It seems Antonio Park Primary School, Foster Care Association of Victoria (FCAV) and Anglicare have all been caught off guard. They are ‘shocked’ that Karen Dobby, dedicated Christian SRI volunteer of 17 years, board member of FCAV for 6 years, long serving Foster Care mum of 11 years and recent political candidate for Australian Christians, might hold a fairly mainstream Christian view about marriage and family. This is apparently ‘shocking’ to some.
The message received by Dobby was loud and clear:
‘You can have those values but you can’t publish them’.
The news about Dobby’s lack of support for current promotion of sexuality in school and other comments relating to concerns about promotion of double standards in society under the guise of multiculturalism, was publicised by a parent run group who seek to have Christian education removed from schools.
Who is Dobby? Dobby is by nature a quiet, non-confrontational individual who has spent years helping children through foster care and serving society in numerous voluntary capacities. She is saddened that some people have misinterpreted the original intent of her blog, which is not surprising given the context it was cushioned in when re-presenting it to the public. Being labelled to the public as an uncaring, narrow extremist doesn’t leave much room for constructing a different view.
So let’s wander back to reality. Dobby is known to be caring, consistent and compassionate. The Lateline program featured Karen and Ian Dobby as role models on a special edition last year looking at the diminishing number of people willing to volunteer as Foster Carers.
School Principal Ms Karen Patten said of Dobby that she conducted herself with ‘the utmost integrity and professionalism, all the way’ and ‘any fears that the views expressed in the blog had been passed on to students during the weekly 30-minute religious instruction sessions – which are allowed in state schools – were unfounded’.
So to her credit, there has been no suggestion that Dobby has ever digressed from the approved SRI materials or voiced any of her political views in class or shown any discrimination or lack of acceptance towards people from diverse backgrounds – all the empirical evidence is to the contrary. This is why the spokesman for FCAV Alistair Perkins believes this discovery about Dobby is so ‘shocking’ because she has worked and volunteered alongside homosexual people and people of other faiths and always demonstrated an acceptance of them. Perkins, states “no one was aware of Ms Dobby’s views until the blog post became public following an article in The Age” and “knowing her quite well, I almost can’t believe it”
Goodness, it appears despite her goodwill toward people, Dobby is not permitted to reach her own conclusions about life if it means that some things are ‘better’ rather than ‘equal’. This is apparently her only crime and shocks her colleagues. Ironically, it is precisely because Dobby treats people equally and there is no evidence of her discriminating against her colleagues of varying views that it is considered ‘shocking’ that she may entertain a different view to them. Reality is a testament to Dobby’s real tolerant character.
What is really ‘shocking’ to the rest of us observing the fall out around this incident is that it’s not the way we treat people in real life, ie with care, respect and decency that counts here – it’s just our political thoughts and/or religious beliefs which condemn us. We may be able to hold other thoughts about what we consider the best practice for family and nation but for Dobby to publish them has brought to ruin her reputation gained over 17 years as a person of honesty and integrity; a person who invests in the social capital of children and the nation. Some of the messages sent to Dobby from those advocating ‘tolerance’ call her ‘a bigoted white supremacist’ which really is shocking and a gross misrepresentation of volunteer and foster mum, Karen Dobby.
The campaign to discredit Dobby began to intensify with letters to the Department of Education, and the school principal claiming she had “extreme political and racial views”. This was followed by a story in The Age on 26/3/2014.
What is most disappointing is that despite personally knowing Dobby and acknowledging her professionalism, Antonio Park Primary School, FCAV and Anglicare all appear to be complicit in embracing this false image and marginalising Dobby simply for her worldview. In contravention of the 2010 Equal Opportunity Act which does not allow a person to be dismissed for a political belief or activity or for a religious belief for that matter, and despite’s Dobby’s exceptional performance in the roles, it was considered inappropriate for her to continue to work in the school. Dobby consequently voluntarily stepped down from board of the FCAV and Anglicare are now calling for her resignation as a foster carer.
The FCAV spokesman said ‘our board has an Egyptian Islamic man and a gay woman, so her position was immediately untenable’. Strange: Dobby was working cooperatively with them before this blog was published and that position never changed for her. In reality, it is the FCAV advocates of inclusivity who have expressed refusal to work with Dobby. Perhaps a little reminder about what ‘tolerance’ actually means: ‘allowing for differences (dare I say diversity) in religious opinion without discrimination’. We believe it is Dobby who has been discriminated against here simply for her political and religious views.
Well who suffers? It’s always the children. The 130+ children from the usual 8 classes a week Dobby instructs will be wondering ‘what happened to Mrs Dobby?’ and closer to home, the two children in the care of Karen and Ian Dobby that are very much a part of their family. Anglicare’s intention to discredit the Dobby’s will result in shuffling the current children in their care on to yet another home. These two children have been with the family for 12 months and it is expected that such a move will only undermine all the stability they have been given in this home.
And why do Dobby’s opponents believe she should lose her jobs and lose her foster children? ; Simply because some people are offended at her personal beliefs and political opinions. Lets’ get real – this is simply OTT.
By Vickie Janson