Monthly Archives: August 2011

4 ways to protest, all of them peaceful!

John and Yoko – Give Peace a Chance, The Bed in!


Vincent Lingiari – Wave Hill Walk-Off


Martin Luther King Jr. – We Shall Overcome


Gandhi on Non-Violence – from the film Gandhi

Macklin says Goverment is supportive of Aboriginal homelands

TONY EASTLEY: The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, says the Federal Government is making an effort to support remote Aboriginal homelands and outstations.

Her comments come as Amnesty International accuses the Territory and Federal governments of starving the communities of funds.

The head of the Northern Land Council says governments have underestimated both the importance and the value of the homelands.  

Timothy McDonald reports.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: The CEO of the Northern Land Council, Kim Hill, says there are plenty of good reasons to support the homelands.

KIM HILL: You’ve seen a number of reports done by independent bodies, even governments, where they’ve identified our people living on homelands are the healthiest people in the region.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Amnesty International’s report says a Commonwealth and Territory backed plan to establish 21 communities as growth towns will starve the outstations of essential services and force families to abandon their traditional land.

Federal funding for homelands has been capped at $20 million a year for three years and will soon dry up.

Kim Hill says funding the homelands would help local communities become sustainable.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: He says the current policy will make things worse for the 35 per cent of the Territory’s Indigenous people who live on the homelands.

KIM HILL: People need to understand that the homelands is where people actually live and that’s their identification for their country. I mean, people don’t want to see or want to go into major towns.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: In her speech to the Sydney Institute last night the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, didn’t make any direct reference to Amnesty’s report, and she didn’t take questions from journalists.

But when the audience asked about the homelands she insisted the Federal Government is trying to help.

JENNY MACKLIN: One of the areas where we provide a lot of support for people who are living on their country is of course the Working on Country program.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: She says the Government’s plan to reduce carbon emissions will help too.

JENNY MACKLIN: One of the other great opportunities that will come from carbon pricing is the carbon farming initiative that many Aboriginal people in remote parts of the country, not just in the Northern Territory, see as a real chance for them to look after their country and also earn money as a result of carbon trading.

So they’re just some practical examples of things that we are supporting, ways in which we are supporting those people who do want to stay on their country.

High Court says halt! Refugee advocates win first battle!

Last week we accused Minister for Immigration Chris Bowen of being a bad parent. We firmly believe that transferring refugees to Malaysia under the recently struck deal, is both illegal and immoral. In response one well known academic and ethicist accused of being  “totally clueless”. Well it would seem the high court agrees our assessment might be spot on and some people’s ethics don’t stack up to the law.

The High Court has extended its injunction against the federal government’s attempts to send asylum seekers to Malaysia. The government was prevented from sending 16 asylum seekers to Kuala Lumpur today after High Court judge Kenneth Hayne issued a temporary injunction yesterdayJustice Hayne today extended the injunction until the full bench could consider the lawfulness of the government’s policy. Justice Hayne said it was likely the full court could hear the matter in a special sitting in the week beginning August 22.

The issue comes down to an aspect of the law which makes the Immigration minister judge, jury and executioner. He determines who is held in detention, he is the guardian of those asylum seekers who are unaccompanied children and he makes the decision on where to expel those who are no longer permitted, by his rule, to stay in Australia (detention). Further to this he makes the assessment as to the legality of removing all asylum seekers and whether the new detaining country meets the relevant human rights obligations for which Australia is a signatory.

Seems like one MASSIVE conflict of interest and it cannot logically be argued that the guardian of children could be acting in their best interest by sending them to a country such as Malaysia where their human rights are not guaranteed and the minister cannot ensure their protection and well-being.

The Government now faces having to convince the full bench of the High court that this controversial deal is legal, this again raises further questions about this already suspect arrangement.

DAVID MANNE: It certainly does because what the court has said is that the Australian Government at the moment cannot, is prohibited from expelling our clients to Malaysia pending the outcome of this case. 
And this case is about our clients arguing that their claims for refugee protection should be considered in Australia instead of being expelled to Malaysia. 

Now the courts will decide the fate of this ridiculous piece of policy and a ruling that strikes the Malaysia deal down must certainly be another nail in the legality and morality of any and all offshore processing and forced removal of asylum seekers whose claims have not yet be reviewed.

Are we here “totally clueless” or is the High Court, public opinion and common sense swinging the way of where our national ethic of this issue should be?!

