Texting yes and the right to privacy: carving out space in the age of social media.

I’ve got a million thoughts in my head as I’m walking to the cafe this morning. I have 4 or 5 dialogues across social media going on. I’m working out how to use my realestate agency’s maintenance app to describe plumbing issues I don’t have the vocabulary for and I’ve been reading forums to try and work out if the issue needs a plumber or me turning the tap clockwise. Which way is it again?

I get to the cafe, order and sit down. This is my morning ritual, to go get breakfast after having some medication with awful side effects and then quietly enjoying my tea and toast as I put my phone away. The cafe is busy, and then we segue three ways. The first time, it’s an elderly gentleman from somewhere more exotic than Radelaide and he wants to sit down. The cafe is busy and with no tables free, I smile weakly and offer him some of the table when asked. He wants to sit right beside me, close, and I find that uncomfortable, my first nope red flag. I definitely don’t want him in my personal space. I suggest he sits the other side and then he starts trying to engage me in conversation and interrupting my meal to the point where I want to move – I see another table is free. I have to move the entire tea set and myself and get dirty looks from my unwanted companion.

I thought we were just sharing a table and I used enough soft no indications before noping across the cafe to indicate that I was not wanting contact. I am perturbed as I drink my drink, because hot tea is required while I try to silence my thoughts and I find I automatically pull out my phone. Why doesn’t life have a do not disturb function?

The second and third time at the cafe are identical- two older women come in alone. I’m alone too. I quietly go about my ritual of my three cups of a pot of tea- too milky and sweet for some but it’s just what I need on a stomach full of prescribed sanity. The morning medication hasn’t kicked in yet despite my breakfast veering into lunch territory because I slept late again- the new drug for my fibromyalgia is making me very drowsy at night when I take it and it rolls heavily into the burden of waking after slow release antipsychotics. In the morning they take a few hours to clear my head so I sleep late and then start fretting for the day and go to breakfast where I’m one with the caffeine. Jittery and unsettled despite trying to find peace of mind with my phone in my bag. In easy reach.

The women aren’t getting much attention as the cafe owner is busy though he tries to be personable with every customer (what a good public face game he has cultivated as the caring local cafe owner of Glenelg) and they seem to need the human contact ordering something meagre at a cafe brings. They make some remark to no one in particular and I find myself replying to the hanging remark inadvertently. This empty space where the comment hovers precariously is almost where these women seem to be socially. It’s meagre words.

I’m also a single woman dining alone and I reach across the space and make small talk even though I’m an introvert today. The strangest bit of the encounters for me though, is the end, where the women thank me for actually talking to them. It wasn’t that hard to step across and make a place for her in my day. I hope someone will do it for me when I’m older and then remember the SBS post I made on social media about saying hello (that I forgot to read). I try to post about mental health yet sometimes I get distracted…

It’s another day and ruminating over my tea, I think about the first encounter with Mr Not-My-Surgeon and what was my discomfort with the first man. Initially I thought he was my surgeon for my upcoming brain transplant and was only there to pick something up as it’s close to his surgery (which I can see from my flat if we are creepy and all Rear Window) then I worry that if it is my surgeon to be, that I’ve jeopardised my chances of getting all the help I can within my price range. I call my mother and fret because the truth is, I find faces hard to remember.

I find it extremely hard outside my cultural group though it isn’t kosher to admit that in the humanities and I spent a good ten minutes comparing the nosy man to the photon of the surgeon. I think they are different in the ears and my mother assures me that the surgeon would have ethical boundaries and if he had sat down, it wouldn’t have been beside me. I realise that he is intruding on my time away from being constantly accessible online and disconnecting so I can mindfully eat my breakfast.

Breakfast. It’s my space away from social media: it’s called privacy and a lesson I learned from a stark genius that it’s alright to be accountable in your public face but your privacy is a space to guard. Yet with face to face contact there is no block feature or a mute button…The second and third encounters in my musing make me realise there’s a generational gap into the idea of social spaces we occupy and how people who have spent a lot of time online socially seem to (not unreasonably) want to disconnect after the furious dance of eyes and fingers duelling, waltzing across the touch screen with 23 tabs open in the browser and 3 different apps to manage banking, bills and how you’ll get the tram to Victoria Square in time for poetry in the pub and the featured poet is Calamity, who is he again? Checks Facebook. We are friends, when did this happen again?

Over my tea, I think I’ve sent enough social cues I don’t want to engage every morning and that’s why the first encounter unsettled me. The man was demanding my attention, acting entitled to my personal space quite literally when he wanted to sit close to me, maybe share my tea?! I read about an SMS sent by some of Yes marriage equality campaigners and how many people feel it’s a violation of their personal space. I understand this sensation my space has been violated in a way I can’t articulate, despite the sharpest mind I know telling people that it’s just an SMS that took a few seconds to read and delete it.

Pragmatic me knows she’s absolutely right but another part of me recognises that social media – texts, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and messenger apps just to pose a few for my definition of what it is to occupy e-space – has become an extension of their actual self identifying space in reality (or meatspace!) And when I think about how I rely on my phone probably too much but it has become an extension I use to enable my dis/Abilities. I’m so invested in my technological microcosm, that my e-space occupation is an unavoidable consequence of communicating mostly by social media, I understand why we can’t articulate that sense of being violated because the definition of contact has changed.

It’s why I was bothered by my *gentleman friend* because he couldn’t read my body language. It’s a cultural shift in symbols like headphones but no music or a news paper to peruse. And because we spend so much time connected, we want to disconnect and don’t give this desire for peace of mind it’s own physical embodiment.

Sadly this doesn’t go well when people occupying small parts of society want to connect. In another Clara-needs-more-therapy story that probably should be in Thought Catalogue: last year, I was cyber stalked by another student wanting me to do her work. A lot of her work. I reported it, I was told I responded appropriately but if she was told to back off, it was confidential so it felt like she’d gotten away something at my expense. I just couldn’t put my finger on it exactly it my body reacted as if she was an imminent threat.

The problem was that she creeped out of e-space in my mind and creeped into my meatspace & started to set off ptsd reactions despite there being no physical danger. And this is how I imagine a ‘vote yes text’ feels to someone very caught up without the sensible divide between ‘online’ you using social media and meatspace you that occupies a distinct physical and social space. Reality isn’t the lens you are looking through when you react like that to a veiled threat, you aren’t responding with a considered approach. Instead there are overwhelming feelings that create a cognitive dissonance so reality and your reaction aren’t congruent.

