Fellow remarkable community,
Were you - like me - on the edge of your lounges on Saturday night, cheering and screaming at the TV screen as Ash Barty won the Australian Open? It was such a well-deserved win for this gracious, humble woman!
I found the trophy ceremony that followed even more moving, with not one but two Indigenous Australian women - Evonne Goolagong Cawley (later joined by Kathy Freeman, making it three) and Barty graced the stage to celebrate the victory.
Unfortunately, my elation was tempered with sadness over the days that have followed, as I’ve read about the devastating results of Rio Tinto’s investigation into sexual assault in the mining industry and the heartbreaking death of Sydney teenager Arnima Hayat, who was allegedly murdered by her partner just weeks into their marriage. While Rio Tinto has vowed to change its toxic culture, our government remains disturbingly quiet about the latest tragic development in Australia’s domestic violence crisis.
How many lives will be lost before our politicians acknowledge that radical steps need to be taken to end this scourge?
Ash Barty is the role model Australia needs right now
It was spectacular watching Ash Barty win the Australian Open last weekend but what’s even more exciting is the way she’s inspiring girls around Australia to follow their sporting dreams.
A 2019 Australian Youth Confidence Report revealed that by age 17, 50% of girls had dropped out of sport, with one in three girls giving up because they don’t think they’re good at it.
According to Tennis Australia, kids’ participation in the sport was up nearly 30 per cent last year, with Barty a driving force behind the rise.
As Scarborough Tennis Club director and coach Rick Willsmore noted to The Age: “Ash Barty is getting kids on the tennis court, with more girls in particular keen to take up a sport which now has a great role model.”
Barty told Vogue Australia that she is loving being back in Australia because it “reignites my passion to help others and see kids smile when they’re at tennis for the first time or picking up a racquet for the first time”.
The star player has been Tennis Australia’s National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador since 2018 and is particularly keen to inspire more Indigenous kids to get involved in the sport.
Barty’s mentor is fellow Indigenous athlete Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who won her first Wimbledon women’s singles title 50 years earlier at age 19.
Goolagong Cawley and Olympic champion Cathy Freeman joined the Australian Open winner on court to celebrate her trophy win in Melbourne over the weekend. Images of the moving moment led to an outpouring of emotion on social media.
Kamilaroi man and Fox Sports presenter Jake Duke summed it up best when he said: "What they symbolise to the Aboriginal community is immense! 3 deadly sisters."
However, Barty remains incredibly humble and downplays her achievements when compared to those of Goolagong Cawley and Freeman.
“I am still in a category of trying to follow in their footsteps and do the best that I can, but to be a small part of an amazing legacy that they created is really cool,” she said.
Barty’s mindset coach Ben Crowe told the Australian Financial Review she doesn’t get distracted by the fact the entire country is watching and cheering her on, she keeps her eye on the game.
“From [playing in] Adelaide into the Australian Open, she has had a real focus on getting motivated intrinsically. It created this stoicism on court ... almost like the highs weren’t as high and the lows weren’t as low, and she just went about her business.”
Her definition of success isn’t grand slam trophies - which she gifts to her family - it’s relationships, experiences, memories, getting out of her comfort zone and seeing what she’s capable of, going after her goals and dreams, and continuously allowing herself to grow every single day.
“It’s such a different perspective,” Crowe said. “ Most of us think about achievement and trophies as the definition of success. When you’re intrinsically motivated, you actually control those things 100 per cent.”
I cannot wait to see where her motivation takes her next, both on and off the court.
Ash Barty, you are one remarkable woman!
Domestic violence crisis claims another victim
Arnima Hayat, only 19 and in her second year of medicine at university, with dreams of becoming a surgeon, became the fourth Australian woman to lose her life to domestic violence this year.
Today is only February 4.
Her body was found by police in a bathtub of chemicals at her home on Pennant Hills Road in North Parramatta on Sunday, sparking a manhunt for her 20-year-old partner, Meraj Zafar.
Zafar turned himself in at Bankstown police station on Monday, before being arrested and charged with her murder.
The couple had only moved in together six months ago, with Hayat’s parents telling 7News they had lost contact with their daughter since then.
Arnima’s death has shocked the nation, but will it lead to change when we live in a society more outraged by Grace Tame failing to smile than TV host Andrew O'Keefe allegedly grabbing a woman by the throat and kicking and punching her?
According to the Office for Women, one Australian woman is killed by a partner every nine days, with one in four women having experienced violence by an intimate partner since the age of 15.
COVID-19 has accelerated this awful issue, with the link between domestic violence and the pandemic confirmed by a new online survey of 10,000 Australian women, conducted by Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety.
The survey, which ran from February to April 2021, showed that when their partners lost work, women were more likely to experience violence for the first time, and for existing violence to escalate.
