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Category Archives: Your Say

Open letter to Scott Morrison and Christian Porter

By Tracie Aylmer

The first time it happened I was 16-years-old, in 1988 in Sydney. Thinking back, I was groomed by the perpetrator to accept him touching me, with intent to kiss me. If I had known he was going to touch me without the grooming he did to me, I wouldn’t have accepted for him to have touched me in the first place.

I was very vulnerable and had a really hard time at both school and home. I guess he saw me as an open target.

After the event I felt so ashamed. As he had called my place asking when I was going to return to his shop, I told my sister what he had done. I remember her telling him I was never going to go back, and to never call my place again.

There are so many more times. So many sexual assaults. Quite a few lost me my job. All of them had me in tears. I lost confidence. Each time, I had to start my life over again. I crumbled, not knowing how to restart my life (yet again).

I have studied, finding law easy. It didn’t get me a long-term job as by then I was considered too old.

The scars have held me back. I know that now.

I’m studying again – two full-time TAFE qualifications at the same time. I thought that time had healed the pain I’ve gone through in my life. I thought I was strong enough to turn the corner and strive for the incredible person that I am.

The past few weeks have brought it all crashing down on me again. The pain is front and centre again.

Mr Morrison, the fact that, without evidence, you believe Mr Porter is horrifying and disgusting. You believe your boys club without any question yet refuse to believe the mountains of evidence and proof of pain of the victims. You are the problem with this society, as you are not taking these rapes seriously.

You are not showing yourself to have any standard whatsoever. You blatantly lie, and we can all see it. You triggered me beyond anything these past few days, and I hold you in complete and utter contempt for doing so.

I do not need for you to behave without accountability over something as serious as rape and sexual assault. You did wrong, and I hope you lose your job emphatically over this fiasco.

Mr Porter, do you really think the country believes you? A recent investigation revealed your “history of sexism and inappropriate behaviour.” Do you think now that your boys club will now protect you?

Poor you thinks that mental health care is needed (let’s get the violins out). I really don’t care if you’re having mental health care sessions. Women who have been the victims of sexual assault or abuse face or have had a life-time of mental health care sessions. Do you or your government care about them?

You have triggered the whole country over your alleged behaviour and your response to it.

Resign! You are worthless now. You have destroyed the office of the Attorney General by your alleged behaviour. No one will believe or trust the legal system again. And neither will they believe or trust the Morrison government or its Ministers. Congratulations on the part you played in that.

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We Are NOT Prey

By Dee

Years ago, in the office of a counsellor I disclosed about being sexually assaulted. Opening up to the woman on the other side of the room involved more than one instance of sexual assault.

My story with the counsellor started with an event that my friends all told me was not rape, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was. This was not my first experience with sexual violence, I was assaulted by a man who wanted to teach me to protect myself when I was a five-year-old girl, he was my babysitter. I was attacked again as a nine-year-old this time by the man across the road who was the caretaker of a hotel and allowed my siblings and I to use the pool. That was where he assaulted me, and it was the last time I swam there.

But the assault that I opened up about to my counsellor was one my friends told me was not what I suggested it was; rape. I had been in a relationship with someone who was having an affair and was not being secretive about the other woman. Once it was apparent the relationship was over my friends invited me out and I drank too much that night. In my drunken state I expressed an interest in one of my girlfriend’s mates, he overheard me and began showing enthusiasm in me that evening. I had met this man a few times, he had frequented our outings on many occasions, and he seemed like a really nice guy.

I do not remember the ending of that evening, being too drunk to have a cohesive memory of the night. But the following morning I woke up in my bed with him beside me. We were both naked and when I asked what had happened, he seemed perplexed that I did not recall the sexual interactions we had merely a few hours beforehand. He explained that he had carried me inside from his car having driven me home, he undressed my unconscious body and, in his words, “You had said you wanted to have sex, so we did.” While I was in a drunken, unconscious state.

I was shocked with his blatant explanation of how he had just helped himself to my body and felt utterly ashamed that I had been taken advantage of so completely. But the man lying in the bed beside me was oblivious to my horror. It was not until much later on, after I had dressed, and he had left that I spent some time coming to terms with what had happened. I could not move past his explanation that I had said I wanted to have sex with him, and so he just did. Not a single one of the friends in my group accepted my suggestion that it was rape, they tried telling me I was just having second thoughts and not happy that I had given it up. They told me I was making shit up. They were angry that I would even suggest this man would do such a thing to anyone, he was a nice guy.

It took barely a few days before the group had completely shunned me, I would walk into the lounge room of the home I lived in and the conversation would stop. I received pointed, sideways glances and endured odd silences. The moment I left the room the whispering and giggling would start again. He never returned to the home while I was there, but it was obvious that I was no longer welcomed to continue living in the home, so I left. I ended up leaving town entirely, and after a short stint working on a mango farm where the owner also attempted to sexually assault me, I went further out of town. I ended up ‘on country’ to be closer to my Aboriginal culture, which aided somewhat in healing the wounds I had established as a result of that night. But those wounds have become a scar I am forced to carry.

This was not my last experience with sexual assault, I currently have a case waiting to go to court but this time I was believed. Not merely by those around me but likewise by the Police when I went to report the assault. Last time I was re-victimised by having to justify being drunk and encountering a sexual predator who took what he wanted from me. The last time I experienced victim blaming by the same Police Officers responsible for protecting the general public. In the exact way I endured gaslighting and victim blaming from the people who were meant to be my friends. The last time without any support whatsoever I was left feeling as though my sole choice was to flee and attempt to forget the wounds I suffered.

Last time he got away with it.

This time I was believed, and I pressed charges against my assailant. Because I now have a support network who have aided me in moving past the traumas of being the victim of a sexual predator, this time I have been stronger.

I hope there is never a next time, but that is up to the men of Australia.

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Australia’s racial terrorism

By Jennifer Michels

Wednesday 24th February I was horrified, shortly before I went to bed the night before I spotted an article on Twitter that left me deeply worried. The article spoke of an attack in Perth where an Aboriginal mother and daughter were victims of a man with a backwards swastika symbol upon his forehead who target the women with a makeshift torch blower.

Such an attack alone left me deeply unsettled but there was very little information alongside the article in the articles I found. My awareness was heightened by the utter lack of coverage upon the ABC for the whole of Wednesday. Australia’s national broadcaster turned a blind eye to what I can only describe as an act of Domestic Terrorism.

Police made a statement on Tuesday 23 February, reported by many new sources since the attack; the man had a white swastika painted upon his forehead. After using racial obscenities he attempted to use a flame and a deodorant can to burn the woman and her teenage daughter. He then fled on foot and was last seen on Dwyer Crescent near Corfield Shopping Centre in Gosnells.

My horror that the national broadcaster of Australia would not mention this the day after Police issued a statement, and allowed this hate crime to go practically unnoticed by the general public. In their credit they did cover it the following day, as part of this story was the release of information from ASIO warning that far right extremism is on the rise.

But by not reporting upon this story the day after the press release empowers the belief Aussies hold denying racial discrimination exists. This behaviour of enabling is a form of systematic racism, inbuilt within the foundations of what we call the Lucky Country. But how lucky are we when our nation are not made aware of acts of domestic terrorism against Australia’s Indigenous People they claim as citizens? As someone who identifies as an Australian Aboriginal I am deeply saddened by this lack of awareness; it does not make me feel lucky.

Systematic racism is a term that has infected many lives for far too long, Australia claims that human rights are high on our list of values, but twenty-seven countries pointed their fingers at us this month at the UN Convention. Twenty-seven separate nations accused the Lucky Country of human rights violations against the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations; yet this too was barely a blimp in the news. Showing how aware Aussies are of systematic racism, while they take little action to rectify it.

How is this Lucky Country to retain their title if we disregard facts such as these? How are we to grow if we refuse to change? How are we to become an inclusive society if we ignore the criminal acts dividing us? How can we call ourselves a first world country when we are not behaving as one? These are the questions that plague me almost daily as I watch the news and other current events within the bounds of the society who owns the Australian Dream. I still do not have that lucky feeling.

Terrified is the emotion that comes to mind! Will my children be targeted because they are proud to claim their Aboriginality? Will they be left motherless if I am attacked for recognising my ancestry? Will I lose my Mum because she acknowledges her heritage? What about all my Cousins, Uncles and Aunties? Are we all next? That Lucky feeling has escaped me.

Image from fairplanet.org

This country is founded upon racism, and anyone who understands the facts behind the words “Settled Colony” cannot deny this truth. Yet our fellow human beings look aside the moment they stumble across the phrase “racism”; assuming it does not apply to them personally. I am not the type to sugar coat the important matters; all Australian’s perpetrate racial discrimination at some level. Take for instance those who know an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Person, have you ever referred to their Country or Clan names? Instead of forcing us to meet you upon colonial terms; with only our European heritage. Who refuses to capitalise the names we apply to ourselves, Aboriginal or Indigenous? Who among us still claim the adjectives of these words and insist they mean the same as the nouns our People use? Who only uses the word ‘Aboriginal’ and forgets about naming the Torres Strait Islander nations? Yes, Australia, these are acts of racism whether you want to hear it or not!

