Apology to the Stolen Generations, 11 years on.

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Kahlin Compound, Darwin (1913 – 1939)

February 13th marks the 11th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. A date when the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd used the first order of business of the new parliament to formally apologise to the Stolen Generations on behalf of the Australian Government.

The National Apology to the Stolen Generations was a significant event in Australia’s history; many seeing this as an important step in the process of reconciliation and for many members of the Stolen Generation an acknowledgment of the pain and suffering they had experienced.

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The Bungalow, Alice Springs (1914 – 1942)

Eleven years on, many highlight the continued disparity between the experiences of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in this country. CEO of the Healing Foundations Richard Weston (2018) and CEO for Reconciliation Australia Karen Mundine (2018) note that the Apology was only a starting point with serious continued commitment needed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to be able to tackle the intergenerational trauma caused by past policies and to begin to heal.

 

It is widely acknowledged that the policies of the Stolen Generations have had long-lasting and continued effects on Aboriginal people and Aboriginal communities. If you or someone you know is a member of the Stolen Generations there are support services available.

Here at Relationships Australia NT we offer a range of services relevant to members of the Stolen Generations.

  • Find & Connect Program provides free face to face & telephone counselling, social events and record searching for people who grew up in institutional care such as orphanages, foster care, children’s homes and missions from the 1920s to the 1980s.
  • Redress Scheme Support Service offers people wishing to apply for the National Redress Scheme assistance in completing the Redress application process. Survivors of Institutionalised sexual abuse.
  • Healing Our Children (HOC) Program uses the knowledge and wisdom of Elders and the latest research in neuroscience and attachment theory to create a culturally safe conversation around the effects of violence and trauma on children with the aim of strengthening families through early intervention.

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There are also Aboriginal Organisations offering similar services:

  • NT Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation Tel: (08) 89479171 and,
  • Danila Dilba (08) 8942 5400

We have included some helpful links for anyone interested in learning more about the National Apology to the Stolen Generations:


Our sources for this article:

Mundine, K 09/02/2018 ‘Apology anniversary time to reflect on historical acceptance’, Reconciliation Australia [media release] https://www.reconciliation.org.au/apology-anniversary-time-reflect-historical-acceptance/

Weston, R 12/02/2018 ‘National Apology was starting point, not solution: Stolen Generations trauma continues’, Croakey https://croakey.org/national-apology-was-starting-point-not-solution-trauma-of-stolen-generations-continues-today/

How do I know if my child is being bullied? 5 key indicators

There are many signs and symptoms of bullying, but we’ve chosen 5 key signs for you to recognise when your child is being bullied, plus some steps to take in the presence of bullying.

We recognise that the impact that bullying can have not only on the child themselves but also the parents and family. It can be helpful for parents to recognise some signs and not underestimate the lasting effects of schoolyard taunting.

1. Avoiding school

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When a child is verbalising a desire to not go to school or has a noticeable decline in school performance, these are obvious warning signals

2. Injuries or lost property

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If a child is coming home from school with lost or destroyed property and/or unexplained injuries, this could be an immediate

3. Mood and behaviour changes

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Parents should be alert to changes in mood, behaviour and physical appearance of their children. Moodiness, irritability and withdrawal, along with difficulties getting out of bed could be something other than just teen angst.

4. Health changes

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Being aware of changes in eating habits, frequent stomach or headaches and faking illnesses is important as these may indicate anxiety.

5. Social life

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It is also important to take note of how your child is socialising. While kids are known to chop and change groups as they mature, sudden social withdrawal and loss of friends may indicate more than the natural transience of childhood friendships.


So, what can be done?

Acknowledging bullying can seem daunting for both children and parents. Naming the issue might make it seem bigger than you want it to be, or a real problem for which you don’t have a tangible solution or parental wisdom.

    • Stay calm and positive and listen to your child. Do not dismiss their concerns or encourage them to sort it out themselves.
    • You are not alone in this issue; the school doesn’t want your child to feel ostracised or uncomfortable. Find out what supports are in place and how they can assist your child in the school domain.
    • Ensuring that your child has a confidant at school and encouraging them to report incidents and understand that it is OK to do so, can also help inspire security.
    • Parents must explain to their children that bullying is not their fault.
    • Don’t let bullying dominate your child’s life, focus on developing new skills and encourage healthy outlets outside of school where they can form meaningful bonds and develop new skills.
    • Confidence is key, as body language can speak volumes. Work strategies with your children, such as appearing confident even if they feel insecure on the inside. Just practising saying NO firmly can create confidence as well as acting unimpressed or unaffected.

