Thursday, 27 June 2013

"A new approach for Asylum Seekers"- forum in Bendigo this Saturday to find a new approach of justice and compassion

A new approach for Asylum Seekers
Central Victoria holding a forum 
to discuss refugee polices

Refugee support groups from Central Victoria 
are holding a forum in Bendigo - 
Asylum Seekers  A New Approach.

Refugee support groups from Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine, Daylesford and Maryborough have been concerned with asylum seeker issues since Tampa. Despite current policies and practices they are determined to speak out for a more just and compassionate system.

Members of the public who would like to be better informed 
about present policies,
and contribute to a new approach, 
are invited to attend on 
Saturday 29 June
St Andrew’s Church Hall, 
26 Myers St. Bendigo.
Please note:
There is a bus leaving Ballarat at 8.15 am on Saturday morning.
Please book your place early.
You can email 
The program for the day starts with a morning workshop featuring experts involved in asylum seekers’ issues, followed by a light lunch and a Q & A session in the afternoon. The day will conclude with a plenary session and plans for action.

Many well-known speakers in the field have accepted the invitation to attend and lend their expertise to the day’s events.  

Julian Burnside AO will be speaking in the morning session
 and will chair the afternoon Q&A. 

Panellists include:

from the

Campaign Manager of the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre.  

Political representatives include 
Janet Rice, Greens Senate candidate
Harvey Stern from Labor For Refugees.  

Aran Mylvaganam is one of the refugee representatives.

Forum starts at 10.30 am with a lunch break at 1pm. 
The afternoon Q&A commences at 2pm, 
followed by a plenary session, 
concluding at 4.30 pm. 
Entry by donation.

For more details, 
and to submit early bird questions for the Q&A 
contact Terry 5461 5471 
or email 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

ABC Open in Ballarat is looking for bands - must be over 30 and not has-beens or wannabees - only never-weres can apply!

From ABC Open Ballarat 

Hi folks

Hope this email finds you well and warm this winter.

Do you know any bands in your area who may want to take part in a nationwide ABC band competition?

ABC Ballarat is looking for the best amateur bands from the Ballarat region (Ararat, Daylesford, Clunes, Ballan, Creswick, Meredith, Haddon, Smythesdale, Scarsdale). 
The catch is: band members must be over 30. 

"EXHUMED is a nationwide competition for unsigned, unrecorded, unheard, and until now, unwanted bands. EXHUMED celebrates the amateur. It's not for some old one hit wonder trying to revive a career or for young things on the way up. It's for those who've chosen other paths in life but still love to play. It’s not for has-beens, it’s not for wannabes, it’s for the never-weres."

Entries are nowopen. 

Entries close on July 15th.

I'm holding an info session this Saturday at ABC Ballarat studio to help bands with their application: 

Where: ABC Ballarat. 5 Dawson street South, Ballarat

When: Saturday June 29th 11-12.30pm

Warm regards, 

Marc Eiden
ABC Open Producer
Ballarat, VIC
03 5320 1062
03 5320 1099

Multicultural Arts Victoria coming this week and weekend to Ballarat - please join the fun and games. Poster below

From Anne Harkin at Multicultural Arts Victoria ~~~~

Hi Everybody, 

I am contacting all the people who attended the MAV Community Consultation held in Ballarat in August last year. 

At this consultation some of the ideas put forth were: to develop and promote cultural leaders and local artists. Also, people expressed that they wanted to be able to run cultural events and activities within the local community. 

As a result, there will be two days of free workshops on Friday and Saturday of this week, comprising 4 x 2 hour workshops on those topics…with free lunch included. 

Please check out the attached poster (See below for poster which can be downloaded) and ring or email Ekaterini Floratos, Project Coordinator, at or 9188 3681 if you would like to attend. 

Please pass this on to your friends and contacts who may be interested. 

Anne Harkin 
Project Officer 

In the office Tuesdays & Wednesdays 

Multicultural Arts Victoria 
South Melbourne Town Hall 
 Level 1, 208-220 Bank Street, 
South Melbourne 3205 
PO Box 5113 South Melbourne 3205 
T:03 9188 3681 
F:03 9686 6643 
M: 0400 121 014 
Skype: multiculturalartsvic 

Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter 


 For upcoming events please visit 

Also below for reading online or downloading from this post
is information about Emerge Festival 2013

Bangladesh garment factory fire at Rana Plaza - Woolworths/Big W reply to concerns & their sustainability strategy and even more links

Thank you for writing to us with your concerns on the recent factory collapse in Bangladesh. Let me assure you that BIG W was not sourcing from Rana Plaza. BIG W has in place a requirement for all suppliers to comply with our ethical sourcing policy on providing a safe and hygienic working environment. We regularly visit our suppliers’ factories in Bangladesh to ensure they meet our standards.

