Violence and its affects on Australian society

Essay by drtaznCollege, UndergraduateA, April 2006

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Direct violence is a tragic and horrific part of our daily lives. Brutality, a dominant attribute of violence in societies globally, is highly visible, however, less visible, and as a consequence often ignored as having a connection with direct violence, is the structural violence which comes together in various combinations and does give rise to overtly violent behaviour. Maintained for centuries and embedded in omnipresent social structures present today, structural violence is regularized by institutions, including the law and cultural practice, experiences and societal expectations (Leighton; Du Nann Winter 1999). As stated by Galtung (1969), violence is the deprivation of basic human needs and 'constraint on human potential', structural violence is ritualized through disadvantage of people politically, economically, legally and culturally (Leighton; Du Nann Winter 1999). Due to the diversity and global reach of these disadvantages, structural violence is extremely common and presents with numerous complex components and subcomponents. Contemporary Australian society is not immune from the effects of these social characteristics including: the denial of equal opportunity of people based on gender, ethnicity, religion, social class and sexual preference and the active oppression and discrimination of indigenous people, in particular, and the enduring sexual exploitation of women The response of those who are constantly oppressed, constrained and denied very often includes direct violence, whether enacted by an individual or by a group.

Australia's origins as a penal colony deeply entrenched structural violence, however growth into nationhood has seen the adoption of, and replacement with, other forms of structural violence as a penitentiary role receded. Direct violence as a form of warfare is present in our society and poses a pressing challenge, that is, to halt overt and covert forms of structural violence which give rise to direct violence.

The denial of equal opportunity, in the form of economic inequality,