Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Let’s broaden discussions on mental health and fix the system

Paper head with heart in the brain

Image: iStock

 

Content Warning: mental health and suicide

Last week had RUOK Day and Suicide Awareness Day. Media personalities and my former high school were encouraging people to check in on loved ones and reach out.

That’s all lovely. I mean it. Everyone has times when they need to talk about issues. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on.

But what if your issues run deeper? What if you are really at crisis point?

Psychotherapies: a major gap in mental health

When RUOK Day comes around, there’s focus on depression, anxiety and the devastating affects of suicide.

While these discussions are a must, I believe there needs to be more. There are more mental illnesses that need advocacy and treatments. These include (but not limited to):

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Substance use disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

All these disorders have a higher suicide rate compared to the general population.

The mental health discussion doesn’t go into the need for psychotherapies such as: dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). These are beyond the scope of Lifeline and Beyond Blue.

Mental health: a gap in Australia’s Medicare system

Australia has Medicare. It was first introduced in 1984. For the most part, Medicare allows Australians to access GPs and public hospitals for treatment without being left thousands of dollars out of pocket.

However, when it comes to mental health, there is a massive gap.

The Better Access Initiative

The Better Access Initiative is a scheme that gives eligible people the access to mental health services they need.

Unfortunately, it has its limits. According to Australia’s Department of Health website, the scheme offers 10 individual and 10 group therapy sessions a year.

For some people, this may be adequate. But if you require weekly or bi-weekly therapy, it’s not. For example, to be affective, a person with BPD needs bi-weekly DBT sessions a year. That’s at least 52 individual and 52 group therapy.

Australian Psychological Society encouraged change

In 2019, the Australian Psychological Society published a media release. They warned that the access to mental health services to Australians who needed it was inadequate.

In the media release, APS made a number of recommendations including:

  • More individual sessions available
  •  Group therapy sessions
  • An increase in therapy sessions for families and carers

Now, I’m guessing the Australian Government has implemented the changes by making the increase from ten to 20 sessions a year.

The APS should fight for more.

Follow UK’s example: make mental health free

Australia should look toward UK’s National Health Service (NHS). I get it has its pitfalls, but it’s philosophy is good. Mental health services should be free, even if a referral from a GP or psychiatrist is required.

Maybe the current Medicare Levy may need to be increased. Boris Johnson recently increased NHS rate another 1.25%. Maybe we should do similar here.

How much is a life worth? How much is mental health worth?

At minimum, the Government should  offer free services to people with serious mental health conditions. It may just save lives.

 

People with serious and chronic mental health issues need more than platitudes. They need more than once – a – year campaigns. They need services that they can access without going out of pocket.

What do you think? What changes can the Australian Government make to improve mental health care? Let me know your thoughts below.

Categories
Pop Culture

The Wiggles cast is expanding to promote diversity

 

Australian children’s entertainment group, The Wiggles will welcome new cast members next month. 

Four new members will join Anthony Field, Emma Watkins, Simon Pryce and Lachlan Gilespie. They are from a vast range of cultural backgrounds. Ethiopian – born Tsehay (pronounced Suh- hai) Hawkins, Indigenous ballerina, Evie Ferris, John Pearce, who is Filipino descent and Asian – Australian Kelly Hamilton will be the new members.. 

There are also new characters: Shorley Shawn the Unicorn, Officer Beaples and Bok, the hand puppet. They are non – binary.

The Wiggles accused of going ‘woke’

Not surprisingly, the changes have caused some backlash. Liberal Senator, Matt Canavan is critical of the move. He told The Australian:

The Wiggles are free to do what they like. It was nice while it lasted. But you go woke, you go broke.

Former Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director, Lyle Shelton also attacked the move. In an article published by Eternity News, he savaged the non – binary characters and attacked the use of a rainbow umbrella as a prop. 

Writer and former Australian Defence Force officer, Catherine Mcgregor,  condemned corporate ‘virtue signalling’ as an “absolute insult”. 

Is promoting diversity to children a bad thing?

How does promoting diversity affect children?

