Showing posts with label anti-discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anti-discrimination. Show all posts

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Miranda's IPA inspired rant

This was the News Corp mouthpiece for that far-right pressure group the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), Miranda Devine, in full rant (though sticking closely to IPA's wish list) and under multiple mastheads on 18 April 2018:

Malcolm Turnbull has a rare opportunity to put a stop to the Left’s long march when the Race Discrimination Commissioner’s term expires in August
Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane’s term expires in August and the Turnbull government cannot afford to miss this opportunity to stake out its ground in the culture wars.

Conservatives are sick of ­Coalition governments that ­appease the Left, curl into a ball and try not to cause outrage while Labor-Green governments remake the culture in their own image.

The country always takes two steps to the Left with a Labor government and not much better than one step to the Right or even staying in place with the Coalition, which puts us on a very bad trajectory indeed…..

So government gets bigger and more intrusive, the ABC continues unimpeded, destructive quangos such as the Australian Human Rights Commission proliferate and the cancer of identity politics takes hold. Little by little, our remarkable nation is transformed, and division takes root. The self-reliance and entrepreneurial spirit of Australians is sapped and the bonds of mateship are eroded.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The only way to arrest this dispiriting drift to the left is for Coalition governments to stop pretending there are no culture wars and get into the trenches and fight.

With a one-seat majority, a prime minister with fashionably progressive views and an election in the next year, we can’t expect bold actions by the Turnbull government that were beyond the Howard and Abbott governments. Such as closing down the Human Rights Commission.

But Malcolm Turnbull cannot ­afford to keep making mistakes like he did at the ABC when he appointed as chairman a man who is such a leftie he said he couldn’t see any bias.

The symbolic value cannot be over-estimated of replacing Soutphommasane with a commissioner who doesn’t want to use race to divide us.

That’s all this pesky 36-year-old French-born son of Laotian refugees has done since he was appointed to a five-year term by Kevin Rudd in 2013, a month before the Abbott government was elected. Despite the fact Australia gave Soutphommasane’s family a home, a free education at Hursltone Agricultural High and the University of Sydney, and a Commonwealth scholarship to Oxford University, he preaches that this is a racist country.

Despite the fact this is the most successful immigrant country in the world, which has mostly harmoniously absorbed as many as 200,000 new people each year from around the world, Soutphommasane tells us that the culture is toxic.

The former freelance journalist has bought the identity politics agenda, hook, line and sinker. He saw the great honours bestowed on him, such as membership of the board of the National Australia Day Council and the $340,000 gig at the Australian Human Rights Commission, as proof, not that this was a country that offered equality of opportunity to all comers, regardless of the colour of their skin. No, he saw it as more evidence of anti-white racism that needed to be set straight with social engineering.

He will never be forgiven for soliciting racial complaints against a cartoon by the late and much missed Bill Leak, whose persecution under Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act only really ended with his ­untimely death last year of a heart ­attack at 61.

Soutphommasane’s latest obsession is to impose ethnic diversity quotas on corporate Australia. He declared last year that there were too many white people running Australian companies.

In his five years he has just ­libelled Australia, created race-based social divisions and helped fuel a backlash against immigration.

So it’s not good enough for the government to appoint, as is mooted, an innocuous replacement who just avoids the headlines. Restitution is needed. If we must have a racial commissioner, then let it be a clear-eyed patriot who loves this country. Warren Mundine is the best person for the job. Well-respected, brimming with common sense and optimism, he has a proven track ­record as a businessman, and as an Aboriginal and political leader. He would unite us around what’s best about Australia.

This was a restrained Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane in rebuttal the following day:

Friday, 12 January 2018

Australian Politics 2018: and you foolishly thought things might get better this year

Well the democracy canary in the political coal mine fell senseless to the bottom of its cage this month when the Turnbull Government admitted that a high level of secrecy would surround its extra-parliamentary review of religious freedom in Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December 2017:

Public submissions to the Turnbull government's review of religious freedom in Australia will be kept secret, in a marked departure from normal processes, according to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's department.

The department, which has control of the inquiry, said it would not publish the submissions, which is in stark contrast to ordinary parliamentary inquiries, in which most submissions are automatically released.

"Submissions to the Expert Panel will not be published online," a department spokesman said in an emailed statement. "However, where individuals provide consent, submission extracts may be included in public materials."

Late on Tuesday, however, Mr Turnbull's media team sought to intervene by suggesting inquiry chairman Philip Ruddock would decide if submissions were published. The PM's office then instructed his own department to issue a new statement to that effect.

An hour later, the department said decisions on releasing submissions would rest on "whether individuals have provided consent", but that appears impossible, because the online consent form assures people their submission "will not be published in its entirety".

It is expected the high-profile inquiry - prompted by fears about the impact of same-sex marriage on religious practice - will attract submissions from Australia's biggest churches, including the Catholic and Anglican archdioceses of Sydney and Melbourne. It presents an opportunity for religious organisations and other advocates to spell out the exact changes to the law they believe are necessary.

Mr Ruddock said when contacted on Tuesday that the panel had not discussed the publication of submissions and ultimately it was a matter for the PM's department…..

The expert panel - which also includes Australian Human Rights Commission president Rosalind Croucher, Catholic priest Frank Brennan and retired judge Annabelle Bennett - is expected to meet for the first time next Wednesday. 

