Australia’s flawed human rights record

There’s not too much coincidence about the timing of China’s social media campaign, accusing Australia of human rights abuses. The photo-shopped meme which has outraged all sides of the Australian government targets alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. Timely, given that next Thursday (the 10th), is International Human Rights Day. China, of course, is campaigning from a blood-stained corner, its long record of human rights abuses and accusations thereof, lurking in the shadows. I mention the…

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Refugees settling in despite funding cuts

While refugees and migrants have been welcomed into Australia’s rural communities, successive Budget cuts have made life difficult for refugee support services. Although not attracting too many headlines, a $50 million cut in the 2018-19 Budget, and another $77.9 million over four years in the 2019-20 Budget, means that organisations trying to help refugees with the transition to a new country, a new culture and a new language are left scrambling. The Refugee Council of…

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Get the kids off Nauru, maybe

We’ve been learning a protest song for our choir’s Christmas concert. Actually it is a plea for peace, the musical equivalent of a street march – “What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now.” John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Happy Xmas/War is Over starts by asking the universal question so many of us end up asking ourselves: “And so it is Christmas, and what have we done? Another year over, a new…

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Human Rights and Halloween

You always have to look for the silver lining; like the Queensland Parliament introducing a Human Rights Act on the same day (31st October) that people were walking the streets dressed as ghouls and zombies, reminding us that Christmas is just 55 days away. Christmas Island is just around the corner too – well, it’s precisely 1,550 kms north-west of Perth. But it is an Australian territory, unlike Nauru and Manus Island. I mention human…

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