Bleats

Our Response To Drink Spiking In Australia Is Not Okay

Things need to change.

Over the weekend, Rapture Nightclub in Perth has been copping the wrath of the internet after a screenshot of their response to a woman who had her drink spiked went viral. 

Shantel Smith, 19, alleges that she went to the nightclub and woke up in a toilet stall, vomiting and foaming at the mouth. She messaged Rapture’s Facebook page only to be met with questions like “Did you attend a hospital and have your stomach pumped for evidence?”, “Would you like a crowd controller to hold your drink for your next time you attend a nightclub?”, and arguably worst of all, “Are you worth someone trying to spike your drink?”

The owner of Rapture Nightclub, Neil Scott, has said that he does regret sending the message, but he’s made some other comments since that have not been taken well.

When asked why he didn’t believe Shantel, he said “Well she’s not a particularly attractive girl. It’s just implausible to imagine that she had her drink spiked, it just doesn’t sort of add up.”

Later, in an interview, he said “I don’t know if she thinks she’s special enough to be spiked, I don’t know if that’s how it works.”

Spoiler alert: that’s definitely not how it works.

The initial message from Rapture Nightclub to Shantel ended with “we think this is a beat up and we believe no one would be stupid enough to waste their drugs on spiking someone’s drink.”

Here’s the thing. People are absolutely, positively, far too willing to “waste their drugs” spiking peoples drinks. While we’ll never know the real numbers, some studies say that a quarter of all young people have experienced drink spiking in some sense. The reason we’ll never actually know though, is because drink spiking is chronically under reported. 

People tend not to report drink spiking for a number of reasons. Perhaps the effects of the drug mean that they don’t remember many details of the night, or they feel they won’t be believed because they were drinking. The idea that a person is “asking for it” because they have the sheer audacity to enjoy a few drinks on a night out is an idea that we just can’t seem to shake as a society.

In a country like Australia, where drinking culture is as ingrained in us as grabbing a sausage from Bunnings, the fact that myths like this still float around is particularly scary. We’re taught that you basically have to drink if you want to have friends, but if something happens to you while you’re out drinking with those friends, then it was your fault for drinking in the first place. 

The mental gymnastics that go into shifting the blame from the perpetrator to the victim are truly something to behold. They’re also the reason people don’t usually want to come forwards after, say, waking up on the floor of a nightclub and foaming at the mouth. 

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that victim blaming is never okay, and it’s pretty confronting to see such a blatant example of it doing the rounds online. Stories like Shantel’s are terrifying, but I like to hope that situations like hers are getting less and less common. 

And if your response to someone telling you they’ve been roofied is to ask whether or not they were worth it, go home.

The Government Has Introduced A Dress Code For New Aussies That We Never Needed

Let's not forget the PM's own fashion faux pas.

The Government seems to have gotten really interested in the details of citizenship ceremonies lately. It definitely doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that a number of councils, including Launceston council earlier this week, have voted to move their Australia Day celebrations away from January 26th as a show of respect to Indigenous people.

Yeah nah, that was a lie, it’s absolutely about that.

You might have heard about the immediate crackdown that Scott Morrison announced, stripping the right to hold citizenship ceremonies away from councils who dared to acknowledge that January 26th has some pretty heavy historical baggage attached to it.

The part that didn’t make as many headlines was the proposed introduction of a new dress code, and honestly, it’s pretty vague even by regular dress code standards (what the hell is the difference between cocktail attire and semi formal? I will never know). Morrison went to the effort of pointing out that boardies and thongs in particular would no longer be allowed, and cultural clothes are a-ok, but other than that the code itself doesn’t ‘dictate standards’.

Hijabs are fine, Havaianas are not fine, and that’s about it.

Maaatttee.

My first thought was that telling people to wear whatever the hell they want as long as it isn’t boardies and thongs is an excellent way to make sure some smartass shows up wearing a pink morphsuit and running shoes. But then I remembered something: those rules have always been an unspoken thing anyway and literally nobody has ever shown up in a pink morphsuit and running shoes.

Citizenship ceremonies are incredibly special events for people who have migrated here. It’s the day they’re officially making Australia home, and these people don’t need to be told to treat it with the respect it deserves. They already do. Boardies and thongs don’t need to be ruled ‘no longer’ allowed, because nobody ever wore them to a citizenship ceremony to begin with.

Let’s be real, the only people who would find it funny to rock up to such a formal occasion wearing an Australian flag cape with a temporary southern cross tattoo stuck to their forehead are people who are already citizens.

Maybe Scott Morrison sees a lot of boardies and thongs worn in unfortunate places around the Shire, but I’m convinced that citizenship ceremonies are not one of those places. I went digging to see if I could find any example at all of someone incredibly underdressed to take their pledge to Australia, and found absolutely nothing. Zip. Nada. I found a lot of people agonising over whether or not jeans were too informal, but not one single, solitary cork hat was to be found.

I guess if you’re really desperate to wear thongs though, you could take a leaf out of Morrison’s very own fashion handbook and photoshop some nice white running shoes over the pictures afterwards. Straya.

Say Hello To 'Day Zero', When Your Town's Water Supply Officially Runs Out

It's right around the corner...

‘Day Zero’ sounds like the name of a movie that would absolutely involve Tom Cruise in a car chase, probably trying to get away from zombies (or aliens, or the government). Unfortunately for everyone, the real day zero involves the sort of danger that can’t be switched off when you feel like watching a rom-com instead.

Day zero is the name given to the day that a place totally runs out of water, and it’s approaching some Australian towns fast. This morning, the New South Wales towns of Dubbo, Cobar, Narromine and Nyngan woke to the news that they could run completely dry by as early as November. They join Warwick and Stanthorpe in Queensland who have been given a similar deadline.

It’s not just rural towns either. Warragamba Dam could dry up as quickly as October next year, leaving Sydney without water, and people living on the edges of Darwin are already seeing some people run out.

So what happens when day zero arrives?

The situation is particularly dire in Stanthorpe. If rain hasn’t started to fall by the end of Spring, the council will have to resort to trucking in bottled water. Their best guess is that they will have to bring 45 truckloads of water in per day just to keep the town alive, which would cost up to $2 million every month. The Queensland Government won’t say whether or not they’ll chip in for the costs.

Even though there are so many places teetering on the edge of losing their access to water, we haven’t seen anywhere officially cross that line. For a town to hit day zero is uncharted territory in a lot of ways, and ultimately we don’t know exactly what would happen. Like Stanthorpe though, we know it would involve bringing water in from outside the community (and taking water away from wherever it came from) at a massive cost to the town.

The fact that Australia is in the middle of the worst drought that anybody can remember is not new information. We began 2019 by breaking the record for the hottest ever start to a year, and the winter we’ve just had was a warm, dry nightmare. For years it feels like we’ve been speaking about smashing temperature records and then immediately forgetting about them before we move on to the next one. And now here we are.

Broken temperature records aren’t just lines on a graph or a filled out box on a spreadsheet, and climate change isn’t something to be ignored. Just this year we’ve seen massive bushfires across New South Wales, Cyclones Trevor and Veronica causing damage through northern Australia, and storms resulting in disaster level flooding all across Western Australia. That’s on top of the drought.

When we break these temperature records, they aren’t just something that a newsreader is using to fill up time. They’re real warnings that come with real consequences. For some parts of Australia, those consequences are cyclones and floods, but for other parts it’s the exact opposite problem. Australia is running dangerously low on water, and the reality of our towns hitting day zero is looking more and more likely to be a ‘when’, not an ‘if’.

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