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  • AUSTRALIA

    An inclusive Australia

    • Frank Brennan
    • 13 June 2017
    1 Comment

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

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Lessons for ALP in UK Labour fightback

    • Jeff Sparrow
    • 09 June 2017
    17 Comments

    When Corbyn invoked the many against the few, he did so while advocating free education, the renationalisation of utilities and a break from the US alliance. By contrast, Blair coined the phrase in a speech where he urged listeners to put behind them 'the bitter political struggles of left and right that have torn our country apart for too many decades. Many of these conflicts have no relevance whatsoever to the modern world - public versus private, bosses versus workers, middle class versus working class.' We all know which version sits closer to Shorten's heart.

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  • RELIGION

    Vatican II, the sexual revolution and clergy sexual misconduct

    • Stephen de Weger
    • 07 June 2017
    69 Comments

    The sexual revolution and Vatican II was a release from 'parental control' resulting, for many, in the sudden emergence of full-blown psychological adolescence with its risk taking, experimentation and lack of a fully developed sense of responsibility. Many clergy either slid into adolescent liberalism or, collapsing under new adult demands of freedom, retreated into reactionary conservatism. Others grew up and moved on, into new ways of being 'celibate'. Clergy misconduct is found in all three groups.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Cashless Cards and other salvos in the war on the poor

    • Michele Madigan
    • 06 June 2017
    11 Comments

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

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  • MEDIA

    ABC devalues religion reporting at its peril

    • Rohan Salmond
    • 01 June 2017
    28 Comments

    Reports that the ABC will no longer require the head of the religion unit to be a religion specialist are more than a little surprising. The ABC has a commitment in its charter to 'reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community'. Without religion reporting from people with specialist journalistic backgrounds, the ABC jeopardises its ability to fulfil its ongoing functions and responsibilities. Like it or not, religion still plays a huge part in public life in Australia, which affects the lives of everyone.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Uluru: take time to get this right

    • Frank Brennan
    • 31 May 2017
    19 Comments

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

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  • AUSTRALIA

    On Aboriginal land: seeking a place at the table

    • Frank Brennan
    • 31 May 2017
    6 Comments

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

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Philippines coming full, sordid circle

    • Fatima Measham
    • 25 May 2017
    3 Comments

    None of what continues to unravel in the Philippines is a shock. In August last year, barely more than a month from inauguration, Duterte mentioned the prospect of martial law in relation to his drug war. Duterte is the sixth president since the 1986 People Power revolution that overthrew Marcos. He is a close associate of the dictator's children. Martial law was long in play before the incidents in Marawi this week, and is in character for an ex-mayor with alleged links to 'death squads'.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Don't turn away from dire child abuse stats

    • Barry Gittins
    • 25 May 2017
    7 Comments

    Australian kids are being bashed, raped, starved, scorned and otherwise treated with no dignity or kindness. The study states it is not simply a case of one-off abuse, noting that 'research has demonstrated that maltreatment sub-types seldom occur in isolation (e.g. sexual abuse is often accompanied by psychological maltreatment or physical abuse)'. That is difficult reading. It makes me sick to write it. But the paper should, in a just society, serve as a catalyst for a national conversation.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Strong women heroes of grim abduction parables

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 24 May 2017
    1 Comment

    If two current Australian films are anything to go by, then one social issue weighing on local filmmakers in 2017 is the danger to women of emotionally and physically violent men. Neither film is a mere portrait of victimhood. The heroes of Cate Shortland's recent Berlin Syndrome and Ben Young's upcoming Hounds of Love - in the former, an Australian traveller in Europe, in the latter, a teenage school girl in suburban Perth - are ordinary women with both the will and capacity to fight back against their assailants.

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  • RELIGION

    Reconciliation and mission

    • Frank Brennan
    • 15 May 2017

    The reconciliation of this vertical relationship is possible only through the mediation of Jesus who embodies, lives and dies the reality of this reconciliation. He puts us right with our God and thereby establishes the basis for right relationship with each other. In many countries such as Australia, Timor Leste and South Africa, the public rhetoric and programs for reconciliation have, at least in part, been informed and underpinned by this theological perspective.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Unsocial budget fails health test

    • Amy Coopes
    • 15 May 2017
    3 Comments

    Next year marks four decades since promulgation of the seminal Declaration of Alma Ata, which declared health to be a fundamental human right and laid the foundations for what are now widely championed as the social determinants of health. Without action on the social determinants, health policy can be a little like that joke about the cyclopean orthopod who, when confronted with a patient suffering fatal internal bleeding, is interested only in fixing their broken leg. So it is with last week's Budget.

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