Showing posts with label Australian society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australian society. Show all posts

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Up Yamba way "a fine young fellow" plays soccer.......



The Sydney Morning Herald, online, 16 August 2017:


This is the story of Marc Reichler-Stillhard, a fine young fellow, born with Down syndrome up Yamba way, and immediately embraced by the local community of the mighty Clarence Valley, where the river flows fast, the fields grow green and the local folk are strong. Integrated with mainstream classes at the local schools and signed up with local sporting clubs, Marc has been a beloved figure who has learnt as much from the kids around him, as they have learnt from him.


Respected: Marc Reichler-Stillhard is a beloved figure in the community of Clarence Valley.
Photo: Enid Reichler-Stillhard

I recounted one story of Marc a couple of years ago, in The Fitz Files. On a sunny day in March 2015, see, the young lads of Yamba are playing the game of their lives against the boys of nearby Lawrence in the local under-12 cricket grand final. No quarter asked for or given, Lawrence has set a good total, but the Yamba young'uns are a confident breed and they go out hard after it. And they get there, too. The scores are level with two balls to go! Yamba's last man on strike is Marc, and as he walks to the crease, the crowd holds its breath.

What is going to happen?
The second last ball is bowled, Marc swings valiantly and ... misses. One ball to go. The Lawrence bowler, a good sport with a fine instinct that some things are more important than mere trophies, a credit to his town, sends down an easier ball. This time young Marc connects, and starts to run like a scalded hare, but the ball is in the air. The Lawrence fieldsman runs in to take the catch ... but drops it. Yamba wins. Marc is carried off the field on the shoulders of both teams, as the crowd roars.

What's not to like? What's not to weep about?
Marc's parents, and the Yamba community take a similar approach to soccer, a sport that Marc loves. For the past couple of years, Marc has been running around with the Yamba soccer club, as an extra – that is, at the suggestion of his coach, he's been taking the field as a 12th man, running out with the others and doing the best he can. Though he's now 16, he's been playing with the under-14s, as it is his best chance of making some contribution, given that he is a lot smaller than his peers and has issues of co-ordination. Every match, Yamba has asked the opposing team if it’s OK and the opposing teams have – bless their cotton socks – never had a problem. The people of the Clarence Valley are just like that.
"Marc does his absolute best and the kids are phenomenal," Marc's mother Enid Reichler-Stillhard told ABC North Coast Radio this week. "When you watch how they interact with Marc, they help him on the field and off the field and make him feel good about himself. He is valued and they want him to play. It gives you goosebumps. The team once gave Marc the ball and said 'go with it Marc' and he ran the length of the field with it, and the kids fell over their own feet not to take the ball off him."
What's not to like?
It has been wonderful for Marc and his family, great for the Yamba team who love to play with him, and make sure he gets to kick the ball, and the opposing teams in the Clarence Valley have respected the situation, and Marc, not taking advantage of his position in the team.
So it's all fun in the sun, yes, in a manner that would bring a tear to a glass eye, as the true spirit of community sport for kids is embraced? Yes, for nearly everyone.
Somewhere out there, however, last week, a complaint was made by just one of the opposing clubs that this was – wait for it – against the rules, asking North Coast Football to stop Marc playing as a 12th man.
NCF have upheld the complaint. Though they are OK to provide an exemption to him on grounds of age, they now insist that Yamba field only 11 players.
And so allow me please, a few words, NCF, and the club making the complaint....
Read full article here.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Are voters really going to trust the Australian Bureau of Statistics with the same-sex marriage plebiscite?


Well here we are. With a federal government so afraid of exercising its constitutional responsibility to make laws concerning marriage and fearful that the High Court might block any move to conduct a compulsory plebiscite without the parliament’s consent.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 August 2017:

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann confirmed the government would "ask the Senate to reconsider" the compulsory plebiscite, which was "clearly our preference".

But "if that were to fail, the government believes we have a legal and constitutional way forward" to commission a non-legislated, voluntary postal vote, he said.

And who is going to conduct this voluntary postal vote?

