Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Yarra River Keepers Association Newsletter - Autumn 2013

Acknowledging the neighbour - the first step to building community

Jesus asked “Which of these do you think was a neighbour?"
He was telling the story of The Good Samaritan.
This story has an in-built capacity to shock.
It has the ability to ask of ourselves "What about me? What am I doing?"
We need to know what it means to be a neighbour
and to whom we should and must be a neighbour
before we consciously begin to build community.

Community can be an anywhere, anyhow sort of thing -
but it is always inclusive, open-handed, and open-hearted.
It can be built on little, unnoticeable things.
It can be built on major interventions and inputs.
To me this poster encompasses the actions involved
in neighbourliness and community building.
If you are not on the journey to community formation yet,
please make a start to-day.

Creswick Neighbourhood Centre shared Give a Shit about Nature'sphoto.

Conservation Conversation with Tristan Knowles of the ACF at Ballarat Green Drinks

Social change in rural, regional & remote areas : changes brought by the car and good roads : poor mobile phone coverage

I have spent a fair slice of my life living in rural and regional areas in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory.  I can recall a time when the only Woolworths and Coles stores west of the Great Dividing Range in Queensland were in Mount Isa.  

I read this article to-day about the mooted closure of primary schools at Toobanna, Bambaroo, and Helen's Hill. 

The drive from Townsville to Cairns is one of my favourite sections of car travel.  I used to live at Bluewater Park, half an hour north of Townsville, between Halifax Bay and the Bluewater Ranges which are part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage listing.  Some mornings, on the way to work, I was quite conflicted.  Turn right for Townsville and work or turn left for a beautiful three hour drive to Cairns.

Just up the road is Ingham and along the Bruce Highway are some beautiful scattered country schools: Toobanna, Helen's Hill, Bambaroo.

While Townsville sits in the Dry Tropics, the Wet Tropics begin just south of Rollingstone.  The three schools being considered for closure are situated in one of the wettest areas in Australia.  They are nestled in a sea of green.  I loved seeing them.  In my mind's eye, I idealised them as oases of education and centres of community life and knowledge.  To know that they are being listed for closure brings sadness with it - as I am sure it does for those closely associated with the schools and the communities in which they are situated.  

However, modern life brings its realities.  Reliable family transport and a major highway make it more likely that children can be schooled in nearby Ingham or even Townsville.  The car and personalised transport have given us much and taken much.

I recall, when I was living and working in Walgett in the early part of the last decade, hearing from local residents of the impact of cars and a good road on their community.  People could now travel comfortably to Dubbo for shopping.  The pull of convenience, greater choice, and lower prices to larger centres takes a great deal from isolated and remote communities.  It takes the dollar out of town. It deadens the streets.  People do other things while they are away shopping - visiting the doctor and the hairdresser and so on.  This can mean that the smaller community might find it hard to get a doctor into town because the health business goes elsewhere.

Admittedly, in the early 21st century, we find things changing in more closely settled areas as people repopulate small villages and rural areas which are in driving distance - or are well served by public transport - of a major centre.  A pull factor in these areas is  the affordability of land and housing. These areas are seeing a rejuvenation - more kids at the local school; local markets springing up; a  somewhat different economy developing.  

Meanwhile, in remote and isolated areas the decline continues.  The rigid and anti-people orientation of mining companies to FIFO policies is working solidly and in ever-extending circles against the economic interests of inland Australia.

Australia is being hollowed out.  I know of no better example of what is happening in out-of-sight-out-of-mind remote Australia than the Telstra map of the continent showing its mobile coverage.

In many places in remote Australia, Telstra is THE ONLY mobile service.  From Alice Springs to Tennant Creek is a drive of approximately five hours.  From just north of Alice to just south of Tennant there is no mobile coverage.  In Alice, Telstra is not the only provider.  In Tennant, Telstra is the only provider.  In recent times, remote Australia has been the greatest source of development, wealth, and employment - yet it still does not have the universal competitive communications service that is available in the closely settled coastal and near inland areas of the continent.

Postscript:  My inland credentials - as well as Walgett, NSW - include McArthur River Station, NT; Mount Isa, Qld; Tennant Creek, NT; and (currently) Black Hill in Ballarat, Vic.  I am currently living in my third mining town and my second gold town.  

