It’s telling, I think, that the wanker in question was a staffer, and the desk was that of an MP. It sends a message that says “You may think that you are more powerful than me, but you are still beneath me. You are still just something to be used for sex.” It takes an interesting combination of insecurity and confidence to need to send a message like that, I think.

(It is, of course, also an example of unwanted and unsolicited sexual behaviour. The MP did not consent to this. She may not have been present, but it was something that was done with the intention of humiliating her and ‘putting her back in her place.’)

So what happens now? I have no idea. This has been going on for a month now, but it feels interminable. I think the government really is hoping it will blow over soon, but I don’t think it can. It is too personal for too many people.

(On a lighter note, I just want to note that the last time I went to Parliament House, Tony Abbott was gone a week later. The magic doesn’t seem to be working so well this time, but I want you to know that I did do my very best.)


Sexual assault support services:

  • 1800 Respect national helpline: 1800 737 732
  • Lifeline (24-hour crisis line): 131 114
  • Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

Carrying hope

I wrote this piece the night before the rally and posted it on my social media. Since it says some things that I think are important, I’m publishing a slightly expanded version of it here, adding my thoughts later that evening, and backdating it to the 14th. It’s very much a post about feelings rather than facts, but I want to journal this properly anyway.

I’m checked in at Tullamarine, waiting for my flight to Canberra, and thinking about tomorrow.

I am taking more than thirty names with me to the march tomorrow. Women, men, non-binary people, children. Friends who I have known for most of my life, and friends who I’ve only known since last year. Friends who I see every week and friends who I have never yet met in person. Family members. Colleagues. Church people. Even a few precious strangers.

It’s hard to describe the emotions around this. I feel like I am carrying the grief and rage of so many people, and I also feel like they are helping to carry me. It feels like an honour, and it feels like a responsibility. It feels inspiring that so many people want to be part of this, and it feels tragic that so many people feel that they need to be a part of it.

It feels like impending catharsis.

I don’t know how big the march itself will be, but if I am in any way representative, for every person marching, there are twenty or thirty or fifty more who would march if they could. If they didn’t have work, or caring duties, or physical difficulties that make marching tomorrow impossible.

People who are angry or grieving or frustrated or traumatised or just tired.

People who don’t want to see see our nieces or our daughters or our granddaughters marching for this again in twenty years time.

People who will not forget.

I wonder if the government realises that?


In Canberra, later this evening, I write your names on my sign. I write them with care, and I write them with intention, and I write them with love.

With each name, I think about the stories I know, and the stories I don’t know. Some of these stories, I have known for years. Others, only recently. For some of you, I know only that there is a story, and I hope you will find the right person to tell it to.

Some of you are angry, gloriously and shamelessly so, and I try to put that emotion onto the sign. Some of you are there in solidarity, and I feel that when I write your names. Some of you feel vulnerable, wanting to be there, but also afraid to be, and I write your names with care, surrounding them with the names of the supporters, the angry warriors, hoping that they will lend you their strength.

I don’t know where the boundary lies between symbolism and prayer and magical thinking, but I’m pretty sure I have crossed it.


Later still, I will lie in my very comfortable bed and I will not sleep. I still don’t know what I want to write on my sign. I don’t know what words will capture the feelings, both mine and yours. I am so very proud and glad to have you with me, and I am so afraid that I am not enough. Overthinking is my super power, and I do a lot of it tonight.

And in between, I can’t stop thinking about all those stories. A colleague mentioned a week or so ago that she had been talking to her women friends, and they all had a story. It seems like we all have stories, whether they are small or large. Stories of being hurt, of being treated with disrespect, of being treated like things rather than like people. (And most of my friends are white and cis. My friends of colour, my trans friends… have worse stories, and more of them.)

Why do all women (#YesAllWomen) still have these stories?

I eventually give up on sleeping and read a funny, feminist romance novel about suffragettes instead. (Huzzah! Suffragettes!)


During the night, and in the morning, more names come in. By the time I leave for the rally, I have 48 of you with me. People I love and respect and look up to in a multitude of ways. People whose achievements are internationally recognised, and people who are known only to a small circle, but who are full of kindness and courage and compassion and humour. People who I am proud to know, and whose friendship sustains me.

People who I am honoured to stand for today.

Marching together

I’m going to the march in Canberra next Monday. I don’t do marches very often, but I’m going to this one.

