May 31, 2010

Therapy verses Activism

Last night on TV3, Cameron Slater was once again on the News. This time, it was not because he'd outed someone in a Court case that was granted name suppression. This time it was more personal. The loss of his home following the denial of his Insurance company to keep paying out on his income protection plan. 

In 2004, Cameron was diagnosed with depression and it was this therapist that suggested he start a blog.

According to Cameron's wife, the therapist said "it was just the thing." Only, as we have all come to know and learn, that therapy, that fighting other people's causes, whether you agree with them or not, has landed Cameron in some serious shit. He is due to appear in Court this August to answer to the allegations of him breeching name suppression. No doubt, he will back in the News then as well. 

I will be one of the first people to admit - yes, I have hidden my scared sorry ass behind Cameron in silent support of what he's done. I do think the name suppression Laws in New Zealand need to be changed. I do think, when it comes to victims of sexual abuse, it is the victim's choice NOT the Judges who, in some cases, dish out name suppression because they don't want to add shame to the abuser. Some name suppressions are handed out purely on the basis of protecting the abuser's reputation. I am no legal expert but I'm pretty that's not the purpose of such a Law, and so yes, Cameron has become, like a lot of us, real bloody frustrated by it all, and yes, he's gone put his money where his mouth is, and yes, maybe he will have to pay for that. 

Some of you who have called me a pink haired liberal, I thank you. On a more serious note, it's only those small voices that yell the hardest, the loudest, that make for Law changes in this country - not the pussy voiced people like myself to a certain extent. I admire Cameron's courage. I sympathise with his wife's frustration - seeing her husband mangled by depression and only coming for a breath of fresh air when he's been fighting what she calls "other people's fights." 

But now, now that this TV3 News article has been broadcast saying (what some already knew) that Cameron suffers from a mental illness, some of the power in what he's been saying seems to have lost some of that joie de vie. Now people are saying, oh that's why Cameron went loop-da-loop, he has a mental illness. I don't think for a moment that his mental illness had anything to do with his sudden change of career, so to speak. I just think he's a passionate man who wears his heart on his sleeve, is prepared to take up the flag for causes, and does so, sometimes, in a rather "in ya face" manner, and .. oh yeah, he has a mental illness. 

By the way, when the hell did someone having a mental illness warrant national TV coverage?

And what of those who say that blogging, for example, is just good old fashioned therapy that's just using the latest technology? Well, who doesn't write a blog without some personal input, some personal experience influencing what they write? You don't need a mental illness for that. Some times you just need to be real pissed off with an ex-boyfriend to realise your potential as a voodoo-doll-making-blogger expert. Allegedly. 

So now we have people writing on Cameron's blog, telling him  to just shut the f*ck up and get himself some help? Why can't he be both a blogger and someone with a mental illness? And, when did those two lines (therapy verses activism) become so blurred? 

In writing this, I was reminded of a movie, called July 4th. Tom Cruise, never got therapy for his PTSD as a result of the war but he did alter the way people in general treated their returned service soldiers - and all that from a wheelchair. Sure he is just an actor, playing a part, but that situation and the subsequent movie was a real portrayal of life for a lot of people. He turned therapy over for activism and it worked. Pretty much like some of those submissions being sent into the ACC Clinical Pathway's Review Panel. I know most of those submissions are from people who are being refused therapy and have now decided to become activists in a cause against injustice. 

Some times people, it is in spite of a mental illness that people try to do good - not because of it. 

May 30, 2010

Getting Home Safe

I can't remember how old I was but the TV newsflash was never forgotten: A woman had leaned into her car, maybe to get something from the front seat. A man came up from behind, kidnapped, raped and killed her. A Journalist then stood before the camera, appealing to the public for information by describing what the victim was wearing. "A tight pink holder-neck top and a very short skirt..." There was no mistaking the innuendo that it was the victim's clothes that "enticed" the attack. There was no mention of her name, where she had parked. The general consensus was she had asked for it. 

As a young woman growing up, I resented the fact that I "had" to watch what I wore in case I set off one of those signals that only rapists could see and hear, and I was really pissed off that I was being asked to pay the same tax rate as my males counterparts but was not allowed to enjoy the freedom they had to explore a city park after dark. It does seem a little archaic to place the responsibility of a rapist's actions on that of his victim but that's the way things were for a while. 

Things have changed in the decades since my rebellious youth. Media has exposed us to all sorts of hideous crimes we would otherwise never have heard about. Charities are set up to collect victims at the bottom of the cliffs, and legislation is forever trying to cater for the violent changes happening in our society - albeit at a snail pace. 

So, if it's now acceptable for women to wear what they want when they want - pretty much in the same way men do - then why would taxi companies refuse to ensure these "scantly clothed women" get home safe?

In a recent report in the Herald News, one reporter claimed 15 out of 20 taxi drivers refused her fare on the basis that the trip was less than 1km. 

Urgent Cabs was one of the worst at refusing fares. Auckland manager Zakir Yaswen admits he is concerned about staff refusing rides. "It all comes down to one thing, greed. It's a personal issue with the driver. They can make money off short trips, but they aren't thinking like that."

According to the New Zealand Transport Authority a driver cannot refuse a passenger unless they feel threatened or the passenger is intoxicated, consuming food or drink or in a "filthy condition".

Taxi Federation president Tim Reddish acknowledges there is a problem with drivers refusing to take passengers for short distances. "It's an unfortunate practice, it's absolutely illegal and does the industry no good." 

