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EDITORIAL The rights of Indigenous peoples has been a key topic in the last few months. From a nation-wide campaign for recognition within the Australian Constitution, to the protest of forced closures of remote communities, and the high rates of Indigenous kids being incarcerated across the country; Indigenous rights is all over the news. Sadly, the racist culture in Australia has also been making headlines again. It is hard to believe that still, generations later, we are having this same conflict. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of living in a perpetual cycle of racial vilification, and I am so tired of hearing people say, “I’m not racist, but …” It is time for us to stand up and join this fight for Indigenous rights, recognition and equality. Within this edition you will find some excellent resources to get you started including Amnesty campaign material, articles, and ways in which you can take action now. Fighting for Indigenous rights is not a gesture of charity; it is an act of justice, and there is no time like the present. Thank you for your support, Emily Williamson




ARTIST : ADNATE FRONT COVER IMAGE Adnate is an artist that realizes his portraits in spray paint. He has moved past his roots in graffiti, utilising the medium to carry his realist style into the fine art realm.

Heavily influenced by the chiaroscuro of renaissance painters like Caravaggio, Adnate embraces portraiture like the masters of the XXI Century. Elevating graffiti art above the level of letter writing, Adnate’s subject matter and their subsequent status often belies the intent of his portraits.

To see more of Adnate’s work you can visit his website www.adnate.com.au or follow him on:





His works are often cropped by evocative slices of vibrant colour, channelling a presence of character; much like a still life uses its background as a setting for detail and showing of fine brushstrokes. Adnate’s realism is highlighted by the use of what appears careless, but is frequently calculated blocks of vibrant colour.













ETHICAL CONSUMERISM Positive Changes through Positive Actions By Sarah Mokrzycki

advertisements and unsustainable sourcing, are listed in the product or company description.

For the first edition of this magazine I wrote an article on two of the main contenders in unethical food practices: unsustainable palm oil and cocoa. Together, these two ingredients account for a staggeringly large amount of environmental and human rights damages: unsustainable palm oil plantations are almost singlehandedly bringing about the extinction of the Sumatran orangutan while Ivory Coast cocoa farms are using child slave labour. And, naturally, if not rather sadly, these are just two examples of their many heinous crimes.

Now, here’s the thing. Since writing my original article more and more people have jumped on the ethical food wagon. Public knowledge of the realities of the food trade has risen and more people are becoming savvy consumers. What this means is that more companies are feeling the pressure and making positive changes to their products. Zoos Victoria have been instrumental in spearheading this, setting up a ‘Zoopershop’ next to their orangutan enclosure that not only explains the


It would seem natural to the savvy consumer to avoid unsustainable palm oil and cocoa wherever possible. The major problem with this notion? Unsustainable palm oil and cocoa are everywhere. Many brands use these ingredients in their products and they can be found throughout supermarket shelves. Palm oil, in particular, is in everything from chips to toothpaste. In my original article I make note of the fact that these ingredients can be avoided – and unethical companies boycotted – by using The Ethical Guide when shopping. Next time you’re wandering the aisles of your local supermarket, wondering if the ‘vegetable oil’ in those biscuits is actually palm oil in disguise, or absolutely dying for a chocolate bar but don’t fancy inadvertently supporting child slavery, grab out your phone and check the product against The Ethical Guide. Their site rates products (from A to F) and also gives reasons for doing so. For example, anything that might be politely deemed an ‘ethical breach’, but in reality boils down to dodgy dealings, like workers’ rights violations, misleading

Image above: André Karwath aka Aka (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons 10


perils of unsustainable palm oil, but allows visitors to scan their favourite products to see how they fare. Since setting up their shop many brands have switched (or have committed to switch) to sustainable palm oil. For example, one of Australia’s most loved brands, Arnott’s, have recently made this change. Likewise, big brand chocolate companies are feeling the pressure to make positive changes: Chocolate maker Ferrero has pledged to eradicate slavery from farms where it sources its cocoa by 2020, as part of a growing movement by the multi-billion dollar [chocolate] industry to clean up its supply chains. The Italian company, which produces Ferrero Rocher chocolates, Nutella spread and Kinder eggs, follows Nestle and Hershey as the third major chocolate manufacturer to announce new antislavery moves since September. It says it will eradicate child labor and forced adult labor from cocoa plantations it uses by 2020, verified by “independent and credible” third parties. Also, it says it will publish a more detailed progress report this summer and promises improved communication to customers. Up to 75 per cent of the world’s cocoa beans are grown in small farms in West Africa. In the Ivory Coast alone, there are an estimated 200,000 children working the fields, many against their will, to create chocolate enjoyed around the world. Many of the children don’t even know what chocolate is.

