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

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

NSW Northern Rivers 2020: There are kind people in our midst.......


The Northern Star, 19 March 2020:

After seeing distressed elderly people trying to shop in Ballina, Annika Korsgaard knew how she could help. 

In just 24 hours, the Lennox Head resident began implementing her idea to start a non-contact shopping and delivery service to help the ageing community members most vulnerable to COVID-19. 


Ms Korsgaard posted notices on several Facebook groups in the Ballina Shire, offering to shop for the elderly and home deliver their groceries and medications for free. 


Within hours she received numerous offers of assistance from other people volunteering their time to serve the community. 


This prompted her to build a basic website called HELP! (www.helpourcommunity.com.au) to manage the rapid influx of requests for assistance and volunteer offers. 


“I had no idea this was going to spark any attention beyond a few people,” she said.“I am so thrilled a lot more people are coming on board.”


Sunday, 22 March 2020

This is not the Australia I grew up in.......



The Age, 17 March 2020:

Regional towns are being swamped by bus loads of panicked "Coles tourists" who are driving from the city to strip supermarket shelves of basic supplies.

The Age has heard reports of city-dwellers rushing supermarkets in Gisborne, Kyneton, Romsey, Seymour, Woodend, Daylesford and even in towns as far away as Kerang and Deniliquin.

Woodend, about 70 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, is now pleading for outsiders to give them a few days' break so its own elderly residents and families can buy necessities.

"We have one supermarket in town, a Coles, and we love our tourists, but we've got bus loads of people coming through and doing multiple runs through the store," Reverend Mel Clarke said.

"Coles have put limits on, but they're still able to clear us out."

Reverend Clarke, from St Mary's Anglican Church, said people had been coming to her door asking if she had supplies, but she too had now run out of many essentials.

She was in Kyneton when she spoke to The Age on Tuesday and said two buses had just arrived at the town's Woolworths.

"I don't know what they think they're going to get," she said.

"(In Woodend) we're trying our hardest amongst the community to make sure everyone has enough. We've got a neighbourhood house where if you've got a spare roll of toilet paper you can drop it off. We've got community groups popping up.

"But we just need a few days without the Coles tourists to get us back on our feet."

At the Romsey IGA, about 20 kilometres east of Woodend, it's been "like Christmas Eve" every day since mass cancellations began on Friday.

Kristi Gilbert, who co-runs a community Facebook page with more than 2000 members, said she had never seen anything like it in 10 years of Romsey life.

She said reports from shop staff was that many people were arriving from Melbourne, but some were also coming from larger regional centres like Bendigo.

Kate Bossence, from Kerang in northern Victoria, said supermarket shelves there started emptying during a rush of Melbourne tourists on the long weekend last week.

The 47-year-old said she had noticed mini-buses full of people stopping off at the local supermarkets that had "cleaned out absolutely everything".

"Since the long weekend, I just noticed that people behind the cash registers are struggling with the amount of produce that people are buying," Ms Bossence, an ex-nurse, said.

"It's kind of really reached a critical stage now.

"That leaves us locals, and aged pensioners, disability pensioners, with no food to really survive on for the next couple of weeks if we do go into lockdown which is looking more and more likely."

Woolworths opened at 7am on Tuesday and admitted only those with pension or disability cards for the next hour. Results were mixed across the city.

In Prahran, more than 100 elderly people lined up before dawn and almost all went straight for the empty toilet paper aisle.

They get us out of bed so early in the morning and the shelves are bare," Leah, 71, said.

"The three most important things - tissues, toilet paper and meat - and they are not there. I had to buy gyoza. We're not used to eating gyoza, but now we have to eat anything.

"I woke up at 3am and I didn't want to go back to sleep in case I slept and missed the toilet paper. But I missed it anyway. It's hard for us because we're old. I can't even walk. I had to take tablets just to be able to get here."

Monday, 3 February 2020

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison & his merry band of cost cutters decided to save $9.2 million a year by cutting off CapTel phones for the profoundly deaf. Luckily this new front in Morrison's ongoing war on the poor & vulnerable was something of a fizzer


"The Commonwealth Government has awarded American company, Concentrix Services a contract to deliver the National Relay Service (NRS). One of the first things Concentrix is contracted to do is to shut down the CapTel handset service on 1 February 2020." [Deaf Forum of Australia, July 2019]

ABC News, 31 January 2020: 

Thousands of hearing-impaired Australians could face a return to 1980s technology from today after the Federal Government cancelled a deal to support text-captioning telephones. 