NZTA spokesperson Ewart Barnsley confirms drivers can be fined $400 for refusing a short trip - but he adds there is trouble enforcing the rules in practice...but...that's what they are hired to do." So, next time you're out and about and a cab refuses to take your fare, note the licence plate number and make a complaint to the NZTA. After all, getting you home safe is their job, "that's what they are hired to do.

May 29, 2010

Sitting on the Fence

I was invited to join two groups on Facebook. I'm always kind of flattered when invites like that pop up cause, like most people, my ego likes to be stroked every now and then too. However, these two groups were vigilante groups. That's not just my opinion by the way - one was actually called that! 

I did take a wee look, as you do, and most of the posts were by one man who, by all accounts, is a bit pissed off the Justice system of New Zealand or, as he likes to refer to them - a bunch of soft cocks. 

I got two things to say about this:

One, why oh why is it that men (generally) fall back on bits of their anatomy to either insight a challenge or/and defend against one? I've seen posts where men tell other men to bring their willies to war (in more graphic terms) as if it's the size of their appendage that matters and not what's between their ears. I know, it might be the latest form of gallant behavior but...I dunno, there's something real non-romantic about that kind of heroism. I wonder how men would react if women started calling each other puny clit or, God forbid, little labia losers. I think I'd piss myself laughing if some chick got so tongue tied they resorted to bodily assaults and I think, so would she. 

The second thing I have to say about these groups is ... I was really tempted to join. I am still thinking about it. I found it hard to argue with any of the points they make. In one posted story, the step-father of a young child who was kidnapped, raped over a 22 hour period, and buried alive while he frantically searched for her body was arrested for threatening to kill the murderer. He may have got a suspended sentence and a lot of sympathy from the general public but he also has a criminal record as a result of that threat. 

I could see myself as one of those "noisy" protesters, outside the Court room, when he was dragged before a real pissed off Judge. If I push the envelope a little more and imagine that was my child, I would be the one standing defiantly in front of the judge with a concealed shotgun ready to take a pop at the murderer myself. But we're not allowed to think that, let alone say it or act out on it, and I'm pretty sure these groups aren't encouraging that...or are they?

That question was the one thing that stopped me from joining the group. I don't want to be seen as a Lawless vigilante but...but...but... if I was the victim of such a crime or the parent of one, would I actually have a choice? Wouldn't I just become one by default, by the course of human nature? 

I remember watching the movie A Time to Kill where actor, Samuel L. Jackson, plays the father of a rape victim. As the two accused are led into the Courtroom, he opens fire and kills them both. That is pretty much the opening scene. As a viewer, you start watching this movie in support of the legal system. You intellectually know that the two accused were "innocent before proven guilty," but it doesn't take long for your opinion to start wavering when you're asked, what would you do it that happened to your kid? By the way, they were guilty so any PC thoughts you may have had soon get squashed and a sense of justice prevails. 

So, will I join those groups and by doing so, be guilty by association in support of vigilantes or just have really strong viewpoints on our current criminal system and do nothing? Is there really a time to kill?

May 27, 2010

When Passion just won't cut it

A young friend of mine has just experienced what I call - the "too much passion syndrome." He's often in front or behind the camera that provides you and I with New Zealand's news. From all accounts he's done his job and he's done it well. Once "off camera" he is quick to revert back to one of the most "upbeat" people I know and that has become his downfall. I am sure that covering some of the more recent horrific news pieces we've heard of lately can't be an easy job but surely, having someone who can spring back from that and go head on into the next job with an equal amount of passion is what News agencies want. Surely. Whatever their reasons, my dear friend is now out of a job. "I'm apparently, just too god damn happy," he said.

The Media industry wants passionate people. It's not something you can learn at Journalist School. You either have it or you don't. The irony is, whilst they realize passion is imperative in linking emotion to the stories told, they also desperately need to rein it in. In reality, it's the advertisers that deem what News we read and even if that story you have is earth shattering and deemed "in the public interest," it will never see the light of day if the advertising department starts to get nervous.

My first ever article must have set a lot of people on their toes. The good thing about that was I had no idea. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. You see, I was never a "real" journalist. I'd never been to any school and I have no idea about how an article was to be formatted let alone the protocol in presenting something for publication. 

In short, my first journalist job was a mistake.

I was sitting in my lounge in London listening to the outbreak of the 1992 Gulf War. I could not believe the powers that be saw War as their only option. On my TV there was 'this man' trying to say something but the voice-over was drowning him out. I caught his name, Tony Benn MP for Chesterfield, and thought... I'm going to call him tomorrow. 

This was my plan: Ring the House of Commons. Ask to speak to Tony Benn. His super snoop secretary will interrogate me, realise I am a nobody, and tell me to bugger off. That was the plan.

This is what happened: I called the House of Commons. Asked to speak with Tony Benn. The phone rang, he picked up, I freaked out, lied about who I was and he agreed to a face-to-face interview the following Monday. To this day, I can still hear myself saying "I work for the Star Herald Morning Dom." 

In hindsight, Tony Benn knew I was a fraudster. But there was a media gag on any anti-war information. Journalists all over Europe were having their print material confiscated and they ended up taking their protest to the streets, to no avail. Maybe Tony thought I'd be dumb enough to submit an article to a New Zealand paper and, in turn, they'd be naive enough to get it published. Funnily enough, that is exactly what happened. 

Six months after the article was published in the Auckland Star, I decided to return to New Zealand for a holiday. At Heathrow airport, they took my ticket and passport, looked at their computer and then asked me to wait while they "checked something." Within minutes, two guys dressed like the Blues Brothers, approached me and asked for me to follow them for 'questioning.' I pissed myself laughing. I think I even bantered with one of the guys and thumped him on the shoulder. "Yeah whatever dude!" I laughed. I was convinced this was some sort of Bloopers and I was buggered if I was going to look like I'd been caught out. 

