WARNING TO WA VOTERS: Liberal Party’s return address envelope for postal vote application is NOT addressed to the AEC

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Western Australia is set to return to the ballot-box after their Senate election was deemed void. The usual slew of party letters has been noted by WA locals, but what has confused some is why exactly the Liberal Party opted to have their own address on the return envelope for postal vote registration, rather than the independent body – the AEC.

The Facebook page, Tony Abbott’s Lies and other Liberal Promises was provided with scanned images of what had been sent to WA residents from the Liberal Party and has kindly passed them on. What was of concern was that the return address envelopes are addressed to the Liberal Party, not the AEC.

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The actual AEC address is enclosed inside the leaflet, meaning it is more likely that people would simply use the return envelope.

While this is completely legal, and has probably been practised by other parties, it is of concern that the system relies on ‘trust’ that the Liberal Party will handle the forms in the appropriate way and forward them on to the AEC.

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The LNP letter that was enclosed with the postal vote registration form.

It has been suggested that in this scenario, because the Liberal Party will then know your intention not to attend and vote on the day, they could enlist ‘stooge’ voters to use your name and address to vote for the Liberals at the polling booths – perhaps multiple times.

The question of whether or not this is possible is easy to determine – we know that multiple votes were allowed in the most recent Federal election, with nearly 2000 Australians caught and with one even admitting to having cast 15 votes. What we want to know is whether or not something been done to prevent history repeating – have they taken measures to disallow this disaster from happening again?

Be careful how you return your postal vote registration forms. Make sure to address them to the AEC directly or simply save yourself the hassle and complete this process online on the AEC website.

If you wish to contact the WA Electoral Commission about this, you can contact them at:

Telephone:
13 63 06 (WA)
(08) 9214 0400 (Australia-wide)
Facsimile: (08) 9226 0577
Email: waec@waec.wa.gov.au

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REAL STORIES: Battling Mental Illness AND the Stigma

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Imagine having fallen deep into a pit; you’re tired, physically weak and unable to get back out. You can see the light from above and hear voices of others’ happiness as they walk right by and continue on with their lives.

Passers by often never notice, but those that do sometimes call down to tell you to climb out. They ask why you’re down there and why you haven’t just “tried harder” to pull yourself out. It feels pointless to bother, but you try so hard to climb the walls – to dig your fingers into the soil and pull yourself back up, but often you just fall again, even harder than the first time. Laying there, below the rest of the world, you ponder your chances that you’ll ever be able to get out again; you wonder if it’s even worth it to try.

Then out of nowhere, you see a hand from the outside, reaching down to help. They ask if you’re okay and seem to understand the difficulty of your struggle. You hesitate, not knowing if this will be enough to pull you back out of the pit, but also not wanting to be a burden to your kind helper. With a combined effort, you can be brought back out of the pit. Slowly but surely – and often not on the first try – you work your way out of that darkness with an immense inner determination and the help of the kind samaritan. Often you will have have no choice but to remain in the pit until time has passed – with help or without; but this time you’re glad you didn’t give up, though you know all too well that you’ll most likely be back down there again soon.

This is the reality of thousands of Australians – of millions of people worldwide. It is difficult to explain how deep that pit can seem and just how frightening it truly is, but with the right combination of a helping hand and being able to accept that help, you are afforded a real opportunity to find your way back out.

Suffering the deep pit of depression is a lonely and terrifying experience. What we don’t often realise is that when we are finally able to stand up again on the outside, we have the opportunity to take a look around and see that there are thousands more out there – some just as deep and dark as our own. If you take a walk around, you can see people trying to climb out on their own; some are struggling as hard as you just did and some perhaps even harder. If you see this, you can put your hand out and be the one to help them back up, to tell them of your recent experience and to eventually try to work together to stay above the surface. Depression is of course a much more complicated beast but for what it’s worth, if you have the opportunity and the capacity to do so, it’s never a bad idea to reach out to one-another.

There are of course the many other forms of mental illness that people suffer through every single day. It is a painful reality to know that many of the world’s kindest and most considerate people are actually battling their own demons, but there is hope if we collectively become and remain aware.

The following are statements directly from everyday people who have suffered (sometimes silently) at one point or another from a degree of mental illness. As individuals, they are all caring, kind and highly intelligent and their stories are some of the bravest you’ll hear.

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A brave mother tells of her battle with post-natal depression.

“I knew from the moment he was born that something was wrong with me.