Phones with CapTel captioning display words on a large screen in near real time, so deaf and hearing-impaired users can make calls and see the responses. 

But in a decision criticised by disability advocates, the phones will not work as of February 1, after the Department of Communications declined to renew the service provider's contract with the National Relay Service (NRS).  
A new company won the contract. [Concentrix Services Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of the SYNNEX Corporation]

It will force users to take up alternative options, with many choosing to revert back to what are known as TTY teletypewriter phones — technology first introduced in the 1980s. 

For Christine O'Reilly, the CapTel phone changed her life. Ms O'Reilly's hearing has been deteriorating since childhood and now at 62, she is profoundly hearing impaired. 

"When I received the CapTel I was so overjoyed I burst into tears," she said..... 

Critics say the decision has come down to one thing: money. 

The cost of the NRS has blown out in recent years, from $26.3 million in 2015-16, to $31.2 million in 2017-18...... 

The new NRS contract awarded last June provides for $22 million per year over three years. 

Until recently there were more than 3,500 CapTel handsets distributed across Australia. The Department of Communications estimates about 1,000 are still active. 

"I certainly acknowledge any transition of this kind is challenging, particularly for older Australians who may not be as familiar with technology," 

Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher said. "We've retained a team of trainers who've been going to meet individually with CapTel users to brief them on their alternatives." .....

It is expected many users will switch to TTY teletypewriter phones, which have a small two-line screen for text above the number pad. 

"We're having to go backwards in time, and everyone else can get the latest iPhone," said Dr Alex Harrison, a profoundly deaf veterinarian in Adelaide. 

"[I feel] enormously frustrated and discriminated against," he said. 

Dr Harrison said the CapTel phone had revolutionised his practice, allowing him to easily make up to 10 calls a day. 

Making a call on a TTY phone is much more complicated. "If I want to make a phone call on the TTY, I have to call a 133 number first … and they'll put me through to an operator," he explained. 

Once you do that, you may be put on hold or told you are in a queue to make a call. 

On January 7, the department acknowledged wait times to get through were unacceptable. 

"We understand and acknowledge community disappointment about these issues and can assure you that we are focused on resolving these concerns as a priority," it said. 

To address the wait times, the relay service provider Concentrix is currently hiring and training additional staff. 

New staff took their first calls just prior to Christmas and more staff will commence during the rest of January. 

Other options offered by the Department of Communications are internet-based call captioning and apps designed to work on mobile phones and tablets. 

But users said many of the online options were much slower and less user-friendly, requiring them to fill in multiple fields just to initiate a phone call. 

"The other options are far too slow. They're primitive," Ms O'Reilly said. 

 And advocates point out the average age of CapTel phone users is more than 80. 

"For an elderly person who's not tech savvy, [these options] can be very intimidating, and often they can't do it. Some of these people are 80 or 90, and they really struggle with that," Dr Harrison said..... [my annotation in red]

"It is indeed a big shock to many Australians, and myself, who rely and need the Captel handset. It seems to me that this section of people with a hearing loss have been sacrificed in a big way so that the TTY can be ‘re-introduced’ and then plunge those who went deaf later in life and whom can speak, right back in the dark ages. It is also a direct insult to the intelligence of the people who worked long and hard to get Captel up and running in Australia. Many of our members have spoken of their dismay and disgust, particularly being isolated and the loss of their independence. In the long run, this move will cost the Australian government much more than it does now." [Deaf Forum of Australia, July 2019]


Thankfully, Captioned Telephone International, the company whose contact the Morrison Government refused to renew and, its president Rob Engelke, have bigger, kinder hearts than either Prime Minister Scott Morrison or Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher, as Mr. Engelke has committed the company to maintaining the CapTel system for those Australians who would otherwise lose their handsets by arranging for the routing of all calls through the company's U.S. captioning centres, while it investigates long-term options based in Australia.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Australia 2019-2020: "I have never been prouder of my nation. Leaderless, leaders emerged ... "


This is author Jackie French:

Jackie and her husband Bryan live in the Araluen valley, a deep valley on the edge of the Deua wilderness area. Most of their property is now a Conservation Refuge for the many rare and endangered species of the area. They live in a home made stone house, with a waterwheel Bryan made as well as solar panels to power their house, with an experimental orchard of over 800 fruit trees and more than 272 kinds of fruit that show how farming can coexist with wildlife. Jackie writes columns for the Canberra Times, Australian Women’s Weekly, Earthgarden Magazine, Australian Wellbeing and Gardening Australia. Her garden rambles over about 4 hectares, and there is never a time when there aren't basketsful of many kinds of fruit to pick.