The text probably felt like some stranger had walked into your bedroom and sat on your bed and started preaching the Yes campaign. I once had two old women come into my house when I first was living alone and forgot to lock the door; I remember then making themselves at home while I was in a daze and I still doubt the memory but it was a real event and they were there in my house and I don’t know why. I honestly don’t remember inviting them in but I definitely remember asking them to leave. I suppose unsolicited texts leave you with the same vague anxiety, but thing about anxiety is that it’s not logical or rational. My cyber stalker elicited the same hypervigilance and anxiety as her physical presence would have if she’d shown up in my home.

I was asked to work with the cyber stalker on an assignment and with her persistent demands on me, I couldn’t do the group work and so she sought to punish me when I wouldn’t hand over my material I’d gathered for my own essay. The lecturer insisted on my participation in the group work (despite her asking me to do her work for her) as it was a vital part of his teaching pedagogy; despite him being advised to let me present alone as an accomodation. Later when discussing my participation (or non), he called me arrogant when I was confident in my abilities (after 15 years of university I bloody better well be) when a male student trying to occupy the space I’m taking would not have been criticised. The equal opportunity officer was the one to write my fee remission and retrospective withdrawal letter so I definitely had a case. I told The cyberstalker never to contact me again and unfortunately I probably won’t be able to take that class again. I don’t fit into the teaching space.

So people reacting to the Yes vote text are stressed out and instead of responding to it like Yes literature in the mail, as their sane reaction to simply throwing it out, the SMS has become a spectre and the objection is that the Yes campaign felt entitled to invade their social space. If this had been the No for marriage equality campaign, it would have been a scandal and no voters would be further demonised. What ever way you choose to vote, you should feel that you have privacy and dignity over your choice. The Yes vote SMS violated that autonomy we expect in an individualistic society and this is why reasonable people are reacting unreasonably. They are worried by the access to their e-space identity in a way that they can’t control and fear nefarious purposes or exploitation. Some of this is about fear, some of it is about saving face, with yourself for having an illogical visceral reaction to an unwanted text message. I get that anxiety when I get phone calls from blocked or unidentifiable numbers.

We live in a world of privacy settings, networking, trigger and content warnings. Our social space has neat labels and functions defined with a purpose or commonality, we create perfect bubbles and cultivate our echo chambers, we get comfortable and share how lonely we are waiting for Cthulhu. Meatspace however and living in society are dissonant and is not congruent with e-spaces. It doesn’t have privacy settings that translate into a unanimous culturally recognised language because we live in the era of multitasking (badly) and read a paper and chat, do 5 things on the phone at once, talk on the phone in the toilet. So I guess we react mentally to that perception of a vague threat to the extended self in the virtual reality of social media and people we haven’t granted access to our self. To friend has become an adverb as well as an adjectives showing how we control and grant access to ourself – friend and it’s opposite. So when people try to reach across the social divide (like the Yes vote encouraging people speak beyond their bubble as the unfortunate text demonstrates a poor attempt at) and/or invade our autonomy, we will react as if attacked because the other, unknown, hasn’t been or become labeled a friendly.

Clara, 24/09/2017

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The school girl’s tale: the follies of a youth and a lucky escape.

It might seem I’m a bit late to to the dystopian world of The Handmaid’s Tale based on Margaret Atwood’s novel but I’ve been avoiding it because it reminded me of a part of my adolescence I’d rather forget. I have an outstanding knowledge of the bible and bible era history, because from ages 17-19 years old, I was part of a Christian sect. I was recruited from the outside right after I was vulnerable when a friend died; I went on a whim via a high school friend in my music class I’ll call Sandy. Sandy was popular, beautiful and the closest thing I’d imagine good devout parents wanted in a daughter, one Christmas in our little cult morality plays even the boys agreed she probably should have been the one to play Jesus. Sandy was a monument to her faith, our faith; and it was almost like being the dumb ugly fat friend again. Everyone wants to be Sandy.

This particular cult or sect, depending on who you ask based on your interpretation of an earthly leader, are some of the kindest and most righteous people you’ll ever meet. I found in them unconditional acceptance for which I owe them my gratitude and that’s probably why I dabbled with various Christian sects over the years, they overwhelmed me with their goodness and unconditional welcome – as long as I was one of them, I believe probably by now I’ve been excommunicated in language most people would understand and this almost is a relief now that I’m 20 years older. But this what makes them the most terrifying forces of human belief, that they are good because they are the chosen ones. Chosen to be God’s police as a Christian friend put it.

So I’ve not watched The Handmaid’s Tale until now because I haven’t been ready to confront that aspect of my past. How willing I was to wear a veil or head covering to church because a woman’s hair is the glory of her husband alone…how only men were able to teach the scriptures and women must be submit to all brothers of the church, I was called a sister upon full immersion baptism. Secretly, I was still a pagan in my heart of hearts so I honestly feel terrible to have deceived these people in that way but they also had no problem in shunning me one day when I wore a sundress to church and was told I wasn’t fit to eat the Lord’s table by a man in his sixties. Something something gazpacho about temptation…today I’d declare it Inappropriate a man that age criticising my dress and body as a vehicle for male temptations as if men aren’t capable of being their own moral and ethical gatekeepers. This way lays rape culture…

And that’s why as I’m watching episode three right now and seeing the women lose their autonomy, I’m feeling a sense of de ja vu. It was fine for me to become an archaeologist by them but I remember the day when another sister of the sect actually ripped me to pieces for daring to believe in their god and evolution (not intelligent design the way of theme parks in the USA) at the same time. This sect prides itself on the fact they read through the New Testament twice a year and once through the Old and adhere to an almost autistic interpretation of the bible. They teach critical thinking and history (if pride wasn’t a sin I’d suggest they are quite pleased by their so called rational and logical approach to decoding the Bible) but believe the world was created probably when it was also probably flat.

I decided I’d quietly keep my views to myself which is how these people operate – they operate via groupthink bound by communal ritual and use fear of ostracism and damnation to keep the doubters & “converts” like me. The fear of persecution was repeatedly drilled into us every week.Yet I was never quite as shiny as Sandy and for that I’ll be grateful. I’d learned the burden of being the perfect Christian girl before I’d joined the sect and watched the life unfold in one of my early high school friends, Ruth. It was bad enough I’d been raised outside the church and couldn’t identify my relatives inside it (so I didn’t marry a cousin I presume) and that’s where I learned what stigma feels like, not just from living with depression but from where I came from. My worldly ideas and wardrobe were too much to overcome and eventually after my first year of university I fled after reading The Handmaid’s Tale and September 11. These type of Christians are seeing the end of the days in this current state of world affairs and they are hopeful. It’s almost like we are getting what we wanted with dystopian trends in pop culture like The Hunger Games and Divergent.

