Farewell Jack

October 19, 2018

This week I learnt of the death of Jack Chapman, a young man I first met around 2008.

Jack always made me feel happy.  He was someone I saw from time to time at the Laird Hotel, and around bear and gay events.

I wasn’t especially close as a friend, but Jack was there for a chat on the odd occasion, sometimes for a project of his, or for his fundraising for the Victorian AIDS Council.

After some years we kinda lost touch, more because I wasn’t hanging around the Laird as much, and because he wasn’t around either.  One day I found out he was actually living overseas, and that he was in a relationship with a guy there.  We saw each other at the Laird somewhere around this time (it’s blurry, I don’t recall if he came back or it was before he went away), and that was the last time I saw Jack.

On Wednesday this week (October 17) I was driving back from Bairnsdale to Mallacoota, parked in Lakes Entrance for a break, and Gregory (my husband) forwarded me a message he’d seen on Facebook:

20181017 Message from Gregory

The message was to a photo on a mutual friend’s page.  The caption read:

I am saddened and shocked of the news of the passing of jack/tank. R.I.P big fella

I didn’t know Jack was now using the name Tank (or that he had changed his last name).

It turns out his death was connected to a lung condition.  Dead at 28.

Jack was one of the sweetest guys that had come into my life, and now he’s gone.  He did a lot for the community here in Melbourne.  I’ll miss him for sure.

Here’s a gallery of a few pics I took of him, or were taken of us, between 2008 and 2012.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

POSTSCRIPT (October 20)

A redacted copy of Jack’s death certificate has surfaced online (and available here and here).  It points to “Silicon Injection Syndrome” as a cause of death.  I was not previously aware of this syndrome, so looked it up and found this 2006 article published by the Radiological Society of North America:

Liquid silicone, which is often used for breast augmentation and other cosmetic procedures, can cause respiratory failure if not injected properly by a licensed physician. A study of individuals who underwent illegal silicone injections revealed a high fatality rate from pulmonary silicone embolism, or obstruction of the lungs. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

There clearly needs to be greater education around the dangers of silicone injections for cosmetic enhancement, particular if death is a likely outcome from incorrect administration.

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ACON must sort out the PID Mark Allaby LMI IBM mess

July 7, 2018

 

ACON says of its Pride Inclusion Programs:

Pride Inclusion Programs are social inclusion initiatives of ACON. ACON was established in 1985 as the AIDS Council of NSW and is now Australia’s largest HIV prevention, HIV support and LGBTI health organisation. An important part of ACON’s mission is to help make the places where our community members live, work, study and play more inclusive of LGBTI people, improving the mental health and wellbeing of our community through the reduction of stigma, discrimination and social exclusion.

Pride in Diversity is one of these programs:

Pride in Diversity is the national not-for-profit employer support program for LGBTI workplace inclusion specialising in HR, organisational change and workplace diversity. Pride in Diversity publishes the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI), Australia’s national benchmarking instrument for LGBTI workplace inclusion from which Top Employers for LGBTI people is determined.

Amongst the Pride in Diversity Foundation Members is IBM:

ACON Pride in Diversity Foundation Members.png

Foundation Members

Pride in Diversity, together with ACON, proudly acknowledges the dedication and support from our foundational members who were the early leaders in Australia for recognising and pursuing LGBTI workplace inclusion.

  • Australian Federal Police (AFP)
  • Department of Defence
  • Goldman Sachs
  • IBM
  • KPMG
  • Lend Lease
  • Telstra

Included in the 2017 Principle Partners (Sponsorship) is IBM:

2017 Principal Partners (Sponsorship)

Principal Partners generously support Pride in Diversity over and above membership through sponsorship or substantial support of signature events and/or publications. We sincerely acknowledge and thank our Principal Partners for 2017. Pride in Diversity Principal Partners (via membership) are recognised on the List of Members page.