I’m going because I’m angry and I’m going because I’m sad and I’m going because I’m tired. Because this shouldn’t still be happening. But it is. And I can’t bear the idea that this is just politics as usual, and that the government will get to move on as if nothing ever happened. It’s important to me that they see that we are here, and that this means something, and that we will not forget. It’s important to me that my niece doesn’t grow up in a world where a woman’s life is less important than a man’s career.

One thing that happens when you share your story of sexual assault is that other people come forward to share theirs. And there are so many people with these stories. These past few weeks, my DMs, my twitter feed, my blog comments, my email, my ears have been a clamour of women’s (and a few men’s) stories of pain and abuse. So I’m also going to Canberra because I feel like I’m carrying a lot of new stories now, in addition to the ones I was carrying already, and I’m hoping that if I take them with me they will start to mean something.

But speaking of carrying stories…

There are marches all over Australia, but I know that for many people, taking time off work or from caring duties to go to a protest just isn’t possible or practical. And I know that for others, attending a march isn’t feasible because of health or other issues. Marches simply aren’t accessible for everyone. (Which… is a problem, I think, but not one for this post.)

So if you really wanted to go to a march next Monday, but you can’t make it, drop me a comment. I’m not sure what the front of my placard is going to say yet (nobody who follows this blog will be surprised to learn that my mind runs more to essays than to pithy slogans), but the back is going to be the names * of the friends who can’t make it in person this time around, but who are with us in spirit.

I reckon those names will be a lot lighter to carry than the stories have been.

* Full names, first names or nicknames are all fine. And if you want me to screen your comment so others can’t see it, just let me know in your reply, and I’ll make it so.

When the political is personal

This is the post my brain keeps on trying to compose at three in the morning these last two weeks, instead of letting me sleep. Let’s see if finally writing the damn thing will help. This post is personal, and it’s angry, and it’s bitter and honestly kind of horrible.

Survivors of sexual assault might also want to give this post a miss, or at least proceed with care. Let’s face it, especially if you are in Australia, you’ve probably already had a rough week. And you probably don’t need to hear any of the things I’m going to write about anyway. Please, go watch something wholesome on YouTube instead. Or listen to some music, or read a book – I can highly recommend T. Kingfisher’s work if you want something light and funny and feminist and deeply kind – or do something else nice for yourself. Alternatively, this article has some good tips on taking care of yourself if the news is triggering you at present, including a list of numbers for support lines. What a rotten fortnight this has been.

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Three Letters and some Links

It feels very strange in Melbourne today.  It’s drizzly and dark, and the weather is cold enough to require central heating and winter pyjamas, but the air is absolutely permeated by smoke – from the Tasmanian fires, we are told, though it could just as easily have been from the ones in Gippsland or in northern Victoria or on Kangaroo island.  There are fires in every direction, and yet we are safe, and can go about our lives as normal, except for the stinging in our eyes and throats, the tightness in our chests from the smoke.

I almost welcome it, though.  We’ve had several days of truly glorious weather over the last week (not consecutively, and none of them like any of the others of course – this is Melbourne we’re talking about), and it has felt so surreal to be able to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather when all this devastation exists just a few hundred kilometres away.  (Clearly, the Catholic upbringing which I did not have has still managed to give me an over-inflated sense of guilt about ever enjoying myself).

Anyway.  I’ve been meaning to write some letters to politicians, but I’ve been running into difficulties, because my letters to Morrison keep on coming out as ‘Dear Prime Minister, Please get f*cked. Sincerely, Catherine,’ or sometimes ‘Dear Prime Minister, What the f*ck is wrong with you?’, which are certainly sincere statements of personal belief, but perhaps not very productive.

I did finally manage to write something slightly more useful, however, and since I thought that some of you might be sharing my difficulties, I figured I’d follow tradition and put my letters here for anyone to use as a starting point for their own missives.  Per my usual disclaimer, they are far from perfect.  And per my usual encouragement, they don’t need to be.  Don’t be crippled by the need to make everything exactly right.  The important thing is to send *something*.

Please note, incidentally, that I’ve seen a few people saying that emails sent through the form on the Prime Minister’s website are not being read, and that it is difficult to get through to him on the phone.  I don’t know if this is true or not, but just in case, let’s break out the envelopes and stamps for this one.

If you can’t bear to write to politicians right now – and honestly, I can’t blame you for that – I’ve also provided some more links at the bottom to charities and other organisations you might want to support.

And of course, wherever you are, I hope you are staying safe from the fires and the smoke, that your loved ones are also safe, and that you have the things you need.

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State of Emergency

The photos and videos coming through from New South Wales and from East Gippsland are honestly hard to comprehend.  They look like scenes from some sort of apocalyptic film, not from reality. The fact that people were literally being told to get into the sea to shelter from the fires is just… I honestly don’t have the words for this.  Four thousand people sheltering on beaches shouldn’t be something that happens.