Needless to say, my humor was completely lost on the pair. I followed them into an office, sat down, and watched as they brought my suitcase in, unpacked it, and flicked on my little poor laptop. It made a horrendously slow beeping sound, more like a groan really, which made B1 take a step back and look nervously at B2.  

"It's just a flat battery," I reassured.

That was the last time I saw my laptop. All my poetry, letters to my mum, and even period due dates, were gone, off to Lala land. It didn't help that my daytime job was at a computer company called KGB Micros (KGB being the initials of the three Directors). It didn't help that I had business cards in my handbag that they siphoned through. And it certainly didn't help that I told them they were from my Russian Spy headquarters.

You see, I was still expecting the camera to come out and for someone to wave a white flag and announce me as one of the hardest people they've tried to pull a prank on. I still believed that when they handcuffed me to board my flight but I must admit, the joke was starting to wear a little thin when B1 accompanied me all the way to San Fransisco. Another seven hours of "talking" there and I was about to admit to any heinous crime. 

"Are you a Saddam sympathiser?"
"I don't think so,"
"What's your business here in the States?"
"Um, it's a stop-over mate, you know, so we don't run out of fuel before New Zealand!"
"Are you trying to be smart?"

B1 accompanied me on the second leg of my journey to New Zealand, by which time I was not only jet-lagged big time but I was real pissed off as well. I'd become annoyed with passengers looking at me as if I was a dangerous criminal in transit and I was still to make the connection that this had anything to do with my article. As the plane came to a stop at Auckland airport, B1 unlocked my handcuffs. I guess he figured I wasn't about to make a run for it - unlike when I was, you know, in mid-air. Where the hell did he expect me to run to?

Passengers started to stand, collect their overhead luggage, and jostle for positioning in the aisle before the inevitable announcement was made: "Would passenger Burns please remain seated." I avoided eye contact with a sweet looking granny who gave me one of those "poor wee thing" expressions, and before I knew it, two of the most handsome New Zealand Customs Officers was standing over my chair.

"Yeah right, look we'll take it from here."
B1 didn't take too kindly to being stripped of his duty."But I have to ensure she sets foot on NZ soil."
The Customs leaned it. "Well what do you think this plane is sitting on, a fucking cloud?"

That was the first and last time I wrote anything remotely connected to politics. Tony Benn did write to me after the article was published. He thanked me for a well written piece which I thought ironic considering I'd merely put quote marks around things he said. He also let me know that his offices are bugged and that he'd learned of my 'little encounter.' Twelve years later, I looked at that article and realised it could be republished and without a single change to the text. Just the headline: History Repeats Itself. Except this time, I don't think New Zealand would be naive enough to publish an article that goes so against the norm. New Zealand's media has evolved, unfortunately, and having an opinion, even a controversial one is a big "no no," as is having passion for the job. 

Who am I, really?

Only I know who I am. I am my best researcher. I lived the walk and walked the talk - I am an expert in being me.

Other's profess to know me. Certain family members think they know me better than I know myself, which, at the risk of sounding real uptight, is kinda wrong, insanely wrong. It can "play" with your head when close relatives say that sort of stuff (especially if you rely on their judgement) and, if you're anything like me (God forbid) you could spent near a life time trying to prove them wrong.

And it's not like what they say is really that bad. It's just that 'ownership' thing I have a problem with. Should I (we) not have the right to the last word on 'who we are?" People can have their opinion but that's all it is just an opinion, a perception, their perception. It's not written in stone, surely!

But what happens when people "insist" they are right and you are wrong - we're not talking about who makes the best muffins here. That I could deal with. I'm talking about people who "insist" you're something you really don't think you are?

I've spent the majority of my life trying to understand other people's motives for certain things. Sometimes, I go as far as laying facts down on paper, things they have said, and then, I look at them. I know they're being unreasonable and yet, I sit and try to figure out why. Do other people do that?

This is what I have come to realise: People's intentions generate from their own need to self preserve, first and foremost. If your friend appears to have gone cold on you, good chance is, what you're going through is too close to home for that person to deal with. As cold as it is, she/he will ditch you like there was no tomorrow. That is human nature. There in lies your first clue as to what your friend is "really" going through in their own lives.

Ironically, it has nothing to do with you - you are but a spark that flamed something in their lives that maybe, they might like to look at and heal from.

Sadly, because we're all so busy maintaining that public facade of happiness, no one gets to know ....who we really are.

May 26, 2010

Are you having issues with ACC Sensitive Claims Unit?

The new Review Panel wants to hear from you:

“We welcome feedback and input from clients of the Sensitive Claims Unit. We also wish to support people to do this in a way that suits them best”

The review panel welcome submissions on the Clinical Pathway.

Could you send this care of or send by post to the following address: PO Box 1039 Wellington (Key St). 

Cruising Sharks

Tell me something, would you swim in a pool of cruising sharks?  Let's say, you don't have a choice. For whatever reasons, you're in there, amongst them. You can feel them swishing passed your legs and you can all but hear the theme tune to Jaws pounding in your ears - I wonder what survival skills you would quickly adopt. Goes without saying that panic would set in. You'd probably find yourself pinned against the edge of the pool. Knees up around your ears. Every morsel of your being on constant high alert as you ready yourself for the inevitable - a face to face confrontation with these man eating giants. 

