Friday, August 19, 2011

Rebuilding Britain after the riots

Images of violence in Britain's cities have shocked a global public. But rebuilding neighbourhoods will require more than a tough police response.

I appreciated what guest Cheryl Kernot (speaking on Radio National's Saturday Extra) had to say about disconnections in contemporary Britain that have contributed to the recent violence. Gangs offer members identity and belonging when they feel marginalised.

The news from Britain has been a wake up call for all of us, and each of us have a role to play where ever we live.

They are not profound things, rather simple measures that affirm our common humanity. Adults showing an interest in the welfare of children and young adults in their streets and neighbourhoods, for one.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Flying the flag for real reconciliation

It will be forty years on July 12 since the National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) first flew the distinctive black, red and yellow Aboriginal flag.

Six months later in January 1972 the flag gained a more official status when it was hoisted above the newly-established Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.

The flag’s designer Harold Thomas says he wanted the flag to symbolise ‘the struggle’. It was primarily about the struggle for Aboriginal land rights but has become about much more.

So, what’s left of the struggle four decades later?

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Home and Away: History should not be lost

Dumile Feni (1942-1991), For the Child
An exhibition at Canberra's ANU Drill Hall Gallery reminds us of the horror of Apartheid and how the struggle used art to express and overcome its impact.

I took my nine year old daughter to the opening night, coincidentally National Sorry Day (in Australia)and Africa Day, May 26.

While I told her to prepare for some disturbing images I wanted her to see them for herself. Art, however disturbing, has the power to unlock the human spirit and help people rise above oppression.

My kids are aghast at stories about what life was like during Apartheid. They almost don't believe it could have happened. But it did, and as the former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, said in his formal remarks to open the show, history is very repetitive and so we must not forget.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When Meat Is Off The Menu

This week's ABC Four Corners revealed with gut-wrenching images, how cattle in slaughterhouses have suffered mistreatment. It's got my family again thinking about the responsibilities we have towards animals. I wrote this for Web Child last month:

There's a small revolution rippling along in suburbia, at least in my pocket of the suburbs. And my anecdotal evidence suggests that boys are leading the way. It's vegetarianism, and it contests the stereotype that boys are less sensitive than girls.

My seven-year-old son wants to be a vegetarian. His good friend is one. Others in his class have talked about wanting to forgo meat. They are all boys and they each came to this conclusion on their own.

“Mum, every time I eat meat, I feel sorry,” said Oliver, one day at the kitchen sink.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Closing the communication gap

Who would argue with the need to 'close the gap' between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians?

There are unacceptable gaps in services, health and economic outcomes.

But on a trip from Canberra to Arnhem Land as a volunteer journalist I was struck by a glaring and fundamental gap little talked about - the communication gap.

I was little prepared for an exursion to remote Australia with the charity, Indigenous Community Volunteers...

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