I personally prefer the end of Tomorrowland and recommend any of my readers to read Jim Wright over at Stonekettle Station on his analysis of the film. Let’s take the liberty of time travel and leave this all behind and return to my story. It was in that first year of university, in 2001, that I saw Sandy handed over to what amounted to as a rockstar preacher in our world, virtually a child bride who left her university studies and high school love to marry this evangelist; to follow him to Eastern Europe where she as a missionary would encourage people to cross borders for illegal baptisms in countries where Christians were persecuted. I saw that’s ultimately the fate that would befall me or I’d become a pathetic spinster reliant on my fellowship which was both revered as the preferred spiritual state (yet single childless women were still an aberration of womanhood).

Eventually I took a page from their own books and teachings that it was better to remain unmarried and independent. Christianity from the earliest days, were among the first social movements in the what was become the West, to rather radically suggest that women were able to be single, celibate and leaders in the church. I fled from the sect to another city in another state and when I see their temples, I quickly cross the road and put on my headphones in denial.

These are the same type of people against marriage equality in the Australian plebiscite carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on behalf of the Australian government. Marriage equality for them provides the ultimate battleground to be persecuted and oppressed while at the same time allowing them to fight for their beliefs to prove how godly they are. This isn’t about Christianity or human rights (see how hard they are fighting for the oppressed like refugees without an agenda of conversion and proselytising, there’s no free lunch here!) or even being against two people of the same sex being married and granted equality in a secular society.

It is about a holy war, about imposing their world order on society and finding a convenient venue to fight their good fight as the underdogs seeking glory. They win when people like me aren’t willing to confront their own experiences and use them to open dark ecclesiastical halls and throw light on what it is like living in a sect that doesn’t allow you to vote and won’t recognise any earthly government over that of an intangible deity.

This article is not about all Christians or since at no voters, though I do hold in contempt the argument love the sinner, hate the sin, so don’t throw that at me as your reason for voting no in the Australian marriage equality plebiscite.

It’s about my time as part of a cult and how they work – more of the same minefield of persecution and oppression being mixed up into a fight for their religion which is why they find ways to believe they are the victims at the same time while victimising others. This is all in order to fulfill their need to be oppressed like ancient radical Jewish sects by imperial Rome. When my body became a personal place for a war with that older church brother, like how men are battling over women’s right to contraception and abortion in the USA (where they are trying to revoke Roe vs Wade where a woman’s right to bodily autonomy and her right to terminate a pregnancy was established. They pretend it’s post truth I suppose if you can call prophecy and revelation and are preaching ideological battles as evidence based on flimsiest of evidence, their faith. This isn’t about being robbed of fatherhood and unborn babies (where is all that righteous concern for children in poverty and living in war zones?) or if Jesus thinks my dresses are slutty when we dine out. This is again a politics of persecution, us versus them, as The Handmaid’s Tale, illustrated when I read and freed me from becoming a handmaid.

Clara, 2017

Look what you made me do: for something different, understanding the narrative and agency of Taylor Swift through a close reading of her latest song.

Look what you made me write…

In 2016, Vice’s website for women, Broadly, wrote a click bait piece on on Taylor Swift as an Aryan icon worshipped by Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, KKK, Tom Hiddleston…wait forget the last one. In light of the events coming out of Charlottesville, Virginia, the issue of fascism is everywhere and people are talking. So inside my bubble, I got to read ‘Can’t Shake It Off: How Taylor Swift Became a Nazi Idol’ by Mitchell Sunderland. I’m refusing to link to the piece because I refuse to give such a flimsy article the traffic on moral principles alone and have decided while I’m preparing for invasive tests tomorrow and feeling particularly anal attentive, to breakdown how Taylor Swift has reclaimed her own iconography after famously asking to be excluded from the narrative.

Sunderland’s evidence of Nazis having appropriated Taylor’s image as a symbol was the fact back in probably 2013, Emily Pattinson, a teenage girl decided to pin Hitler quotes on images of Swift. This apparently was adopted by various fascist organisations internationally. What prompted me to write this article was that the source for the Aryan worshipping weirdos claims Taylor is a covert Nazi.

In the comments on Facebook where I found this particularly innovative piece of critical thinking, is that because Taylor Swift didn’t deny being a Nazi, her silence must be tacitly approving them. Obviously I was the only one that read where Pattinson was approached by Taylor’s legal team and told despite both Swift and Hitler definitely being people of public interest, these were damaging and for Emily to cease and desist. Then she dropped Look What You Made Me Do, the first single of her 2017 album, Reputation. And instead of excluding herself from the narrative, T-Swift tore the whole damn thing down. Let’s take a closer look on how she’s redefining herself in this new single.

First Swift wiped her social media accounts clean and removed herself from music streaming services last year (though she’s back now I’m suitably informed). Then she won a highly contentious court settlement where she was awarded the princely sum of $1 after suing a former body guard for sexual assault and was hailed as a victory for women in Hollywood setting a precedent for future cases. Then she released the song that proclaims “Here Lies The Reputation of Taylor Swift” with a zombie version of Taylor’s Out of the Woods crawling out of a graveyard. There’s a lot of shade thrown at Taylor’s known nemeses and controversies that’s not worth the salacious gossip other writers no doubt have analysed to death in light of this single. And the crawled out of the cemetery…

What I want to focus on here is two scenes in Look What You Made Me Do in particular. The scene where our songstress volunteers to become the actress of our nightmares in front of a giant T with a sweater emblazoned ‘Rep’ where 2017 Taylor Swift is on a mountain of Taylor-Swifts-Christmases Past and a stinger, at the end of the song, where the various incarnations of Taylor are standing in front of the jet (yet another Taylor had scrawled REPUTATION in red paint on), they are parroting the commentary around the various icons of each Swift career phase. Bickering among themselves, the only time the Taylor Swifts idols were in any sort of harmony is when that when circa 2009 VMAs Swift, holding her Moonman, announces she would “very much like to be excluded from this narrative”, they all tell her to SHUT UP. This Taylor Swift circa 2017 is using a power of free speech that most people forget exists, the power of silence. The one power of free speech people forget they have also have, is the power to SHUT UP.

So the reasoning of behind that Taylor Swift must be the Aryan Mistress Of Nazis because she chose not to dignify the Nazi accusations with any sort of response – which is very typical of the Taylor Swift branding I might add – falls flat. She’s always remained politically neutral even if her personal life has spilled into the gossip columns and the other burdens of being a star seem to be very public, like the inevitable commentary that comes with living in and cultivating a celebrity presence. We’ve seen Swift at times, actually relish and acknowledge it actively as with Bad Blood and the girl squad or famously with Dear John and John Mayer.

