australian values

Linked from the ninemsn.com.au homepage on 27/08/07
(Hot Topics):

Migrants to Australia will need to learn English and endorse the values of mateship and a fair go in order to become Australian citizens under a tough new test.

For the first time, the Federal Government has laid out what it regards as the 10 essential Australian values every citizen must embrace. The 10 Australian values focus on "mateship and a fair go", including tolerance and mutual respect and compassion for those in need, dignity and freedom of the individual and the freedom of speech.

My response:

As for "mateship and a fair go" and "tolerance and mutual respect and compassion for those in need", I think about Aboriginal rights, the treatment of refugees and the lack of fairness shown GLBT individuals - to name a few examples of Australian hypocrisy.

"Dignity and freedom of the individual": When it comes to euthanasia/end of life choices, animals get more humane and dignified options than human beings.

As for freedom of speech: There is no such thing as freedom of speech in Australia. For example, not only is it against the law to discuss such books as Philip Nitschke's The Peaceful Pill Handbook* (see below)

on the telephone or in email, in addition that book is now banned from sale in Australia.

For now at least, I am still able to tell my story on my own personal website, but I wonder if that freedom will eventually be taken away.

It seems to be common thinking in Australia that information is BAD. If people kill themselves, it's because they have access to the internet at a time when they are vulnerable. On impulse, they find a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Legalization of euthanasia will create a slippery slope, and availability of information regarding methods of self-deliverance will lead to vulnerable young persons killing themselves in droves.

But this kind of thinking ignores the realities behind what leads a person to think about killing themselves. What is wrong in their lives that they feel they must kill themselves, and why is it that they don't talk to anyone in their families about it, or why is it that families and friends can't help?

Is the internet more to blame for suicide than the actual circumstances of a person's life?

Can it ever be a positive thing for a person to choose death over life?

Certainly that is a topic of conversation that is too much of a burden for most friends and family. And if you take it to a therapist, you might lose your personal freedom because the therapist might fear the legal repercussions if you kill yourself on his/her watch. But if you are going to discuss it in Australia over the internet or on the phone, you have to be careful about how you handle it, because you might make your situation worse by adding on legal problems.

For people who think that locking suicidal people up helps: my personal observation is that in too many cases the experience of being locked up adds to the trauma and leads to further isolation, despair and hopelessness.

In my experience with the newsgroup alt.suicide.holiday, I have seen how just being able to talk about problems with those who face similar issues can be of benefit. I think there is a superstition that if people talk about suicide methods it will result in an epidemic of suicide attempts. However, when people are allowed to speak freely, what I observed was that very few of those people actually attempted. What happened instead was that new friendships, alliances, and alternative families (support systems) were formed. Also, people become aware of what methods are likely to result in permanent damage or injuries that may make their life worse - and this in itself probably discourages some people from making attempts. Perhaps the most important issue is that people who experience overwhelming despair are sometimes able to find comfort from others who understand what they are going through.

~

*The following book could not have been published without a disclaimer. When I read the book, it was not yet banned for sale in Australia. It is now banned from sale in Australia, even with the disclaimer - although it is not illegal to own a previously purchased copy.

The Peaceful Pill Handbook (Australian Edition)

by Dr Philip Nitschke and Dr Fiona Stewart

Disclaimer:

For legal reasons - see Criminal Code Amendment (Suicide Related Material Offences) Act 2005 - this book is not to be reproduced or loaded in part or full on the internet or transmitted electronically including by email, internet or fax. Nor may the contents of this book be discussed using any of the above carriage services, including the telephone.