Hardly seems like a fair fight really but here's the thing - some people put other people in that exact same life-threatening position for every single wrong reason known to man. I'm referring to men who beat women, children who are forced into sleepless nights because of the monsters in the house, the real nasty silent ones, even the gutless bullies at schools these days...

Now imagine you've thrown a lifeline to that person.

All they have to do is take hold of it and be free from that hideous environment, only they don't take up the offer. Instead, they stay there, in the pool of cruising sharks, struggling to stay afloat and never knowing what's it like to sleep in peace. Why would someone do that, we wonder. 

I've wondered this when thinking about women who return to their abusive partners - why would they do that if there were options for them to leave? It's not like there aren't Women's refuges to go to and, for what it's worth, a Government ready to help out financially (if you got the mindset for yet another battle). I've also wondered this when referring to people who have had the option to seek counselling over problems, how they could do it for a while and, for whatever reasons, say it's just not working and return their former selves and/or situation. 

Then I realised. 

What would it be like if someone yanked me out of an environment that I didn't like, was certainly no good for me, but then just threw me into a pool with no basic life skills to manage? What I mean is, if you've spent a life learning skills like fighting cruising sharks, knowing their every move, anticipating the next outburst of violence, when would you ever have had time to learn how to swim? Especially as you'd spent most your life pinned against the pool walls fending off these bastards? Any skills you would have learned would soon become redundant - you would be redundant; literally, a babe in the woods.

Like anyone, victims of violence need to feed their self esteem in order to merely breathe. Comes as no surprise then, that some of these people return to their former lives of violence because, at the very least, they are damned good at surviving it.

It's not because they're useless - any more than it is because they like the violence thrust upon them. They are human beings, like each and every one of us, and they too (I now believe) just need some time and patience and someone, even a nonchalant friend, to teach them... how to swim.

May 25, 2010

Ya names at the door...

A lot of people want to "do" good but very few "action" it. Mostly because we don't have the opportunities to - we got our own crap to sort out right? - and then again, you come across someone who, despite all the "crap in their lives" still do everything within their power to reach out. And those people, in my view, are the unsung modern day heroes...and one such man is New Zealand's Mike King. (I am not on commission, just in case you're wondering)

Mike is a stand-up comedian. He's going to hate my minimalistic CV of his accomplishments but... yeah, he makes people laugh for a living and more recently, he walked away from a very profitable advertising campaign because he couldn't endorse the way pigs were being bred for slaughter - New Zealand's Pork industry are still reeling from that (Ha ha!). That's what the mainstream media would like you to know about Mike King. Mainstream cause it's all wrapped in dollars and marketing and who gets what cut of the profit pie. But what some of you might not know is Mike King is also a hero of new Zealand's Mental Health.

He hosts a Radio show, broadcast every Sunday night that runs simultaneously with a Facebook page. Here, he breaks the taboo and openly, real openly, talks about depression, alcohol addiction and drugs. We might not "fit" into some of those addictive labels but the general outcome - one of isolation and desperation - remains the same. I have provided the links for both the show and the Facebook page, so I won't bore you with any more details on that. However, what you and I, the listeners, the callers, the production team, and yes, even Mike himself, may not know is.... what effect this show (and Mike) is having on the lives of those he's touches.

There have many callers, with stories that could fit this "spot" so to speak - least of all, my own and the reasons why I stumbled across the group, but tonight, now, this limelight belongs to Sean Muir.

Sean called the Nutter's Club in February. He sounded a 'well rounded' person on the phone, just someone, any one of us would pass on the street without a second thought. What we never knew about Sean was that he suffered from depression and never knew about it "until 2005 when he and his partner split up." He took the split bad, real bad.

"I ended up pouring petrol over myself at a gas station."  

The Police were called, well before the incident, because Sean had left notes to members of the family. "They found a note at my Uncles and Aunty's house, where I was staying. I just didn't want them to blame themselves for it so left notes telling them it was my choice." Sean did try to set himself alight but, as fate would have it, none of his lighters would work, and this gave the Police enough time to run at him and (to use his words), "they beat the hell out of me, knocked me to the ground,"

Sean's failed suicide attempt landed him in the "nut house for a week" but the battle was still not over. 

In 2008, he decided to go dairy farming. "I love animals so I got a job on what I thought was a good farm and had my partner and kids move in." Things were going well for Sean until depression started seeping back into his life. "I think I was just getting overworked, doing 14 hour days, 11 days straight with only three days off." Unsurprisingly, the relationship started to deteriorate and in August 2009, they broke up.

After a month of consuming grief and depression, Sean started to listen to the Nutter's Club. "It was odd really, cause after the split, she took all her gear and I didn't even have a radio so I went and bought one and turned it on a Sunday night and there was Mike King talking about his depression." Sean didn't ring the show straight away. "I listened for a couple of weeks just going through my own hell... I was sitting there, crying and drinking bourbon (yum yum, lol, I don't drink it much anymore) and Sam, my dog, wouldn't let me out like he could see the pictures in my head... I called Mike instead."

"He told me he was coming to my hometown for a comedy show and that if I left my number with him, he'd call me over the next few days." Sean left his number but never thought for a moment that Mike would call, after all, "I thought he was just having me on cause you know, he's real busy."

Sean still has the text messages that Mike sent as he traveled through the South Island.

"Ya got wheels bro?"
"I said yeah and that I would love to come to his show but can't afford it. He messaged back that it was on him but I still thought, this guy's pulling my leg, why would someone do that for me?"

Sean arrived at the show with his mother.

