Category Archives: Get involved!
REDFERN NOW: LAUNCH EVENT AND SCREENING
- On Wednesday 31 October from 18.00to 22.00
To kick off the evening, Casey Donovan and special guests will perform from 6pm. World premiere screening begins at 7:30pm.
Bring a blanket or a chair – snacks will be on the house.
The Block, Corner of Eveleigh and Caroline Streets Redfern 2016
HOW TO GET TO THIS EVENT:
Redfern Station is less than 5 minutes walk from The Block.
World Day Against The Death Penalty
Studies have shown over the years that half of the Australian population continue to support the death penalty, but how many have really thought about the consequences.
Tomorrow, 10th October, is the 10th Annual World Day Against the Death Penalty an important day to take stock of the progress that has been made in the quest for abolition and the work still to be done. As an Anti-death penalty coordinator my views against the death penalty would not surprise anyone. But I did not come to this conclusion from nowhere, it is based on a decade of case work that has involved working on the death penalty in countries across the world. Before that I spent 3 years in study both formal and of my own to come to the conclusion that the death penalty is an injustice in all cases.
Yet polls in Australia, a country that has abolished the death penalty, show that roughly half the population still support the process of death. So it is important that Australian’s take the time to think about this important domestic and international issue. Most who call for the death penalty tend to do so for cases of mass murder, but around the world these worst of offenders tend never to be executed. Take the United States, the only Western nation that still executes its civilians for non-military crimes. Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer are two of the most well-known and well-studied serial killers of the last 100 years, neither was executed and Manson is eligible to apply for parole in 2 years time. Dahmer was convicted of killing 15 men and boys, raping them both before and after their death and consuming the flesh of others. If anyone was to be sentenced to death one would safely assume Dahmer would be the poster child. He wasn’t.
Instead people like Troy Davis, Tookie Williams, Angel Diaz and Todd Willingham have all been executed in that time. They are just four whose guilt, fairness of trial and legality of arrest are all in serious question. Willingham was almost certainly innocent when he was put to death, while serious doubt remains about that of Davis. Mean while in states like Illinois they have abolished the death penalty after studies found those waiting for execution were not only NOT the worst of the worst, but innocent and must be released. The US imprisons more than 2 million people, the largest number and per capita figure in the world, they have shocking levels of recidivism and a death penalty machine that executes the Black, poor and mentally ill at a rate that outweighs their counterparts in the rest of the community by more than 10 times.
This therefore is not capital punishment that is set out to remove the worst of the worst from society but a system that executes those with poor legal representation, no money, a minority or with a serious mental illness. As the saying goes, don’t have the capital and you get the punishment. This is backed up by every major study conducted into the death penalty system that has shown it does not act as a deterrent. Rather states that impose the death penalty tend to have higher rates of murder and violent crime and as a result larger prison populations. It becomes a vicious cycle that results in more and more innocent victims of crime and loss of life. While studies in a number of states, including the study ordered by then Governor George Ryan in Illinois showed the death penalty system was broken at every turn.
Outside of the US the majority of executions take place in Pakistan, China, Iran, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. These are often not against those who have committed violent crimes, but political dissidents, those whom have been convicted of blasphemy, crimes against the king or ruler and adultery/homosexuality. Pakistan and Iran have this year carried out the execution of those whose only crime was to promote their religion other than the state accepted religion of Islam. While Iran and Saudi Arabia have executed women who have been raped, for the crime of adultery. Saudi Arabia still conducts its execution by sword and beheading is a gruesome and rarely swift method for murder by the state of a human being. China’s figures for execution are so large they refuse to publish them, they are often those who dare question the totalitarian regime or who are from ethnic groups in the outer reaches of the nation.
Each year more than 10,000 people are officially executed by nations around the world. Virtually none have been convicted of mass killing or large-scale sexual abuse of children. The death penalty is simply an act of revenge against a small percentage of the criminal population and a larger percentage of women, minority groups and those whose actions would be deemed simply free expression in the majority of the world.
Supporting the death penalty is not the support for being hard on crime, it is the support for an unjust gruesome system of vengeance that rarely gets the right man and promotes a cycle of violent crime, mistrust and fear in the nations that carry it out most often. There are no safe guards, there can be no over turning of the act when an execution has taken place and Australia is better for no longer partaking in the practice. But we also must do our part to end this most barbaric of acts around the world. And if we value our friendship with the United States we must encourage them to catch up with the rest of the world and end this dark ages horror. Only then will the last remaining nations begin to follow and the world can be free of one of the crimes against humanity we can stop forever!
