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  • AUSTRALIA

    #LetThemStay reveals the political capital of compassion

    • Somayra Ismailjee
    • 12 February 2016
    8 Comments

    Since the first churches offered sanctuary to the refugees facing deportation to Nauru, a steady stream of voices have joined the call for compassion. As a political language, compassion is itself a reclamation of power. Extending safety, resources, or even a mere welcome to people in need proves that we have something to give. Strength is embodied by a capacity to aid and assist, rather than in cruelty. Empathy, care and compassion appeal to us on a level of emotion that runs deeper than mere rhetoric.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    What is a brown body worth?

    • Somayra Ismailjee
    • 03 February 2016
    6 Comments

    A perception of Muslims as 'savage' and antithetical to peace accounts for incidents where overtly racist people can rejoice easily at the loss of human life, to little negative reaction. When a person is deemed unworthy or bereft of humanity, their death becomes gruesomely welcome. While Islamophobia itself does not define racism, Muslim people exemplify ideas of a cardinal threat against the Anglocentric West, which laterally affects how brown non-Muslim minority groups are treated.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Kidnapped woman's post-traumatic love

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 01 February 2016

    For seven years, Joy has been held prisoner in the garden shed of a suburban maniac. During this time she has raised a son, Jack, who is now five, employing elaborate and imaginative methods to nurture and educate him, while protecting him from the reality of their existence. Room is remarkable for its capacity to transmit the bleakness of Joy's situation via the wonder-full gaze of Jack, for whom this makeshift prison is the entire world, bursting with possibilities for recreation, rest and learning.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Say no to increasing force against detainees

    • Pamela Curr
    • 30 November 2015
    31 Comments

    One of the most disturbing aspects of Border Force takeover of detention camps has been the increased use of force against people seeking asylum. Women have been especially targeted, with physical pat-downs before they come and go to medical or counselling appointments triggering panic attacks in some as it has brought flashbacks of sexual abuse and rape attacks in Nauru. Next week in the Senate, the Government is seeking even more powers to use against women, children and men in detention.

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  • RELIGION

    Discerning the place for the churches in the great moral questions of the age

    • Frank Brennan
    • 27 November 2015
    2 Comments

    'The crisis of child sexual abuse in our societies has required that our institutional procedures be more transparent and that we learn from the ways of the world in exercising power openly and justly. This means we have to restructure some of our church arrangements so that power is exercised accountably and transparently. All of us who have positions of influence and power in institutional churches need to be attentive to the voices of those who have suffered within our institutions.' 'Discerning the place for the prophetic voice and pragmatic cooperation of the churches in the great moral questions of the age', address to the Association of Practical Theology in Oceania conference, 26 November 2015.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Heroes of Victoria's juvenile justice reform

    • Tom Keating
    • 17 November 2015
    2 Comments

    The case studies given during the Royal Commission's dealings with Victoria's state run institutions were heartrending for anyone like myself who worked within that system in the 1960s and '70s. It must have been harder still for those who were trying desperately to reform the system at that time. By the mid-'80s Victoria came to have the most progressive and effective juvenile justice system in the country and was a leader internationally. Much has been lost in the intervening years.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Growing old in Australia is a difficult business

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 07 October 2015
    9 Comments

    Well, I know the dehumanising rot began to set in a long time ago. I have a vision of George Orwell sitting on a cloud and wringing his hands in renewed horror, for now the business model and associated language appears to have taken over the world. In short, the changes in aged care could be counterproductive, as the aims of streamlined access and equity may result instead in the development of barriers and more inequity. Growing old clearly means more hard work, and more adjustment.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Border control gulags have had their time

    • Frank Brennan
    • 05 October 2015
    28 Comments

    Anyone hoping a Turnbull government will be more accommodating of boat people than an Abbott government will be sadly mistaken. But that is not the end of the matter. Now that the government has firmly closed the entry door to Australia, there is no warrant for maintaining the chamber of horrors in the Pacific which was set up as a 'circuit breaker' deterrent. Turnbull needs to admit that a purposeless chamber of horrors is not just harsh; it is cruel, and it is unAustralian.

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  • Reshaping the public space: Lessons for Australian refugee, Aboriginal and climate policy

    • Frank Brennan
    • 18 September 2015

    Pope Francis's concerns are not narrowly dogmatic or pedagogical but universally pastoral. He knows that millions of people, including erstwhile Catholics, are now suspicious of or not helped by notions of tradition, authority, ritual and community when it comes to their own spiritual growth which is now more individual and eclectic. He wants to step beyond the Church's perceived lack of authenticity and its moral focus on individual matters, more often than not, sexual. He thinks the world is in a mess particularly with the state of the planet — climate change, loss of biodiversity and water shortages, but also with the oppression of the poor whose life basics are not assured by the operation of the free market, and with the clutter and violence of lives which are cheated the opportunity for interior peace. He is going to great pains to demystify his office. He wants all people of good will to emulate him and to be both joyful and troubled as they wrestle with the probl

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Why calls for compassion for refugees don't work

    • Tim Robertson
    • 09 September 2015
    3 Comments

    Writing in The Australian this week, Chris Kenny declares: 'Emotion, moral vanity, political posturing and good intentions won't be much of a guide when it comes to making the right decisions and delivering the best results'. He and like minded opinion writers get so much traction because they're essentially correct. Compassion alone is not enough.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Family rape victims delivered to a worse hell

    • Madeleine Hamilton
    • 07 September 2015
    8 Comments

    While at Melbourne's Winlaton Youth Training Centre, many became victims of sexual and physical assaults by staff and other girls. This was how the state of Victoria looked after its most vulnerable girls, who following their incarceration were simply expected to get on with their lives. Except many didn't. As the list of witnesses for the Royal Commission hearing was being finalised, I was told: 'There's going to be a lot of very angry and re-traumatised mothers and grandmothers.'

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  • The politics of popular evil and untrendy truth

    • Frank Brennan
    • 01 September 2015
    1 Comment

    If you want to form government in Australia and if you want to lead the Australian people to be more generous, making more places available for refugees to resettle permanently in Australia, you first have to stop the boats. If you want to restore some equity to the means of choosing only some tens of thousands of refugees per annum for permanent residence in Australia from the tens of millions of people displaced in the world, you need to secure the borders. The untrendy truth is that not all asylum seekers have the right to enter Australia but that those who are in direct flight from persecution whether that be in Sri Lanka or Indonesia do, and that it is possible fairly readily (and even on the high seas) to draw a distinction between those in direct flight and those engaged in secondary movement understandably dissatisfied with the level of protection and the transparency of processing in transit countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. The popular evil is that political

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