I live at the foot of Black Hill and across the road from the Yarrowee River - a very historic part of Ballarat where they used to roll the quartz down the hill to the river to use the water to reveal the gold.  These three mining towns are the best places I have ever lived. 

Ballarat and the regions surrounding it are undergoing population growth as people move from Melbourne to a more affordable and comfortable lifestyle while living close to Melbourne with comfortable access by road and rail.  .  

Monday, 29 April 2013

Dale Hess - Calendar - 2013-04-29 - War and Peace, Exhibitions, Writers and Film, and morel

Until Sunday 12 May: Exhibition on Peace.  This exhibition asks the question: what is peace? It examines international, national and local efforts that seek to ensure stability and opportunities for creative collaboration in our world.’ Venue: Shrine of Remembrance, Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne. 

Until Sunday 28 July: Exhibition:  The Enemy Within: Prisoner of War Camps and Internment Camps in Victoria. During the Second World War Victoria hosted eight Prisoner of War and Internment Camps. This exhibition explores the impacts on prisoners of war and internees who lived and worked in camps. Venue: Shrine of Remembrance, Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne.

Mindful in May:
Elise Bialylew, who participated in the OWIC course, would like to tell you about her project Mindful in May. Mindful in May is for both beginners and more experienced meditators, aimed at bringing the benefits of meditation to you whilst improving the lives of others. The funds raised during Mindful in May will be given to Charity Water, an innovative, not for profit organisation that builds clean water wells for those in need. For further information see:http://www.mindfulinmay.org/

Saturday 4 May, 9 am - 11.30am: Breakfast:Fusion: an exploration of ancient Persia & contemporary Iran.
Speaker: Kristin Diemer (Sociologist and Photographer) is a co-facilitator at OASES Graduate School & research fellow at the University of Melbourne. 
The first time I travelled to Iran I was struck by marked contrast between what I saw, what I know from Persian family and friends, and what I hear in the media (both inside and outside of Iran). On this second journey, eight years later, the contrast remains but alongside it I found an emergent and vibrant fusion between ancient Persia and the contemporary world external to Iran. 

Tuesday 14 May, 6.30 pm: MAPW Dinner and Meeting: Moving Towards a Ban on Nukes. 
The next meeting of MAPW's Victorian branch is at La Notte, 160 Lygon St., Carlton. The meal costs $35 ($20 for students). The speaker will be Tim Wright from ICAN who will talk about the significance of the international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war held in March in Oslo.

Thursday 16 May, 8 pm:  In support of the Lake Eyre to West Papua Land and Sea Convoy for Peace and Justice
The Kinship’ brings to you a night of high quality hip-hop, strut-hop, folk-hop and any other kind of hop you can shake your booty to. It features a stellar line-up: Izzy Brown (Combat Wombat), Rachel By The Stream, Project NRT (feat. members of Pataphysics), Mattriks, Nodes. Show your solidarity and come join us for a night of epic tunes, phat beats and awesome lyricism; celebrating the infinite possibilities that open up when we work together. All proceeds go to the convoy! Thu 19th May, Doors open 8 pm - $10. The Gasometer/484 Smith St/ Collingwood. MORE INFO: http://lizardsrevenge.net/lake-eyre-to-west-papua/.

Friday 17 May, 7.30 pm: Screening of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. The film shows some of the stories of asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Amanda Bater, who has worked with asylum seekers for the past ten years, will explain the experiences of being an asylum seeker. Venue: the Parish Hall, Sacred Heart Church, 13 Fernhill Road North,Sandringham. A cup of tea and coffee will be served so we would appreciate knowing in advance if you are coming. Gold coin donation. Phone: 9598 1511 or email:domecc.sand@bigpond.com. Further information: www.deepblueseafilm.com orwww.asrc.org.au.

Sunday 19 May 3 pm to 6 pm: MAPW Fundraiser Concert. Songs for Peace, a concert with "The Sweet Nothings", Polly Christie and Andy Rigby 
Seasons Bistro, Riddells Creek, Victoria. There will also be a silent auction. If there is anything you can donate towards it please email jenny.grounds@mapw.org.au.