Anti Death Penalty Coordinator – Foreign Prisoner Support Service.
Save the Tanja Forest Koalas from Woodchipping
Tanja State Forest, home to Koalas, Powerful Owls, Yellow-Bellied Gliders and Open forest and Rainforest communities is due to be logged with the majority of this beautiful forest going to the Eden Chipmill for pulp, selling off our heritage at bargain basement prices.
Forests NSW have ignored protests and concerns by the local community to protect this area from being trashed and chipped and are bent on destroying it.
On Tuesday night I attended the Tanja Forest Koalas Community Meeting. The following resolution was unanimously voted on –
1. Calls for an immediate and permanent end to logging of Tanja forest
2. Calls on the NSW Government to permanently protect the Tanja Forest koalas and provide long term protection for all koala habitat within Tanja State Forest to guarantee the long term viability of the Koala population on publicly owned land; and
3. That koala habitat on private land be used only in conjunction with State Forest and not instead of State Forest to provide secure long-term habitat security
This is not the end! #StrongerFutures
About 30minutes ago the Senate passed what is known as the Stronger Futures legislation, In essence an extension of the Northern Territory Intervention passed under the previous Howard Government.
The facts of this are largely known, so to the implications. Incarceration & suicide have risen in the Territory since the first instalment, outcomes have not improved and there continues a great deal of fear in the hearts of many. Having just watched 7 straight hours of debate on the matter it again has been reaffirmed how little our members of Parliament know about the First Australians. But this should not come as a surprise, if you speak at someone, instead of listening, you will be no wiser than when you first arrived.
But this is not an attempt to give commentary on the politics, the bill or the Parliament that passed it. There is enough blame for every single one of them and I fear we will again apologise to a generation of Indigenous Australians for the policies of our Government, in our name, that are imposed on them. Sometimes brutally!
This is a message to everyone, it is only over when we allow it to be over! We’ve rallied, we’ve written submissions, we’ve called radio stations, we’ve travelled to Canberra and we have made our objections loud and clear. Now we must offer our support to those who will live under this legislation. To all Indigenous Australians, to those in the NT, to those who live and work as Teachers, Doctors, Nurses etc in Aboriginal communities, on Aboriginal land, we must offer up our assistance. We must extend our hand to them and allow them to direct us. They may live under these laws, but together we can fight back against them. We can offer an ear, we can offer a voice and we can roll up our sleeves. We can assist with legal help, we can (if invited) provide eyes to watch over those who enforce these laws, we can donate to the many wonderful organisations who help improve health, education & housing in Aboriginal communities.
We can also make a commitment not to forget them. Right now as I write this #StrongerFutures is trending nationally on twitter. By the weekend it will be gone. The laws will not! You can make a choice to be distracted by the latest television show, get caught up in the next faux celebrity controversy or simply block it out. But the Intervention will remain a reality for many in the NT. We can have an influence on just how badly it impacts on those forced to live under it. They have not been given a choice to determine their own future, but we do have that luxury.
You cannot say I was not alive when it happened, You cannot say you didn’t know and you cannot say you didn’t know what to do. You may have to listen carefully, you may have to put your ear to the wind and listen for their call. But when it comes, you will have a choice, will this be a Stronger Future against all odds? Or will it be a Stolen Future, not just because our Government took it away, but because you and I didn’t try to fight and take it back?!
Letters For Ranjini
A pregnant mother of 2, imprisoned indefinitely in Australia’s immigration detention system.
“Ranjini was found to be a genuine refugee before ASIO decided last week she is a security risk for Australia. But the government won’t tell her why, and now she’s facing a life in detention.”
As a result, she has been separated from her husband and locked up in the Villawood detention centre with her children. Current law says that she has no right to be told why she is considered a threat, making it nearly impossible for her lawyers to mount a defence. Ranjini faces indefinite detention at the hands of the Australian government.
This page was built to send letters of support to Ranjini, and to demonstrate that Australian citizens do not support anyone being locked up indefinitely without ever having committed a crime.
Please visit – www.lettersforranjini.com for more information and www.julianburnside.com.au/detained.htm for a legal explanation.
Follow – @Ranjiniletters
HauieTV Webisode I: Hilltop Hoods
Here, Hauie catches up with Australia’s biggest hip hop outfit, HILLTOP HOODS. They are about to release their sixth studio album, ‘Drinking From the Sun’ on March 9.
HAUIE TV is an on-line show that celebrates and focusses on the hip hop culture in Australia and overseas through interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and rhymes. Hosted by Hau – an MC, a radio presenter, a husband, a father, and a lover of all things beats, rhymes and life.