The opinion piece below was penned by French.....

The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 January 2020: 

It is impossible to weep. 

I cannot weep because this is only the beginning. Logs smoulder on our ridges, a tide of injured wildlife is sweeping down into our refuge. I have been living out of a suitcase for most of the past six weeks, evacuated twice, sleeping in many different places and accepting generosity too great to count. I need to clean the pink sludge from the fridge (hint: remove watermelon from fridge before evacuating), keep putting out food and water stations, cope as desperately injured wildlife emerges from the flames, and help others in every possible way I can. 

Focus on what you can do. Don’t cry for what you can’t. 

I also cannot weep because I dare not even imagine yet all that we’ve lost. Friends have lost their houses and towns, entire communities have been displaced, the social links that make us who we are, as social beings, turned to smoke. Tourist towns have no tourists – or the heritage buildings that made them tourist towns. Businesses are bankrupt. Evacuees like me have lost months of paid work, with more lost months to come. I am OK. Many are not. 

The carefully planted local Indigenous "food larder" landscape I have loved and depended upon most of my life, and that has survived 200 years of colonisation, cannot survive fires like these. Farms and vast areas of bush already teetered on a knife-edge in the worst drought in history. Now they are ash. The Araluen Valley, south-east of Braidwood in New South Wales' Southern Tablelands, has lost much of its remaining peach orchards. Will the orchardists replant? We don’t know. 

I do know our community will support them. And that I have never been prouder of my nation.  

Leaderless, leaders emerged; the magnificent firies, but also those who defended their houses and others with nothing but hoses and determination. Our neighbour, Robyn, singlehandedly waited to defend her farm while checking on the properties of those who had evacuated, knowing that with age or injury we would now be a hindrance, not a help, on the fire front. 

I have never been prouder of my nation. Leaderless, leaders emerged ... [And] this is the comfort we must give our children: in the past weeks, Australia has been a truly great nation. We must remain one. We must not forget. 

Friends in their 70s and 80s, who would not want to be called old men, have been out for days or nights for three months with the tankers. I have seen a man, dying in great pain, still struggle towards the flames to give his wisdom on where the fire might go; I have seen wombats share their holes with snakes, quolls, possums and a nervous swamp wallaby; a fridge on the highway kept constantly stocked with cold drinks for those defending us; six firies leaning against the hospital wall, too exhausted to stagger inside for first aid. The next day they went out again..... 

Please read the full article here with its acute observations and well thought through suggestions.


Sunday, 15 December 2019

A quote that resonates down the years to Australia in 2019


"What is courage? We know it by instinct. We see it. We feel it.
Courage is a firefighter standing before the gates of hell unflinching, unyielding with eyes of steel saying, “Here I stand, I can do no other. 

Courage is neighbour saving neighbour. 
Courage is stranger saving stranger."
[Then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, National Day of Mourning speech, February 2009]

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Flashing hate symbols is not OK


Anti-Defamation League, media release, 26 September 2019:

The “OK” hand symbol – Begun as a hoax by members of the website 4chan, the OK symbol became a popular trolling tactic. By 2019, the symbol was being used in some circles as a sincere expression of white supremacy. Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant flashed the symbol during his March 2019 courtroom appearance soon after his arrest for allegedly murdering 50 people in mosques in Christchurch.

It's not just white terrorists or your garden variety right-wing racists who are flashing this hate sign - it looks suspiciously like public figures are also deciding it is fun to flash.

Here are two images and one video. A group photo which includes the Australian Prime Minister's wife on the far right (from a Liberal Party of Australia tweet), another of a Sky News broadcaster live on-air and, video of segment of Sky News program.
Twitter image

Snapshot taken from Twitter image
Image on Twitter 3 December 2019


Thursday, 5 December 2019

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's cruel war on asylum seekers continues.....


On 4 December 2019 the Leader of the Morrison Government in the Senate, Mathias Cormann, moved to suspend standing orders to consider the for the remainder of the day.

