Phil Cleary for Brunswick

Phil has spent his whole life in Coburg and Brunswick, was a premiership winning player and coach with Coburg and is a former federal member for the area. He has had three books published.

Just another little murder

Time for a Royal Commission

On 26 August 1987 my 25-year-old sister was stabbed to death outside the kindergarten where she worked in Coburg.

Her killer used a fishing knife. He was her ex-boyfriend and was found not-guilty of murder due to provocation. He spent three years and eleven months in gaol. The court case was the reason for my 2002 book ‘Just another little murder’.

On Wednesday 33-year-old Fiona Joy Warzywoda, suffered the same fate as our sister, Vicki.

How can a man walk through an intervention order and do what this man did?

It is shameful that our society continues to allow men like this man to terrorise and kill women.

According to Victoria Police ‘more than 820 offenders, overwhelmingly men, breached intervention orders at least three times in the past financial year. Of these, 200 individuals violated orders more than five times and 15 committed more than 10 separate breaches in one year.’

We need a royal commission or judicial inquiry into violence against women, with attention to how the criminal justice system, the police, and other agencies deal with violence against women, what resources are needed if we are to protect women from violent men and how our society must change if this epidemic is to be stopped.

Taking it to the Club

Exploring and improving the role of women in sporting clubs might be just one of the strategies to combat violence against women. I’ll be in Drouin on Wednesday night (23 April) and Traralgon on Thursday morning (24 April) and Inverloch the week after (30 April) discussing the strategy.

With yet another woman murdered by the man in her life, this time in a Sunshine street, it’s surely time for a serious inquiry into what must be done. Maybe a royal commission is the only way to find the answers.

The Wife Killer Speaks

Everyone deserves a fair trial but I find it nauseating, listening to Oscar Pistorius weeping as he explains away the murder of his girlfriend. Shooting a robber in the toilet oblivious to the whereabouts of his girlfriend. Does anyone believe this? It so reminds me of Peter Keogh being led through unsworn evidence in 1989 as he explained away the killing of our sister. So cool-headed is Pistorius when delivering evidence designed to portray the killing as a consequence of mistaken identity. Tearful and sobbing when describing how he felt after discovering he’d shot his girlfriend.
Trained by his lawyer to say, ‘My Lady’ after every sentence, in deference to the judge, his evidence reeks of callous disregard for the woman he killed in an act of revenge.

Why did he say he never intended to ‘kill Reeva or anyone else’? Didn’t he shoot the person in the bathroom with intent? There can be no doubt Pistorius is being portrayed as the victim. At every turn we hear a commentator dwelling on the killer’s inability to speak about the aftermath. How refreshing to hear the prosecutor demand that he say he ‘killed Reeva…’

Sweet VFA - Will I ever see you again?

(Inside Football).

On Saturday 29 March in the ABC VFL match of the round the standalone Williamstown unveiled its 150-year commemorative jumper and went within 13 points of defeating the reigning premier, Box Hill. Although the Hawks always looked more dangerous on the rebound and generally sharper by foot, there can be no doubt the Seagulls will soon emerge as a VFL power. It was a different story at Coburg where the Lions - now also standing alone - were blown away by Port Melbourne in the last half of the final quarter. While the final quarter demise can in part be attributed to injuries that restricted Coburg’s rotations, it was a clear sign that we should not expect too much just yet of this young side. 

Opening the season with these games and the talk of how Williamstown intends to celebrate its 150th year was a reminder of how our history has been compromised. It’s no secret that I believe the VFL should revert to its original name, VFA, both to end the confusion about its history and as a marketing strategy. If for example Footscray were to win the VFL premiership this year would we say it was the team’s first VFL premiership (excluding its 1954 premiership in the VFL/AFL) or its first since winning the 1924 VFA flag, following wins in 1923, 1920, 1919, 1913, 1908, 1900, 1899 and 1898? What a headline, ‘Footscray chases first VFA flag since 1924’ would make.

