18 student presidents across Australia, including USyd’s Liam Donohoe and Connor Wherrett, have stood in solidarity to sign a letter requesting Bettina Arndt’s award as a Member of the Order of Australia be revoked. The letter was penned by National Women’s Officer for the National Union of Students (NUS), Humaira Nasrin.
The women’s department write that “the actions and comments made by Ms Bettina Arndt have dishonoured the values that are upheld by the Order and bring the Order into disrepute”.
As an example of the numerous instances in which “Arndt has acted disrespectfully towards victims of gender-based violence,” the letter highlights Arndt’s recent tweet concerning Rowan Baxter’s murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children. Arndt tweeted on 21 February: “Congratulations to the Queensland police for keeping an open mind and awaiting proper evidence, including the possibility that Rowan Baxter might have been ‘driven too far’.”
The letter labels this tweet “a direct insult to not only to the memory of Ms Hannah Clarke and her children, but to the memory of all individuals that have lost their lives to domestic and family violence.”
The letter underlines Arndt’s repeated attempts to defend convicted paedophiles and shift blame to sexual assault survivors: “Such attitudes… normalise violence and this, in turn, can exacerbate the risk to the community.”
Particular issue is taken with the consideration of Ardnt’s 2018 “Fake Rape Crisis” campus tour as an “achievement.” This tour met with fierce resistance from concerned student activists, in the wake of repeated sexual assault scandals on campus and investigations into entrenched sexism in Sydney University colleges. “During this tour Ms Arndt has minimised sexual assault referring to it as ‘regret sex’, while advising students that ‘no doesn’t always mean no’ in relation to sexual consent. These views are out of step with acceptable values and place students at increased risk.”
Arndt has misleading represented herself as a clinical psychologist despite lacking professional accreditation. As a recent New Matilda report illuminated, Arndt has, with the support of sections of the Australian press, claimed for over thirty years credentials and expertise she does not possess.
With the Federal Government near unanimously passing a motion to strip Arndt of her award, this letter applies further pressure on the Council for the Order of Australia.