One in 10 women had experienced physical violence from a current or former partner, eight per cent had experienced sexual violence, and 32 per cent had experienced emotionally abusive, harassing and controlling behaviours.
For women who experienced partner violence for the first time, those whose partner did not work in the previous year, or had lost work, were more than twice as likely to experience physical violence as women whose partners' job did not change.
Those working in social services have seen a surge in demand for family violence services, but support services remain chronically underfunded.
Read the full report here.
We desperately need ours laws, education systems, economic inequalities as well as Australia’s social and cultural attitudes to be considered in this situation. These are all factors dictating the horrific circumstances domestic violence victims face time and time again and yet somehow, there is a failure to connect these elements together and we see the result of depthless and uncoordinated actions resulting in hurt and ill-treatment.
The right to life does not rest in anyone’s authority but the person living. How many more lives will be lost before our government and politicians acknowledge that radical steps for prevention need to be taken to end this scourge?
Rio Tinto pledges to change its toxic culture
A damning report that exposes widespread sexual assault, racism and bullying in the mining industry has been released by Rio Tinto.
The report was overseen by Australia's former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick and contains confronting details about 21 women who suffered actual or attempted rape or sexual assault while working for Rio Tinto.
Almost a third of all women in the audit said they had experienced sexual harassment at work. Racism was also found to be "common across a number of areas," with a survey "indicating [that] people working in a country different to their birth experienced high rates of racism, and that 39.8 per cent of men and 31.8 per cent of women who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander in Australia experienced racism."
Broderick commended Rio Tinto for "proactively commissioning this study".
"There is clear recognition, however, that new approaches are needed to solve these issues," she said.
CEO Jakob Stausholm said in a statement: "I feel shame and enormous regret to have learned the extent to which bullying, sexual harassment and racism are happening at Rio Tinto. The findings of this report are deeply disturbing to me and should be to everyone who reads them. I offer my heartfelt apology to every team member, past or present, who has suffered as a result of these behaviours. This is not the kind of company we want to be."
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Simon Trott has vowed to stamp out his company’s toxic workplace behaviour.
"I think in tackling some of these challenges we have got to be really transparent and really open about where we are currently so that we can put in place changes that we need to make," he said.
"We've got to make sure that these behaviours don't occur within our business. The focus (is) on not just the cases but what are some of the root causes and the steps to try to include.
"Things like the training and development that we are doing, training bystanders for example making sure that we are really equipping our people with those skills that they need to manage some of those situations."
The company has pledged to follow dozens of recommendations to improve its culture and vowed "to ensure that women and other minority groups are deployed to operational sites as part of a cohort" or with additional support; to set up a new unit to allow people experiencing harmful behaviour to report it early; and to increase diversity throughout the company - as men currently make up 79 per cent of Rio Tinto's workforce.
Chief executive of Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety, Padma Raman, told ABC News that Rio Tinto's willingness to release the report showed an appetite for change.
She said people must be held to account "regardless of how high performing an individual is or where they sit in the company".
"Accountability for their actions, calling out bad behaviour, providing support for victims, providing a safe place and making perpetrators accountable for their actions," she said.
It will be a long and difficult journey to dismantle endemic-like toxic behaviour in the mining industry. Let’s all hope Rio Tinto’s executives reinforce their impassioned words with positive action.
The women embracing their “bimboism”
A surprising trend called “bimboism” has been gathering momentum on TikTok.
Being a “bimbo” has been historically regarded as an insult to women, but a horde of Gen Z #BimboTok creators are “reclaiming” the term and redefining the previous generation’s idea of feminism.
Chrissy Chlapecka was one of the earliest pioneers of bimboism on the platform. Blonde-haired and pink-latex-clad, she/they noted in 2020: “People in my comments section keep calling me a bimbo. I’m just going to go with it.”
In a video that immediately went viral and has clocked up more than six million views and 2.1 million likes, Chlapecka added: “A bimbo isn’t dumb. She’s actually a radical leftist, who’s pro sex work, pro Black Lives Matter, pro LGBTQ+, pro choice, and will always be there for her girlies, gays and theys.”
She explained to Lithium Magazine last year: "Bimboism means liberating yourself, your body, and your aesthetic to be what you want them to be without the judgment of others."
Fellow TikTok creator Fauxrich commented: “Do you not care about society’s elitist view on academic intelligence? Do you support all women, regardless of their job title, or if they’ve had plastic surgery or body modifications?” she asked, while applying a fresh coat of lipgloss. “I’m no doctor, but I think you may be a new-age bimbo!”
As creator Griffin Maxwell Brooks concludes: “All that matters is that you are both physically and mentally hot and sexy, on your own terms.”
I’d love to know what you think about these #BimboTok takes on finding empowerment through being unapologetically yourself. Let me know!
Have something that you'd like to let me know? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's talk!
Until next week,