Changing the name, because it suited some big wheel in the AFL, denied us the chance to use our history as a marketing tool. Reverting to the VFA might help restore those possibilities. So too might it encourage people to invest time in the celebration of the history of the oldest football competition in Victoria. Without the work of VFA historian Marc Fiddian so much VFA history would still lie buried in old newspapers. At present the challenge of illustrating that history in electronic form is left to volunteers such as VFA aficionado, 52-year-old George Paras and 30-year-old Cameron Towson at Port Melbourne. How telling that Cameron fell in love with Port when he saw the video ‘Six Days of History’ as an 11-year-old. That video covers Port’s premiership wins in 1974/76/77/80/81/82, games played before he was born. You don’t have to be a baby boomer to be drawn to such history. 

If the VFL is to capture the hearts and minds of young supporters it needs to invest in this history and give it an online presence alluring to devotees of the social media. If 11,000 people can download a 1976 clip of Fred Cook from my YouTube site doesn’t that say something about how this colourful history might be used to promote the VFA/VFL among young football supporters? The first step surely – along with a name change - is in seeking a grant from the AFL or from government to gather old footage and memorabilia and transform this into innovative DVD packages. 

With Footscray and Richmond returning to their historic homes, and Port, Willi and Coburg back as traditional rivals the VFL is well placed to exploit the niche market that exists for games at local grounds. It might sound pie in the sky but I believe a name change and a reinvigorated online presence would be a marketing success. Having Williamstown and Coburg join Port and Frankston as standalone clubs in the VFL has breathed new life into the competition and the communities they represent. With the war between the VFA and the old VFL long gone it’s time for some fresh thinking about the how to best promote the VFA/VFL. We could do a lot worse than invest in a visual presence online that brings the old and the new together in a concerted marketing strategy.

Sweet VFA - Will I ever see you again?

(Inside Football).

On Saturday 29 March in the ABC VFL match of the round the standalone Williamstown unveiled its 150-year commemorative jumper and went within 13 points of defeating the reigning premier, Box Hill. Although the Hawks always looked more dangerous on the rebound and generally sharper by foot, there can be no doubt the Seagulls will soon emerge as a VFL power. It was a different story at Coburg where the Lions - now also standing alone - were blown away by Port Melbourne in the last half of the final quarter. While the final quarter demise can in part be attributed to injuries that restricted Coburg’s rotations, it was a clear sign that we should not expect too much just yet of this young side.

Opening the season with these games and the talk of how Williamstown intends to celebrate its 150th year was a reminder of how our history has been compromised. It’s no secret that I believe the VFL should revert to its original name, VFA, both to end the confusion about its history and as a marketing strategy. If for example Footscray were to win the VFL premiership this year would we say it was the team’s first VFL premiership (excluding its 1954 premiership in the VFL/AFL) or its first since winning the 1924 VFA flag, following wins in 1923, 1920, 1919, 1913, 1908, 1900, 1899 and 1898? What a headline, ‘Footscray chases first VFA flag since 1924’ would make.

Changing the name, because it suited some big wheel in the AFL, denied us the chance to use our history as a marketing tool. Reverting to the VFA might help restore those possibilities. So too might it encourage people to invest time in the celebration of the history of the oldest football competition in Victoria. Without the work of VFA historian Marc Fiddian so much VFA history would still lie buried in old newspapers. At present the challenge of illustrating that history in electronic form is left to volunteers such as VFA aficionado, 52-year-old George Paras and 30-year-old Cameron Towson at Port Melbourne. How telling that Cameron fell in love with Port when he saw the video ‘Six Days of History’ as an 11-year-old. That video covers Port’s premiership wins in 1974/76/77/80/81/82, games played before he was born. You don’t have to be a baby boomer to be drawn to such history.

If the VFL is to capture the hearts and minds of young supporters it needs to invest in this history and give it an online presence alluring to devotees of the social media. If 11,000 people can download a 1976 clip of Fred Cook from my YouTube site doesn’t that say something about how this colourful history might be used to promote the VFA/VFL among young football supporters? The first step surely – along with a name change - is in seeking a grant from the AFL or from government to gather old footage and memorabilia and transform this into innovative DVD packages.