My pregnancy had been a beautiful nine months of being at one with my body for the first time in my life. I felt a sense of peace and wonder that was so new and so calming.

But everything changed after he was born.

At first I felt as high as a kite and out of my body as my baby was passed around the delivery room from one relative to another. Then, after they left so did my elation.

Once back at home my mood worsened. The grey of the world turned black and one day I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed. I could only stare into space listening to my baby cry.

My mother moved in with us and took care of him, bringing him to me for feeds and doing all the rest for him herself. This lasted for a couple of weeks and then she would come by daily just to check and make sure we were going OK.

When she came to visit I would go out for a drive on my own, and I would fantasise about how I was going to kill myself – which tree would I drive into, where would be the least mess. I didn’t want to live, my life had no meaning, and I didn’t want my baby or the life that had been forced on me with his birth.

I recognised my symptoms and went to see a psychiatrist who recommended anti depressants. From that time on things started to settle down and I was able to build my life back up slowly. But it took a long time. A lot longer than I hoped or expected and I had to really learn to take it easy on myself, do things slowly, reach out for help, and learn to take care of myself and my needs.

My baby is 14 years old now and we’ve both come a long way.” – Blanca Luz

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An incredibly strong woman in her early twenties tells of her Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in March of 2013, a few months after my 23rd birthday. I suppose my story starts a lot earlier than that.

To society, my family was the picture perfect household. My parents were and still remain married, I have 4 siblings, attended church and although not having a lot of money, materialistically we were provided for. I have many fond memories of my childhood although a lot of it is unfortunately marred by the sexual abuse I suffered as a child at the hands of my charismatic and popular brother and the psychological abuse inflicted upon me by my mother.
I was 14 when I told a school teacher what had occurred some years previous and it is what occurred from this point on, that for me was pivotal. I was interviewed by detectives and the Department of Human Services and begged them not to tell my parents. Unfortunately due to the law, those pleas fell on deaf ears. The reaction from my family was of disbelief and denial. I was blamed, made out to be a liar and in their eyes had just shattered the ‘perfect family’ image they portrayed to everyone. I was told by my mother that my abuser ‘forgives you’ and that we would all go grab some ice cream.

After suffering anxiety and panic attacks for the remainder of my high school life, I threw myself straight into University until I was offered a full time job. I decided to leave Uni and work, hoping to saving up enough money so I could eventually move out. I eventually moved out and work had become an escape. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a bright, cheerful, bubbly and vivacious person who finds the humour in most things, however I would put on an overly cheerful and flirty persona to mask how I really felt to distract myself from my own thoughts and feelings. On the inside I was somebody who had very low self- confidence, was afraid of intimacy and when I felt like I could start a relationship, it was toxic and continued the cycle of abuse.
In 2013 I met a man and without knowing this, he groomed me and my behaviour until one day he decided to rape me. I had seen several warning signs but chose to overlook them, as all I wanted was to be loved and that I was sadly, more comfortable and familiar with being abused and mistreated than having a male be genuinely caring towards me.

Life became so hard to cope with that eventually I quit my job and found study impossible. I have intrusive memories and nightmares, avoid anything or anybody that reminds me of the trauma and am incredibly ‘jumpy’. All typical symptoms of PTSD.
Below are a few of my personal symptoms..

-Unable to sleep/Refusal to sleep/Nightmares
-Afraid to shower in case somebody was in my house
– Unable to leave my dogs in case somebody would hurt them while I was gone
– At night all my curtains must be pegged closed
-Any sudden movement, flash of light or noise and I am frozen with fear
-I could be talking to friends, colleagues and my mind hits a brick wall and I disassociate.
-I dislike being touched which makes it hard to pursue a relationship and experience memories and flashbacks.
-I isolate myself as I feel safer in my home and have more control of the things around me.
– Self harming as a coping mechanism

The main reason I wanted to write this for Leesa, was that Mental Health issues do not discriminate. I am well educated, dressed and spoken, intelligent, witty , a chocoholic who loves clothes and has a shoe collection to die for! I’m not societies misguided and ignorant image of what a ‘mentally ill’ person should look like.
With the help of a Psychologist I continue to work through my PTSD and my past but refuse to let it define who I am. I am NOT my mental illness. I am Casey who plays netball, who loves a coffee with girlfriends, swims, loves animals, laughs till it hurts and a million and one other things before I’m Casey who has PTSD.”
– Casey N

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A young woman tells of her fight with overwhelming anxiety and depression.

“’You don’t have to control your thoughts, you just have to stop letting them control you.’