Children are naturally curious. Not only that, according to Beyond Blue, promoting diversity to young children can enhance their own self – esteem. It also helps children work out their own place in the world. 

Promoting diversity to children can happen in a number of ways:

  • Allow situations where children can listen and learn from people of various cultural backgrounds
  • Be a role model by being respectful towards people yourself
  • Schools and early education services can translate newsletters and notices to other relevant languages
  • Allow children access to a variety of media that explores people from other cultures. 

Gender identity

Let me say this once. Yes, children DO know about gender at a young age. 

According to healthychildren.org, many children develop their understanding of their biological sex and their gender identity between the ages of two and four. 

It’s this time that children also observe and pick up on gender roles. Many children who identify as gender diverse develop their sense of identity around the same age as cis – gender children. 

Parents can promote gender diversity to young children in a number of ways: 

    Give children books and puzzles that show non – stereotypical gender representations
    Allow children to play with a wide range of toys, regardless whether they are ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ toys
    By age of six, children play with other children and toys that fit their gender identity. Parents, caregivers and teachers should support these choices. 

Stop fear mongering about diversity!

Let’s stop fear – mongering about diversity. People are different, get over it! 

No, children are not ‘brainwashed’ to be a certain gender.

A four – year – old is not ‘too young’ to know their gender identity. 

 

Yes, let ‘children be children’. And let children be themselves, regardless of their ethnicity or gender.

What do you think of the upcoming changes tovThe Wiggles? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Uncategorized

PATRON ONLY: The history of The Wiggles

In 1991, Anthony Field founded The Wiggles.

According to New Idea, Field dedicated The Wiggles’ first album to his niece Bernadette. She’d tragically died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in 1988. At the time, he was touring with his original band ‘The Cockroaches’. 

The Wiggles formed

Field was studying Early Childhood Education in the late 1980’s when he met Murray Cook. 

Field, Greg Page and Jeff Fatt met through music. Fatt played keyboard for the ‘Cockroaches’ and Greg Page was their roadie. 

In 1991, initiated by Field, ‘The Wiggles’ released their first self – titled album. Field dedicated it to his niece Bernadette. 

Field also came up with the band name, after a song he’d written. 

Their first song was Get Ready to Wiggle. 

The Wiggles sold 100,000 copies, despite scepticism. Cook, Fatt, Page and Field had to produce the album themselves. No one would agree to invest in them. 

Due to The Wiggles’ successthings started to turn. The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), printed and distributed the album. 

The Wiggles explode

By the late 1990’s, The Wiggles’ career exploded. Everyone wanted a piece of them!

In the mid/ late 1990’s (1996- 1997), the Wiggles started their own TV show. It was featured on the ABC. The 13 – part – series was eventually bought by Channel 7 and Disney Australia.

‘The Wiggles’ gained international attention. They performed in Disneyland in 1998.

Amazingly, The Wiggles’ songs also reached non – English speaking audiences. Their songs were performed in Cantonese and Spanish. 

Unfortunately, by mid 2000’s the original Wiggles started to disband. In 2006, Greg Page left the band after being diagnosed with a chronic illness. 

Murray Cook and Jeff Fatt left The Wiggles in 2012.

Cook has revealed to New Idea that he got very tired of touring:

We toured constantly for ten months of the year for 21 years! I think I was just tired of that part of it. Sometimes, in the middle of a tour, I’d wake up, not having slept much, thinking. ‘Do I have to get up?’. It was quite tiring. There’d be times when you’d be counting the days until the tour was over. 

The original characters

If you know The Wiggles, you know about their beloved characters. 

Since 1991, ‘The Wiggles’ have featured four main characters. They are: Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword. 

Dorothy the Dinosaur

Dorothy is a beloved green, yellow spotted dinosaur. Opera singer, Carolyn Ferrie voiced the character. She started playing Dorothy when she started going out with Anthony. 

According to Wiggles Fandom, Ferrie voiced Dorothy from 1996 – 2001, 2005 – 2009, and 2010 – 2018. 

Corrine O’Rafferty has played Dorothy since 2017.