According to the Government; The Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019 (the Bill) amends the Migration Act 1958 (the Migration Act) to repeal the provisions inserted by Schedule 6 to theHome Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2019 (the medical transfer provisions). As the medical transfer provisions do not provide for any return or removal mechanism, the Bill also amends the Migration Act to extend existing powers in relation to persons transferred to Australia under the medical transfer provisions to allow for their removal from Australia or return to a regional processing country once they no longer need to be in Australia for the temporary purpose for which they were brought. 

Thus Morrison wanted to ensure doctors did not retain more say in the medical treatment of offshore asylum seeker detainees and intended to remove those detainees already transferred to Australia in the last eight months as soon as possible. He and his government saw this as compatible with Australia's human rights obligations.

At 10.08 am Cormann moved that; That a motion to provide for the consideration of the Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019 may be moved immediately and determined without amendment or debate.

This motion passed 38 to 36 with a majority of 2.

By 11.21am the bill was passed 37 to 35 with a majority of 2.

Those voting in support of the bill were:

Abetz, Eric (Lib-Tas) Antic, Alexander (Lib-SA) Askew, Wendy (Lib-Tas).
Bernardi, Cory (Ind-SA) Bragg, Andrew J (Lib-NSW) Brockman, Slade (Lib-WA).
Canavan, Matthew J (Lib-Qld) Cash, Michaelia C (Lib-WA) Chandler, Claire (Lib-Tas) Colbeck, Richard (Lib-Tas) Cormann, Mathias (Lib-WA).
Davey, Perin (Nats-NSW) Duniam, Jonathon (Lib-Tas).
Fawcett, David J (Lib-SA) Fierravanti-Wells, Concetta (Lib-NSW).
Hanson, Pauline (ON-Qld) Henderson, Sarah M (Lib-Vic) Hughes, Hollie (Lib-NSW) Hume, Jane (Lib-Vic).
Lambie, Jacqui (JLN-Tas).
McDonald, Susan (LNP-Qld) McGrath, James (LNP-Qld) McKenzie, Bridget (Nats-Vic) McMahon, Samantha (Lib-NT) Molan, A "Jim" (Lib-NSW).
O'Sullivan, Matthew A (Lib-WA).
Paterson, James (Lib-Vic).
Rennick, Gerard (LNP-Qld) Reynolds, Linda (Lib-WA) Roberts, Malcolm (ON-Qld) Ruston, Anne (Lib-SA) Ryan, Scott M (Lib-Vic)
Scarr, Paul (LNP-Qld) Seselja, Zdenko (Lib-ACT)  Smith, Dean A (Lib-WA) Stoker, Amanda J (LNP-Qld).
          Van, David (Lib-Vic).

These are the politicians who (along with their counterparts in the House of Representatives) returned Australian society to the days when, as a mattter of policy, offshore detainees were refused medical transfer to Australia unless they were on the brink of death. 

In the past this policy resulted in avoidable detainee deaths such as that of Hamid Kehazaei - it will likely do so again.

As soon as the Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Act 2019 receives assent, Prime Minister Morrison will in all probability quickly move to return the 179 medevac detainees back to Nauru and Manus Island.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

So who do Australian trust the least these days?


Between 20 July and 29 July 2019 fifty-four thousand nine hundred and seventy (54,970) Australia Talks National Survey respondents were shown eleven professional categories and asked to rank them by level of trust.

The online survey question was; "How much do you trust each of the following?"

This was the result based on the proportion of respondents supporting each political party who answered "somewhat" or "a lot".

ABC News, 27 November 2019

It seems that the least trusted professions are:

1. Celebrities - 8%
2. Politicians - 19%
3. Corporate Exectutives - 20%
4. Religious Leaders - 29%.

The most trusted professions are:

1. Doctors & Nurses - 97%
2. Scientists - 93%
3. Police & Law Enforcement - 84%
4. Judges 80%.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Religious belief is rated the least important attribute that defines Australians' sense of who they are


Australia Talks is an Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) project that was created in collaboration with Vox Pop Labs's data scientists and social scientists. A panel of local academics also guided its creation and the University of Melbourne is an academic partner.

What stands out clearly in this online survey is that personal political belief is what principally drives a sense of identity for the majority of Australians who participated over nine days in July 2019.

