This view of the current situation in relation to addressing mens issues in Australia has been compiled by one who is relatively new to the field. As such it may contain some errors or omissions, so please feel free to contribute further information or correct any inadvertent mistakes.
Australian men’s issues have both a physical and online footprint that is vastly smaller than is the case for women’s issues. There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary one is the enormous disparity in government support in relation to the two. Pro-feminist media bias in combination with feminist tactics of shaming and censorship has also proved quite effective in stifling male activism and lobbying up to this point in time.
Of those Australian organisations and sites dealing with mens issues that do have some public profile, almost all have a health focus. Most of these organisations/sites appear to be rather introspective and self-effacing in nature, i.e. essentially to keep under the feminist radar and to avoid jeopardising whatever pitiable amount of funding or government support they might receive.
Those few mens programs that do attract funding, for example the men’s shed movement, only manage to do so as they are seen as somewhat twee and posing no threat to the achievement of feminist objectives.
Government agencies: I am not aware of any federal or state government agency that deals specifically with mens and boys issues, nor even a dedicated section within a government agency. This is a huge point of difference in comparison with the situation with women’s and girls issues.
Of those government agencies that do address specific men’s issues, the most prominent are agencies dealing with mental health and with domestic violence. With regards to the latter at least, the primary emphasis is on ‘educating’ and ‘treating’ male perpetrators of acts of violence and abuse. Whilst some claim to offer services to male victims, any mention of such services is virtually confined to the ‘fine print’ within relevant web sites.
The way that domestic violence web sites are worded gives the impression of a distinct pro-female and anti-male bias (example). Given that men are already less likely to reports acts of abuse against them, one could suggest with confidence that the character of domestic violence web sites acts as a significant disincentive to come forward.
I deal with the issue of government agencies and ‘not-for-profit’ organisations that ignore or downplay men’s welfare in this other blog post.
Mens studies: As you can see in this thread, an attempt was recently made to establish a men’s studies course in Australia. This was met with a furious feminist backlash and was shelved. One of those who spoke against the initiative was Michael Flood, a staunch feminist who misrepresents himself as a spokesperson for the Australian men’s rights movement. The only remaining part of that initiative was, I think, one or two subjects on men’s health being made available.
Mens health: Men’s health advocates comprise a mix of individual counselors, universities, and non-government organisations. Their stance towards men’s rights varies between one of neutrality to a ‘deer in the headlights’ stance brought about through their concern that any perceived association with MRA could threaten their political acceptability and hence access to government funding. The latter position is demonstrated by the charity discussed in this other blog post. There are, however some virulently anti-MRA outliers such as Michael Salter and Micheal Flood (mentioned earlier).
The level of government funding for Australian mens health issues/organisations (as with men’s issues/organisations generally) is miniscule in comparison to that allocated to women. I recently also became aware that funding for The Men’s Health Information and Resource Centre had been slashed.
Here is the web site for Men’s Health Week (15-21 June 2015)
Some of the better-known men’s health organisations/spokespersons include:
Mens Health Australia
Australian Institute of Male Health and Studies
Centre for Advancement of Mens Health
Men4Life support group
Mens Health Clearinghouse
The Shed Online (an initiative of Beyond Blue)
Dr Elizabeth Celi
Inspire change counselling
Adam Blanch counselling
Philip S Hunt
Fathers issues (incl. divorce, custody, etc):
Lone Fathers Association
Australian Brotherhood of Fathers
Dads in Distress support services
Fathers for Equality
‘Dads on the Air’ radio program
Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
Men’s rights activism:
The most popular online forum for sharing news and information is Reddit Mensrights
Mens Rights Agency
Mens Rights Sydney and Mens Rights Melbourne (with a further group formed in Brisbane in early 2015)
Australian Men’s Rights Association
A couple of other recognised spokespersons on mens/boys issues outside the realm of politics are:
Dr. Greg Canning is the Australian liaison for the US-based organisation ‘A Voice for Men‘, and has written many articles and submissions on men’s issues. ‘A Voice for Men’ also now has its own Australian committee.
Greg Andresen works for the ‘One in Three’ organisation which advocates for male victims of domestic violence, and is the Australian liaison for the US-based organisation ‘National Coalition for Men‘ as well as being an active advocate for men’s health.
Australian politics and gender issues:
An argument put forward by feminists is that men can’t possibly be discriminated against because most politicians are male. This point was addressed in a comment I came across online:
“Men in power do not act in the interest of other men. They are widely influenced by women and their lobbying efforts, and are more likely to act in the interests of them.” (Source: http://time.com/2949435/what-i-learned-as-a-woman-at-a-mens-rights-conference/)
This is certainly the case here in Australia, where most of our politicians, from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on down … are too busy cowering in fear at the thought of being labelled misogynists to contemplate representing the interests of 50% of their constituents. You can see some of Malcolm Turnbull’s unfortunate early comments on gender matters here, here and here. One ray of hope, however, might be foreign minister Julie Bishop.