 

Relationships Australia NT offers individual, couple and family counselling, relationship education and skill-building courses including Parenting courses. For more information please call us on (08) 8923 4999.

MAFS is back, but what does it really take to make a relationship work?

It’s a New Year, which many people see as a great time for a fresh start. Resolutions are made and plans put in place for revised habits; go to the gym more often, eat better, read 10 books, have some ‘me’ time or really connect with the kids. It’s also the time of year for new TV series; countdown to Game of Thrones, sitting back watching the tennis and a new season of Married at First Sight (MAFS).

MAFS

The participants of the Married at First Sight 2019 experiment have just been announced. There’s a variety of different characters, including a 29-year-old virgin and a self-proclaimed ‘dater’ of married men. There are also plenty of specific requirements that contestants have listed for their potential wife or husband to possess:
• Jennifer Hawkins’ looks,
• ability to get on with large extended family,
• confidence,
• matching a fashion,
• or skincare regime.

Regardless of what you think of the MAFS experiment, it does raise questions about how relationships should work. So, what does it really take to make a marriage, or committed couple relationship work?

Well, it is less about what each person ‘possess’ and much more about how each person relates and responds to the other. It is less about them having to accept specific aspects of our lives and much more about each person’s overall views and general approach to being in a relationship with someone.

Here are three key approaches to relationships to consider for making your marriage or committed couple relationship work:

1. Fun in the everyday and mundane
A vast amount of our lives and therefore relationships are taken up with needing to carry out repetitive, daily, weekly or monthly tasks, jobs, chores, cleaning, cooking, shopping, fixing, sorting, organising and arranging. There’s little point feeling resentful about these things and a lot more point in relishing getting tasks done either together or for the benefit of your lives together.

 

2. Balance in everything we do
We have all heard of needing to spend more time with our partner as important, but we must also value own interests. This balance is key in relationships, for example:
• Needing to connect with the other person but not being connected all day,
• Doing things as a family but not ‘helicopter parenting’ our kids,
• Having a good work ethic but not being a workaholic.
We need a general view of having balance in all we do (even not overeating kale!) Have a read of On Marriage by world-renowned Lebanese-American poet Karl Gibran below.

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via  www.katsandogz.com

3. Foundational Friendship
Through everyday mundane tasks and balance getting out of whack, the friendship in a couple relationships can slip. Sometimes we don’t consider that our partner can also be someone we share a deep, connected and fun friendship with. Leading relationship specialists Julie and John Gottman, show in their research that the foundation of a sturdy ‘marital house’ ultimately needs to be a friendship; liking and genuinely being interested in the other person, for who they are and what they are about. Find, increase or keep up, ways to make the friendship with your partner a deep, fun and connected one. You can also download the Gottman couple app – a fun way to improve your friendship with helpful questions, statements, and ideas.

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Get off to the best start ever in 2019 by attending one of our three upcoming couple relationship courses. Couple connect and Building Better Relationships offer up to date tips, provide opportunities to practice new skills and a dedicated time and place to get it back on track or fine-tuning your relationship.

Couple Connect – 4-hour workshop, $ 80 per couple

Wednesdays February 6th & 13 6.00-8.00pm

Fridays BYO lunch 1-hour sessions 12-1pm March 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th

Building Better Relationships – 12-hour workshop, over 6 weeks, $220 per couple

Mondays February 18th – March 25th 6.00-8.00pm

Booking essential – call 8923 4999

Contact us

10 tips for having a stress-free Christmas

17th December 2018

Christmas is fast approaching. For many Christmas is a day filled with family, friends, gifts, good food and good times. But for some people, it can be a challenge. Services close during the holiday break, health professionals go on vacation and there’s a perceived social pressure that demands happiness and participation.

To help you through the coming holiday period, below are 10 tips to reduce stress over Christmas.