Find more at:
Twitter: @hauiebeast http://www.twitter.com/hauiebeast
Gay Men Have Been Going At Things Backwards – #MarriageEquality
For all the advancement we have made in a 2011 Australian society it seems strange that marriage equality remains a debate we need to have at a national level. The ruling ALP will go to their national convention with the issue a major talking point and I can only help but feel it is not the message that is the problem, but the way it’s been delivered.
For decades the LGBT community have rightly pointed out that their rights have been infringed. Across many areas of law they have been treated as lesser citizens and as couples denied rights available to everyone else. Now comes one of the final hurdles, the right to marry just the same way as a heterosexual couple. But we all know the issue, the arguments and that it’s absurd in this day and age a citizen of a “first world country” is still discriminated against based on their sexuality.
So perhaps the message is just not being tailored in a way that makes sense to those who oppose. While we should never have to convince persecutors of basic human rights, the reality of the real world is that we do. Given that most of those who oppose marriage equality do so on the basis of religion it is time some of the argument was tailored to meet their needs. And what exactly is religions problem with same-sex marriage? Is it that some weddings might no longer be conducted in the Church, Temple or Mosque? No, that ship has long since sailed with people choosing all manner of wedding locations and celebrants. The real problem you ask? They are worried it just might encourage more people to have sex in the naughty place. And no I don’t mean parked in some dark lane on the rear seat of mum’s car.
Don’t believe me? Just look at the way we have used sodomy laws to effectively outlaw much of sexual activity between gay men. Currently the age of consent is 2 years higher for anal sex in Queensland and it was outlawed entirely in Tasmania until 1997. Many countries that actively persecute the LGBT community do so not by outlawing anything but the acts of sodomy or “adultery” for women, which in many cases by the way includes making being raped a crime. If you really “have” to be gay they’d rather you just abstain and live a miserable life. Is that the sort of thing we wish to sign up to, aligning ourselves morally with Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Al-Shabab controlled parts of Somalia? Of course this all goes back to the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah which God apparently destroyed because the folk there were doing it, sodomy that is. You see in 2011 Australia the only kind of discrimination we really advocate and embrace is the religious based kind or against the first Australians. Forget that Jesus himself never uttered a word about homosexuality, but a religious organisation with its tax exempt status can call you every name under the sun and lobby politicians, often with great success against common sense.
If the ALP Government fail to pass Marriage Equality legislation then the LGBT community need to become a religion. Cloaked behind that religious veil you can practice and preach almost anything you like. Evangelical pastor Danny Nalliah preached that the Victorian bushfires were caused by the states abortion laws and the Queensland floods were a result of questioning Israel on Human Rights. Say that as any ordinary citizen and you better run for the hills, say it with religious tax exemption and you can print flyers with it on to raise money and increase your following. What about Scientology with accusations of abuse, slavery and cult like behaviour you’d think the Government would pull their support via tax exemption, but no “75 million years ago Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling DC-8” and while you can’t marry the person you love they can raise money to preach that without paying a cent in tax on the profits.
But it is unlikely that Pastor Danny or Tom Cruise will make an appearance at the ALP convention, the push back (excuse the pun) will come from the right-wing of the ALP. Perhaps before entering the conference they need to be reminded that the ALP is supposed to be a left of centre party of the working class. But for many in that faction their direction will come from their belief in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Given the scandals involving the church in the last few decades you’d think they’d avoid issues of “sexual deviancy” as they see it. The same might be said of politicians who themselves have been caught up in rape trials, spousal abuse and corruption. But no, along with the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) they are the chief opponents of Marriage Equality. Visit the ACL website and you will find they are running three campaigns. Tackling poverty perhaps, supporting Asylum Seekers, feeding the homeless? No, the far more pressing issues to them are Gay marriage, Gay Adoption and Prostitution. What did I say about the naughty place! Much of the Christian model on such things is broken anyway. A study of US teenagers who took part in a Christian run Abstinence program found that while some did abstain, compared to their class mates who didn’t take the pledge, “abstainers” were 6 times more likely to perform oral sex and 4 times more likely…, anal!
To get the issue passed Gay men need to form a Nunnery of Two! It is the only way to send a message the ACL and others will understand. Anal Sex is no longer sodomy, it is a religious duty performed by two followers of the new religion. They may not agree with it, but they will support your right to perform it. Take Holy Communion, you eat the wafer to represent the Body of Christ and drink the wine to symbolise his blood. Now outside of an organised religion this may appear to be some kind of build up to Canabalism, but inside the Church it’s an important part of remembering Christ. And good luck to them, they aren’t hurting anyone, it brings them closer to their God and is important to them. But just as I would defend their right to perform such an act I cannot look the other way while they involve themselves with the denying rights to another.