With Footscray and Richmond returning to their historic homes, and Port, Willi and Coburg back as traditional rivals the VFL is well placed to exploit the niche market that exists for games at local grounds. It might sound pie in the sky but I believe a name change and a reinvigorated online presence would be a marketing success. Having Williamstown and Coburg join Port and Frankston as standalone clubs in the VFL has breathed new life into the competition and the communities they represent. With the war between the VFA and the old VFL long gone it’s time for some fresh thinking about the how to best promote the VFA/VFL. We could do a lot worse than invest in a visual presence online that brings the old and the new together in a concerted marketing strategy.

Women in Your Club.

Hope to see you in Gippsland in the coming weeks when we confront the violence that stalks women and discuss the role sporting clubs and the community can play in stopping it.

Women in Your Club.

Hope to see you in Gippsland in the coming weeks when we confront the violence that stalks women and discuss the role sporting clubs and the community can play in stopping it.

Time for a Royal Commission into ‘wife killing’?

In shades of R v Dincer (1982) and so many other provocation trials since. a man has been found not guilty of murdering his wife due to provocation. So much for us scoffing at the crimes of other ‘less civilised’ societies:


Media Report:

A MAN who stabbed his young wife to death because she questioned his masculinity will spend at least nine years behind bars. Yassir Ibrahim Mohamed Hassan, 56, killed 24-year-old Mariam Yousif at their southwest Sydney apartment in April 2012.

On Friday, NSW Supreme Court Judge Peter Garling sentenced him to 12 years in prison with a non-parole period of nine years. Hassan was originally charged with murder but was found guilty of manslaughter by reason of provocation. The pair married in their native Sudan when Hassan was 45 and his bride just 16, before moving to Melbourne, where Ms Yousif had grown up.

The couple then moved to Sydney, settling in Wiley Park. “From about that time the marital relationship deteriorated,” Judge Garling said. He said a cultural disconnect and age gap between husband and wife triggered disagreements ranging from Ms Yousif’s approach to socialising, her brother, and differing child-rearing philosophies. At one stage, Ms Yousif went to live with her mother because Hassan ended the marriage under Muslim law, but she returned a few weeks later when he called to inform her “he had rescinded their divorce”.

On the day Hassan killed his wife, the pair had argued about a broken coffee grinder.
Ms Yousif called Hassan at work but he told her to wait until he got home. The judge said Hassan was an “unimpressive witness”, but his was the only account of what happened between his 6pm return home and Ms Yousif’s death in bed five hours later.

"He said that his wife said to him words to the effect that he was not a man … and that he should look in the mirror," Judge Garling said. Hassan plunged a kitchen knife into her as she cowered beneath the bedsheets. "He stabbed her at least 14 times," Judge Garling said.
“The attack was vicious, brutal and was completely excessive in all the circumstances.”
Then he took a shower and hid the knife in a cupboard before calling police to tell them there had been “trouble” with his wife, the court was told.

Judge Garling said he saw no evidence Hassan was remorseful - rather, he saw “a man who feels wronged”.Hassan was expressionless as an Arabic translator conveyed the judge’s comments. Ms Yousif’s mother and other family members cried and held hands in the public gallery.

Justicia - Blind to a flawed justice System

If only Chief Justice Marilyn Warren’s (Age Wednesday 11 December) defense of the courts and her colleagues on the Adult Parole Board had acknowledged some of the well-documented failings of the justice system. If only she’d expressed some disquiet about the system’s inability to stop the march of Jill Meagher’s killer, Adrian Bayley, and other woman haters.

 Instead of addressing the considered concerns of those who believe the justice system has a flawed history when dealing with violence against women, the Chief Justice takes a scattergun approach, describing criticism of the board and its Chairs, Justices Simon Whelan and Elizabeth Curtain as ‘quite disgraceful’, the media’s reporting as ‘selective’ and the social media as prone to misrepresenting the deliberations of judges.

 Justice Warren is right to point the finger at the Napthine government for playing the law-and-order card and to accuse some commentators of misrepresenting the deliberations of the courts. Dispensing justice is clearly not as easy as the tough-on-crime posse would have us believe and its administration should not become the victim of a cheap grab for votes. However the Chief Justice’s protestations should not come at the expense of an assessment of the system’s failures in dealing with violence against women.