In the Ivory Coast alone, there are an estimated

We’re still a long way off ethical food practices in both the palm oil and chocolate industries – and, to be frank, the fact that big name chocolate brands knowingly contribute to slavery and are only approaching an end to it now thanks to growing public pressure doesn’t sway me towards their product. However, ethical soap box aside, the current changes being made to the palm oil and chocolate industries (however slow they’ve been in coming) are a hugely positive thing, and are paving the way for a better, brighter future.

200,000 children working the fields, many against their will, to create chocolate enjoyed around the world.

‘From little things, big things grow.’ To find out more about the Zoos Victoria Zoopermarket, click here. Chocolate lovers may want to check out their favourite brands here.






By Emily Williamson

see children going to.”

An Australian musician has taken up the challenge to skateboard 20,000 km around Australia to raise $50,000 for Amnesty International’s Lost Children campaign.

Mr Kelly said making a difference to the lives of others is one of the most important things we can do in life, and this is why he plays music and why he is taking on this challenge.

Mr Ben Kelly, 38, is a Victorian farmer turned national touring and recording artist who spends around eight months each year touring around Australia.

“It seems that we are being trained to go for the money, to line our pockets and aim for success in the financial sense, but when it comes to morals and standing up for the rights of those less fortunate, we are less active than we need to be as a community.”

“I used to be a farmer in the Yarra Valley, but after suffering a nervous breakdown during the drought, I left the farm and became a national touring musician,” he said.

Mr Kelly believes that by showing others the impact that can be achieved when people stand together, it will inspire them to positively contribute to their communities.

Mr Kelly has now turned his focus onto contributing his musical talents to human rights, particularly the rights of refugee children being held in detention. “Amnesty’s Lost Children campaign focusses on the release and care of refugee children who have been cruelly incarcerated in detention centres,” he said.

The Melbourne-based musician will be selling his albums along the way to help fund his campaign.

“This is an issue that we cannot turn a blind eye to, we must protect these children’s futures and incarceration is the absolute last place we want to

“As an independent artist, this is a massive challenge, I have no financial backing but I am taking the plunge. 13

Mr Kelly will have a support van following him around the country with Go Pros filming the epic adventure. He will ride approximately 100 km per day and is calling for support from some Australian skateboarding companies to back this challenge and have their boards on show. Mr Kelly said he plans to have the boards signed by some well-known musician friends and then auction off the skateboards at the end of the tour. “The final wrap up show will be at one of Melbourne’s best theatre venues where I am to raise further funds and awareness to support the Lost Children Campaign.” To find out more and donate to Ben’s campaign. To find out more about the Lost Children campaign please click here.


“People generally want to do the right thing and help others where possible, I think it’s in our nature to want to make a positive contribution.”

“I’ve cancelled all my shows for the rest of the year and my sole focus is to achieve this challenge, to raise the funds and awareness around this human rights issue and safely return to Melbourne in one piece.”


Street Shows. Human Rights. Amnesty. Skating for our kids. Aboriginal. Refugees.

launch date to be announced 14

Ben Kelly is setting off on a tour with a difference. 20'000km on a skateboard with a goal of skateboarding around the entire country playing street shows as he passes through towns. With a message of following your dreams and living an inspired life, Ben will be raising funds for Amnesty's Lost Children Campaign. A project that aims to see the end of children in incarceration in Australia with a focus on Aboriginal and refugee children.

f f o g n i t t Se e n r u o b l e from marwin - broome d e cairns melbourn a i n a m as perth - t

help ben achieve this epic challenge,

https://benkelly.bandcamp.com/album/50000-people www.facebook.com/benkellyaustralia https://give.everydayhero.com/au/skateboarding-for-human-rights

#Amnesty #GoPro #humanright #Growiteasy #SookiLounge #Egofun #Palaistheatre 15


• Share and follow the journey online at www,facebook.com/benkellyaustralia • Support the Path of Least Resistance and become a sponser. • Donate to Amnesty - all donations over $2 are tax deductable.