For audio of today’s ABC radio PM report – ABC AM Report

A Non-Muslims guide to Ramadan

by Asma Uddin and Shazia Kamal

In the next few weeks, you may come into work and find your co-worker taking a power nap at 9:30am. At break time, you’ll notice she is missing in the discussion about Harry Potter over at the water cooler. At the staff meeting, you will be shocked when she is offered coffee and cookies and refuses ! By lunch time, your concern about her missing at the water cooler compels you to investigate the situation.

Then you remember what she had mentioned last week over a delicious Sushi lunch. Flooded with relief, you go up to her desk, and proclaim with much gusto, “Ramadan Mubarak (Moo-baa-rak)!” Ramadan’s Blessings to you!

The month of Ramadan is a happy occasion; it is the month that the Muslim holy book, the Koran, was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are called by their religion to celebrate the month by coming together in worship, fasting each day for thirty days from dawn until sunset.

While this may seem like a tremendous feat, consider this: Fasting while working is an even greater endeavor. Make it a little easier on your Muslim colleague by following a couple of simple rules:

The Greeting

The next time you find yourself in line for the copier with your Muslim colleague, feel free to wish him or her “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem” or simply “Happy Ramadan.” We absolutely love it when people acknowledge Ramadan and are happy about it.

Positive Reinforcement

Keep in mind that we’re fasting voluntarily and, actually, pretty joyously (despite the tired, sad look on our face). We’re not forced to fast. In fact, we wait for this month the whole year, so you don’t have to feel sorry for us. We are not trying to be rescued (other than by that ticking clock taking us closer to sunset!).

The Lunch Meeting

Most of us understand that life goes on, and so do lunch meetings, and if we are participating in them while fasting, don’t worry about eating in front of us. This is just part of the test. We appreciate your acknowledging our fast, but don’t feel the need to discuss it every time you show up in our line of sight holding food.

Just try not to eat smelly foods. . . and please ignore our stomach when it growls at your sandwich.

No Water

It’s true — we can’t drink water either. Again, this is part of the Ramadan test and our exercise of spiritual discipline. This is probably why you may not find your friend at the water cooler. Try switching the break time conversation to another location in the office. You should probably also let them skip their turn for the coffee run this time.


While God may tell us that the breath of the one fasting is like “fragrant musk” to Him, we know that you might not experience the same. Understand why we’re standing a good foot away from you when speaking or simply using sign language to communicate.

Iftar Dinner

Consider holding a Ramadan Iftar dinner . Iftar is the Arabic word for the meal served at sunset when we break the fast (it’s literally our ‘breakfast’). This will be a nice gesture for Muslim coworkers and will give others the opportunity to learn about and partake in Ramadan festivities. Although there is no specific type of meal designated for iftars, it is is tradition to break the fast with a sweet and refreshing date before moving to a full-on dinner

Fasting is not an excuse

Although energy levels might be low, the point of fasting is not to slack off from our other duties and responsibilities. We believe that we are rewarded for continuing to work and produce during our fasts. Fasting is not a reason to push meetings, clear schedules, or take a lighter load on projects.

That said – we don’t mind if you help work in a nap time for us!

Ramadan is a time for community and charity. There are iftar dinners held at mosques every night (you are welcome to join the fun – even if you’re not fasting!) and night time prayer vigils throughout the month. We give charity in abundance and make an extra effort to partake in community service. Throughout it all, we maintain an ambiance of joy and gratitude for all that God has blessed us with, and reflect on those in this world who have been given much less. This is a time for all of us–not just Muslims–to renew our spiritual intentions, increase our knowledge, and change ourselves for the better.

For more information visit:-

What to do with a bad parent?

What sort of parent you ask? What sort of parent sends their child to an unknown country, unaccompanied, to a life in a detention centre. A life without rights, a life without education and a life with no future. It’s hard to watch and it is even harder to know what to do. When it’s the bad parent across the road from home we can talk to the neighbours, say something to the teacher at school and when things really get bad make that annoymous call to the police or community services.

But this is different, who do you call on this bad parent? Who do you call when you know a child is going to live behind razor wire, witness acts of self harm and suicide and potentially face sexual assault. Who do you call when the bad parent is the Immigration minister of Australia Chris Bowen and the child is a refugee?

Under Australian law those children who arrive in Australia unaccompanied, by plane or boat, are placed under the guardianship of the Immigration Minister of the day. Guardian’s just like parents (who are the legal guardian of their children) have a responsibility to the personal and property well being of a child. The law does this because as a society we believe children are incapable because of their age to do so for themselves and understand the need for children to be cared for in a proper and appropriate manner.