However at the end of this clip, an older and wiser Taylor is alone and in by removing herself as the subject of discussion, she’s become an object of agency and then in redefining herself, she’s actually attempting to take control of narrative rather than reacting and this is where saying nothing is her super power. In Australia, we do not have the American 5th amendment right to silence, especially if it is something that could incriminate themselves. Taylor Swift by shutting up is doing just that, responding with a considered reply rather than reacting to the innuendo, rumours and gossip. It’s not a coincidence that this is the Taylor (2009) that zombie Taylor inters back in the cemetery right at the beginning and that 2017 Taylor is the Rep.

Clara Santilli, 2017.

I’m not an artefact: an open letter to the men who think they are entitled to me because I’m a woman.

 

I don’t usually dabble in making feminist political statements but the events of this year have forced me to realise I had to develop personal and professional boundaries even though I’m not working as a professional or have any personal projects in production right now.

Late last year, after almost five years of living in fear and a progressively more & more dangerous housing situation, I moved into my current flat, cute in a building with a locked foyer so only residents really have access to the internal flats. I was trying for a new start in life after my neighbours from hell and their minions had been exorcised from my daily life and that my daily stalking situation was unlikely to follow me to my new home.

After ten years of celibacy by choice, I stupidly dipped my foot in the dating cesspool and ultimately was involved in an unhealthy relationship for four months (three of which I was planning how to leave this guy because he was disturbed in ways I won’t disclose but to say that they made him seem dangerous to me). I was probably just as prone to toxic behaviour as the man-child I’d gotten involved with and I’m definitely not a saint- honestly the day he decided to slink out on me before the sun rose after a fight, I was relieved and I moved on. He actually told me to after I was deciding if this was what I wanted (YES!) and it didn’t take more than 48 hours before I was singing songs again and exorcising all traces of him from my immediate surroundings. After my luck, I was adamant that I am going to stay celibate since I just do not possess the talent or temperament for relationships.

Not long after my emancipation from the creepy guy, I broke my elbow in a fall and this spectacular example of a creeper creeping decided to crash what was me quietly catching up with a friend at a quietly obscure event involving fire twirling under a bridge before possible emergency surgery on my elbow the following week. You’d have to be crawling through my Facebook or the social media of my closest friends at the time to find it. All because I said no…I told the little creeper creeping I couldn’t go to this birthday party. It didn’t matter that I’d broken my elbow and he’d not bothered to check if I was fine, it’s because I said no. He didn’t like the word no and I’d been using it a lot when I’d stopped him from leveraging his way back into my life – when he asked if he could leave things here after the breakup (hell no) and then again after the incident under the bridge, he had upset my friend greatly and so forcefully in drawing the line that my friends are a boundary that I’ll go all Gandalf on, he was told not to contact me again via any means except to return my stuff through mutual friends. He stole my things and kept about $200 worth of stuff -I, like a lot of people with exes that try to hold them hostage through retaining possessions, wrote them off as if I’d lost them in a natural disaster and kissed them goodbye. I wish that had been the end of the terror I was experiencing at the hand of entitled males abusing their privilege in 2017 but..

This is Darla, the only predator that should be in my life...

 It’s become a joke among my oldest and closest friends I’m a magnet for drama, I can be quietly at home in bed doing nothing for chaos to happen and a new stalker means it’s just another Tuesday. Most of the time now I’m older and wiser, I know I haven’t done anything to create the crisis or attract the predators and creeps (except creeper creeping), I just continually fall into the bizarre situation. Part of this was being nice to everyone so I stopped being nice to everyone and part of it is I’m naturally an open minded person. I made the mistake of assuming open minded meant completely accessible and moving my boundaries to accomodate people who were waving little red flags from day one. It doesn’t. My private life is accountable to no one but law enforcement and my cats.

This story however isn’t about them. It’s about me and how I feel like on days like today I should live on Mars where hopefully I’ll find David Bowie, peace of mind and respite from the mazurka of anxiety, paranoia, pain and anger dancing around like merry fiends at the Devil’s ball in my brain (or you know the masquerade scene with the orb and Jareth…) What is it like to live as someone who has survived abuse, harassment and stalking? I have complex post traumatic stress disorder (cPTSD) and it complicates my life in ways people can’t imagine. This is going to be long and complicated and rambling but that’s what it’s like to have cPTSD, each new stress compounds to the already traumatic experiences of the sufferer. It’s always with you and it doesn’t make sense.

There’s often a sense that outside your comfort zone, mine extends to the door of my flat, that there’s always someone out there waiting for you and you’re going to die. But you’ve got no option to keep on trying to be a functioning adult and living under a rock on Mars or like a prisoner is no life at all. You must go out because you eventually need to leave your flat whether it be for food, loo paper or cabin fever…having social media and email makes that pervasive feeling like you’re being hunted even stronger as you’ll see once the invaders start using your main means of social contact to isolate you.

In archaeological and psychological terminology, leaving my house has become a ritual. Behaviours that must be performed perfectly and religiously as if they increase the chances of me leaving and returning safely, like when people used to chuck salt over their shoulders. First I start the *checking all the things before leaving my house so it is safe routine*, is the flat window & porch door locked, have I hidden the keys to the locked box enough invaders won’t find them if they do get in, do the cats have enough food or water in case something bad happens to me while I’m out – the sense of foreboding I have before leaving grows, until it frantically has me checking all the power points are off in case of fire and flicking a switch to a light left on in case I come home when it’s dark.

I check my bag next. Is my phone & watch fully charged, and the extra power bank full case my phone runs down so I can keep it fully charged for the trip home in case I’m chased and need to call for help like that time last year on Marion Rd with the *M44 masturbator* who followed me off the bus after I’d called Adelaide Metro because he tried to kiss me as I validated my ticket getting on, had his hand down his pants and after we’d alighted, chased me until I threw a Welcome to London sign at him and ironically sought refuge in a kebab shop until the police arrived. Do I have meds in case I end up in hospital after something horrible has happened?!

Then after my bag for all possible occasions is packed I do the mirror check: are my clothes modest enough to avoid anyone paying attention to me because if something happens they’ll ask what I was wearing and what I did to encourage the guy, will this scarf and hat hide my features from potential predators that already are targeting me, then I wrap my hair up because it is getting a bit too long, I style it in a way that it’s hard to grab hold of and are these boots suitable for running if I need to escape? Then leaving: Getting out the door and I’m looking, looking, looking.

