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"Yes You Did Make Me Feel Like a Second Rate Mum" - Jackie O

By Yvette Vignando - 4th April 2011

photo used with permission of Austereo

This morning Jackie O, 2Day FM radio announcer, tearily addressed comments made by Pru Goward, NSW Families and Community Services Minister and said "Yes you did make me feel like a second rate mum".

A Sunday Telegraph article on 3 April 2011 reported that Ms Goward juxtaposed Michael Jackson's dangling of his baby out of a window with Jackie O bottle feeding her baby while crossing a road. Reportedly Ms Goward commented that this is "cavalier" behaviour and "endangering" the baby. She went on to make further comments about mothers returning to work after the birth of their babies.

Over the last 24 hours I've been reading the online furore over Ms Goward's remarks and trying to understand firstly how Ms Goward could think like that, and secondly, why Ms Goward would make the remarks publicly. While researching this story, I  realised that Ms Goward has also been appointed the NSW Minister for Women. I am dismayed. I am beyond dismayed. And did you know that Pru Goward is a former Sex Discrimination Commissioner?

The highly respected current Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, is also taken aback by Ms Goward's remarks; Ms Broderick is reported as saying "We have to support mothers to make the right choice for their family," and "Why do we feel we can judge women? It's a shame."

Judging women is not the issue for me, even though I am delighted to hear Ms Broderick critique Ms Goward's remarks. Public figures, women and men, are constantly judged in the media, and those public figures will include our politicians - this will never change. Jackie O's co-host has been frequently judged for his controversial (that's the nicest word I could find) remarks and antics on radio.

The issue for me is that one of our elected politicians who holds the policy-making "keys" to many NSW women and families' futures has expressed her unusual view in such an offensive and frankly ridiculous way. In my opinion, by comparing the feeding of a hungry baby to holding a baby out of a fifth floor hotel window, Ms Goward has shown an opportunistic side of herself that worries me as a parent and woman living in NSW. 

Ms Goward should stop now for a moment to think of the ramifications and 'truth' of her comments and how they have made a young mother feel. In my opinion, Ms Goward should now be personally visiting Jackie O with an apology and a public retraction. And I also think Ms Goward should now make some public statements on her views on women and work, women and feeding babies and the protection of children who really need it.

My own experience of NSW and its protection of children and families over many years is that regardless of the politics of the party in power, the Department of Community Services or its equivalent (and the section commonly, if outdatedly, referred to as 'DOCS') is frequently at breaking point - it is under-resourced. Despite the best efforts of its officers and social workers out in the field, hundreds perhaps thousands of children are in constant danger in abusive and neglectful situations that would make anyone cry with frustration and despair. Ms Goward, please, if you are going to help women, children and families in NSW, turn your attention away from mothers crossing the road and focus your sights and budgets firmly on the people that need your help.

Jackie O - please don't let anyone make you feel like a "second rate mother" - I am appalled that you were subjected to such an opportunistic and unhelpful commentary.

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