In the same manner that those who suggest they do not see colour are refusing the differences that make us individuals. Whilst Aussies may wish to deny their racially discriminatory tendencies, we need to remember those who are not from a nationality are not in a position to determine what is racism to that race. Which is why it baffles me to the core when we deny racial discrimination occurs against China in today’s society. We, Australians, are not qualified to suggest what China consider racism, yet we constantly imply we are. In the same manner we tell those of African or Middle Eastern nationality they are not to advise us what they regard as racism to their societies. This is a minimalising tactic, and yes, this is once again racism.

During the 1970s our nation abolished the White Australia Policy. Unfortunately, as someone who has always claimed their Aboriginality without fitting the 233-year-old stereotype; I would suggest this racist policy lives on in the hearts of the typical Aussie today. More so when we look at the immigration policies that have seen children locked behind bars for half or all their lives.

Appling the terminology of today to what Colonial Thinkers call the “Settling of Australia” our citizens would call it terrorism; the sole debate here would be if it was counted as international or domestic (were they Aussies or British subjects). Considering many of the mob I have spoken to feel the White Australia Policy lives on, how can we call the racially driven acts of violence today as anything less than Domestic Terrorism? Those who feel the luck of the Lucky Country, can they share some with me, it’s still not manifested in my life.

Again, I am not the type to sugar coat it; Australia, your colonial thinking enables you to ignore our feelings of terror! Just the words applied to Colonial Australia, The Lucky Country and The Australian Dream enable this ignorance. News media failing to report on these acts of racially driven domestic terrorism provide the mechanisms for these groups to operate behind the scene. Until Australia takes a long hard look at the past, and how the systematic racism influences the people of today, the Lucky Country will only be lucky to some.

The Original Inhabitants of these lands may have been reduced to a mere 3% of the entire population, but we, the Oldest Living Cultures in the World, are still here. We stand upon Aboriginal Land, why are we solely meeting on Colonial grounds? Australia, we are fellow citizens and it is time you stood by us, on our terms not yours!

#AustraliasRacialDivide
#AustraliasRacialTerrorism
#AboriginalLandColonialGrounds

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Travesty – a false or distorted misrepresentation of something

By Leonie Saunders

What the Morrison government aided and abetted by the ineptitude of a sycophantic Opposition is a travesty.

Comparing Facebook to Google with regards to the distribution of news is like comparing apples with oranges.

The only comparison that can be made is that like Murdoch’s NewsCorp, Google and Facebook do not pay taxes – see Crikey’s article – “Tax dodging News Corp continues to rip Australia off – and is subsidised by taxpayers to do so“. Unfortunately, for verification purposes one of the many consequences of the Government’s pernicious agenda to undermine public interest journalism being shared on Facebook is I am unable to share the link to Crikey.

Now for some clarity as to the current travesty the Morrison Government is promulgating.

To begin with, unlike Facebook, Google’s search engine scrapes (indexes) news content that publishers do not provide voluntarily. Google has long been moving to an answer engine and not a search engine for sometime and has been coming under fire from many who rely on search traffic for their business. In short, Google is known for not paying for the content that supports its free search engine which drives its business model (advertising, i.e. using your data and traffic history to support an advertising business model).

On the other hand, whilst it is true that Facebook also sells our data to advertisers, it does not scrape (index) content on other websites into its platform. The reason news publishers and Government willingly post information on Facebook is due to the size of its Australian information sharing audience. News publishers and governments willingly add links on Facebook in the hope that its users will follow the links to their respective websites.

I can’t help but conclude that Murdoch – as an inherent monopolist – is jealous that it wasn’t he who cornered the social media market. Which, come to think of it, is somewhat oxymoronic given that if Murdoch owned Facebook, the social ingredient would no longer exist.

That most significant aspect revealed in the law that the Morrison Government proposes is that the government – and indeed the political class and mainstream news media journalist alike – are fundamentally averse to open public debate. Glass-jawed egotists populating Government and news media outlets are typically hostile to their work being viewed through a critical lens. Facebook providing a platform for critical thinking Australians to engage in open political debate is anathema to them. Indeed, critical thinking is the nuts and bolts of grass roots ‘journalism’. But more on that in a bit.

This law like most that the Australian government is proposing to introduce next week is inept and full of holes. It is extraordinarily vague in its application and understanding. Equally inept was Facebook shutting down some Government and non-Government pages. And despite the fact that the majority of these pages were quickly reinstated, the failure of media organisations to report the news accurately without cherry-picking to support their bias is proven by the fact that we are not getting that information from them now, are we?

Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that PR-wise the people running Facebook in Australia were stupidly ham-fisted. Fancy giving the Government a big stick talking point to divert public attention from the real travesty going on with the legislation being proposed.

With respect to the nature of this page, let us ‘connect the dots’ behind the motivation behind this proposed law. The Murdoch press hides the majority of its content behind a paywall; wanting its users to pay for the content they publish. Whilst that is a business model Murdoch’s NewsCorp and other publishers have the right to pursue. It is ironic that they complain the loudest by using a ‘free’ platform like Facebook which allows them to drive significant traffic to these paywalls by people sharing news articles.

Facebook claims the company generated approximately 5.1 billion free referrals to Australian publishers worth an estimate of AU$407 million and News makes up less than 4% of the content people see in their news feeds.

The Government wants Facebook to pay for any links shared to news articles. The same links that go to a paywall wants you to pay for reading said content. This approach flies in the face of the democratic integrity that people sharing information on the Internet was originally designed to facilitate. Furthermore, aided and abetted by a sycophantic Labor Opposition, the Morrison Government is setting up a double-dipping system in which paywalled news outlets like Murdoch’s NewsCorp will benefit twofold.

Now that Google has created a ‘news showcase’ product that will pay millions of dollars to news publishers, as it should if it’s using content for its benefit, the public can only hope that rather than the clickbait headline shit put out by Murdoch et al, the money paid to news publishers by Google will not be sucked up by the major shareholders, but instead will go towards quality investigative journalism that is sorely lacking in the modern Western world’s mainstream commercial media outlets. We must never forget that as a search engine Google is inextricably intertwined with the content it indexes.

Back to the support of grass roots journalism.

I ask you, are Australia’s high quality independent news media publishers, freelance journalists and even pages like ours going to receive any financial compensation for publishing, discussing, critiquing and critically analysing news stories? I think not.

It will only be the big players who get compensated in this ‘law’. Ipso facto this is not a law proposed to support public interest journalism at all. But rather, it is crafted to support Mr Murdoch’s media empire.

Are academics going to be compensated for the valuable information they provide for free through articles shared oh Facebook? Information which is of a far higher standard than the powerful media monopolies which use their position to push their owner’s political agendas.

One could also propose that this action plays very nicely into the hands of the Government who would rather tear down and disperse the audience from the new ‘public square’ of debate. How fortuitous it is that Government policies and actions will not be as easily discussed or shared across the 40% of Australians who use Facebook for their news. How easily would we learn of the mishandling of Dutton’s grant applications or pork barrelling sports grants leading up to an election? This list of this Government’s crimes and misdemeanours goes on and on. Controlling social media is an early sign of Fascism. The public’s ability to share and disseminate information so widely via the Internet has concerned Governments for many years now. Authoritarian governments ban the platform completely in their countries so the public cannot voice their dissent.

So whilst the Government protests Facebook removing the information posted by this country’s news outlets on the platforms pages, I would argue it’s a smokescreen as this law plays just nicely into keeping the public silenced in respect to the dissemination of news and current affairs that has for far to long been under NewsCorp’s control.

The blessing and curse of the Internet is the huge amount of information available to us, both good and often very bad. It is a reflection of our society.

 

 

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Some Context for “Australia Day” – How to really fix the division

By Callen Sorensen Karklis

I’m sure a great deal of the readers here are familiar with the Change the Date campaign, the rallies that our First Nations people organize in our city centres on what many Aussies celebrate as Australia Day.

As somebody who is also a First Nations person I always get asked; “Oh what’s the big deal about today?” Well I think I might put a heap of things into context here and explain why our First Nations people do what they do and are so passionate. Here are some context from my own family’s perspective for many of us: its either seen as Survival Day or Invasion Day.

Although I’m a descendant of Irish, Scots, English, Germans, Scandinavians and Latvian on other sides of the family tree, my grandmother Alice Muriel Karklis (originally Alice Muriel Martin) was a strong Quandamooka woman with some Spanish ancestry mixed in with some indications of a Spanish shipwreck in the 17th century.

My family is from North Stradbroke Island (known to others as Minjerribah or Straddie). It’s home to my ancestors; the Quandamooka people, the Nunukul, Goenpul, and Ngugi peoples who lived primarily on both Moreton and North Stradbroke Islands where they lived for tens of thousands of years.