On the street it’s looking and listening like I’m a sniper. Is that person who kind of looks thuggish a threat, should I cross the road where it’s a little better lit? Am I being followed by that group of drunk guys down the road- there’s so many more of them than me; when it gets here, where can I sit on the tram that seems like I’ll be least disturbed by dirty old men who’ve been out drinking wanting my attention when I’m in the city? I deploy the headphones, turn up the music and sit near the driver or transit security guard trying to look bored on my phone. Someone wants my attention and I just automatically say “No!” now without looking up from my phone. I might have missed out on a million dollars but I just don’t have the patience for this anymore. Then tram stops for a minute near where the ex who drove me back to celibacy works and says there will be a slight delay. I have a moment of flurried panic as the tram sits idle for those few minutes, my heart starts beating faster and my stomach hurts, will that little creep get on? What will I do if I see him?

The anxiety attack saps all of my energy as the tram begins to move again and I know I’m going to feel crap the next day because my skin has started crawling in a way that feels like sunburn under my thick coat. So I get home safe but the entire walk home, day or night, I’m clutching my phone and keys. I get home and have trouble sleeping because I think there’s someone lurking outside my door despite going to the spyhole, peeping out and seeing no one because it’s just my imagination tonight.

It’s 2am and I can’t sleep. I hop on social media and get depressed about the things I can’t do because of my creepy ex and the fact he is everywhere in Adelaide’s geek scene. After reading blogs about handling creeps, rape culture, male entitlement and privilege, asserting your boundaries, the articles about predators labelled missing stairs and the nope rocket and geek social fallacies and orca sociology, I realise there isn’t much more I can do. I consider what I can do about re-entering my geeky hobby and how I can play without excluding my ex.

I eventually make a list during several long nights of misery, then I’ll see qualified professionals on three occasions to prepare for mediation so I can go back to the hobby I love and I send my request to the club’s organisers so we both can safely and it’ll will take them four months of chatting with me to decide creeping creeper after the lying, the stalking and the stealing from me, will only get a warning. Apparently I was welcome the whole time and he would have been banned from games I was at. I get told this after I quit. He won’t have to make any changes to his life but I’m left constantly now with a sense of anxiety and paranoia rooted in lived experience. It’s like I’m being punished for his bad behaviour, life isn’t fair but sometimes it feels like some people do deserve justice. I get insanely angry, angrier than I’ve ever been when I’m told the guy who ruined my social life and stole my ability to feel safe in the world is just getting off scot free. I vow to ruin them. I plan on where can I find them and make a scene so everyone knows how they enabled the creep to keep creeping. I won’t ever actually do any of this as I rant wildly to my mother on the trip home but I’m ready to watch world’s burn and enjoy it. Being this angry makes me feel strong and alive and it feels good. I’m scared of myself the next morning and I ask my doctor about it. Apparently I’m just stressed and anxious…

 

In that time before the night I finally understood the Time Lord known as the Master who would burn entire cities just to watch a he pretty smoke, I’ll try self improvement measures and I write to a popular nerd blog (several actually) asking how to repel creepy men and the agony uncle that answers me suggests that my friends should be enforcing my safety at events even if that means admitting creep is creepy and that they need to pick sides. It’s after the advice columnist suggests these friends should be more brute force than squad goals and keeping him away from me, then I realise that these people running the club are not capable of keeping me safe despite my own precautions.

I listen to an older trusted friend who reminds me that to this guy, who seems to lack theory of mind, that I’m not actually a real person but a figment in his mind, a character in one of his games, I’m property to be played with (those odd things I’m not detailing publicly chillingly fit this assessment perfectly). So I do the thing that can 100% keep me safe and I quit the club, unfriended the members on social media for enabling the creeping creeper to keep creeping and I move on to an artistic community that is not only safe, basically in the first sentence understands what stalking and harassment is and says they will ban the guy. These were complete strangers believing me that I was unsafe around creeper creeping. They are now trusted friends, helping me find what normal is after years of living a traumatic life I don’t have the vocabulary to explain and most people don’t have the experiences to understand. They saved my life and are there when I’m also getting sick, not that I’d know it yet, and the fatigue and pain are wearing me down physically as well. I will try to carry on normally with uni and my study of accessible archaeology but I find I’m more and more easily triggered by little things that encroach on my boundaries. Some are minor. One is enough I actually had to leave university for the semester but let’s skip forward to a few weeks ago.

It’s another night of imagining there is horrors untold lurking outside my door and I can’t sleep. So I check messenger to see if any of my friends are up and around because I’m feeling socially isolated without the gaming club or the women in my film production course. Lo and behold, a guy I volunteered to help with an interview on a personal subject I’m fairly well versed in -since we are both studying film making -is on chat so I try to be particularly helpful because through this new poetry hobby I’ve made a few contacts for artistic collaboration, so I figure if I’m feeling better and available, making contacts with other film makers & photographers and maybe getting documentary experience with friends would be awesome. I so friend them on Facebook and try to smooth their way into the world of the documentary’s subject matter. Unfortunately I make the mistake of making myself entirely too accessible as a subject and it’s as if the dude feels entitled to more than my help with the documentary. He starts getting cagey when I ask who his supervisor is and what is his background, the hedging I don’t realise at the time, is a power display of male entitlement and privilege (this same dynamic would be played out that weekend with J*** the Inappropriate Neighbour). Why does he want to know where I like to hangout and what my favourite food is?! I’ll say cheese and there’s no way they can read anything into that or leverage it against me because it’s getting too personal. Entirely inappropriately for my religion, theme of his documentary, I’m invited to a lunch at a church (it’s also entirely inappropriate for a film producer to be asking out the subjects of a film, just saying!) and of course I’m going say no. Then starts a week of social media contact that is basically everything we were taught in my film, screen and media studies 101 course not to do. I get pushed to hangout with him a lot so I try to be polite and say I’m busy with uni and archaeology and I use the word no a lot. The other red flags are beginning to show: that he hasn’t researched the beliefs of the people he is documenting and then he jumps into my personal life based off social media, offers to swoop into my life and save me when I’m diagnosed as seriously sick again – only knowing me less than a week and meeting me once in person. Despite being tired and trying to work on my own documentary assignment for uni, he keeps on smothering me on social media asking all about my life that isn’t documentary material. I actually make a joke about faking my own death and hope that he takes the hint.