1. Plan, walk and talk

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Make sure all your medications are up to date. Use exercise, like walking, to help alleviate stress when you sense a trigger. Talk to someone prior to Christmas Day, ask them to help you rehearse and revise your coping mechanisms.

2. Keep it simple

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If you are feeling overwhelmed with things to do, write a list and slowly work through it. Write the most important things at the top, and then work your way down, one task at a time.

3. Use the past to your advantage

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Look back and learn from past Christmas. What worked and what didn’t? Were there situations, people, or events that adversely affected you? How did you respond and can you see a pattern in these past experiences? Use the positive coping skills you have used in the past to help you this year.

4. Find time for yourself

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Make space for solitude and do what recharges you. This will stop you from burning the candle at both ends and trying to meet the heightened expectations of Christmas.

5. Be honest with yourself, friends and family

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If you can’t do something or be somewhere, apologise and tell them early. Explain that you’re struggling mentally, burnt out, or that crowds, questions or people are too overwhelming at the moment. Say you’re not in a good place right now and it’s nothing personal and you wish them the best and appreciate their understanding.
Ask for their understanding and support. You’ll be surprised how many people understand. If they don’t that’s ok too. This honesty gives you space to choose when to contact people and not feel pressured.

6. Choose who you celebrate with

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Spend time with the people who really love and cherish you and limit or avoid spending time with those who don’t. Remember that you are allowed to have a happy Christmas too.

7. Look ahead

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Limit your exposure to people who are draining and plan something you really want to do after Christmas. This way you have something to look forward to. It could be as simple as going for a walk or reading a book.

8. Manage your energy

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Give only as much as you have to. Keep your interactions short and be open and honest about how you’re feeling with at least one support person. It can be hard to set boundaries. But sometimes you just have to say no. It can be very scary putting yourself first but those who really care will understand.
Try to spend time with people who energise you rather than those who drain you. In the lead-up to this Christmas surround yourself with supportive people, minimise stressors, keep to your routines and think about how involved you would like to be in Christmas, knowing that it’s okay to not go beyond your capabilities or preference.

9. Find a safe space

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If you have to go to a Christmas lunch or dinner, but don’t feel comfortable, find a quiet spot to have a break when you get overwhelmed.

10. Debrief with a trusted support

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Talk to someone before and after you attend a stressful event. This can be a mental health professional, a helpline, or somebody close to you.

If you need support during the December and January period please call Relationships Australia NT on (08) 8923 4999. Our counsellors can help people through stressful periods like Christmas. Please be aware of our holiday closure period

Information Source: SANE Australia & Relationships Australia NT

Men’s Health Week – 12th June 2018

Did you know that the health status of males in most countries, including Australia, is generally poorer than that of females? And that more males die at every stage through the life course, more males have accidents, more males take their own lives and more males suffer from lifestyle-related health conditions than females at the same age.

June 11 – 17 marks Men’s Health Week which provides a platform for challenging and debating key issues in men’s health and to raise the profile of men, their health outcomes and health needs around the country.

Relationships Australia NT Counsellor Barry, shares some of his insights into issues affecting men in our society:

Physical and Mental Health

It’s certainly heartening to note the changes in community attitudes towards men’s health that have occurred over the past decade or so. There is now much greater promotion and acceptance of the importance of men taking responsibility for their overall health. Men are now more likely to maintain a healthy diet and to recognise the physical and mental health benefits of regular exercise and regular check-ups with their GP. Thanks to the work of organisations such as Beyond Blue, much of the stigma which used to be associated with addressing mental health issues has now been removed.

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Fathering

Changes in society that have resulted in a greater acceptance of both partners working have meant that traditional ideas about family life are no longer so relevant. Men do not have to see themselves as principally ‘providers’ or ‘breadwinners’, they can also take on more of a nurturing role in the lives of their children. While we may not often think of fathering as being related to health issues, such changes offer a better work/life balance for men and the opportunity for stronger relationships with their children – an investment in the health of future generations

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Emotional and Relational Health