My ancestors fished the sea life as well as cultivating the land (and honey). They had respect for the land, the lakes and the sand dunes of the island. As we all know, once the British explorers sailed through in the late 1770s and the landing of Matthew Flinders in 1803 it wasn’t long before further European contact. In the 1820s the locals helped shipwreck survivors and interactions were quite reasonable. This changed, however, with the expansion of the British Empire into what would become known as Queensland.

The British established the pilot station in 1825 at Amity and the township of Dunwich was established in 1827. The expansion of the British into local territory inevitably led to conflict culminating a new front of the Australian Frontier Wars with the Battle of Narawai (1827 – 1832) and the massacres at Moreton island (1831 – 1832), where in one case 30 – 40 were wounded or killed. A quarantine station was set up in 1850 where over time European disease caused pandemics in the local community, particularly among the First Nations peoples.

As Dunwich became a shipping stop for most colonials, explorers, and convicts around Australia for what would later become Brisbane and Redcliffe, the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum was established in 1865 to assist the poor, aged, and people with disabilities. It was around this time that Stradbroke Island’s First Nations peoples were employed – or more accurately drilled into – assisting the colonist develop and maintain infrastructure with convicts. This coincided with the establishment of the leper colony on Peel in the 1870s and later Straddie in 1892. It was the Qld Colonial Government that later legislated the Aboriginal Protection and restriction of the sale of Opium Act moving First Nations peoples to reservations. The Myora Mission was set up by the Qld Aboriginal Protection Association and Qld government as a reserve and industrial reform school and used as a means for cheap labour. All this coincided with the introduction of the White Australia policy as Australia federated, and the attitudes of the time with European superiority complex with the spread of Christianity to locals, and paternalism mixed in with the introduction of the shared European customs, foods, and drinks such as alcohol, medicine, and drugs.

Without a doubt the original locals and First Nations peoples for much of the time in the colonial era were treated as second-class citizens, though many First Nations people heeded the call to join the Europeans in fighting World War One. To add insult to injury for many First Nations people – as a means to call for patriotic duty in response to the war overseas, soldiers who were trying to by all good intent trying to raise funds for wounded relief – chose to mark the anniversary of British settlement at Botany Bay. This gained considerable traction by the 1930s as a means of celebrating Australia for most. But for our First Nations people in a White Australia nation many felt like outsiders. In context, before white man there was 250 first nations people languages in use, 120 – 145 of these remain in use and only 13 remain not endangered.

The fight for workers’ rights and Alfred Martin

It was not long until the 1910s and 20s that the labour movement spread in activism and the Australian Workers Union members staffed at the Benevolent Asylum, including many of the Indigenous staff. Many of the First Nations staff over time began to realize how badly underpaid they were with many relying on low income and rations supplied by their employer.

The AWU attempted to mediate the situation with limited success leading many of the Aboriginal staff to set up the ‘Aboriginal gang’; a bloc committed to their industrial rights. The Aboriginal gang went it alone from the AWU in 1934 to wage a 10-year campaign for basic income, joining the Aboriginal Progressive Association. It was because of men like Alfred Martin, my great great grandfather who signed petitions and strikes in the gang and won their case in 1944 to receive basic wages, 20 years before the Wave Hill walk off by the Gurindji people in the mid 1960s, making Straddie one of the first national Indigenous wage dispute cases.

The Aboriginal Progressive Association was tied with the Australian Aborigines League staging a day of mourning on Australia Day, demanding equal rights and expressing concern for Jewish people in Nazi Germany. Alfred Martin would later be remembered as chief engineer on the Kaboora steamer in Moreton Bay assisting shipwreck survivors and transporting the sick and expectant mothers. Alfred Martin is remembered by many due to Alfred Martin Way on North Stradbroke island a direct access point to Main Beach from Dunwich.

Alfred Martin signed, with several other union members whose descendants later became civil rights leaders, activists, and First Nations people politicians in the wages dispute.

 

 

The fight for equal rights and Oodgeroo

Years later the White Australia policy was still felt despite attempts by some to fight injustices. A distant relative who many internationally and throughout Australia know as Oodgeroo Noonucle ie. Kath Walker Ruska, fought for our civil rights during the right to vote campaign of 1967 for Indigenous people where she famously explained to then Prime Minister Robert Menzies that he could be jailed for giving her booze in Qld. Oodgeroo was the FCAATSI Secretary for Qld, was a communist when most parties would not allow Indigenous membership. Oodgeroo later ran for the Labor Party in Greenslopes in 1969, winning over 37.4% of the vote, and later for the Democrats in 1983, winning 6.4% of the vote. Oodgeroo was instrumental in the stop the Straddie bridge campaigns of the 1960s – 1980s. If it wasn’t for Oodgeroo the fight for national Indigenous civil rights would have been tougher, that’s for sure.

Progress and small gains

There have been some gains and progress after civil rights and union campaigns since the 20th century after MABO and the Redfern address since Paul Keating. Who could forget the compassionate apology by former Prime Minister Hon. Kevin Rudd to the Stolen Generation to our First Nations peoples? And the election of Quandamooka woman Leanne Enoch, who became the 2nd elected Indigenous person after Eric Deeral in the Country Party. Leanne became the first Qld Indigenous minister in history, representing Algester in Logan City. She held a number of portfolios from Environment, Science, Housing, Public Works, Communities, Arts, and the Digital Economy.

 

Crime, poverty, and the gap

Unfortunately, even in 2021 these are the facts First Nations people are still faced with despite the advances and progress: First Nations people only make up 3% of the Aussie population (that’s 670,000 out of 25 million people). In life expectancy First Nations people die at an earlier age by 10.6 years for males (69 years for Indigenous compared to 80 years), 9.5 years for females (74 compared to 83 years). First Nations people are more likely to be unemployed then non-Indigenous, 15% higher likely to be imprisoned, less likely to hold higher qualifications with higher dependence on drug and alcohol in communities. Case in point in 2012 several young Indigenous men from our community were found to be involved in a robbery and arson attack on the local post office in Dunwich.

In my family alone there has been instances where crime and mental health issues are more likely than it is for non-Indigenous people. Particularly with drugs, and alcohol problems case and point my grandmother Alice Karklis (born as Martin) was a very loving, caring grandmother married to my Latvian grandfather Gunars Karklis who worked in the sand mines on Straddie. Alice was prone to heavy drinking like most and in my Nan’s case she had to stop drinking when she developed diabetes and partial blindness. She sadly passed in her early 60s after a brain aneurysm. Then there’s my father Brett Karklis; he went to Nudgee College in Brisbane’s North and ended up working in the sand mines like most his side of the family and a product of the surfing life. My father, like most young adults, made mistakes and his was smoking pot and smashing up a phone box after a bad day. Now like most these days these are minor issues and crimes but back in the 1980s under the Joh era reigning supreme dad was handed 6 months at Boggo Rd prison. It’s safe to say this experience really screwed my father up and he did his best to make amends after this experience with his art, fighting for rights as an activist and Indigenous rights, working as a social worker for reformed kids in latter years, and as a groundskeeper. But the emotional baggage and strain on dad pushed him away from my mother and he walked on our family (my younger brother and I) for years while he was struggling with issues. It didn’t help that other Indigenous fellas bashed him up later on in a robbery causing harm to his brain leaving him dependent on cannabis use to deal with his ordeals. Now there’s heaps of stories like this in Indigenous communities all around and then some. Stories of pain, sorrow, and loss. But what’s important to note is that there is clearly a lot more we need to do as a community and society to bridge divide. We are a people literally disposed by heartbreak from bad government policy that has carried through into each of our generations.

 

 

Changing the date of Australia Day – which marks centuries of pain and sorrow – is one such way forward. Sure, for many Indigenous people the date is marked as an insult – not a day to be celebrated. Let that sink in. How would you feel if the Axis Powers celebrated a victory lap every year if they won the Second World War? The date is one thing symbolically. But more importantly, to date there is no treaty unlike in NZ where a treaty was signed with Maori peoples after European conflict and colonization. Australia has seen countless massacres, dispossession, divide in policies like the White Australia policy and then some over the years. To build a consensus and unity one way forward would be a treaty between our First Nations leaders and communities and the wider Australian public. This will help the healing process considerably. Another means would be to close the gap and continue funding programs to ensure better improved literacy rates, health standards, and less crime in Indigenous communities so that there is no divide in future. It’s very important also in this process that First Nations people’s elders are incorporated in the process of mentoring and teaching their culture, included in programs to close the gap, particularly. As Martin Luther King once said on the steps of the reflecting pool in Washington DC. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self – evident, that all men are created equal”. Maybe then with all these things getting a look into by most Aussies would First Nations people be able to accept a date to find common ground.

