Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Time for accounting and accountability. Should the Catholic Church share the cost?

in the pulpit of St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney

In the wake of the announcement that a Royal Commission will be held into the abuse of children in Australia, one has to ask:
How deep are the nation's pockets?

Some years ago I was invited to a small gathering at a small private hotel just down the road from St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.  This multi-story building was home to some of the priests attached to the Cathedral. However, it was explained to me that the main purpose of the building was so that wealthy business people could be schmoozed for donations.  At the time, much restoration work was being undertaken at St Mary's which was quite expensive.  The hotel, I was led to understand, was known in the Catholic community as Clancy's folly. 

Wouldn't it be a good idea to sell this property and donate the proceeds to the Australian Government to alleviate the costs of the Royal Commission into abuse - a great deal of which took place within the responsibility of the Catholic Church.  Alternatively, the Catholic Church could be billed for its share of the Royal Commission costs and it could go about schmoozing the wealthy businessmen once again in the private hotel for the money to pay the bill.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Still saving Ballarat TAFE - with the leadership and encouragement of Athan McCaw

For the last few months, I have been privileged to be part of a valiant group of people from diverse backgrounds and politics who have worked with one purpose - to save Ballarat's TAFE from the dire effects of the cuts (read vicious wounds) inflicted on our TAFE by Ted Baillieu and his cronies.  We have not, as far as we are aware, yet  been successful in our campaign.  We have not yet even considered giving up.  However, the year is drawing to a close. Our staunch President of the Ballarat Save TAFE Campaign has written to us to-day.  I love this letter from Athan and believe it needs a wider audience.  He has graciously given his permission for the letter to be published. Thank you Athan and Brett and everyone, particularly our Princess Sam, who have worked in such a positive and unified way to keep, for the citizens of Ballarat, a diverse and vibrant TAFE.  


Dear Committee Member,

This year has seen a massive attack on TAFE not only here in Victoria but now across the country with Qld and NSW making similar cuts to that which faces us in Victoria. So far we have been proud and strong with our efforts to raise the concerns that will face the residents of the Ballarat community, we have banded together in our concerns for the community.

Our efforts have not fallen on deaf ears just upon deaf actions, our concerns at the start were well founded. This government has no real plans for a sector that props up our community other than to cut funding. As time moves forward we are seeing the on-going fallout from a government decision based not on what the community needs but on fiscal constraints. 300 million out of the public TAFE system because the previous government left it as a mess is what they tell us -  but in the same token they are spending record amounts on government advertising 500 million over 3 years, budget blow outs but they can find funding to search for "big cats".

Quite simply we must go on. We are yet to see a statement on funding from the opposition and we are yet to see the full impact on students and skills. 2013 will not be a year of opportunity for tens of thousands of Victorians. It will be a year of unemployment growth. As those in training or were looking to training will have to move to unemployment lines while they attempt to save the 10,000+ required to skill up to gain employment, the system will be dismantled to a stage where it may never recover.

The new year brings on more issues for the Ballarat community as around 1000 TAFE students make the transition to studying at Mt Helen, more pressure on Buninyong Rd,  more pressure on public transport and more pressure on the students themselves.  Our fight is far from over.

As Chair I would like to thank each member of the community that has stood with us in the fight and each member of this committee for all of their efforts to date in taking the message to the greater community about the impacts of these cuts. As committee members I ask you to put the 19th November at 5:30pm in your diary and make an effort to attend the last meeting of the year.  We will have some drinks and nibbles to celebrate our end of year.

Next year in 2013 our Committee and our work will be crucial as the cuts become evident - please remember our first meeting back will be Monday 11th February 5:30pm at Trades Hall - to arrange a strong resolution for Ballarat Councillors to table in late February, early March to coincide with the bulk of the job losses, course closures and campus sales and leases.

In closing the fight is just we just have to keep fighting -  see you on the 19th.

In Solidarity and Friendship,

Athan McCaw

Chair - Ballarat SAVE TAFE Committee

Yours in Solidarity

Athan McCaw
UB & ACU Branch Industrial Organiser

For more on the Save TAFE campaign,

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Ballarat : Sustainability & Urban Wellbeing Community Forum

Sustainability & Urban Wellbeing Project  
Issues relating to biodiversity, health, water and growth. 
Challenges and creating a shared vision for the future.  

Making Sustainability Affordable  
There are tensions between economic, social and environmental interests. 
What are the limits of our current economic system and are there alternatives?  

Nature and Health Connections  
Matthew’s interest in the relationships between nature and human health 
has lead to research in regional Victoria and abroad. 
Matt will share his knowledge of the benefits of contact with nature 
for mental health and social wellbeing. 

Population, Growth & Sustainability
Does Australia still need to ‘populate or perish’? What does population growth mean for Australia and regional communities such as Ballarat? 
More importantly, will population growth lead to an increase in prosperity?