"We got to the show, walked in and didn't have tickets so I walked up to one of the bar staff and showed her the text messages from Mike and she said yes, your table is right over here, and she showed us to the table and they were the best seats in the house."

"It was funny cause limos were turning up and people were looking to see if it was Mike King. Then I saw this  Maui camper-van turn up and I said, that's got to be him and ran outside."

"Sure enough, Mike comes walking up the hill with his big cheesy grin and stood next to me. I lit up a cigarette and he kinda said, hi ya bro, how you doing. I don't think he knew who I was."

I introduced myself and ...(tears up)...we give each other a hug while people are walking in, looking at us. We have a talk about the Nutter's Club and what struck me, was all these people, staring at us while we were standing there talking like old mates. Man I felt good."

"I told him my mother was inside and we walked in together. You know, he went straight up to my mum and have her a big hug and kiss. Then he asked her how she was doing and told her ...(more teary eyes)... I'm gunna help get our Sean sorted."

"Even in the breaks, he came over to and talked to us, bought some drinks. It made me realise something... if he thought I was worth something, then maybe I am - he also taught me to laugh again as I have a wicked sense of humor but just lost it for a while."

"I can never thank him enough for that. Maybe it was a small thing to him but it was giant for me. He even signed my shirt and I got some pictures with him."

"Happy? That would be an understatement. I was beaming from ear to ear. I realised, I am not a bad person and that I am worth something. Man, things have changed since then."

May 22, 2010

TNC - The new flagging system

So we're heading into Day two of the Nutter Club banning saga...

Day started out well. Woke to a lovely message from Mike King, posted at 2am, asking for 24 hours to look into this "whole big bloody mess" and a promise to "get back to you sister." He posted again a few minutes later asking whether I'd killed him off my Facebook page.

Well actually, what really happened is I went to my computer, flipped it on, and saw the following through blurred eyes: Mike King...kill...Jax." Probably the first time in a long that I was wide awake and without any coffee. It was then that I remembered sitting up last night with my mum, trying to teach her how to play poker on a Facebook application. She got so into it even if, um, we lost $71,000. It could have been more, only I went to bed and left her to it...playing poker on my Facebook account and appearing 'online' for the world to see. Now, Mike's messages made sense. He sees me online, emails me, I do nothing. On this end of the stick, mum plays poker, is about to win hand, something beeps, and she freaks out, shutting down the whole entire system.

Her explanation - "Gee I dunno, something went bleep, the page went swish and I went see you!" Mystery number one, solved for the day.

Mike did call, not too long after I wiped the sleep from my eyes. Hard to sound like you've been up for ages when your jiggling to do number ones. "Now let me explain something," he said. Details of how the Facebook flagging system worked and how complaints are worked all followed. 

Did you know that in every group, on their discussion page, there is a 'flag' alongside every comment made? Now don't go thinking, like me, that is was just another "like ya post' thing cause it is so way...not! Others even thought it was a flag that enabled you to follow just that person's comments, you know, like some convenient stalker button or something, and again, it is just so way...not! What it is, is an instantaneous 'report' button that is flagged to Facebook direct! Don't roll your eyeballs like you knew! Anyhow, the rule of thumb is, flagged 10 times and the Group Management is notified. Flagged more than that and it over-rides the group and goes direct to the Facebook Gods. They then contact the group managers and ask for some "action" to be taken against the flaggette. 

Now I don't have any issues with security. Love it, don't know it works, need it? Call a friend. That's me. Done. I don't want to know how it works. I just want it to work for me. 

But there are those times when it will actually work against you. In the case of the flagging system within Facebook groups, any old member, even those without a grudge can flag your comments. I was flagged 40 times last Sunday night. Enough to have the Facebook NZ Security Guards wet themselves, so it would seem. They passed on their "grave" concerns to the Nutter's Club Management Team who have "never had a request like this in their life!"

The fact that they have never had a previous request is because it's a new system and NOT because I'd suddenly matured into some sort of new-age Scarlet O'Hara techno queen - much like what TNC thought and very much what I was, in fact, led to believe. So, in short, they panicked. That panic was fed into the "warning" letter I received from TNC head quarters about my "in appropriate conduct." It was then flamed by a coincidentally timed letter of complaint about me. So now, we have one man, head of TNC Computer department with a Facebook official notification and a written complaint. All the evidence one needs to perform an instant ban. 

We understand the flagging by now but you're probably thinking I've been caught out big time by a four-page letter of complaint - um "well articulated" and all as well. I thought the same thing when Mike King was explaining this all to me. Four pages? What size font? Oh...normal reading size then. Well whoever it was had a lot to say then. 

The problem is this: No one read the complaint. Well, you know, they got the general idea that this person was kind of pissed off but not once was there that nagging question festering in the back of someone's head... how can this be right, this is Jax he's talking about? But it's an articulated letter so this dude has to be right.. oh what a conundrum. Upshot being flagging and articulate man won and the knee jerk reactions began.

I did try to pick up clues in the letter from TNC about what was the problem and do recall stumbling on the word "historical." These complaints have been going on for some time, I was told. TNC are usually very patient when it comes to complaints. They tolerate more from their members on the basis they're, nuts really. So yeah, you get someone having an emotional meltdown and sometimes, very rarely, they will get hauled off site quick smart. In all the time I was a member, I saw this done only 3-4 times. They were particularly offensive: white supremacist's and other wackos. All others were given warnings. 

For me to have not received even a warning, and considering we're talking historical here as well, came out of the blue - put me right up there alongside the Nazi (ex)member and real nasty pieces of work. Little old me. And that, quite frankly, caused an uproar.