 

Henry the Octopus

Jeff Fatt came up with Henry the Octopus. He played Henry at first. Then, Paul Paddick took over the role.  

 

Wags the Dog

Anthony Field originally played Wags the Dog. Paul Paddick ended up playing the lovable dog.

 

Captain Feathersword

Captain Feathersword has been a Field family affair. He’s been played by both of Anthony’s brothers, John and Paul. 

Captain Feathersword added humour by tickling The Wiggles cast with his feather sword. 

 

 

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Victoria faces bullying crisis

Girl devastated as she is bullied by a group of girls
Image: iStock

Trigger Warning: bullying

According to Herald Sun, students in the Australian state of Victoria are facing a bullying crisis.

Bullies told a girl to “f-ing kill yourself” in a viral video. The victim attended Greater Shepparton Senior College.

This isn’t the first incident. Bullying has been a huge issue across the Greater Shepparton area. One parent said:

I freeze every time I get a call from the school because I’m worried something has happened again.

As a result, parents are calling for more schooling options. The local government conducted a survey where 94% of parents said they needed more options in the area.

Cyber – bullying skyrockets during pandemic

Teen gets bullied via text
Image: iStock
Cyber – bullying has exploded across Victoria during lockdowns. Children as young as 12 have been victims. Victorian police have warned that bullying has “…serious consequences in the real world”.

Social media companies have failed to stamp out bullying

This infuriates me. Parents have alerted social media platforms like Instagram and SnapChat about bullying content. Unfortunately, social media companies haven’t acted appropriately. Social media companies haven’t taken harmful content down.

Social media companies need to be held accountable. Governments need to introduce laws holding social media companies responsible for what’s posted. If users flag bullying or illegal content, they should be forced to act. If companies fail, they should be heavily fined at minimum.

 

Bullying becomes discriminatory

Children are facing racism, sexism and homophobia. That really hits me hard.

It’s disheartening. It should be a thing of the past. I really hope that victims of such abuse can find at least one adult that they can trust.

Fighting bullying seems to be a never ending battle. That we are losing.

We need more mental health professionals

Late last year, I wrote about the mental health crisis facing Australian youth. Anxiety, depression, ADD/ ADHD and conduct disorder diagnoses are on the rise.

Just looking through Google, it’s clear to me that Australian schools need more psychologists and/ or social workers.

The Liberal National/ Coalition introduced a program to employ chaplains. Apparently it’s cheaper than employing psychologists or social workers.

The National School Chaplaincy Program is still around, despite controversy  My concern is chaplains’ potential lack of training and education of chaplains, compared to social workers and psychologists. Will chaplains be able to deal with complex mental health issues that children are facing?

While chaplains can attain a Bachelor degree in Social Work or Counselling, they often obtain  Certificate IV in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care.

In contrast, an Australian social worker needs a Bachelor in Social Work at minimum. The Australian Society of Social Workers then assess aspiring social workers. Some social workers also gain a Master’s degree.

To be a clinical psychologist, the process is even more intense. According to the Australian Psychological Society, students have to complete a Bachelor degree in Psychological Science, plus an extra year for clinical study or an internship.

I’m not trying to disrespect chaplains. They can play a role in helping young people. However, psychologists and social workers can deal with complex social and mental health issues.

It’s time to take bullying seriously. Enough is enough.

If this post has raised any issues for you, feel free to contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or http://www.lifeline.org.au

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Simone Biles and the dangerous pressure athletes face

Ariake Gymnastics Centre
Image: iStock

U.S’s Simone Biles pulled out of the gymnastics finals last week.

Originally, Biles cited medical reasons for pulling out. Later, she cited mental health concerns.

Biles’ decision has faced condemnation. U.S commentator, Charlie Kirk slammed Biles as a “sociopath”.

Newscorp columnist/ commentator, Andrew Bolt was more sympathetic, but said “she shouldn’t be praised for quitting”.

