By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Former mayor Roz Blades who spoke out against the toxic ‘trolling’ of candidates has been the target of an obscene Facebook post.
Within 24 hours of her comments being reported by Star Journal, a photograph of Ms Blades was tagged with male genitals and posted on a community Facebook page.
The photo was otherwise the same as was used with the original Star Journal article.
“I’m 72 for Christ’s sake,” says Ms Blades who has been campaigning on behalf of ALP member candidates in Noble Park and Keysborough.
“Apart from my age, it’s sexist, misogynist, disrespectful – it’s disgusting.
“In this day and age you don’t do this to women.”
The photo was uploaded in the comments section alongside other posters’ abusive comments on Ms Blades’ appearance.
The perpetrator – judging from his Facebook profile – appears to be a former Mordialloc College student keen on gaming, South Park and WikiLeaks.
“The guy can’t even draw properly – I’ve been a nurse…
“I just can’t fathom the thinking. Most people wouldn’t even think at that level. Who thinks like that?”
Cr Blades said she’d reported the incident to the VEC and Victoria Police to no avail.
“The (police) said that because it was on Facebook they won’t do anything about it.”
She believes her comments on the toxic electioneering had “hit a nerve”.
“I’m not in the slightest bit rattled. I’m appalled that anyone would stoop to that level.”
The incident comes on top of numerous complaints from candidates battered by persistent nasty attacks on social media from ‘trolls’ and anonymous ‘fake accounts’.
One of the latest was reported by sitting Noble Park Ward councillor Maria Sampey who was being trolled by a fake Facebook account in the name of ‘Harry Long’.
Departing councillor Peter Brown took screenshots of the fake’s likes, which appeared to be set up by a female.
There was circumstantial but not conclusive proof about who the perpetrator was, he said.
Greater Dandenong mayor Jim Memeti said no candidates were happy about the “disgusting” and “shocking” tactics of “keyboard warriors”.
“It’s really disappointing. I’m hearing it’s happening in every ward in every municipality across Victoria.
“I’m hoping the Victorian Electoral Commission will look at this and come up with some new recommendations. The VEC will have to come about the need to reform it.
“I don’t know how you can legislate to control it.”
He said the change from attendance to postal voting in Greater Dandenong elections for the first time may have played a role.
“With attendance voting, you could see who was a candidate and who was a running mate.”