Tuesday 21 May, 8.30 pm: William Dalrymple: The Return of the king: the battle forAfghanistan. In 1839 The British launched an invasion of Afghanistan largely as a result of false intelligence. William Dalrymple has told the story of the first Anglo Afghan war and the subsequent "war of retribution" using Afghan sources. As well as being a great read the book draws parallels which shed light on the current situation. Venue: Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins Street, Melbourne. Cost: $20; $12 concession. Further information: Wheeler Centre

Sunday, 16 June, 1 pm Shared meal; 2 pm discussion: Resisting war to make peace.
Pax Christi invites you to hear Professor Michael Hamel Green of Victoria University who will introduce conversation around his experiences as a war resister, conscientious objector and peacemaker. N.B. Many of you have experiences to share.  Please feel free it invite others. Venue: Kildara, rear 39 Stanhope Street, Malvern. Further info: 0424 950 852.

Tuesday 16 July, 5 pm – 9 pm: An evening with Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson.
Pax Christi invites you to hear Wes Howard Brook, who teaches biblical studies Seattle University, USA, and Sue Ferguson Johnson, who is a spiritual director.  Together they run “Abide in Me Ministries”. They will speak on restoring one's sense of bonding around the earth itself, focussing on creation, to help everyone to come out of their identity with violence and empire and into a life of peace and love. The first session will be between 5 pm - 6.30 pm, then a shared meal between 6.30 pm -7.30 pm. Please bring food to share. The second session will be between 7.30 pm – 9 pm. Venue: Kildara, rear 39 Stanhope Street, Malvern. Further info: 0424 950 852.

Sunday 18 August to Wednesday 21 August:
JCMA’s 10th Winter Conference: Sorry is the Hardest Word: Forgiveness and Repentance. JCMA conferences are intended for anyone from one of the three Abrahamic faiths. Participants include men and women, academics, those working in support or welfare roles, tertiary students, and members and leaders of faith communities. Sunday Taster Opportunity:1 pm - 9.45 pm. Cost: $55. Sunday, the first day of the conference, will provide an overview of the main themes. People who unable to attend for the whole conference are welcome to come to this Sunday taster. Applications closing date: Friday 19 July 2013. Conference Centre, Pallotti College, Millgrove Melways 289 A2. An application form for registration is available from www.trybooking.com/CFGA.

Friday 23 August – Sunday 25 August: Pax Christi Australia National conference:
Peacemaking, an Alternative Narrative! Venue: Edmund Rice Centre, Homebush, Sydney. More details soon.

How do I loathe the IPA? Let me count the ways. With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I loathe the IPA? Let me count the ways.
I loathe thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling you in sight.
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace,
I know you never understand.
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light, but you the gloom.
I loathe thee freely, as your people strive for The Right;
I loathe thee purely, as Tim Dunlop mans The Drum.
I loathe thee with a passion put to use
Remembering old equalities, and with a community’s faith.
I loathe thee with a loathing I can’t lose
Amid your warped ideal, --- I loathe thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but loathe thee better after death.
With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Tony Abbott - a Robbin' Would-if-he-Could

To put it simply, while Australians of both sides of politics have, for the better part of a century, tried to provide a safety net for those at the lower economic end. We now have a section of our population who are very well off and who have a sense of entitlement on show for all to see.  Their greed could now imperil the ability of this nation to assist those with real need. 

Reece sets out the list as follows:

■ Lower the tax-free threshold from $18,200 to $6000. This will drag more than one million low-income earners back into the tax system. It will also increase the taxes for 6 million Australians earning less than $80,000.
■ Abolish the low-income superannuation contribution. This will reimpose a 15 per cent tax on superannuation contributions for people earning less than $37,000.
■ Abolish the proposed 15 per cent tax on income from superannuation above $100,000 a year. The combined effect of these two superannuation changes is that 16,000 high-income earners with superannuation savings in excess of $2 million will get a tax cut while 3.6 million workers earning less than $37,000 will pay more than $4 billion extra in tax on their super over the next four years.
■ Abolish the means test on the private health insurance rebate. This will deliver a $2.4 billion tax cut over three years for individuals earning over $84,001 a year, or couples earning over $168,001. People on lower incomes will receive no benefit.
■ Introduce a paid parental leave scheme that replaces a mother's salary up to $150,000. To put it crudely, this means a low-income mum gets about $600 per week while a high-income mum gets close to $3000.
■ Abolish the means-tested Schoolkids Bonus that benefits 1.3 million families by providing up to $410 for each primary school child and up to $820 for each high school child.