  • Accenture
  • Deloitte
  • Dell
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Goldman Sachs
  • IBM
  • Lendlease
  • Macquarie Group
  • Out Leadership
  • PwC
  • The Star Entertainment Group
  • The University of Queensland

IBM has declared their “support of the LGBT community”:

IBM - 2017 - Introduced rainbow logo in support of the LGBT community

Mark Allaby is IBM’s Financial Market Expert:

20180707 Mark Allaby IBM Financial Market Expert

As of May 31 2018 the public ASIC register indicated Mark Allaby was still a Director of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute:

20180531 Mark Allaby LMI Director ASIC Register

In March 2017 The Australian reported that Mark Allaby had resigned as a board member of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, but either that news story was lacking factual accuracy, or LMI had breached their requirements to update ASIC of a change in board membership.

To help understand the ideology of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, it is helpful to know that it is an initiative of the Australian Christian Lobby.  This is evidenced in the ACL’s July 5 2018 newsletter:

20180705 ACL Newsletter LMI.png

It is also evidenced in the WHOIS record for lmi.org.au, which shows the domain name is currently (and was previously) registered to the Australian Christian Lobby:

Domain Name: LMI.ORG.AU
Registry Domain ID: D407400000000366462-AU
Registrar WHOIS Server:
Registrar URL:
Last Modified:
Registrar Name: TPP Wholesale Pty Ltd
Registrar Abuse Contact Email:
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone:
Reseller Name:
Status: serverRenewProhibited
Registrant Contact ID: C2008705-AU
Registrant Contact Name: John Austin
Registrant Contact Email: natoffice@acl.org.au
Tech Contact ID: C804789-AU
Tech Contact Name: Digerati Solutions
Tech Contact Email: domains@digeratisolutions.com.au
Name Server: NS1.CWS-SERVERS.COM
Name Server: NS2.CWS-SERVERS.COM
Name Server: NS3.CWS-SERVERS.COM
DNSSEC: unsigned
Registrant: AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIAN LOBBY
Eligibility Type: Non-profit Organisation
Eligibility ID: ABN 40075120517

>>> Last update of WHOIS database: 2018-07-07T08:19:45Z <<<

Alongside LMI’s Mark Allaby is Lyle Shelton, also a Director on the board:

20180531 LMI Director Lyle Shelton

Lyle Shelton is the immediate past Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby.  He stepped down from the role, and the organisation’s board, on Feb 2 2018 to pursue a career in politics as a senatorial candidate for the Australian Conservatives.

Martyn Iles, the current ACL Managing Director, also happens to be on the LMI board as Secretary:

20180531 LMI Director Martyn Iles.png

Adding to the litany of anti-LGBTIQ equality personalities on the LMI board is Lyle Shelton’s disgraced ACL predecessor, Jim Wallace:

20180531 LMI Director Jim Wallace

The ACL and Lyle Shelton have a strong record of opposing equal rights for LGBTIQ people and eroding their dignity.  This has been an obsession of Lyle Shelton and the ACL going by an analysis of Lyle’s Twitter output while he was employed by the ACL.

The Lachlan Macquarie Institute board is peppered with people whom many would consider to be the arch enemies of the LGBTIQ community.

Mark Allaby’s presence as a Director of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, an organisation that in no way distances itself from the hateful and intolerant values of the Australian Christian Lobby, makes it clear that he shares the values of the board members he sits amongst, and of the organisation that enables his board.

LMI claim they “prepare Christian men and women for leadership and public service”:

As a centre for leadership and public service, we offer a range of short and long programmes for people of varying ages and professions. Each programme targets specific areas of public engagement, including public service, policy, politics, law, education, not-for-profit, and church. Programmes combine Scripture, social analysis, Christian apologetics, lawmaking, political science, and philosophy.

It is beyond belief that as an employee of IBM, a foundation member of ACON’s Pride in Diversity program, Mark Allaby shares an iota of his employer’s values when it comes to LGBTIQ inclusion and diversity.

It is beyond belief that Mark Allaby could be considered a role model in providing respect and dignity for his transgender and gender diverse co-workers or clients.

It is beyond belief that Mark Allaby could, with any shred of sincerity, afford respect for his co-workers or clients in same-sex marriages, considering the gargantuan campaign the ACL promoted and funded to oppose the passage of marriage equality.

