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|ERC InTouch||eNewsletter||Friday, 2nd September 2011|
On a daily basis our national politics appear to be more and more intractably mired in adversarial point-scoring, while the bigger picture is sidelined. Major party responses to the High Court's Malaysia ruling have been disappointing - confirming this appraisal. ERC's response on the implications of the ruling can be read below. We strongly support the call from ACOSS (the Australian Council of Social Services) and others for the need to reframe the national asylum debate.
ERC endorses and commends to our supporters, the recent position paper prepared under the leadership of former Head of the Department of Immigration John Menadue, which calls for an asylum policy that appeals to the "better angels of our nature - not on half-truths masked as fact, or political cowardice". Mr Menadue argues that until Australia can overcome its "collective paranoia" about boat arrivals, it will be difficult to achieve sensible decision-making.
This same argument can be applied to all areas of our lives - the importance of appealing to the better angels of our nature, of recognising the bigger picture, of what is right and just. How many of our daily actions and habits override this deceivingly simple plea, and require us to step out of the status quo?
There is a lot happening around ERC and nationally in the coming weeks. For ways to get involved, see the details below, or show your support through a donation. It is only through such ongoing commitments and support that we are able to keep high the banner of hope.
ERC InTouch team
Sydney, Thurs 1st Sept 2011
“The High Court ruling on deportations to Malaysia, should serve as a call to reflection by the major parties, to forge a new policy framework – focussed on compassion, empathy and respect for the human dignity of the vulnerable,” said Edmund Rice Centre director, Phil Glendenning.
“The Edmund Rice Centre calls on the major political parties to respect the full significance of the Court's ruling by moving away from the bipartisan commitment to 'deterrence', in favour of a new paradigm through which Australia can recognise the vulnerability of arriving asylum-seekers and offer them a humanitarian and just response,” he said.
“Whilst push factors remain so strong the search for a deterrent is futile. There would appear to be
a 'logic disconnect' in the failure to comprehend the magnitude of the threats and violence from
which asylum seekers are fleeing.”
Phil Glendenning on ABC Radio National's Sunday Nights
This Sunday - 4th Sept 2011 - ERC director Phil Glendenning will join program host John Cleary on Radio National's Sunday Nights program to discuss the High Court's ruling on deportations to Malaysia and its implications for the future of asylum policy in Australia.
The program commences at 9pm AEST but may also be listened to after that date as a podcast on the program's website.
ACOSS Statement on the High Court Ruling - open for further endorsements
Following yesterday's historic High Court ruling that declared the Malaysia refugee swap deal invalid, Australia's community sector is calling on the Australian Government to abandon the current fixation with offshore ‘solutions' and to establish a just and humane approach to Australia's response to people seeking asylum.
Menadue Report: A New Approach: Breaking the Stalemate of Refugee & Asylum Seekers
John Menadue et al - Centre for Policy Development
Does our island mentality and concern about securing our physical border help explain our obsession with “boat people”? John Menadue explores the causes of Australia’s obsession with asylum seekers and boat people.
As we seem to have lost all sense of proportion in this debate, we should adopt the metrics the UNHCR does. That is, what should matter is the total number of refugees, regardless of how they arrive. As we’ve entered a post-truth politics era, where the media are mere arbiters of opinion, it helps to establish some facts on asylum seekers.
Over the past 10 years, advances have only been made in improving Australia's treatment of asylum seekers, once a critical mass is achieved of people with adequate command of the facts.
To this end the Edmund Rice Centre has a strong history of investing in the process of community education on many levels. An important part of this has been the publication of fact-sheets such as the widely distributed series Debunking the Myths on Asylum Seekers.
In the current stage of the ongoing national debate on asylum policy ERC has produced another important factsheet: 10 Essential Facts About Asylum Seekers.
You can assist our efforts to achieve this much needed critical mass by downloading a copy of this fact-sheet and emailing it on to family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Already we have heard from some people who have made photocopies to distribute through local churches, schools, universities and community groups.
You Me Unity is the national conversation about updating our Constitution to recognise our first peoples and define equality for all Australians. The Constitution is the basis for our laws and political system. A lot has changed since the Constitution was written in 1901. Nowadays many Australians would be surprised to know that the Constitution still includes the possibility for discrimination based on your race, and ignores Australia’s first peoples and their role as custodians of the world’s oldest continuing culture.
The Australian people have the power to update the Constitution through a referendum so that it better reflects our shared values. In light of this an expert panel has been appointed by the Government to consult with the people and lead a nationwide discussion on the issue. By December 2011, after a period of consideration, discussion and consultation with all Australians, the panel will advise the government about the options for formally recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution.
The Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoplesl is co-chaired by long-time ERC partner, Patrick Dodson. Patrick, together with ERC director Phil Glendenning, was the instigator of 2008-2009 ERC Brooklyn Project. The Brooklyn Project brought together 30 young people to consider what they considered should be added to or changed in the Australian Constitution - in representation of those groups who were excluded from the original process of drafting the Constitution: indigenous people, people of a non-English speaking background, women and young people, The gathering was held at Brooklyn on the Hawkebury River just north of Sydney, at the place where in the 1890's the Australian Constitution was first drafted.
Public consultation meetings with different representatives from the Expert Panel in the You Me Unity process continue throughout Australia until the end of September. To be part of the conversation, find out when a consultation session is being held near you:
The 2004 US assault on the small Iraqi town of Fallujah was one of the most horrific war crimes of our time. And yet today, another war continues daily in Fallujah. The populace is gripped by a stealthy killer - a slow and silent violence where the best medical advice given to young women is: ‘Do not have babies!’.
An average of three babies are born daily with severe deformities. Many are stillborn, others live a few hours, and most who survive live for only a few months because of their severe abnormalities. A new study, ‘Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009,’ showed higher rates of cancer, leukemia, infant mortality, and sexual mutations than recorded among atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The prevalence of these conditions in Fallujah at levels many times higher than in nearby nations proves that a high proportion of the weaponry used in the US assault on Fallujah contained depleted uranium, a radioactive substance used in shells to increase their effectiveness. Fallujah provides us with stark evidence as to the urgent need for a treaty to ban depleted uranium weapons.
Watching British MPs grill Rupert and James Murdoch was an interesting example of attempts to find out the truth of what the phone hacking affair at News of the World. We could call the process “ethical pathology” because it represents attempts to find out what produced such a blatant and far reaching abuse of people, a clear ethical failure.
As is often the case, finding out what went wrong is linked to apportioning responsibility and then sanctions, in other words a legal process. And, as is often the case, the uneasy relationship between ethics and law is being used to confuse the truth.
'I saw your excellent doco The Hungry Tide at the Sydney Film Festival. Congratulations on the film – it not only laid out the problem thoughtfully and clearly but also worked brilliantly at a human level – telling Maria Tiimon’s courageous yet modest story. It reminds us that with quiet determination people who may regard themselves as “ordinary” can achieve extraordinary things!'
- Extract from one of the many emails Tom has received about his film.
NEW SCREENINGS: The Hungry Tide has had several successful showings in different parts of Australia and more are coming up. The confirmed dates we have are 13th September in Bathurst and 24th September at UTS at University Hall Sydney. Times to be confirmed. Brisbane and Hobart dates also in September, but yet to be confirmed. To find out more, visit www.thehungrytide.com.au
9TH OCT: NATIONAL BROADCAST: A condensed version of the documentry will be shown across Australia on SBS at 9.30pm on Sunday 9th October 2011.
ORDER YOUR OWN COPY OF THE HUNGRY TIDE
PRIVATE USE: $40.00
SCHOOLS: $60.00ea (One only) / $40.00ea more than one.
LIBRARIES/INSTITUTIONS/CONFERENCES: inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
POSTAGE & PACKING: $5.00 Aus and NZ; $18.00 other countries. Please make out your cheque to the Edmund Rice Centre and send your order to:
The Pacific Calling Partnership c/- E.R.C.
PO box 2219 Homebush West NSW
MORE: visit www.thehungrytide.com.au
HAVE YOUR SAY: If you'd like a very simple way to throw your support behind the hungry tide and the work of supporting the Pacific in the face of climate change you might like to vote for it in the IF AWARDS. Go to http://www.ifawards.com/rating/film/the-hungry-tide. Voting closes on Sept 16.
* Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Maria as she mourns the loss of her father with her family on her home island of Beru. Her father Tiimon was a strong and supportive role model for Maria... their stories are shared in The Hungry Tide...
The Edmund Rice Centre is pleased to support the recent launch of the new book Permaculture Pioneers: Stories from the New Frontier, with a chapter written by ERC's Eco-Justoce and PCP co-ordinator Jill Finnane.
Next Monday, 5th September, Jill will be part of a panel discussion at the bimonthly meeting of the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance, together with two other contributors - Russ Grayson and Fiona Campbell - to provide an insight into their personal journey with permaculture. The panel will be followed by a Q&A session and refreshments.