We believe the Accord on Fire and Building Safety is a positive initiative that enables a collaborative approach. On 7th of June, we announced that BIG W has written to IndustriALL to indicate that it will sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

On 29th May, BIG W wrote to the global union organisation IndustriALL to express our support for the Accord’s aims and our intention to become a signatory once the Accord working group, which includes retailers from around the globe, advises on the details of the implementation plan.

Woolworths Limited is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact and is an active member of the international Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Social Compliance Program. This program aims to deliver a shared and consistent standard for continuous improvement to working and environmental conditions across all manufacturing categories and sectors.

Kind regards
Armineh Mardirossian
Head of Corporate Responsibility
Community & Sustainability
Woolworths Limited

Please note: picture, links and "The Brands You Know and Trust" have been inserted by Miss Eagle.

Benefit for Bangladesh : You saw 4 Corners, now take action: Thurs 27 June, Celtic Club, Queen St, Melbourne

The plight of the garment workers of Rana Plaza : Australian responsibility : lots of links for information & aid

24/09 2015
Following the ABCTV Four Corners program last night, I am re-publishing a former post on the fire at Rana Plaza and the garment workers' plight. The original post has quite a collection of links, particularly to labour rights organisations. I have now added a further myriad of links from the ABC Four Corners site. The post has now become quite encyclopaedic with regard to the links. There is no excuse now for being uninformed; for not writing that letter; for not donating or not attending that benefit. Most of all there is no excuse for not encouraging people - in whatever industry - to join their union. Labour rights on the factory floor and humane intervention by governments is what prevents such events as the garment factory fire which has killed, maimed, and defrauded so many. Please act now!

We have all heard about the Bangladesh factory fire of 24 April, 2013 which killed 400 people.  This is nothing new. Bangladesh (and those international retailers who commission goods from factories there) have form.  The picture above is from a 2012 fire which killed 112 people.  For information about the prosecution of the factory owner, please go here.

Kmart, Target, Big W and Cotton On have all not signed on to the global agreement and those companies have no excuse not to be part of this. This is an effective way of actually dealing with a huge tragedy.

It is clear that only consumer activism, complaints, and demands for retailers to supply clear labelling and listing of supply chains will change anything and keep our retailing corporations honest, active and responsive to human rights. I have linked below contact forms and pages for the three major retailers mentioned on The World Today by Michele O'Neil.
Kmart contact form
BigW contact page
Cotton On contact form

Bangladesh has the lowest minimum wage in the world at $38 month.  Cambodia has the second lowest minimum wage in the world at $66 a month, so reports CorpWatch.  And, Australian consumers, if you are tempted to say that costs of living are cheaper in both countries then that doesn't wash.  These are people whose incomes barely put food in their mouths.  Their incomes don't buy four bedroom houses with bathroom, ensuite and plasma TV.  

The fact is that Australian greed, First World greed, 
is exploiting Third World need.

Western consumers must take some responsibility 
for the Bangladesh factory deaths.

One thing you can do that is only a Like away:

I have written to-day to Kelvin Thomson, Parliamentary Secretary for Trade as follows:
Dear Kelvin Thomson,

I write to express my concerns about the recent Bangladesh factory fire which has horrified the world.

I write to ask you, as Minister for Trade, what the Australian Government - and in particular the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - is doing to assist in:
  1. Making Australian businesses compile supply chain details in relation to the products they sell and supply them on request to their customers.
  2. Advising Australian businesses in relation to their responsibilities in relation to human rights when sourcing goods and products from countries with low-wage, non-unionised sweatshops and deathshops.
  3. Keeping watch on countries with low-wage, non-unionised sweatshops and deathshops.
  4. Keeping watch on governments of countries with low-wage, non-unionised sweatshops and deathshops.
  5. Developing Australian Government responses to countries and governments which allow low-wage, non-unionised sweatshops and deathshops.
I plan to follow up to-day by writing to the following retailing organisations:

Below, more links are provided to expand your knowledge on this topic.
Firstly, previous posts on The Network on the 2013 Bangladesh factory fire at Rana Plaza:

Fairwear Australia
Asia Floor Wage
Living Wage as a fundamental right of Cambodian Garment Workers
Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh

ADDED - Tuesday 25 June 2013
Wondering what you can do after last night's 4 Corners program
Lots of stuff below - from writing letters, to giving money, to action
and all based on great information

Garment Workers' Appeal | ActionAid Australia | @ActionAid_aus

Australian retailers Rivers, Coles, Target, Kmart linked to Bangladesh factory worker abuse

The above link provides links under the following headings

Email addresses you can write to about their unethical behaviour:

Clothing retailers respond
The following retailers respond: Coles, Forever New, KMart Australia, Big W, Mango Clothing, Cotton On, Benetton, Mango

Reports and Company Audits
See Nothing, Know Nothing, Do Nothing | Inst. for Global Labour and Human Rights | May 2012 -
Chinese Sweatshop in Bangladesh | Inst. for Global Labour and Human Rights | 8 Mar 2012 
Ethical Code of Conduct | Forever New Clothing Pty Ltd

World News Coverage
Uncertain future for Rana Plaza survivors | Dhaka Tribune | 11 Jun 2013
'Rana deserves life term' | The Bangladesh Chronicle | 22 May 2013
Death Mill | Foreign Policy | 9 May 2013 - How the ready-made garment industry captured the Bangladeshi state.

Information on Ethical Garment Manufacturing
Accredited Brands | Ethical Clothing Australia
The Culprits - Who is to Blame? | FairWear Australia
Find Ethical Australian Products | Ethical Clothing Australia 
Retailers | Ethical Clothing Australia

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Trying to avoid the government you deserve? The Age pontificates & joins the push for a gender biassed storming of the Bastille.

Some of us - well, an awful lot of us - are well and truly over the political storms beaten up by the Mainstream Media (MSM).  Some of us want to hear strong and civil political debate and discourse.  Some of us are not into bigotry and political inanity.  Some of us don't respond like puppets at the end of a MSM string, ready to be jerked into movement and predictability.  Some of us are sentient beings who use our sensory faculties to come to our own decisions based on reasoning and the ambitions we have for ourselves and our nation.  Some of us are never polled about anything, Some of us can be the big surprise on election day.

The less senior journalists of the MSM have been baying breathlessly on the Prime Ministerial leadership and associated political polling for months now.  Well, it has probably been years - ever since the hung Parliament came into being in 2010 in the Year of Our Lord.  Not the first hung parliament in the history of the Commonwealth of Australia - but you could be forgiven for thinking so because of the five-minute memories and lack of research skills held by most of the current crop of journalists.  Fact checking and penetrating questioning seem to have been consigned to a by-gone era.

Our political discourse has become highly uncivil and filled with bigotry, gender bias, and hatred.  Perhaps a poll or some form of research that could attempt to co-relate physical violence in the wider community with the violent and hate-filled language spewing forth from the anti-Gillard camp might prove insightful.

It seems that a large proportion of our journalists have become "inept stenographers" producing "tainted journalism".

It seems to me that one could look at The Age and its political interference to-day as a last ditch attempt to influence the electorate.  Perhaps the powers-that-be at Fairfax (Roger Corbett, Gina Rinehart and their allies) feel that enough has not been done by their journalists (and remember there are few of the good ones left at Fairfax these days) to influence the electorate to rid itself of Julia Gillard, to insist on the overturn of Australia's first female Prime Minister.  

I would suggest to the Fairfax mob baying at the barricades to look around them; look at the company they are keeping.  The Fairfax language might be polite and civil but are they lining themselves up with the following: Alan Jones; Howard Sattler, Barnaby Joyce, plus a whole tribe of hate-filled men and the women who are their acolytes?

The Fairfax language may be polite.  The newspaper might have a liberal tradition.  All this counts for nought because one thing is clear, clear as crystal.  Fairfax have aligned themselves with the forces who want, who seek the downfall of Australia's first female Prime Minister.  They cannot wait for a September election to allow the Australian electorate to decide.  No - this is a gender biassed storming of the Bastille.  And there is one thing more that is not being considered.  If an Abbott Government trounces Labor so convincingly that it is all but invisible; if Abbott takes control of both Houses of Parliament with a huge majority, it will merely prove two things: 
  • Australians will have the government for which they have voted
  • Australia will have the government it deserves
While the Labor Government is going to this election with a raft of good policies and a history of sound management in the hung Parliament period, there have been dastardly deeds done. The continuation of the Northern Territory Intervention; the continuation of taxpayer funding to some of Australia's wealthiest schools while poorer state schools continue to suffer are two that spring readily to mind.

You see, naive as it may seem, I am a great believer in natural justice; that we reap what we sow.  All parties   (and I do include The Greens, to a lesser extent, in what I am saying) have sown their own crops of weeds which are yet to be harvested.  The harvest cannot be avoided.  It may be circumvented for a time, it may be postponed, but there will be a harvest from which our political parties and the Australian voters cannot run.

See also
Victoria Rollison in The Australian Independent Media Network
Kieran Fitzgerald gives it to the Editor of The Age in the same fashion that The Age has given it Julia
The Conscience Vote - For the sake of the nation, the media should do its job - and please take the time to read the comments to this article.  Some good discussion going on there.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Kelvin Thompson - Parliamentary Secretary for Trade - responds on the Rana Plaza fire in Bangladesh

In May I posted five times on The Network regarding exploitative sweatshop labour including writing about the deathly Rana Plaza fire. Western corporations and consumers have been/are the beneficiaries of cheap and slave labour. If you click here, you can view the posts.