This is not an attack on religion, this is an attempt to explain just how absurd it is that in 2011 two adults who love each other cannot stand in front of their friends and family and promise to spend the rest of their lives together. Shot gun weddings, Child brides and Kim Kardashian devalue marriage. Two folks in dresses holding hands at the altar is just another day at a Scottish Wedding. Whether that be two men, two women or a man and woman should only depend on them both being consenting adults. The rest is no business of the Government, the Church or Xenu from out of space.
So why as a heterosexual male do I care when might rights are firmly intact? Because as a human rights advocate it is my job to ensure you get that right and I don’t want to live in a country that allows me to do things my friends can’t just because of who they are. Marriage equality is about the right to love, it really is that simple! The ALP and all parties must vote not just with their conscience, but with rights and respect for all in their minds. The naughty place is not sodomy, the naughty place is a parliament that continues to discriminate!
Lessons from Liberia – The Women Who Ended a War!
As war ravaged Liberia, Leymah Gbowee realised it is women who bear the greatest burden in prolonged conflicts. She began organising Christian and Muslim women to demonstrate together, founding Liberian Mass Action for Peace and launching protests and a sex strike. Gbowee’s part in helping to oust Charles Taylor was featured in the documentary Pray the Devil back to Hell.
The Movie chronicles the remarkable story of the courageous Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country.
Thousands of women — ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim — came together to pray for peace and then staged a silent protest outside of the Presidential Palace. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they demanded a resolution to the country’s civil war. Their actions were a critical element in bringing about a agreement during the stalled peace talks.
This is a film you must see! “The film is inspiring, uplifting and is a call to action for all of us” – Desmond Tutu
And now Leymah Gbowee has released a must read book. As a young woman, she was broken by the Liberian civil war, a brutal conflict that tore apart her life and claimed the lives of countless relatives and friends. Years of fighting destroyed her country—and shattered Gbowee’s girlhood hopes and dreams. As a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn her bitterness into action, propelled by her realisation that it is women who suffer most during conflicts—and that the power of women working together can create an unstoppable force.
In 2003, the passionate and charismatic Gbowee helped organize and then led the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting Liberia’s ruthless president and rebel warlords, and even held a sex strike. With an army of women, Gbowee helped lead her nation to peace—in the process emerging as an international leader who changed history. Mighty Be Our Powers is the gripping chronicle of a journey from hopelessness to empowerment that will touch all who dream of a better world.
To purchase a copy of the book or donate to the cause please visit – http://leymahgbowee.com/
Indigenous elders condemn intervention extension (ABC)
A group of Aboriginal leaders say they are furious about the Federal Government’s plan to extend the Northern Territory intervention next year. ABC News
The intervention was meant to wrap up next year but last month Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin announced that measures including alcohol bans and welfare quarantining in remote communities will continue.
Ms Macklin has signalled legislation will be introduced into Parliament before Christmas.
Rosalie Kunoth-Monks from Utopia in Central Australia says communities around the Territory are angry the Government is extending the intervention.
“After almost five years of the oppression of the intervention we demand that the Government hand back to us control over our communities,” she said.
“We reject the Stronger Futures document. We reject it absolutely.
“We will not support an extension of the intervention legislation, we did not ask for it, in fact, we call for a genuine apology.”
Barbara Shaw from Alice Springs says the intervention is discriminatory and the Government has ignored the concerns of many people.
“We know what we want and the arrogance of the Australian Government as well as the Northern Territory Government, they just don’t want to listen to the views of the people like us,” she said.
The elders say the intervention is causing shame and embarrassment in Aboriginal communities.
To call on Minister Macklin to end the Intervention please use the contact form provided at the link below
To Violence against Women & Children, does Australia say No?
In recent years there have been increased campaigns and awareness of the issues of Domestic violence and child abuse, yet the horror stories continue.
If you were able to sit through the entire episode of the recent 4 Corners on the abuse of disabled children you would have seen one of the most pressing issues we must tackle. But flipping open the papers the following day it was clear that Australia does not take seriously enough the issue of abuse and violence against the vulnerable. The ABC show chronicled the shocking story of sexual abuse of intellectually disabled children attending a Catholic school in Adelaide and the way it was covered up.