In my experience of counselling men over the last 15 years, it’s in the areas of emotional and relational health that men are not doing so well. An illustrative story: Steve (who is an amalgamation of a number of men I’ve seen over the years) has been in a heterosexual relationship for 10 years, and he and his partner have two young children. He has come to counselling at the urging of his partner because she and the children have started to become scared by some of his behaviours. Steve is very clear that he doesn’t want them to feel scared but frustration seems to take over at times. As we talk, he starts to understand that some of the ways of being a man that our Australian society still promotes (even though this is changing) are really not helpful for his relationship – including maintaining a strong facade, pushing hard for his way of doing things, having a ‘blokey’ approach to drinking and sport–watching. Steve decides to work on some changes, for his own good and the good of his relationship

We need more Steve’s in the community! Steve’s who step up, face up and make a strong commitment to taking responsibility. Unfortunately, we know that all too frequently nothing happens until there is a violent incident, people are hurt and the police are called – and perhaps the relationship breaks down. We as men need to take collective responsibility for noticing attitudes and beliefs that promote dominant or abusive ways of being, and work to replace these with attitudes that promote respectful ways of being. If we are able to do this, then there will be a chance for better emotional and relational health for men – and for women and children

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If you, or someone close to you, is experiencing similar issues to Steve and would like to talk about it please contact Relationships Australia NT on 1300 364 277

For more information on Men’s Health Week go to: http://www.menshealthweek.org.au

 

 

 

 

International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia – 17th May 2018

Thursday, 17 May is International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia. It is a day to support the LGBTI community by showing our appreciation of the positive contribution they bring to society, and stand together against harassment and discrimination.

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Homophobia, biphobia, intersexism and transphobia, can be described as the invalidation of, oppression towards, irrational fear, aversion to, discrimination against, negatives attitudes and feelings towards people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender. Although many laws exist to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the LGBTI community continues to endure discrimination and hate.

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So how can you help your friends, family, colleagues and community? This IDAHOBIT let’s stand together against discrimination and prejudice, and use some simple strategies which encourage equality and inclusiveness.

  1. Challenge homophobic, biphobic, intersexism and transphobic language and behaviors.

The term ‘gay’ is sometimes used in a negative or derogatory way like “work is gay” or “that’s gay”. Although often perceived as harmless, the negative meanings of the statement can have an impact on a LGBTI person’s mental health. When it is safe, challenge these statements, and notify the person using them that this language is unacceptable and offensive to others whether or not they are aware if it.

2.Raise awareness

Show your support and raise awareness by participating in awareness days and events like IDAHOBIT, Wear it Purple day (31 August) and pride festivals. Awareness days provide the perfect opportunity to educate friends, family and colleagues on the continuing issues faced by the LGBTI community, talk positively about sexual diversity, and remind people that negative remarks about a person’s gender and sexuality are offensive and unacceptable.

  1. Avoid assumptions

Assuming that a person is ‘straight’ can have an impact on a LGBTI person, as it may show them that their gender diversity is not accepted or normal. Challenge assumptions by not assuming that you know someone’s sexuality based on how they look or behave, and avoid asking questions like “do you have a boyfriend” to women and “do you have a girlfriend” to men. Instead, be more inclusive by asking non-gender specific questions like “do you have a partner”, “what gender pro-noun do you prefer” and “what is your preferred name”. This change in terminology and avoidance of assumptions can help people from the LGBTI community feel more comfortable, safe and included.

  1. Offer support

If a person is experiencing harassment and discrimination, it is important to show the person that they are supported and the behaviour towards them is not acceptable. Report harassment or bullying in the workplace or school, demonstrate that it will not be tolerated, and that they are important to the community, their feelings are valid and that they can ask and receive support when needed.

  1. Support at Relationships Australia NT

Relationships Australia NT provides a welcoming and accessible service to people who identify as LGBTI and/or gender diverse. Our service is culturally appropriate, supportive and respectful to the needs of the local LGBTI and gender diverse community.

This year on IDAHOBIT, stand up to show your support and celebrate our communities’ strength, resilience and diversity. Take the pledge to support your LGBTI friends, family, colleagues and community, stand against harassment and discrimination, never stay silent when discrimination is occurring, speak up against bullying and never be a bystander.

More Information

If you would like more information on the experiences of discrimination and mental health difficulties of the LGBTI community please see the following resources.

