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Family violence needs whole community response

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29 March 2016 | Julie Edwards

Woman cowers away from violent manThe royal commission recommends a 'blitz' on rehousing family violence victims stuck in crisis and transitional housing, as well as individualised funding packages to open up access to private rentals for people fleeing violent relationships. Important though it is, it is not enough simply to support the victims of family violence. We also need to prevent family violence from occurring. This requires a strategy for preventing family violence that involves the whole community.

History of disability discrimination is present in Australia

28 March 2016 | Justin Glyn

Germans with disabilities 1939-1945People with disabilities have lived on society's margins since biblical times. In 1939, extending eugenics and sterilisation campaigns developed in the US in the early 20th century, Hitler authorised the vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens ('the destruction of lives unworthy of life'). Unfortunately, not only has discrimination not been eradicated but those of us with disabilities, much like indigenous people, the poor, refugees and others with limited voice in society, continue to be seen as soft touches.

Turnbull's uncertain road to glory

23 March 2016 | John Warhurst

xxxxxMedia reaction to Malcolm Turnbull's decision to recall Parliament on 18 April was remarkably glowing. The move was acclaimed as a masterstroke and his decisiveness applauded. However the path Turnbull has laid out and the roadblocks that still remain is actually more complex. His plan may be too clever by half, and reflects a misreading of the nature of modern Liberal factional politics. His internal conservative party opponents are cultural warriors, not old-style economic advocates.

Greens' senate reform spin is sweetened nonsense

22 March 2016 | Binoy Kampmark

David Leyonhjelm and Bob DayThe idea that these laws are, as Twomey writes, 'more conducive to representing the genuine choice of the people in electing their Senate' is untrue. It is a view expressed by Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale, who suggested 'the Senate that's delivered after the next election is the one people vote for'. What these voting reforms actually serve to do is give the false impression of eliminating manipulation while diluting Australia's political base in favour of monochrome party politics.

Running after Merv Lincoln

22 March 2016 | Brian Matthews

Merv LincolnI was out on our quiet country road the next morning at first light intent on running just half a mile. Some days later, when I had recovered and various outraged muscles had stopped twanging, I determined to carry on. In those days, running was regarded as eccentric, even sinister. 'Why do you do it?' the 'milky' asked. 'Are you a footy umpire or somethin'?' Then there was the elderly bloke who, driving past in his ute, stared back at me for so long to demonstrate his scorn that he drove off the road.

Change is possible when democracy runs deep

21 March 2016 | Moira Rayner

Palm Sunday march in MelbourneWhen I received my invitation to 'lead' the Palm Sunday Walk for Refugees my first response was to ignore it. This was partly ego and partly disillusionment. It's true that in Melbourne at least 6000 people walked or struggled or strode along Spencer Street. But I no longer believe marches for huge national issues have any effect on local powerbrokers. I believe as Saul Alinsky said that the most powerful force for change is local activism on local issues and generational organisation from the grass roots up.

Deja vu for Timor as Turnbull neglects boundary talks

20 March 2016 | Frank Brennan

Jigsaw of Timorese and Australian flagsRui Maria de Araujo, the prime minister of Timor-Leste, wrote to Malcolm Turnbull inviting him to turn a new leaf in the Australia-Timor relationship. It was not to be. But the Timorese are well used to winning the hearts and minds of Australians even when our political leaders appear to be tone deaf to their pleas. This time they have convinced the Labor Party about the justice of their cause, and there is every chance that the Australian community will rally behind them after the federal election.

Queer experience is not limited to trauma

17 March 2016 | Ellena Savage

Young black queer woman, photo from Safe Schools Story Project 'Coming out' is a gesture specifically, politically required of queer people but not of straight people. Another statement demanded of queer people is that they are injured and traumatised by the fact of their sexuality or gender. But why call on individuals to testify when the statistics are heartbreaking enough? This demand on queers to continually deliver narratives of oppression limits their social roles, and even invalidates their voices on matters other than their sexualities and genders.

A new year, a new Bill?

17 March 2016 | Osmond Chiu

Bill ShortenWhile Turnbull may be ahead as preferred prime minister, the Coalition has yet to demonstrate the principle of fairness that is deeply held and widely felt across the electorate. Labor's narrative needs to be not only that it is the party best equipped to deal with the challenges we face, but is the only party that can ensure any changes will be just and equitable. A plan for the future that is both convincing and seen as fair may end up being the difference between being in government and opposition.

Humility is the forgotten virtue this election year

16 March 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Hands washing footIn a month in which some politicians trumpeted their own virtues and others their opponents' vices, one traditional virtue went unserenaded: humility. The reticence is unsurprising. Humility is associated with timidity, self-doubt and a reluctance to put oneself forward. Successful politicians project themselves, are confident, competitive, and lead like strong men. This view merits challenge. It assumes a corrupted form of humility, and exempts politicians from ethical reflection about their craft.

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