top of page

ABC'c BIG Ideas - The Australian Workplace Equality Index and Trans inclusion (part 1)

All right. We'll come back to this conversation with you shortly, but Alan Davison from UTS is my next contributor from the stage here. And Alan, you've taken a stance that's already caused you a bit of grief. So take us through some of the issues that bring you to our platform here today.


Alan Davidson:

Oh, thanks John. And, and also thanks to the organizers for putting this on. I think it's terrific to be having a debate as well. So look, I think taking a big step back and just thinking about it from a principled position, the, the role of universities, uh, the knowledge creation, the knowledge dissemination, and the care and wellbeing of the workforce, and the intersection within that may well at times have tensions. Obviously, universities are employers like everybody else, and they need to look after their people and all of their diversity, particularly minoritized groups. But universities are also the place where it's one of our sense making institutions like the fourth estate, wider public debates, policies, influence, et cetera. Uh, these discussions are often predicated on the kinds of knowledge production dissemination, and the kinds of contestations of knowledge that universities are absolutely critical for. So universities don't become, you know, activists with PhDs and a proxy for actual intellectual inquiry.


Alan Davidson:

So I think at the very high level, there's always going to be the potential for tensions when universities align themselves with advocacy groups, even if there's an overlap in the wellbeing and that side of things. In others, there might be a common shared goal to look after people, to be diverse, inclusive, to protect marginalized communities, et cetera. But when you sign up to, uh, any kind of scheme, particularly a ranking scheme that's highly competitive, that comes from an a advocacy organization in a way, you're signing up to a partnership and an allyship with the values and the truth claims of that advocacy organization. And the thing is, while it may well be that the AWEI is, if you like, checking and testing and giving feedback on a whole range of measures of what universities are doing, I suppose my challenge would be, has there been rigorous academic critique of the various truth claims that are nested within, uh, ACON, transhub.org, Et cetera, which claims to be an information source for a variety of people, including the health sector. And I suppose the question to pose is, you know, we have schools and faculties of medicine, health epidemiologists, uh, childhood development psychologists, have those people looked at the content that's in these advocacy organizations and given that the tick of their expert research based approval,


Jon Faine:

Can I use shorthand to suggest what you're saying is that well-meaning people are compromising the integrity and independence of their institution of the university. Is that, is that how far you put it?


Alan Davidson:

No, I was, I was wording it more carefully than that . Um, but, but, but thank you. I'll, I'll, I'll respond to that. . There's the potential for that to happen. Who's asking? Again? It's something to be, it's a question to be asked. And secondly, there's the risk that there's the perception of that. Now it may well be, there's nothing to worry about. What worries me is we have not having the conversations and we're not having the rigorous evidence based expert research led academic critique from disciplinary areas that hold that expertise in our knowledge generating institutions. i.e. Universities an advocacy group of whatever stripe, it doesn't matter what it is, is going to have a natural predilection to gather evidence, present evidence and arguments that align with its advocacy goals. So in other words, there'll be a self-selection or filtering process that may readily go into any of the truth claims that come from an advocacy organization regarding childhood development, uh, regarding issues of biological sex, gender, psychological development, et cetera. The knowledge base for that sits in our expert institutions. It does not sit in an advocacy organization.


Jon Faine:

Language changes and the concepts that underlie language change on the way here, I was listening to Elton John and the words to Tommy hit me like a rocket man, um, that deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball. And suddenly it's like, whoa, you can't say that Elton, and you can't sing it. And that's not that long ago. So things change in society very rapidly. Maybe this is just another example of, of that.


Alan Davidson:

Well, my question then is who are the traits, the knowledge claims? Is it the advocacy organizations or the universities where knowledge is supposed to be produced and critiqued?


Jon Faine:

Knowledge is not knowledge, knowledge is malleable, cel, elastic, what's not known becomes known. So something that is contested becomes established sometimes over time and sometimes fairly quickly.


Alan Davidson:

We're all relativists until we go into emergency surgery. Okay? We're all relativists until we get on an airplane, we're all relativists until we rely on a GPS machine to navigate us. Okay? If, if Einstein's theories were just another idea, then stop using your gps cuz we rely on them .


Jon Faine:

If universities continue though. And I said, well-meaning before, and you kind of pulled it back a notch, which is fine, but I think that's sort of what it is. Everyone's trying to do the right thing and people are acutely aware and sensitive of the need to not offend, polarize, or marginalize people. Julie's lived that. She's told us what it was like and her various written accounts and reports over the years, documented amply. Many other people have been through violence, rejection, dismissal from work, loss of family relationships, all sorts of terrible things happen. So should those who are wary just pull back a notch and go, you know what? It's not such a big deal. We can, we can, we can get this, we can cope with this because the alternative is that harm can occur.


Alan Davidson:

Well, response to that would be, who has a monopoly on claims of harm?


Jon Faine:

Do we get into the business of comparing harms on different sides of ledger? Is that what it boils down to? Well, because that's a very slippery slope itself.


Alan Davidson:

Absolutely. And you don't want to get into, you know, intersectional harms war. All I'm saying is there is not a monopoly that should be just handed over to claims of harm when there are many people, clinicians, people working in hospitals, child psychologists, et cetera, that are actually calling out the potential risk for harm that's already been done due to ideologically led to practices and protocols.


Jon Faine:

And what about the point made, Finn made a very compelling point in the video presentation, careful who you find your bedfellows might suddenly be. And if you are finding that your side of the argument puts you in alignment with neo-Nazis and quasi-fascists, do you then go, oh, hang on, I'm not comfortable with where I've ended up here.


Alan Davidson:

That's very convenient because if there's a vacuum in the middle around reasonable conversations, the only people left shouting at the fascists because there's no one in the moderate middle discussing it. So this is a problem that's been entirely created by the culture of fear in discussing contentious things. So in other words, you end up with the right-wing nutters coming out and on their platforms, it's a fault of the people in the middle who want to have a reasonable conversation but not grabbing stage back from the extremists.


Jon Faine:

So those who were, those who were shouting at us through the, the doors at this very forum, my response to them is, if you want respect, you have to show respect. But it's very hard to get that point across when someone's foaming at the mouth and enraged and read in the face. What do you do?


Alan Davidson:

It's that a rhetorical question. . Well,


Jon Faine:

Do you have a I so wish event


Alan Davidson:

Like this, uh, you know, and here, here to the university. Yeah.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Note from LGB Defence:

31 views0 comments

Commentaires


bottom of page