AUSTRALIA


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Pope Francis and the age of automation

7 Comments
19 January 2017 | Michael McVeigh

Pope Francis blesses iPhone photoMany have called for the automated Centrelink debt collection system to be scrapped, but the government is standing by it. One of the reasons for this may be that the system is doing just what it's designed to do - trying to force people away from welfare reliance by making it more onerous. Pope Francis argues that far from a 'neutral' tool, technology creates a framework which conditions people and limits their possible options along lines dictated by the most economically and politically powerful.


Arts face growing uncertainty despite momentous year

3 Comments
15 January 2017 | Esther Anatolitis

Face peers through rain-wet window2017 is set to be a momentous year for the arts in Australia. On 1 November we commemorate 50 years since Harold Holt announced the creation of an independent body to champion 'the free play of our cultural interests and enthusiasms at all levels' — an announcement that meant bringing together disparate focuses and isolated funds with a national vision. Yet today's Australia Council faces an uncertain future, and the free play of our cultural interests is jeopardised by that uncertainty.


Twenty-two years on the run from abuse

11 Comments
15 January 2017 | Elise Power

Line drawing of abused womanWe packed our bags in the black of an early morning. We ran from a house on the beach to a house in Frankston. Me, my mum, and my younger brother. My father had four intervention orders to his name, a law degree and all the bravado and lack of empathy typical of a perpetrator of domestic violence. For many women and children domestic violence doesn't end after you've run away. That is only the beginning. I'm 33 and I've been running away from my dad ever since I was 11.


Market thinking is not the way to improve prison education

4 Comments
12 January 2017 | Tony Smith

Mike BairdIf the argument about sacking specialist education officers for NSW prisons holds, then perhaps it should be applied to schools. Sacking all permanent teachers and throwing all lessons across the state open to tender should improve educational outcomes. The absurdity of such a suggestion should be obvious. If the government is serious about improving prison education, it should work with the experienced teachers to make those improvements.


Maintaining children's rights amid youth detention crises

4 Comments
12 January 2017 | Kate Galloway

Dylan Jenkings is a former NT youth detainee who is part of a class action suing the Government.The Minister has committed to improving youth detention facilities, the appointment of 100 more staff, and revision of Victoria's youth detention policy. But in doing so, she has sheeted home blame to the former government, and has accused lawyers for the children of pandering to ideology. The government's discourse continues the tough-on-crime narrative rather than acknowledging the causes and contexts of juvenile offending and the consequences of appalling facilities on the youth who are detained.


Christmas story trumps the games that power plays

11 Comments
15 December 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Cover illustration for TS Elliot's 'Journey of the Magi'TS Eliot's 'Journey of the Magi' ends with the ambiguous line, 'I would be glad of another death'. If we set alongside one another the birth of a new and sour political order and the birth that is central to the first Christmas story, we are challenged to resolve the ambiguity. We may give up our hopes for a just and peaceful world, retire from it as gracefully as we can, and accept the victory of power and brutality. Or we can return to the Christmas story and to the hope that is central to it.


Moderates must realise whiteness rests on oppression

7 Comments
13 December 2016 | Neve Mahoney

Brown pawn faces array of white chess piecesIf the political trash-fire of 2016 has taught us anything, it's that white moderates are more than willing to throw minorities under the bus in order to preserve the status quo. It comes out in their tone policing. It comes out in calls for 'respectful' dialogue without considering how socio-political power structures mean minorities are always at a disadvantage in those kinds of conversations. Whiteness has always been a moving target and has more to do with power and privilege than skin colour.


Christmas blighted by child detention obscenity

7 Comments
13 December 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Children in detentionThis year International Migrants Day has called for children to be released from detention. It is appropriate that an event held in the shadow of Christmas should advocate for children. For they lie at the heart of Christmas. The insistence in the Gospel stories on the obligation to respect and nurture children is not exclusive to Christians. It is echoed in the attention to children and concern for their growth into responsible adults shared by other religions and cultures.


How class shapes art in 21st century Australia

4 Comments
08 December 2016 | Ellena Savage

Detail from Jackson Pollock paintingTo be in the running for a scholarship, a student must have had their abilities or potential acknowledged and rewarded within an ideological education system. Where the money comes from - and whom it is given to - informs what kinds of artwork thrives. As Didier Eribon says, 'art, culture and education are part of the mechanisms of differentiation between social classes'. And the institutional frameworks underpinning the production of artwork can lead to pernicious political outcomes.


Elderly tourists on border control hit list

22 Comments
07 December 2016 | Catherine Marshall

Old woman with suitcaseWhat does it take to secure room at Australia's inn? For the refugee, it's virtually impossible, with a fraction of the many millions of displaced people in the world granted entry into this privileged country each year. Those who immigrate here, like my own family did, must engage in an expensive and convoluted process. But the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection has now subjected a third group of people to its program of suspicion and inhospitality: elderly tourists.


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