I was a regular 17 year old school girl when I tasted my first moment of darkness. To this day, I don’t know why or how I became a victim of Anxiety, but for 9 years it consumed me. It began small, but over time it became something that affected me each and every day. I was embarrassed, ashamed, confused, lonely and everything in between. Convinced no one would understand, I had built up a stigma on mental illness and made assumptions on how people would respond. In doing this, I had forced myself to suffer in silence. For this reason alone, I lost touch with the outside world and struggled to find my place in it. Over time my anxiety got worse and soon followed depression. If I have any piece of advice from my own experience, it’s to share your story, don’t hide. I spent years making excuses on why I couldn’t do certain things, losing friends in the process because I couldn’t be honest. Find the people that love you, the way you need to be loved and open up to them. I promise they WILL understand, maybe not exactly how you feel or what it actually feels like, but they will support you. It took me 9 years to find that strength, to open up completely to those closest to me, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It gave me freedom, a chance to get closer to people. I no longer make excuses, I no longer hide. My mind just works a little differently than others and that’s OK. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, there is no stereotype, no discrimination – it can affect anyone. Don’t be afraid to see a psychologist or simply talk to a friend – DO NOT carry this burden alone. Whether it’s anxiety, depression or any form of mental illness, there is always help available – ACCEPT IT! I cannot stress this enough and to put it simply, without it I wouldn’t be here. It took one woman – a complete stranger and many hours of support to save my life. It’s a hard and long road to recovery, one that I still work toward every day. And although I no longer struggle with depression, I am still greatly working against anxiety. So enjoy small steps and reward any form of growth, slowly but surely you can move forward to a better future.” – Lauren B

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The strength of this wife shines through as she tells of her battle with depression while coping with her husband’s severe medical conditions.

“In all reality I must have been suffering from depression since childhood. As much as my mum loved me she at times mentally and emotionally abused me. It was tough going through the things I went through. I finally decided to go get myself properly diagnosed at the end of 2001 after spending 8 months overseas with my in-laws. I have struggled ever since. I have found that if I don’t take my meds on a regular basis and stick with it I become so mentally unstable I can’t cope. 2013 has been the worst year of my life…my beloved husband got so sick with Sepsis that he had to have both his legs and fingers of both hands amputated at various points. He is a double-lung recipient and has gone through so much….I lost it when I found out that what had happened to my husband was preventable. I was so devastated that I stopped taking my meds and I literally went crazy with grief. I took check of my life when I realised I was lashing out at my husband and he really didn’t deserve it. I got back on my meds and have been stable since then. There is no shame in having a mental illness.” – Ruth P

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The stigma of mental illness is something I cannot fathom – we don’t seem to judge those who are psychically ill, but rather tend to embrace and comfort them. Though, to find out that someone is burdened with a mental illness can often lead to ridicule and a parade of misinformed assumptions. One of the most common and broad misconceptions about mental health is that it is an inherent weakness in the individual that is causing or propelling the illness. In actual fact, the cause of mental illness is a genetic predisposition in combination with environmental factors, sometimes including (but not limited to) upbringing.

Another and perhaps the most common misconception is that mental illness only affects a few people. In reality, 20% of Australians suffer from mental illness; these are people from all ages, backgrounds, cultures and socio-economic states. Mental illness does not discriminate – anyone could be a sufferer and you (or even they) may never even know it. The figure of ‘one in five’ is also possibly deceptively low – there are a lot of people who have never sought help, or do not even know that they are ill.

Try to remember, you are not alone. There will always be someone to speak to, no matter what you feel you need to discuss. If you are not a sufferer of mental illness, please try to eliminate the stigma from your mind. You wouldn’t be critical or judgemental of someone with a physical illness – the only difference is the deafening silence of mental illness – it does not always make itself obvious.

Reach out for help when needed, reach out and accept the help if offered and reach out to offer help if you can. Whoever you are, please make sure to reach out; it could save a life – possibly even your own.

This post is the beginning of a series of personal experiences and stories from those who suffer from mental illness. There are many more stories of strength to be shared in the next post, and the one immediately following will involve my own personal experience with anxiety and depression.

There is no shame in mental illness – you are not alone.

If you, or someone you know needs someone to talk to, you can contact:

Lifeline
on 13 11 14

Beyond Blue
on 1300 22 4636

In memory of Michael

Manus Island guards allowed armed locals into the centre to attack asylum seekers

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Corroborating all accounts from Tara Moss’ contact from earlier today, ABC’s 7:30 has reported an eye witness account of the Manus Island bloodshed. Compounding this injustice, the information comes after the ABC today revealed that former Sri Lankan military officer, Dinesh Perera is the operations manager of Manus Island detention centre.

