LETTER: Is the council fanning flames with hot air?

Letter to the Editor

WHAT do women do when they feel unsafe at work or have been devastated by their place of employment? Tell a friend.

Questions start being asked. A Gympie Times article raises more questions about accountability when councillors vote not to know, but still no answers. In the absence of answers a Facebook page is born.

If it were an isolated incident the momentum would have quickly died, but it grows as more people ask their questions and share their findings.

An election looms and some candidates share what they're hearing and seeing around the district and we learn a lot more about wonderful communities that rarely get press coverage.

Men and women, current and former employees, share their traumas at work, often through tears, and always impacting greatly those trusted enough to be told.

Former councillors share their perspectives on current events. Residents and business owners tell of feeling bullied when they make a complaint.

Others tell of positive outcomes. Claims and counter-claims are tested and judged on the evidence available.

The election's held, the people vote, the choices have been made and the Facebook page is shut down so the totally exhausted can rest and recover.

But still questions remained to be answered, so another starts a FB page to continue on from the first.

Looking for positives, hoping for answers, appreciating greatly the councillors who openly share their work and decisions - even those who disagreed with any particular decision respected such open and accountable governance.

Still questions from before remained unanswered, conflicts unresolved and wounds unhealed.

The fallout from bureaucrat-driven changes so deftly described by Arthur Gorrie's editorial continues to both inflict harm and draw support from around the state as others battle similar problems and struggle to provide sufficient support to those caught in the backwash to prevent them from drowning.

A petition is attached to the Facebook page, calling for an inquiry to find the answers.

Those with deep wounds and/or concerns start looking for reasons, trying to find a context to make sense of what they've been through or what they're seeing others suffer.

Facebook is supplied with documents from government reports and everything else that can be found in the public domain is examined and re-posted.

"Are you helping find answers to our questions?” becomes the sole criteria for judging councillors and community leaders.

When people who've been deeply wounded respond to their pain, it can be hurtful, yet the purpose of such comments is just to try to find a way to get answers to the questions left hanging in the air, to get resolution, to get closure.

More posts to encourage and support staff are uploaded.

A letter, a threat, a demand to shut down, kill the conversation and silence the questions blows hot winds on this fire and such has never yet been known to quench the flames.

Caution - extreme fire danger.

Increasing calls from the FB page to get together, two sides meet and resolve the issues.

Caution - extreme fire danger. This is not just the flickering flame of a single candle, many flames make a fire and the ground is tinder dry and the fuel load high.

Fanning the flames with strong gusts of the hot winds of threat, accusation, and vilification will not put it out. Water is needed.

The moral to the story?

Don't mistreat your female staff - because good women have good friends and good friends don't turn their back and walk away (even when threatened) and you never know what a single candle calling for accountability might grow into.

Aussie mateship is alive and well, and you might just find in the beginnings of its next manifestation the power of the friendship of women.

And water is far more effective at quenching a fire than gusts of hot air...

Anita Femiano,


Gympie Times

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