This is what a climate emergency looks like.

And our government, with their cheerful lines about how Australia “should be proud of its climate change efforts” (it… really shouldn’t), and “there’s no better place to raise kids anywhere on the planet“, while watching the Sydney Harbour fireworks from a harbourside mansion are coming across less as tone-deaf and more like Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

I posted something about the need to declare a climate emergency on Facebook yesterday, and someone replied to ask what would actually happen if such an emergency was declared.  It’s a fair question – even if it is one that is often heard from people who want to use it to show that we inner city Greenies know nothing about what is needed or how disaster relief works – so I figure it’s worth chatting about here. Especially since the alternative is writing another rage-filled post about our government, and I think we can pretty much take that as read at this point. (Incidentally, I have updated my previous rage-filled post about our government with a few more charities to donate to, and would welcome suggestions of any charities I’ve missed from others.)

There are two reasons to declare a state of emergency, one symbolic, and one logistic. I’ll start with the symbolic one, because, unusually, I think it might actually be the more important of the two.

You see, the government is working very, very, hard to preserve a narrative that says ‘this is normal, this is business as usual, we have always had bushfires’.  Which leads inevitably to ‘we don’t need to do anything different to what we are already doing’.

This is normal, so we don’t need to lease waterbombing planes from the US Forest Service.

This is normal, so we don’t need to to upgrade the equipment and respiratory masks provided to our volunteer firefighters.

This is normal, so we don’t need to activate the legislation from 1991 that allows us to pay our volunteer firefighters.

This is normal, so we don’t need to meet with all the fire chiefs to come up with long-term strategies to deal with the situation.

This is normal, so we can keep on mining coal and gas both for our own use and to export to other countries so that everyone can continue emitting carbon while the world burns.

That last one is the reason for all the others, frankly.  We have a government that can’t afford to admit that we are helping to make climate change worse in ways that is affecting us severely, because it’s afraid of the mining industry.

And that’s a problem, because this wilful blindness, this determination to lean on the ‘Australian spirit’ and pretend that everything is just as it always has been means that we can’t do the things that are necessary to protect people right now from the disasters that are already happening, because that would mean admitting that maybe something has changed, maybe this is different, maybe we need to address not just our response to this emergency but the underlying policies that have allowed us to reach this point.

Maybe we need to talk about climate change.

Maybe it’s too late to talk about mitigation, and we need to talk about adaptation.

Maybe we need to do this even though it is going to have an economic cost in the short term.

Maybe we need to accept that, because the alternative is a human cost that cannot be counted.

***

As for logistics, it’s true that I don’t know a lot about how disaster relief works.  But I do know a bit about how organising people works. And it generally works better if everyone is agreed about who is coordinating things, who is in charge of what, and what the priorities are. Our bushfires cross state borders, and we have volunteers coming from other states (and in some cases, other countries) to assist with the effort.  Leaving this to the States to organise piecemeal just isn’t a particularly practical thing to do.

It seems to me that there are several things that a government could do, if it had the will to do so (above and beyond what I’ve mentioned above).  Just off the top of my head, they could…

  • Accept the help we have been offered by other countries
  • Liaise with the state governments and state emergency services to coordinate efforts to fight fires that cross state borders or that are large enough to require help to be brought in from less-affected areas.
  • Convene experts in emergency management, ask for their recommendations, and act on them.
  • Get the Navy and Army Reserve involved in coordinating evacuations and getting supplies to areas that have been isolated by the fires – logistics is a big part of what the army does.  Let’s make use of that. (The Andrews government in Victoria has requested and received military aid for evacuations. But this should be something that is offered up-front where needed, rather than requested ad hoc.)
  • Budget more money for disaster relief, and coordinate with state and local governments to make sure it gets where it needs to go in a timely fashion and with a minimum of red tape.
  • Build a fleet of waterbombing aircraft (we currently lease ours from California, but as our fire seasons get longer and begin to overlap, this will become a logistical issue)
  • Review building standards for new houses, particularly in at risk areas – consider whether some areas are too risky for rebuilding to be wise.
  • Create a strategy to ensure that vulnerable people (the elderly, the disabled, people with low incomes, people without personal transport) are able to be evacuated early and to places with the resources to look after them in an emergency.  Coordinate care needs for people with chronic illnesses or disabilities who have been evacuated.
  • Create a plan for domesticated animals displaced by fire – if you evacuate people but can’t take their pets or livestock, you are going to have issues.
  • Make sure nobody is being kicked off their pension for failing to check in when their house was on fire or when they were off fighting fires themselves
  • Once the fire season is over, sit down and create a serious policy about climate change and how we are going to have a country that is still possible to live in ten years from now.