Sustainability Indicators  
Measuring and monitoring society’s economic wellbeing, community health, 
and sustainability is increasingly important.  
The Great South West Community Report Card provides information 
on 27 indicators relating to 10 key issues. 

Click to enlarge

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Victorian Climate Action Calendar

relates to Bullet No. 2

From Monique de Cortis, the Victorian Climate Action Calendar

Dear all,

Attached is The Victorian Climate Action Calendar covering events between 19 Oct and 28 Nov 2012, and below:

·        BIOSECURITY BILL 2012 Protecting Australia from invasive species - Submissions closing 24 October 

Regards, Monique

THE IUCN RED LIST OF SPECIES AT RISK OF EXTINCTION   http://www.iucnredlist.org/  is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species. At the recent global conference at which 70 environment ministers met, more than 400 plants and animals were added to the list.

All of us need to breathe, drink and eat. These are all benefits that are fundamentally provided by biodiversity. Biodiversity collectively describes the vast array of approximately 9 million unique living organisms (including Homo sapiens) that inhabit the earth, together with the interactions amongst them. The concept includes every species of bacteria, virus, plant, fungi, and animal, as well as the diversity of genetic material within each species. It also encompasses the diverse ecosystems the species make up and the ongoing evolutionary processes that keep them functioning and adapting. Find out why we can’t get by without it, why biodiversity is in decline, and what we can do about it. http://csironewsblog.com/tag/climate-change/


BIOSECURITY BILL 2012 - protecting Australia from invasive species Submissions closing 24 October 
Soon one of Australia's most important environmental laws, Biosecurity Bill 2012, will be introduced into Parliament, but important changes are needed to ensure it protects our natural world from invasive species.  Submissions are due by Wednesday, October 24, so make sure you have your say, much is at stake. A website for submissions on the ISC website -http://www.invasives.org.au/page.php?nameIdentifier=biosecuritybill2012 and on that page you will also find a print friendly submission guide - http://www.invasives.org.au/documents/file/subguide_Biosecurity_Bill_2012.pdf
INTERACTIVE MAP OF GLOBAL CLIMATE ACTION  a little less conversation, a little more action
The Climate Institute has developed the Climate Action Map to provide an overview of action taking place around the world. http://globalclimateactionmap.climateinstitute.com.au/#/criteria

The VCAC 20 Oct - 28 Nov 2012.docThe VCAC 20 Oct - 28 Nov 2012.doc
468K   View   Download  

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Bill Gammage - a great Australian showing us how me might become truly Australian

I am reading the winner of the Victorian Premier's Award for non-fiction. A much awarded book! It has generated many awards including the Prime Minister's Prize for Australian History.

If you read nothing else this year, please read this. Bill Gammage says that, until we understand this country, we can't truly call ourselves Australians. Bill is a historian - but not only. He knows his plants, Australia's vegetation. In recent years, more has come to light on life and land before white settlement. The Australians before 1788 managed this continent in a unique way - a way of which we need to take note. 

Bill points out the connection of land management to The Dreaming, the belief system of the first Australians.

Australia to-day is a an increasingly secular society.  The New Atheism has provided an invigorating element to Aussie secularism. My view is that we cannot bring the fullest knowledge of our environment into view while ignoring the environmental spirituality which existed and continues to exist for Aboriginal Australians and the environmental spirituality which is part and parcel of the world's great religions.  

Just as the Australian landscape described by Gammage and managed so brilliantly by the pre-1788 inhabitants is layer upon layer - so is human knowledge and spirituality across the globe.  It is layer upon layer - science, human impact, other species, human usage, spirituality, design, human management. 

I first got this book from my local public library. The hard copy. It is a long time since I have seen a more beautiful book. The size, the layout, the font, and - above all - the most magnificent colour plates an instance of which is above. I have bought the book for myself - but, as an OAP, could only afford the paperback. But it has the lovely colour plates. Become truly Australian. Begin to understand by reading The Biggest Estate on Earth.

Professor Henry Reynolds who wrote the Foreword to the book
with the author of The Biggest Estate on Earth, Bill Gammage.
Photo has been edited by Miss Eagle. It came from here

Lastly, I want to thank Bill Gammage - 
for helping us to know ourselves and our land.

Find more videos regarding Bill Gammage here

Bill Gammage, author of The Biggest Estate on Earth, historicises the notion of terra nullius, the land rights movement and Mabo, on the 20th anniversary of that landmark High Court decision.

Monday, 15 October 2012

A tale of two troglodytes: how Julia called time and changed the game!

This blog is a participant in Blog Action Day 2012.
The theme is the Power of We -
which I believe the women of Australia
have demonstrated in support
of our first female prime minister, Julia Gillard,
and in support of reasonable civil discourse.
This is quite a story.
This post is Part 1.
I expect to follow up this afternoon with Part 2.

