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.