AUSTRALIA


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Changi war remembrance asks how we keep peace today

27 April 2017 | Francine Crimmins

Two Malarias and a Cholera by Ray ParkinThe air-conditioned bus offers a sanctuary from the tropical temperatures outside. It's hard to believe these are the same temperatures experienced by inmates over 70 years ago on this site. It is not often that we consider peace as something we must constantly work for. Often it is portrayed as something which can be achieved and then passed down to us. Changi reminds us we shouldn't become complacent in our memory of war because it might cause us to lose sight of how we keep peace today.


The counter-cultural, rehumanising work of volunteers

4 Comments
26 April 2017 | Fatima Measham

Vinnies volunteersA significant portion of the work that goes on in our economy is voluntary. It features in many contexts, such as social welfare, mentoring, animal welfare, landcare, local sport, and arts and literary activities. It can be hard to make a case for volunteering at a time when labour exploitation is rife. Students, migrants and Indigenous people, who need to establish work experience, are particularly vulnerable when it comes to unpaid work. This does not mean that volunteer work can never be meaningful.


Youth justice system needs reform not repression

7 Comments
25 April 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Hand print on wallWe need only to imagine ourselves as a child subject to the practices described in these accounts, to find them scarifying. The recurring images of children lying in the foetal position, in solitary confinement, hooded or surrounded by guards say it all. When we set them against the results of research into the biological and psychological development of children, detention, prolonged lockdowns, isolation and a culture of punishment are destructive and counterproductive.


Bad sports and politics

4 Comments
25 April 2017 | John Warhurst

John CoatesRecent adverse coverage of sporting organisations has revealed once again what looks like widespread organisational dysfunction. Sport is such a major part of Australian life that we should all be interested in what goes on within the multi-million dollar organisations that run it, whether it be the big football codes, cricket, tennis or the Olympic sports. The stakes are huge and the issues, including self-interest, interstate rivalries and personality conflicts are eerily familiar in public life more generally.


It is my duty to remember

15 Comments
20 April 2017 | Gillian Bouras

Spirits of soldiers watch as children pay tribute to their memory. Cartoon by Chris JohnstonEvery Anzac Day there seem to be arguments about the legitimacy of what has been called the One Day of the Year. In the past I have taken my turn at rebutting views that express the belief that such days are part of a wholly reprehensible glorification of war. I've had a great deal of time to think about the matter, and also have a personal involvement: my grandfather and father were in the Australian Army, and both saw active service, about which periods they hardly ever spoke.


Take care not to co-opt soldiers' and civilians' deaths

4 Comments
20 April 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Anzac Day Dawn Service at Kings Park, Western AustraliaAt Anzac Day it is common to set the deaths of soldiers into the context of a larger cause; as shaping a template of national identity. This year we celebrate it in a sea of citizen deaths from terrorism and military actions. Such killings are also often set within a broader context such as democracy, national security, or the Western way of life. Deeper reflection suggests that to attribute meaning and value to people through their relationship to a cause does not enhance but diminishes their humanity.


We are all neoliberals now

13 Comments
19 April 2017 | Tim Robertson

Cover image from JG Ballard's Concrete IslandOne of the challenges for progressive parties is to look beyond the existing neoliberal framework for solutions to the current malaise. Labor is so steeped in neoliberal orthodoxy that, even if it was willing to evolve, it's likely incapable of doing so. And while much of the intellectual heavy lifting in forming a picture of what a post-neoliberal future may look like will be done outside organised politics, Labor remains completely unengaged with almost all of these debates.


Breaking down the 457 visa changes

3 Comments
19 April 2017 | Kerry Murphy

457 visa formsThere are several significant changes which mean that for a number of occupations, the pathway to a permanent visa sponsored by an employer will be closed. A number of people will only be able to get a temporary work visa for two years, and a further two year period after that only. It is the latest in a range of changes to immigration that have seen Australia change from being a country of permanent migration, to one of permanent and temporary migration.


Not such a super way to buy your first home

15 Comments
13 April 2017 | Francine Crimmins

Broken piggy bankAs a millennial, I frequently find myself being told to stop complaining about housing affordability. It's all about working harder, saving more and, for goodness' sake, keeping off the avocado. As a young person, I'm concerned about using super, a system which was put aside for our economic welfare in retirement, as a savings account for instant gratification. The government is trying to solve the housing crisis not through direct action, but by encouraging young people into lifelong debt.


Digital solutions to political reform

8 Comments
12 April 2017 | Kate Galloway

People voting using iPhones. Cartoon by Chris JohnstonThere are reasons to be concerned about the capacity of a government to govern in the current brief election cycle, and in dealing with what some describe as a 'hostile senate'. But the networked world we inhabit also calls into question the way in which politicians might be accountable to the public. Rather than focusing on changes to a system of governance derived from a different era, we should be asking what are the implications of emergent technologies on the way in which we are governed.


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