It’s then I recall my English honours and all that late night blog reading, I can see that I’m no longer a subject to be documented but an object of scopophilia. The sense of something predatory waiting to get me (he eventually invades my flat because he’ll email me again today after I ghosted him on social media unprepared to work with someone ethically compromised). I feel nauseous and abandon my studies despite the fact my subject is the most helpful collaborative partner in my project. I shut down my computer and social media altogether. I hide in my bed for a few days guarded by my tabby, Dee, watching paranormal investigation and alien “documentaries” and the movie ‘Paul’. I take my friend’s advice and I decide to ghost the guy. It’s not kind but he has shown he won’t respect boundaries and is doing some shady stuff that I just don’t feel good about participating in further.

Then eventually a Friday night comes and things are about get scary for real. I don’t even realise it because I’m so calibrated to the idea that the anxiety inherent to my cPTSD is registering people and situations that are unsafe as perfectly harmless, that idea from the skeptics around me that something is not right has become so ingrained- I have to constantly ask myself if the danger is real or a figment of my overactive imagination. I am told continually I’m being paranoid about being preyed upon, so I ignore my instincts and get it wrong, so wrong another person suffered terror when if I’d listened to myself and acted. Instead I hid in my bed late at night in denial since I was safe inside my flat and thought someone else could deal with it. This is how good people end up being perpetrators of the bystander effect.

Months ago since we can time travel here, someone named J*** left a phone number with no message in my flat door. The first time he left it, I wigged completely out and I was leery – my thinking anything legitimate would have a note explaining why I should call the number. After a male friend rings the number and just get voicemail discovering they are named J***. I listen to the common sense of ignoring it- thinking it’s someone looking for drugs or something else illicit or maybe, just mistaken identity. It recurs in my thoughts every time I end up opening my mailbox or open the door to my flat. J*** decided to prey on every single woman in my flat and left his phone number. Tried to kick in a neighbour’s door and when I rang him to tell him not to contact me again, I discovered he was engaged and just looking to hang out with single women on a Friday night at 2am. Totally legit and innocent…

So I mentioned what happened on Facebook because I’ve decided to stop being nice and make life as uncomfortable for men who think they can invade my life, my sister tries to analyse what I did to encourage J***. I can’t actually even work out who J is and this nameless, faceless threat lives in my building and I don’t even know which man it is. So after patiently explaining to my sister that when a man leaves a number with no name or flat number at your door in the middle of the night, he is saying I know where you live and when you’re home but you don’t know me but I’m entitled to invade your life and your home whenever I feel like it. When he tries to kick in your neighbour’s door and disturbs other male neighbours, that guy has gone from creepy to unsafe. I have to unfriend my sister because she goes from victim blaming to turning it into a competition of Survivor. Fine, she can win but I’m still kicking her off the island because I don’t need someone else asking could I have prevented J*** from harassing everyone.

 I try to ignore the icks but it’s always there lingering. Every time I catch a tram, I’ve taken to avoiding Marion Westfield altogether to avoid chance encounters with the creeper creeping and any where large crowds of geeks gather. Is there someone waiting to cause me harm? It’s always at the back of your head, you check to self if you’re being followed and get used to using reflective surfaces as part of your situational awareness and sit with your back to a solid way and have 4 planned escape routes and 16 buses pre-saved in your smartphone’s bus app in case you need to escape quickly. So earlier this week I discovered someone going through my trash and I had to ask myself, stalker or homeless person looking for bottles for the 5c rebate? And then today I received an email from the film maker after ghosting them. I know ghosting seems unfair but he wasn’t hearing my NO answers or that I’m busy and I’m sick. He wouldn’t take no as an answer and you can’t negotiate or reason with silence and if I’m not there. And the first time ever in the history of this blog, they decided to email me after no and disappearing in silence wasn’t sending a loud enough message.

It was a different guy on a different night on social media I decided I couldn’t take any more, this guy we will call M (continually emphasised how big and strong he was which says to me “I’m bigger than you and can do whatever I like to you because I’m stronger, your safety is by remaining on my good side!”), was going to drive an unregistered car and come forcibly to remove me from my home (“I can come and take you whenever I want and they won’t be able to find us.”). In my world, that’s called threatening assault and kidnapping and I noped right out and blocked the guy. I later tried to explain a female perspective of his behaviour as privileged and inappropriate and educate him but he and his friends later on decided trolling my Facebook account was entertaining- he just forfeited the price of admission to being part of my life by entitling other men I didn’t know into my posts and letting them abuse me. The unwanted phone number from J*** is harassment, and that my ex still being part of my life, well it’s traumatic. The club we both belonged to took over four months to decide what to do about creeper creeping so the stress from that malingering over my life that my ex could just insert himself into it whenever he liked without repercussions, the painful recovery from my radius fracture of my ulna and then a complete stranger to me promising they are going to get me forcibly, were enough that I broke down. I still haven’t recovered from the things that followed with J*** and the pushy filmmaker, I’m quite socially awkward these days but my friends are forgiving, I have days I can’t leave bed but my friends are encouraging and patient, but today I can’t work on my assignment.

I am feeling physically that sick that someone I tried to help, decided they were entitled to use a documentary and promise of future work as a ruse to invade my life without invitation, is trying to get into my life again. I remarked yesterday I didn’t need to write this post because I’d be preaching to the choir. Then the email came and after another trusted friend suggested I should go ahead with the post, I’ve decided to get this all out. Guys, no was my answer and dude doesn’t my silence tell you everything you need to know about me.

Clara, 2017

There’s no money in poetry…Supporting local arts and tourism from burlesque to the spoken word…

So it's been awhile readers and I've unfortunately been too ill to blog or adventure much. The last events I attended as the Lonely Archaeologist were all at the Nexus Arts Centre including the Deco Dolls and World Gin Day, Once Upon A Teaser (both curated by the talented Miss Viola Verve) and Club Gotham by the JustAss League in late June (all pictures below are from the various events mentioned).

I intended to do a feature blog on each of these events but illness is a time consuming hobby and I've largely been regulated to questionable viewing habits formed on Netflix while resting & testing goes on and disturbing my therapy animals with my ideas of home entertainment! Part of that of that is the pursuit of spoken word and the pub poetry scene (as both a performer, audience member and writer), it's actually influenced my documentary research project that I'm making as part of my screen and media studies as my archaeology masters elective. This has changed my viewpoint on being artist myself as you'll see below.

Once Upon A Teaser, Nexus Arts, June 2017.

Once Upon A Teaser, Nexus Arts, June 2017.

Gin tasting platter on World Gin Day, Nexus Arts, June 2017.