Since I was unable to post or comment on the Site, I could do nothing but watch the room tear itself apart. A sad day to say the least. There were protests, demands for an explanation, some left the group altogether, while others sat around looking all befuddled and more confused than when they arrived. TNC Management did all they could to try and quell the unrest and when it got too heated, the heavy handedness came out. "If you don't like it, maybe you should leave." People became more and more outraged by the dogmatic responses and eventually, there was a shut down of the entire site. That was day one.

Day two with Mike King explaining how complaints are dealt with and I am feeling a little more positive. I ask what he needs me to do to help troubleshoot. I post on my private Facebook page for people to stop hassling the TNC management. I write to Radiolive and ask they delete any negative TNC (pro-Jax) comments off my blog promoting TNC. Mike makes several calls and then post on TNC site for people to stop being dickheads and attacking the Management team. Posts come pouring in. Again, I can only watch. Posts asking for an explanation, an apology, and there was even a wee attempt to start a petition. All very flattering if not soul destroying at the same time - I'm usually in the midst of all this drama and there I was looking from the outside in. The posts become very heated and Management cops some flack, some nasty flack, some real nasty flack. The site is, once more, closed down. 

A certain member of the TNC Management now thinks there is a witch hunt going on for the person who flicked the switch on my membership, and that culprit, once again, is me. So now we have this person feeling ever so persecuted in control of who can post and who can't. It comes therefore, as no surprise, that positive and supportive posts are being deleted while some, clearly in breech of any group guidelines remain for the world to see. This causes outrage number two and again, I can see, I can read, but I cannot comment, post, nothing. 

Four hours after Mike King called with suggestions on how we could troubleshoot this situation and regain some of the group's former glory, I email and retract my desire to return to the group.

I cannot see how I could even enter that group without erupting a hornet's nest. My friends will be subtle, say things like "hi how are you Jax" but they're human and they have also been hurt and insulted, so it wouldn't take long for someone to say "and about bloody time. Good to have you back. They made a mistake" etc., and that would start up round four. 

Besides, how long would it be before anyone just randomly "flagged" my post before I found myself out on my ear again and through no fault of the group or management? Especially as there is still this matter of the written complaint - a letter from a regular who has taken offense to my popularity and, from what I can gather, has stalked me for months on the Group, cutting and pasting every comment, to collate into his hideous report. 

That in itself was what annoyed Mike King the most because had he known about this letter, he too would have realised the author is well... not well, really. He has had a similar experience with the same person. I have enough clues now to have a very good indicator of who this person is and my instant reaction was to cull 192 contacts from my Facebook account - him included. I do resent the fact that he's been sitting there in the wings reading my personal Facebook page and collating that with whatever has been discussed on TNC. He a cyber stalker, surely? If nothing else a very sad and somewhat creepy dude. 

And so now, it's 3am and Mike King would have finished his stand up comedy gig. I just hope he reads my email and says "To hell with it, I'm too bloody tired to deal with this crap." I would. Like they say, things have a way of working themselves out in the end and for those that did have a malicious part in any of this (you know who you are) I have this to say: "Karma."  

May 21, 2010

ACC - SCU Review Forum

Info: Compliments of the Swamp Report - link on side panel 
Lunchtime Forum: Wednesday May 26th, 12-2pm
Centre for Global Action, Level 2, James Smiths Building, cnr Cuba and Manners Streets, Wellington

The financial support ACC’s Sensitive Claims Unit provides survivors of sexual violence, in the form of funding therapy, was radically altered in October 2009 with the introduction of a new clinical pathway. The Roundtable on Violence Against Women is hosting a forum to hear about how the new clinical pathway is impacting on survivors.

  • Are most survivors' claims accepted by ACC?
  • For those survivors who cannot access ACC-funded support, what is available?
  • Finally, and most importantly, is the ACC Sensitive Claims Unit the most appropriate agency to help survivors and our communities recover from the harm caused by sexual violence?
  • Suzanne Johnson, Psychotherapist, Member of NZ Association of Psychotherapists (NZAP), Chair of NZAP Public Issues 2006-2010
  • Wendi Wicks, Disability Coalition Against Violence
  • Margaret Hester, ACC Claimant
  • Helen Sullivan, General Manager Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP
The Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation provides 24/7 crisis support, counselling and primary prevention services in Wellington and Porirua.  A significant proportion of our counselling work had been funded through ACC Sensitive Claims and the impact of the clinical pathway has significant financial implications for our agency and its ability to maintain current levels of services for clients dealing with the impact of sexual violence on their lives.

May 20, 2010

Banned from The Nutter's Club

I woke this morning to a letter from the administrator of the Nutter's Club saying I was in breech of the group's Guidelines, that they had received "numerous" complaints in person. Initially I thought it was one of those "bad taste" jokes and I may even have responded to it like that. However, the reply left me in no doubt:

"You are lucky that we're even responding to you, Facebook want you banned."

I immediately went to the group's site to try and locate this serious breech and could not find anything. A email to the admin asking for details of said offence was met with a cat and mouse game - basically telling me to go find it for myself. I found this very hard to do as I was now banned from the site and so too were all "offence" message including one that apparently had "legal ramifications." Legal? WTF?

I have since been notified that my membership to the group was deleted by Facebook and not TNC. Can Facebook do that I wonder? Can they go into any old group and simply delete members without the Group Owner's agreement?

Well whatever "it" was that was deemed so offensive that it caused me to be banned will obviously remain a mystery.

I still think TNC is a good group. I think what they do is extraordinary for those struggling through mental illness and yes, it has been a saving grace for me in the past. I am very confused about their decision and more than a little PISSED OFF.