WHEN: Monday 5th Sept 2011 - 6pm, to 8pm
WHERE: Level 6, Red Cross House, 157 Clarence Street, Sydney
(NB Building is locked after hours, however someone will be at door from 5.50 – 6.15pm to let people in. Enquiries Ph: 0400 214 343 email info[at]sydneyfoodfairness.org.au )
COST: Free - or $30 to purchase the book
MORE: There are some remaining launches around the country - to find out if there is one near you, go to http://www.holmgren.com.au/html/Events/Events.php
*Copies of the book are also available from the Edmund Rice Centre for $30 each. All profits from the book support the work of the Pacific Calling Partnership.
Tuvalu, a nation composed entirely of low-lying islands in the Pacific, has become widely known because of its vulnerability to sea level rise. Since the late 1980s, Tuvalu has appeared in many news reports and documentaries as signifiers of the scale and urgency of climate change. Dramatic representations of rising sea levels in Tuvalu circulate: many foreign journalists, researchers, environmentalists and documentary-makers arrive during king tides to capture footage of flooding on the islands. Dispatches of disappearing islands, often apparently on the verge of evacuation, are sent to all corners of the world, with the inhabitants of the islands often referred to as ‘climate refugees’. The label ‘climate refugee’ didn’t exist before climate change was discovered. Why do journalists use it? How do the people so named feel about being called ‘climate refugees’ or ‘environmental refugees’?
Resistance to the climate refugee label among Tuvaluans prompts a search for alternative vocabularies through which the challenges of sea level might be more equitably spoken.
As climate change continues unchecked, small island states in the Pacific have increasingly called for “new and additional” funding to help them cope with the consequences of global warming. Over the past years, various international negotiations have affirmed and agreed with this. So why has it been so hard for developing countries in the Pacific to gain access to adequate funding as they were promised?
In an insightful article “Improving access to climate financing for the Pacific Islands”, author Nic Maclellan from the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC) unpacks some of the tensions generated by climate financing and comments on the difficulties of channeling funding to where it is needed. This review is a concise analysis of the argument, and what remains to be done.
The Pacific Calling Partnership invites you to join us at our next Youth Forum on the 6th September 2011 "Fighting for Climate Justice in the Pacific". Hear some new stories from the Pacific and be part of a different kind of conversation, in which climate change is not a weak political catch-phrase or economic threat, but a matter of survival. Key speakers will include leaders from Kiribati and Fiji on the impact and actions of their communities, as well as an Oxfam climate campaigner discussing global climate finance initiatives, and researcher discussing the international fishing industry in the Pacific context. Bring along your friends to be part of this fun and informative evening!
WHEN: Tuesday 6th September, 2011, 6.30pm - 9pm
WHERE: Zanzibar, 323 King St Newtown, NSW
COST: Entry by donation (min. gold coin please!), with finger food provided.
MORE: Visit the Facebook page for details or to post a comment!
RSVP: Please contact Katerina on email@example.com (prefered) or phone 0401 006 849.
ERC international programs is currently keen to hear from people who are interested in participating in a human rights and development internship in Latin America. Advanced skills in Spanish or Portuguese are a base requirement.
Sean Cleary, ERC's Education Officer for International Programs will be working from São Paulo, Brazil for the next two months as part of the process to develop this new ERC program, and to further build ERC's partnership links in the Latin American region. For the past eleven years ERC has been the Australian affiliate member organisation of the Oscar Romero Christian Network of Solidarity with Latin America, within which Sean represents the Asia Pacific region in the executive council.
To date there have been about a dozen initial expressions of interest in this new ERC program. We hope to have an information sheet available by the end of September to provide to enquirers. If you want to express your interest, or just to learn a little more, please contact Sean Cleary by email seanc [at] erc.org.au
Earlier this month, the Edmund Rice Centre was proud to host the international delegation of Christian Brothers from the Edmund Rice leadership and management team. Around 30 cfc visitors travelled from Rome and various parts of the Oceania region, as a chance to hear first hand some of the actions, initiatives, directions and partnerships that emerge from this little centre with a big impact.
Many were aware of some of the initiatives happening from the Centre, but for many this was the first time it all came together as a complete picture, and impressed by the diversity and depth of the actions taking place. The engagement of all who came made it an enjoyable and successful day for all.
