AUSTRALIA


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An inclusive Australia

1 Comment
12 June 2017 | Frank Brennan

This evening, we come together deliberately as people of diverse faiths and none, affirming the blessing of life in an inclusive country where all world views are to be respected. We are able to affirm that our spiritual lives sustain and strengthen our public lives and the vitality of the polis. Our Muslim hosts show us how to give thanks reverently for all the blessings of life, and how to attest publicly the spiritual dimension of all human life. Those of us who are migrants or descendants of migrants need to be particularly attentive to the yearnings and aspirations of those Australians who rightly claim an indigenous heritage with ancestors who have thrived on this continent for up to 60,000 years.


High school racism in the merry old land of Oz

10 Comments
12 June 2017 | Tseen Khoo

Alice Pung: Growing Up Asian in AustraliaI was told in grade nine I shouldn't bother trying out for the lead of our school play, The Wizard of Oz, because there's no way Dorothy would be Asian. Though I had no intention of trying out for the play, the fact that she told me not to bother made me arc up. The reason she gave - my incongruous Asianness - made me feel angry and ashamed. Angry because it was stupid and unfair. Ashamed because it felt somehow like it was my fault for not being white enough.


Know your enemy (and it's not Islam)

13 Comments
07 June 2017 | Fatima Measham

Rescued Christian evacuees from Marawi huddle with Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr, who supplied them with relief provisions before sending them to an evacuation center. Philstar.com, fileSince 9/11, as well as more recent, atomised attacks in Europe and the UK, our judgment about what is against us has been clouded. It is not Islam, no matter what politicians and commentators say. To believe them is to take seriously the notions that it is ever possible to 'fight' religion as if it were a nation-state, that religion holds a single interpretation, that the only legitimate victim of religious violence is white and non-Muslim, and that human motivation is simple and direct.


Cashless Cards and other salvos in the war on the poor

11 Comments
05 June 2017 | Michele Madigan

Cashless cardIn 1978 Kaurna/Narungga woman, Georgina Williams, said to me that Aboriginal people tend to be first on the receiving end of governmental oppressive practices and, when that works, the practices are extended to other poor Australians. Thirty-nine years later, almost every day brings new evidence of a relentless campaign against the poor, of which Cashless Cards are but one particularly vindictive example.


The joyful duty of giving blood

3 Comments
31 May 2017 | Neve Mahoney

Giving bloodI'm pretty close to an ideal donor. I have a willing arm and good blood pressure. I'm glad I could help and now know my own blood type, but this is a system that works best when everyone who can pitches in. Giving blood is simple to do, feels good and is desperately needed. Though the blood service estimates that nine million Australians are eligible to give blood, only 500,000 are currently doing so. There must be other ideal donors out there waiting.


Uluru: take time to get this right

19 Comments
30 May 2017 | Frank Brennan

Frank Brennan with Lowitja O'DonoghueThe consultations conducted in Indigenous communities under the auspices and with the financial support of the Referendum Council have yielded a constant message that Indigenous Australians want substantive constitutional change and not just symbolic or minimalist change. The question is: How much should we attempt to put in the Constitution now, and how much should we place outside the Constitution, or delay for constitutional inclusion until another day?


On Aboriginal land: seeking a place at the table

5 Comments
30 May 2017 | Frank Brennan

Indigenous leaders this last week have called for the creation of two new legal entities. They want a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution, and a Makarrata Commission set up by legislation. The Makarrata Commission would supervise agreement making between governments and First Nations and engage in truth telling about history. The envisaged destination is a national Makarrata (or treaty). So the immediate constitutional issue is the creation of the First Nations Voice. There is no point in proceeding with a referendum on a question which fails to win the approval of Indigenous Australia. Neither is there any point in proceeding with a referendum which is unlikely to win the approval of the voting public.


Uluru Statement has lit a fuse that cannot go out

10 Comments
29 May 2017 | Kate Galloway

2010, we need practical, not symbolic reconciliation. 2017, can we think of something more symbolic than the Ulurua Statement? Cartoon by Fiona KatauskasPolitical response has been ambivalent at best, and ambivalence sounds a death knell for mainstream engagement by a tentative public. Turnbull pointed out that any claim must be acceptable to the general public to succeed. In the next breath he discussed the success of the 1967 Referendum. This was disingenuous given the political reality of 67, where there was no case presented for a no vote. After the Uluru Statement, it is now not possible to ignore substantive constitutional reform, or treaty.


Ramadan: the fast and the flatulent

12 Comments
28 May 2017 | Irfan Yusuf

Ramadan prayerYou need not believe everything you read in the Herald Sun or an ISIS press release. Islam isn't just about armed jihad and violence against infant genitalia. Islam does have a spiritual side, and Ramadan is inherently spiritual, full of prayer and fasting and hardly any horizontal bedtime action. The theory behind all this deprivation is that if you're hungry and thirsty and sex-deprived between sunrise and sunset for an entire month, you'll gain a spiritual high that should last you the rest of the year.


Building social justice through shareholder advocacy

4 Comments
25 May 2017 | Ann Deslandes

Concerned citizens build a 'voting bloc' out of the shares of wealthy companies. Cartoon by Chris JohnstonWealth inequality in Australia is flourishing. The top one per cent of household wealth in Australia is moving toward being 20 per cent of total wealth, and the country is a preferred destination for millionaires. With a government that prefers to impoverish and vilify the disadvantaged and spend big on coal mines, this does not look likely to shift. But there are always other paths to social justice, and in Australia one may be through the millionaires - or at least the companies on which their fortunes are built.


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