However, the negative response in mainstream and social media saw the democracy canary revived and placed on life support as the secrecy provisions in the online Consent form have been changed and now only apply to all those submissions received to date.

"The Expert Panel has not yet determined a final approach to publication of submissions. Submissions already provided will not be published without the agreement of the author" 

Which given that the majority of submissions would have been received by now means that it is highly unlikely that submissions made on behalf of religious institutions will ever be published by the Expert Panel.


The submission period for the Religious Freedom Review commenced in December 2017 and ends on 31 January 2018 with the Expert Panel to deliver its findings by 31 March 2018.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

The government's attack on Australian Human Rights Commission president continues unabated

On 28 May 2013 a small group of students sought to use facilities at the dedicated Oodgeroo Unit within the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and were asked to leave.   

The subsequent comments of one or more QUT students on Facebook resulted in a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission by a university administrative employee under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

Conciliation between the parties under the auspices of the Commission failed by August 2015 and, the employee then made application to the Federal Circuit Court Of Australia in Prior V Queensland University Of Technology & Ors to seek what she obviously thought was justifiable legal remedy.

The judgment dismissed that part of the application brought against three students under s18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. However the remainder of the matter involving a fourth student and the university and its named employees is next before the court on 21 November 2016 in what appears to be a directions hearing.

The Turnbull Government leaped on this summary judgment to continue its public attack on Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs – which had commenced in earnest in February last year - culminating this month in Malcolm Bligh Turnbull raising the possibility of sections of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975  being reviewed and possibly amended and suggesting that the Commission had damaged its credibility.

A swift response came from the Australian Human Rights Commission in the form of a media release on Monday 7 November 2016:

There has been considerable public interest in the Commission’s complaint handling processes under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986.  There has been particular interest In the Commission’s handling of complaints under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. 

In relation to the recent QUT case, it is a matter of public record that the Commission terminated this matter in August 2015. The Commission has had no role in the subsequent law suit in the Federal Circuit Court.

At no stage does the Commission initiate or prosecute a complaint. If the Commission receives a complaint in writing alleging a discriminatory act, the Act provides that the Commission must investigate the facts and attempt to conciliate the matter.

The Commission’s focus is on resolving disputes so parties can avoid court proceedings. Of complaints where conciliation was attempted, 76% were successfully resolved in 2015-16.

Only 3% of complaints finalised by the Commission were lodged in court. For example, of the over 80 complaints finalised under the racial hatred provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act last year, only one proceeded to court at the initiation of the complainant.

In the 2015-16 reporting year the average time it took the Commission to finalise a complaint was 3.8 months. In that same reporting year, 94% of surveyed parties were satisfied with the Commission’s service.

The Commission has no judicial powers, and it makes no legally binding determinations as to whether unlawful acts have occurred. The Commission has no statutory power to prevent a complainant proceeding to court once the Commission terminates the complaint. 

The Commission has provided advice to successive governments and Attorneys-General on amendments to the Australian Human Rights Commission Act.  In particular, the Commission has asked for amendments to streamline the process by raising the threshold for accepting complaints.

Refutation of the Turnbull Government's position is also found elsewhere.

Excerpts from Castan Centre for Human Rights LawOfficial Blog, 7 November 2016:

This is all the Australian Human Rights Commission and/or Professor Gillian Triggs’ fault

No it isn’t. The AHRC is not a party in the Prior litigation. Professor Triggs is not acting for Ms Prior (Ms Prior has engaged her own solicitors and counsel). And the student respondents were not in the case because the AHRC put them in there; they were in there because the applicant, Ms Prior, sued them when proceedings were commenced in the Federal Circuit Court in October 2015.

Applicants bring proceedings for discrimination (including under section 18C), not the AHRC. There is one applicant in the proceedings and it is Ms Prior.

If the claims were lacking in substance, the AHRC should have thrown them out – they should never have got to the Court

In order to bring a claim for unlawful discrimination under Federal legislation, the AHRC is the first step in the process. A complaint is made to the AHRC, and the AHRC will then try to resolve the complaint by assisting the parties to reach an agreement for resolution. If the complaint can’t be resolved, the AHRC “terminates” the complaint, and the complainant can then take the terminated complaint off to the Federal Court or the Federal Circuit Court to start a court case.

The AHRC cannot decide discrimination claims, because the AHRC is not a court – it doesn’t have any judges and it doesn’t have the power to impose a resolution on the parties to the complaint. The AHRC cannot decide that a complaint is hopeless and should go no further. The AHRC cannot decide that a complaint will invariably succeed and award damages to the complainant. The function of the AHRC is to investigate (and, if possible, to conciliate), not to decide. The deciding needs to happen in a place where Federal judicial power can be exercised, namely, in the Federal Court or the Federal Circuit Court.

It is true that there are many different grounds on which the AHRC (acting through a delegate of the President of the AHRC) can “terminate” a complaint (which is the necessary precondition for the matter to go to a Federal court). Those grounds include that the delegate “is satisfied that the alleged unlawful discrimination is not unlawful discrimination” or “is satisfied that the complaint was trivial, vexatious, misconceived or lacking in substance”.

