'Terrible idea' slammed on emotional Q&A episode

Yahoo News Staff
·5-min read

Thursday's Q&A episode dedicated to the sexual assault of women and their consent has been widely praised as experts, rape survivors and audience members dissected the latest narrative around the issue which has been thrust into the national spotlight again in the past month.

With rape allegation scandals rocking Parliament House, Australians have embraced a rapidly-growing movement that aims to give women, particularly victims of sexual abuse, a voice, while the education of young males on topics such as consent is now seen as needing drastic change.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has faced intense scrutiny over his handling of the allegations and a wave of anger for his no-show at the women's March4Justice demonstrations.

Youth Influencer of the Year, Yasmin Poole, told the ABC show she was "furious" with Mr Morrison for failing to attend the march, which featured Brittany Higgins, the former Cabinet staffer who alleges she was raped in defence minister Linda Reynold's office.

Yasmin Poole criticised Prime Minister Scott Morrison over his response to the current movement calling for change. Source: ABC
Yasmin Poole criticised Prime Minister Scott Morrison over his response to the current movement calling for change. Source: ABC

She hit out at his remarks where he suggested women should be thankful the march was not "met with bullets".

"To think that the Prime Minister couldn't have the backbone to even get out there and speak to all the protesters, dozens of women wearing black in mourning, to think he could hide away in his office and make those kind of statements, is something that sits so wrong with me because of my work," she said.

"The majority of my work, has been encouraging young women to put their hands up and run [for office], and I had to think will they be safe."

Consent app idea 'stinks'

And NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller came in for criticism for his suggestion Australia could adopt an app for couples to give their consent before sex.

Schoolgirl Sophie McDonnell in the studio audience questioned whether the app would lead to an increase in assault convictions or would it simply "circle around" the issue at hand.

In response, broadcaster Yumi Stynes told host Hamish Macdonald she thought the idea "stinks".

"It's a terrible idea. Anybody who has ever been assaulted or even been sort of edged and pushed into something knows it's a bad idea," she said.

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"If you can be coerced into sex, you can easily be coerced into ticking a box or swiping on an app.

"By kind of intimating you can swipe and then that's solved and you can go ahead and it's a free for all, that's a pretty dangerous idea."

While Macdonald argued such a concept had been rolled out in some Scandinavian countries, Stynes said it removed the opportunity for women to change their minds.

Saxon Mullins, who alleged in 2013 she was raped by a now cleared Luke Lazarus outside his father's Kings Cross nightclub, opened the show with a powerful address detailing the pain she felt from the court's eventual decision, yet said recent narrative around consent gave her hope of "lasting change".

Later when asked by MacDonald if she would encourage other women to come forward to police and seek legal action through the court process, she said she could not advocate it.

"It's a brutal system," she said.

Saxon Mullins opened the show with a powerful address about her own rape trial. Source: ABC
Saxon Mullins opened the show with a powerful address about her own rape trial. Source: ABC

Macdonald then asked how close does the system come to "breaking you" to which she responded: "I don't think it comes close. I think it just does".

Veteran police officer Vince Hurley agreed the process was brutal, and admitted there had been previous failings in cases of victims.

"The reality is, as Saxon well knows, you're sitting in that witness box alone and your reputation is being carved up and I hate to say it, there's only two types of justice, those that can afford it and those that can't," he said.

Social media gushes with praise for Q&A episode

Hundreds flooded to social media to praise the show and the panel selected by Q&A, with one branding it "wonderful".

"Thank you for an excellent program tonight – quality panel. Saxon was amazing! And Hamish‘s compassion is so credible," one Twitter user said.

"Seriously impressed with Yasmin Poole on #qanda tonight. Part of what is increasingly proving to be an incredible generation of young women," another wrote.

Others said it was a breath of fresh air to not have guests speaking over one another.

"I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again QandA, your very best shows are those without politicians," one person wrote.

Gender equality advocate Tarang Chwla whose sister Nikita was murdered in 2015, hailed the episode.

"This #QandA episode should be mandatory viewing for all boys and men," he said.

"One of the things I liked most about this episode of #QandA is that the men did not speak over the women. It shouldn't be something to laud but when the country's leadership is from the 1950s, such stuff stands out."

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