In television's ever-growing quest for shock-driven ratings, Channel 7 has stooped to a new low with its Seven Year Switch offering.
Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton said a program glamorising partner swapping and disloyalty did not present a vision of flourishing human relationships conducive to building a civil society.
"Channel 7 really should ask itself if this presents a vision of human dignity or is it just crass voyeurism?
"Many marriages and relationships have produced children by seven years. Is glamorising partner swapping really a good idea for the individuals and children that may be involved?"
Mr Shelton said Seven Year Switch plumbed a new low of so-called reality television.
"I really do think the Seven network could do better and that we as a society are better than this,” he said.
“We urge shareholders to express these concerns to management.”
Complaints can be lodged online, on the Channel 7 Facebook page, or on twitter @Channel7
8 March 2016
Victorian school communities should be free to say no to the so-called Safe Schools Coalition, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.
ACL Victorian Director Dan Flynn said the Andrews Government was wrong to force the age-inappropriate sexualised program on school communities and parents when opposition against it was growing.
“It is of deep concern to the Australian Christian Lobby and many Victorian parents that the Government is behaving like big brother and enforcing contested rainbow ideology onto our children,” Mr Flynn said.
Mr Flynn made the comments in response to a media report yesterday in which the Andrews Government first appeared to back away from making the program compulsory before back-peddling and reaffirming its stance to make Safe Schools mandatory in every Victorian high school by 2018.
“School communities that have decided not to align themselves with the program, such as Kyabram P-12 College, should not be forced to do so," Mr Flynn said.
He said bullying children for any reason was unacceptable but the Safe Schools program went way beyond the purview of an anti-bullying program.
“As parents and teachers become better informed they are questioning why their school should have the program, particularly when other anti-bullying programs are already available which already address minority issues,” Mr Flynn said.
“The Victorian Government should immediately withdraw the program from schools, pending its review by the Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham.
“As a significant funder of the program, the Victorian Government has a duty to Victorian taxpayers to hold its own review into Safe Schools.
"Parents expect their children to be safe at school but encouraging boys who identify as girls to use the girls’ bathrooms and share school camp accommodation is not the way to do this," Mr Flynn said.
"Safe Schools tells children they must have access to the Minus 18 website which instructs girls in chest binding so their breasts are flattened and penis tucking for boys.
“We are opposed to making the program mandatory and forcing parents and children to take on this rainbow ideologically driven program.”
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Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews last week said he was willing to hear from Senators about options regarding the Family Tax Benefit system.
Here are some highlights from Senator Canavan’s speech:
Australia is out-of-step on the treatment of single income families. As the OECD stated “at the given levels of household income, the Australian tax/benefit system favours dual-earner couples over single-earner families.”
I firmly believe that we must move our tax system to one based on the family not the individual. But we should do that because it is a good idea here not just because other countries are doing it.
It is a good idea here because families make decisions as a family and therefore we should tax them as a family.
It is a good idea here because maximizing the number of people that work should not be our objective.
It is a good idea here because there are clear and identifiable benefits of parents staying home and looking after their children.
On the failure of the tax system...
Our tax system is therefore not giving people what they want. It is changing parental and family behavior to match the priorities of the workplace not the priorities of home.
The family is the ultimate “black market” economy. There is no tax in the family, even worse there are not even any cash transactions. There are those that don’t like the fact that this all happens outside of the supervision of government. Well those interests should be resisted in favour of the family, in favour of the privacy and sanctity of the household and household decisions.
In fact the organisers had earlier had to cancel a talk by a Sydney-based Muslim speaker titled Honour Killings Are Morally Justified.
So as I walked into the Sydney Opera House on Saturday I decided to approach the festival with an open yet skeptical mind.
What I was really interested in was a talk by Kajsa Ekman on the topic of surrogacy. Ekman is a Swedish journalist and activist. She’s the author of the book Being and Being Bought: Prostitution, surrogacy and the split self.
Given the recent controversy surrounding surrogacy, including the heart-wrenching story of baby Gammy, I wanted to hear what Ekman had to say.
Here are three things I learned about surrogacy from Ekman’s talk at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.
Surrogacy is baby trading
This position is difficult to refute. The surrogate mother doesn’t get paid for being pregnant. Rather, she is paid for handing over a baby. Money changes hands and the item being purchased is a new born baby. This is the ultimate in the commodification of humanity and is blatant buying and selling of children—a modern form of human trafficking.
Surrogacy exploits women in poverty
Supporters of surrogacy argue that women who are trapped in poverty can change their circumstance through selling the rights to their womb. Singles or couples are prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get a child.
In defending the right to commercial surrogacy we are defending the interests of the world’s richest people to purchase a family.
