Letters 3.10.20

Apt tribute

I THINK it is both fantastic and clever of Transperth to pay tribute to our fallen heroes and I love what they have done to my local bus stop in North Fremantle.

Perhaps now a potential tagger/vandal may stop before they start and ideally (should they choose to go ahead and tag) they can be charged with desecration of a war memorial (which is what the bus stop has effectively become) as against receiving a nominal fine and a slap on the wrist.

For the rest of us, we are given cause to stop and reflect as we wait for our busses.

Stephen White
North Fremantle

Victims need an advocate

FIRSTLY, I would like to offer thanks to your newspaper for printing the article “The uphill battle to bring a monster to justice” (Herald, September 19, 2020).

Telling my story is not about being brave; my aim is to draw attention to a broken justice system.

I have a responsibility to make sure that the same difficulties I suffered during my legal journey over last 20 years to hold my abuser to account don’t affect future victims. I feel I must simply state that the agencies set up to protect and support victims are currently failing.

The occurrence of mistakes and discouragement by police, public prosecutors’ offices and parole boards I dealt with in both WA and NSW are too numerous to recount, but I believe that many would not have occurred if my first point of contact with the legal process as a victim/complainant was a state-appointed victims’ advocate.

Several overseas countries have a system of victims’ advocates – a person who holds the victim’s hand through the nightmare from start to finish, advising on the legal process and the victim’s rights. A similar system was proposed by the previous Commissioner for Victims of Crime Jennifer Hoffman. Unfortunately, with changes in state governments, these proposed reforms were ignored.

(Political vagary was made evident to me in a letter from WA attorney general John Quigley who, though he argued for bail to be revoked in regards the Evil 

8 paedophiles three years ago, wrote last week that the courts are independent and that he as the attorney general couldn’t pressure the judiciary to revoke my rapist’s bail even though he pled guilty in court.)

The statistics are appalling. There would be a public outcry if the crimes were more evident.  Over 20 per cent of Australian women will experience sexual violence after the age of 15. 1 in 10 women will be sexually abused before the age of 15. 

But less than 20 per cent of incidents are reported to police. Only 10 per cent of those reported crimes result in a conviction and a fraction of convicted sex offenders receive a custodial sentence. (Men are abused and assaulted at about half these rates.)

It is critical that victims come forward and report these crimes. 

This will only occur when victims are provided support from the moment that they walk into a local police station. 

If we fail to provide this support, victims will remain silent and the perpetrators will continue to commit crimes resulting in a disheartening number of young adults resorting to self-harm, drugs or suicide.

Victims’ advocacy is vital. 

Julie Morgan
Fremantle

Heavy heart

IT is with some reluctance that I found myself writing to the Melville city councillors and asking for their support.

I have lived with my family in the City of Melville for some 47 years and I have been in business in the city for the same length of time; never in those years have I found it necessary to protest as I am today about the councillors’ actions in regard to the lease on the Melville Bowling Club land.

Never in all my dealings in the commercial world with landlords in standalone shops and in regional shopping centres have I ever heard such bizarre conditions that have been suggested for the Melville Bowling Club and its small number of supporters.

To grant a 50-year lease with an attempt to seek a 49-year option at less than $1,000 per annum is ridiculous; it would also appear that the leaseholder would then have free rein to do as they wish with the property.

As I understand it the conditions being considered will prevent the City of Melville from being able to intervene and the Bowling Club can then do as it wishes for at least 50 years.

What surprises me is the public consultation which would be necessary to grant such an enlarged contract with the Bowling Club was not given out for public consultation.

As elected representatives of the community in the City of Melville I ask our councillors to rescind the entire lease offer to the Melville Bowling Club and start a proper enquiry and consultation with the community to define what the community wishes are.

My experience would suggest that a 5-year lease with a 5-year option would be adequate; furthermore, in the world in which we live today whether bowling clubs in their current format will continue is up for debate, hence it’s important that the City of Melville have the opportunity to intervene in such contracts so as to see the outcome is for the good of the greater community.

As I stated previously, I have lived in the City of Melville for over 40 years, raised my family and run several successful businesses.

It is with a heavy heart I found it necessary to protest to the council for the first time.

Michael Dillon Melville
Ed’s note:
Mr Dillon was previously Melville’s Citizen of the Year.

Time to kill it off for ever

THE World Day Against the Death Penalty, held each year on October 10, is an important moment to shine a light on the continuing injustice of the death penalty. 

When Amnesty International started campaigning against the death penalty in 1977, only 16 countries had abolished it. Today, 106 countries have abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes and 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

Today, four journalists in Yemen face the death penalty simply for telling the world the truth about suffering in Yemen. 

Every day, journalists around the world face intimidation, imprisonment and violence, for reporting on human right violations. 

No-one should ever be sentenced to death, let alone for just for doing their job.

Together we have had an impact and we will continue to challenge this injustice until it is abolished for everyone, everywhere.

For more information: https://www.amnesty.org.au/campaigns/end-the-death-penalty/ 

Libby Williams
Amnesty International Fremantle Action Group

More agony 

THE federal government is pushing an amendment to the Immigration Act, to increase their powers of search and seizure in immigration detention centres. 

The amendment has passed the House and is coming before the Senate on October 6. 

The government argues that the amendment is necessary to preserve security. It will allow “authorised persons” to search and seize “prohibited items” (which include mobile phones) even without any suspicion. 

There is no need for this amendment – the government already has the power to seize prohibited items. 

The problem is that the government has moved criminals into immigration detention centres, mixing them with innocent asylum seekers, creating security risks. 

Now they want to use that self-created problem as an excuse to further punish asylum seekers who have committed no crime. 

The asylum seekers’ mobile phones are an easily accessible lifeline to friends, family, medical and legal advice, crucially important for the physical and mental health of people who have for years been unreasonably deprived of their liberty and dignity. 

Access to mobile phones is so vital to refugees that some on the hell-hole of Nauru are refusing to be transferred to Australia for fear of having their phones confiscated.

Mobile phones can also be used to reveal the abuses that occur within our detention centres, as Behrouz Boochani has demonstrated with his award-winning book, to document and publish the shocking and demoralising conditions asylum seekers endure.

Acting immigration minister Tudge has declared; “I am disgusted with those who would stand with those crooks – those disgraceful, disgusting individuals, rather than stand for the protection of children and innocent people.”

How ironic. With the draconian and demeaning refugee regime this government has imposed, acting minister Tudge is the one who is failing to protect children and innocent people. 

Once again, the government is using every opportunity to demean asylum seekers, tarring them with the “criminal” brush. 

With this amendment, the government is callously and needlessly dispensing more agony to the helpless.

Tom Vosmer
Fremantle

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