I don’t want Scott Morrison on the front line holding a hose or making sandwiches.  I don’t want his thoughts and prayers.  There is nothing wrong with any of these things in principle, but they are not his job right now.  His job is to lead, to make decisions, to provide his ministers, the states and the people on the front lines with the support they need to to do their jobs.

That’s what he signed up for, and that’s what he should be doing.  But the first step in the process is to acknowledge the reality of our situation.

This is not normal.

This is new.

And we need to take it seriously.

Burn for you

It’s that time when we look back at what the year and the decade – though this year has felt like a decade – and contemplate where we stand and what has changed.

I’m not going to do that.

Australia is on fire – literally on fire, this is not a metaphor though it certainly makes a good one for the state of our politics generally – and apparently that’s normal now and we don’t need to do anything about it?

Map from Geoscience Australia at 10:48pm on December 29, 2019

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Newstart, Indue, and Raising the Rate

I’ve been meaning for a while to write about the way our government (and to a lesser, but not sufficiently lesser, extent, the media) has been increasingly pushing the idea that people who are poor have miserable lives because they deserve them.  Apparently, our unemployed people are too busy taking drugs, protesting climate change, eating avocado toast, and refusing to move to the country where jobs are supposedly plentiful, to actually job hunt properly and that’s why they remain in poverty.  (Incidentally, if you were considering moving to the country for work, please read this article first.  It turns out that this is bad advice, because moving house can get you cut off from Newstart unless you are very lucky.)

(Incidentally, note how disabled people are sort of… missing from this picture entirely.  Much like the $4.6 billion that wasn’t spent on NDIS funding, so that our budget could be balanced this year.)

On the other hand, the government is full of (fully funded) empathy for the hardship endured by small business owners forced to pay penalty rates, and is indeed wondering whether superannuation ought to be optional for lower-paid workers, too.  I’m sure this won’t place more pressure on the Aged Care pension in the long run.  And speaking of pensions, the government which can’t afford to raise the rate of Newstart can apparently afford to spend $6 billion a year on franking credits, a frankly unsustainable rebate only available to people who have sufficient savings to invest in shares (and the figures attached to this article suggest that the overwhelming majority of these people have savings of $1 million or more).

There are many, MANY, things to write about when it comes to this government’s attitude to poverty.  Hell, I haven’t even started on Robodebt – that’s a whole other post.  But right now, there is a Bill under consideration to expand the Cashless Debit Card trial to cover the entire Northern Territory, Cape York and parts of South Australia, with the goal of eventually expanding the card to all unemployed people, and possibly people on other forms of social security.  There’s a pretty good summary of the situation and how the Bill will work here, or you can read the amendments in their entirety here (honestly not that useful, I found), and an explanatory memorandum here.  The latter goes into some detail regarding concerns about the human rights of people on the card:

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights conducted a review of the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, which notes that the Cashless Debit Card engages and limits three human rights: the right to social security, the right to a private life and the right to equality and non-discrimination.

But concludes that it’s all fine and definitely non-discriminatory, even though  the areas in which the expansion is taking place are all areas with high indigenous populations (according to this article, more than 80% of those affected will be indigenous Australians).  Fascinating.  Especially as, for all the talk of community consultation, no Australian government in my lifetime has been particularly stellar when it comes to listening to Aboriginal communities. No colonialism going on here, clearly.

I’m going to cut to the chase – the government is accepting submissions regarding the expansion of the Cashless Debit Card up until October 18, and you can make a submission here.  There are some guidelines on how to do so here

Since I’m sure that many of you know far, far more about this than I do, and some of you will have personal stories that are relevant to the submission, I didn’t want to make you read through all my ramblings.  But if you want some numbers and stats and arguments for your submission, as well as a few more other ways to take action on Newstart, keep on reading.  I suspect some of these will form the basis of my own submission. Continue reading

Yes, this sucks. But we can’t afford to despair

If, like me, you live life on the progressive side of politics – or perhaps even if you live on the conservative side but nonetheless view climate change as an emergency, and see racism, poverty, and xenophobia as serious issues – you probably spent the evening staring at the election results in growing horror.

(Honestly, I felt so nauseated after a couple of hours that I switched off the coverage and stuck in our Keating! The Musical DVD. I mean, I figure I did absolutely everything I could to make a difference in this election – I could skip the aftermath with a clear conscience.)