Australians need to consider carefully their vote at this election.  Even if you don't like the Gillard Government much - you could find that if you think you are in the frying pan now that a vote for Abbott could land you in the fire.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

People power campaigning for Victoria's environment

From Environment Victoria ~~~

Imagine if you could create a brighter future 
for our environment and all Victorians 
just by talking to your neighbours. 

In the 40 years that Environment Victoria’s existed, we’ve never seen a state government that’s as bad for Victoria’s environment as this one.

They’ve paralysed growth in clean energy, dumped climate change laws and programs, reduced protection for green wedges, weakened the national plan to restore the Murray River, opened our national parks to development, and are aiming to create a new polluting brown coal export industry.

So it’s lucky that we’ve got a secret weapon. Something powerful, that’s going to help change the game and Reclaim Victoria’s Environment. You. 

The research is clear. All feedback from winning campaigns around the world says the same thing - nothing is more powerful than citizens, organised in teams, campaigning in their community. And nothing is more persuasive than a face-to-face conversation between neighbours. It’s that simple.

Only you can do that — you and others in your community, working together to win this campaign in your neighbourhood. That’s why I’m writing to you today.

Over the past six months we’ve been recruiting people to take action to Reclaim Victoria’s Environment. In the next few days we’ll send you more information about how you can help create a brighter future for Victoria, so keep your eyes peeled!

Now we’re taking it to a whole new level and this May we’re launching a month-long community campaign blitz in neighbourhoods across the state. Hundreds of people will be taking the campaign to the streets, knocking on doors and talking to friends and family. Will you be one of them? >

You can help build the force for change by:
  • Joining a street stall
  • Joining a doorknocking day in your area or one of our key campaign areas
  • Or asking five friends, family and neighbours to sign the petition

So many of the great wins in history have been won by people power – ordinary people taking action together. So let’s get going and make safeguarding Victoria’s environment the next big win.

Yours sincerely,

Mick Power
and the team from Environment Victoria

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Ballarat citizens protest to-morrow, Sunday 28 April, at the big subsidies to big polluters

Community members cancel cheque to big polluters

This Sunday the 28th of April at 11am community members from the electorate of Ballarat will be
‘cancelling a giant $65 million cheque to big polluters at local member Catherine King’s office.

The event is part of a series of rolling actions happening across Victoria in the lead up to the Federal budget calling for a substantial reduction in $10 billion dollars in fossil fuel subsidies currently handed to big polluters every year.

Local resident, Micah Demmert says Every year over $10 billion of taxpayer money is spent subsidising big polluters, including some of the worlds most profitable mining companies. That’s the equivalent of giving them $65 million from people in this electorate alone. We would much rather this money was spent in the community on health, education, or making Ballarat a more sustainable city

A broad coalition of environmental groups, including Environment Victoria, Australian Conservation Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and many others have launched a major nation-wide campaign calling on both the Government and Opposition to commit to a substantial reduction in tax payer funded subsidies set to be given to the countrys biggest polluters at the upcoming Federal Budget.

A campaign website was recently launched featuring a petition to government and an overview of the top four polluting subsidies.

Environment Victoria Safe Climate spokesperson, Victoria McKenzie-McHarg said,The federal government committed at the G20 meeting in 2009 to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. This should be a serious and urgent priority to free up money for government priorities such as health, education or public transport, and stop the gravy train for polluting industries.

Leading international organisations including the World Bank, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations have all called for an end to government subsidies for fossil fuels.

Polling this year by Essential research indicated that a majority of Australians - 64% disapproved of the current petrol and diesel subsidies (over $2 billion) to the mining sector.*
More information about the campaign and a backgrounder on the key beneficiaries of fossil fuel subsidies is available here: www.paidtopollute.org.au

Local Contact           Micah Demmert                             0407 060 108
Environment Victoria:     Victoria McKenzie-McHarg           04248409
  Polling reference:            http://www.marketforces.org.au/ffs-polling.html*

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