section: Australia

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  • AUSTRALIA

    2015 in review: Melbourne medicos' refugee heroism

    • Justin Glyn
    • 11 January 2016
    4 Comments

    Health care professionals at the Royal Melbourne Children's Hospital have begun to do what could not be achieved by reports from the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Australia's Human Rights Commission. The doctors and staff are refusing to release children they treat back to the detention which caused their problems in the first place. By this brave act has begun the slow task of pouring daylight (always the best antiseptic) into this gaping wound in Australian society.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Gospel stories of the security state

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 17 December 2015
    19 Comments

    The pastel coloured domesticity of the images of Jesus' birth does not do justice to its context. Herod's sending out first his spies to find where the Messiah was to be born, and then his soldiers to eradicate the threat the child posed to national security, may not appear on Christmas cards, but they frame the story of Jesus' birth. The disjunction between the tenderness of the Christmas stories and the brutality of their public context is mirrored in the conflict between the humane values of the Gospel and the harsh instrumental values of the public world in any age.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Cuts leave two-parent families in the cold

    • Marcelle Mogg
    • 17 December 2015
    9 Comments

    Children in two-parent families don't deserve government support. That's the message the government sent last month when they passed legislation to cut family payments for two-parent families, while other families still get cash payments. One of the problems with recent policies is they increasingly see families as part of the market rather than fundamental building blocks of our communities that need to be supported. Families and communities are in fact undermined by the market.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Aboriginal Australians' year of action

    • Celeste Liddle
    • 16 December 2015
    5 Comments

    At the end of 2014, the scene for Indigenous politics in 2015 was set. While it is rare to see a year where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don't take to the streets to challenge government policies, Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett's announcement in November 2014 of the proposed closure of remote communities led to a large scale movement. It was one of several events that mobilised Indigenous communities during 2015. Next year is shaping up to be just as action packed.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Which refugees would Jesus resettle?

    • Aloysious Mowe
    • 15 December 2015
    25 Comments

    The UNHCR guidelines for resettlement are there for a reason: those who need resettlement, when this option is available, are the most vulnerable and weak in a refugee population: children and teenagers, women at risk, people with urgent medical needs, the elderly, victims of torture and trauma, split families. None of these should be subject to a religious test. As several Muslim commentators have said in the Australian media, you do not ask a drowning person her religion before rescuing her.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Are corrupt bankers terrorists?

    • Justin Glyn
    • 14 December 2015
    4 Comments

    There is a new proposal from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that those convicted of terrorism offences are to be remanded in jail even after they finish serving their sentences. Given that the pressing of terrorism charges has already proven to be a highly subjective practice, there is good reason to fear that any new powers to detain people beyond the expiration of their sentences for terrorism offences will, like the offences themselves, be applied in a politically selective manner.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Dawn of Australian domestic violence

    • Brian Matthews
    • 11 December 2015
    3 Comments

    Interviewed before the screening of Hitting Home, her program on domestic violence, Sarah Ferguson pointed out that the statistics had scarcely altered in a couple of decades. How far back into our history does this dismal phenomenon reach? 'We could quickly fill the largest building in Sydney with women and children who now, for the sake of food and shelter, but more for the sake of what is called their "good name", are bearing blows, insults, servitude and degradation,' wrote Louisa Lawson in 1889.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    A Human Rights Day tribute to the Northern Territory's Tony Fitzgerald

    • Frank Brennan
    • 10 December 2015

    I first met this Tony on my regular visits here to Darwin when he was working at the North Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service and then when he set up the mediation services under the auspices of Anglicare. In later years I knew him when he was your Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. He was a quiet, considered, gentle, strong and principled man. On Human Rights Day, it is only fitting that I honour Tony by offering some reflections on the architecture for human rights in Australia, on the contemporary human rights controversies, and on the way forward for better protection of the human rights of Aborigines and asylum seekers, two marginalised groups who had a special claim on Tony's sympathies.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Human rights are more than an inconvenient truth

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 09 December 2015
    11 Comments

    Although they can be inconvenient, human rights matter. It is important for nations to recognise them and for citizens to defend them. The survivors of the Second World War who had seen the gross violations of human rights under both Nazi and Communist regimes clearly saw this. These states regarded human rights as a privilege that they could give and take away as they chose. History spells out in the alphabet of gas chambers and gulags what that attitude meant for their subjects.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Close encounters in immigration 'prison'

    • Lisa Stewart
    • 07 December 2015
    14 Comments

    The first thing I see is a familiar tableau: Mother and Child, seated, the sweep of the lines of the mother's body sculpting a circle of security and warmth around the gentle wrigglings of her baby. Except that this is no Christian Madonna, but a young Muslim woman in her early 30s, quiet, gentle and shy. Seated on her lap is her little child who has my heart the minute I lock eyes with her. Dancing around her is a skinny, black-haired seven-year-old girl with the same smile, and far too much energy for the space permitted her.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Excluding abortion protestors is a matter of dignity

    • Fatima Measham
    • 04 December 2015
    51 Comments

    Last Friday, Victoria passed an amendment to establish a protest-free zone around abortion clinics. I find it impossible to reconcile with the idea that personhood in utero depends on whether a baby is wanted or unwanted, but I also believe bodily autonomy is integral to the dignity of women. There is such a long history of women being deprived of agency across political, economic, social, sexual and cultural dimensions, that being able to make a choice carries its own compelling morality.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    No alarms and no opinions

    • Ellena Savage
    • 04 December 2015
    7 Comments

    In November I did not change my profile picture to a European flag. I did not post a link to a fresh journalistic insight into a gang of men with machetes who are desperate to feel relevant in the empty ravine of history. I felt mild joy for Myanmar, but if I am honest, I don't know enough about Myanmar. I felt indignant that no-one changed their profile pictures to the Mali flag after 170 people were taken hostage there. Then my indignation dissolved when I realised I didn't know what the Mali flag looked like.

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