According to press reports, Ms Prior’s complaint was terminated on the more commonly used ground that the delegate was “satisfied that there is no reasonable prospect of the matter being settled by conciliation”.

Shouldn’t the AHRC should have taken the harder line? For two reasons, no.

The first is that it wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference. Ms Prior’s right to commence court proceedings would have been exactly the same regardless of the ground on which the complaint was terminated by the delegate. Ms Prior decided, presumably with the benefit of legal advice from the experienced firm of employment lawyers who are acting for her, to commence proceedings against all of the respondents. That was a choice which the AHRC could not have denied her, regardless of what view was expressed by the President or her delegate as to the merits of the claim at the time the complaint was terminated.

The second is that Ms Prior’s complaint is still continuing against four of the respondents (including QUT, who are also represented by highly experienced employment lawyers). Those respondents did not seek to have the claims against them struck out summarily, which suggests that Ms Prior’s claim as a whole could not be properly have been described, at the time the complaint was terminated, as hopeless.

The case proves that section 18C is terrible and must be abolished

Good luck trying to make that one work, given the basis on which the respondents succeeded in convincing the court to dismiss the claims against them. The two respondents who succeeded on the basis of the Court’s analysis of section 18C succeeded on the basis that (a) their Facebook posts were not made “because of” Ms Prior’s (or anyone else’s) race and (b) the posts were not reasonably likely to give rise to offence, insult, humiliation or intimidation.

In making those findings, the Federal Circuit Court expressly referred to the jurisprudence of section 18C to the effect that the section does not extend to “mere slights” but requires “profound and serious effects”. (This is jurisprudence which needs to be mostly ignored in order to advance the case that the words “offend” and “insult” somehow create an overly broad restriction on free speech).

The final respondent succeeded on the basis that there was no evidence that he had made the Facebook post alleged to constitute the breach of section 18C, which has nothing to do with the section, and everything to do with orthodox principles of establishing a “no case to answer submission”. In any litigation, successful defendants will feel aggrieved at having been put to the time and expense of defending claims which failed. However, the fact that a claim fails does not mean that the law used to bring the claim should be demolished.

No-one sensibly suggests dismantling the law of defamation every time a defamation plaintiff loses, or suggests tearing up the law of torts every time a personal injury plaintiff is unsuccessful. For the same reason, it is hard to see any sensible legal basis to suggest that the decision of the Federal Circuit Court last Friday should affect anyone other than the parties to the claim. If only the ability to distinguish “sensible legal basis” from “nonsense” was a precondition to publishing on the topic of section 18C . . .

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

National Congress of Australia's First Peoples writes to Prime Minister Abbott asking him to intervene in WA & SA plans to abandon remote communities

Posted on 28 November 2014

Dear Prime Minister,

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples has noted that the Western Australian and South Australian governments have threatened to shut down services to small and remote townships of the Aboriginal Peoples. We bring this matter to your government for urgent attention to Australian policy regarding the rights of First Peoples.

The First Peoples of Australia had, and will always have, inherent rights to exist on and develop our lands and territories. These rights derive from the continuing and ancient title to these lands and territories, and according to our collective rights to self-determination as Peoples.

By circumstances of Australia’s colonial and post-colonial history, and particularly in the absence of a consent agreement for acquisition and distribution of the wealth from our lands, territories and resources, our Peoples hold as a very minimum the right to enjoy equal outcomes from social and economic advancements benefiting all Australians. This must be clearly understood and respected by all governments in Australia.

The WA government apparently intends to target Aboriginal Peoples on the one hand, whilst continuing to provide high standards of municipal services to non-Indigenous citizens on the other. We cannot accept the WA and SA governments have legitimate authority under Australian or international law to racially discriminate to disrupt or destroy the livelihoods, accommodations or habitat of the First Peoples of Australia.

Congress must also take into account that other States may be contemplating reduction or withdrawal of services to our Peoples in the same way as Western Australia and South Australia.

Constitutionally, the Australian Government has the highest authority in the nation in order to promote and protect the rights of the First Peoples of Australia.

It is part of the international responsibilities and it is a responsibility that should not and cannot be discarded or devolved to other levels of government.

Congress brings to your attention that your government essentially reaffirmed its obligations to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples a few months ago at the United Nations General Assembly, during the high-level plenary session known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

The national government holds ultimate responsibility to promote and respect equality and non-discrimination in the nation and, in that context, also to ensure our Peoples are correctly acknowledged as rights holders as Indigenous Peoples.

These standards to which we refer are enshrined in the human rights treaties that Australia has signed and ratified, along with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Congress requests your government immediately affirm to the states and territories that rights of the First Peoples are paramount in any fiscal arrangements to address social and economic development.

We consider it appropriate that this matter also be discussed at the next Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.

Congress also requests an urgent meeting with you to further discuss this important matter.

Yours sincerely,

Kirstie Parker and Les Malezer,
Congress Co-Chairs

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Who's afraid to say lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex?

The following media release from the Hon. Mark Butler MP meant nothing at first until I decoded his slavish adherence to a little known acronym. One could be forgiven for suspecting that the Minister for Mental Health and Aging, as well as Social Inclusion, was uncomfortable with the use of plain English.

Apart from that – well done, Minister.

24 July 2012

The Gillard Government will develop a National LGBTI Aged Care Strategy to support the implementation of Living Longer Living Better.