As much as I enjoyed attending the events as an audience member, my perspective really began to change as I got more and more involved as a novice poet in Adelaide's underground spoken word scene. From my own fledging endeavours since late last year, I appreciate the work that goes into creating a performance let alone curating an entire show. For me, thankfully, it's a reasonably cheap art form to practice and rehearse since I'm a *collector* of notebooks and pens are affordable and my writing group are generous with their time. Plus a huge thanks to the people who organise open mic events like Soul Lounge and Dithyrambia plus Spoken Word SA that have created environments that nurture poets and other wordsmiths as well as featuring local and Australian talent regularly. They are all volunteers with projects, lives and day jobs of their own and you'll find that with many of the amateur acts in SA's cultural scene.

I really realised the cost of time that now goes into then making your performance the best it possibly can be after seeing Charlie Brooks, Alison Bennett and Matcho Cassidy workshop and choreograph their show, URI: To Burn, performed last week at the Jade as part of State Variable, which was free in spite of months of work going into it. So tonight, I was pretty upset to see one of the upcoming lights of the Adelaide burlesque scene explaining on social media that performers were being compensated less than $30.00 per show. That's the average price per ticket of a medium sized Fringe show according to my *research* (shows I went to see last year or tried to but I was really perfecting the art of ill timing literally). We joke in the spoken word scene that there's no money in poetry (apart from the Slams which I'll write about next week), but the other creative performing arts are not cheap pursuits even just as a hobby (I spent a lot of money on music and dance lessons first hand growing up) and if you are paying money to be an audience member in a show that a performer is good enough to be paid for, they've got the right to be compensated fairly like any other employed work.

Often people will ask them for free art or gigs because they'll "get the exposure" and think this is fair payment when they don't realise the hours of practice, years of lessons, time taken away for rehearsals from other things including better paid employment, travel costs to venues, make-up and costumes, equipment such as sound and lights along with someone to operate those sound and lights, refreshments and bar staff if the venue is catered or the cost of up fronting catering with no guarantee they'll make it even let alone profitable and then there's legal & insurance…

Why am I ranting about this when, as Tink, I'm only a poetic novice who hasn't released a book or been a featured poet (yet) and as an archaeology student, I don't perform for a non-academic audience? I write this blog for free and the reason is that, rarely does it contain my original work or ideas, it's usually blogging about someone else's achievements in the arts and tourism products that I've consumed. I do it for free but I know the value of what I see on my lonely adventures, I pay full price for my tickets because I value the arts culture and as an unpaid reviewer, I do it because I love what I see, but know I need to pay for its consumption like I need to pay at restaurants, because it wasn't MY hard work. The wonderful people who agreed to be interviewed here do it because they care about their art. Not for exposure.

We need to encourage local arts production and entertainment tourism in SA because it is good for other local industries such as hospitality, other tourism sectors like heritage, sport and ecotourism and things you wouldn't even necessarily like education. We are actually lucky to have musicians of Slava Grigoryan's calibre involved in teaching guitar students in South Australia! (Learned that at last year's Guitar festival!) If we don't pay our local performers properly for their work and in a timely manner, we lose them to other bigger arts festivals such as Edinburgh or Perth when they gain recognition and fame.

Not long ago, I wrote about how local and medium sized acts were being driven from last year's Fringe Festival, that the smaller official venues were having trouble retaining acts and staging performances through poor ticket sales and smaller-medium sized performers being ousted from free tickets and better publicised productions – not made in SA. They were lost in a sea of larger international marquee shows like notorious touring comedians, because the much smaller shows were less attended and less well advertised and not due to lack of program quality.

Beers About Songs by Ryan Adam Wells (of Sound and Fury fame) was run here 2 years ago and now is getting international acclaim at Fringe festivals all over the Northern Hemisphere. Many international former Fringe acts of that quality aren't coming back because they were running at too much of a loss to make money, not having enough people attend to have a guaranteed audience at every show to make performances worth doing and to offset the financial and artistic costs of being in SA in high Australian tourism season, in short making being their being here less worthwhile. Their loss hurts the local economy as well as South Australia's because Mad March is when we as a destination see our highest income from out of state visitors who come for the combination of high and popular arts, culture, sports and heritage tourism unique to SA. So we need to really encourage and throw in with local cultural industry creators, artists and venues NOW. Not just during the Fringe or Cabaret Festival or the Tour DownUnder.

As a cultural hub, Adelaide has been compared to cities with reputations in the creative industries like Portland in that various arts festivals are on here all year round – currently SALA and Guitars in Bars are running as I write this and it's also National Science Week, I believe – but if we drive out the producers of culture industry content, we are removing a huge source of revenue for the state. We have the potential it has been argued to be Oz's cultural capital all year around in the Guardian – but we can't do it at the expense of not paying smaller acts to develop into recognised medium productions and then into performers of the calibre to have international recognition -that brands SA as cultural and artistic haven- is as the case with the internationally acclaimed, Anya Anastasia (currently getting positive reviews in Edinburgh! You go, lady in red!). Former interviewees Anya Anastasia like Sapphire Snow, and names from 2017 to watch such as Viola Verve and Diana D'Vine (to name a few brilliant local women) curate quality shows all year round in the city (and last year Anya in the Hills) that have nurture new and upcoming talent, show cases local stars as well as bringing in headline quality performers all year around and exposes venues to new audiences.

Many larger independent acts bypass Adelaide on tours because have gained the reputation we don't pay for tickets until the last minute and try to get the best deal, not actually what the performance and performers deserve to be compensated. Adelaide this is not a good look for the state. It was by demand last year, that Post Modern Jukebox and 2Cellos, even came here at all on tour to sold out shows. We won't be able to sustain larger state arts institutions like the ASO and bringing in international quality shows like the David Bowie tribute collaboration that visited Adelaide with them in January this year at the Festival Centre, if we also don't fund local arts and it's creators & producers.

The cream rises to the top as my friend Kami says, but if we remove the smaller ponds for the fish to grow in, middle sized lakes for them to be seen and an ocean of creativity to release them into, we are never going to sustain an arts and creative industry in Adelaide that encourages local talent to stay, grow and mentor in fellow generations of new artists. If we want to create a viable cultural industry and enjoy the thriving performing arts culture of a capital city, we need to put our money where our mouths are. You need milk churning to be able to get to the cream.

Clara Rose Santill, all photos copyright, 2017. Thanks to Nexus Arts, the artists and interviewees past and present that continue to inspire this blogger!

The future of Archaeology’s heritage and antipodean myopia in accessibility for all. 

Indiana Don’t!