How many women must die at the hands of misogynist recidivists like Adrian Bayley and how many men must be found not guilty of murder after killing a woman known intimately to them before Justice Warren will say there might be a problem? I became an activist for change and a critic of the justice system in 1989 when my sister’s killer was offered a provocation defence, found not guilty of murder and sentenced to less than four years gaol by Justice George Hampel. In the ensuing years provocation was so discredited that in 2005 the Labor government abolished it. Regrettably, that did not stop the killings or the confounding manslaughter verdicts for ‘wife killers’.

What Labor didn’t address, because it hadn’t thought about it, was the deep-seated prejudices that underpin trials involving ‘family violence’. Prejudices brought to life in atrocious courtroom narratives that blame women for their death. It came as no surprise to me that under the defensive homicide law that replaced provocation a string of men – R v Sherna (2009), R v Middendorp (2010), R v Grimmett (2011) - were found not guilty of murdering women known intimately to them. Now that law is to be abolished, yet no one is asking why replacing one law with another appears to change nothing.

Beneath the media generated hysteria about the dangers faced by women on the street in the aftermath of Jill Meagher’s 2012 murder a fundamental question was swirling in people’s minds. Was Bayley – a multiple rapist - on the street only because the justice system is blind when it comes to violence against women? The parents of Colleen and Laura Irwin asked the same question in 2006 after their daughters were raped and murdered by William Watkins, a violent misogynist and convicted rapist, living next door.

The stabbing murder of Adriana Donato in Aberfeldie in August 2012 by ex-boyfriend James Stoneham was the archetypical ‘domestic murder’ except that the killer pleaded guilty, thus sparing Adriana’s family a demeaning courtroom narrative. Yet in a decision I found mystifying, Justice Croucher, ruled that he was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Stoneham – alleged to have been suffering depression - had actually intended to kill rather than inflict serious injury. I believe, based on the facts, that men who kill in such circumstances never intend only to inflict serious injury - Stoneham had told people of his intention to kill Adriana - and that the judge’s finding could lead some to believe the killer was a victim, something redolent of the old provocation law.

 That Justice Croucher cried, described the killing as chilling and devoted an hour to his sentencing remarks clearly indicates that judges now understand the importance of offering comfort to the family of a murdered woman. Justice Warren has every right to claim this as progress. However what cannot be disputed is that historically, violent men, the bloke who killed my sister, William Watkins and Adrian Bayley and so many others have been treated with kid gloves while dead women continue to be pilloried in courtrooms. If Justices Whelan and Curtain were ‘hung out to dry’ as the Chief Justice claims, maybe they were the scapegoats for a justice system in need of deep reform.

 

The Crumbling Foundations of Apartheid
The army had been a crucial instrument in upholding the apartheid system. Here the army - white and imperious - is captured in apartheid’s dying days in early 1994. 

The Crumbling Foundations of Apartheid

The army had been a crucial instrument in upholding the apartheid system. Here the army - white and imperious - is captured in apartheid’s dying days in early 1994. 

A Moment in Black History
I still vividly remember the sound of sirens and of the crowd that descended on Johannesburg to ‘greet’ Buthelezi’s Freedom Party. Shots were fired, the police were out in force and the army was everywhere.

A Moment in Black History

I still vividly remember the sound of sirens and of the crowd that descended on Johannesburg to ‘greet’ Buthelezi’s Freedom Party. Shots were fired, the police were out in force and the army was everywhere.

Remembering History
It’s nearly twenty years ago (1994) since ANC man Eddie Funde took me - I was the Independent Federal Member for Wills - into Johannesburg, where I captured Winnie Mandela with my trusty Cannon. A few weeks later I would meet Gerry Adams on the Falls Road in Belfast. How the conservatives have changed their tune about Mandela and the ANC. When will they - like the cricketers who broke the boycott and now conveniently hide their trips to apartheid riddled SA - admit they were wrong?

Remembering History

It’s nearly twenty years ago (1994) since ANC man Eddie Funde took me - I was the Independent Federal Member for Wills - into Johannesburg, where I captured Winnie Mandela with my trusty Cannon. A few weeks later I would meet Gerry Adams on the Falls Road in Belfast. How the conservatives have changed their tune about Mandela and the ANC. When will they - like the cricketers who broke the boycott and now conveniently hide their trips to apartheid riddled SA - admit they were wrong?