Why that national statistical agency which is intent on collecting, matching and monetising every piece of data it can on each and every Australian. The very agency which gave the nation #CensusFAIL in 2016.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 August 2017:

Ask the Australian Bureau of Statistics when it knew about its role in the postal plebiscite, ask if it knew at all, ask whether it has the capacity to conduct the plebiscite, and you'll be told it's saying nothing. It's referring all such questions to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

Which is odd, because it's an autonomous agency used to speaking for itself. And the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister aren't the ministers it reports to. It reports to the Treasurer, through the Small Business Minister Michael McCormack. It was McCormack and the head of the ABS, David Kalisch, who kept the public updated during the computer meltdown that came to define the 2016 census.

At a cost of $122 million, the postal plebiscite would become the second-biggest project it's ever undertaken, after the $350 million census…..

Whereas in recent years the ABS has tried to hang on to the names and addresses of those that it surveys and link them to answers (in what many see as an invasion of privacy) each response to the plebiscite will have to be kept secret.

The ABS is, on the face of it, the wrong organisation to be conducting the plebiscite. So why it, rather than the Australian Electoral Commission?

One reason is that only governors-general can call elections, and the High Court is likely to decide that an AEC-conducted plebiscite is much the same as an election. The ABS already has the power to conduct surveys……. 

An ABS 'opinion poll' conducted without the authority of Parliament would be better able to withstand a High Court challenge than the AEC ballot conducted without the authority of Parliament.

On a practical level, the ABS is the worst-placed organisation to conduct such a postal plebiscite. It moves slowly. It needs (more than) five years notice to prepare each census. In recent years it has abandoned the commitment to total privacy that used to define it. And it is trying to move its surveys online.

The wrong organisation to be conducting the plebiscite?

It almost goes without saying that the high level of trust in the Australian Bureau of Statistics fell a few degrees after the 2016 Census debacle and it is likely that public confidence will be somewhat shaky with regard to its ability to run at such short notice what is less a plebiscite and more an unofficial national postal survey.

The ABS has issued this assurance:

The ABS assures Australians that there will be no personal identifiers on the survey form and all materials will be destroyed by the ABS at the end of processing.

However, not everyone will be comforted by this undertaking as so much can go wrong when such a large survey is conducted in such haste.

In 60 days time the ABS intends to have distributed the survey quesion to all registered voters, received the answers back in the post, collated those answers and published the result on 15 November 2017.

It may be that the most attractive thing about the ABS for the Turnbull Government is that its recent history might make some voters think twice about participating in this postal vote and, therefore deliver a participation rate that can be repudiated as not being genuinely representative if most Liberal and Nationals MPs and senators still want to block marriage equality becoming law.

A challenge to this government poll was lodged with the High Court of Australia on 10 August 2017, by lawyers acting on behalf of independent MP Andrew Wilkie, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and lesbian parent Felicity Marlowe.

The defendents are listed as the Commonwealth of Australia, Minister for Finance, Treasurer, Australian Statistician and Electoral Commissioner.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Why am I so angry about this postal vote in Australia to decide on marriage equality?


This following was tweeted by @liamesler within days of the Turnbull Government’s announcement that is has asked the Australian Bureau of Statistics to conduct a voluntary non-binding, national postal survey (not federal parliament authorised plebiscite) of citizens 18 years of age or older on the question Do you support a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry?"


Sunday, 13 August 2017

United Nations mixed response to Australia's human rights record


“Attacks against the Australian Human Rights Commission

60. The Special Rapporteur was informed about the attacks made by some politicians against the Australian Human Rights Commission and, in particular, its President, Gillian Triggs, which are particularly troubling given the prestige and respectability this Commission enjoys internationally. Following the Commission’s inquiry into the harm caused by the detention of migrant children, its President has faced public intimidation, questioning her integrity, impartiality and judgment. On several occasions in the recent past, efforts to weaken the financial resources and capacity of the Commission have resulted in budget cuts, which have been amplified by the additional functions assigned to it.

61.For the Special Rapporteur, this situation is even more unacceptable given the fact that Australia sponsored Human Rights Council resolution 27/18 on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, in which the Council states, in paragraph 9, that national human rights institutions and their respective members and staff should not face any form of reprisal or intimidation, including political pressure, physical intimidation, harassment or unjustifiable budgetary limitations, as a result of activities undertaken in accordance with their respective mandates, including when taking up individual cases or when reporting on serious or systematic violations in their countries.