Refugees in Politics Reassessing Australia’s Understanding of Refugees By Noah Hildreth

Australia has lost its grip on the realities that underscore the asylum seeker debate: we as a nation have begun to see refugees not as people but as a problem. Codified in international law is the universal human right to seek asylum in another country. However, these rights, and consequently many others, are denied by domestic law and policy.

Clearly, a radical change is needed in the way Australia approaches refugees, and this change must have its genesis in the attitudes and policies of the country’s two main political parties. Both the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) have reported that successive Australian governments have failed in their duty to protect refugees. Unbelievably, it was found that governments have in fact acted in ways that led directly to their mistreatment. A report published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2013, found Australia guilty of 143 violations of international law for detaining forty-six refugees for four years. A snapshot report published by the AHRC, details the potential for human rights abuses under the current system of mandatory detention. According to the report, Australia’s detention system breaches the right not to be arbitrarily detained – it does not assess unlawful non-citizens on an individual basis, nor does it place any time limit on how long a person can be detained. Successive governments have exacerbated the problem by tainting public perceptions of refugees as a means to absolve Australia of its international obligations. Border protection is important for Australia’s safety, but the demonisation of asylum seekers has created the myth that refugees are threats against which Australia needs to be defended, rather than helpless victims.


A human right by definition transcends all other boundaries: it is afforded to everyone irrespective of any cultural, social and political divides. However, in Australia, human rights have become mired in politics. The basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) are largely held to be true. There can be no better foundation for a society than the UDHR, which outlines the fundamental rights afforded to all human beings, for example: the right to life and liberty, the right to be free from torture and other degrading treatment, the right to an education, and the right to seek asylum. A society founded on these principles 16


reach Australia, it is certainly in our power to not subject them to the kinds of human rights abuses from which they are fleeing.

would strive for fairness, justice, equality, and happiness. Furthermore, Australia is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the Refugee Convention, and as such has made a commitment to uphold and protect human rights to the best of its ability.

The politicisation of refugees has another much more sinister aspect to it. The nature of politics is competitive and adversarial, but it is wrong to use refugees or any other human rights issue as a tool to aid in one party’s victory over another. They should not be fodder for political discussion. Any debate on refugees is fundamentally immoral because it dehumanises men, women and children by turning them into pawns in a greater political game, making them tools for promotion and advancement, thereby trivialising the issue.

We have, however, fallen short of these humanitarian obligations, given that the average time spent in detention is currently 405 days, and that at the height of boat arrivals in around July 2013 there were 12,974 people in all forms of detention. The first step to remedy this national point of shame must be the establishment of a unanimous inter-party political will to help refugees. Not everything needs to be a matter of politics, least of all problems concerning human lives and suffering. There needs to be political consensus on refugees, which transcends normal political divides, because refugees are not a political issue, they are a human one.

This is a question of morality, not politics. The moral debate around treatment of refugees must be driven by the sole, sincere purpose of helping asylum seekers altruistically and with no benefit to oneself or one’s party. Condemnation of another party’s actions and praise for your own are harmful distractions. As an international refugee crisis looms, time spent politicising human beings is time wasted.

To spark meaningful change, a united, sans frontières political stance on refugees is crucial. At present, too much time is wasted on emotive, ill-informed and prejudiced debate. In this volatile context, Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers plummets to more dehumanising, more damaging, and, fatally to our democracy, more secretive depths.

Refugees are a human issue, separate and distinct from politics, and discussing their mistreatment in the same breath as infrastructure or the economy is to turn them into a political commodity. The lives and wellbeing of thousands upon thousands of people is in the hands of the government – people for whom the government is responsible under international law. Politicians in Australia need to recognise this and make an active effort to treat asylum seekers the way they deserve to be treated. The refugees are all that matter, politicians’ power struggles can wait. If you want to learn more and join the fight with Amnesty International take action here.

Discussion can still be had, but not at the denial of human rights; not at the expense of human lives. It is our government’s duty – no matter which party is in power – to do all it can to help and protect refugees to the letter of the law.