It is beyond belief that IBM, by employing a person who is a Director of an organisation that prepares people to erode the legal equality of LGBTIQ Australians, could be sincere in its responsibility as a foundation member of ACON’s Pride in Diversity Program.

It is beyond belief that ACON are genuinely committed to “improving the mental health and wellbeing of our community” by keeping IBM as a member of their Pride in Diversity Program while Mark Allaby is simultaneously an employee of IBM and associated with the prominent anti-LGBTIQ-equality Lachlan Macquarie Institute.

ACON needs to sort this mess out, because until they do, their programme will remain a disgrace.


Interview on JOY 94.9 Saturday Magazine

April 11, 2017

On Saturday April 8 2017 I was interviewed by David “Macca” McCarthy on JOY 94.9’s Saturday Magazine regarding my activism and the recent smear campaign by The Australian and other News Corp media outlets.


Melissa Biersack Kirby‎ >> #INeedSafeSchools

March 4, 2016

Melissa Biersack Kirby to Ineedsafeschools

#‎ineedsafeschools‬ because I’ve watch my friends be beaten up while I stood frozen scared of what could happen if I stepped in.

I need safe schools because I’ve been called some of the most horrendous things not only by my peers but a few of my teachers as well.

I need safe schools because my best friend has watched me cry into her shoulder for hours.

I need safe schools because I wasn’t given enough time to be completely comfortable with who I am before being forced to tell my parents.

I need safe schools because I ad so much self hate for myself that I wasn’t looking after myself.

I need safe schools because the only things around sexuality that is taught at my school is two pages in a text book that say GAY STRAIGHT AND TRANS.

I need safe schools because when I say that I am pansexual everyone has no idea what I’m talking about and guess that I’m in love with pots and pans

I need safe schools because I have a friend who was turned away from a school because of ‘special needs’. He’s trans.

I need safe schools because the two week long sex program in year nine has the assumption that everyone in the room is straight.

I need safe schools because for two whole years I felt broken.

I need safe schools because I’ve been trying to stay afloat while I have rocks tied to my ankles.

I need safe schools because my parents watch this happen and they feel helpless when nothing changes.

I need safe schools because I am not
Someone’s punching bag.
Something that can be tossed aside.
Someone’s pawn.
Something you can use like puppet.

I need safe schools because I am.

I am great.

And I am strong.

And my friends and family deserve that.

I deserve that.


A letter to Andrew Laming, MP for Bowman

August 8, 2015

From: Michael Barnett
Date: 8 August 2015 at 13:00
Subject: An urgent message about the mental health of youth in Bowman
To: Andrew Laming – MP for Bowman <andrew.laming.mp@aph.gov.au>

Dear Mr Laming,

I’m writing to you regarding the issue of mental health in young people in your electorate of Bowman.

In your first speech to Parliament in November 2004 you spoke of wanting to help young Australians make a difference about the issues important to them:

Lastly, I want to engage young Australians. Our young Australians out there still do not have the faith in this parliament that I would love to see. How do I convince those young Australians that this political process is one in which they can have faith? How can I convince them that the issues that they want to talk about are ones where we can really make a difference?

You also spoke about knowing your limitations, about drawing from but not being a slave to your lived experience, and realising that celebrating diversity is something you value more than enforcing your ideology on others:

I am grounded by the humility of my limited knowledge. I hope I am guided, but never coloured, by my life experiences. I tell my story not to hammer some ideological stake in the ground but to celebrate the diversity of experiences that are here. Different backgrounds add to the breadth of this parliament…

I refer you to a statement on mental health on your web site claiming:

75% of all mental illness presents in people aged under 25, that’s why I’m so pleased to announce Capalaba is one of 15 locations across Australia that will get a new Headspace centre.

A further such statement on your web site claims:

Mental health is a topic I take very seriously, and for those interested we’ve just announced a new Headspace facility for Capalaba where youth can get early intervention and treatment for drug, alcohol and mental health issues. This kind of facility is the key to prevention and supporting our young people long before they’re rolling into emergency. It’s a passionate topic for many, and the majority of us have been touched by mental health in some way. Let’s work together to come up solutions and constructive feedback so we can support our young people.