62.The fact that the Commission handles more than 20,000 inquiries and 2,000 complaints each year, the vast majority of which are resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, confirms its exemplary work, particularly with respect to racism and racial discrimination. It should be held up by politicians, as well as journalists, as a good example of the functioning of democratic institutions in Australia.”

United Nations, Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xe... by clarencegirl on Scribd


Monday, 7 August 2017

So why might the far right of the Liberal and National parties being pushing for a postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage?


The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) states this of national plebiscites:

Plebiscites

An issue put to the vote which does not affect the Constitution is called a plebiscite. A plebiscite is not defined in the Australian Constitution, the Electoral Act or the Referendum Act. A plebiscite can also be referred to as a simple national vote.

Governments can hold plebiscites to test whether people either support or oppose a proposed action on an issue. The government is not bound by the 'result' of a plebiscite as it is by the result of a Constitutional referendum. Federal, state and territory governments have held plebiscites on various issues.

Under s. 7A of the Electoral Act, the AEC can conduct a plebiscite as a fee-for-service election, with the AEC entering into 'an agreement, on behalf of the Commonwealth, for the supply of goods or services to a person or body'. The rules for a plebiscite or fee-for-service election are normally contained in the terms of the agreement between the AEC and the person funding the election.

Military service plebiscites were held in 1916 and 1917 but, as they were not proposals to amend the Constitution, the provisions of section 128 of the Constitution did not apply. Voters in all federal territories were permitted to vote. Both the military service plebiscites sought a mandate for conscription and were defeated.

The first thing to note about a national plebiscite is that its outcome is not binding on the federal parliament or on any MP or senator.

Additionally, voting in a national plebiscite can be voluntary, unless otherwise stated in any legislation authorising a specific plebiscite. As was the case in the National Song Poll in May 1977 at which 7.59 million people or est. 90%+ of registered voters cast a voluntary ballot.

Besides being voluntary a plebiscite can also be a mail-out ballot as was the Election of Delegates to the Constitutional Convention some twenty years later in December 1997, at which 6 million ballot papers were returned, scrutinised and counted – that is to say only 50.04% of all eligible voters actually voluntarily voted and an est. 1.13% of these cast informal ballots.

A parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage was calculated as costing $17 million in 2016. A stand-alone same-sex plebiscite was estimated to cost up to $525 million in that same year.

An important point to note about a national plebiscite on same-sex marriage is that it is unnecessary as s51 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act gives federal parliament power to make laws regarding marriage and, parliament exercised that right as recently as 2004 when it changed the definition of marriage in order To ensure that same sex marriages are not recognised as marriage in Australia, inclusive of those performed under the laws of another country that permits such unions.

So one can see why far-right federal MPs and senators would be in favour of a voluntary plebiscite, particularly a postal one.

It may cost taxpayers more but the chances of a high voter participation rate is not as certain and, if the government of the day doesn't like the results of the ballot it can decide to not to act on them.

These parliamentarians probably believe those voters who will be less likely to return a postal ballot will not be those strongly opposed to same-sex marriage, but those who are undecided, neutral, or disinterestedly in favour of rewriting the Marriage Act to allow gay couples to wed.

In the minds of zealots like Eric Abetz and Tony Abbott this is probably seen as giving their cause a fighting chance and absolving them of any responsibility for continuing to actively oppose same-sex marriage.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Melbourne Institute's HILDA survey report 2017



Commenced in 2001, the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey is a nationally representative longitudinal study of Australian households. The study is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne. Roy Morgan Research has conducted the fieldwork since Wave 9 (2009), prior to which The Nielsen Company was the fieldwork provider.
The HILDA Survey seeks to provide longitudinal data on the lives of Australian residents. It annually collects information on a wide range of aspects of life in Australia, including household and family relationships, child care, employment, education, income, expenditure, health and wellbeing, attitudes and values on a variety of subjects, and various life events and experiences. Information is also collected at less frequent intervals on various topics, including household wealth, fertility related behaviour and plans, relationships with non-resident family members and non-resident partners, health care utilisation, eating habits, cognitive functioning and retirement.
The important distinguishing feature of the HILDA Survey is that the same households and individuals are interviewed every year, allowing us to see how their lives are changing over time. By design, the study can be infinitely lived, following not only the initial sample members for the remainder of their lives, but also their children and all subsequent descendants

Download the report here.