Biles even got backlash from mental health professionals. Child psychologist, Clare Rowe, told Andrew Bolt that Biles had a “temper tantrum”. She also criticised a quitter mentality, claiming it sends the wrong message:

My concern, Andrew, is the message that it gives. She [Biles] gave the message recently that children should know that it’s OK to say you’re great at things. I don’t mind that message. If you’re genuinely good at something, own it. I don’t mind that. But I don’t like the message that if things don’t work out – that once you start something – you are going to quit. 

She made a point about what children should learn about team work:

…I like the message that you try your best at all times. And if you stuff up, you keep going, particularly in a team sport. 

I will agree with Bolt and Rowe on one thing. It probably wasn’t smart for Biles to claim she was great prematurely. 

Olympians under pressure

The Simone Biles controversy has exposed potential dangers of competitive sport. Supporters of Biles have argued that competitive gymnasts need to be at the top of their game (no pun intended), or risk serious injury.

Political youtuber, Kyle Kulinski was torn about the controversy, but acknowledged that Olympians are put under extreme pressure.

Kulinski also called the Olympics a “scam” and, using the logic, backed Biles.  

As history has shown, the pressure can have detrimental consequences.

The tragedy of Elena Mukhina

On Mamamia, Erin Docherty wrote about Elena Mukhina. Elena Mukhina was a Soviet gymnast in 1978 to 1980. 

In 1979, she suffered an injury. However, she was still pressured to train and compete.

At the Moscow Olympics, the then 20 – year – old Mukhina attempted the now banned Thomas salto

The result was disastrous. 

Mukhina suffered a fall that broke her neck. That left her paralysed for the rest of her life until her untimely death in 2006.

The aftermath exposed a Soviet coverup and close calls when other athletes attempted the same move. Finally, in the late 2010’s, the move was banned. 

Over forty years later, the Elena Mukhina tragedy and Simone Biles have exposed the extreme pressure athletes are under. It makes clear that everyone does have a limit that can’t be crossed. 

End of a fairytale

The fairytale of the Olympics I was fed in 2000 are over. 

The Tokyo Olympics has exposed how brutal the training and performing regime for athletes can be. It’s tough on athletes both physically and mentally. And, it can be dangerous if athletes are pushed too far beyond their limits. 

For that reason alone, Simone Biles may have made the right call. 

What do you think about Simone Biles pulling out of gymnastics finals? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

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Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Australian MP pushes for loot box restrictions

Two children under bed covers playing video games
Image: iStock

Australian Independent MP, Andrew Wilkie is pushimg for restrictions on video games that feature loot boxes.

According to Herald Sun, Wilkie condemned loot boxes as “barely disguised gambling”.

 

What are loot boxes?

According to Parent Zone, loot boxes are “virtual treasure chests”. They allow players to change weapns or characters.

Due to the rise of online gaming, the dynamic of gaming has changed. Buying a computer game is no longer a one – time purchase. Computer games, (including iPads, phones, etc) often require players to buy a subscription, rewards or coins to advance in the game. This is why loot boxes are concerning.

 

Gambling and the role of parents and caregivers

Children gambling is a growing concern. Earlier this year, Sydney Morning Herald reported 40 per cent of NSW children aged 12 – 17 were playing games with features that emulate gambling. 

Games featuring loot boxes, coins and rewards proved concerning. 3.7% of children studied were considered problem gamblers or at high risk.

There are a number of risk factors to this worrying trend. Parents who gamble are a risk factor. 58 per cent of children who gambled also had parents who gamble. 20 per cent had grandparents who did.

This makes sense. Addiction often has a genetic component. Also, parental modelling is important. Children often pick up habits and stressors from their families. This is why I think the issue deserves a holistic approach.

 

Problem gambling and mental health

Problem gambling is mental illness. Fourth Edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM IV) listed problem gambling as an impulse control disorder.

Additionally, problem gambling often co – occurs with other mental conditions.

According to the Department of Health and Aging, problem gambling has similarities to substance use disorder. People with pre – existing mood disorders, especially depression, are at higher risk for problem gambling.

Chronic isolation can also make problem gambling worse. Due to COVID and restrictions, it wouldn’t be surprising if addictions were exacerbated, including among children and teens.