It is evident that you not only care about giving young people opportunities, but that you care deeply about their mental health and well-being.  I am confident most people would align with you on these concerns.

What strikes me as a little odd is that whilst you are passionate about these issues, you appear to be lacking the necessary degree of commitment to stand by them.

There is ample evidence that young people who are marginalised and discriminated against due to their sexual orientation or gender identity have poorer mental health outcomes than their peers:

Same-sex attracted Australians are more likely to experience below-average health outcomes including higher levels of depression, due to this prejudice and discrimination. The statistics are particularly alarming for younger and newly-identifying LGBTI people who have consistently higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, early school leaving, conflict with peers and parents and suicide ideation, all directly related to the discrimination and prejudice they experience.[v]

http://www.glhv.org.au/files/writing_themselves_in_again.pdf

Young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex who are denied hope, opportunity and the rewards of society are those who are most likely to be in need of the mental health services you have campaigned so passionately for.

You voted strongly against marriage equality in 2010 and 2012, and declared in 2011 that you are personally “opposed to SSM [same-sex marriage]” but “support legally-equivalent civil unions as an alternative“.

The masthead on your web site states:

andrew laming mp hope reward opportunity

andrew laming mp   member for bowman   hope|reward|opportunity

I understand you are presently surveying your electorate on the issue of marriage equality and of this you stateI pledge to vote according to your verdict.

You are registered as a medical practitioner Mr Laming and have worked as a GP.  You will no doubt be aware of how risk factors play out in the well-being of people’s lives.  I ask you to think hard about the implications of choosing to vote against marriage equality, knowing that maintaining the status quo is linked to poorer health outcomes.  I also ask you to consider that a vote against marriage equality will obliterate the hopes, opportunities and rewards for the same young people whose welfare you so passionately and genuinely care about.

Polling by Crosby-Textor, the go-to pollsters for the Liberal Party (the party that you are a member of) showed that in 2014 there was very strong support nationally for people aged 18-34 (female: 90%; male 81%).  In 2010 the News Ltd Same-Sex Marriage poll indicated 43% support in Bowman, 40% opposed and 17% indifferent.  That means 60% of Bowman are not opposed to marriage equality.

In 2004 you claimed that you wanted to empower young Australians to actively engage in politics and to speak out about the issues that are important to them.  In 2015 you are asking your electorate to tell you about marriage equality yet you are bypassing the credible polling that exists.  The young people of Australia and in Bowman want marriage equality very much.

You talk of hope, reward and opportunity.  You talk of wanting to reduce the plight of mental health issues in young people in Bowman.  You talk of wanting to give young Australians faith in their parliament.  You talk about wanting to see young people achieve what is important to them.  You talk of knowing your limitations and not hammering your ideology.  You talk of celebrating diversity.  Yet despite all this talk you are prepared to turn your back on it if the unscientific and clumsy polling that you are engaging in suggest you should not support marriage equality.

What exactly are your priorities Mr Laming?  Are they centred around the welfare of your electorate, or are they centred around your further reelection to office?  Because it strikes me that the people of Bowman are not getting the best representation you could give them if you continue to turn your back on what all the evidence is showing.

I leave you with the quote that you borrowed from Robert F Kennedy in your first speech and your closing paragraph.  Perhaps now would be a prudent time to contemplate them.

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. That ripple builds others. Those ripples – crossing each other from a million different centers of energy – build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and injustice.”
Senator Robert F. Kennedy

While there are no mighty walls to sweep down in Bowman, there are plenty of opportunities for ripples of hope—opportunities to enrich a beloved community, to preserve our Redland character and to provide choice and opportunity for those whose faith has put me here.

In the best interests of the young people of Bowman, their families, friends and communities, I urge you to vote for marriage equality.