First Dog On The Moon: "My life as an enraged flibbertigibbet


First Dog On the Moon, 27 July 2017

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Australian Government guide to when it is extinguishing our traditional freedoms, rights and privileges


In 2015 Australian Attorney-General and Liberal Senator for Queensland George Brandis thoughtfully provided voters with a guide to assist them with analysing whether federal legislation rides roughshod over traditional rights, freedoms and privileges.

This guide can be found in the Australian Law Reform Commission Report 129, Traditional Rights and Freedoms— Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws:

The Terms of Reference, provided by the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, state that laws that encroach on traditional rights, freedoms and privileges should be understood to refer to laws that:

interfere with freedom of speech;
interfere with freedom of religion;
interfere with freedom of association;
interfere with freedom of movement;
interfere with vested property rights;
retrospectively change legal rights and obligations;
create offences with retrospective application;
alter criminal law practices based on the  principle of a fair trial;
reverse or shift the burden of proof;
exclude the right to claim the privilege against self-incrimination;
abrogate client legal privilege;
apply strict or absolute liability to all physical elements of a criminal offence;
permit an appeal from an acquittal;
deny procedural fairness to persons affected by the exercise of public power;
inappropriately delegate legislative power to the executive;
authorise the commission of a tort;
disregard common law protection of personal reputation;
give executive immunities a wide application;
restrict access to the courts; and
interfere with any other similar legal right, freedom or privilege

WARNING: Don’t attempt a drinking game with this list as you may succumb to acute alcohol poisoning before reaching the end.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

More Australians live in New South Wales and Queensland than in the other states & territories combined


Australian Bureau of Statistics, media release, excerpt, 12 July 2017:

Queensland and New South Wales home to 52.1 per cent of Australia’s total population according to the 2016 Census of Population and Housing ……

NSW certainly has the numbers on their side, outnumbering Queensland residents by close to three million people (7,480,228 to 4,703,193), but Queensland is making a strong play with a faster growth rate of 8.6 per cent, compared with 8.1 per cent for NSW. …..

The 2016 Census tells us there are 28,864 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in NSW aged 18-35 years, just edging out Queensland with 25,053.

Between the two battling states, it seems the Cockroaches are the bigger earners, with NSW households earning a median income of $1,486 per week compared to $1,402 per week for a household in Cane Toad country. However, Queensland residents gain an edge with household costs – their median monthly mortgage repayment is $253 cheaper than it is south of the border, while the Sunshine State’s median weekly rent is $50 less. 

The Maroon State also tend to work more in the home, with a higher rate of people engaging in unpaid domestic work (71 per cent in Queensland to 68 per cent in NSW) and child care (28 per cent in Queensland to 27 per cent in NSW). However, the Blue State has a higher rate of providing unpaid care for a person with a disability (12 per cent in NSW to 11 per cent in Queensland)……

…..64.9 per cent of persons in NSW embraced the digital Census, completing their Census form online (above national average), just edging Queensland, where 62.9 per cent of persons used the online Census form (below national average). 


Note: All data presented is based on Place of Usual residence data in the 2016 Census

Monday, 24 July 2017

Australia in 2017 - Violence Against Women


Australia in 2017  - known deaths due to violence against women  -  23 dead by July 12 [Destroy the Joint, 12 July 2017]

A rarely spoken about aspect of domestic violence…………………


"It is widely accepted by abuse experts (and validated by numerous studies) …..that evangelical men who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group (and more likely than secular men) to assault their wives." [Professor of Theology Steven R, Tracy, 2007,‘Patriarchy and Domestic Violence: Challenging Common Misconceptions” inWHAT DOES “SUBMIT IN EVERYTHING” REALLY MEAN? THE NATURE AND SCOPE OF MARITAL SUBMISSION]


Research shows that the men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelical Christians who attend church sporadically. Church leaders in Australia say they abhor abuse of any kind. But advocates say the church is not just failing to sufficiently address domestic violence, it is both enabling and concealing it……

In the past couple of years, concern has been growing amongst those working with survivors of domestic violence about the role the Christian church of all denominations can either consciously or inadvertently play in allowing abusive men to continue abusing their wives.