Welcome to tonight’s actual accessibility archaeology post from me as the Lonely Archaeologist. I started this blog because I thought there was something fundamentally wrong with the way archaeology was practiced in Australia if you weren’t *normal* and I had significant challenges to overcome but I saw my tenacity and persistence as character traits a good archaeologist needs along with the communication skills to explain to a diverse public and community what we are doing. 
Don’t get mad, write a blog post.

So I started this blog as a way of practicing those skills in heritage appropriate and adjacent areas for a disabled archaeologist because in the current system of culture heritage management in Australia, I’m broken goods and let’s not pretend I’ve been denied field work opportunities because of my situation. I found some smaller demonstrations and presentation work but I’m unable to find places as a volunteer to excavate or do survey work or I can’t dive medically or even participate in a conservation fieldschool in Australia last year because I wasn’t physically able enough. I can’t even get work as tour guide at a library, local museum or any other state institutions I applied for despite doing extra training and being in the leadership program run by Flinders careers called The Horizon Award. That’s me with the head of the SAM at a Night Lab event in 2016, one I volunteered less than half a week after being hit by a tram.
Curious Beasts Night Lab event, 2016.
I spoke up on this little blog about my difficulties in finding acceptance at Flinders by other archaeologists & students. As a result, Enabled found me, a dis/Abled and Enabled community of archaeologists and students from a wide international context and I learned about a model of archaeology that aims to be inclusive and accessible for all in so many ways across so many branches that is a whole lecture. I’ll detail them over the near future if I can get my ten minutes of fame at Flinders, but if you’ve been reading this blog at all, you know I’m a gigantic academic fan of Doctor Who and time travel in general. In fact last year I almost had a chapter published based on queer attitudes in archaeology and in science fiction in Beyond Indy and Lara but missed out due to my university’s inaction to remove a stalker from a group project in an elective subject and unsupportive lecturer whose teaching pedagogy was incompatible with Enabled student accommodation against disability service’s advice, they aggravated my newly diagnosed but not managed fibromyalgia. That is me on a ghost hunt at the Old Gaol trying to get review experiences of Haunted Horizon’s award winning tour.
But the thing is, when I was studying Doctor Who’s vision of archaeology in the future, I was encouraged because the most well known archaeologist, River Song, was a psychopath and antiheroine (with Time Lord DNA making her as different from neurotypical like me). There was also Jack Harkness, a pansexual time agent who was pretty close to Lara Croft in attitude and black market antiquities, deviated from the Indiana Jones stereotype and of rugged Howard Carter manly adventuring tomb raiding mythology (even poor Lara had to be more macho than the men and was prey to toxic masculinity). Here are some famous British examples of archaeology of the speculative future and neither of them are like the models we have in Australia. We get the Man From Snowy River. River Song had fought against her mental illness/injury all her augmented life span and Jack’s inventive approaches to illegal artefact acquisition and selling were anything but conventional. 

We can all change.
These two characters and then add Berenice Summerfield in the Big Finish extended Whovian universe, hold space (quite literally) for diverse Enabled archaeologists like me. I can’t see how the EAF started in Britain isn’t part of this shifting in position of accessibility in archaeology and expanding the experiences and diversity in the heritage of the discipline. Still some of the archaeology establishment don’t have the foresight to see this how times are changing. I’ll post more on this ams how it all relates to a book with the title “Time travelling and the future of the past” by Professor Cornelius Holtorf and how my ideas were received in conversation around the visit to Flinders about these changes happening all over the world. I imagine after looking through Holtorf’s book that lived experience and the futurism of archaeology is going to be a fascinating conversation.

Time agent, Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who.

Clara Santill, 2017

In case of a mental health emergency, someone is watching, caring and available to you! 

Sharing this here, please spread it widely it if you were intending to spread the “Someone is always watching and cares!” memes. I do care 💚.


This has updated and comprehensive information on managing a mental health crisis including depression, anxiety, self harming, disturbing thoughts and suicidal feelings IN AUSTRALIA.  Many of these services also include chat features but you need to visit the websites to find out. It is okay not to be okay! It is even better to find help and access your options because talking about depression, PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks, self harming, suicidal thoughts and other disturbing ideas doesn’t mean you’re more likely to act on them. It actually gives you the power to start a dialogue and access your options. Wellness and recovery are possible with the right combination of help and support. Sending you 💛. 
In Australia, for a mental health crisis emergency the first number you call is 000 (or 112) and ask for an ambulance. Or go to the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital. The Mental health acute care team is available at 131 465 is also available day or night. I’ve used them myself. 
In Australia, the number for the free counselling service at Lifeline is 13 11 14, any time, night or day. 
There is also the Suicide Callback Service has a 24/7 hotline that can be reached at 1300 659 467. They also have a website at: https://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au/

A concerned friend or family can call the police for a welfare check on someone (no matter how long or little time they have been missing despite what TV tells you, 24 hours is not necessary for asking for help) on 131 444. If you are worried about their health, state of mind, haven’t heard from them or they are behaving out of character, the police these days are trained to be first responders to this. I’ve even been taken for an assessment based on a worried phone operator and the worst outcome is you waste a bit of your time at the emergency department but get medically accessed. It’s better to go and not need it! 
The next best personal option if you feel mentally unwell, is to contact your family or a personal GP or the local community health centre (or a walk in medical centre if you don’t have a doctor). They can write you a referral you to appropriately qualified professionals and often free resources, though there can be a demand on them so if it’s an emergency or you feel urgently unwell, please got to the ER. They will have the doctors on hand. 
If you have a bit more luxury of time with yoor condition if you feel unwell but are not in immediate danger, generally living in a place like a city or regional centre, there is private help or hospital outpatient programs. These have access to qualified professionals like psychiatrists, counsellors, mental health nurses, social workers, NGO case workers and psychologists. If you see a GP, you can usually see them under a mental health plan for 10 sessions a year or have them put you in a program to help you change your life for the better for minimal cost. I use a psychologist and psychiatrist who work with my GP. 

A lot of bigger employment groups have EAP (employees assistance schemes) you can access mental health care with and some places like universities or TAFEs have their own counselling and medical services for students. 
Other web resources for Australian mental health and suicide awareness include:
•The Black Dog Institute: https://blackdoginstitute.org.au/

•Beyondblue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

•RU Okay: https://www.ruok.org.au

•Sane Australia: https://www.sane.org

•Mind Australia: https://www.mindaustralia.org.au

•Kids helpline: https://kidshelpline.com.au

•Project Semicolon: https://projectsemicolon.com

Clara Santilli, 2017.