  • Beyond Blue; “In my Shoes: experiences of discrimination, depression and anxiety among gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex people; http://resources.beyondblue.org.au/prism/file?token=BL/1013
  • National LGBTI Health Alliance; “LGBTI People: Mental Health & Suicide”; https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/bw0258-lgbti-mental-health-and-suicide-2013-2nd-edition.pdf?sfvrsn=2
  • Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society; “Private Lives 2: The second national survey of the health and wellbeing of GLBT Australians”; https://www.glhv.org.au/sites/default/files/PrivateLives2Report.pdf

Relationships Australia NT can provide counselling, psycho-social support, family support, dispute resolution, relationship education, and a range of other services to the NT community, both urban and remote. We employ experienced and qualified professional staff to provide support to individuals, couples and families to enhance, maintain or where necessary, manage changes in their relationships. For more information on the services we provide and how we can help contact us on (08) 8923 499 or visit www.nt.relationships.org.au.

Mother, Mum, Mama, Madre, MA na, Induk, Ewe, Mimbani. 9th May 2018

What makes a mother? Who are mothers? Is a mother the person who carries a child for nine months, giving birth and raising the child as their own? Or are mother’s adoptive parents, foster carers, custodians, caregivers, protectors, guardians and carers of a child?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary ‘mother’ describes ‘a female parent; maternal tenderness or affection’. The definition doesn’t describe a mother as needing a biological link with a child. Instead, the word is used as a verb (a doing word); the word ‘mother’ encompasses a way of living and caring, it embodies the qualities and characteristic of a mother without the limitations of a direct link.

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For some people, the description of ‘mother’ can become complicated and has multiple experiences and feelings attached to its meaning and relationship. During the twentieth century in Australia, it is estimated that 500,000 children grew up in institutions (Government homes, missions, children’s homes and boarding schools). These children did not experience what many would consider the traditional family household (nuclear family). Sadly, many of these children typically grew up in neglectful and sometimes abusive conditions, where they had no access to a loving caregiver, a person who they could confide in and trust. For these children, their biological mother was not their primary caregiver, and as a result the experience of not having a mother was a different and sometimes traumatic experience.

We can all acknowledge the importance of having a maternal figure in our life. For many people, being a mother or having a mother does not require a biological link or even being female to promote love, affection, caring and bonding. A mother’s love via care-giving, foster and adoption is no less important or less valued then others.

Mother’s Day is a day to appreciate mothers by all definitions, and acknowledge their value, importance and care they give. This Mothers Day, find the person who encompasses the meaning of being a mother to you, the person who plays a significant role in you life and show them how important they are to you.

Mother’s Day can be a challenging time for people affected by adoption. Choosing an appropriate card can be fraught with conflicting emotions. Jigsaw Queensland has an adoption-appropriate Mother’s Day Card for sale. This card has been developed by people affected by adoption. It is available for purchase in Australia only.

https://www.jigsawqueensland.com/product-page/mother-s-day-card

If you are affected by this and would like to speak to someone about the issues which impact you, please call us on (08) 8923 4999.

 

Sydney’s 40th Mardi Gras – A Celebration! 15th March 2018

You are beautiful

Your being different doesn’t threaten me

I am open & thankful

Your difference, your contrast

Enriches my world

Our eyes met

I waved & you smiled

I am happier, interested,

engaged & excited

Let’s Celebrate Together!

Australia recently made legal changes that undid the damaging & limiting definition of marriage as only possible between a man and a woman, allowing thousands more diverse couples the right to marry.

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On Saturday, March the 3rd, a contingent of 50 staff members from across Australia, their friends and family members represented Relationships Australia in the 2018 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. It was a celebration of 40 years of pride and protest. A spectacular night we will remember, not only for its nearly 200 incredible floats, outrageous costumes and party vibe, but for what it means to us all.

12,000 adoring souls who know to praise this life we have, came together. Marching with my RA family & held by the wider community of countless happy queer families & so many loyal straight mates, I felt elated.

Even walking towards the start of the parade, the streets were abuzz with excitement & the message became clear. I am okay. You are okay. We are each unique. No need for fear, just celebration here!

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It was simply wonderful to be among so many adults who remember how to play. Play is important for self-esteem & healthy relationships.

Joy spread everywhere as people opened up to celebrate their own unique gorgeousness. This collective energy creates an invitation to each one of us to be bravely who we truly are without shame or fear, without judgement of others.