Sincerely,
Michael Barnett.
Ashwood VIC


Robert Weil on hate speech spree while Jewish community leaders remain silent

July 22, 2015

Jewish community “comic“, outgoing president of Caulfield Hebrew Congregation and serial homophobe Robert Weil today took yet another swipe at same-sex attracted and gender diverse members of the Jewish community by accusing them of unsubstantiated “bullying tactics” in a comment posted on J-Wire article Gay and Lesbian support group apply for JCCV affiliation:

Robert Weil alleging

Increasingly people who are intolerant of homosexuality are finding fewer platforms to spruik their outdated attitudes. The tragic part of what his intolerance does is promote higher self-esteem and anxiety issues in same-sex attracted and gender diverse youth, feeding into harmful behaviours such as drug and alcohol abuse, self harm and suicide.

The community leadership (eg JCCV, Caulfield Shule, ADC) needs to speak out against hate speech such as this.  They won’t accept hate speech against Jews, yet it seems hate speech by prominent Jews against gays is not noteworthy.

The standard the community walks past is the standard the community accepts.


A letter to Dr Peter Hendy, MP for Eden-Monaro

July 20, 2015

From: Michael Barnett
Date: 20 July 2015 at 12:45
Subject: An urgent message about the mental health of youth in Eden-Monaro
To: “Dr Peter Hendy (MP for Eden-Monaro)” <peter.hendy.mp@aph.gov.au>

Dear Dr Hendy,

I’m writing to you regarding the issue of mental health in young people in Eden-Monaro.

Please allow me to take you back to your first speech in Parliament in November 2013, to reflect on the values that are important to you and the issues that you care about.

In opening, you gave thanks to the people of Eden-Monaro for electing you to office and gave a committment to do your best for all of them:

As I said at the declaration of the poll, the first thing I need to say today is thank you to the people of Eden-Monaro. I am greatly honoured to represent this region. I pledge that I will work to the best of my ability for the people whether they voted for me or not.

You reiterated a core value of the Liberal Party:

I joined the Liberal Party because I believed it genuinely encourages people to be the best they can be, not telling them what to be.

I’d like you to pause for a moment and reflect on this sentence.

You spoke of economics, and doing the right thing for your electorate:

I am an economist by profession but let me emphasise I am not an ivory tower ideologue who simply cares between Right and Left. What is important is between right and wrong. We need to do the right thing by the people of Eden-Monaro and all people who live in regional areas. I hope to be a strong advocate in this parliament who can support both good economic policy and the regions.

Making the ultimate point on why I am writing to you, you told of the tragic realities of living in regional and rural Australia:

In health terms, life expectancy is lower by up to seven years, depending on remoteness. People are up to four times more likely to die from accidents. It is up to 2.6 times more likely for men to die from suicides in the bush.

You said that facts are important to you, along with developing an intellectual case for building the nation:

Part of my new job here in parliament is to use the facts about disadvantage to revive the country-city compact. Priorities can be set better; however, we cannot just cry poor. We have been doing that for the last 30 years as our services and infrastructure have been increasingly run down. The intellectual case needs to be built so that we can get that fair share. An intellectual case needs to be built around nation building. I believe that we can further build that intellectual case, and I can help do that.

As a husband and father you promised to do the best to make your family proud of the work you did in public office:

Lastly, I want to thank my wife, Bronwyn, and children, Caroline and Patrick. They are my rock, and what I do is also for them. I hope they can be proud of what I will do in public life.

In closing, you again thanked the people of Eden-Monaro and reiterated your promise to do the best possible for them:

But what I can say in conclusion is to repeat the sentiments of my remarks at the beginning of my speech: for as long as I am the member for Eden-Monaro I will cherish the honour bestowed on me and I will humbly seek to do the best for the people that I represent.

What you delivered on that day in 2013 was a noble commitment to your electorate, one both heart-felt and genuine.

Yet despite your fine words, you are not delivering on them.  Why do I say that?  Simply, you are forgetting what you have committed to the people of Eden-Monaro.

You told them you wanted them to be the best they can be, without telling them what they can be.  How do you tell a young child to go out and do great things in their life, find that special person to share their life and love with, and perhaps raise a family with, if you put limitations on whom they can marry?  Is your campaign promise on marriage more important than your campaign promise to do the best for your electorate?