IMAGE CREDITS: Demo _Gleiche Rechte fu_r alle_ (Refugee-Solidarita_tsdemo) in Wien, 16 February 2013, Own Work, by Haeferi.jpg

Australia can have little control over how people are treated in other, often war-torn countries – we can only do what is in our power. But it is in our power to help the people who come to Australia, fleeing persecution and death. And when those people

Asylum seekers protesting on the roof of the Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney, Australi 17


Disagreement and debate in politics are completely necessary. Without them, democracy becomes a dictatorship. However, when discussion stagnates and the failure to act in accordance with the law and its moral imperatives leads to torture, sexual abuse and death, it is time for a radical change.

Indigenous Education in the Far North: A Cross-Cultural Perspective


By Charlotte Glick



Indigenous education in remote areas of the Northern Territory has recently become a topic of discussion and controversy – with solutions proposed outlining radical changes for both how and where remote Indigenous students will be taught. Research funded by the Northern Territory state government this year produced The Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory. This review was conducted by Bruce Wilson, and outlines the disparaging statistics around educational outcomes of Indigenous youth in remote areas of the Northern Territory. It is projected that on average, by year nine, Indigenous Australians in remote schooling are five years behind their peers (not compared to the national averages, but statistically similar demographics attending school elsewhere). It has quite rightly been described as a tragedy of human rights and the casualty of years of political upheaval and short-term proposals.


he report has suggested many recommendations to repair an education system requiring urgent intervention. Two of the solutions posed are to create an education system solely in English in some areas where, for the vast majority of students, English is their second or third language. It can be argued that the students must be taught in English to enhance their future opportunities; however, excluding bilingual language programs could further isolate disengaged students. Furthermore, due to the state of remote schools, it has been proposed to create a boarding or hostel type environment, and to close remote schools that have failed to provide the same standard of educational outcomes as elsewhere in Australia. Whilst these recommendations are controversial, it is universally agreed that the issue is critical, and must be addressed with sustainable, bipartisan support.

The Saami population relocates and inhabits areas of the far north of Scandinavia; crossing state borders, with migration patterns dictated by the reindeer life cycle. The Saami nomadic patterns are directed by factors not easily predicted such as the natural behavior of the reindeer, climate, and variants in landscape; however, within the community’s factors such as the economic, social and health status of the individual members can similarly dictate their locations. Furthermore, the climate and terrain of far-north Europe is arguably far harsher than that of the Northern Territory, though on completely opposite sides of the thermometer. The Saami Network Connectivity project is a Swedish proposal that provides an alternative model of Indigenous Education in remote areas. As the Saami nomadic patterns are directed by factors not easily predicted, such as the natural behavior of the reindeer, climate, and variants in landscape. This societal and geographical distance impacts the community twofold in terms of educating Saami youth. Students are required to attend compulsory education and are therefore separated from their culture and their families. In the early 20th Century, students were required to attend boarding schools not dissimilar to those proposed in the Wilson Report (2015).This meant that mothers would typically leave their community for the duration of their children’s schooling, which divided families and fractured communities. Thus, the women and children of the Saami communities are periodically denied contact with their culture and heritage, and the impacts target and disadvantage the women of the communities.

The outcomes and solutions posed in comparative educational systems often act as a microcosm, seeking a solution to a specific problem without looking globally to other successful models. To compare Indigenous education practices, one can look to the Saami people of northern-arctic Scandinavia and Russia. The Saami peoples are traditionally nomadic and a significant percentage still engage in the cultural practices of their heritage, including migration patterns, language and occupation. As is rife with other Indigenous populations, however, the Saami people have suffered as a minority for the sake of the majority. Their history includes forced assimilation across Scandanavia and Russia which is not dissimilar to that of the Native Americans, or that of the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders in Australia.

Furthermore, the Saami nature-based education and traditions cannot be encouraged and the linguistic barriers of Saami youth attending schools, created further cultural isolation from heritage and practice of families and communities. Instead of accepting this division as a necessary cost for the Indigenous populations of Sweden, innovative connectivity initiatives aim to provide educational outcomes without causing detriment to the Indigenous community. While this is an unorthodox solution, it removes the need for Indigenous youth and their families to be forced to choose between culture and education, as if they were mutually exclusive, rather than inextricably linked. This solution creates a logistical barrier to form connectivity, however, in light of the cost and complexities of removing Indigenous children in Australia from their communities, seems far less unreasonable.