I can’t help wondering what could be achieved if only we had an Australian politician with the tenacity and courage of Philip Davies in the UK (see this example of his efforts). Philip’s pioneering efforts with gender equality are also discussed in this article.
There are a few exceptions to the rule:
George Christensen, Federal Member for Dawson: Of the hundreds of state and federal politicians paid for by us taxpayers, George is the only one with the guts to come out and openly support ANY fathers/mens/boys issue. George is currently chairing a Parliamentary Inquiry into the Child Support Program. Here is a speech by George concerning family law, and another paper regarding the issue of child support. And this is what George gets for speaking up on these issues.
Senator John Madigan (Independent) and George Christensen launched the Parliamentary Friends of Shared Parenting on 16 June 2015 … “We need to end parental alienation because every child deserves a meaningful relationship with his or her mother and father.” Feel the hurt from this feminist journalist as she bemoans the fact that these politicians dared to corrupt public policy by (shudder) listening to men.
Another federal parliamentarian, Bob Katter has also previously expressed concern regarding anti-male bias within the family court system.
Labor’s Member for Greenway in Western Sydney, Michelle Rowland, has asked a parliamentary inquiry examining the child support system, to consider whether custodial parents should be accountable for how they spend child support money (Source)
Senator Cory Bernardi dared to suggest that it might sometimes be appropriate to use a headlock on a violent woman during an incident of domestic violence, and was publicly accused of encouraging violence against women. In June 2016 Cory was also criticized for tweeting a link to an article by Roosh V concerning social justice warriors.
Victorian MP Graham Watt is another one to watch after attracting media attention for refusing to give misandrist DV lobbyist Rosie Batty a standing ovation. See this article also (including readers comments)
Senator Mitch Fifield warrants an honourable mention for his refusal to accept a sexist slur offered by Katy Gallagher.
In Queensland, Opposition Corrective Services spokesman Tim Mander accused Labor of exceeding its party’s gender quota system in relation to appointments to the Parole Board.
By and large the only Australia politicians with the courage to challenge the feminist orthodoxy are ex-politicians, as discussed in this other blog post.
One person to keep an eye on going forward is Augusto Zimmermann, who is Law Reform Commissioner at the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia. Dr Zimmermann has been proposed as a possible replacement for Gillian Triggs at the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The Australian media:
The MSM in Australia is a lost cause for the time being, with very few journalists willing to be seen to question feminist orthodoxy. Those that do, know full-well what they can expect. Some examples might include Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi.
Where are things up to in Australia at the moment amongst the general population? Well I would liken the situation with most men to frogs being boiled in a pot. The temperature is going up slowly and steadily and guys just aren’t noticing how hot things are. The temperature in this case being the increasing anti-male bias in the media, in the law, in politics, etc.
Further, and contrary to the notion of patriarchy, men’s own innate behaviour is such that they lend themselves to being taken advantage of. For example, the default setting for most men is to help and protect women rather than criticise them. Men are also very reluctant to been seen to portray themselves as victims, and would prefer to internalise problems and deal with them on their own (rather than for example join a men’s group).
Most men (and women) have little knowledge of the mens rights movement, and consequently the views of many reflect the deeply biased picture painted in the mainstream media, i.e. MRA as being violent, as being ‘rednecks’, as being ultra-conservative, and as being ‘woman-haters’. By the same token, most men (and women) are equally ill-informed about the true nature of feminism and so accept the benign ‘dictionary definition of feminism’ as portrayed in the media.
Nevertheless, however, many men are reaching the inescapable conclusion that the pendulum has swayed far beyond the mid-way point with regards to the rights of women vis a vis the rights of men. They also recognise that there is also a widening gap between the respective rights and obligations of men and women.
Many men are increasingly unhappy and dissatisfied in their interaction with women. Many men have also either suffered considerable psychological and financial trauma as a result of divorce, or know friends who have been shattered in this manner. (And coincidentally or otherwise, women have also become increasingly unhappy.)
As a consequence whilst the majority of Aussie guys remain unwilling to take collective action, or to identify as an MRA, I am seeing many more men and women expressing their views in the online world in response to media articles that have an anti-male bias (example 1 / example 2 / example 3).
Another telling indicator is the huge number of visitors to MHRA sites like ‘A Voice for Men’ versus the relatively small number who are actually registered members. This suggests to me that there are a lot of people ‘sitting on the fence’ at the moment awaiting a tipping-point, whereupon we will see far greater and more organised expressions of assertive (yet assiduously non-violent) activism.
Further background material
The trumpet blasts of the monstrous regiment (26 September 2016)
It was great to see fitness advocate Michelle Bridges bravely speak out for male victims of domestic violence on the Studio Ten TV show, despite the fact that the comperes made their own pro-feminist views abundantly clear (10 November 2015)
Feminism: Past its use-by date? (1 August 2014) An ABC radio interview with Australian feminists and anti-feminist activist Janet Bloomfield (plus readers comments)