Minister for Ageing Mark Butler said he had acted on the advice of the Productivity Commission as well as groups like the ACON Health Ltd, the National LGBTI Health Alliance and the GLBTI Retirement Association.

“We are predicting a large increase in the demand for aged care by this group,” Mr Butler said.

“And there is a broad community consensus that it is important to recognise people who are LGBTI in the same way as we recognise the needs of other diverse groups such as people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

“Ultimately it’s about recognising difference and ensuring equality.

“We will work with the National LGBTI Health Alliance to develop a comprehensive strategy to make sure the needs of LGBTI Australians are addressed in the implementation of our $3.7 billion aged care reform package,” Mr Butler said.

Mr Butler said the strategy builds on the support already announced Living Longer Living Better package already provides support for LGBTI Australians.

“In April, I announced $2.5 million to support staff training that is sensitive to the specific needs of these older Australians,” Mr Butler said.

“This funding supports aged care providers to work with their staff to continually improve how they respond to the diverse and complex needs of the older Australians they support.

“The National LGBTI Aged Care Strategy will provide direction for providers and better articulate and coordinate our aims.

For all media enquiries, please contact the minister’s office on (02) 6277 7280

Monday, 19 March 2012

Lismore protestors redecorate Christian Democrat anti-gay marriage truck

StarOnline on 18th March 2012:
“Lismore’s gay and lesbian community has grounded a truck displaying signage with anti-gay messages which warn of the dangers of same-sex marriage to children.
Locals staged a protest throughout the night and this morning, blockading the truck by parking another vehicle in front it while around 10 – 15 protesters sat behind it to demand the signage be taken down.
Overnight, slogans featuring the words ‘equal love’ and ‘love not hate’ were graffitied over the truck’s signage and the vehicle was covered with coloured streamers and glitter.
A local demonstrator, who requested not to be named, said the protest was not formally planned but was a, “groundswell community response.”
“There were a lot of families there who were distressed and offended by the message,” she told the Star Observer.
“This truck has been travelling the state and no-one is doing anything about it.”

Pics from @ABCNorthCoast

Friday, 17 February 2012

Page MP Janelle Saffin hosts local National Disability Insurance Scheme forums in Grafton and Casino, 21 February 2012

Page MP Janelle Saffin has organised two National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) forums to be held in Grafton and Casino next week.

“I have said that I will keep the community informed on the progress of the NDIS and I am delighted that the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas has agreed to come to Page to deliver the forums with me.

“The National Disability Insurance Scheme for Australia is a fundamental reform to how we respond to and provide care and services to people.”

“An NDIS means people with a disability and their carers having a say in how they are supported; it means making sure support reaches those who need it, and it means breaking down barriers to schooling, work and community life.

“I encourage as many organisations; people with disabilities; carers and friends of those with disabilities, to attend either of these important information sessions.”

“I know how important it is for local people that we get on with the job of building the NDIS and the forums will provide an opportunity for local people to stay informed about how the Australian Government is working with the States and Territories to push these reforms through.

“Many key local organisations have been working with me to make sure we had these forums here, including DAISI, and disability service providers Caringa Enterprises and Windara, RED Inc and others, and I thank them for their support,” Ms Saffin said.

The forums will take place next Tuesday 21 February 2012. The Grafton forum is at 10.30 at Caringa Enterprises and the Casino Forum is at 2.30 pm at Windara Communities.

Both venues have full access and if you would like to attend please contact Matt Dunne at Ms. Saffin’s electorate office on 1300 301 735 for further details. Bookings are essential.

[Janelle Saffin MP Media Release, 16 February 2102]

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

NSW North Coast community workers closer to equal pay

Page community service workers closer to equal pay
Federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, said an estimated 2000 community service workers in the Northern Rivers are a step closer to achieving equal pay following the Australian Government’s announcement that it will provide $2 billion to help deliver any pay rises awarded to workers in the sector.
“These workers have incredibly challenging but personally rewarding jobs, caring for people with disabilities, counselling families in crisis, running homeless shelters and working with victims of domestic or sexual assault,” Ms Saffin said.  
“We all acknowledge the value of their roles, and it is time to pay more than lip service to this, and fund their work based on fairness.  In short, give these workers a fair go."
“This historic commitment from the Government will help 150,000 Australians, including 120,000 women; achieve the equal pay they deserve.”
Australia has undervalued workers in the social and community services sector-because their work has been viewed as women’s work and Fair Work Australia acknowledged the gender gap in the industry pay rates in part of its judgement handed down earlier this year.
“Plainly it is wrong that full time working women earn on average one fifth less than men.
“It was the Australian Labor Government that changed the Fair Work Act and broadened the equal pay provisions so that the Australian Services Union could mount the pay equity case. 
“As a long time advocate of equal pay for women and low paid workers, I have stood with local ASU members at equal pay rallies, and told them I was committed to both winning the pay equity and most importantly, winning the funds to flow for such. 
ASU State Secretary, Sally McManus thanked Janelle for her support.
“We’ve been fighting for this for years and we applaud the Government’s decision.
“Janelle has always been fighting on our side for this and she’s been part of making this happen and for that we are eternally grateful,” Ms McManus said.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that the Government will submit a joint proposal with the Australian Services Union to Fair Work Australia which, if accepted, will fund the Federal Government’s share of wage increases for workers in the sector.
The Government will be encouraging major providers in the sector as well as other unions and state governments to join its submission.
Ms Saffin said if the Government’s submission is supported by FWA it will mean fair pay and thousands of dollars extra in the pay packets for community sector workers and their families.
“”The increases will vary across jobs and classifications, but are expected to be around 7 to 15 percent.
 “For example, a disability support worker at classification level two could receive an extra $7000 a year, or a level six youth outreach worker could receive an extra $18, 000,” Ms Saffin said.
“As the Prime Minister said, this is an  historic announcement  for social and community sector workers and something only a Labor Government will deliver.’