Domestic Violence and the sexual abuse of women and children is not a new issue to anyone, but perhaps this exposure of the horrific assaults on disabled children highlights more than ever the need to tackle this issue. People much wiser than I have written about the issue for decades, campaigns have been waged, community workers battled and some funding allocated. But the inroads into the issue are simply not good enough for what is an epidemic size problem. Of the figures on child abuse that all Australians should find the most alarming. It is widely believed that before they are 18 years old 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused. Think about those figures for a moment…
To understand them more easily imagine a typical Australian classroom of ten year olds in year 4. In that classroom of between 20 and 25 children, 3 of the girls and 2 of the boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18; if they haven’t already. We would not tolerate a situation where we look at a classroom of kids and accept that 5 of them will die of cancer before 18, or 5 of them will be killed in motor vehicle accidents or 5 of them would die from a preventable disease such as Malaria. We have tackled these problems either wiping them out in the case of preventable diseases, increasing survival rates for cancer and educating about driver safety. We did all of these things when as horrible as they are none of those problems ever reached the level that child abuse is at.
This is a National disgrace, a failure of leadership and an all to eager approach of sweeping things under the carpet and failing the victims and the support workers and organisations. Victims of child sexual abuse are NEVER responsible for the suffering they endure. But if we are to accept, and we do, that these figures are accurate then more alarming is the number of abusers that exist in our community. We have been quick to point the finger at Indigenous Australian’s and took the bizarre step of sending the Army into the Northern Territory. We have often marginalised minority groups as oppressing their women or having a culture where it is inherent. But there is a truth we must admit as all Australian’s, we have a national crisis in child protection and we have failed past and present generations. If we do not act decisively now then we will be failing the future generations whose protection we hold right now in our own hands.
Faced with figures of 1/4 of all Australian girls and 1/6 of boys I will not accept that the War in Iraq, the childish approach to the asylum seeker debate or even the economy are more important issues than the protection of children. Yet those issues are front page on a daily basis, they attract billions of dollars in funding and are part of every election campaign. When has a politician ever gone to an election with child protection and well being even in their top five policies? It just doesn’t happen. If children were voting do you believe this would be the case?
But children can’t vote, so we must take the responsibility as adults, as parents and citizens of our National community to speak out and act on their behalf. Figures show that of the female children abused under the age of 18, 92% of the perpetrators will be men. The figure is only moderately lower for boys and generally when a female is involved they are accompanied by a male perpetrator as well. Meanwhile the support industry and community sector that help run women’s shelters, domestic violence support, family support and other key services are dominated by female workers.
It is NOT a generalisation to say the problem is not women and children, its men! The figures clearly back it up and it is time we, the men of modern Australia take a stand on this most important of issues. We are the first to beat our chest and say we’d deal with a child abuser, we write letters to editors about how we’d love just five minutes in a dark alley with a paedophile and we tend to think pretty dimly of those who raise their hand to their partner. But what are we actually doing about it? The problem isn’t getting better and it wont on its own.
It is time for a national dialogue on domestic and sexual violence, particularly among men. It is unacceptable that we continue to allow the children, in particularly of our society be victims to such abuse and stand idly by and do nothing. This is not about being a vigilante and confronting with bare knuckles the first man you suspect of being an abuser. This is about opening the door so the conversations can take place, so the support can be provided and so we get this issue on the political map.
Our first step must be the ability to speak openly and honestly within our circle of friends that abuse of any kind is unacceptable, criminal and should be reported to the police and community services. We need to create a culture of fathers, uncles, older friends, sports coaches and others speaking together and with children that they don’t have to suffer this crime. We need to drop the attitude that any woman or child ever “deserves it”. Nobody deserves to be abused, no court in the land would accept such a view and it is morally reprehensible.
The toll of abuse on our community is immeasurable, many victims suffer a life time of mental anguish and illness, drug dependency, such low levels of self-esteem that the abuse continues into adulthood or sadly become abusers themselves. This is a vicious cycle, a snow ball gathering pace and with it the number of victims. It is time to push back and we must begin the conversation now, man to man about what WE are going to do about this issue.
Men my challenge to you is this, speak about this issue not just with your female friends but with your male friends. Make it a priority that you become a facilitator to addressing this issue and not a silent witness. As you read this piece a child, many children and women are being abused in our country. The question is, are you going to speak about it so that tomorrow can be a better day for us all? You are not less of a man to think and speak out against abuse, it isn’t a “female” issue to be left to women’s groups. This is about men pulling their weight and understanding they have a vital role in protecting our society, not with violence, but by opposing it!