The importance of political belief was closely followed by nationality.

Gender (with a marked difference between male & female scoring) and language were ranked third and fourth in order of importance to a sense of self.

Religion came in at a solid last with only 0.192 of a point difference between how males and females scored its low importance with regard to their own identity.
According to ABC News on 6 November 2019; Religious leaders were distrusted by a full 70 per cent of the population, with 35 per cent saying they did not trust them "at all" and Only 15 per cent of respondents thought the country would be better off if more people were religious.

While 60 per cent of the July 2019 respondents; would prefer that people keep their religious views to themselves.

The 29 April 2019 published results of a Vox Pop Labs Vote Compass survey revealed that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison only scored 3.45 out of 10 when it came to "trustworthiness".

Given this former advertising executive increasingly publicly positions himself as a religious political leader and is quite vocal concerning his Pentecostal faith, one wonders if there is now a class of person who actually ranks lower in the general public's esteem than politicians, pollsters and advertising executives did in the September 2019 IPSOS survey 

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Many of the cases of deficiencies or outright failings in aged care were known to both the providers concerned and the regulators before coming to public attention. Why has so little been done to address these deficiencies?


Opening page of the Royal Commission interim report on Aged Care in Australia......

Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, Interim Report, Volume 1, p.1: 

It’s not easy growing old. We avoid thinking and talking about it. As we age, we progressively shift our focus from work to the other things that give us purpose and joy: our children and grandchildren, our friends, our holidays, our homes and gardens, our local communities, our efforts as volunteers, our passions and hobbies. The Australian community generally accepts that older people have earned the chance to enjoy their later years, after many decades of contribution and hard work. Yet the language of public discourse is not respectful towards older people. Rather, it is about burden, encumbrance, obligation and whether taxpayers can afford to pay for the dependence of older people. 

As a nation, Australia has drifted into an ageist mindset that undervalues older people and limits their possibilities. Sadly, this failure to properly value and engage with older people as equal partners in our future has extended to our apparent indifference towards aged care services. Left out of sight and out of mind, these important services are floundering. They are fragmented, unsupported and underfunded. With some admirable exceptions, they are poorly managed. All too often, they are unsafe and seemingly uncaring. This must change. 

Australia prides itself on being a clever, innovative and caring country. Why, then, has the Royal Commission found these qualities so signally lacking in our aged care system? We have uncovered an aged care system that is characterised by an absence of innovation and by rigid conformity. The system lacks transparency in communication, reporting and accountability. It is not built around the people it is supposed to help and support, but around funding mechanisms, processes and procedures. This, too, must change. 

Our public hearings, roundtable discussions with experts, and community forums have revealed behaviour by aged care service providers that, when brought to public attention, has attracted criticism and, in some cases, condemnation. Many of the cases of deficiencies or outright failings in aged care were known to both the providers concerned and the regulators before coming to public attention. Why has so little been done to address these deficiencies? We are left to conclude that a sector-wide focus on the need to increase funding, a culture of apathy about care essentials, and a lack of curiosity about the potential of aged care to provide restorative and loving care—all of which is underpinned by an ageist mindset— has enabled the aged care system to hide from the spotlight. This must also change. [my yellow highlighting]

Left isolated and powerless in this hidden-from-view system are older people and their families. ‘This is not a life.’ ‘This is not my home.’ ‘Don’t let this happen to anyone else.’ ‘Left in her own faeces, and still no one came.’ ‘Mum doesn’t feel safe.’ 

This cruel and harmful system must be changed. We owe it to our parents, our grandparents, our partners, our friends. We owe it to strangers. We owe it to future generations. Older people deserve so much more. 

We have found that the aged care system fails to meet the needs of our older, often very vulnerable, citizens. It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care for older people. It is unkind and uncaring towards them. In too many instances, it simply neglects them.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Australia 2019: freedom of speech and the citizen's right to know


In 2019 it is not hard to hear and read evidence of politicians and industry leaders publicly telling blatant lies or deliberately misleading in an effort to deceive the general public and voters in particular.

Often this evidence of lying comes straight from the horse's mouth so to speak - via live radio or to camera interviews. 

Other times the veil of secrecy is lifted by mainstream and social media.

It has become so increasingly common over these last twenty years that it seems that the majority of those who are elected to govern on our behalf at federal, state and local government level now see deception and deceit as being the pattern card of a successful politician.