Callen (Cal) Sorensen Karklis was the national divisional coordinator of the AUWU in 2020 – 2021, Qld State Coordinator and Secretary during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has previously worked in several other unions and in media advertising. He was the Qld Fabians Secretary in 2018, involved in Crime Stoppers, and was a candidate in the local council elections in Redlands in 2020. Callen is a final year student at Griffith Uni studying Government and International Relations.

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January 26, 1788: The day the white men came and plundered

Whatever your opinion of the day, it is impossible not to stop and consider it. By considering I mean how does one give it the meaning it so richly deserves.

Of course, our First Nations People would like it moved to another day because they see the day as an invasion of the country they have occupied continuously for thousands of years.

Although now almost 80 years of age, I have to confess I have only ever shaken one Aboriginal’s hand in my lifetime. It was that of Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls (of the Yorta Yorta nation) who played VFL football with Fitzroy many years ago. I might have been 16 years of age at the time.

Other dark-skinned faces have just walked by with a look of resignation as I have acknowledged them in the street. Am I ashamed of not making a more significant effort? Yes, I am.

However, I’m not removed from having a view simply because of a lack of connection. No, indeed l am not.

More importantly, social justice or injustice raises my blood pressure above normal. I find racism amongst the worst of all evils. This year as we approach day 26, we are reminded by both sides of the argument just what the day means to all Australians, but at the same time, we are also asked by our First Nations People to consider whether it is the right day.

For me, it is a bad day, and I should think that commemorating the day you have your country taken from you is hardly the day the nation which is now a multitude of ethnic origins is hardly a day to celebrate it. I hope most reasoned people would agree, but that is not the case. It gets a bit unsavoury for me when my fellow citizens treat the day so flippantly and dismiss out of hand our First Nations People’s involvement in it.

On the one hand, many of my fellow Australians see it as a chance to celebrate the country’s lifestyle, culture and achievements, typically through barbeques and public events, yet always through the prism of the white fella’s eyes. However, the date is not a happy one for Australia’s Indigenous people.

January 26 is also a significant date on the cricketing calendar, and this year Cricket Australia (CA) – much to the ire of Prime Minister Scott Morrison – recognisees the pain it brings to Indigenous Australians

“After consulting with Indigenous leaders, CA is choosing not to market games as ‘Australia Day’ clashes, instead referring to them as ‘January 26’ matches because it wants be inclusive of all people Down Under, including First Nations people who view the date as a dark day in the nation’s history.

However, Mr Morrison was completely against the decision, telling Queensland’s 4RO radio: ‘A bit more focus on cricket, a little less focus on politics would be my message to Cricket Australia’.”

When he became Prime Minister, Scott Morrison repeated the lie of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that a voice for our First Nations People would create a third chamber in the Parliament. An Australian parliamentarian has never uttered a more significant load of crap.

The last paragraph of the above article …

“Morrison did not nominate where the idea for a new Indigenous day came from but said it’s a ‘good discussion to have’. After a request from Guardian Australia, the prime minister’s office was not able to nominate any process of consultation to consider the idea.”

… is yet another example of the Prime Minister not wanting us to have an opinion but more importantly, not wanting Indigenous folk to view themselves in a situation of modernity. He doesn’t want them and us to focus on politics in case we might see his philosophy differently than he does.

In my lifetime, Indigenous Australians have taken considerable strides in sport, education, the arts, and health.

Of the last eight Indigenous Australians of the year, four have been sportspeople. (Lionel Rose, 1968; Yvonne Goolagong, 1971; Cathy Freeman, 1998; and Adam Goodes, 2014).

Each was a fine choice, but at the same time, when it happens, it can be controversial. Success by individuals doesn’t always reflect itself at a community level.

Australian Rules football, rugby, and many other sports are dotted with champions’ names.

More Aboriginals are now entering politics, becoming doctors and academics.

In the arts, we have The Bangarra Dance Company, now a worldwide success. Painters Albert Namatjira and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and many others adorn galleries’ walls throughout the world. More Aboriginals are now attending university than at any time in history.

The following quote is taken from a Covenant statement of the Uniting Church 1994:

“We lament that our people took your land from you as if it were land belonging to nobody, and often responded with great violence to the resistance of your people; our people took from you your means of livelihood, and desecrated many sacred places. Our justice system discriminated against you, and the high incarceration rate of your people and the number of Black deaths in custody show that the denial of justice continues today.”

What is needed is a date in which we can celebrate an Australia Day in which with the use of truth-telling we can create a narrative that satisfies the history of our First Australians and at the same time defines who we are in the world we inhabit.

Do the majority of Australians have an opinion on when Australia Day should be celebrated? Apparently not:

“A poll commissioned by progressive think tank Australia Institute found 56% didn’t care when the national day was held, while a separate poll from conservative group the Institute of Public Affairs resulted in 70% support for keeping Australia Day on January 26.”

Do you remember the Uluru Statement from the Heart?

“The Uluru Statement from the Heart was released on May 26 2017 by delegates to the First Nations National Constitutional Convention, held over four days near Uluru in Central Australia.”

The Government’s rejection of the statement that the public greeted with some enthusiasm was, in my view, indefensible. It was an act of “political bastardry” that told our First Nations People that they were wasting their time.

“This act of political bastardry cannot be left unanswered and must be answered with no less than the full outrage it deserves.”

Before any Government can find an Australia Day worthy of celebration it must include all the nations now settled on our shores.

However, it will always be considered unworthy unless our First Nations People have their words flown on eagles’ wings, at the forefront of all the Indigenous nations now gathered.

In recent times our conservative governments have rejected all Indigenous folks’ efforts to advance their people and their voices.

They always seem to stop short when the word “equal” appears before them.

Then words like “know your place” show their white on black and it is like a barrier that can never be overcome. Sadly, racism is alive and well in 2021 as it was in 1788.

Until the conservatives in the government can comprehend the words equality, reconcile and unify, we will never celebrate a real Australia Day.

In closing, here’s a quiz: Who said this?

“We could all make a list of the things that should be better: trust in politicians, economic competitiveness, standards in schools, safety on our streets (especially in Melbourne), congested roads and inefficient public transport, and – yes – the well-being of the First Australians, but is anything to be gained by this annual cycle of agonizing over the date of our national day?”

My thought for the day

Never allow racism to disguise itself in the cloak of nationalism.

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The Philosophy of STOP!

We’ve all had those times in our travels through life, when we’re on a roll and there seems to be no stopping us … perhaps it’s a winning streak at punting on the horses … I heard of one chap went years on such a winning streak … till it suddenly crashed and he just couldn’t believe it would end, so he kept going and going, losing and losing till he was back where he started …

Perhaps it is something more simple, where as a young high-flying, good looking, partying person, you have the option of dating more than one or even two people at once … and you start to believe you’re almost movie-star material … until a chance meeting between one or the other persons in your dating life and then …

Yes, you get the drift … we’ve all been there one way or another … but the curious thing is not being able to read the signs that it is all getting way out of control and the best solution would be to pause right there in your actions and … STOP! … STOP right here, right now … don’t go a step further, gather those thoughts together, sit down and work it through to where the current line of action will take you.

When we look at the actions or policies of, particularly, conservative governments in Australia, we see a momentum of hubris that builds from the first days of coming to office, where there is a surge of enthusiasm to purge uncontrollably those policies of the Labor govt’ to the point of breaking every election promise, every reassurance of trust and integrity, until they move on to the inevitable blunders and corruption … a seemingly endless caravanserai of plunder and rapine of social and economic essentials.

With the business community also, riding on the coat-tails of such a govt’, CEOs mindlessly granting multi-million dollar bonuses to themselves and their favourites until the companies they lead and rely upon for their living standard begin to totter and collapse under such insatiable greed … ”When first the tottering house begins to sink, thither goes all the weight by an instinct” … Even private citizens, investing their retirement superannuation in property to rent or speculate on or negative gear in the search for ever more wealth … and of course, those famous “Franking Credits” cabal of parasites again investing their retirement monies in stocks and shares know no limit to their slavish hunger for more and more! … until suddenly they discover their financial adviser or bank has been leading them down the garden path and they smack themselves on the forehead for not seeing the obvious … they should have done a STOP! … and considered their options … but too late.

No … we have to incorporate the philosophy of STOP! Into our culture, into our creed and into our deepest psyche to pull us up BEFORE stepping into the abyss. But how do we know just when the fall is coming so to be warned?

I’ll tell you …

It’s that moment when you are about to commit to action a deed or statement and you are in such a euphoric / confident state of mind that you think; “No-one will notice” … or “This won’t affect anything or anyone” … or; “This’ll be funny” and you blurt something out and it all goes to shit in an uncontrollable way in an instant. I call such moments “ Self incontrovertible blunder” … a thing coming from your own “left-field” and yourself watching / listening to yourself saying / doing a thing whilst simultaneously thinking; “what the hell am I doing?!” … there is that split-second moment in the hiatus between the actual action and the framing of what you are going to do where your logic/reasoning capability says … or OUGHT TO SAY … STOP! … just fucking STOP! … don’t be so stupid! … and after all, stopping demands no effort, indeed, it could be described as “inaction”.