Cinderella sings “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” The same is true of negative experiences. Despite the challenges of growing up queer, I consider myself very lucky & doing well in life for several years now, but the higher level of acceptance I experienced at Mardi Gras highlighted an undercurrent of slight fear and self-protection, a mode we are often in without realising it. It is a stress we live with and many minorities live with. Celebration of diversity is a panacea to conformity & control. Events like this can have a transformative effect for people’s lives.

The diversity was startling & inspiring. I witnessed you, multifarious, each unique in your beauty. You fluffy wolves, you leather dogs, you bears & butterflies, you women with strong arms & clever minds, you hairy beautiful dress wearing beings, you old wise ones playing music, you fairies, you inflatable dinosaurs, tin man & Wonder Woman you lions & fauns you man-woman, you hairy beautiful…. you love huge – all of you.

Kim and Caela

Being in Mardi Gras was a peak experience. It was exhilarating. It made my year. We wore shining rainbow capes. We skipped & danced along the street together waving & blowing kisses to a loving crowd of over 500,000 people. The lived experience of so much acceptance travels with me now.

On the night all the people who came up and spoke to us were very thankful for the kind support Relationships Australia has pro-actively given so many queer people over the past 40+ years.

THANK YOU Relationships Australia – You Rock!!!!

*Kim Zeneth is a counsellor based in Alice Springs

International Women’s Day 2018 #pressforprogress

Jarrod Kaplan, Darwin Counsellor writes:

Every day, millions of women and their allies are taking steps – sometimes small steps and sometimes strides – towards equality, empowerment and fulfillment of their rights.

For many, International Women’s Day, is just another day along the journey. However, special days like International Women’s Day are an important marker to pause and reflect on all that has been achieved and take stock for the road ahead.

International Women’s Day is celebrated globally on 8th March – it cuts across the divides of ethnicity, language, politics, nationality and class. It is a day of recognition of women’s achievements and a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.

Over the last year, we have witnessed bold, brave and exciting global movements. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have emboldened women to speak up about harassment and abuse and have reminded us of the power of solidarity and the power in numbers. These movements have also reminded us of how far we have to go and how much courage it takes for women to be silence breakers.

 

UN Women are marking this International Women’s Day with the message ‘Leave no woman behind’. It is a critical message in using the success and power of these popular movements to make a real difference to the lives of women who do not have the profile or the power that comes with being a Hollywood actor.

So, how is all of this relevant and what should we do about it?

Well, it is estimated by the World Health Organization that one-third of all women worldwide are affected by sexual violence with even more experiencing harassment. Statistics show that 1 in 6 Australian have been subjected, since the age of 15, to physical and/or sexual violence by a current or previous cohabiting partner (ABS 2017b). Family, domestic and sexual violence happens repeatedly—more than half (54%) of the women who had experienced current partner violence, experienced more than one violent incident (ABS 2017b).

Contextual factors that influces FD&S violence

The data shows that women are overwhelmingly the main victims of all types of family, domestic and sexual violence. They will most likely know the perpetrator, who is often their current or a previous partner. Indeed, partners pose the greatest risk of violence for women—be it for physical, sexual or emotional abuse. In contrast, men are less likely than women to be the victims of family, domestic and sexual violence, but are much more likely to be the victims of violence from a stranger. (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence in Australia, 2018)

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Family violence occurs at higher rates for Aboriginal Australians than for non-Indigenous Australians. Family violence within Indigenous communities needs to be understood as both a cause and effect of social disadvantage and intergenerational trauma (ABS 2016). Aboriginal women are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence than other women (ABS 2017b), and the Northern Territory has a two and a half to five times higher rate per capita of family violence than other States or Territories (ABS, 2016). Statistically, this suggests that we all know women who have experienced abuse. It also means, that we likely know men who have perpetrated it.*

In fact, the purpose of #MeToo campaign  (by creator Tarana Burke) was to empower all women through empathy, especially young and vulnerable women.

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At Relationships Australia NT, over the last year, we have supported more than 1,000 families, many of who presented with family violence issues. This work is critical in providing safe and secure environments.

