Linkfest: fashion cops, fertility scolding, welfare-to-Woollies, and culturally safe healthcare

My weekend reading:

The Daily Telegraph: “Female recruit ads ‘bizarre’ “

The Telegraph reports on a new ad campaign by the New South Wales Police Force. It seems that their research consisted of sitting down and watching the Mel Gibson film “What Women Want”. And what do we want out of a law enforcement career? Fashion! Weapons and capsicum spray are touted as super fashion accessories, police on horseback are “dressed for the races”, and police officers never again have to spend their mornings agonising about what to wear.

Assistant Commissioner Tony McWhirter, Human Resources, said the campaign was not inappropriate or controversial. “This is a new and innovative recruitment campaign that highlights the fact that working as a police officer is interesting, diverse and never boring,” he said. “Like any good campaign, we have come up with ads that grab people’s attention by being a little different.

~~ “Mums warned to plan for babies at 18”

A good solid scolding for women, who as always make all the wrong choices in life, and need to be told what to do by authority figures. Dissatisfied with the failure of teenage women to get cracking and breed, Professor Robert Norman, director of the Research Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Adelaide, is lobbying the government for Medicare funding for fertility counselling for teenagers. His report is titled “Empty cots and silent Spring in an age of plenty: What our lifestyles are doing to our reproductive health”.

Those pesky lifestyles again, throwing a spanner into the works of the White-Babies-For-Australia campaign. Uppity free-thinking women, wanting things like a social life, education and the opportunity to establish a career, and expecting financial security and a decent bloke before they form a cosy nuclear family in which they will be responsible for most of the domestic work and almost all of the childcare.

Professor Norman is a keynote speaker at [the Fertility Society of Australia Conference] on “fertility preservation”. Professor Norman is expected to tell the conference that government policies and programs need to be established to educate the public.

“Given the environmental and economic challenges that there are for us to reproduce, we need to be better organised and we need to have a lot more information out there,” he says. Professor Norman said that if problem areas were detected early, it could alleviate potential fertility difficulties.

What does Norman think will fix the “problem” of women exerting control over their own reproduction in a hostile environment? He’d like all 18-year-olds to sit down with their doctor and listen to a lecture on how if they leave it “too late”, they might not be able to fall pregnant.

Yeah, that’ll fix it.


ABC News:“Govt intervention restricts Indigenous welfare spending”

Hang on – a moment ago, wasn’t the quarantining of welfare money only supposed to be for Aboriginal families whose kids didn’t go to school? This article implies that it’s going to be universal.

Thousands of Indigenous people in the Northern Territory will be unable to use quarantined welfare payments to buy food anywhere other than Woolworths or remote community stores.

The move is part of the Commonwealth’s intervention into NT Indigenous communities. The Federal Government is going to start quarantining half of the welfare payments for people in Aboriginal communities, so that the money can only be spent on food and essentials.

Why Woolworths only? The people affected won’t be able to use 50% of their income to buy food from a bakery, clothing from a shopping centre, or food, clothing or essentials from each other. Instead, all of that 50% is going to go via massive corporate profit into the pockets of 320,000 (mostly white) shareholders.


Personal Perspective from the Medical Journal of Australia: “Why “culturally safe” health care?”

The entire 21 May 2007 issue of the MJA is on Aboriginal health – go check it out. This piece offers a little perspective from a doctor, Mary Belfrage, who has spent a lot of time working in remote Aboriginal communities, including a small NT community in Alyawarr country. She examines the notion of “culturally safe” healthcare, and her perspective offers some insights into why white-owned, white-run clinical services can be inaccessible and ineffective, even if they are physically available and free of charge. Cultural liaison, language services, and above all a sense of belonging and of power are crucial.

In this setting you must be medically meticulous but also, to access the population, you need to offer services in a way that people recognise and want. People need to feel like themselves and believe that the health care is connected to their lives, that they are involved and have choices, that it’s not primarily someone else’s agenda. It’s often not so much about empowering people as not disempowering. This is what I think of as cultural safety.


The look of the clinic transformed. The women chose the colour for the outside of the clinic and all the clinic doors were painted with bush tucker and local stories. We employed community members to collect and prepare a topical bush medicine that was given out as liniment and for various skin conditions. As well as being particularly effective for burns, this bush medicine gave the whole clinic a smell that was deeply familiar to the community and strongly associated with health care.

Belfrage’s experience with learning a little about the bush offers a little shift of frame on the Government’s current plans to shove Aboriginal people out of their land and into fringe mining-worker communities:

I went hunting many times with the women. As well as the time with people and experience of culture, my way of seeing the country transformed. I saw it was fecund, fertile, providing. I saw and learned how to find and collect seasonal foods “” beans, potatoes, all sorts of fruits, wild honey. I ate kangaroo, turkey, echidna, witchetty grubs, the honey sac of honey ants, and goanna. I also understood that the land was knowable. That people were at home in their country, the land was steeped in the events and stories of their lives. That nomad didn’t mean moving willy-nilly around, but was actually travelling within country that was all home. That, in comparison, non-Indigenous Australians move to places we have no connection to “” country, city, suburb.


I love this picture. Cheers coconutto, you’re awesome.

Categories: Culture, culture wars, gender & feminism, indigenous, Politics, social justice

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. Coles and Bi-Lo in Alice will be spitting chips. Like everyone else, Aboriginal people like to shop around for the specials and the best deals. Giving someone a monopoly isn’t going to help anyone.

  2. That police recruitment video sounds like it was borrowed from an episode of Reno 911.

  3. I know what will help with the “White-babies-for-Australia” campaign!
    Oh, hang on, that would put all the blame on men instead of women. Never mind. It was good while it lasted.

  4. I was going to write a lengthy comment about the Woolies section, but I ended up writing instead.
    In short, the quarantining of welfare applies to everyone (who lives on aboriginal land). The rest can be quarantined as well, if kids don’t attend school, etc.

  5. Bugger. I messed up my link tag.

  6. Fixed.
    I’ve no idea why I had assumed the slightly-less-evil alternative of the various versions presented to us in the media. Every time I do this, the universe seems to come along and slam me back into the cynical zone.


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