The timing of the announcement that Lifeline is to get $33m in government funding couldn’t be worse, coming amidst outrage that the crisis helpline has invited extremist feminist activist Clementine Ford to speak at an event in May.
The huge cash injection is reported to be winging its way to boost Lifeline’s telephone service – the absolute front line in suicide prevention – which made criticism at the organisation’s choice of speaker only grow louder.
The male suicide rate in Australia is soaring.
Funding was intended to be a bold statement from the Turnbull government that they’re serious about tackling suicide.
“Sometimes it’s hard to reach out for help but during times of need, Australians should know someone will be available to hear their concerns and offer them help,” Health Minister Greg Hunt has said.
No one would argue with that.
What many are fuming about, however, is the decision to let a vicious troll with no compassion for men anywhere near discussions.
Ford’s social media account boasts about “male tears” and she famously publicly shamed a disabled man. On 22 April 2014, she wrote on her Twitter of men, “If they don’t want to pay child support but they need to kill someone, kill themselves.”
Lifeline is co-hosting an event on 29 May at the State Library of Victoria, Recognise, Respond, Refer’ with DV-alert. Ford has been confirmed as the keynote speaker.
A petition to have Ford removed as a speaker at the event has gathered over 12,200 signatures. It has been ignored by Lifeline who has been busy sending cookie cutter responses to complainants. John Brogden, the body’s chairman, remains silent in response to calls for intervention over the issue.
If a media furore could have possibly come at a worse time, it could only have been just before government spend was confirmed.
Now all eyes will be on Lifeline to deliver results as strategy sceptics scrutinise statistics even closer.
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