The questions are these: do abused women in church communities face challenges women outside them do not?

Do perpetrators ever claim church teachings on male control excuse their abuse, or tell victims they must stay?

Why have there been so few sermons on domestic violence? Why do so many women report that their ministers tell them to stay in violent marriages?

Is the stigma surrounding divorce still too great, and unforgiving? Is this also a problem for the men who are abused by their wives — a minority but nonetheless an important group?
And if the church is meant to be a place of refuge for the vulnerable, why is it that the victims are the ones who leave churches while the perpetrators remain?

Is it true — as one Anglican bishop has claimed — that there are striking similarities to the church's failure to protect children from abuse, and that this next generation's reckoning will be about the failure in their ranks to protect women from domestic violence?

A 12-month ABC News and 7.30 investigation involving dozens of interviews with survivors of domestic violence, counsellors, priests, psychologists and researchers from a range of Christian denominations — including Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal and Presbyterian — has discovered the answers to these questions will stun those who believe the church should protect the abused, not the abusers.

ABC TV 7.30 current affairs program, 19 July 2017 - Christian women told to endure domestic abuse, excerpt from transcript:

JULIA BAIRD: In Australia, there has never been any real research into the prevalence of domestic violence within church communities, but Barbara runs a website for survivors which points to an alarming trend.

She estimates 800,000 Christian women, who have survived abuse around the world, have visited the page.

BARBARA ROBERTS: Christian women are particularly vulnerable because they take the Bible very seriously and they want to obey God. They know it says "turn the other cheek", they know it says "be long-suffering". 

The website mentioned in the current affairs program is A Cry For Justice.

Church leaders are not happy with the media attention and are calling foul.

The Australian, 21 July 2017:

A spokesman for Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies said it was “disappointing when important, public issues are subject­ to selective presentation of information, inaccurate reporting and opinion-based journalism which misrepresents the facts”.

“To make domestic vio­lence­ part of a culture war against evangelical Christianity does no service to the women who suffer this appalling treatment,” he said.

An ABC spokesman defended 7.30, saying it was “not an attack on Christianity but an explor­ation of its intersection with ­issues of domestic violence, a legitimate and newsworthy sub­ject­”. Wednesday’s report was the latest in a series. Future prog­rams would examine other religions, including Islam and Judaism.

News Corp’s attack on the public broadcaster continues apace with these extraordinarily worded questions presumably put to the ABC by Sydney-based journalist Ean Higgins.


Response to questions from The Australian.