You be the Judge

 James Stoneham lures his ex-girlfriend to a park in Aberfeldie and fatally stabs her. The judge, Michael Croucher, says he couldn’t establish beyond reasonable doubt the killer intended to kill and therefore reduces the sentence to a minimum 14 years. The girl, 20-year-old Adriana Donato had tried to placate Stoneham in the preceding months but it was to no avail. How could a judge conclude - the court heard Stoneham told friends he was going to kill Adriana - it was questionable whether he intended to kill?

As I learnt when my sister’s killer was found not guilty of murder due to provocation in 1989, the sympathy bestowed on men who kill the ‘woman in their life’ knows no bounds. The real issue here isn’t the sentence. It’s the way our society, and this includes judges, continues to ameliorate crimes against women by an intimate or estranged male partner. This should be the source of our outrage.

It’s time for a genuine parliamentary inquiry into the way the courts treat violence against women.   

NO END TO THE ‘WIFE’ KILLINGS

Another woman killed by the ex in what a spokesperson called ‘a domestic’ says The Age. Just what does that mean?

The head of the DPP, John Champion, has appealed a recent manslaughter sentence in relation to the killing of a man - by another man - in St Kilda, calling it manifestly inadequate. We said likewise when our sister’s killer received less than four years in 1989. The DPP did not accept that Justice Hampel’s sentence was manifestly inadequate. John Champion had defended the killer, Peter Keogh.

The killer had a long history of violence against women, invariably sanitised in one courtroom after another.  He committed suicide in 2001 in the aftermath of the torching of his ex-girlfriend’s house in Tyers. He was the only suspect and should have been charged.  

Crime and Punishment

Rob Hulls wrote the following in Monday’s 4 November’s Age about the current mobilising of discontent in the face of recent acts of violence in Melbourne:

http://www.theage.com.au/comment/imagine-if-we-were-smart-not-just-tough-on-crime-20131103-2wuov.html

I sent the following response to The Age letters section but received no reply:

Rob Hulls (Age Mon 4 Nov) is right to ask, ‘What if we recognised that preventing crime frees up resources that could be spent on hospitals and schools, rather than a plethora of prisons? What if we replaced this division and adopted a goal of ”no more victims” - halting the accumulation of damage for all concerned?’ How about we address those questions after Rob first explains why the justice system routinely extinguished the human rights of so many female victims and refused to develop strategies to stop the reign of terror of misogynist men, like my sister’s killer and Adrian Bayley? Who could deny that the courts have failed to deal properly with violence against women, rape and ‘wife killing’ in particular? It was this telling failure that spawned the anti-violence campaigns begun some twenty years ago. Feminists such as Jocelynne Scutt and those  who drove the Women’s Coalition Against Family Violence should be proud of the humanism and sophistication of their campaign. My writings have not been driven by a law and order imperative but by a similar desire to change the public narrative, including the courtroom narrative. Until we offer a real answer as to why the provocation law was tolerated for so long and how its successor, defensive homicide, came to be used so successfully by ‘wife killers’ Rob’s questions will fall on deaf ears and ‘law and order’ will be the catch-cry.

Stop the tunnel



We don’t want no creeping tunnel.

We don’t want our parks destroyed.

Corner of Westgarth and Brunswick Streets, North Fitzroy from 3 pm until 5 pm this Sunday. Mick Thomas among a number of artists performing. Met Mick some years ago and discovered he was a keen St Kilda supporter. I scribbled a few words about the old VFA, which he put down on tape for a lark: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPxfNS4Jejo&list=FLFMK-0TXhRUd4Ov2zc4KTrA&index=93

Remember When?
Wills could have voted independent, as my daughters advocated, but alas they voted Labor in 1996 and the rest is history. Refugees are demonised and dissent is relegated to the fringes.

Remember When?

Wills could have voted independent, as my daughters advocated, but alas they voted Labor in 1996 and the rest is history. Refugees are demonised and dissent is relegated to the fringes.