And look, it really is pretty awful. The Coalition is not going to do a single positive thing about climate change, and we now have another three years of people on Newstart living below the poverty line and being harassed by robodebts and programs that are designed to punish rather than help, and people who need the NDIS being unable access it. We will have three more years of cruelty to refugees and three more years of cuts to the ABC, while Murdoch gets free rein over our media.

Also… we have just shown both major parties that running a scare campaign with basically no policies wins over running a policy-driven campaign. And that’s really depressing, because it means we’ve just taught Labor not to bother running on policy.

I’m not going to sit here and try to say that it’s all going to be fine, that we need to stay positive, that it’s alright. A significant proportion of or population voted out of fear or ignorance or just a lack of empathy or imagination, and we are all going to suffer for it, and it’s OK to feel stunned and angry and sickened and upset and depressed. The future looks pretty scary right now, and we need to come to terms with that.

We need to take time to grieve, and to be angry, and to be numb, and to do whatever we need to do to find a way to accept the reality we now find ourselves in.

And, honestly, that’s going to take time. I mean, I’m white, I’m mostly straight, I’m employed and reasonably financially secure, and I’m healthy. I’m several steps away from being directly impacted by most of the government’s awfulness, and I’m still terrified and deeply sad about the direction we are moving in. I can only imagine how people more marginalised than me must be feeling right now.

So I think step one for all of us right now is to grieve as we need to. That doesn’t mean we can’t do other things later – that we shouldn’t find our own ways to fight for what is needed, to protect our friends who are more vulnerable than us, to move forward so that there is still something left to preserve by the time we reach the next election.

But we don’t necessarily have to do all of that right now. And we definitely don’t have to feel guilty about not doing *everything* right now. If you need it, this is me giving you permission to take the time to rest and to find a way to be OK. You can’t fight the good fight when you are desperately wounded. Give yourself time to heal.

Because it’s  going to be a hard three years, and I need you to survive it, OK? Whoever you are, if you are reading this, you are needed, and you are wanted and you deserve to be OK. No matter what the government may say. So step one is definitely doing what you can to make that happen. Hang out with friends, read something fun and escapist, throw yourself into work, go for a bike ride, join a community choir – whatever works for you. Take care of yourself. Please.

Step two… step two is for when you are feeling less fragile. But when you get there, step two is to find the thing that you care about and the thing you can do. Maybe that thing is volunteering or donating money. Maybe it is being a good friend to someone who needs that. Maybe it’s raising the next generation, or maybe it’s joining a political party and taking the fight to them.

(Step Three is recognising that there is only so much that you, personally, can do, and doing that much, and not feeling guilty about not doing all the other things. I’m still working on step three, to be honest.)

For me? I’m going to sleep for four hours and then get up and try to enjoy Eurovision. And then I’m going to have another nap, and avoid news coverage and social media for a bit.

But step two for me is definitely going to include writing to my local member and anyone else in the ALP who I can think of and thank them for running a positive, policy-driven campaign. I don’t know if we’ll see another campaign like that after the way this one failed, but positive behaviour should be rewarded, and this much I can do.

Please take care of yourselves.

(And who knows… maybe the early votes will save us. But I have to admit, I’m not optimistic at this point.)

Edited to add: I wrote a post on self-care a few years ago.  It has belatedly occurred to me that it might be worth linking to from this post.  So here it is!

Make your vote count

So, the election is tomorrow.  You’ve done your reading.  You’ve maybe even listened to a few Eurovision songs along the way.  With luck, you have at least some idea who you are going to vote for.

There are two things I want to write about today.

The first is just to touch on how incredibly fortunate we are in our electoral system.  I’ve been corresponding with a friend in the US recently, and she mentioned in passing that she was in Australia during an election a few years ago and she couldn’t believe how many places there were that you could vote.  Airports!  Hospitals!  Mobile polling booths that go to aged care facilities and remote communities!  Coming from a country where restricting access to the ballot box is an actual strategy for one of their major parties, it was a revelation.

I write about our Australian Electoral Commission at almost every election, because it is a national treasure and we are so lucky to have it.  I think, though, that I’m going to just cheat this time and link you to my last post on the subject rather than writing a new one, because I just did a count and I’ve already written more than 140,000 words in this electoral cycle and I’ll be honest with you, I’m tired and I have a Eurovision party to bake for.

Also, there’s something else I really want to talk about in this post, and that’s about numbering all the boxes on your Senate Ballot, whether you opt for voting above or below the line.

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