We’ve done this as well … and congratulated ourselves later in dodging a bullet for the deed. We have to be able to recognise that split-second moment and be able to mentally put on the brakes to STOP! I would suggest practicing by creating mock scenarios and recognising the moment when STOP is needed. There are also opportunities on social media platforms like Twitter etc. where you can bait a conversation to a point where it is getting out of hand and then execute a STOP moment by pulling up and giving ground to the person/s you were baiting … such an exercise is easy to set up and to wind down so that you do not come under suspicion of trolling and perhaps your sudden admission of compliancy would be seen as altruistic and you get complimented for a conciliatory action … but such an exercise would be more recommended for the experienced “player” … and I’ll take my own advice here and STOP! Before I go too far ..

The recent shenanigans in America is a perfect example where the Philosophy of STOP! Ought to have been enacted … perhaps as far back as 2016 when Trump could not help himself as he played to his own ego and plunged into the vortex of national destruction. Here in Oz, we can now witness a similar scenario in regards to a leader who has neither ability to fore-see, nor capability to fore-bear catastrophe or corruption and as far as one can see, no time soon will his mental faculty nor his political advisors put a brake on the runaway controversy of reckless governance and say STOP! … just bloody well STOP! … and let the nation and it’s battle-weary citizens take a breather and stop the forever grinding machine.

Yes, there is need in an age of increasing “just in time” economics for this new philosophy … never before have we had need to STOP! And reconsider our work opportunities, our social positions and our relationships in a time of epidemic and lockdown.

We must embrace this Philosophy of STOP!

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Scomo, I thought you said they’d be back by Christmas!

By Janet Grogan

I’m wearing this shirt on behalf of my son and the other 37,000 Australians currently stranded overseas.

While tennis players from around the world are being welcomed to our shores, taking up quarantine rooms in hotels, seemingly circumnavigating the waiting lists and restricted flights, our citizens are left wondering when their nightmares will end.

Many, like my son, have been unable to work while overseas. They have had to use all of their savings, superannuation and rely on the help of family and friends. Many will be in debt for years to come.

There has been little help from Federal or State MPs. They seem to see these people as numbers. The few that have recognised the problem are both surprised and shocked when they realise that our Federal Government has nothing to offer these Australians stranded abroad.

The much lauded Repatriation Flights do not apply to many of them, as my son and his friends can attest to while stuck in Canada. They roll their eyes when yet another generic email arrives advertising flights from Los Angeles. This is not much use when you are in Vancouver.

Even when you think you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, this can so quickly be eclipsed. My son has just learnt that his connecting flight through Tokyo (due to arrive 4TH February) has been cancelled, and may not reopen until April. I wonder what the Prime Minister would do if it was his flight, or his family’s?

When you said they’d be back by Christmas, Mr Morrison, which year did you mean?

 

 

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A considered reflection

‘Reflection’ is a marvellous word. It means to contemplate or give serious consideration to something.

That’s the reason I’m not talking about politics specifically in this piece. You see, I have been reflecting, considering as to why I do this, what’s the purpose of it.

Am I faithful to my political philosophy? The reassurance of what shaped it? That I am loyal to it? Sometimes in the daily grind of it, one is apt to forget the reason, the point, the why of what you do.

Why do I persist when confronted with the abuse the feral nutters (licenced by social media) dish out? The nonsense they spew forth in the absence of considered thought. I persist because I am firm in the belief that our present government is corrupt.

Is it all worthwhile? Other writers at The AIMN, I feel would attest to the time it takes to pull an article together. The challenges of being factual, of lifting one’s mind above the emotion of it all and at other times letting it have its way. At times it can be agonising. And of course, the endless challenge of getting a sentence to say what you want it to.

Many questions arise for the author. Am I objective or just biased? Is what I have written accurate and fair even when all you want is to throw shit because you are offended? Does it conform to The AIM and the editor’s standards?

So, to pause now and then to question oneself is a good thing. I started writing for The AIMN and on Facebook in 2013 and have enjoyed, by my standards at least, some success. I don’t profess any ownership of self-righteousness.

What I know is only surpassed by what I don’t. I am certainly of the left but believe that in a democracy we should never be foolish enough to feel our opponents should never win.

Central to my life experience is that the left of politics is concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right is more concerned with those who can.

But central to the purpose of my lingering reflection is also to think about those who take the time – or to put it another way – to make us worthy of their time by reading whatever it is our minds dictate to our keyboards.

A homeless man in Sydney messaged me to remind me of “how important it was for me to post my work in text form” on Facebook because it’s the only way he could get it on his phone and he looked forward to it every day.

Another lady wrote of how much she enjoyed my daily thoughts. Others do so, and they are the reassurance one craves to go the distance. I have given the reader those who value my words the truth of what l write.

I hope they go some way toward explaining even convincing the reader that there are better ways of doing politics.

 

 

My thought for the day

The pedlars of verbal violence and dishonesty are the most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate-mongers seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded.

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Are we there yet?

The greatest harm does not often come via gun, it comes under the guise of ‘protection’, ‘good intentions’ and ‘care’. In all our communities and societies, it always has.

Beyond personal dignity and national economic stabilisation, there was a reason for unfettered social security. It was the first and last recognition by the unbridled ‘State’ that every human life has an inherent value; is respected, is needed, is to be included and is worthy of protection and care, as a free, equal member of society.

The advent of this Human Right was in a fashion, a national and international demarcation line, a step away from feudalist notions of nations, and the social acceptance of ‘acceptable’ slavery and poverty that devalued ALL our lives.

The rise of the concept of Social Security in its pulsing root was itself a result of new awareness hard learned by centuries of war and bloodshed, abuses and the lived consequences of inaction and political corruption – a refutation of our acceptance of our own self-deceit.

Coming off the back of the Second World War, this emergence of the need for collective care and the obligation on individual responsibility to uphold it, was a symbol of our growth as a species, not just as a nation. A new value of human life had been learned through and by the survivors of atrocity and their allies. Acting upon that wisdom, somewhere at some point a line was drawn in the sand between the modern and past, old and new, the acceptable, and what was no longer to be acceptable.

Over time that line became a freedom from those centuries of abuses that were always and inevitably compounded by the structures that supported them and the institutions that legitimised them. It was not a forgiveness for the past, just an opportunity to step away from it, or if you like, to step away from our sins to create new pathways.

The generations that did had earned the freedom to do that. Freedom from and freedom to.

With this new awareness and capacity, we all became able, and were enabled to turn and begin to move towards something more, something better, where prior to this time we were immersed and could not do that for the guilt or the grief.

WE ALL lose that demarcation line this week if the Continuation Bill 2020 passes. ALL of us… but not just us. As a once example to the world full of struggling hoping nations and peoples, the impact of what happens here and now to us, is far wider than most could comprehend.

In this steady march of the blind we have going on in our nation right now, our national social and political regression that has been underway since 2013, will be cemented in law as fact if the bill makes it through Senate. History will have come full circle and everyone aware of that fact right now is still and holding their breath.

Speaking of the patterns of power in totalitarianism, we know already, that in the early 1930s, under the T4 pogrom, Hitler did not give orders for his subordinates to go out and murder innocent disabled, different, sick mentally ill or elderly people – he just stopped enforcing the laws that made doing so a crime and took off the restraints of those he had empowered, non-believers and believers in his message alike.

He had already long reassured most people who might be disturbed through propaganda and threats, that ending the lives of society burdens was the right and good thing to do, ‘in the national interest’… though the surprising thing was that most were not disturbed by it. For the majority, collaboration in T4 was entirely consensual.

With his propaganda army and his well-founded economic rationale for the removal from society of this ‘unworthy class’ and using stereotypes vilification and repetition, he gained the support of an ignorant society willing to dehumanise ‘the other’ and on completion of that dehumanisation, some 300,000 people, all German citizens, had been murdered long before the religious ever saw an oven.

Please do not tell us residing in this ’bottom tier’ not to be afraid.

The removal of this ‘bottom tier’ of vulnerable but already second-class citizens, and the methods utilised in that process were eventually refined to their apex during the Holocaust, and that knowledge is made harder to bear when you consider that in the end, these people considered ‘unworthy of life’, over half of them children, were enthusiastically offered up to the state, even by their own family members. T4, in its own right, was the first wave of a tsunami of holocaust.

When you understand history and FULLY comprehend this bill and what has been done through it, like how it has now become ‘acceptable’ to deny and withhold legal rights and protections for the vulnerable; and when you comprehend the process of how they bought that into being, how they expanded it, all the tactics and tools, you start to recognise the repeating the patterns of the not so distant past – like a government once again refusing to enforce the laws they ought to that are meant protect vulnerable groups of powerless people from abuse, by predators, including neonate totalitarian governments.

These patterns that I suppose only a person who has lived through atrocity can see, are a vanguard. Mile markers that warn and say, ‘this is how it started.’