1. Why didn’t the ABC report the truth: that Christianity actually saves women from abuse?
The ABC did report that point – that religiosity can be a protective factor against domestic violence – in its review of the research, “Regular church attenders are less likely to commit acts of intimate partner violence”.
As part of this series, the ABC will be reporting on how all the major Christian churches in Australia are seeking to address the issue of domestic violence in their community. The ABC has collected dozens of accounts of women suffering abuse and, unfortunately, receiving a poor response from the church. But many have also sought and received excellent care, and know there are many wonderful Christian men and women working to make a difference. Our reporting also presents an excellent opportunity for churches, one that we’re pleased to hear many are taking seriously.
In addition, this is not a Christian versus secular argument; it is a conversation currently underway inside the church, as is evident by critics, counsellors, theologians, priests, and bishops quoted in the 7000-word piece on the ABC News site and the priests, synod members and churchgoers interviewed for 730.
2. Why did it instead falsely claim — and instantly believe — the falsehood that evangelical Christians are the worst abusers?
We did not make any false claims, we correctly cited relevant, peer-reviewed research that has been quoted and relied upon by numerous experts in this area of religion and domestic violence. Theology professor Steven Tracy is one of, if not the most authoritative and widely cited voice on this topic in America. We do not have the figures for Australia, as pointed out in the piece. We also pointed out that regular church attendance made men less likely to be violent. Again, this has all been included in the reporting.
Professor Steven Tracy found “that evangelical men [in North America] who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group (and more likely than secular men) to assault their wives”. Tracy cites five other studies to support his claim: Ellison and Anderson 2001; Brinkerhoff et al 1991; Ellison and Anderson 1999; Wilcox 2004; Fergusson et al 1986.
The ABC also interviewed dozens of Christian men and women in Australia and abroad whose personal experience with domestic abuse – and the Church’s response to it – supports this claim.
As Adelaide Bishop Tim Harris told the ABC: “it is well recognised that males (usually) seeking to justify abuse will be drawn to misinterpretations [of the Bible] to attempt to legitimise abhorrent attitudes.”
Furthermore, since the article was published, many women have contacted the ABC to share similar stories of abuse by men (including religious leaders) who have justified their violence – and / or women’s subordination – with scripture.
However, the ABC agrees with dozens of academics and religious groups interviewed who argue that further research into the prevalence and nature of domestic violence in religious communities is needed – especially in Australia.
3. What does Ms Guthrie say to Bolt’s claim that “the ABC is not merely at war with Christianity. This proves something worse: it is attacking the faith that most makes people civil.”
The ABC is not at war with Christianity. It is reporting on domestic violence in religious communities, which it notes – and as two recent significant inquiries into domestic and family violence reported – has been under-discussed in Australia, particularity in light of the Royal Commission into Domestic Violence.
As part of its investigation into domestic violence and religion, the ABC is also examining other major religions, including Islam and Judaism.
It should be noted that clergy from the Presbyterian, Anglican and Uniting and Baptist churches have written to the ABC thanking them for their reporting.
Mr. Higgins antipathy towards the ABC appears to be well-known.


Realising its first response was not the best response in the circumstances, organised religion began to back pedal a day later.

ABC News, 22 July 2017:

Australian church leaders are calling on Christian communities to urgently respond to women who are being abused in their congregations, with the most senior Anglican cleric in the country arguing victims of domestic violence deserve an apology from the Church.

An ABC News investigation into religion and domestic violence involving dozens of interviews with survivors, counsellors, priests, psychologists and researchers from a range of Christian denominations has found the Church is not just failing to sufficiently address domestic violence but is, in some cases, ignoring it or allowing it to continue.

And a comprehensive survey conducted by ABC News into programs and protocols churches across the country have in place to address domestic violence — the first attempt to compile this information — reveals mixed responses from different denominations.

While many genuine efforts are being made, critics say there are no coordinated national approaches, and that collection of useful data is required along with a commitment to serious cultural change.

Now, senior members of the Church are urging that clergy and pastoral workers must acknowledge poor responses to domestic abuse and work to take meaningful action against it.
The Anglican Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, said he supported an unequivocal apology expressed this week by an Anglican priestto victims of domestic abuse in the Church.

"I'm hoping that there will be some words of apology to people who have experienced domestic violence and any failure from the Church at our General Synod, coming up in September," the Archbishop said on The Drum.

The Archbishop said he "was moved" by the words of Father Daryl McCullough, who said in a statement on his website that he condemned men's misuse of scripture to justify abusing their wives.

"As a priest in the Church of God, I am truly and deeply sorry if you or anyone you love has been the victim of abuse and found the Church complicit in making that abuse worse," Fr Daryl McCullough said.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Aboriginal Australia seeks more than the symbolic recognition of first peoples status on offer from the Liberal-Nationals Federal Government


“The Australian story began long before the arrival of the First Fleet on 26 January 1788. We Australians all know this. We have always known this.”


Recommendations

The Council recommends:
  1. That a referendum be held to provide in the Australian Constitution for a representative body that gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament. One of the specific functions of such a body, to be set out in legislation outside the Constitution, should include the function of monitoring the use of the heads of power in section 51 (xxvi) and section 122. The body will recognise the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of Australia.
It will be for the Parliament to consider what further definition is required before the proposal is in a form appropriate to be put to a referendum. In that respect, the Council draws attention to the Guiding Principles that emerged from the National Constitutional Convention at Uluru on 23–26 May 2017 and advises that the support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, in terms of both process and outcome, will be necessary for the success of a referendum.