Some people argue that because some women are poor, they should sell their womb in order to survive. Poverty becomes an excuse for exploitation. Is that the kind of world we want? This is commercialising life itself – everything is for sale, while those facilitating the transaction get rich. Surrogacy demeans the unique mother-child bond as women can now solely be used as breeding machines.
Surrogacy violates the rights of children
Surrogacy is too often a bad bargain for both the women and children involved in the process.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child affirms that a child must not, "save in the most exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother", and yet surrogacy does exactly that. It is deliberate and premeditated.
Australian ethicist Professor Margaret Somerville condemns any deliberate destruction of the child's biological identity. She says:
"It is one matter for children not to know their genetic identity as a result of unintended circumstances. It is quite another matter to deliberately destroy children's links to their biological parents, and especially for society to be complicit in this destruction."
Helping an infertile couple to have a baby of their own is seen by many as a generous and compassionate gesture from a woman who can help. In this way, everyone can have their own children without having to be pregnant, and poor women can earn some extra money. It looks like a win-win situation. But at a closer look, the surrogacy industry is an exploitation of women's bodies and a sophisticated form of baby trade.
I was presenting with a group of representatives of the Roman Catholic, Baptist and Presbyterian churches.
We explained why changing the definition of marriage was a bad idea for the rights of children to know and be loved by their biological parents and why it was a threat to free speech and religion.
The bill’s author, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young chose not to engage us on the substance of our arguments.
However, in a welcome gesture, she struck a conciliatory note with us at the public hearings (see page 49).
“The most important thing in this debate, and I have seen many of you across this table on various occasions, is I think the level of debate is becoming more respectful. That is what I wanted to raise with you because I have been doing this for a long time and I think we are becoming more concise on both sides about what it is that we care about and what it is that the law should and should not cover. I wanted to thank you for participating in a good-natured way.”
We were glad to hear this because those of us campaigning to retain the definition of marriage have often been called bigots and homophobes and even told there is no place in Australia for people who hold our views.
I thought that perhaps we were entering a new phase where we could be free to speak without these pejorative slurs being levelled at us.
My hope was short-lived.
Less than a week later, Ms Hanson-Young gave an interview to The Guardian regarding yesterday’s National Marriage day at Parliament House, organised by the Australian Family Association.
“[it was] disappointing that government members are bringing these extreme views to parliament. …. The passage of time will not be kind to these homophobic and outdated views. If Abbott government ministers are comfortable associating themselves with these views, they’ll have to explain that to the public.”
I was disappointed to see these comments, following her words and soft tone at the Senate hearings last week.
I’m tired of being called “extreme” and “homophobic” for arguing that a child has the right to her mother and father, something that would be abolished in culture and law if same-sex marriage was legislated.
By all means, engage our arguments. But please don’t try and bludgeon us into silence.
As Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews told the National Marriage Day dinner at the National Press Club last night, the same-sex marriage debate is quickly morphing into a debate about what can and cannot be said about marriage.
[caption id="attachment_32906" align="alignright" width="300"] ACL's Lyle Shelton, far right, prepares to give evidence at senate inquiry[/caption]
Mr Chairman and Senators, thank you for the opportunity to present today.
The recognition of foreign same-sex marriages bill is an attempt to further pressure Parliamentarians into capitulating to the same-sex political agenda to change the definition of marriage.
There is no discrimination in Australian law against same-sex couples. But for some reason, it is important to some political campaigners to see marriage changed from what it is to something else.
And in doing so, they dismiss concerns about the consequences.
This issue continues to be privileged with extraordinary amounts of Parliamentary time and public resources devoted to it.
A bill to recognise foreign same-sex marriages was defeated in the Senate just last year.
There have been at least 11 attempts at State or Territory level to legislate a new definition of marriage. All have failed. A House of Representatives committee in 2012 declined to support it while this is at least the third Senate inquiry into changing the definition of marriage since 2010. There have been numerous State parliamentary inquiries in the past two years, all followed by votes opposing changing the definition of marriage.
The exception was the ACT Legislative Assembly where nine people voted to set a precedent for the nation, later overturned by the High Court as unconstitutional.
ACL facilitated 42,000 signatures on a submission to this inquiry. There is plenty of grassroots opposition to changing the definition of marriage.
[caption id="attachment_32907" align="alignright" width="225"] ACL's Managing Director Lyle Shelton (left) gives evidence at the inquiry in Melbourne[/caption]
Such is the politically correct orthodoxy surrounding this issue, few are willing to stand publicly against the political agenda it represents.
No one wants to be accused of prejudice but this is what Australian Marriage Equality asserts is the basis for opposing their political objective is (see page 8 of the AME's Supplementary Submission).
This is of course deeply offensive to Muslims, Christians and Jews and countless other Australians of nominal or no religion who will always believe the truth about marriage and will want to teach it to their children.
We do not have fear or hate in our hearts, we simply have a view about marriage that we wish to see upheld in public policy. We will want to uphold this through the institutions of civil society such as schools, charities and churches that we create and participate in.