When you consider the lengths being taken by the Morrison government now, their eagerness and rush to actively segregate and marginalise the poor, the different, disabled, sick and elderly, quickly before everyone notices what they are really doing, alarm bells start to sound. Whenever a day in media for seven years nonstop all you hear is ministers out there proselytizing the message that poor people are ‘bad’ and expenditure for the poor is so ‘burdensome’, you finally start to see the ‘bigger picture’, that really is not so big.

If you do not run away from the view your view of where we really ‘are’ as a society changes and the precipice we are all standing on together becomes immediately and acutely visible. Still being remotely human and free to think, your breath should evaporate with the recognition that we are indeed, that close to the edge.

I’m sitting here right now and have been for a while, looking at the all amazing if not minor revolutions, the evolutions and uprisings we are having here and around the world, and I am seeing the good and solid strengths still within our communities despite the confusion. I can see how brilliant and how monstrous we all are, typically human.

Yet behind my glasses I am also weighing up the probabilities, doing the math and wondering in my heart if our ‘progress’ will be enough? Will we be able, where those people back then were not, to defeat our own collective denial that we are so close to that edge? They did not see it when they were in ‘it’ either way back when… and we are no less human than they are so this is not said as a judgment.

I am genuinely wondering, ‘can we do this’? Can we overcome – ourselves?

The words Social and Security were carefully chosen by wiser people than sit in office today. They understood what today’s cheats and liars do not – that social stability is dependent on how those at the bottom of the ladder are treated – that individual liberty, like it or not, is dependent on the liberty of the ‘other’- even those we may despise.

We who have, have tried honestly to avert the disasters that our national social and political devolution away from these principles has created – both the present ones, and the one that is coming should this bill pass.

We have tried to make blind people see, to garner help and support in that fight and to avoid the breakdown of our society for ALL Australians, the financially poor and the rich.

WE know, if this bill passes, that the reassuring warm blanket of stability Australians are gripping tightly, a stability that is already under so much stress and duress, will begin at pace to end and soon enough, every eye WILL see the price of ignorance and our widespread lack of vigilance, like it or not.

It appears there is a risk we may lose the bill fight, and if so, please know the effort was not for nothing. What will be, will. And if we do lose, we know it is a collective loss, and it was not our fault, and we will have been sold out and sold off, again, by those who have no education or wisdom to speak of, most of whom have not even read the legislation they are voting on, individuals, who have no idea what they are doing, who had by status, every responsibility to know.

If by any chance we do not lose… good stuff… though even that victory will be soured now; the losses of forced Indue card holders these last 5 years will never be compensated, people will still BE broken by this policy’s impacts and in need of support and healing, most will be impacted permanently, just as it is for those who have survived BasicsCards for the last 13 years. So, it will be a broken hallelujah if it comes and in reality, a purchase of nothing more than time given who and what is in power here right now.

What has been broken throughout this process though, cannot be fixed now, a new system must be built. Not just root and branch, soil, and air as well. It will be a mammoth task.

What has been revealed about us, all of us, and revealed to us – the knowledge of what this government is prepared to do to its own people, will not ever be forgotten. Fear will replace faith for too many and only time can show the true injury count of that.

This government’s willingness to use FORCE against their own population to roll out this completely unnecessary T4 replica agenda, has shown this policy and this government for exactly what it is and is not. Yet none of our so-called leadership seem to even begin to comprehend this much – yet.

It was not hard though, to read the writing on the wall to anyone who has learned from history. Yet just as it was back then, ‘the people’ and the so-called leaders, again, have by and large simply chosen to ignore there is even a wall at all. Sing louder people…sing louder.

We all know in our hearts where this all ends if the strength cannot be summoned and conscience realised now and, in enough force, to defeat this bill and the ideology empowering it. Different form, same outcome. History repeating. Wide and close field.

Even forgetting the deep past, we know without doubt, that at minimum, this bill is the NT Intervention take two – a repetition of a mistake we have only just made a short time ago, and yes, we ALL know that… yet here we are… about to make it again.

If this bill passes, ALL of us, all Aboriginal people, the working poor, the disabled, elderly, and all people on Centrelink payment of any kind, everywhere, AND their families AND absolutely anyone dependent on their spending for any reason, will be forever defined and collectively collared by this formal, legislated, state sanctioned segregation of innocent groups of people, from their rights and protections within our society.

From the point of the bills assent into law, there will not be a single household left impacted in due course. Not one.

Yet at least, we who have stood to say no now, are unwilling victims of this abuse of power, not its midwives. We did not give permission in silence, and that matters. And will matter even more in times to come. Collaborators will find little mercy in the end as they have shown none, and the laws and frameworks that govern the giving of mercy, like grace, are not in our hands.

People are writing to me today saying ” I’m sorry, I understand”, regarding the decision to close SN7. Let me say now, as politely as I can, that no, you do not understand, and that is not OK, as you SHOULD understand, and you most certainly will soon enough in any case if this bill gets through.

Right now, though, you do not, and I refuse to allow anyone that self-comforting escape into rationalisation, an evasion of your part and responsibility for what is happening here and now. And we are ALL, responsible.

Unless and until you walk in MY shoes, or in Kathryn’s shoes, or have trod the path of any one of us who have had to deal with this card or this fight in the absence of our daily personal lives 24/7/365 for five years without pause; and until you have turned to face the despair created in ignorance yourself, and are mature enough to empathetically, genuinely, set your own self aside to stand in the shoes of those suffering under this policy in order to recognise the harm and impacts being inflicted by this policy, then you can never understand what it has been like and what it is like for us today. You can never understand what this decision to depart the field has cost – us.

I can accept that without maliciousness, and now it is your turn to do likewise and embrace your ignorance and overcome it as we have all been forced to. There is no hiding place down here and no willingness to take on specious self-soothing.

While Kathryn who has given all, stands naked before the nation yet again, pleading for nothing more than rational thought and actual human compassion, 35 people now have emailed me within this last one week just to tell me they are going to end their lives if this bill passes.

That is about 13 less than the 2018 senate vote period, but this time, my entire capacity to cope with that knowledge has gone. Stripped raw. I have nothing left to offer them, no hope or words to give and suddenly and strangely to myself, no capacity to create any for them or with them. We should not be ‘here’. They know that too.

They at least, understand in their kindness and awareness, that it is not in our hands any longer and we cannot even shield ourselves much less others from the crush of a yes vote if that is what will happen.

All I have left is the knowledge that I DID fight. I stood when it mattered to stand.

That matters.

WE who have, HAVE fought for everyone without judgment.

That matters.

WE who have, HAVE tried OUR best to get those in positions of privilege and power informed.

That matters.

WE who have, HAVE fought for time, media, to share platforms to be prioritised, yet well informed others, including several being paid well to support us, have completely erased, and ignored us over issues that mean very little by comparison to what is being lost in this fight.

That matters.

WE who have, HAVE fought while every doctor, lawyer, human rights, and civil liberties activist in the nation has sat publicly silent and stayed invisible; have publicly said and did little or nothing while the very human rights laws they revere and find so economically alluring, were being used as weapons against us.

That matters.

WE who have, HAVE tried to pay our debt, to do as most First Nations groups have asked us to do and work with them to undermine the institutional structures of their oppression, slavery, and imprisonment. We have learned we are not responsible for those who would choose it.

That matters.

WE have fought, even for those who despise us and laughed at us.

That matters. WE have done everything WE could humanly do.

That matters. We have learned our limits.

That matters.

Australia has ALREADY segregated Centrelink recipients from society. That much is 100% clear to all of us who have fought this fight. Yet being in fact, still very much a part of society, we are the best informed to say that absolutely NO ONE will escape the impact of the decisions being made about us and policies being forced ON us this week if this new atrocity is allowed to come to pass.

Now, and if this bill passes, Australia will take that subsurface experience and will become an open and formal living breathing socioeconomic apartheid state by law, and inevitably, as a result of that alone, ALL of Australia will soon experience the impacts of CDC policy and the instability to come – if not this rollout, then the next and next and next.

If this bill passes, maybe the Australian people will indeed learn the hard way, why we stood at all; maybe to their loss, maybe not at all. All I know for certain, is even if ‘they’ win – they lose and I can no longer afford to stand to care about the outcome of other people’s choices to re-enslave themselves nor am I willing to sit silent and conform as all that was gained through courage and sacrifice, is tossed out of the parliament window by people smoking cigars worth more than my rent.

What remains is that I will not choose enslavement and I will no longer continue to piss into the wind either. If you want to fight, then stand up! Do it! Fight! Fight for your own life if not for others.

I refuse any longer, to do the work that paid executive staff and politicians SHOULD be doing for them, that we have done by necessity, unpaid and always under fire with no Kevlar. So now I am at a point where I needs must step back and say in my heart, that if it is going to pass let it pass.

If this government is intent on dragging us all down, then LET us fall together. If we are to fall as a society, then let society fall. Let it all go, and let it crumble fast, so something better can be built on its ashes, something hopefully wiser and better… more human.