11 November 2011
Media contact:  Lee Duncan 0448 158 150

Friday, 30 September 2011

Now before everyone grows all shouty about Eastock v Andrew Bolt & The Herald and Weekly Times Pty Ltd

It wasn’t because of the subject Teh Bolta broached that he fell afoul of the law – it was the inaccurate, misleading, sarcastic, mocking, insulting, offensive, provocative, inflammatory and bad faith way he wrote about it:

30. Finally, in dealing with the formulation of the orders to be made by the Court, I have observed that it is important that nothing in the orders I make should suggest that it is unlawful for a publication to deal with racial identification, including by challenging the genuineness of the identification of a group of people. I have not found Mr Bolt and the Herald & Weekly Times to have contravened section 18C, simply because the newspaper articles dealt with subject matter of that kind. I have found a contravention of the Racial Discrimination Act because of the manner in which that subject matter was dealt with.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Women of New South Wales - Unite! Equal Pay Rally & March on 8 June 2011 in Sydney, Newcastle and Lismore NSW

Equal Pay for Women

Community Worker Equal Pay Campaign

12 noon – The Tram Sheds, Newcastle Foreshore Park, Wharf Rd, Newcastle
11am – Cnr Carrington & Magellan St, LISMORE, Northern NSW

On 16 May 2011 Fair Work Australia (FWA) ruled that the ASU and its Equal Pay Case partners have proved that social and community services workers in the not for profit sector are underpaid and that at least part of the reason for that underpayment is gender. However, FWA is seeking further submissions in order to determine the rate of increases.

The NSW O'Farrell Government is resisting equal pay for women and argued that:

  1. the previously agreed pay equity principles should NOT be applied – fundamentally calling on FWA to restrict the capacity for community workers achieve equal pay and set in law principles which will obstruct any future equal pay cases.
  2. the work of non-government community workers is not as valuable as the work of government workers doing similar work.
  3. increases in community workers pay should NOT be awarded...

We all need to take action. We have struggled for decades… the fight is not won.
On June 8 all equal pay supporters must rally in support of the Equal Pay Campaign.

For national events go to:

[Australian Services Union NSW & ACT (Services) Branch, excerpts from email of 13 May 2011 and ASU website ]

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

With Liberal Party anti-muslim sentiment off the reservation, the hate emails are again doing the rounds

Abbott, Bernardi, Morrison, Bolt, Jones et al should be very careful about blowing those anti-Islam dog whistles, as it takes very little for Cronulla-style hate to bubble to the top once more.

Various versions of the 'story' below has been around for more than a year on Facebook pages, in online chat rooms, the odd letter to the editor in obscure newspapers and unsurprisingly have recently resurfaced as a nasty tweet or email this year.
The Nik mentioned appears to only exist in cyberspace.

Nik Ziogopoulos states what is fact and what we all believe.
Nik would be in his 70's at least.

Nik Ziogopoulos
I emigrated to Australia over 60 years ago – On the ship there were Poms,Italians (Spags), Germans (Huns), Yugoslavs (Yuges), Poles, Ducchys, Ukes (Ukrainians) and Greeks. (Note – All European people!!) all looking forward to starting a new life in Australia . I arrived with 30 quid in my pocket and that’s all I had to my name Did I put my hand out?? Of course not – I got a job and paid my way just like everyone else who came to this country back then.

Now, it’s my taxes that subsidize these people who think they have Gods given right (read Allah) to come here and criticise those of us who have worked for the country we now call home.

If I didn’t like what I saw when I got here I would have gone home – they have the same option.
If they don’t want to become an Australian,

When will this stop?
They want 2 of their own public holidays, because Christians have
Christmas, Easter & Good Friday,
They force our children to eat Halal Meat Pies and Sausage Rolls from the school canteens, so the Muslim kids can feel more Aussie. We were not consulted about this change - they went ahead and just did it.
Our foods are slowly all becoming Halal foods, our cheeses, chocolates & even good old sanitarium foods

Our Government is ALLOWING this to happen.. It has to stop now, while we still have some power to be able to stop it.

Regarding Our National Anthem -

I am sorry, but after hearing they want to sing the National Anthem in Arabic - enough is enough. Nowhere or at no other time in our nation's history, did they sing it in Italian, Japanese, Polish, Irish (Celtic), German, Portuguese, Ukrainian, Greek, or any other language because of immigration.
It was written in English, and should be sung word for word the way it was written.

The news broadcasts even gave the translation -- not even close.

