‘Our Watch’: DV advocacy or shrill mouthpiece for gender feminism?

I hold significant reservations in relation to the operation of the staunchly feminist group Our Watch‘, formerly known at the ‘Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children‘. The feeling appears to be mutual as, despite being a law-abiding Australian taxpayer, I have been blocked from both their Facebook page and Twitter stream since late 2014.

My concerns include, but are not limited to:

  • The cost-effectiveness of allocating public monies to ‘Our Watch‘ with regards to achieving a measurable reduction in the incidence of domestic violence and/or providing tangible assistance to all victims of domestic violence
  • The extent to which the activities of ‘Our Watch‘ are driven by a desire to maximise the acceptance and influence of feminist ideology rather than a desire to maximise the two outcomes listed above
  • The effect of ongoing misrepresentations made by ‘Our Watch‘ in relation to the allocation of resources towards research into female perpetration of violence, the level of support provided to male victims of domestic violence, and the availability of counselling/treatment options for violent women and couples

On the first point, I believe that it is appropriate that the government both participate, and support the participation of others, in combating domestic violence and in assisting its victims. But this should be done in a manner that is both impartial and cost-effective. There should also be complete transparency and accountability on the part of both those allocating and those receiving public monies.

In 2013/14 ‘Our Watch‘ received a whopping $4,675,550 in government funding whilst raising a paltry $6,083 in donations. These funds were sourced from the federal government ($1 million/year) and the governments of Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory. A financial report for ‘Our Watch’ can be sourced from the web site of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (see the relevant ACNC registry entry here and a related blog post here).

As with the White Ribbon Campaign (another Australian feminist DV advocacy group),  ‘Our Watch‘ do not directly assist victims of domestic violence. Instead they rent office space, employ many feminists staff, and run various PR/’education’ campaigns. These campaigns are divisive and involve the dissemination of misinformation that demonises men whilst failing to deal with female perpetration of violence. I am dubious about the extent to which their campaigns reduce the incidence of domestic violence, and indeed this has yet to be demonstrated.

I note that former MP turned journalist Gary Johns was subjected to harsh criticism after querying the effectiveness of government funds being provided to advocacy groups like ‘Our Watch‘ in lieu of directly funding service provision by government agencies.

Our Watch‘ advocates for female victims of domestic violence, which in and of itself is a laudable goal. A problem arises however when ‘Our Watch’ justifies their focus by claiming that the overwhelming majority of domestic violence is perpetrated by men upon women, and then seeking to validate this assertion through the ongoing misrepresentation of information concerning patterns of DV perpetration (example).

I don’t think there is any doubt that statements by politically astute groups such as ‘Our Watch’ do have a significant influence on decisions by government in relation to policies, priorities and funding allocation related to the sphere of domestic violence. This has resulted in a situation whereby government agencies treat all men as potential (if not, actual) violent abusers, where there are almost no resources available to battered men (and their children), and violent women are essentially waved away until such time as they commit a serious felony.

Those who visit Our Watch‘s Facebook page and Twitter stream will note that surprisingly little of the communication emanating from that organisation is directly related to their purported area of primary concern – domestic violence.  What you will see instead is considerable self-promotion, and a preponderance of material that could only be described as feminist propaganda.

On a visit to their Facebook page on 26 October 2014 for example I noted the following:

Reader Kath Kerr: It is not fair and it is not right that privileged men who murder are consistently granted lenient sentences.

Our Watch: Too many young people in Australia have witnessed acts of physical domestic violence against a parent. (No mention that equal number of kids have seen their mum abuse their dad, as have seen their dad abuse their mum – Source)

Our Watch: It’s time to stop asking what about men (in relation to this article)

Our Watch: Congratulations to Liz Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Our Watch Ambassador, for winning the 2014 Women of Influence award. (Celebrating the work of a highly-paid femocrat who has demonstrated absolutely zero interest in the welfare of men & boys)

And finally …

Our Watch: Strong language Warning: Oh my! Language, ladies. *clutches pearls*
This is F*cking brilliant and quite possibly the best thing on the internet. Ask yourself, What is more offensive? A little girl saying ‘f*ck’ or the f*cking unequal and sexist way society treats girls and women?” http://vimeo.com/109573972 

Avril Mesh, Ben Lakos, Domestic Violence Resource Service Mackay and 63 others like this.

If any readers of my blog have yet to witness this video, and wish to see just how far feminism has fallen, then click on the above link (Strong language warning)

Ok, enough! And so I proceeded to raise my concerns with the ministers of those agencies that see fit to hand millions of our tax dollars over to ‘Our Watch‘ … namely the federal Government, the Northern Territory Government, and the Governments of Victoria and South Australia.

“Dear Minister 

I write to you today to voice my strong objection to material posted in the facebook page of the group known as ‘Our Watch’ (refer attached ‘screensave’). I do so as I am aware that they receive a substantial amount of ongoing gov’t funding, and thus should be at least somewhat accountable to broader public standards.