I can longer mentally, spiritually physically, afford to say anything less.

All I have now and take with me, is the knowledge I TRIED, that I have done absolutely everything humanely possible to speak out and stand, and to keep standing for as long as I have. They cannot put that on an Indue card or steal it. That is in my heart.

I have learned at depth, that I am not accountable for the choices or ignorance’s of others. So, whatever I will do now, is up to me. Me, exercising MY. CHOICE, while I still can.

Silent self-serving Australia needs to go grow up, and I will not join them in a journey I have already undertaken or in ego, offer them what remains of my life to keep being mamma google and standing so they can sit idle. I am not some self-deceived martyr.

I know too well Australians will reap what they have sown one way or another, for GOOD and BAD…and while I very much hope for the good, I will not any longer, be conceited enough to interfere in that existential education and evolutionary process of avoiding the bad.

Right now, I refuse give this illegitimate government the attention it craves. So yes, I need to turn away and I hope only that those that have walked with us for so long will understand that I am walking and carrying a big stick… looking for the time and place to draw a new line in the sand.

So, if I cannot watch, cannot play their game anymore. Please forgive me. The hypocrisy is beyond my stomaching and I am not into gore.

As an example, just yesterday, this government were ‘debating’ to ‘protect’ social security recipients from pay day lenders, yet next up was a bill that will remove our basic human rights and economic freedoms. They have no eyes and do not see.

All that is left to ask is, who is going to protect us from them?

As it stands and after five years embedded, all I can say is, when it comes to social and civil society… absolutely no one. Oh, people will stand, and they will make a great flourish about it too, but it will not be for you.

If they truly want to be defended in the halls of power by people who respect them, it’s clear that disengaged Australians will need to re-learn that they are the body politic and that they must engage and educate themselves in order to stand up for and by themselves in order to ensure their own protection. And to do that, maybe it is true, that they first need to understand ‘why’ they need to do that. A lesson usually born through pain. If nothing else comes of our marathon SN7 journey, let it be that we do find our ‘why’, and with as little pain as possible, but just enough to grant the journey through it its own meaning.

Thank you to each and every individual and group who has stood up and stepped up and is actively standing beside me, and our teams. You matter. I will never forget YOU.

Signing off with gratitude and thanks. Let us win this thing or together find a new courage in our paths as friends.

Be well.

Amanda. Formerly known as SayNOSeven2

 

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Opportunity lost: Trump’s presidency

By Matthew Synnott

Could there be anyone caught surprised that Donald Trump would be the sore loser that he has shown himself to be? We hear about millennials and the entitled generation, well Trump takes the trait to Stratosphere levels that no millennial could challenge. While we are at it, his ego is up there as well. It matters not that commentators – many of whom were avid supporters have, now that he is on the cusp of being sacked from the office that he would regard as the most coveted, valued and precious – have now turned on him, no doubt disturbed, disappointed, disgusted even that this pathetic human has revealed he is possessed of most if not all of the worst traits of character it is possible to reside in just one individual.

I believe that his decision to run for the office of POTUS was not about “Making America Great Again,” but more about making Trump greater. It was going to be just another conquest, another notch on the bed head, more confirmation that he was not just a highly successful business man but a statesman as well. This would assure him a place in the history pages of the U.S. not just as a wealthy and successful self-made businessman – hell such people are as common as flies – but as the one who had achieved all the things he said he would and so much more than any of his predecessors. It matters not that the reality is very different, his self-belief is all that matters, commentators who have the temerity to disagree even question his claims and assertions are heretics, purveyors of “Fake News.”

I have struggled to find a redeeming quality I can attach to this man and I use the term advisedly, I am no closer to finding any, any man who is so bankrupt of human decency is unworthy of that title. It bears a responsibility to live a life beyond the selfish gene we all have and while it is necessary for survival, it should not become so dominant that it extinguishes our instinct to be the social creatures that we have evolved to be. I have no professional training/experience but my inclination as a lay observer is that the subject is a pathological liar combined with a paranoid psychopath, and throw in narcissist all at the extreme high end of the curve. He is such a loose cannon that he is a danger, not just his countrymen and women, but the world through his denial of climate change science. He seems so deluded that he believes his handling of the pandemic is world-class. Doing an Admiral Lord Nelson or he is in a parallel universe.

It concentrates the mind to think what might have happened during the Cold War years had Trump been POTUS then. He would have held the launch codes for the missile defence system. Those of us now in our senior years were familiar with the terms, “Arms Race, 100 Megaton Bombs/ICBMs, MAD.”

The one chance the subject had to redeem some grace and dignity, to accept that his chance to win a successive second term is lost. Condemned felons have accepted their fate with impending death with greater courage and dignity than he will ever know. Victory is a showcase of talent, defeat is a showcase of character (unknown author), no point explaining this to the subject, the only quote he gets is; “winners are grinners, losers always lose” and that is what will really hurt him. He can say what he likes, history will record that in 2020 he lost by a not inconsiderable margin and that he resorted to all the dirty tricks he could invent to manipulate the system by falsely asserting illegality and dishonesty in the postal service, the electoral service, the Democrat States, the legal system, even the party that gave him oxygen in the first place, the Republican Party, conspiracists all of them.

I predict this spoilt brat, when his only option is to take his bat and ball and wander home alone, that he will boycott the Inauguration ceremony next January. He will go to his grave proclaiming he won the election but it was stolen from him thus attending the ceremony would only legitimise the illegal acts that resulted in the injustice. And that will plague him forever. The President-elect and his Vice President-elect should not be troubled by any immature action by this aberration, it reflects not badly on them only on the ignominious ex-POTUS. The truth is that he was never going to be equal to the task he was assigned and trusted to do four years ago. His ego was such that he believed that only his ideas were worthy of being exercised, when confronted with advisers who held differing views, he found reasons to dismiss them. As the smartest person in the room, correction, the world, he didn`t need to consult experts.

 

 

The incoming administration has its job cut out restoring faith in the process and in the nation`s leader to repair the damage reaped by four years of inglorious damnable conduct.

The Republican Party also has some fence-building to do. The lights in the party room need to be burning late into many nights analysing the last four years; what worked, what didn’t and what needs to happen to ensure the Democrats only get one term (when Biden is likely to hand the baton on to his Vice President for 2024). Should their outgoing fellow decide he wants another tilt, do they support him or send him on gardening leave, or do they quietly hope that the agony of loss will fry his addled brain completely? Time will tell. Maybe he will retire to his golf courses, sorry, country clubs. Memo to anyone competing with the club owner; let him win, he doesn’t like losing … in case that fact eluded you.

 

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The role of psychology in recruiting

My career has brought me into contact with many people and many attitudes to life, so the thoughts expressed here are based on personal observation rather than in-depth expertise.

My own personal experience has also taught me that, in the wrong circumstances, I can be a horrible person! Most of the time I work very hard to try not to be! I do not always succeed!

It bought me to a realisation that we all have the potential to display a whole range of personas, depending on where we are, what is happening and who we are with, or influenced by.

As a first-time mother, I was thrown into a world I had never experienced, and with which I did not cope well. A crying child, who cannot be in any way comforted, has a disastrous effect on me!

My kids are tired of hearing me say that it is a miracle that they survived their childhood, because I do not like small children!

It is true – but they did survive and become good citizens – despite!

Yet, normally I can take problems in my stride and behave rationally! But small children delightful though they can be, take a long time to become rational beings – if they ever do!

In the 1970s, when metrication, across the board of of all types of measurement, was being introduced, I was asked to provide a short course to police cadets, to enable them to adjust their thinking to the new parameters for, for example, body measurements, or climate conditions, vehicle speeds etc, required for reporting purposes.

I worked on the basis of providing a few, easily remembered, benchmarks so that, for example, a male, 6 foot tall, weighing about 16 stone, became a male, 180 cm tall weighting about 100 kg. (Colloquially, we do use weight when we should use mass, so let that one pass!)

(Remember – a 12 inch = 1 foot ruler is 30 cm long. Weight is not quite so easy, but 2.2 lbs (pounds) = 1kg and 1 stone = 14 lbs.)

Similarly a daily temperature of 61 deg F, clearly a cool day, or 95 deg F – during a heatwave – became approximately 16 (transpose the digits) and exactly 35 deg C, (over 40 deg C is VERY hot) respectively. Of course freezing temperature is 0 deg C and 32 deg F, while boiling temperatures and 100 deg C and 212 deg F, respectively.

A car travelling at 50 mph was now moving at 80 kmph, a neat 5:8 ratio.

The group I worked with included a fairly wide age range, and was, I dimly recall, exclusively male.

As an aside – in teaching a bridging maths unit to mature age students, primarily female, I found an alarming proportion of women who thought they were no good at maths – because that was what they had been told by a male maths teacher

“Women can’t do maths!”

The fact of being a female with an honours maths degree has raised my status enormously in the “she’s only a woman” stakes!