The recent Crosby Textor poll mislead people by framing the questions as if no one but the same-sex couple would be affected and that there would be no impact on religious freedom.
Our submission references a florist in Washington State, a photographer in New Mexico and a baker in Colorado who have all faced or are currently facing serious legal sanction because of their conscientious objection to participating in same-sex weddings. There are many more.
When the ACT was legislating last year, the Attorney General Simon Corbel wrote to me to confirm that businesspeople who exercised their conscience in declining to participate in same-sex weddings would be in breach of the anti-discrimination act. I'm happy to provide a copy of the letter.
Australians don't want to see their fellow citizens being fined or perhaps even jailed for acting on their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
A child such as baby Rhyley lying in a Thai hospital ward, featured on page three of yesterday's Age, is also affected by same-sex marriage ideology.
He is denied both his surrogate mother and his biological mother because the rights of two men to acquire a baby are allowed to trump the International Covenant on the Rights of the Child which says that all children have the right to be raised, wherever possible, by their biological parents.
Sure James and Steve are capable of showing Rhyley love, and I'm sure they will. But neither can be his mum.
Marriage is not just about the emotional needs of adults. The definition of marriage references a biological reality which helps protect the rights of children. That is why governments regulate marriage.
Governments have no interest in other forms of romantic relationships. They are simply none of our business.
Rhyley is denied his human right to a mother not because of tragedy or desertion but because of a deliberate social engineering decision taken by two men.
We have to ask ourselves whether this is ethical. We have to ask ourselves do we want a new definition of marriage to set these practices in cultural cement. The law is of course a teacher.
Our submission references polling which shows 73 per cent of Australians believe wherever possible a child should be raised by her or his biological mother and father.
We can't have it both ways and we desperately need an honest and mature debate about the consequences of changing the definition of marriage.
If we think removing children from their biological parents is fine, then go for same-sex marriage.
But "marriage equality" is a slogan whose meaning should be unpacked.
If equality is the principle, how can we deny other definitions of marriage already recognised legally by other foreign jurisdictions?
What makes the gay lobby's definition morally superior to those defined legally in other jurisdictions and cultures?
One of the many overseas examples of the legal harassment of dissenters to same-sex marriage is the story of Washington florist Baronelle Stutzman who is being sued by the State Attorney General. I table her story in a seven minute electronic format and seek the chair's permission to provide a copy to each committee member.
I challenge anyone to watch her story and continue to uphold the idea that legislating a new definition of marriage has no consequences for freedom
I challenge anyone who thinks there are no consequences to changing the definition of marriage to look a child in the eye and tell her she is not allowed to be raised by her biological mother or father.
The Stronger Relationships trial is part of the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) Families and Communities Program that seeks to support families and improve children’s wellbeing by providing $200 subsidies for up to 100,000 couples to access relationship education and/or counselling services.
The aim of the trial is to increase the number of couples who participate in education and/or counselling to help strengthen their marriage or relationship. It will run from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015.
Couples can register for the trial but both persons must be:
• in a committed relationship;
• Australian citizens, permanent residents or otherwise eligible to receive social security payments in Australia; and
• 18 years or older.
In order to qualify for the $200 subsidy, couples must choose from a service provider listed on the DSS website, www.dss.gov.au/strongerrelationships.
Counsellors and relationship educators can apply to be a service provider if they are existing Family and Relationship Services providers, or a not-for-profit provider that already offers education or counselling services to at least 100 couples per year.
Service providers must ensure that personnel providing counselling and education services possess current membership to a recognised professional institution including, but not limited to:
• the Australian Counselling Association;
• the Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists;
• the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia;
• the Australian Association of Family Therapy;
• the Australian Psychological Society;
• the Marriage and Relationship Educators’ Association of Australia;
• the Catholic Society for Marriage Education; and
• the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). For the AASW, personnel need only show evidence of eligibility for membership.
Although payment of the education and/or counselling service will remain the responsibility of the couple to the service provider, the couple will receive a $200 reimbursement of the total service fee.
Applications for the trial opened 19 June 2014 and will remain open until 31 March 2015.
For further information about the trial and the application process, read the operational guidelines here.
It has been almost three years since the ACL-commissioned For Kids’ Sake research was launched at Parliament House in Canberra.
A meta-analysis, it shone a bright light on the crisis.
Here is a reminder of just some of its findings:
- The number of children in out of home care because it is too dangerous to live at home doubled in a decade to 35,000
- More than a quarter of young people aged 16-24 years have a mental disorder compared with one in five (20 per cent) in the general population
- Self-harm for teenage girls 12-14 years of age leading to hospitalisation is six times the rate for boys
- There was an increase from 28 per cent to 38 per cent in female school students experiencing unwanted sex between 2002 and 2008
- There was a doubling in the rate of hospitalisation for alcohol intoxication for women aged 15-24 between 1998 and 2006.