Politicians need to take mental health seriously if they want to attack this issue. They should seriously consider making all psychotherapies free under Medicare. They also need to ensure there are adequate services.

Additionally, there needs to be adequate guidance counsellors and social workers need to be in schools. 

 

Mother supports Wilkie’s proposal

Faye James, mother of son Pablo, eight, supports the bill.

This kind of bill is fundamental. We need to make parents aware of what they’re getting their kids into. Restrictions and transparency is key.

I don’t disagree that restrictions should be in place. Children should not have free access to gambling – style games.

However, I can’t help but think this is a Band – Aid solution. Focus on mental health and access to appropriate services. Make sure that children get the support they need. And, maybe we’ll see the problem decrease. 

If you are in Australia and you or someone you know is struggling mentally, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 (they also have a web chat)

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 (for people under 25 or their parents or caregivers)

As always, for those outside Australia, feel free to offer any contact information to mental health services below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Gender/ sexuality LGBTQ rights

Bisexual people still stigmatised when it comes to dating

Bisexual pride flag (from top): pink, purple and blue
Image: iStock

I know it’s nearly over, but I thought I would do this post in part because it’s Pride Month.

Writer and social worker, Deidre Fidge posted and article on ABC Everyday lamenting the stigma bisexual people still face.

According to the Australia Talks survey, 44% of nearly 60,000 respondents claimed they weren’t open to dating someone who’s bisexual. A further 15% claimed they were reluctant.

While you can’t control who you are (or aren’t) attracted to, this figure is quite alarming. And it does raise questions:

  • Do people automatically assume that people attracted to more than one gender will cheat?
  • Is there still stigma surrounding sexual history?
  • What sexual history do people assume bi/ poly/ pan people have?

Why LGBTQ+ people should stand by bisexual people

I believe that much of biphobia boils down to one pet peeve of mine: they’re reduced to what they ‘do’.

These stereotypes take away the humanity of LGBTQ+ people.

Sexual stereotypes that fuelled opposition to same – sex marriage for years.

That caused commentators to fear – monger about same – sex marriage leading to polygamy.

People assumed that same – sex couples can’t raise healthy children despite numerous studies saying otherwise. 

For years, asexual people have been told they’re broken or that asexuality doesn’t exist.

Transgender and non – binary people have become the new target. Basic reason? Because of people’s obsession of othering minorities and reducing them to what’s between their legs.

What’s disappointing is seeing and hearing other LGBTQ+ people go on the attack. Often, LGBTQ+ content creators and media personalities willingly throw other LGBTQ+ under the bus. Can we just make it stop?

Other issues bisexual people face

Statistically, bisexual people make up the biggest percentage of people that are LGBTQ+.

Bisexual people can experience hostility from both gay and straight people. Often, their orientation is not taken seriously. They are often pressured to ‘pick a side’. Bi women are assumed to be straight, but ‘experimenting’. Meanwhile, bi men are considered gay.

As a result of erasure and discrimination, bisexual people often experience loneliness, depression and suicidality.

Despite increase in gay and lesbian acceptance in the West, the same can’t be said for bisexual people. According to a study by Associate Professor, Brian Dodge. He told Washington Post that attitudes towards bisexuals have only improved slightly since the 1990’s.

But, won’t bisexual partners cheat?

People, regardless of gender identity or orientation can cheat.

There are a number of resons why a person may chest n a spouse or partner. They include: unmet needs, low self – esteem and the need for revenge.

Opportunity can be a risk factor. However, other factors listed above are usually at play.

So, can we put the idea that just because someone is bisexual or pansexual that they’re more likely to cheat to rest?

If you’re in Australia and this post has raised any issues, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636, or chat online.

QLife: 1800 184 527. They also have a webchat.

If you feel like you need emergency help, call 000.

As always, feel free to add support services or emergency contacts in the comments if you’re outside Australia.

Categories
Pop Culture

Former ‘Neighbours’ actor claims drug use on set

Australian drama, Neighbours has been hit with more scandals and accusations.