So – back to my cadets!

They could be divided in roughly 3 groups.

There were the ones who had served in the defence forces, were used to obeying rules and commands, were comfortable with discipline, but wanted to be back in civvy street.

Then there were the younger ones, minds set on becoming whizz bang detectives, and willing to soak up knowledge.

And lastly there were the bullies.

The ones who wanted to strut around, gun on hip, and whip everyone into their idea of shape.

They would not be there to protect the law.

They would BE the law!

And, IMHO. they should not have been recruited on psychological grounds!

I had one student in this category who refused to accept the information I was giving. and argued black was white in order to not have to back down!

Underlying his aggressive attitude was clearly the fact that I was a woman, who would not cede ground to him, because my expertise was superior to his.

When, as a mature age student myself, and with several years of teaching behind me and 3 children of my own, I did my Grad Dip Ed, we did a fascinating unit on psychology, and I have since read several books by psychologists on how the brain develops, how it can repair itself to an amazing extent, even after severe damage – and, in particular, how lack of development of or damage to the part of the brain, which allows the development of empathy, can lead to psychopathic behaviour.

In today’s world, it seems, from observation, that many in control, whether in government, in services like the armed forces or the police – and particularly in security services outside the ADF – display the symptoms of psychopathy.

Certainly there are situations when preserving one’s life demands actions which would not be regarded as normal in other circumstances.

But I think serious thought has to be given to finding a suitable way of measuring psychological reactions to a whole variety of situations before giving anyone power over the lives of others.

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Small victories. Worth celebrating.

Most of you know me. The writer of JAGGED. But let’s forget all that. Let’s dive into politics.

I live on the Sunshine Coast in Qld – LNP and Independent heartland. I live in the seat of Nicklin which the ALP has never been able to gain.

Over all the years my GREEN vote has been totally wasted here on the Sunshine Coast, I vote GREEN and I preference the ALP. I rock up each election year in the tender hope that my progressive vote will have some value and will make a difference. For the first time, in this year of 2020, my progressive GREEN vote and the attached Preference helped the ALP to secure the seat of Nicklin. Perhaps I will be thanked for that by the ALP … but history tells me that probably I will not be.

But I don’t care about that. For all the evident faults and lack of courage of the ALP they are so much a better choice of Government than the LNP. In life, small victories are worth celebrating, my progressive vote helped the ALP to secure victory in this stranglehold LNP seat of Nicklin. So to my GREEN and ALP friends … let’s share a Champagne. It might be a small victory … but it is sure as hell worth celebrating!

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Momentum and global warming

Batillus – This supertanker was built for Shell Oil in 1976. The condition of the international oil market did not improve between 1977 and 1980 and the number of voyages undertaken by the Batillus was considerably reduced to just 4 trips round the year; which were further reduced to 1 or 2 trips by 1982.

Have you ever realised how far out from port a super-tanker or an ocean liner needs to start reducing speed, to ensure it can safely dock?

Check it out – the answer might surprise you.

But think about the last time you were approaching traffic lights in an empty lane, as the lights change to green.

Moving your foot from the brake to the accelerator, you sail through, ahead of the pack – because of the momentum you are carrying.

Students of physics know that momentum is calculated by multiplying velocity by mass, so the greater the mass of the vehicle or vessel, the greater its momentum – and the higher that is when it meets an obstacle, the greater the damage done.

“So what?” you might say.

Well in many ways, this is analogous to the situation we face with global warming.

Unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases have been building momentum and causing ever greater forces to spark fires, boost floods and create droughts, with increasing levels of damage resulting.

We need to apply the brakes to this process, yet the longer we delay, the harder it will be to dissipate that momentum.

AUSTRALIA’S CLIMATE HAS WARMED ON AVERAGE 1.44C SINCE RECORDS BEGAN IN 1910, LEADING TO AN INCREASE IN EXTREME HEAT EVENTS (STATE OF THE CLIMATE 2020 REPORT).

And we have barely touched the brakes, despite our awareness of the consequences of failing to do so!

A change of President in the USA, to one with a commitment to tackling climate change, and, believe it or not, a growing awareness in China that more needs to be done – and remember, the ruthlessness of the current leader in China can be turned to produce good results, just as forcefully as it is being used to less desirable effect – both give us a hope that all is not yet lost.

Whether it is stupidity, ideology or some other flaw that drives our current leader in Australia, we have got to force a change of policy, if our children’s children are not going to inherit an uninhabitable world.

Concentrating on ‘growing the economy’ is a total waste of time and effort if, in doing so, we totally destroy the quality of life of a majority of those who survive the increasingly hostile environment which our government’s efforts are creating.

The failure of the Coalition government to use the hiatus caused by COVID-19 to enable a whole new approach to planning for the future – instead they are refusing to accept that ‘normal’ is a memory of the past and the future is uncharted territory – has got to galvanise us to take over the reins and plan for a realistic future.

The very way they are proceeding to penalise those least able to help themselves – re-introducing the ‘mutual obligation’ approach for job seekers, and extending the introduction of the cashless debit card – shows their contempt for those who are unable to aspire to have all they want – let alone an abundance!

Greed is NOT good.

Caring for the welfare of others is NOT a weakness.

Being guided by a sincere moral compass is NOT related to religious beliefs, but to a desire for a cohesive society, where at least a majority strives to live in harmony, following a ‘do as you would be done by’ approach.

Recent events and disclosures make it very clear that those who boast of their religious affiliations are, too often, among those whose behaviour is truly selfish and antisocial.

Do we really want people like this in control of our lives – particularly when it seems their selfishness is destroying lives?

Now that borders are opening up and – with suitable social distancing, as the pandemic is merely in abeyance – activism is becoming an option, those who care, need to be out there making it clear that the current national government is out of step with what is needed.

Step up, shape up – or go!!

We CANNOT change the past but we CAN change the future!

This is the message we need to get out there!

Look to the future and avoid the mistakes of the past.

Change is inevitable.

Embrace it!

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On Empathy, Sympathy and our Pets

In these days of the news of so much brutality in many places in the world, of domestic violence, military massacres or social collapse in far away places or here in our own backyard, it may appear self-indulgent and facile to shed a tear or two for the loss of a domestic pet when we can but turn our gaze away from the hurt of humanity. An indulgence of sympathy some would say.

But there is the thing about a knowledge of love and affection. I believe we as humans are born with the innocence of love already in our self, while affection is a thing that can grow in our hearts … There is the interpretation that affection can be a stepping stone toward love … which is true, I’d say, but love is not a learned thing but a indelible emotion of the human spirit … to be capable of love is to be human.

The same with empathy and sympathy … With all those suffering peoples we see every day on the news, there is both empathy and sympathy … I would say that the combination of those emotions as between the separation of those emotions is the major difference between the Right and the Left persuasions of societies:

“To sum up the differences between the most commonly used meanings of these two terms: sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters, while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another.”

I recently finished a project I have been working on in fits and starts for many a year … the result gives little evidence of that time … and perhaps the quality of the finished product may be viewed as a wasted effort on my part! … But it had to be written … and some of you have read it to which I am very grateful … after all, it was directed to be read.

It is the story of the Italians interned in the 2nd World War to cut and burn mallee here near the Murray River … and the “play” … which I called a “reading opera” … ”A Ukulele Opera” describes a microcosm of their situation in those camps … The “opera” starts and finishes with a character named “Gemano” who is lamenting for his fiancé who he left behind in Italy when he came to Australia (with my father) to start a new life and then to go back and marry the lady and bring her to Oz to start a family … It was a true event … But the war broke out and he heard nothing of her … whether she be alive or, like so many millions more … dead … what were the odds? … Yet he held out with a belief and conviction that she lives … for five years! … five years of despair and internment … and then came the letter of joy …

In these days of “instant gratification”, how many can hold onto a desire or a commitment a person to love or hold affection with for more than a “clickbait” moment? … We seem to live in a time more of “want” than desire …

Which brings us to the love of our pets and the loss felt at their parting. With the death of a pet, in most cases we are there at the dying, we touch the body and witness the fading life and say a gentle goodbye with the stroke of the fur … or a gentle twist of the pet’s ear or some other favourite touch or word … I would think, in that moment of death, we are more in sympathy to that loss of mute, innocent love with the parting than with the empathy of the loved one. But once we are parted from that unconditional continuity of mutual company and aware of that loss of mutual confederacy between two close companions … I believe we then feel the sympathy of camaraderie so much that the weld of empathy to sympathy can become seamless, a stepping stone from affection to love is complete and that knowledge learned through the companionship of our love toward a pet takes over as instinctive behaviour into our adult relationships between fellow citizens, is what guides decent and civilized attitudes toward our fellow humans no matter what their circumstances. And it is fairly said that one can judge a person by their treatment of their pets or animals. It is a pity our leadership cannot seem to travel far enough down this route to become civilized barbarians!

It has to be fair to ask: Where would we be without our precious pets?

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