Indeed, even certain industry and ideological lobby groups are apparently contaminated by this warped pattern card.

The ability for media or private individuals to fact check all the fake news currently in the public domain falters before its sheer volume.

Checking veracity is complicated by the fact that News Corp (through its online/print newspapers & televised news outlets such as Sky News and Fox News) as well as social media giant Facebook Inc (which has a company policy of allowing politicians to lie repeatedly and unchecked on its digital platform) derive considerable income from disseminating demonstrably false information supplied by vested interests.

Thus in Australia, along with the U.K. and U.S.A., we are now beginning to drown in all that fakery and lying - our democratic processes are threatening to become highly dysfunctional.

Whilst freedom of speech is implied in the Australian Constitution it is not clearly spelt out - leaving a great deal of wriggle room for governments of the day to bully both the media and the private citizen whenever they have the temerity speak out against deceit or corruption.

This bullying, which often begins as an abuse of parliamentary privilege, appears to be an attempt to protect those perpetrating ongoing deceit and whatever is the political malfeasance or financial fraud cover-up of the day.

When 'doxing' an individual, phone calls from ministerial aides, emails expressing displeasure or legal letters threatening defamation do not work, these days the next step is for governments to use the federal police to raid media or union offices and the homes of journalists/whistleblowers in a further effort to intimidate.

A growing pile of legislation now exists at federal and state level which establishes a 'right' for government to bully, intimidate, coerce and ultimately silence those journalists, whistleblowers and ordinary citizens who do speak up.

Rather belatedly mainstream media is beginning to express its concerns about the path government is now treading.....

The Singleton Argus, 28 October 2019, excerpt from Voice of Real Australia: 

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Scotty Morrison's Chamber of Secrets, everyone's been donning invisibility cloaks in the all-seeing-no-talking halls of the magical-mystery castle of Hogwash:


Home Affairs is being investigated for its failure to process Freedom of Information requests within the legally required time limits.
And a report into a computer hack at Parliament House might not be released, even in redacted form.
A week after the unprecedented all-media #righttoknow campaign was launched with the front pages of the nation's daily newspapers symbolically censored with a redacted government document, Coalition MPs and Senators have for the most part lined up behind the Prime Minister and his "no one is above the law" rhetoric, while Labor has used the press freedom push to bash the government (despite its earlier support for some of the laws in question).
Thankfully, there have been some independent voices speaking up, and sensibly, from the cross-bench. And, yes, that includes Senator Jacquie Lambie.
The front pages of ACM's 14 daily newspapers featured an example of a "redacted" government document to highlight to increasing restrictions being placed by government and goverment agencies on the release of information the public has a right to know.
The front pages of ACM's 14 daily newspapers featured an example of a "redacted" government document to highlight to increasing restrictions being placed by government and goverment agencies on the release of information the public has a right to know.
Here's what some of Australian Community Media's leading journalists and columnists have had to say on the issue over the past week:
Newcastle Herald journalist Joanne McCarthy:
"I've spent more than 13 years challenging powerful Australians, including churchmen, who thought they were above the law. Too many politicians, for too long, stayed mute.
"I know hundreds of quiet Australians - women abused and abandoned by our health system, and people sexually abused and betrayed by churches and other institutions. Many were betrayed again when they sought help from powerful churchmen who counted prime ministers as friends.
"The quiet Australians I know were the silenced Australians. Until they spoke to the media and found their voices."
Read Joanne's opinion here.
Canberra Times commentator Jack Waterford:
"The problem is bigger than excessive secrecy and inadequate accountability in matters loosely connected with national security.
"Once we have agreed to restrict our liberties by increasing the powers of those in the national security state, the slippage begins.
"Soon cops and others will have access to bugging, tapping, interception and coercive powers - extending all the way down to parking fines."
Read Jack's full analysis here.
The Border Mail columnist Zoe Wundenberg:
"If you see something, say something. Or so we are told by our government in the fight against terror on our home soil. Dob in your neighbour. Report your colleague. Be the eyes and ears of the government.
"Unless, of course, you aim your telescope at Parliament House."
Read Zoe's comments here.
Australian Community Media is part of Australia's Right To Know, the coalition of 20 media organisations and industry groups leading the #righttoknow campaign. Read more here.
James Joyce
Executive Editor, Australian Community Media