In consequence of the First Nations Regional Dialogues, the Council is of the view that the only option for a referendum proposal that accords with the wishes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is that which has been described as providing, in the Constitution, for a Voice to Parliament.

In principle, the establishment by the Constitution of a body to be a Voice for First Peoples, with the structure and functions of the body to be defined by Parliament, may be seen as an appropriate form of recognition, of both substantive and symbolic value, of the unique place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australian history and in contemporary Australian society.

The Council recommends this option, understanding that finalizing a proposal will involve further consultation, including steps of the kind envisaged in the Guiding Principles adopted at the Uluru Convention.

The Council further recommends:
  1. That an extra-constitutional Declaration of Recognition be enacted by legislation passed by all Australian Parliaments, ideally on the same day, to articulate a symbolic statement of recognition to unify Australians.
A Declaration of Recognition should be developed, containing inspiring and unifying words articulating Australia’s shared history, heritage and aspirations. The Declaration should bring together the three parts of our Australian story: our ancient First Peoples’ heritage and culture, our British institutions, and our multicultural unity. It should be legislated by all Australian Parliaments, on the same day, either in the lead up to or on the same day as the referendum establishing the First Peoples’ Voice to Parliament, as an expression of national unity and reconciliation.

In addition, the Council reports that there are two matters of great importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, that can be addressed outside the Constitution. The Uluru Statement called for the establishment of a Makarrata Commission with the function of supervising agreement-making and facilitating a process of local and regional truth telling. The Council recognises that this is a legislative initiative for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to pursue with government. The Council is not in a position to make a specific recommendation on this because it does not fall within our terms of reference. However, we draw attention to this proposal and note that various state governments are engaged in agreement-making.


Pat Anderson AO
Mark Leibler AC
Megan Davis
Andrew Demetriou
Natasha Stott Despoja AM
Murray Gleeson AC
Tanya Hosch
Kristina Keneally
Jane McAloon
Noel Pearson
Michael Rose AM
Amanda Vanstone
Dalassa Yorkston
Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM

The Australian, 18 July 2017:

Two indigenous Labor MPs have expressed doubts about the Referendum Council’s proposal for indigenous constitutional recognition, saying the councils’ final report, delivered yesterday, does not provide a clear line of sight to constitutional change.

Malcolm Turnbull yesterday cautiously backed what he called “a very big new idea” put forward by the Referendum Council he and Bill Shorten appointed 18 months ago, namely their sole recommendation of a special indigenous advisory body to the parliament.

But WA Labor Senator Pat Dodson said the recommendation had surprised some people, while NSW Labor MP Linda Burney said the sole recommendation was “limiting”, and most Australians would be “shocked” to learn that it has ruled out addressing race powers in the constitution.

Prime Minister Turnbull yesterday promised to consider the Referendum Council’s proposal, but indicated he was cautious about putting it to a national vote.

“We do not want to embark in some sort of exercise of heroic failure. I have some experience in trying to change the constitution and know better than most how hard it is.”

Senator Dodson said he wasn’t sure that progress is being made on the recognition of indigenous Australians.

“Unfortunately I think we’re going in circles a bit at the moment,” he told 7.30.

“I don’t think we’ve got a clear line of sight as to where any constitutional change whether it’s going to take place or not. Certainly on our side of politics we’re open to that. I’m not sure whether the government side is quite open as we are to the proposition.”

UNSW Dean of Law George Williams said a strong process would be needed to convince the Australian electorate that the Referendum Council’s proposal is worth voting for.

The Guardian, 18 July 2017:

These powers, s.51xxvi, were inserted into the constitution as part of the 1967 referendum and give the commonwealth power to make laws for “the people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws”.

That allowed for the construction of laws such as native title and Aboriginal heritage laws but it also allowed the federal government to make discriminatory laws.
Burney said while the idea of an Indigenous voice to parliament was huge and important, it was limiting to consider it as the only option.

“I think that is very limiting,” Burney told the ABC. “I think that is more of a minimal approach when ... they don’t want us to address the issues of the race powers and recognition of first peoples in the constitution.

