Monday, 30 March 2009

Early one morning in Mt Roskill

Thoughts of Public Address authors are not something that normally occupy my grey matter at 2.20am on a week day. Last Wednesday though Russell Brown came to mind after I was awoken by a very loud verbal conflict somewhere nearby. Much swearing from a man to a woman, and she was yelling back but not as clearly or loudly. Then there was an almighty crash.

I lay there wondering whether or not to call the cops. My partner, and Wriggly, and the cat for that matter, slept on. I thought about a colleague who had told me recently about a terrible fight she'd heard through her apartment wall, and that she had rung the cops. Still I dithered. What if there wasn't anything to it? What if I was just wasting police time?

Then I thought of the It's Not OK campaign and my mind was made up. I made the call, was dealt with very pleasantly by the 111 woman, and went back to bed, still listening. About ten minutes later a knock at the door, a brief chat with a police officer, I pointed at the house I thought most likely, and that was it. No one was concerned I had wasted their time, and both police personnel I spoke with took it seriously and were glad I called. Sounds like I wasn't the only one.

It worries me that social campaigns like It's Not OK could be casualties of this National-led Government. How can you measure "more likely to ring the police when hears a possible fight in the night"? Fewer injuries from domestic violence would surely deliver productivity gains, but no one turns up to work and says "before we changed our attitudes about beating our partners I would have been too battered to come in today."

These are the programmes that pay big dividends down the track, in much the way that the drink driving campaigns have had a huge impact on our road toll. Cut them now and we'll never know just how much good they could have done in ten or twenty years time.


Principessa said...

I have witnessed 2 domestic violence incidences in the last month whilst walking through the city.

One was a school boy pushing his girlfriend and all her positions onto the sidewalk. It was a huge thump. Everyone just kept walking- I spotted a community constable and pointed him in the right direction. Tonnes of people were just walking past like it wasn't their problem.

And 2 days ago I was walking along a busy city street and heard a wicked scream. And looked at where I thought it was coming from and saw a woman kicking her male partner off her- and the worst thing about it was she was clutching her child who was in the middle of all this. About 10 people were on the cell phones calling in the cops, and about 5 guys from a store next door dived head long into this place to stop whatever was going on. In this instance people reacted very quickly.

BTW I'm reverting back to my psuedonym now.

Anna said...

I went to a seminar presented by the creators of the 'It's not OK' campaign, during which they gave some info on the impact of the campaign. The campaign has had three phases so far, and they research was conducted after the first. It had been successful beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Almost everyone surveyed knew of the ads and what they were about (even though they'd been on for only two weeks), and a large % (although I can't actually remember it) reported having taken action as a result of the campaign. Action was a range of things - intervening in an abusive situation, talking to a friend about their behaviour, calling a hotline for advice, etc. It was anticipated that the campaign would take 20 to 30 years to have significant cultural impact, like the anti drink driving campaign has, but had exceeded expectations.

One of the first actions of the 'It's not OK' campaign was for its coordinators to travel the country, working with journalists to help them identify victim-blaming assumptions which might appear in their writing. At first, the calibre of reporting improved noticably. Shortly after the Tony Veitch news broke, I read a women's mag interview with a woman who'd been a victim of domestic violence - she spoke about how much she sympathised with Kristin Dunne-Powell, and how her acceptance of compensation from Veitch should in no way be interpreted as legitimating his violence.

Now we seem to have come full circle, with the idiotic reporting around this case.

James said...

Since when has the State been needed to make you do the right thing...?

Oh right....I forget...sorry.