A Voice To Speak.

by Lori Dwyer on August 23, 2012 · 4 comments

“My name is Lori, and I am speaking on behalf of my husband.”

It’s entirely gratifying, hearing those words ring out clear and strong across a room in Parliament House. I tell this story a lot, as often as I can… it’s very much like therapy for me. But– while I’m eternally grateful for all the awesome stuff I get to do through my blog– speaking my story, Tony’s story… it can feel selfish and self indulgent, simply because I am gaining from it, one way or another. I’m losing occasionally too, of course– but I never seem to feel guilty about losing.

Speaking on Friday felt different. It feel like doing something with no gain, no retribution. I was just speaking on behalf on my husband, because he no longer can.

As I finish, the spokesperson Those Who Be In Charge says thank you, the same way she does with every other person who has come before them. I nod at her and then, as I’m walking away, she adds how sorry she is, how sorry they all are, for my loss.

I’m so stunned all I can do is nod again. I turn to Darrell and say I’ve had enough, I just can’t listen to any more of this- now I have said what I needed to say I am desperate to get out of this room. There is a strong, quiet solidarity between those who wait after they themselves have finished speaking, a camaraderie of implicit support.

Twenty minutes later, we’re outside and the shock of it all begins to sink in, a dark heavy inverse weight of disbelief and indignation.

I should have told them to save her apologies, I don’t need them and my husband can’t hear them now. The people who need them are those who spoke before me and those who will speak after, those who are still living this nightmare of screaming unfairness every second. And irony of it is- all these stories, there are all the same. Teh same template with different players. Hard working employees, intelligent people who are aware of their rights. Power grossly abused. Cheeks turned where noise should have been made. And entire lives, whole families left decimated in it’s wake.

My head reels the whole drive home with what I heard and saw today, with what I should have done, what I could have done. I should have told them to stick their tinkly little silver bell up their arse. Or, as the case would have been, said something akin to, “With all due respect, I’m aware that my time is up. but it appears time is in surplus here, and I may not have a chance to speak again. I will finish reading what I have prepared.”

What could they have done, in reality? Have security manhandle the five foot high crying widow out of Parliament House while the assembled public watched on through the lens of their smart phones? Actually, that may have been exactly what they would have done.

Not that it matters. I didn’t do any of that, and that’s more than OK… as sad as it is, this is Real Life, not a movie or a melodrama.

Regardless of all of that bullshit, of another broken promise to people who have suffered too many already…. it feels good to have spoken. I hope it had the same slightly cathartic effect on the other people who presented their stories. I can only imagine that for some of them it didn’t come close. The frustration of only being allowed to tell half their stories to these people who had promised to listen was palpable and real and so sadly cliched- it’s the very behaviour we expect from Those Who Be In Charge, and are told everyday is blatantly cynical.

Given the gravity and scope of the workplace bullying issue it’s a crying injustice that, in a country that’s apparently as liberal and forward thinking as ours, these people cannot even be granted their right to a voice.

If nothing else, everyone deserves that… a voice to speak with. And a place to have it heard.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa August 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm

They may have limited the time you had to speak, but they can't limit the impact of your story. I hope that changes are beginning.


Stinky August 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Damn right. Everyone has a story to tell, and we have the right to be heard. I've enjoyed these posts but am not sure why – the lip service, the bullshit pretending to care, I'm saddened by them.

Cynicism has to come from somewhere


Eccles August 23, 2012 at 11:00 pm

The sad fact is that, as overwhelming as it was for you and all those who spoke on behalf of those who could not, it would have been as much if not more so, overwhelming for those who sat, listened & then had to seek a resolution, or not,… to the point that, quite possibly, the ultimate goal was defeated in the sheer overwhelming & mind-numbing weight of all these stories.
As for the whys & wherefores of these lives that have been affected by bullying & suicide, their voices have now been heard, and the "spokesperson of Those Who Be In Charge… adds how sorry she is, how sorry they all are, for my loss"… This must be at least in some very small way, a recognition of the suffering & pain that has been/is being felt. If that is the first baby step, it has been taken. The writers of these cruelties & losses, those who speak up against them, must continue to write about them & speak about them, for as long we stand up for what is right, the sooner that recognition & resultant change, will eventuate. It takes time and the ability of those who come after, to stand up & say "I will not take this anymore" (Quote Peter Finch in "Network"), to not pass on the unfair, cruel treatment that they received, but to show compassion, understanding & empathy. My Grandmother used to say, "It takes courage to go against the stream", to be the lone voice that cries out against injustice. Continue to be brave, Lori – there are many of us who will stand with you.


Meri August 23, 2012 at 10:03 am

Thank you to you (and all those that spoke)for speaking, on hehalf of Tony and also on behalf of anyone else that, forwhatever reason, does not have a voice.
Thank you.


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