In her autobiography, Nicola Charles claimed she was offered drugs while on set. She also claimed she helped an unnamed cast member who passed out after taking speed.

The human inside me couldn’t leave her there alone on the couch, barely conscious and strugglimg. Her so-called friends on the cast had conveniently disappeared and washed their hands of the situation.

In return, Charles was offered speed herself the next day in the cast’s bathroom. She declined the offer.

The actress, along with other cast members took speed to keep their weight down.

These events allegedly happened in the late 1990’s. Charles accused Neighbours’ production company, Fremantle Media for turning a blind eye.

Neighbours plagued with scandal

Earlier this year, a number of former cast members claimed they’d been victims of racism and sexism.

In April, Shareena Clanton claimed she’d been a victim of racism and sexism while playing Sheila Canning.

Meyne Wyatt (Nate Kinski) and Sharon Johal (Dipi Rebecchi) claimed they also faced racism and homophobia on set. Johal alleged that some of the perpetrators were current cast members. She accused Neighbours’ production company, Fremantle Media of not taking allegations seriously.

When I first read about racism, sexism and homophobia claims, I was shocked. Neighbours have had a string of people of colour as cast members. To me, the characters of Dipi and Yashvi Rebecchi (Olivia Junkeer), were well developed. They didn’t seem like disrespectful stereotypes of Indian Australians. I could be wrong.

Were Indian Australians added simply for brownie points? Was it just about quotas? Of course, I can’t say for sure either way.

Since around 2010 (maybe 2011), Neighbours featured its first character.

Chris Pappas’ (James Mason) coming out was based on a real person. Pappas struggled with his sexuality during Year 11. He told Summer, whom he dated. The storyline explored homophobia in sport and being ‘outed’ without giving consent.

I rememberr watching the episodes of Pappas’ struggle and it hitting me. It was so raw. I related to it to an extent, having past struggles of my own. That’s when ai stared becoming a fan and regular viewer of the show.

Categories
Gender/ sexuality

Mental health and the need for asexuality inclusion in schools

Image: iStock

Trigger warning: This post deals with suicide and may be triggering for some readers.

In September last year, the worst nightmare for any parent came true. 13 – year – old, Lily Dowling had taken her own life.

Before her death, she wrote letters to her best friends and left them in thier lockers. 

Jane Hansen from Herald Sun described her as a “gorgeous 13 – year  – old with a love for Harry Potter books and the world at her feet…”

When speaking about her daughter, Emma Heeley said:

She was the kindest, most caring girl who was always looking out for others. She attracted really beautiful people and had a lot of friends. 

The warning signs

There were clues that Lily wasn’t coping. Lily had written a poem about her own death nine months before the tragedy. She’d posted it on Instagram. Unfortunately, Ms. Heeley only found the poem after Lily’s death. 

By August 2019, Lily had started to withdraw.

“I knew something was really, really wrong, but she would just close up and not talk to me”, Ms. Heeley said. 

Lily refused to go to therapy.

Lily’s death is only one of a string of suicides among young girls that have gotten worse over the last ten years.

Lily came out as asexual

Three months before her death, Lily came out on Instagram as asexual. (Kudos for Jane Hansen for properly defining it in the article). 

Professor Ian Hickie raised concern about young people feeling the need to put a label on themselves in such a sexualised culture.

It’s true that young people shouldn’t be forced to place a label on themselves before their ready. Sexuality can be complex, especially while growing up.

Having said that, young people, should be able to come out if they feel sure about how they feel. 

How many cases like this out there?

How many young asexual people feel lost, depressed and even suicidal? Studies suggest that young LGBT people are at least 2.5 times more likely to take their own lives than heterosexual peers. However, this data excludes asexual and non binary trans people. 

In a paper, Morag Yule, Lori Brotto and Boris Bolzaka guessed that asexual individuals may suffer worse mental health issues due to stigma than other groups.

It wouldn’t surprise me if this was the case. What I found the hardest growing up was the erasure. I was told that asexuality Leither didn’t exist or it was something that people grew out of. 