The witness has told 7:30 that guards freely allowed locals armed with makeshift weapons into the centre where they viciously attacked asylum seekers.

Coming as no surprise, 7:30’s Liam Cochrane explains that the G4S guards do not let any media near the facility, as was previously exemplified by the reported removal of a SMH journalists’ camera and phone. The ABC was also threatened with arrest by local police in an attempt to prompt them to delete footage.

Cochrane further explains that that night there were “expatriate G4S guards, mostly Australian” in attendance and that “there were also Papua New Guinean G4S guards, some in uniform, some out of uniform, and some in riot gear, known as the IRT, or Incident Response Team. PNG’s mobile squad were the only ones with guns and a crowd of locals gathered to watch a standoff that continued for several hours.”

What then followed were chilling words from 7:30’s witness: “The police fired warning shots and that scared the clients and they went into their rooms, so that’s when the G4S went in. And when the G4S get into the camp, they belt, they fight with the clients and belt them very badly and same are wounded, blood run over their face.”

Most damning was the certainty with which the witness describes the account. After being questioned about whether he is sure if it was locals who entered or not, this person explains that, “Yeah, of course. They’re some locals. Because the locals came to see what’s happening. They’re on the road and see what’s happening, so when the fence, the gates just – the G4S guards just break down the fence. They told everybody to go in and stop them and hit them and fight them, so that’s when the locals get in.”

Cochrane asks if it is true that the G4S guards allowed the locals inside. The witness answers again with absolute certainty, “Yeah. Because the G4S guards want manpower to help them, so they took them inside, the locals helped them.”

It is a tale of a nightmare worse than you or I could imagine. 7:30 reports that asylum seekers hiding from the violence were dragged out and brutally assaulted and the witness corroborates by explaining the hatred the guards showed for these innocent detainees, “When they get in they are so angry, they like they are in a war or something, they are not happy, their faces are so serious. They go in and belt the clients up.”

Angry and violent G4S guards took turns assaulting their cowering victims, seemingly taking pleasure in their task.

As for Reza Berati, the 23-year-old Iranian man who lost his life in the attacks, he was reportedly “hit with lengths of wood, with metal poles taken from beds and had his head or neck stomped”.

We will not rest until Manus is shut down permanently. We will continue to fight for these innocent detainees who are living in fear every single day as a result of our own heinous system.

Read the entire transcript on ABC’s website here.

UPDATE:
Tara Moss has since posted a statement on her website, taramoss.com with links to corroborate her entire original statement. You can read this in full here.

Related:
Tara Moss reveals disturbing details about the murder on Manus
March in March Australia against the Abbott Government

Thank you to Tara Moss for bringing this further information to my attention:

“The information in this breaking ABC report (below) is consistent with the information given to me by my anonymous contact at Manus Island. Expat G4S guards appear to have tried to calm the situation, while PNG G4S allegedly fired shots in the compound and fought and assaulted asylum seekers along with a number of PNG locals who reportedly entered the area with makeshift weapons to attack the people in the compound:

‘The expatriate guards reportedly stayed out of the violence for the most part, trying to calm the situation and overseeing operations.’

‘Some of the asylum seekers who tried to escape the violence by hiding in a gym were dragged out and brought brutally assaulted.’

http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2013/s3951437.htm

Tara Moss reveals disturbing details about the murder on Manus

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Journalist, author, television presenter and former model Tara Moss, has today revealed information she received from a contact of hers who, in a disturbing turn of events, can no longer be reached for confirmation that he is okay.

In a chilling re-telling of Reza Berati’s final moments, she describes what was told to her shortly after it occurred. Maintaining her decency and integrity, she first waited for confirmation of the details before speaking out:

“I have been struggling with the ethics of sharing this information, but now, as the info I was given has been corroborated elsewhere, I feel I must: One of my long standing crime research contacts informed me of what happened on Manus Island, shortly after it happened. He is currently stationed there and worked on the now deceased Mr Reza Berati for 20 minutes before he passed. He described Mr Berati as an ‘exemplary human being’ showing ‘all the hallmarks’ of someone who would be ‘an asset to any community’. My contact, who wished to remain anonymous because they all sign confidentiality contracts, gave me a full run down on the events, before the details became public: the ’20+ shots fired’ (not ‘a couple’ as previously claimed). The spent shells. The evacuation of staff (but not asylum seekers) before the violence began. The fact that people from outside came in and opened fire on the people there. The fact that it happened deep within the compound where people were trapped, far from the entry gate. All of his info has proved true so far. Every last detail. And though he is stationed there, and can’t speak publicly, he wanted me to know that many of the staff there are excellent, highly-qualified expat Australians doing the best they can in bad conditions, but that Manus Island detention centre should be shut down as unsafe. Since this conversation, my contact has been unreachable and I have not been able to get any further info or to find out if he is okay.”
From Tara Moss’ Facebook page

Reza Berati’s death was a tragedy and the lack of media coverage is disturbing. Thanks to individuals who have been brave enough to reveal such details as above – we would know near to nothing factual otherwise.

To those who were injured and intimidated during the Manus attacks and to those still detained for simply seeking asylum, we will continue to fight for your rights and immediate safety.

To Reza, we will fight for justice. We’re so sorry that this was allowed to happen to you.

UPDATE:
Tara Moss has since posted a statement on her website, taramoss.com with links to corroborate her entire original statement. You can read this in full here.

Related:
Manus Island guards allowed armed locals into the centre to attack asylum seekers
March in March Australia against the Abbott Government
Tony Abbott’s message removed – what happens next?

Offensive propaganda allegedly pushed by Liberal MP at Edith Cowan University

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Image credit: Aussies Against The Abbott Government

“Proud Liberal – Because not everyone can be on welfare”
“If Labor is the answer, how stupid is the question?”
“Green is the new red”
“Lefty free zone”

These have to be seen to be believed. Earlier this evening, it was revealed that students at Edith Cowan University (Joondalup campus) were handing out these stickers at their Orientation Day today.

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Image credit: Aussies Against The Abbott Government

It should come as no surprise that these images of offensive Liberal stickers were making the rounds online tonight, prompting both public outrage and feelings of shame towards the young Australians who handed them out. What was not expected however, was who exactly now seems to be the source of this offensive muck; Federal Liberal MP, Ian Goodenough. The extent of his involvement is not certain, though to stand behind these stickers is enough.

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Image source: aph.gov.au

Students, along with the local member for Moore, did their best to promote hatred towards those who aren’t Liberals and those who are disabled, unemployed, aged, a carer or on Newstart (as many students at Orientation would have been) with the attitude, “Go Liberal or go home”.

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Image credit: Aussies Against The Abbott Government

As generally decent human beings, we are able to identify the maliciousness behind these stickers and are well-aware to steer clear of such rubbish. It is unfortunate however, that we are still witnessing that the very same hate-mongering that won the LNP the election is alive and well, even amongst our youth.

It’s safe to say that Goodenough, this is just not good enough. Trying to warp young minds – while typical of LNP – should not be a tactic undertaken by any politician, especially at a university Orientation Day.

The Daily Telegraph Disrespects Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death By Calling Him A “Junkie”

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From Screen Crave.

Given the tragedy that was the news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death this morning, you’d think that major publications would walk a respectful line. Though, it’s evident that the Daily Telegraph feels justified in being disrespectful, headlining their front page with the chilling words, “KIDS GRIEVE FOR JUNKIE ACTOR DAD”. While the world media published carefully-worded stories regarding the late husband and father’s passing, the Tele chose to mock PSH’s admitted years of/struggle with sobriety and the label in which they chose to do so with was disgraceful and appalling.

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From the Daily Telegraph.

For those in doubt, the Google cache does not lie…

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They of course did not hesitate in exploiting his death either; their website is draped in PSH stories already, with the first four alone based on him.

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From the Daily Telegraph.

It is well-known that the Daily Telegraph is good for well, lining bird cages only, but it’s doubtful that anyone would think they’d so blatantly disrespect the tragic death of a father.

It seems now that the Tele has responded to feedback from the public and have since changed the headline to, “Revealed: Seymour Hoffman’s last hours” (note their sudden lack of caps). Unfortunately for the Tele, the internet does not forget and their disrespect has been shared by many.

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From the Daily Telegraph.

Rest in peace Philip Seymour Hoffman. Kindest and deepest condolences to his family.

Tony Abbott’s ‘Message from the PM’ removed by Youtube. What happens next?

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When Abbott proudly posted his “Message from the PM – Delivering on Our Promises”, YouTube was quick to shut it down as “deceptive content”. What happens next is all too predictable…

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