Eden-Monaro MP Peter Hendy recently said he remained opposed to changing the Marriage Act as that was the stance he took to the last election.

Dr Hendy said it was not an issue people often raised with him.

Many parents raise their children with the expectation in life that they will one day meet that special someone and get married to them, in front of their community, with celebrations, food and drink, gifts and unending love.  Tell me how can a young person aspire to that if they know deep within them they can’t have any of this, under the law, and in their community, because they simply aren’t allowed to marry the type of person they’d genuinely want to?

How is your claim of being opposed to changing the Marriage Act in line with giving that child the best start in life and not telling they what they can be?  Because in being opposed to this reform you are denying them hope, you are denying them participation, you are denying them equality, and you are telling them they can only get married to the sort of person that they would not want to get married to.

When you spoke about the reduced life expectancy of people living in the bush, of their increased chance of dying from an accident or having a higher-than-average rate of suicide, how do you justify promoting attitudes that contribute to these serious problems?

I don’t think you understand the disconnect in your message, because on the one hand you are saying people in Eden-Monaro are victim to factors that reduce their life-span, and on the other hand your desire to deny equal rights to same-sex attracted and gender-diverse people feeds directly into their poorer mental health outcomes, rates of self-harm and suicidality.

Should it be a surprise to you that the underlying reason for the accident of the car wrapping itself around a tree-trunk on a lonely stretch of highway was not due to the state of alcoholic intoxication by the driver, but rather, that as a star player of the local football team he was too ashamed to tell his team-mates that he loved men, and that after years of struggling with this secret of his, the burden became so great that the only way he could deal with his reality was to get himself sufficiently plastered to numb the pain and then slam his car into that tree.  Think of this next time you see a roadside memorial Dr Hendy.

You cannot tell people they are valued and equal members of society when you promote one section of society above another.  When you tell some people their relationships are not equal in merit to those of other people, do not be surprised when you read about the tragic death of yet another young man or woman in a community, the person everyone loved and whose death was totally unexpected.  You should not be surprised when a community is fractured into a million pieces when these deaths occur, because Dr Hendy, you are able to help prevent this, if you really want to.

There is sufficient evidence on what the relevant risk factors are for same-sex attracted and gender-diverse youth:

Same-sex attracted Australians are more likely to experience below-average health outcomes including higher levels of depression, due to this prejudice and discrimination. The statistics are particularly alarming for younger and newly-identifying LGBTI people who have consistently higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, early school leaving, conflict with peers and parents and suicide ideation, all directly related to the discrimination and prejudice they experience.[v]

http://www.glhv.org.au/files/writing_themselves_in_again.pdf

Please read this research and understand the harms young people can face due to prejudice and discrimination.  All children, yours included, need to know they will be loved and cherished, unconditionally.  If parents create conditions or expectations around who their children can love, don’t be surprised when their quality of life suffers.

You spoke of using facts and intellectual cases for nation building.  These are the facts and this is the intellectual case.  A nation is built of people, and if you can’t empower people to be their best, the dreams of building a great nation will fall far short of expectations.

In terms of economic outcomes for the region, you claimed your professional experience as an economist would be of benefit.  There are significant economic benefits for supporting marriage equality.  The wedding industry is huge and the economic potential for the region cannot be understated.  As an economist, how can you hand-on-heart tell the people of Eden-Monaro your refusal to endorse a platform that has known economic benefits could be in their best interests, especially when you hand-on-heart told these same people you would do whatever reasonable measures it took to stimulate their regional economy?

You genuinely care about the people of Eden-Monaro Dr Hendy, but your talk and your walk are going in different directions.  Draw on your Liberal Party values of individual freedoms and of not telling people how to live their lives, get up to speed on mitigating risk factors for same-sex attracted and gender-diverse young people, understand the economic benefits of marriage equality, and do your family and electorate proud by being that strong advocate, not another disappointing yes-man.

If your priority is what is best for the people of Eden-Monaro, you will realise supporting marriage equality is the right thing to do.

Sincerely,

Michael Barnett.
Ashwood, VIC.


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