I’ve said before that I don’t blame the people that told me these myths. This was in the early 2000’s – from 2005 to 2007. But I do hope things are changing.

School counsellors and other mental health workers need to know about asexuality

Everyone should feel free to go to a counsellor. LGBTQ+ people need to have counsellors that are going to accept and validate their identities and experiences. They need to know they won’t be judged.

This is why acceptance of asexual people is so important. School counsellors, social workers and other mental health workers need to know that asexuality is real. 

 

Maybe this can be included in a professional development program. Or make it a part of social work and psychology degree subjects/ modules. You might be scoffing at this, but the time for erasure and ignorance needs to end. 

 

 

If you feel like you need assistance, you can call Lifeline: 13 11 14.

BeyondBlue: 1300 224 636 (you can also chat online. They also have LGBTQ+ resources. They include asexuality).

If you believe that you or someone you know is in crisis, contact 000 or your country’s emergency number. 

Please leave your thoughts or helpful mental health hotlines in your area in the comments below. 

 

 

Categories
Culture Film, TV

Australian TV needs to stop using diversity as a gimmick

TV shot of Brooke Blurton, Australia's 2021 Bachelorette

Australian TV will soon make “history”.

This year, The Bachelorette will feature Brooke Blurton. She is the show’s first Indigenous and openly bisexual (successful) star. Both men and women will be competing for her affection. People have expressed scepticism on social media. Many claim it’s a gimmick.I can’t say I blame them.

Producers refused request for an LGBTQ+ Bachelor

Producers of The Bachelor/ The Bachlorette Australia ruled out having an LGBTQ bachelor or bachelorette. This was less than three years ago, after Australia had legalised same – sex marriage. Host, Osher Gunsberg was all for the move. Their excuse was that it didn’t fit the “concept”.

The ‘concept’ apparently needed heterosexuality and monogamy. This excuse raised another issue; the idea that LGBTQ+ people couldn’t have relationships to cis – het people.

This excuse was made less than two years ago.

So, why now? Have ratings plummeted over the years? Is that why they’re using LGBTQ +  and Indigenous people?

I’m sick of this. LGBTQ+, Indigenous people, and people of colour in general, shouldn’t be just add ons. They shouldn’t be used to make a company, or a TV production feel better about themselves. And, frankly, that’s how the TV industry in Australia has been acting recently.

We should be past the idea of having people of colour or LGBTQ+ people in pop culture as revolutionary. Enough with the obsessions of the ‘firsts’..

Australian TV and its issues with diversity

Close up of black remote with white numbers on buttons
Image: iStock

The Bachelorette hasn’t been the only show to face issues with diversity.

Last month, former Neighbours actors Sharon Clanton, Meyne Wyatt and Sharon Johal claimed to be victims of racism, sexism and homophobia. They also accused the production company, Fremantle Media of not doing enough to prevent it. This shows that virtue signalling doesn’t work. Inclusion has to be genuine.

Will producers treat Blurton fairly?

I doubt I’ll watch the Bachelorette. If I do, it won’t be much of it. However, I do hope Brooke Blurton is treated and portrayed fairly.

I hope that the producers respect Blurton’s identities. I hope producers don’t erase Blurton’s bisexual or Indigenous identities. Let’s also hope they don’t make soft-core porn from Blurton’s sexuality, either.

Enough of ‘firsts’ and gimmicks

The Neighbours controversy (for me) proves that meeting a ‘quota’ is not enough. Having Indigenous or LGBTQ+ characters is not enough.

It’s time to normalise LGBTQ+ and Indigenous people in Australian pop culture. They should be included without causing a news story! Can we get to that point?

 

Just another side note, can we please not make Blurton’s identities into a debate? If Blurton claims she’s Aboriginal and bi, can we just leave it at that? So what if Blurton didn’t identify as bi three years ago? She can now if she thinks it fits her. Sometimes sexuality isn’t so clear cut. And her being or “identifying” as Aboriginal? I don’t want to get into that.

 

 

What do you think of The Bachelorette this year? Will you watch it? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.