Mia Freedman caused a sensation in the wake of Cadel Evans’ historic victory in the Tour de France. She’s not into cycling (that much is clear) and her comments on The Today Show have been discussed and defended elsewhere. I don’t watch the show but the online response to her comments sent me to the segment, where she sets up a nice little straw man1 (sports-person-as-hero) and then proceds to demolish it with a “but think about the social workers” response.
Mia Freedman has a number of outlets for her opinion, one of which is a popular blog2. I wondered, then, given the passion with which she backed the social workers in her Today Show appearance, how much she has used her profile to make a larger case for their appropriate remuneration and recognition. This is the result of an audit on her blog – a search for the term “social worker”.
The search returned seven hits.
1. Mia’s account of the Cadel Evans debacle. 31/7/2011
2. A story about discrimination where one of the victims was a gay social worker. He was refused permission to adopt a child, but not because he was a social worker. 21/2/2011
3. A story about a US program to sterilise drug addicts. The term “social worker” appeared in the context of the program trimming down “social worker caseloads”. 20/10/2010
4. When the AOC requested more funding. Mia puts social workers in a group of people who deserve a larger share of government money. 24/11/2009
5. In a story (if you could even call it that – Mia attaches an introductory paragraph to a piece from, of all sources, the Daily Mail) that snarks about Madonna’s appearance. The “social worker” is invoked by the Daily Mail in this context:
Last week, she left her New York apartment in red lacetrimmed bloomers, a hoodie, ski sunglasses and undone strappy sandals. She resembled someone who, rather than being flanked by bodyguards, should have been accompanied by a concerned social worker at each elbow.
Apparently it’s okay to run a piece that creates a perception that the role of social workers is to escort celebrities whose dress sense is questionable. And, by extension, also okay to use people’s sartorial choices to make assessments about their mental health. 5/12/2008
6. A story that responds to celebrating the achievements of Olympic athletes with a parade by wondering where where the ticker tape parade for social workers (amongst others) is. 15/9/2008
7. A story about a rugby league player who moved to France. The brief post is incoherent – I’m not sure whether that’s because of my limited knowledge of rugby or hers – but here’s what I think she’s saying: Sonny Bill Williams should be allowed to earn as much as he wants here, but it would be nice if social workers (amongst others) were also paid mega-bucks. She includes a gratuitous bare-torso shot of the player in question, and the disclaimer
What I know about NRL could be written on the back of a computer chip. In texta. But since a lack of comprehensive knowledge about a subject has never precluded me from forming an opinion, I’m going to weigh in on Sonny Bill Williams’ defection from Australian rugby league to French rugby union.
It seems that the only time Mia gets publicly fired up about the plight of the social workers of Australia is when people are celebrating the accomplishments of sports-people, or discussing sports funding. I don’t disagree at all that there is an inequality in the way different occupations are recognised, but surely it would be more useful for Mia to organise her considerable supporter base in a concerted campaign than to carp about it every couple of years when others are caught up in one of those rare moments of (perhaps irrational) vicarious triumph.
Or maybe “reporting” on a skinny Shane Warne is more important.
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2. I don’t have readership figures for the blog, but am judging it as “popular” based on the number of comments posts receive and by the number of times a post-promoting tweet of hers pops up in my twitter stream (which I thought I had curated carefully to avoid any encounters with the MamaMia tribe).