To help ERC continue projects, research, advocacy and community education, please go to www.erc.org.au/donate
NOW - 10 SEPT: EXHIBITION OF MULTIMEDIA WORKS BY DINH Q LE "ERASURE" (NSW)
Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation presents "Erasure", a newly commissioned work by Vietnamese artist Dinh Q. Le. This is an interactive sculptural and video installation that draws on recent debates in Australia concerning refugees and asylum seekers. Open from Wednesday to Saturday 11:00am-5:00pm at Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, 16-20 Goodhope Street, Paddington. Read more
NOW – 19 SEPT: WAKAKIRRI OUTBACK FESTIVAL 2011 (NT & SA)
The Outback Program gives Indigenous and non-Indigenous students from remote and regional areas of Australia the opportunity to participate in a national performing and visual arts festival. The program is designed to engage students in their education and to teach them to make healthy lifestyle choices. Outback schools and communities are visited by a team of workshop facilitators from a variety of professional artistic backgrounds who run workshops in script writing, editing and film making. The students create a short film which is screened in front of the whole community at a Cultural Celebration Day. The films then go on tour and are shown at all Wakakirri events across Australia. Read more
AUG, SEPT & OCT: PERILOUS JOURNEYS COURSE (NSW)
Perilous Journeys: the migration of peoples today, is a new missiology course being offered at the Catholic Institute of Sydney (ACU) over 3 weekends in the second semester this year. Migration is more than an economic question - it is a fundamental moral challenge of our age. While much policy debate on human mobility is framed by economic self-interest and international law, Catholic Social Teaching offers a more holistic ethical framework for understanding the phenomenon and responding justly. Read more
14TH SEPT: 'BUILDING BRIDGES, NOT WALLS' NATIONAL LAUNCH (NSW)
The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council invite you to the national launch of the Social Justice Statement 2011-2012 "Building Bridges, Not Walls: Prisons and the Justice System". The statement urges all Australians to think about the conditions in our prisons, and to ask who are most likely to find themselves there and why. Read more
15TH SEPT: FOUNDING ASSEMBLY SYDNEY ALLIANCE (NSW)
Be part of the founding lauch of the Sydney Alliance at Sydney's Town Hall, and be part of the movement toward stronger community for all. The Sydney Alliance is a non-party political, citizens’ coalition made up of leaders from a diverse range of ages and backgrounds whose vision is to provide our community with a voice to express common values and aspirations for a fair and just Sydney. Read more
21ST SEPT: INTERFAITH INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE SERVICE (NSW)
At a time when there is much discord among people of different faiths resulting in disharmony and violence, this interfaith peace service offers people of different faith to come closer to look at humanity’s common longing for peace. Representatives from Aboriginal, Bahai, Brahmakumaris, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jain, Jewish, Mandaean, Sikh, Sufi and Zoroastrian Communities will offer prayers for peace, as well as time for silent reflection. Hosted by St. David’s Uniting Church, Lindfield, 21 September at 11 AM. Light refreshments will follow the service. For further information contact Rev.Dr. Manas Ghosh on 9416-2746 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
7TH OCT: 'WAR CHILD' AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL PLUS LIVE PERFORMANCE (NSW)
The African Film Festival is proud to open in Sydney with the presentation of the explosive and award winning documentary 'War Child'. In the war-torn region of Southern Sudan, Emmanuel Jal was born into the life of a child soldier. Through unbelievable struggles and with the power of education, Emmanuel managed to survive and emerge as a global recording artist. Screening on October 7th at the iconic venue The Basement, Circular Quay at 7pm, tickets are $25 and include a special performance by Emmanual right after the documentary. Read more
10-11TH OCT: GREEN ECONOMY & SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT UNRISD CONFERENCE (EUROPE)
This UNRISD Conference will create a forum for analysis aimed at developing a framework that will position social dimensions at the centre of green economy and sustainable development. In addition to researchers from across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and Oceania, speakers include representatives of Cicero, IFAD, ILO, Oxfam International, The South Centre, UNEP, UNDP, UNRISD, WHO and the World Bank. Side events include an UNRISD Book Fair and the art exhibit "In the Bag: The Art and Politics of the Reusable Bag Movement". Read more
ERC publishes the most up-to-date details to hand, however occasionally event details change. We encourage you to confirm event details with organisers.
To subscribe: click here
Fact-sheets on key issues:
ERC initiative the Pacific Calling Partnership promotes awareness of the devastating effects of climate change on low-lying island communities of the Pacific. The PCP campaign goes beyond both the science and the spin to make evident 'the human face of climate change'.
Update: ERC Director, Phil Glendenning, recently returned to Australia from Afghanistan after 10 days interviewing returned asylum seekers again in Kabul.
ERC is redoubling our efforts to find a third-country resettlement option for those returnees from Australia with whom we have been able to make contact. We need financial support to achieve this.
Such work uncovers high levels of risk for the deportees (and for our researchers). Research publications are available here.
Listen to Phil speak of the visit to ABC Radio National's Phillip Adams.
Please donate now so that this work may continue. Your donation is tax deductible!