Today we learn Chris Bowen has become the guardian for 14 new children who have arrived in Australia by boat. They are unaccompanied, they aren’t with their parents and they have nothing at all. So how will he care for them and protect their interests?

This is where we are sending children, on their own!

They’ll be herded onto a plane by the AFP and sent to a detention centre in Malaysia where they will have no rights to work, access to education facilities most inner suburbs people wouldn’t send their dog and face an uncertain future. These children will have most likely lost their parents to war, famine or disease. They will have witnessed things that are unspeakable and that would have you or I in therapy and reaching for the Xanax by the hour. And now their new parent, their new guardian, Chris Bowen will not assist these vulnerable children rebuild their lives, but send them to a third world country where their life will almost certainly be ruined beyond repair.

For unaccompanied children  there is an extra danger in Malaysia. It isn’t the malnutrition, it’s not the lack of education or health facilities, it is not being locked behind razor wire or having no future. It is the prospect of being forced into the seedy  world of child exploitation, slavery and the sex trade. Malaysia acts as a hub for both the internal distribution of child sex slaves and also the exportation of children from Malaysia to countries both in Asia and Europe for the child sex trade. Children with no guardian, on their own, with no rights and nobody to protect them are easy targets for those who would trade in the most vulnerable of all commodities. What would you do if you knew a parent in your area was selling their daughter to men for sex?

It cannot in any way, shape or form be considered the responsible actions of a Guardian. It is not what a good parent would do and it goes against all the ethics and morals we hold so dear as a Nation. This is not a “fair go”, this is not what a first world democracy does with unaccompanied children. We are talking about lives, lives just as precious as any other child anywhere else on earth. Just as important as our own. What would you think about the trafficking of children into the sex trade being done by your Government, in your name? It is not just what you think, it is what will you do!

We urge you to contact the office of Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and respectfully ask him NOT to send any unaccompanied children to Malaysia.

Tel: (02) 6277 7860


National Aboriginal & Islander Children’s Day

National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day is celebrated on 4 August each year.

The 2011 National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day theme is :
“From small to big: growing stronger every day”.


National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day (NAICD) is a celebration of our children. Held on 4 August each year, NAICD was first observed by SNAICC in 1988. Each year SNAICC produces and sends out resources to help you celebrate NAICD. The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) is the national non government peak body in Australia representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

Celebrate our children

All those who support children, including early childhood services, teachers, educators, foster carers, welfare workers, policy makers and government are encouraged to take a break from their normal routine and organise activities involving children and families. Such local events celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and reinforce how important it is for their wellbeing to be connected to culture.

For more information visit:-  

The cool side of stupid ideas

In the theatre of war things can get very hot, today Baghdad topped out at 51*c and Kabul had a “cool” day for this time of year with just 35*c. For soldiers camped out in tents in the outer lying areas temperatures can be unbearable, add body armour and it becomes dangerous. So the United States defense department contracts out for air-conditioning. And what exactly does it cost to keep American’s cool in Afghanistan and Iraq? Try $20billion… a year!

Air-con units pumping billions!

Part of the reason the expense is so high is private companies are essentially ripping off the Defense department by inflating the cost of delivering the service. But what ever way you put it, $20billion is a heck of a lot of money. To put it into context that is the damage bill for the devastating floods in Queensland, some of Australia’s worst. It is enough money to buy up all the black market arms used in conflicts around the world 4 times over. It’s the entire GDP of Monaco, Iceland and Laos combined.  And wait for it, enough money to send every hungry child on earth to school with a full tummy for the next 5 years!

Think about that again,  the 66million children who wake up with nothing to eat could be fed for the next 5 years if we simply turned off the air con for the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. The World Food Programme have made the figures to feed the starving available for many years. But they have yet to experience a financial year where governments have met the required targets. It is politically more palatable to spend money on war than it is to feed to the world’s children.

It’s hard to keep cool when you hear about that kind of stupidity!

This is the potential reality for every child on earth!

*US Defense spending figures confirmed by Brigadier General Steven Anderson of the United States Army*

When will YOU Rage Against the Machine?

Why are the young people of the Western world seemingly so apathetic to the issues of our world and why aren’t we marching in the streets? The answer my friend’s is not blowing in the wind, but it is in the music!

