AUSTRALIA


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Girls are not to blame for their own exploitation

14 Comments
23 August 2016 | Madeleine Hamilton

Stop blaming victims chalk sloganThe response from police and others in authority to recent cases involving the abuse or exploitation of adolescent female sexuality is depressingly reminiscent of attitudes held more than 50 years ago. While it was no defence to argue that the girl had consented, if it could be proven she had had consensual intercourse with other men previously, the offender could be acquitted. Consequently, in carnal knowledge trials, girls were frequently accused of having rich histories of sexual activity.


Truth beyond written records of the Wave Hill walk off

9 Comments
22 August 2016 | Moira Rayner

Yijarni: True Stories From GurindjiI had been in WA for exactly a year when the local newspaper reported that a white guy had led about 200 people off Wave Rock station. Coming out of the comfortable myth that my home country of New Zealand was not racist, I was amazed to learn that Australia's Indigenous people were obliged to work without industrial protections. In 1966 it was the British Vesteys Group that had been exploiting Aboriginal people: today it is the State in the guise of 'community development', aka work for the dole.


Israel can't be both abuser and saviour

10 Comments
18 August 2016 | Ruby Hamad

Israeli PM Benjamin NetanyahuThis week, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that although 'some of you will not believe' it, he 'cares more about Palestinians than their leaders do'. He is right - I don't believe him, not least because what he is saying is nothing new. Israel has long been claiming that it only harms Palestinians because Palestinians force them to do it. As well as making Israel sound remarkably like an abusive partner (Why did you have to go and make me hit you?) this is also Dehumanisation 101.


Dollars trump humanity in NSW public land purge

6 Comments
17 August 2016 | Catherine Marshall

Sirius ComplexThe Brutalist building - so ugly when I first saw it, now a familiar milestone on the journey into the city - has been condemned to an undignified death; soon it will be demolished, a luxury apartment building erected in its stead. The long-term residents have packed their meagre belongings and gone (though not without a fight). Such is the pattern of progress in New South Wales, under a government that has no compunction in selling public land to the person whose wallet is the fattest.


The holy sacrament of coffee communion

12 Comments
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.


Humanity meets bureaucracy on asylum seeker Fast Track

13 Comments
14 August 2016 | Shira Sebban

Hand writes in notebookSobs rack his body. Under the Fast Track Assessment process being used to clear the backlog of protection claims, the nondescript official sitting opposite him, or one of his colleagues, will most likely be the one to decide his fate. 'Should you be found not to engage Australia's protection obligations, the government may share your biographical details with the authorities of your country of origin,' the official intones. 'If you give them information about me I will be killed,' comes the chilling reply.


Market economics not the solution for human services

14 Comments
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 Comments
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

11 Comments
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

11 Comments
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.


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