This wordcloud has come from  Turn Left 2013

I will leave it to a feminist PhD candidate to collect every last thread of this story.  Collecting the most recent and prominent threads has been enough.  Below please find a list of mainstream media links relating to Julia Gillard's speech last Tuesday 9 October 2012.  Among these links both the video and the transcript of the speech are available.

I believe a number of factors led to the speech of 9 October.

Firstly, the ongoing vileness day after day, week after week by conservative forces and the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott.  Please go here to see some of the images used against Julia Gillard.  Many women face sexism and misogyny every day and have to let it go by with dignity - so it has been believed.  There is no doubt that Julia let it go by with dignity - but we do suspect she may have mentally rehearsed what she would actually say given the opportunity.

Secondly, she faced the Canberra Press Gallery to answer challenges which had been going on for a long time regarding events in her earlier life. Julia stood there taking every question the gallery asked and answering in detail.  My view is that if they had stayed there until midnight, she would have kept up her strong demeanour and kept answering their questions.  As it turned out, the gallery ran out of questions after 55 minutes.  But it was a tour deforce with Julia remaining composed, answering lucidly, and even giving some interchange.

Thirdly, what doesn't break me makes me stronger. Unfortunately for the conservative opposition, the Liberal National Party Coalition, they have continued their hardline and vile tactics for over two years. Australia has a 'hung' parliament with the government holding on by a thread with support of a mixed bag of independents and teeny-tiny parties. For Julia and her manager of government business, Anthony Albanese, some days it must feel like herding cats.  Every day that parliament sits, the Labor government is only a vote or two or three away from defeat.  Yet Labor has not toppled as the Opposition expected ... and day by day their frustration, their hatred, their violent language has become more putrid.

So while some believe that Julia Gillard remains the Prime Minister of Australia by luck and with the help of petulant independents, her misogyny and sexism speech proves beyond doubt that this is a strong woman with a sound intellect who is competent, competitive, and determined.  This is what electrified and transfixed Australia - and, as it turned out, the world - last Tuesday.

Now we see and hear a mystified mainstream media trying to play catch up.  They focus on what led to the speech - matters surrounding the now resigned Speaker of the House of Representatives.  They say they had to give context to their reporting.  I have yet to hear any of our senior and serious journalists acknowledging that a number of narratives can co-exist and run concurrently, each with their own context.

The context of the eruption of social media was that a significant number of Australians - perhaps the majority - and possibly a majority of women were fed up.  We have been fed up with the negativity of the opposition.  We have been fed up with the vileness and violence of their language which has poisoned public discourse in Australia.  We want good government.  We don't want either our economy or our nation talked down to glorify the negative agenda of the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott.  Over and over with spontaneity since last Tuesday Australians have said "Enough is Enough".  I am not sure whether we have to wait a little longer to declare Julia's speech cathartic, a national release, rejoicing, breathing out at last.  We will wait to see if that is really the case.

But last Tuesday was significant.  I believe that the women of Australia reached a new milestone then.  Our drooping shoulders could now be lifted and braced. The misogyny and sexism and ridicule and diminution of women would now be fought with dignity and strength.  Men who share the values of Abbott and Jones will have to either shut up or justify themselves, their words, their actions.  Game on! Thank Julia!

For a distinguished review of the vile things
that have been visited upon Julia Gillard
please go to Anne Summers site - The Looking Glass.
Please note Anne's warning: there is a vanilla version,
then there is the R rated version, and then the pictures.

Here are a few blogs to give you a flavour
of the mood among women in The Land of Oz

I realise that these blogs are only a minute representation
of the blogosphere on this topic.
Please, Networkers, feel free to send me
the name and URL of your favourites for inclusion.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A tardis trip to legislating sex discrimination in Australia ... lest we forget

I would like to take Networkers on a trip down memory lane. 

With all this bleating from the Liberal National Party who appear to be deaf and ignorant in respect to sexism, let me put you in a tardis and take you back to 1984. 

Australia had ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). One of the obligations on a nation in ratifying a UN convention is that the there will be domestic legislation passed to give effect to the convention. Thus it was that the Hawke Government legislated and passed the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

Perhaps, you may be saying, oh well that's all very ho hum. Well it wasn't. The forces of conservatism, sexism and ignorance rose up to fight this abomination. Conservative churches like the Assemblies of God were to the fore. (We hadn't heard much if anything about Brian and Bobbie Houston and Hillsong at that stage! And there was no Jim Wallace and the Australian Christian Lobby!) 
Rosemary Fenton as Miss Australia 1960

And then there was the National Party. This was the year that Ian Sinclair became leader of the National Party. Ian was married to Rosemary Fenton a very lovely former Miss Australia. This was not connected to Miss Australia contests to-day. This was a major fundraiser for cerebal palsy organisations around the country. Then they were known as Spastic Centres. (I know this is a history lesson from another time and space!) 