I am not sorry if this offends anyone, this is MY COUNTRY -
IF IT IS YOUR COUNTRY SPEAK UP ---- please pass this along

I am not against immigration -- just come through like everyone else. Get a sponsor; have a place to lay your head; have a job; pay your taxes, live by the rules AND LEARN THE LANGUAGE as all other immigrants have in the past -- and LONG LIVE Australia !

Think about this:
If you don't want to forward this for fear of offending someone-
Will we still be the Country of Choice and still be Australia if we continue
to make the changes forced on us by the people from other countries
who have come to live in Australia because it is their Country of Choice??

Think about it!


It is Time for Australia to Speak up!
If you agree -- pass this along; if you don't agree -- delete it!
That's your choice.

(in this Australia where 'freedom of speech' is a fundamental right of every Australian)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Better access to film and TV programming for all Australians

From Regional Arts NSW December-January e-newletter:

In November Accessible Arts released an article on two rulings by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) which will substantially increase access to regular film and television programming for Australians who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or with low vision. In May 2010 the AHRC ruled that cinemas must meet their legislative requirements to provide access for Australians who are Deaf, hard of hearing, blind or with low vision. This was followed in October by the Commission's refusal to grant a temporary exemption from captioning of pay TV programs to ASTRA, the peak body for pay TV representing 34 broadcasters who operate 91 subscription TV channels. Sancha Donald, CEO of Accessible Arts, welcomes the AHRC rulings. "Viewing these decisions together I think we can gauge a shift in the way access to entertainment is being thought about," said Ms Donald. Accessible Arts has a variety of Disability Awareness and Access Training packages tailored to meet the needs of arts organisations, festivals and venues available online at

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Another attempt to define protections for Australian mental health service consumers

National standards for mental health services 2010
National standards for mental health services 2010 (PDF 699 KB large file)

"This document outlines a set of mental health service standards which can be applied to all mental health services, including government, non-government and private sectors across Australia."

Standard 6.


Consumers have the right to comprehensive and integrated mental health care that meets their individual needs and achieves the best possible outcome in terms of their recovery.
(Note: The consumer standard is not assessable, as it contains criteria that are all assessable within the other standards.)


6.1 Consumers have the right to be treated with respect and dignity at all times.

6.2 Consumers have the right to receive service free from abuse, exploitation, discrimination, coercion, harassment and neglect.

6.3 Consumers have the right to receive a written statement, together with a verbal explanation, of their rights and responsibilities in a way that is understandable to them as soon as possible after entering the MHS.

6.4 Consumers are continually educated about their rights and responsibilities.

6.5 Consumers have the right to receive the least restrictive treatment appropriate, considering the consumer’s preference, the demands on carers, and the availability of support and safety of those involved.

6.6 A mental health professional responsible for coordinating clinical care is identified and made known to consumers.

6.7 Consumers are partners in the management of all aspects of their treatment, care and recovery planning.

6.8 Informed consent is actively sought from consumers prior to any service or intervention provided or any changes in care delivery are planned, where it is established that the consumer has capacity to give informed consent.

6.9 Consumers are provided with current and accurate information on the care being delivered.

6.10 Consumers have the right to choose from the available range of treatment and support programs appropriate to their needs.

6.11 The right of consumers to involve or not to involve carers and others is recognised and respected by the MHS.

6.12 Consumers have an individual exit plan with information on how to re-enter the service if needed.

6.13 Consumers are actively involved in follow-up arrangements to maintain continuity of care.

6.14 The right of consumers to have access to their own health records is recognised in accordance with relevant Commonwealth and state / territory legislation / guidelines.

6.15 Information about consumers can be accessed by authorised persons only.

6.16 The right of the consumer to have visitors and maintain close relationships with family and friends is recognised and respected by the MHS.

6.17 Consumers are engaged in development, planning, delivery and evaluation of the MHS.

6.18 Training and support is provided for consumers involved in a formal advocacy and / or support role within the MHS.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The sheer futility of Internet censorship - mind numbingly stupid racist webpage still exists

At the end of last week Granny Herald mentioned that Google had taken down a website at the request of an Australian citizen:
"Google has agreed to take down links to a website that promotes racist views of indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal man Steve Hodder-Watt recently discovered the US-based site by searching "Aboriginal and Encyclopedia" in the search engine.
He tried to modify the entry on Encyclopedia Dramatica, a satirical and extremely racist version of Wikipedia, but was blocked from doing so.
Mr Hodder-Watt then undertook legal action, that resulted in Google acknowledging its legal responsibility to remove the offensive site.
His lawyer, George Newhouse, said the site was "one of the most offensive sorts of racial vilification you could possibly find".
"It portrays indigenous Australians in the most unsavoury light possible, and you wouldn't want a child stumbling across it," he told ABC Radio.
Mr Newhouse said Google agreed to take the link down after he filed an official complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission."
I imagine that this news report gave Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy a warm fuzzy feeling in the middle of his little tum tum. The good ship HMAS Censorship was afloat.
Except that the Google search engine index still contains links to the website, as well as at least one direct link to the offending webpage along with cache {and no, I won't link to it because it's too bluidy ripe} and the entire page can be easily viewed again as it's internally linked from the website's homepage.
Not only that, but now this supposedly censored page contains a very offensive cartoon of the man who complained to Google Inc.
According to the relevant Google search results; "In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed 4 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read more about the request at" and "we have removed 1 result(s) from this page" appear.
Chilling Effects displays a letter which states; "Google received a complaint about a website that allegedly violates the Australian Anti Discrimination Act. Accordingly, Google removed the website from".
However, three days later and I'm able to view the updated nasty, spiteful webpage with ease on
By the end of this week I expect that there will be other links to this alleged satire growing out there in cyberspace, as it is already starting off with well over 3,000 sites (including Twitter) linking in from Uzbekistan through to China, Europe, Australia and the Americas.
If Google can't effectively censor the dynamic World Wide Web, what hope do you think you have, Stevo?