If you click on this link, you can see in this post the text of the letter which I wrote to the Parliamentary Secretary for Trade, The Hon Kelvin Thomson MP.  

To-day's post brought Kelvin Thomson's reply.  I publish it below.  What do Networkers think?  Is this sufficient ... sufficient to ensure the dignity of right rewards for labour in Bangladesh and, for that matter, other countries where, to date, labour - particularly the labour of women and children - has been exploited to the benefit of western corporations and consumers?  Please comment.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Challenge is on: Bankstown challenges Basic Cards and Income Management now that it has come to the Big Smoke,

The Income Management Map 

Sent: Thursday, June 20, 2013 1:29 PM
Subject: Bankstown Coalition set to challenge expansion of income management on anniversary of NT Intervention
Barb Shaw of Mount Nancy Town Camp, Alice Springs.

Say No to Government Income Management - 
Not in Bankstown, Not Anywhere Campaign Coalition
Media Release 20 June for immediate release
Bankstown Coalition set to challenge 
expansion of income management 
on anniversary of NT Intervention
Members of the Say No to Government Income Management - Not in Bankstown, Not Anywhere Campaign Coalition will join a rally this Saturday June 22, marking 6 years since the announcement of the NT Intervention.
The Coalition says it will challenge the further expansion of income management planned for July 1, 2013. Income management began in 2007 for Aboriginal people living under the NT Intervention and was expanded to Bankstown in 2012.
From July 1 2013, new categories of marginalised young people will be compulsorily placed on income management across the NT and all trial sites including Bankstown:
- People under 25 applying for a Crisis Payment for Released Prisoners
- Young people receiving an unable to live at home allowance
- Recipients of the Special Benefit
The Campaign Coalition in Bankstown is supported by 67 organisations representing a diverse range of ethnic and cultural communities along with trade unions and faith groups. Since a declaration calling for a community wide boycott on income management in 2012, Bankstown has the lowest numbers of people on both voluntary and compulsory income management of any trial site.
Semra Guler is a Regional Resource Worker with the Western Sydney Community Forum and a spokesperson for the Coalition:
"All the evidence shows that income management is not improving anyone’s situation. We're having difficulty explaining to our member organisations why social policies that do not work are persisted with and will be expanded to target more community members."

"I've visited Central Australia and seen first hand the destructive impact of income management. I can't find words to describe how systematic racism was that I saw  there. We're proud to join the rally protesting 6 years of NT Intervention".
Kylie Sambo is a young Aboriginal leader from the Northern Territory living on income management. She is traveling from Tennant Creek to address the protest:
"Being put on income management was very upsetting. I know how to manage my money - I don't need a card to control what I can spend things on".
The number of Aboriginal people in prison in the NT has doubled under the Intervention. Kylie says that making income management compulsory for young people coming out of prison will do nothing to address the challenges they face:
"So many of our people are going into prison now. When they try to make their life different coming out they have a criminal record which makes it hard to get a job, hard to get a license. Now they'll be more on BasicsCard, it will be really difficult to go out and achieve something in life."
Paddy Gibson is a Senior Researcher with the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at UTS and is a spokesperson for the Coalition:
"Front-line staff have voted with their feet and are refusing to place people on income management in Bankstown. This latest expansion planned by the government is an attempt to circumvent that opposition".

"Six years ago the government launched an Intervention in the NT which has tried to establish punishment and control as the policy framework for dealing with social disadvantage. Young people in the NT have suffered enormously under this policy. Youth suicide rates have increased 160% and reported rates of self-harm are up more than five fold."

"Now marginalised youth in Bankstown are also set to be punished. The government's own evaluations show an astronomical administrative cost of between $6000-8000 per person per year on income management. From Bankstown to the bush we will continue to struggle for funding to be redirected from income management to badly needed for support services and job opportunities for youth who are struggling".
Rally details: 
12 noon, Saturday 22 June 2013
Paul Keating Park, Bankstown 
(near Bankstown station)
Organised by the 
Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney
Kylie Sambo, NT youth leader living on income management
Maree O'Halloran, Welfare Rights Center
Gary Moore, CEO of Homelessness NSW
Robin Croon, Public Service Association
Wafa Ibrahim, Child, youth and family support officer, Arab Council Australia
Kylie Sambo will be available for interview from 
11am on Friday June 21. 
She will be staying in Sydney until June 28.
Fore more information or to arrange interviews contact:
Paddy Gibson 0415 800 586
Semra Guler 0411 644 652
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