  • 1963 “Blowin’ in the Wind” – Bob Dylan
  • 1968 “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud” – James Brown
  • 1969 “Give Peace a Chance”  – John Lennon
  • 1971 “What’s Going On” – Marvin Gaye
  • 1973 “Get Up Stand Up” – Bob Marley
  • 1977 “God Save the Queen”  – Sex Pistols
  • 1989 “Fight the Power” – Public Enemy
  • 1992 “Killing in the Name”  – Rage Against the Machine
And of course – 2010 – “Baby” – Justin Bieber “I was like baby, baby, baby, oh Like baby, baby, baby, no…..”
Chuck D takes a walk down his Musical memory lane

As Generation X and Y we often look back at our baby boomer generation and scoff, if only they had of known what we know. “Oh mum, if only you knew what I know about the Afghanistan you would think very differently!” We whatever we think of our parents views, we cannot deny that in their day they fought for them much more than we do. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, Gandhi, Mandela, Charles Perkins, Mother Teresa and Che. In the music of Dylan and James Brown, with John Lennon and Yoko in bed to the truth of Bob Marley and Sam Cook you simply could not escape the progressive movement in art and activism. And while it is not dead and there certainly are those working for change, you couldn’t get a million man march today unless you count people gathering on facebook or twitter as statistics.

Bill Maher

Are we the post 9/11 generation, in fear of being unpatriotic even where we believe change is required?

Bill Maher – Kidiots’ Leave the children behind. At least until they learn something. A new study has shown that half of American high schools agree that newspapers should only be able to publish government-approved material. Almost one out of five said people should not be allowed to voice unpopular opinions..This is the first generation after September 11th, who discovered news during a ‘watch what you say’ administration…George W. Bush once asked, ‘is our children learning.’ No, they isn’t. A better question would be, ‘is our teacher’s teaching?

I’m not going to take the easy route and bag Justin Bieber, he is a product of an industry that is about making money not interested in the art. I’m not going to take a shot at aspiring song writers and performers who feel they have to shape themselves in this way to get success and be heard. But this is largely a result of music that offends nobody and inspires just as few. It doesn’t say anything about us other than we will except whatever is fed to us. The responsibility lies with the two groups that really drive this. The music industry and head honcho’s of music studios who have long since sold out and are more Wall Street than MoTown. And as consumers we have to take a great deal of responsibility too. Bad music might be shoved down our throat at every turn, hollow lyrics are on every radio station, but we consume them. We have made the decision, perhaps a subconcious one, to tune out of the truth and only take in the bubble gum pop.

Make no mistake, real artists are out there. They are writing and performing, recording and inspiring. But they wont get the air play they deserve until we demand it, until we buy it and until we begin to show an appetite for music with meaning over songs only played to sell stocks!

Bombs or Food, Think about it!

With the famine in the Horn of Africa raging, poverty crippling millions around the world and children dying simply because of a lack of water we MUST examine our commitment to war.

We spend more on weapons than water!

In the time we have waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq millions of children around the world have died from a lack of clean drinking water, food and basic medical supplies. What we have spent on war could easily have eradicated the problem in our own corner of the world and with the money spent by our allies the issue could have been addressed world wide. What would have been the better thing to do, remove Saddam and flatten a country or feed the world? You decide! Because it is your vote that makes these things happen, do it responsibly.

Australia will again face the firing squad

Nearly six years after the hanging execution of Australian Van Nguyen in Changi prison, Singapore, Australia is faced yet again with the prospect of the execution of two of its citizens.

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan have exhausted all their legal avenues and have about 12 months to plead for presidential clemency.

If Indonesia’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono does not grant clemency, the pair will face the firing squad.

Two Australian's with a very uncertain future

The debate raged during the time Van awaited execution, it was never easy to gauge exactly where Australian’s stood on the issue. Some, like myself, oppose the death penalty in all cases and called on the Australian Government to do everything it can to spare his life. Others while oppose to the practice believed in Singapore’s right to carry out the punishment how they saw fit. While another percentage of the population both support the death penalty and support the execution of Van.

What was clear in the whole debate was that very few people, the majority of the population and even many politicians know very little about the death penalty and how it works. Execution in any form is never quick and almost always messy. While most US states that carry out the death penalty use the lethal injection, it too is slow and painful. The last prisoner executed took an agonising 11 minutes to die.

If we are to confront this most serious of issues, we need to do so with all the facts. If you can’t bring yourself to learn and understand the mechanism of death, should you really be supporting it? The other issue is that of the drug mule and how they find themselves in this position. Again there is a great deal of material on the issue, but for an easier way of understanding one story, try watching the movie. “Maria Full of Grace”

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