As difficult as it will be, I will still advocate for the Group and all that they endeavour to do - even as the Scarlet O'Hara outcast.

May 19, 2010

Not all "mental injuries" are bad.

A Letter to the world

Michael. (Team Manager, ACC SCU - Sensitive Claims Unit)

Guess, it's true what they say...tomorrow never comes. 

Oh well, I mean it's ONLY SEVEN  odd months since my claim was submitted - and fancy Nick Smith saying "Claims take 20 days on average." Do you guys actually keep that one up to date on reality? Forget it, he probably wouldn't listen anyhow. 

NOTE: I will be forwarding all our correspondence (over the seven - eight months) to the Head of Complaints and a National newspaper as it seems I have exhausted the services of the "team" you "manage" Michael. 

But back to this Insensitive Claims Unit:

I am not stupid or dumb. Dr Peter Jansen who implemented these "INHUMANE" changes is hoping if he makes things too damn hard we'll either go away or kill ourselves like two people I know already while others remain on suicide watch with Danielle Martin!

The SCU is a disgrace - it's a Clinical Pathway to Government Assisted Suicide! 

I am still here for that its worth! 

I know you are not qualified to make a decision about the medical treatment I require - no more than Kate who kind of disappeared on my Case as well. Which leaves the VERY SMALL handful of people who are if you can catch them in between their own private practice work and Jansen's no help - he's too busy fighting off the media and those bloody annoying reporters that just want to know what the hell he was thinking implementing a system NO ONE wanted - Gee, least of the the Royal NZ College of GPs but then what choice did they have when Jansen writes a letter of support on their behalf and sits back pruning his bloody feathers on the College Board!

The likes of Jansen and Morris won't fall on their sword when other clients kill themselves through sheer desperation or that god forbid, NZ walkes up and refuses to pay levies to an organisation that continues to TORTURE their clients.

I don't know what is worse Michael - the flashback of child abuse or the reminder that every day in every way I am smaller and smaller and smaller in the eyes of any organisation PAID to help me. I do NOT MATTER. I am INVISIBLE!. I am NOTHING!


What was the point of Jansen spending all that money to implement Guidelines when it's pretty bloody obvious they don't matter and that no one that I know of, or have had the misfortune of dealing with, follows what IS written in any event?

What is the point of even doing counselling through ACC if it means I will HAVE TO do this ALL OVER AGAIN after an initial "few" sessions and will need to see ANOTHER assessor and revisit the trauma over and over again - just to QUALIFY for continuation of support?

Did you know Michael, that after my first assessment in order to get a DSM-IV diagnosis that I sat in a curb outside the counselling office, opposite Parliament funnily enough, for three hours, bawling my eyes out and unable to even remember where the HELL I lived? That's what it's like when you FORCE someone to TELL GRAPHIC details of their rape. I needed counselling to get over the frigging assessment! 

And yet... here we are, three months later. 

What's the point of writing to even the Minister of ACC when he's too busy hiding behind a letter of support from the one and only external organisation that supposedly supports these moves - RNZCGP? What's the point of watching him skirt around the questions raised by Annette King in the House and arguing over semantics when you know he's just going to fog off your concerns to Patsy Wong? What is the point of writing to him when he merely says put your questions to his SECRETIVE Review panel, of which no one know anything about?  

What was the point of sending me to a complete stranger to rehash the GRAPHIC details of my sexual abuse just so, THREE months down the bloody track, I can't even get a courtesy call or email from the people who - what? - are merely sitting there perusing those details like a pack of animals? Where's my COPY of that so called DSM-IV report? How is it that someone I don't even know can write about what's going on for me, what's best for me, and NOT BOTHER to even TELL ME?

What is the point of having me call your office on a weekly basis asking for updates only to be told yeah, we got someone for your to see. You don't know her but here's her name. We aren't going to tell you WHERE she is or HOW to contact her or WHAT she is seeing you for cause as far as YOUR concerned, YOUR job is done. 

I do all those things in the VAIN hope that someone, ANYONE, wakes up to what's actually happening to the people YOU are all SUPPOSE to be concerned about. Walk in my shoes and then have that complacent mindset Mr Watson!

By all means, send this to whoever you want. I no longer care about my rights to privacy. I have felt so VIOLATED and EXPOSED by the SCU so much over the passed year that I've fallen back on my old childhood survival skills of disassociation. Look that one up in your manual. 

Mother, Writer, Child Sex Abuse Survivor, Brave enough to take Offender to Court, Asking for counselling to assist in that procedure, Advocate for Children's Rights, (my Rights) and above all, A New Zealand Citizen and Voter. - Gee, you'd think one of those "labels" would have been worth something. Oh yeah, I apparently have a "mental injury" as well but it's top secret and not even I know what it is!

Wait for it...

Ready? Any minute now. Shush, here she comes. (Watches sleepy child wander passed computer)

"Morning Mum." 
"Morning honey."
"What ya doing?"

You know, I just never stood a chance - before I could answer, she had elbowed me in the eye, thrown her face into the computer screen, and started to go ultra-sonic. I know this to be true because, even though I was partially blind, I still managed to spot the cat propel himself out the room. Looked like I'd zapped him with a tayza gun or something too - I didn't alright (not that the cat will think that). I started to 'come round' right about the time the cat gave 'evils' from the back door.

"Oh my God! Oh my God, it's him!" 
"No kidding Sherlock? Gee, I wonder how got there?"
Thud. "Ouch!"
"Oh Mum don't you see? Don't you get it?" 