ACL is working to keep the welfare of kids front and centre of the political debate.
On Monday night in Brisbane, ACL's Queensland director Wendy Francis hosted a panel of experts and state parliamentarians to discuss the crisis in a lively Q&A format.
The panel included State Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland child safety minister Tracy Davis, Bravehearts' Hetty Johnston and the Centre for Independent Studies' Dr Jeremy Sammut.
The audience included a number of people involved in foster care and advocates of adoption.
The reluctance of governments to allow kids in the care system to be adopted generated spirited debate.
According to Dr Sammut, no government wants to be accused of creating another stolen generation and this meant that kids with abusive parents remained in limbo for too long, as did their foster carers.
Other jurisdictions have a pathway to what is known as 'open adoption' so that kids with abusive parents could be given permanent living arrangements and foster carers certainty.
Clearly this is a win for both, but it is controversial.
In the United States there are 50,000 adoptions per year of kids from abusive situations. If we followed this in Australia it could potentially take 5,000 kids out of the care system and into permanent homes each year.
Breaking what seems to be an anti-adoption culture needs to be explored.
But so too does strengthening couple relationships.
The Federal Minister for Community Services, Kevin Andrews, has been subject to unfair ridicule for proposing vouchers for couples to pursue relationship counselling.
If those of us who are married or in a relationship are honest, we will all admit that we need to work on it because romantic feelings, while wonderful, are not enough to sustain us.
It stands to reason that if couple relationships are strengthened, children benefit.
Children benefit from permanency in their living arrangements and especially from the permanency of the relationship of their biological parents.
That is why when a couple make the commitment of marriage, they are not just benefitting themselves, they are providing unfathomable benefit to any children they produce but also a massive social and economic benefit to society.
Our modern approach to relationships, marriage and sex has become so self-centred that we have forgotten these basics.
Political correctness stops us from talking about this.
Meanwhile we wonder why we have a crisis in child well being.
Unless our political discourse gives us permission to talk about strengthening marriage, the endless cycle of state government inquiries into our failing child protection systems will continue.
Last week in the Senate they tried and failed to remove the Lord’s Prayer from parliament.
Since 1901, the prayer has been recited at the start of each sitting day in the senate and house of representatives by the president and speaker respectively.
A group of committed pray-ers is always present in each chamber. No one is forced.
Australia did not become what it is in a vacuum. Christianity had a profound impact on the development of western institutions, including parliament.
While not everyone in Australia is Christian (although more than 60 per cent tell the census they are), nothing changes the fact that Christianity made a significant contribution to making Australia what it is today.
It is a simple fact that Christianity is part of our cultural heritage in a way that other religions are not. That is no disrespect to them. The ethics and ideas of other religions simply did not have the same impact on the formation of western values and the Australian nation.
As the pre-European peoples of this land, indigenous people, are of course a huge part of our cultural heritage. Recognition of their cultural heritage is also acknowledged in parliament each day and that is fair enough. The Greens have not sought to remove this.
Most of us would condemn the cutting down of a 113 year old tree, but when it comes to our cultural heritage the Greens are happy to fell any vestiges of the values of our past.
Greens Senator Richard Di Natale cites the separation of church and state for wanting to remove the prayer.
This misunderstanding of the concept is becoming wearisome. The Greens and others who abuse this concept are attempting to cloak their secularism in neutrality and objectivity, but in reality seem to be excluding Christianity in order to substitute their own secular irreligion.
Australia was founded with the principle of separation of church and state but it was never meant to keep religious ideas, people or even prayers out of public life.
It was simply to ensure that Australia, unlike Britain, did not have an established church constitutionally entwined with the state.
The idea was for all religions to be allowed to flourish without any being favoured by the state.
This in no way precludes the Lord’s Prayer being recited or the Muslim MP Ed Husic swearing an oath on the Koran, as he did when he was appointed to the front bench during the previous government.
There is a clash of ideas and values occurring in our political discourse. That’s fine, that’s healthy, that’s democracy.
Suggesting that someone’s faith has no place in the workplace, as Senator Di Natale did, is anti-democratic. Why are Di Natale’s views superior?
Australia would not be the nation it is today if ethical ideas informed by faith were disbarred from the public discourse.
Whether people believe in God or not, the ideas of the teacher Jesus embodied in the Lord’s Prayer are worth reflecting on.
The idea that humans are not the font of all power is especially worth meditating on. Especially in parliament.
Meanwhile, the Greens have vowed to keep fighting to remove the prayer in the same way they are relentlessly campaigning to redefine marriage.
It is time to push back on their vision to deconstruct our civic and family life.
They are a small political party but they have a big voice. Seasoned with grace, we should start to use our voice. Silence is no longer an option.