“I think the Australian community would be shocked to think that we are not going to deal with the archaic race powers in the constitution but that is what the Referendum Council is instructing the parliament.”

Burney underlined that it was unclear what the Indigenous voice would do, its structure or how people would be elected. 

She said the Coalition and Labor needed to consider the report. Labor’s Indigenous caucus meets on Wednesday. She warned that any idea needed to be passed in the parliament and the idea of enshrining a national body would be a “challenge for some people”.

Sky News, 20 July 2017:

Indigenous Liberal MP Ken Wyatt has expressed disappointment at the decision to abandon the push for constitutional recognition, saying the timeline for a referendum has now been pushed back to beyond this term of government.

Notes

(xxvi)  the people of any race , other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws;

Government of territories
                   The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

So you think it's OK to keep voting for your local Liberal or Nationals MP ?


So you think it’s OK to keep voting for your local Liberal or Nationals MP and return them to the federal parliament next year?

That all people on Centrelink income support need to do is pull up their socks and get on with it because many of those Coalition MPs have told their electorates that ‘the best welfare is a job’?

Perhaps it is time to pause and think about the possible relationship between states with low employment opportunities as well as high unemployment levels and states with high working-age suicide rates – and then consider the effect of those punitive welfare policies that first the Abbott and then the Turnbull governments have created or expanded.

Starting with this policy debacle......

ABC News, 15 July 2017:

Fines imposed on welfare recipients in a controversial work-for-the-dole scheme have soared to 300,000 in under two years, prompting renewed claims of poverty and hunger in Aboriginal communities.

Jobless people in remote Australia must work up to three times longer than other unemployed people to receive benefits.

The overwhelming majority of participants in the Community Development Programme (CDP) are Aboriginal.

The latest figures reveal about 54,000 financial penalties were slapped on participants in January, February and March alone for missing activities or being late.

"It's extraordinary," Australian National University researcher Lisa Fowkes said.

"Those 35,000 people have incurred more penalties than all of the 750,000 other Australians in the social security system.

"There is something really seriously wrong with the program, and that's showing up in these figures."

Unemployed people under the CDP must work 25 hours a week to receive welfare payments.


NSW - est. 4 job seekers for every job vacancy
Victoria - est.7 job seekers for every job vacancy
Queensland - est. 8 job seekers for every job vacancy
South Australia – est. 16 job seekers for every job vacancy
Western Australia – est. 10 job seekers for every job vacancy
Tasmania – est. 14 job seekers for every job vacancy
Northern Territory – est. 4 job seekers for every job vacancy
Australian Capital Territory – est. 3 job seekers for every job vacancy

The Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded a total of 2,540 people of workforce age took their own lives in 2015.

The all ages state suicide rates in that year were:

NSW 10.6
Vic     10.8
Qld     15.7
SA      13.4
WA     15.0
Tas     16.3
NT      21.0
ACT    11.6

In 2016 the Australian Youth Development Index reported the state 15-29 year-old suicide rates for 2015 were:

NSW 10.3
Vic     9.7
Qld    12.4
SA     11.6
Tas    13.4
NT     11.2
ACT   9.7

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia, 2015: 

Intentional Self-Harm In Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander People
This section focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide deaths for which the usual residence of the deceased was in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia or the Northern Territory. .....

In 2015, 152 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons died as a result of suicide. The standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons was 25.5 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to 12.5 deaths per 100,000 for non-Indigenous persons. Suicide deaths also accounted for a greater proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths (5.2%) compared with deaths of non-Indigenous Australians (1.8%). 

In the five years from 2011 to 2015, intentional self-harm was the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons between 15 and 34 years of age, and was the second leading cause for those 35-44 years of age. The median age at death for suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons over this period was 28.4 years, compared with 45.1 years in the non-Indigenous population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females had a lower median age at death than males (26.9 years for females compared with 29.0 years for males). 

Australia's population pyramid is not so balanced that it can afford to lose its teenagers and young adults to an early death from despair.

So why are we tolerating a federal govenment which does its best to grind down some of the most vulnerable amongst them - those who cannot easily find paid employment.