At this point I am sensing the need for a Lawyer. Maybe I should just take the 5th, only I suddenly remember we don't have the 5th in New Zealand. We hardly have a 1-2-3...

"Mum! Did you hear me?" 
"Isn't he just, you know... beautiful?"

Her first crush. Well I must admit, it's a vast improvement on mine. Actually I take that back cause, mark my words, if Donny Osmond were to (stop laughing) were to walk right in here, right now, this very minute, I'd um, wet myself most probably. 

Bless. Sweet little Donny. The man whose poster was on my bedroom wall. The very same poster I would never get undressed in front of, you know, on the account of his religion and all and my respecting that and ...his whole family posing alongside of him was the real reason. Can't be doing with stripping in front of Donny's Dad!...burr...Dad, no! Donny...

"You've gone all dreamy. You like him too, don't you Mum?" 

Come One, come all!

ACC - Clinical Pathway to Lala Land

Like a few people I imagine, I'm pretty much playing "catch up" on thee ole ACC  saga. Sure, I saw the protests on TV some months back and yeah, I've heard rumbles from some about the "hideous" recommendations, but I never really thought more about it until I flicked through emails sent to me by another member. 

Within two days of sifting through her copious emails I was livid. She's not a reporter but she sure as hell could give some of our current ones a run for their money. She's a nurse, a psych nurse, and she's deadly passionate about the changes not only in the legislation but in the effect it's having on those close to her. This is a woman who entered into the health profession with a sense of pride and today, she's "gutted" by her own health professional's unethical decisions. In short, she feels ashamed of them.

In order to understand her a little more, she needed to speak to me like a five year old, running through all the acronyms for healthcare providers - some of which, I personally would have thought twice about joining for that sole reason. Patient as she has been with me, I now know that the RNZCGP is the Royal NZ College of General Practitioners. Whoop-de-do, I hear you say, and they are what exactly? I'm not going to go into a commercial for this organisation for a number of reasons - it's late, I'm a tad frazzled, and I'm not one of their most fondest advocates at the moment. Suffice to say, this is like the group you join if you were a builder and wanted a few initials after your name to add credibility to the work you provide. In brief that is. In any event, it's usually regarded as a highly professional and ethical body of health professionals that, until recently, had the welfare of not only New Zealand patients in mind but that also of their members. 

Now that is where we start to come a little unstuck. You see most the members of the College opposed the "inhumane" changes proposed by the Government regarding ACC. However, the Dr Pert (apt name) sent a rather impulsive and badly written press statement, on behalf of the College, claiming they supported these changes. Now, if you read it with a fine tooth comb, if ever that were possible, you'd see that the College was "actually" agreeing with the Massey University research and moreover, the recommendations those researchers put forward. So far so good, right?

Wrong. The initial study document and the 'butchered' information ACC selectively extracted from that report is what now makes up the infamous 'Clinical Pathway Guidelines.' It's nothing like the original but the names of both the original document and the resulting guidelines are so closely linked that people, like me, start to glaze over.

The end result is, the College "Does not" support the guidelines ACC have enforced even though their hasty press release some months prior claimed they did. 

It is this wonderful fudged press release that Nick Smith sleeps with at night. He must be thanking his lucky stars that Dr Pert (who signed the release) was to say the least, not pert enough that morning because, from behind this date stamped release, Nick can now bat his eyelashes and plead ignorance to their opposition and (as is the case) drag the whole thing out in Parliament for months on end.

Once the wrangling over which 'actual' document the opposition are referring to and Nick Smith resentfully conceding, we might be able to get onto some more worrisome details of that press release. Like, who actually wrote the damned thing in the first place? Now I know I mentioned Dr Pert but I was careful to add that he merely signed it.

Sources say the actual author was Dr Peter Jansen.

Stick with me folks. Dr Peter Jansen has a medical history as long as my arm, Specializes in Maori health, apparently. Like I said, this profession is not my forte. In any event, what he use to do is irrelevant. He is now the senior medical adviser for ACC. He's the one that's been prancing around New Zealand "showcasing" his new Clinical Pathway Guidelines. The one that's completely ignored the number of health professionals that walked out of their annual conference in protest of these changes and his absolute refusal to halt the process until.. gee, let me think, some actual real live health professionals have a say in what's "Best practice" for their patients. Okay, so he's the bad guy right.

At the risk of sounding like an info-commercial - wait, there's more! Mr Bad Guy is also on the RNZCGP Board! Now, isn't that a little like 'swinging both ways?' He's on the Board of a health profession that are passionately opposed to what he's doing at his daytime job. And he was also the one who wrote the original press release that Nick Smith has framed on his office wall.
How stupid is this College? I mean, I've heard about keep your friends close but your enemies nearer but isn't this taking things a little too far? Surely it's unethical for the College to have the bad guy on their Board let alone writing press releases supporting causes they oppose.

So what has the College done about this? Nothing! Not a brass razoo!  Where is their press release categorically refuting these changes, you know, something written by someone who 'isn't'  pro-ACC? At the very least you would have thought they'd have expressed their regret and/or apologized to their members. Yeah, you'd think, right.

So anyway, while all this is paper pushing is going about in Parliament - with today's meeting being no more different and moving nothing forward - victims, genuine health professions, advocates, lawyers, protesters, and me are sitting here completely baffled about the blatant corruption surrounding this issue and moreover, Nick Smith's slimy answers to questions he's too terrified to answer.   

I motion to table ...ah, to hell with it. Mr Speaker, pass me that ruddy staff of yours. I'll do it myself!