Youth advocate Yasmin Poole eviscerated Scott Morrison‘s “bullets” comments following this week’s nationwide Women’s March 4 Justice protests as well as the usefulness of NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller‘s suggested consent app on Q+A on Thursday night.
The panel for its special ep on consent was refreshingly free of politicians and instead featured broadcaster Yumi Stynes, Wenona School principal Briony Scott, criminology professor Michael Salter and mental health advocate and ex-NRL player Joe Williams.
They were asked about Scott Morrison’s comments about how Australia is a “vibrant democracy” because the protestors were not “met with bullets”.
In response, 22-year-old Yasmin said that it’s a “fundamental flaw” in our democracy “if young women can’t go to Parliament and not be raped”, in reference to former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, who has alleged that she was raped by a more senior staffer in then-Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds‘ office.
“I’m not thankful for not being shot,” Yasmin, who attended the Canberra protests, continued. “I’m furious. I am angry that any young woman that desires or aspires to go into politics now will have to think twice. That is appalling. And that is a shame on our democracy.”
Yasmin went on to dress down the PM for lacking the “backbone” to go out and speak to the thousands of protestors gathered outside Parliament House.
“To think that he could hide away in his office and then make those kind of statements is something that sits so wrong with me,” she said.
For the first time, she added, she has to wonder if the women she encourages to become engaged with politics will be safe in Canberra. “In 2021 in Australia, will their bodies and bodily autonomy be respected?”
Asked by host Hamish Macdonald how she felt looking at Parliament House while at the Women’s March, she described it as a “a big marker of this endemic culture of violent misogyny even in the highest political institution, that has existed not just right now, for generations”.
Best #qanda ever – we may find ourselves in a really sad & horrendously unjust situation but when I hear young women like @yasmin_poole speak I am filled with hope for the future. Excellent panel & audience tonight – it’s time to change things up, we must keep fighting ????????????❤️????— Kylie Edmondson ????????❤️ (@kylieedo) March 18, 2021
Joe Williams, a Wiradjuri and Wolgalu man, said comments like Morrison’s are hardly surprising in a country “founded” on rape and violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and added that we needed to “listen and do better”.
“A lot of [questions and responses on Q+A] have been centred around what the victim should do. We need to stop men raping women,” he said.
“We need to empower and encourage and support victims to all ends, but we need to stop men from doing the wrong things.”
Yasmin Poole added that no politician involved in the Brittany Higgins allegations had been held accountable for their actions.
“Why on earth has no politician that was involved in this been fired or had to leave?” she said.
“That again is that example of one brave woman stepping forward and you see how those in power close ranks. The ‘lying cow’ comment. The looking into the background of her partner. Even this comment about ‘trial by media’. These are all putting the onus back on survivors, and punishing survivors.”
Yasmin Poole hits the nail on the head: why aren't there repercussions for the men involved in these high-profile cases?— Matthew Toohey (@TooheyMatthew) March 18, 2021
Will there be justice? If so, when? #QandA
During the episode, the panel were also asked about NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller’s controversial suggestion yesterday that a consent app could be used to prevent sexual assault.
Yasmin Poole described it as another instance of leaders offering a poorly thought-out technological solution to a far more complex issue, like the expensive and relatively ineffective COVIDSafe app.
“This is an example of why we should be centring and listening to survivors and also using an evidence-based approach,” she said. “Because this is too serious for us to suddenly throw ideas at a wall and hope that it sticks.”
She also pointed to its flaws, including situations where parties are intoxicated or there is a power imbalance.
“My fear with this as well is that it actually might protect men,” Yasmin added.
“Can you imagine the barriers that are already facing young women in establishing sexual assault or rape, let alone if you were coerced into agreeing to this app?
“We need to centre survivors in this conversation.”
Our future is in good hands with young women like Yasmin Poole leading the way. Such a strong, inspirational woman.— ????????????Bee????????Opening bat for the Sewer Rats XI???? (@BelindaJones68) March 18, 2021
I agreed with everything you said on #QandA @yasmin_poole ????????????
????#auspol #insiders https://t.co/pOAzvZxMXu
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.