Showing posts from July, 2016

NT juvenile justice system rotten from the top down

The tragedy of this week's Four Corners program is that the damage done to young people in Northern Territory detention centres was largely already on the record. What was missing was the political will to change anything, other than to change things for the worse by legislating to legalise shackling and mechanical restraints.

As in the US where the legal system is flawed and it's almost impossible to prosecute an officer if you're poor and black, it's video – provided here by whistleblowers – that's disruptive and making the difference.

It shows guards at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre laughing and swearing at a boy at breaking point, stuck in a dark, sweltering and filthy isolation cell with no fresh water for 15 days straight. Other footage shows a different young person handcuffed, hooded and shackled to a mechanical chair.

The Prime Minister wants to know what lessons can be learnt. The NT Children's Commissioner reported on the facility's notorio…

Pokemania a sad indictment on the state of play

Nintendo's mobile-gaming "miracle" Pokemon Go may be bringing millennials out of the house – of their own free will – but its success says a lot about how the whole idea of play has changed, for the worse.

The app may be free for smart phone users, but this is pure commerce. It's created what marketers want: more spending in the shops that have shelled out fees to become physical destinations for Pokemaniacs. Yuk. Play has always been about constructing and imagining reality. Now it's about flogging products. It's transforming and reducing homes, memorials and cemeteries into spaces for so-called play, with an eye to profit.

It's cannibalising real-world geography, in contrast to traditional play that's bounded inside a "magic circle" in which children play act without corporate scripts.

Children of my generation born in the 1970s had the freedom to get dirty, to climb trees and experience real danger. My parents and their friends did even m…

Ancient lessons on custodianship for the PM

After acting like a sook on election night, Malcolm Turnbull re-emerged this past week as something more akin to a statesman or Indigenous elder.

He said he was touched when Bill Shorten rang to concede. Turnbull was carrying his young granddaughter on his hip. It was a "beautiful reminder" that politicians are "trustees" for future generations. He might just be preoccupied with personal legacy but I'm taking hope from this.

Indigenous Australian have long been trustees, and storytellers as they hand down wisdom to generations to follow. NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. It was fitting that this year's NAIDOC celebrations focused on "songlines" in the same week that a marathon count decided who would govern us and shape our story.

Turnbull's grandchildren won't think twice about opening school assemblies and parliaments with a "welcome to country". Yet until the arrival of Kevin Rudd ni…