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By Dan Hutton on January 17, 2017 in

All my shit designer.

All my shit designer.

One doesn’t normally associate the horrors of domestic violence with designer handbags and luxury personal care items. But designer handbags were definitely on Michaelia Cash’s mind last Christmas when the Minister for Women promoted an ‘initiative’ whereby Perth’s wealthy elite filled their passé Prada and Chanel handbags with items designed to make women in domestic violence shelters feel ‘special’ and ‘wanted’. Michaelia patronisingly showed off her benevolence in a smug photo opportunity in Julie Bishop’s prosperous electorate where a few teenage models were on hand to bring glamour to what is an extremely disturbing aspect of Australian society.

The sight of the Minister for Women touting these ‘goodies’ filled me with complete rage. How out of touch is the woman now dubbed as ‘Malcolm’s secret weapon’? Is it sheer ignorance or arrogance? Every three hours one woman is hospitalised in Australia as a result of domestic violence and this is Michaelia’s contribution – a second hand luxury handbag so that women in need can ‘spoil’ themselves?

What did I expect from a woman whose heroes are dinosaurs – Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher – and who sits on the far right of a political party that believes the solution to Australia’s deficit is stripping meagre social security payments from those in need rather than taxing the arses out of the fat cat industries that control Australia? Maybe, as an ideologue, Michaelia truly believes the solution to domestic violence lies in trickle-down economics, with the wealthy handing over their unwanted luxuries to brighten the day of someone they pity.

Domestic violence is a subject that raises Pearl’s hackles. It is unacceptable that four women in my life have suffered abuse at the hands of men. One of these women, who unfortunately passed away two years ago, was extremely close to me. A mother of four, Kathleen was rendered physically, psychology and financially powerless at the hands of a vicious, philandering man for fifty years. Kathleen did not need a used luxury handbag stuffed with cosmetics to feel dignity. Kathleen possessed loads of dignity; too much, in fact. If she had neglected that dignity for one spilt second maybe her life would have been different.

What she lacked was power over her own life. She desperately required government help in the form of financial assistance, a safe house for her four children, a guarantee of life long help for her disabled child, and legal and police protection. Most of all she needed her husband to be jail so he couldn’t play mind games, and she needed the help of professionals to help her turn her life around in a way her friends and family (no matter how hard we tried) could not.

Michaelia Cash, do not let this be your ‘Let them eat cake’ moment. Open the government’s Prada purse and fund support services and programs instead of cutting funds to heal your precious deficit. In the words of Rosie Batty, do not “tip toe around the issue of family violence”. It’s time to make family violence every Australian’s business.