The good, the bad, and the surprising

What a month it has been!  I don’t know whether the full moon and cosmic goings on has had anything to do with it, but at times things have felt surreal.  How about you?

Having felt both humbled and excited in July to share my news relating to my ambassadorships for Project Peace On Earth and Support Veterans, August presented amazing opportunities to work with wonderful clients around the country.     

This work included a national roadshow with a financial aggregator where I addressed senior leaders in the finance and broking industry on values based leadership, the importance of diversity and healthy workplace cultures.

I also took part in the launch of the University of Western Australia’s Public Policy (UWAPPI) Institute and contributed to its first publication.

The UWA PPI will play an important role in advising the State Government on important policy issues relating to reform in many sectors, social justice issues, greater commitment to reconciliation and future proofing the State and ultimately the nation. I was honoured to be asked to offer my experience and expertise as one of the contributors to the pool of knowledge being harnessed for such important work.

I have also been blown away with an incredible gesture by a renowned musician and prominent member of the Wollongong community. This talented man’s generous invitation is conveyed in the media release below.

A Song for Major Rabia

When White Ribbon ambassador and heavy metal musician Dave Tinelt heard humanitarian, hostage survivor and author Rabia Siddique speak at an International Women’s Day event in Wollongong, he felt a burning desire to share her story.

The lead singer of Metreya, a popular and renowned thrash metal band from Wollongong, New South Wales that has opened for global heavy weights such as Sepultura, Overkill, Anvil and Death Angel, has written a song about Rabia which will feature in the band’s upcoming debut album.

Like Rabia, Dave, who shares a passion for empowering people and providing a platform for those needing a voice.

Dave says he was ‘stunned to hear’ how as a military lawyer in Iraq, Rabia was sent to negotiate the release of captured special forces soldiers, taken hostage for ten hours and then ordered by the British Military to never speak of her ordeal.

While this inspirational woman’s story of how she held the British Government accountable is told in her best-selling novel Equal Justice, Dave feels ‘her story is one everyone needs to hear’.

“When I wrote the lyrics to ‘Major Rabia’, it was my intention to bring a small part of Rabia’s experience, in particular the Basra hostage crisis, to light within the metal community.

“It has a military feel to it from the start and it’s the perfect theme for a track that Metreya has previously written.

“I also wanted to acknowledge Rabia for sharing such a traumatic part of her life and the bravery she continues to display. I wanted the song to be just as powerful and empowering as she is, Dave says.

“I hear that her story could possibly become a film.

“I’ve read her book “Equal Justice” which also makes an appearance within the lyrics of my song, Major Rabia.

“Relating the content of the book to her spoken story is definitely something i would love to see in cinematic form. To say she’s Australia’s Erin Brockovich is a gross understatement.”

Dave, a proud and respected Indigenous man, says he looks forward to sharing the inspiration to the song with audiences.

Revealing the words of the final verse of Major Rabia, which will be released in 2020, Dave believes all those who hear the story will be deeply affected.  

 ‘staring down at a loaded AK…cells threaten to become their tomb…10 hour wait before armoured saints…came crashing through the room…a silent name back on friendly ground. .. .ignored by the military force.. …isolate, discriminate ….and little to no remorse.’

“I hope this song inspires others to follow this courageous lady’s example in making a stand against racism, sexism and injustices in general.” 

When Dave, a former alcohol and drug counsellor, is not on stage he draws on his passion for helping people by working as a homelessness specialist and speaking against domestic violence.

Both on and off stage he advocates for fighting men’s violence against women, promoting gender equality and respectful relationships.

 You may appreciate that it took me some time to get my head around being the subject of a talented, respected Indigenous musician’s heavy metal song. Of course, I realise that it is not me that is really the subject matter. It is the universal messages in my back story that resonated with Dave.  And, to have had the opportunity to work with him was magical.

His gesture reminds me that we never truly know the extent of the impact we are having on people, the ripples we are creating and the influence we can harness through the work and reach of others to impact change for the greater good.

The Best and Worst of Humanity in One Weekend

A couple of weekends ago a very unexpected thing happened. I was with my triplet sons and we had just parked at a shopping centre when a man sped into the vacant car park next to me. At the time, I was getting out of my driver’s seat. However, this man did not wait to allow me to get out of the car and purposely continued forward, struck my car door, then reversed again and struck me in the leg while pinning me against the car. While doing this he yelled obscenities at me.  After yelling out to asking him to reverse he eventually allowed me to quickly free myself, but then he sped forward again slammed his brakes on and got out of his car to shout further abuse at me.

Witnessing this while frozen with shock inside the car my young sons were in tears.  I spoke to the aggressive driver, advising him he had just hit my car and myself and that his behaviour was unacceptable.  When I asked him for his details and told him I was calling the police he ran off, only to return later to ‘key’ the whole side of my car.

If this event wasn’t bizarre, shocking and upsetting enough, not a single person who witnessed what happened (and it was a busy Saturday afternoon at the shopping centre) tried to intervene, stop my attacker or enquire about the welfare of myself or boys.  This upset me almost as much as what had just taken place.

I called the police and unfortunately they did not attend as promised. When they eventually did respond two days later it was not until after my story was published in The West Australian Newspaper.  The man was eventually arrested, charged with various offences and will soon attend court to answer for his conduct.

Despite my military training the incident left me feeling vulnerable and triggered many emotions. I was focused on the welfare of my boys, who were distressed, shocked and shaken by the incident.  What if that driver had crushed my leg or worse?  My boys would have been on their own.  The complete lack of response from any passer by also shocked me and made me question what we as a society had come to if people were too afraid, apathetic or just plain reluctant to go to the aid of another human being in trouble.  I couldn’t shake the feeling of disappointment and disillusionment and I felt I had to speak up about what had happened to me.

I used the platform of social media to do so and what a powerful and immediate response I received.  I instantly received words of support, messages of comfort and enquiries as to the welfare of myself and my children. The supportive messages continued throughout the week and media outlets shared the story. The police eventually responded, started an investigation and I could finally tell my boys that violent, aggressive behaviour is not acceptable and those that behave in that way will face the consequences.

This whole incident was a stark reminder to me that we need to find our voice and speak up when we are being wronged, poorly treated and ignored.  We must use our voice to raise awareness, educate others and impact change.  On this occasion I was pleased to say I lived what I taught, and was thankfully able to turn a traumatic incident into an important teaching moment for my sons.

And so in closing I ask you one important question – are you living what you teach others?  Are you living your truth, your values and using your voice to impact change?  Are you using the platforms and influence you have for the greater good?

When we least expect it we can bear witness to the best of humanity and the worst of humanity.  So much happens around us that is out of our control.  But we are always able to control how we respond to those unpredictable occurrences.  We can blame others for what we feel and do or don’t do.  Or we can take responsibility for our actions and speak up, stand up and be counted.

A song, a crash and the power of speaking up – what a month August has been!  How was your August and how will you use your voice in September?

Be the change you wish to see – start your ripple effect!

Anna Stanford