The disgusting video that they have promoted and ‘liked’ on their facebook page (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqHYzYn3WZw&noredirect=1) is discussed in these articles: http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/feminism-has-nothing-to-say-but-it-still-wont-shut-up/ and http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/10/24/barbara-kay-feminist-video-turns-to-child-abuse-to-send-distorted-message/

I believe that their support for such an ‘initiative’ is reprehensible and they should be required to remove both this and other radical feminist material from their web site, twitter account and facebook page. I don’t know if you look at the material that they promote in their facebook page, but it is almost entirely either pure self promotion for key personnel or strongly pro-feminist ideological material that has only cursory relevance to the subject that is meant to be their focus – domestic violence.

Please would you act on this matter as it is clear that ‘Our Watch’ require much greater oversight if they are to continue to receive large amounts of taxpayer-funded support. Thank you for your anticipated prompt intervention concerning this matter.”

I subsequently received a response to my complaint from John Elferink, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, with the Northern Territory Government:

“I write to you in response to your email dated 28 October 2014 in regards to a Facebook post ‘Potty-Mouthed Kids Drop F-Bombs for Feminism by FCKHB.com’ shared by the group ‘Our Watch’.

As you are aware the role of Our Watch is to drive long term cultural and attitudinal change from the ground up through community engagement and advocacy and working in close partnership with the Second Action Plan to the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children.

The Northern Territory Government is committed to reducing domestic violence. The financial contribution to Our Watch is just one of the ways that this Government is supporting initiatives which seek to drive attitudinal and cultural change.

Whilst the initiative that was placed on their Facebook page was divisive, this should not detract from the important work that Our Watch does in the primary prevention of violence sphere. I thank you for your vigilance in monitoring the material placed on the Our Watch social media pages and bringing it to my attention. I believe the offending post has since been removed and I have instructed the Domestic Violence Directorate to monitor the site content regularly.”

The Hon Kevin Andrews MP, Federal Member for Menzies and Minister for Social Services sent the following reply dated 3 December 2014:

“I appreciate you raising your concerns regarding the link to a video Our Watch posted on 21 October 2014. Our Watch was established as an independent company by the Commonwealth and Victorian governments in June 2013, as an initiative under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

Our Watch will work to provide national leadership to prevent all forms of violence against women and their children. This will be done by changing attitudes, behaviours, social norms, and practices that create violence against women and children, including the promotion of gender equality. There is a growing body of evidence showing that people with a poor understanding of gender equality may also have attitudes and behaviours that support violence.

The long term outcome of Our Watch is to encourage public conversations in Australia to support gender equality and understand the links between gender inequality and violence against women. Content on the Our Watch Facebook page is chosen to engage people in the debate by raising awareness about the importance of gender equality, challenging stereotypes and preconceived myths regarding the role of women in our society.”

So there we have it … promoting a video of pre-teen girls swearing their heads off = providing “national leadership“, a further aspect of which involves Our Watch encouraging “public conversations” by removing dissenting Facebook posts and banning their authors from contributing further. Would the Minister be equally comfortable with a men’s rights group promoting a similar video “challenging stereotypes and preconceived myths regarding the role of (men) in our society.” Probably I guess, unless, of course that would involve facilitating just a little too much real gender equality.

The Hon Jay Weatherill MP, Premier of South Australia sent a very basic acknowledgement only, and the Hon Heidi Victoria,  Minister for the Arts, Minister for Women’s Affairs, Minister for Consumer Affairs,  has yet to provide me with a response. I will update this post should such a response be received.

See also:

Our Watch charity invited to assess its own schools gender equity program (4 February 2017) Conflict of interest? What conflict of interest?

Statement in relation to *some* of the funding that Our Watch receives from the federal government each year

A further example of the inappropriate use of children to help bang the feminist drum

Natasha Stott Despoja launches anti-violence campaign (10 November 2015) with related reddit discussion thread here

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ourwatchCEO

Other posts in this blog that are most relevant to this topic:

So what exactly is the ‘Domestic Violence Industry’?
Fudging the figures to support the feminist narrative
Just how heartless (or deeply in denial) can people be?
A busy few weeks for gender matters (Aug/Sept 2014)
Feminist advocacy group ‘Our Watch’ seeks shield from public scrutiny

3 thoughts on “‘Our Watch’: DV advocacy or shrill mouthpiece for gender feminism?”

  1. As a (male) victim of (female) domestic violence, I can say that a DV website is as much use as a chocolate teapot. I need counselling and strategies to deal with images of my abuser in my head when I have flashbacks. Not Facebook ‘likes’ .

    So I support you 100%

  2. Update: In 2014 Our Watch received $13.1 million in government funding.

    On its website (currently offline despite the funding) Our Watch tries to diminish any connection between domestic violence and poverty, unemployment and drug and alcohol abuse. It assets that the principle causes of domestic violence are ‘gender inequality’ and ‘gender stereotyping’.

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