– News from the nation’s capital.

Pauline Hanson spoke in the Senate this week, using parliamentary privilege to talk about the latest Brittany Higgins Wannabe – the Toowomba woman who claims Bruce Lehrmann had sex with her twice without permission to forego a condom. Most of our mainstream media refuses to publish any information challenging this woman’s version of events.

She ended her written speech in classic Hanson style, with various telling comments: “Public lynching of men has become our national sport.”

“I don’t know the truth, only two people do, but if it comes down to the use of a condom it’s no one’s business but theirs.”

“If you are not happy, don’t have sex. I would advise celibacy or join a nunnery.”

Naturally our press gallery chose to ignore her interesting pronouncements.

Meanwhile, I am heading to Canberra for an important event. For two days next week the lawns of Parliament House will feature 2,500 empty shoes, one shoe for each of the men and boys who die in this country each year through suicide. This is largely the inspiration of one bloke, Paul Withall, who started the Zero Suicide Community Awareness program which sponsors this powerful memorial event.

This year he has persuaded a bunch of politicians to speak next Thursday, Nov 16. Then, on Sunday Nov 19 – International Men’s Day – there’s a public event featuring mainly speakers with grassroots experience on how these suicides impact families.

I’m speaking at both events and we’ll be distributing information about Mothers of Sons. I hope some of you will come along and perhaps help out – volunteers are needed to lay out the shoes – just turn up at 7.30 AM and look for Committee Members in high vis vests. 

Please spread the word and support this important initiative. It’s so good to see people out in force supporting a men’s issue.

I’m meeting with politicians all next week to talk about this and other critical issues impacting on men, seeking their views on how we can challenge the endless new laws and policies all deliberately targeting men.

As just one bizarre example, Bruce Lehrmann’s crime in Toowoomba would come under planned new Queensland stealthing laws which criminalize sex where someone removes or doesn’t wear a condom unbeknownst to the sexual partner. Now, get this… the maximum penalty for this crime is life imprisonment!

Our world has gone totally bonkers. Equally, I can’t get over the passing of that draconian Family Law bill virtually eliminating children’s rights to proper care from their dads. I’ve been speaking out on this ever since. Here’s an interview with Alexander Marshall on ADHTV. And  here’s my discussion with Michael Jose, a lawyer who has spent years advocating men’s rights in this area.

But much as we might blame politicians and policy makers, change will only come from real action by the majority of our community who believe in fair treatment for men and women. We have to find ways to make a difference.

The shocking suicide figures are a good place to start.

The important news we have to broadcast far and wide is that Australia’s suicide prevention policies are failing. We are falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to suicide prevention. From 2000-2019 global suicide declined by 11%. In Australia, rates increased by 31%.

The reason? For many decades our health authorities have blatantly refused to target the group most at risk – men.

In 2019, the female suicide rate in Australia (5.6 per 100k) was similar to the rest of the world (5.4 per 100k). However male suicide rates in Australia (17.0 per 100k) are now much higher than elsewhere (12.6 per 100k).

If Australia’s male suicide rate could be reduced to that of the rest of the world, 10 men per week would be saved from an early death.

We have to use this important news to start a concerted campaign to highlight this major policy failure – a direct result of misguided policy from our mental health authorities. These bureaucrats have for decades got away with a deliberate misdirection of funds intended to save lives.

I’ve been talking recently to a number of people who have had direct experience with our key suicide funding bodies, both state and Federal. They all say the same thing – almost every single person involved in these organisations is female and most simply aren’t interested in men at risk. They just don’t get what they are doing wrong – unconscious bias in action!

That’s what has been happening ever since these bodies were established – all our health authorities tend to be run by women. Just look at $1.8 billion of funding allocated in the 2022 National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement. This includes:

 • $735 million for adult mental health services that generally reach twice as many women as men.

 • $300 million for youth mental health services, which generally reach twice as many young women as young men.

• $465 million for aftercare support for people who attempt suicide, a model with a track record of helping more women than men.

• $35 million for suicide postvention support providing suicide bereavement services that predominantly support women.

 • $37 million for perinatal mental health services that generally support many more mums than dads.

For heaven’s sake. These blinkered female bureaucrats are blatantly discriminating against vulnerable men, again and again. And when they do throw crumbs to a program for men, it almost always conforms to the toxic masculinity model which argues it is all men’s fault because they are too stoic to reach out for help with mental health problems. 

Yet here too we have big news.

We now have solid proof that mental health problems are not the key risk factor for male suicide for one of our major groups of vulnerable men. For the first time, this year the Australian Bureau of Crime Statistics published statistics based on coroners’ reports showing relationship/family breakdown is the major suicide trigger for family men – men in their peak child-raising years from 25-44.

Here’s what the ABS said:

“The top risk factor for males aged 25-44 years was problems in spousal relationships circumstances, present in over one-third of suicides. Problems in spousal relationships overtook mood disorders as the top risk factor in this age group for the first time and can include separation and divorce as well as arguments and domestic violence situations.”

Here you go. We’re talking family law issues, men under fire in our increasingly hostile family law system, facing the risk of losing their children, home and assets, and the stress of monstrous legal costs. Plus “domestic violence situations” which often means false allegations.

Our current, failing suicide prevention policies are ignoring both the key target group and one of the key causes of suicide. No wonder we are doing badly.

But now we have the evidence to show what is going wrong. I need all of you living in Australia to seize the moment and use this information to pressure members of parliament to address this appalling social policy failure.

We have put together a draft letter and urge you to spend time, particularly over the upcoming holiday season, to write to your local politicians. We want you to persuade politicians to arrange for key bureaucrats to appear before Senate Estimates committees, to be grilled about their failed policies. And to ask questions of relevant Ministers in the house.

We are hoping many of you will make appointments to see your local MP or Senators. Personal representation from constituents is far more effective than simply sending letters.

These bureaucrats should be told that men must become the key priority group targeted in all suicide prevention policies. Plus, suicide prevention services must target men involved in the family law system. Research is needed into the best ways to support vulnerable men, analysing trigger points that increase suicide risk – such as loss of access to children, false allegations, and prohibitive legal costs.  

But our central demand is for proportional representation in appointing decision makers on government-funded suicide bodies, with 75% male participation reflecting the gender breakdown of the key target groups. This is an essential step towards reversing the policy failures, given that we have seen decades of discrimination against men from the predominantly female-controlled suicide bodies.

Think of those tragic rows of empty shoes and vow to do your bit to stop this happening.

This article was first published in Bettina Arndt Substack

After completing a master’s degree in clinical psychology, Bettina Arndt became one of Australia’s first sex therapists discussing sex on television and radio. She then became a social commentator, writing and speaking mainly about men’s issues. Feminists recently tried to cancel Bettina after she received an honour for promoting gender equity through advocacy for men.