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Equal Pay Day, Australia 1 September 2009

Equal pay for equal work - still a global sick joke at the expense of women.

In Australia 40 years after the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission established the principle that women should receive equal pay for equal work and 10 years after establishment of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (EOWW Act) the following conditions still exist.

· Women working full-time, year-round in Australia are paid only about 83 cents for every dollar earned by men.
· Lower wages mean less lifetime earnings for women giving them a lifetime of fewer choices.
· Some women in CEO and finance positions earn less than half of their male equivalents.
· The pay gap for women key management personnel is on average 28.3%, 11% higher than the national average gender pay gap.
· The average superannuation payout to a woman is projected to be $150,000: that’s half of the average payout to a man in 2010-11.
· The 17.3% gender pay gap is a national average that opens up to over 30% in some industry sectors.
· Pay inequity reveals systemic discrimination and continued under-valuation of women’s work.
· Equal pay for women can raise family income which means more money to spend on food, housing and childcare. Single mothers and working families lose thousands of dollars annually to the wage gap.

[ taken from]

* If current earning patterns continue, the average 25 year old male would earn $2.4 million over the next 40 years while the average 25 year old female would earn $1.5 million (AMP NATSEM (2009), “She works hard for the money”, Income and Wealth Report, Issue 22, p. 34 available at
* Women are two and half times more likely to live in poverty in their old age than men — by 2019, on average, women will have half the amount of superannuation that men have (Queensland Government (2009), “Women and Superannuation”, Focus on Women, Office for Women, Information Paper 3) available at
* The pay gap starts from the moment women leave university, with female graduates earning on average $2,000 p/a less than male graduates ( GradStats 2008, Table 4, available at
[taken from National Foundation for Australian Women]

"Many Australians believe women won equal pay in the 70s - but they are wrong," ACTU president Sharan Burrow.

Yes, you've come a long way but you still have a long way to go - and it's only taken an entire lifetime (from babe in arms to retirement) for women to achieve an average female wage rise from around 50 per cent of the average male wage to about 83 per cent of the average male wage. A mere 33 percentge points increase towards wage equality.

Cartoon from Google Images

Friday, 28 August 2009

UN tells Australia: If it has feathers, looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck - then it's a duck!

Today the United Nations told Australia that, yes, it is that peculiar breed of duck - a country of entrenched racism and discrimination:

Statement of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, as he concludes his visit to Australia

CANBERRA/GENEVA - The Government of Australia is to be commended for taking significant steps to improve the human rights and socio-economic conditions of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia, as well as for its recent expression of support for United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and for its apology to the victims of the Stolen Generation. After several days in Australia listening and learning, however, I have observed a need to develop new initiatives and reform existing ones—in consultation and in real partnership with indigenous peoples—to conform with international standards requiring genuine respect for cultural integrity and self-determination.

Over the past 11 days, I have met with Government authorities, representatives of indigenous communities and organisations, and others, in Canberra, South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. I have visited a number of indigenous communities in both remote and urban areas, and have collected information from several sources. I would like to express my appreciation for the support of the Government and to the indigenous individuals and organisations that provided indispensible support in planning and coordinating the visit. I would also like to express my appreciation to the United Nations Information Centre.

While I must now take some time to review and analyse the substantial amount of information I have received, and to follow up with further exchanges of information with the Government, indigenous peoples of Australia, and other sources, I would like to provide here a few preliminary observations.

During my time in Australia, I have been impressed with demonstrations of strong and vibrant indigenous cultures and have been inspired by the strength, resilience and vision of indigenous communities determined to move toward a better future despite having endured tremendous suffering at the hands of historical forces and entrenched racism. It is clear that these historical forces continue to make their presence known today, manifesting themselves in serious disparities between indigenous and non-indigenous parts of society, including in terms of life expectancy, basic health, education, unemployment, incarceration, children placed under care and protection orders, and access to basic services.

Given these disparities, the Government has developed and implemented a number of important initiatives in order to "close the gap" of indigenous disadvantage within a wide range of social and economic areas, with a stated emphasis on women and children, and these programmes must continue to be improved and strengthened. I would also like to stress that I have learned of numerous programmes in place by indigenous authorities and organisations at the local, regional and national levels that have been working effectively to address the many problems that their communities face.

Aspects of the Government's initiatives to remedy situations of indigenous disadvantage, however, raise concerns. Of particular concern is the Northern Territory Emergency Response, which by the Government's own account is an extraordinary measure, especially in its income management regime, imposition of compulsory leases, and community-wide bans on alcohol consumption and pornography. These measures overtly discriminate against aboriginal peoples, infringe their right of self-determination and stigmatize already stigmatized communities.