There are also things that we can all do every day to progress women’s rights. Here’s a few suggestions:

  1. Be mindful and active about women’s participation – question the lack of women’s participation, for example on speaking panels and for promotion opportunities. Where you see a lack of parity, question it and identify more inclusive alternatives. Think 50/50 as the goal.
  1. Challenge stereotypes – if you hear people talking about women in negative ways (and it is safe to do so) question them and challenge negative attitudes. This is particularly important with people who love and trust you – call your friends out when you hear this.
  1. Celebrate women’s achievements – value women’s individual and collective success in whatever forms you see it and make sure women are credited for their work and their contributions.
  1. Support – seek support, if you, or someone you know, is experiencing harassment, abuse or violence of any kind. Know that there are services out there to support you. Relationships Australia NT is one of many services that are available. Visit our website, call us or drop into our office for support

*It is important to acknowledge that men and boys are also victims of abuse. Given the focus of this post is International Women’s Day, and women are invariably more likely to be the victims of abuse, the focus of this article is the victimisation of women.

Everyday should be Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day has become less of a celebration of adoration and more of a way for greeting card companies to sell stuffed bears with heart-shaped eyes. If you’re a cynic or a realist, this arbitrary show of affection once a year feels as fake as the plastic roses that invade supermarkets this time of year. Yet, despite what Hallmark might suggest, the origins of Valentine’s Day are actually less about boxes of chocolate and more about love.

As charming as the cards, poems, dinners, flowers, gadgets, jewellery and perfume are, you don’t need to purchase things to show someone that you love them. Your wallet and relationship will feel much healthier if you stop worrying about “what special thing to do on Valentine’s” and start thinking about the little everyday ways to show you care.

Love experts and relationships scientists, Drs. Julie and John Gottman, have known for years that small gestures – done, noticed, received and thanked – play a huge role in daily connectedness with our partners. Their research with couples tells us those very simple things such as eye contact with our partners, especially when they are talking with us makes our body have a physiological response. This bodily response helps us to be closer emotionally. Being closer emotionally and feeling loved, go hand-in-glove (or even Cupid-in-nappy).

And, eye contact isn’t the only easy way to show loved ones that we love, appreciate and enjoy them. Smiling can go a long way and it makes you and your partner feel nice.

Kisses and touching don’t have to be reserved for the dim light of the bedroom, an affectionate kiss on the lips – which is defined as more than a dry puckered peck and less than open-mouthed wrestling – is a nice way to say “I love you.” Even a brief and simple shoulder, neck or foot rubs are nice, and we aren’t talking oils and lit candles here, although that can be very good too.

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From a young age we are taught small niceties; hello, goodbye, please and thank you, but suddenly forget them when we become used to someone’s presence. These little polite gestures can make your loved one feel appreciated.

Make meeting at the end of the day a big deal, just for a few minutes stop what you are doing and hug, kiss, ask each other how you are and then give each other space if you then need it. Connect during the day, every day, no matter how busy you each are. Make sure you respond if your partner reaches out to connect with you – text or email back. Even if you feel you have nothing to say.

Sometimes one partner can feel like they are always left to do a certain job. Let your partner know that you can help out by doing a job when it needs doing, as well as thanking your partner when they have done a job.

Share special memories and spend some quiet time flicking through photos together, making nice comments. Pass on compliments from other people, as well as complimenting your partner. Notice them and appreciate being noticed. Be considerate.

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You might be thinking “yeah all that stuff is easy but I don’t want to do it when they’re not putting in any effort”… how do you know your partner isn’t feeling the exact same way?

It can be really helpful when people’s thinking just shifts a little. It is important to recognise that what we put into our relationships helps to create what the relationship is, so if you are “putting in” something that is negative you need to take note of this. Remember, no two people are going to have the same experience as any other two. A relationship is what two individuals bring when they come together and the dynamic between them is their relationship.

Philosopher and relationship commentator, Alain de Botton, highlights that marriage or committed couple relationships are very much like a business agreement. In the business of love there is much to do; tasks, accomplishments, goals (daily, monthly, yearly), growth, cut back and ongoing effort, along with communication, negotiation and celebration.

Our Couple Connect course helps couples at all stages of their relationship to “fine tune” their connection and communication in their relationship. Many couples find attending one of our couple courses particularly beneficial in setting aside time for the relationship, focusing on it, putting the effort in and being assisted to do this with structure.