The Nationals were dead against the SDA and who did they trot out to prosecute the case? None other than Rosemary (Fenton) Sinclair. How demeaning! A beautiful, intelligent woman pressed into service against sex discrimination! These are just some of my memories. 

The Destroy the Joint campaign against Alan Jones with the cream on the cake of Julia Gillard's attack in Parliament on misogyny and sexism, in my view, has achieved a new milestone for women. 

It has become clear in the reporting that there are still some men who just don't get it. But women do - except for those who live in mortal fear of Labor and The Greens. So it's onward and upward from here.

We have been given a very strong vaulting horse 
from which we can face the world 
with heads held high and arms out there flying!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Baillieu government allows VicForests to log Toolangi rainforest that survived the bushfires

Local residents and volunteer conservationists have this morning stopped logging operations in a stand of rain-forest that should be protected from logging.

Arrests are expected.

In August government logging agency VicForests was taken to court for logging rain-forest. One of the conditions of the out-of-court settlement was that they train officers to properly identify rain-forest, and not log any more rain-forest.

Yet rain-forest logging has been discovered on Yellowdindi Road, near Toolangi.

“A new scientific survey, mapping the logged rain-forest in this location, has been submitted to the Department of Sustainability and Environment. So far, they have failed to step in and stop the logging,” says local Toolangi resident, Kerryn Blackshaw.

Residents have made repeated requests for the logging to stop immediately.

“Today we’ll be stepping in where this government is failing to, and draw attention to this significant logging breach.”

“You can see where the bush was razed from the bush-fires all around this forest. This rain-forest gully escaped the fires.”

“You can see how close the bushfires came, and to think there’s a refuge, a rain-forest place, that they’re now logging, it’s just devastating,” says Ms Blackshaw.

“It is appalling that the Baillieu government is allowing rain-forests that escaped the 2009 fires to be logged for wood-chips”, concludes Ms Blackshaw.

*For media comment: 
Kerryn Blackshaw 
**0431 702 673*

For your further attention please go to:

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Peace, reconciliation and non-violence in Syria? An impossible dream or can a middle way be found?

International Christian Peace Movement

Syria in Flames?
Prospects for Reconciliation

Following its successful public forum on Syria
Pax Christi Victoria warmly invites you to
An evening with Mother Agnes Mariam
Representative of the “Mussalaha” Reconciliation Initiative,
Spokesperson for the Catholic Media Centre of the
Diocese of Homs, Hama and Yabroud, Syria

Thursday 4 October 2012, 6 p.m.-8.15 p.m.
At ‘Kildara’ – rear of 39 Stanhope St Malvern
(close to Glenferrie Rd and High Street Malvern tramlines)

 Click to enlarge

Will begin with a light meal and refreshments
RSVP  Rita Camilleri 9379 3889 or ritac@paxchristi.org.au  by October 1st
This is important for catering purposes.

A donation of $5 would be appreciated

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Ban Live Export National Rally - all capitals - this Saturday October 6 12 Noon

Join us in Melbourne this Saturday Oct 6 
12PM Parliament House 

If you care about animals and want to see them protected from cruelty, then please join us this Saturday as we rally side-by-side, right across the country, for an end to live export.

As you read this, more than 10,000 Australian sheep await an uncertain fate in Pakistan. They have witnessed half their companions slaughtered in the most brutal ways — clubbed, stabbed and buried alive. Every day that passes, more and more animals are put at risk of extreme cruelty and abuse.

Despite assurances from the Australian Government that cruelty in the live export trade would be addressed, animals continue to be neglected,brutalised, and have their throats cut while fully conscious. Tragedy after tragedy reveals that animals exported live will always be at risk. And yet, they continue to be sent. This sends the appalling message to the rest of the world that Australia accepts animal cruelty.

The animals are depending on us — we must urgently let politicians know that caring Australians will not vote for political parties that support live export. This is your chance to join with others at a family-friendly event to rally for a kinder future for animals.

LynI sincerely hope you can join us,
Lyn White
Campaign Director

P.S. I realise that Saturday 6th October is short notice for a national rally. But I'm sure you'll agree that the latest shocking abuse of animals in the live export trade warrants a rapid response on a national scale. The Animals Australia team is pulling out all stops to create an event that our politicians won't be able to ignore. Unavoidably, this has meant that the launch of Make it Possible has been delayed one week. I'll keep you updated as our campaigns progress.

Click here for full rally details

All welcome! Hear from Animals Australia Investigator Lyn White, leading politicians; mass petition signing; campaign activities; family-friendly.

Join the Facebook eventGet an SMS Reminder

Ban live export rally

Animals Australia37 O'Connell St,
North Melbourne
Victoria 3051, Australia

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