I would like to stress that affirmative measures by the Government to address the extreme disadvantage faced by indigenous peoples and issues of safety for children and women are not only justified, but they are in fact required under Australia's international human rights obligations. However, any such measure must be devised and carried out with due regard of the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination and to be free from racial discrimination and indignity.

In this connection, any special measure that infringes on the basic rights of indigenous peoples must be narrowly tailored, proportional, and necessary to achieve the legitimate objectives being pursued. In my view, the Northern Territory Emergency Response is not. In my opinion, as currently configured and carried out, the Emergency Response is incompatible with Australia's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, treaties to which Australia is a party, as well as incompatible with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which Australia has affirmed its support.

I note with satisfaction that a process to reform the Emergency Response is currently underway and that the Government has initiated consultations with indigenous groups in the Northern Territory in this connection. I hope that amendments to the Emergency Response will diminish or remove its discriminatory aspects and adequately take into account the rights of aboriginal peoples to self determination and culture integrity, in order to bring this Government initiative in line with Australia's international obligations. Furthermore, I urge the Government to act swiftly to reinstate the protections of the Racial Discrimination Act in regard to the indigenous peoples of the Northern Territory.

Beyond the matter of the Northern Territory Emergency Response, I am concerned that there is a need to incorporate into government programmes a more holistic approach to addressing indigenous disadvantage across the country, one that is compatible with the objective of the United Nations Declaration of securing for indigenous peoples, not just social and economic wellbeing, but also the integrity of indigenous communities and cultures, and their self-determination.

This approach must involve a real partnership between the Government and the indigenous peoples of Australia, to move towards a future, as described by Prime Minister Rudd in his apology to indigenous peoples last year, that is "based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility," and that is also fully respectful of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples to maintain their distinct cultural identities, languages, and connections with traditional lands, and to be in control of their own destinies under conditions of equality.

Given what I have learned thus far, it would seem to me that the objectives of the closing the gap campaign, the Emergency Response, and other current initiatives and proposed efforts of the Government will be best achieved in partnership with indigenous peoples' own institutions and decision-making bodies, which are those that are most familiar with the local situations. It is worth stressing that during my visit, I have observed numerous successful indigenous programmes already in place to address issues of alcoholism, domestic violence, health, education, and other areas of concern, in ways that are culturally appropriate and adapted to local needs, and these efforts need to be included in and supported by the Government response, both logistically and financially. In particular, it is essential to provide continued funding to programmes that have already demonstrated achievements.

I did observe a number of Government partnerships with local initiatives that appear to be succeeding, but I also heard many accounts of situations in which Government programmes fail to take into account existing local programmes already in place, hampering their ultimate success. In this connection, I am concerned about any initiatives that duplicate or replace the programmes of Aboriginals and Torres Straight Islanders already in place, or that undermine local decision-making through indigenous peoples' own institutions. In addition, international human rights norms, including those contained in the United Nations Declaration, affirmatively guarantee the right of indigenous peoples to participate fully at all levels of decision-making in matters which may affect their rights, lives and destinies, as well as to maintain and develop their own decision-making institutions and programmes. Further, adequate options and alternatives for socio-economic development and violence prevention programmes should be developed in full consultation with affected indigenous communities and organisations.

It is also necessary to ensure the meaningful, direct participation of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples in the design of programmes and policies at the national level, within a forum that is genuinely representative of the rights and interests of indigenous peoples. In this regard, I welcome the initiative that is supported by the Government to move towards development of a model for a new national indigenous representative body and emphasise that indigenous participation in the development of this body is fundamental.

At the same time, I would like to echo the statements I have heard from indigenous leaders of the need for indigenous peoples themselves to continue to strengthen their own organisational and local governance capacity, in order to meet the challenges faced by their communities, and in this connection I note the importance of restoring or building strong and healthy relationships within families and communities.

I would also note a need to move deliberately to adopt genuine reconciliation measures, such as the proposed recognition of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples in a charter of rights to be included in the Constitution. I am pleased that the Government has expressed its willingness in this regard, and I urge it to provide a high priority to this initiative. As has been stressed to me by the indigenous representatives with whom I have met, constitutional recognition and protection of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples would provide a measure of long-term security for these rights, and provide an important building block for reconciliation and a future of harmonious relations between indigenous and non-indigenous parts of Australian society.

Furthermore, it is important to note that securing the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands is of central importance to indigenous peoples' socio-economic development, self-determination, and cultural integrity. Continued efforts to resolve, clarify, and strengthen the protection of indigenous lands and resources should be made. In this regard, government initiatives to address the housing needs of indigenous peoples, should avoid imposing leasing or other arrangements that would undermine indigenous peoples' control over their lands. I also urge the Government to comply with the recommendations concerning indigenous lands and resources made by the treaty-monitoring bodies of the United Nations, including the recommendation of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to advance in discussions with Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders about possible amendments to the Native Title Act and finding solutions acceptable to all.

Finally, I would like to reiterate the importance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for framing and evaluating legislation, policies, and actions that affect the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Peoples. The Declaration expresses the global consensus on the rights of indigenous peoples and corresponding state obligations on the basis of universal human rights. I recommend that the Government undertake a comprehensive review of all its legislation, policies, and programmes that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in light of the Declaration.