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The holy sacrament of coffee communion

14 August 2016 | Barry Gittins

Cup of coffeeWithin the first 20 minutes of my morning, I pay homage to life by partaking in that glorious gift to humanity, coffee. As well as the contested space around coffee's possible physical health benefits and purported dodgy effects, going for a coffee is good for the soul. Humans are social creatures, and coffee lubricates our communing. Over a cuppa I have shared hardships, counselled and been counselled, listened to tales of brokenness and celebrated the wins that punctuate our travails.

Market economics not the solution for human services

11 August 2016 | Roland Manderson

Little girl and fatherThere is a joke about a man looking for a coin under a streetlight: he had dropped it elsewhere, in the dark, but was looking under the streetlight because he could see more clearly there. In the same way, the thinking behind the Productivity Commission inquiry into increasing competition, contestability and informed user choice in human services is fundamentally flawed. The complexity and interconnectedness of human services is too challenging for market economics to properly address.

Fear and loathing in One Nation's Australia

10 August 2016 | Kerry Murphy

Senator Dastyari and Senator Hanson on the ABC's QandARecently I was discussing the election of Pauline Hanson and One nation senators with some Hazara clients. These clients are Pakistani Hazaras, who speak good English. They told me they are worried about what Hanson says. 'She seems very angry,' said Ali. 'She does not understand Muslims,' added Hussein. Hussein was recently getting his car fixed and was asked if he was a Muslim. He replied that he was. 'I could see the man's face change,' Hussein told me. The man had become angry and fearful.

Nauru Files reinforce the need for political grace

10 August 2016 | Fatima Measham

The Guardian Nauru Files front pageThe Guardian has released incident reports that lay bare the details of life on Nauru for people detained under our immigration regime. It is an 8000-page indictment of the ethical and moral character of this country. We've been here before. We already know that the torment of children does not move the political class, nor do the indignities meted out to women. Men have died under circumstances that flow from decisions nominally made on our behalf. What would it take to break the impasse?

Don Dale and the failure of arntarnte-areme

09 August 2016 | Mike Bowden

Iwenhe Tyerrtye: What it Means to be an Aboriginal Person. Book by Barry McDonald and Margaret Kemarre TurnerMK rang me after the 4 Corners program on the treatment of children at Don Dale. In western lingo we talk about a 'duty of care', but for my friend MK and the Arrernte people it is more fundamental than that. They talk abou arntanrte-aremele, which means looking after, holding, nurturing or caring for. Altyerre teaches that we must care for everybody, even the people who do wrong. And 'looking after' the children is the primary role of life. This is not about western, whitefella law, it just how it is.

The economic case for greater diversity in media

04 August 2016 | Fatima Measham

John Boyega and Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Force AwakensPerhaps what will ultimately convince media and entertainment companies that it is in their interest to be sincere about diversity is that there's money in it. A UCLA study found that in 2014, eight films that had diverse casts (out of 163) also had the highest median global revenues and returns on investment. In addition, TV shows with majority non-white casts rated extremely well, even among white households. This challenges conventions around what media consumers find appealing.

The cold wind that blows on the homeless chills us all

03 August 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Mural of homeless familyNational Homelessness Week comes around each year. And each time it is an embarrassment. We pride ourselves that we are a respectful society, but there is no greater sign of disrespect than to allow people to be homeless. Too many people sleep on the streets; too many families sleep in their cars. What must change in us is our tolerance of an economic and political ideology that assumes it is all right for the vulnerable and ill to be neglected in order to protect the entitlements of the wealthy.

Australia's 'alien' relations then and now

02 August 2016 | June Factor

the DuneraIn 1940, Prime Minister Robert Menzies received a letter from a woman in Western Australia: 'I have heard on the wireless the news that Australia would be willing to receive internees from England. I beg to protest; we have enough of the scum here already, too many in fact ... I sincerely trust that a U-boat gets every one of them.' The 'scum' she rejected so emphatically were the German and Austrian refugees, predominantly Jewish, soon to travel to Australia as 'enemy alien' prisoners.

Turnbull's Senate challenge is about more than numbers

01 August 2016 | John Warhurst

Pauline HansonTurnbull had hoped to bring about a new Senate with most of the 'troublemakers' gone. But the new cross-bench seems certain to be both larger and more diverse. Commentary since the election has concentrated primarily on how the numbers in the new Senate will make it difficult for Turnbull. A better focus would be to look back at Senate-government interaction over the past two years for some positive lessons for Turnbull about what actually happened. It was not just a numbers game.

Census scepticism as privacy comes under threat

31 July 2016 | Kate Galloway

Census logoGovernment wishes to capitalise on our data using new data mining technologies. The ABS uses the language of efficiency and public interest in justifying the changes. It even implies that the new online census is environmentally friendly. It may well be that collecting and retaining our names along with our personal information is efficient, but that does not address the foundation question of whether we as citizens retain the privacy that constitutes us as members of a liberal democratic society.

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