Complaint by Anna Kerr, Principal Solicitor
Four Corners has really lost credibility after allowing Patricia Karvelas to cover such an important subject. Our service supports detransitioners and were keen to see Four Corners expose the extensive human rights abuses that have been taking place in the guise of “gender health care”. Of course, once it was announced that PK would be the journalist on the program, it was clear we could not expect impartial reporting. Who made the decision to have PK report on a subject on which she has already demonstrated such clear bias? No wonder people were unwilling to speak with her about their devastating experiences. Her conscience, and that of Four Corners producers, will be heavy in future years with the knowledge that they facilitated the continuation of this shocking abuse of young and vulnerable people. It seems to take about 10 years before individuals recognise and are able to speak about the extent of their regret. The current trickle of litigation is set to become an avalanche in view of the exponential increase in the numbers of young people being sterilised and mutilated in recent years (yes – that is the accurate description). Four Corners has lost its chance to blow the whistle on one of the greatest global scandals of all time.
Complaint by Bronwyn Williams, Solicitor
The Four Corners program titled ‘Blocked’ that aired on Monday 10 July at 8.30 pm was billed as a ‘fair’ investigation and discussion of the current controversy surrounding medical and surgical interventions for gender dysphoric children and young people – see https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-07-10/four-corners-gender-distress-children-westmead-opinion/102577934.
Nothing could be further from the truth of what was served up as responsible investigative journalism by the ABC last Monday. The program’s host, Patricia Karvelas, didn’t even bother to hide her bias, hoping perhaps to convince the many, many viewers who are unfamiliar with the issues at hand that so-called ‘gender affirming care’ is the only right and proper protocol for managing gender dysphoria in young people.
The ‘personal stories’ presented portrayed a number of young people who appeared to be happily transitioning, and one clearly very troubled teenager who took her own life while waiting for assistance from the Westmead Children’s Hospital Gender Service. I understand the ABC has no obligation to follow the Australian Press Council’s standards but the identification of this child and the emotive way in which her story was presented were clearly in breach of the Press Council Standards on Coverage of Suicide – https://www.presscouncil.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/SPECIFIC_STANDARDS_SUICIDE_-_July_2014.pdf.
How is it in the public interest to describe the tragic circumstances of a child’s death at some length while implying, very strongly, that it could have been avoided if a government funded service had seen her more promptly? How is that not taking a transparently biased approach to the gender medicine debate? How is it not cynical manipulation of those viewing the program?
Further, this aspect of the program may breach the ABC’s own Code of Practice standard 7.6, which requires that much care be taken when reporting incidents that may lead to ‘dangerous imitation’ – https://about.abc.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/ABC-CODE-OF-PRACTICE-08-05-2023.pdf. It is well accepted that stories about suicide can lead to a spike in similar incidents – hence the admonition to take extreme care when reporting. ‘Blocked’ arguably made an inappropriate spectacle of suicide in circumstances where it could be reasonably foreseen that other vulnerable young girls may see it as an option for relieving their distress.
A Westmead Children’s Hospital team recently produced research suggesting a more conservative approach to gender dysphoria in children and young people was warranted, in preference to gender affirming medical and surgical interventions. Ms Karvelas ensured that the Westmead team and their research were relentlessly denigrated. It was said they declined to participate in the program, and that is perfectly understandable – who would want to be publicly eviscerated by a journalist who clearly opposes your sensible views and is intent on making you pay for them.
No robust research was cited supporting ‘gender affirmation’. It was enough, apparently, to nitpick about data in the published research that doesn’t support this model.
There was some time allocated to those who advocate for a more careful, psychotherapeutic approach to gender dysphoria in young people, but it was only a fraction of the coverage given to ‘gender affirmation’ as the gold standard of care. The program was also careful to associate the medical professionals who hold an alternative view with conservative groups that are often portrayed negatively in the media.
Ms Karvelas made only a token attempt at genuine balance, and despite her lip service to the principles of journalistic integrity, she wasn’t fooling anyone who is informed about the issues involved.
Is the ABC now firmly in the business of promoting gender identity ideology and the medical and surgical transitioning of children? Is the organisation prepared to be complicit in the negligent refusal to consider the real, damaging consequences of these experimental interventions? It seems like common sense that you don’t feed an adolescent toxic hormone drugs and remove healthy body parts – we can only conclude that common sense is sadly lacking at ‘our ABC’.