The first barrier for students of Indigenous heritage in the far-north Artic to access mainstream schooling is often linguistic. Across North America, Australia and Scandinavia, Indigenous students have historically been prevented from accessing schooling in their native languages even when it is their only means of communication. This submersion/integration model has historically been controversial as it ignores the overlap between culture and language; to extricate a person from the language of their family, peers and community, is to place the one language, and thus culture, as preferential to the minority. Thus Norway – the state where the majority of Saami people reside at any given time – has adapted the Saami Language Act to ensure that all students are entitled to be taught in Saami.

Often, the critique of cross-cultural comparisons of Indigenous education is criticised for the simplification of an extremely nuanced issue; even within this paper the Saami people of different regions of Scandinavia face extremely different histories, challenges, and obstacles within their status as a minority people. Furthermore, the comparison is not a direct one, as the people of the remote far-north Australia and the far-north Arctic are different cultures in different contexts. However, when proposing solutions, it must be argued that allowing education to come at the expense of cultural inclusion cannot be seen as a solution at all. 19


Furthermore, this reshaping of curriculum extends to Saami history being a cross-curricular priority, and the Saami languages holding equal status to the national Norwegian language. Most importantly is the agency of cultural conditions and circumstances within the community; allowing Indigenous people of Norway language and homeland status of the original landowners. This model, while complex in its implementation, shows a political acknowledgement of the legitimacy of Indigenous culture; where recognition was placed in higher standing than practicality and ease.



All images being sent are Škannagibphotography. Images may not be copied, printed or otherwise disseminated without express written permission of Kannagi Bhatt.



Kannagi Bhatt freelance photographer & photojournalist hecun9@gmail.com

Kannagi Bhatt is a freelance photographer and photojournalist from Bombay, India. She is currently working and studying in Melbourne and has a keen interest in exploring themes related to human rights, justice for marginalised communities, feminism and empowerment through her photography.

www.behance.net/KannagiB kannagibphotography









Why is it important to stand up for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights? By Claudia Bailey

We are also peacemakers and keepers, healers, and so deeply concerned with the wellbeing of the land that we hurt."


remember what it was like in the eighth grade when people began to spread rumours, and I remember how easily it would begin. One person said things that weren’t true or they exaggerated beyond the truth, so much so that when people saw me, they saw the lies. I also remember how terrible it felt, when I knew the truth, but no one would believe me. I’m sure many of you have experienced a similar situation. Rumours and false stories are something which I thought ended in high school, but there’s an injustice that’s still occurring in the ‘outside world’ - it’s the way that Indigenous peoples are being treated.


I caught up with Latoya Rule, a truly inspiring First Nations Activist, to find out how we can all take part in ending racial discrimination. Indigenous peoples are often misinterpreted in the media, far beyond reality, and just like high school rumours, we see lies of how Indigenous peoples live their day-to-day lives. Latoya stated that, “We are portrayed as insignificant spacewasters who attempt to claim land and then receive royalties for our lack of hard work. However, we are strong fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, workers, lovers, friends and thinkers. We are also peacemakers and keepers, healers, and so deeply concerned with the wellbeing of the land that we hurt. This is who First Nations peoples are.” 24




I asked Latoya, “Have you ever experienced discrimination for being Indigenous?”, and I was shocked with the response I received. She replied, “Yes. I do not think that Indigenous any First Nations person could children are answer otherwise. We are indirectly discriminated against just for being a twenty-four part of the Indigenous race – when times more the media report Indigenous peoples on the news and use terminology that likely to be groups all Indigenous peoples as a locked up collective, we are being discriminated against. The act of discrimination and nationally racism is not solely experienced – if our brothers or sisters are oppressed, we are oppressed with them because we are a community that is connected.” Latoya taught me just how important it is for all of us to stand up for Indigenous rights and end racial discrimination. She has been busy raising awareness and just recently, organised and facilitated a NAIDOC Day (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) for her university where she was able to raise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags for the first time on the main campus. When asked how we can help make a difference, Latoya gave me some direct and valuable advice. She spoke of how Australians can support Indigenous peoples by educating themselves on the history of colonisation, the history of the land and the history of Indigenous rights.


Latoya specifically mentioned that, “Australians can also become allies by bringing awareness to issues that Indigenous peoples face, and using this knowledge to advance the voices of Indigenous peoples. It does not take much to extend a hand to another person and invite them into your home to get to know them – but there is a large deficit today of people who can do this.”



I’ve never thought of myself as a racist person, but after digging deeper on the issue of Indigenous rights, I realised that by not directly standing up to combat racial discrimination, I was allowing racism to continue in Australia and overseas. Starting the fight is simple, however, and we can do it together.

1 2 3 4

We are indirectly discriminated against just for being a part of the Indigenous race – when the media report Indigenous peoples on the news and use terminology that groups all Indigenous peoples as a collective, we are being discriminated against."

Download this information pack to get you started Now that you’re aware of the issue, this information pack is filled with an overview of the issues, campaigning activities for the year, flyers, and extra resources to help you spread the word. Write a letter to a State Member of Parliament A great way to get your whole community on board with an issue is to start at the top. Write a letter to your MP asking them to take action for Indigenous peoples rights. If you don’t know who your local MP is, you can find out here. Take part in the National Week of Action (28 Sept- 4 Oct) Spare one week, or even a few hours out of your week, to use your voice to speak up for Indigenous peoples rights. Get involved in an Action Group, by talking to your local Amnesty Community Organiser or Activism Support Coordinator. Sign the petition to bring a brighter future for Indigenous children living in Australia Indigenous children are twenty-four times more likely to be locked up nationally. Through this petition, we’re aiming to raise the concern to the national parliament leaders so a twenty-five per cent reduction in Indigenous youth detention in an average year can be achieved by 2020. Raise awareness Just talk about it. Whether it is a forum, discussion panel or by writing a blog or Facebook post, it’s a great way to get your local community aware of these issues – and create more passionate advocates! Host a community event to promote Indigenous peoples culture. Engage your community in a fun way by hosting an art exhibition, film screening or having a cooking class to promote and learn more about Indigenous peoples culture. I believe that when each of us advocate and stand up for Indigenous peoples rights and for equality within our own communities, we will unite together as one. Too often we are divided by hatred and discrimination, but I look forward to the day, soon, when we will unify, showing that we can stand together, and overcome racial discrimination. Images: Latoya Rule. Latoya protesting for First Nations Rights in her city. The two flags are showing unity.



5 6

Here are six things you can do within your own community to help end racial discrimination.


Community is Everything


Kids have healthy, happy childhoods when they live in loving and nurturing communities. It’s kids’ connections with family and community that allows them to flourish, and sets them up for positive lives.


urrent government policies are separating Indigenous kids from their communities. By locking up kids as young as ten, we are repeating our past mistakes and threatening our future as a fair, just and harmonious community. The Community is Everything campaign is about getting Federal and State Governments to reduce the numbers of young Indigenous people incarcerated across the country. We will campaign to have governments implement practical recommendations which give better support to Indigenous led community solutions and comply with international legal obligations to ensure Indigenous kids get a childhood and can stay connected to their communities. Community is Everything will bring attention to the kids who have been removed from their communities and placed in the justice system. We’re campaigning with solutions to the overrepresentation of these Indigenous kids in the justice system throughout Australia. We will be putting pressure on the national government to make changes that 28

will have impact across all states. But we will also call for specific state based solutions to some of the more concerning trends in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. The overrepresentation is huge and totally unacceptable. Indigenous kids make up only five per cent of young Australians, but make up more than half the kids locked up nationally and are twenty-six times more likely to be detained than other young Australians. These statistics are worse in WA and NT, and the situation in Queensland is deteriorating fast. There have been lots of reports and inquiries since the landmark 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody which have called for far reaching reforms to the ways the police and other government agencies deal with Aboriginal kids and their families. The 2011 House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs report ‘Doing time – Time for Doing’ said the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in prison is a ‘national disgrace’.

The Community is Everything campaign is a positive campaign. We will present positive solutions that have been developed by Indigenous people, solutions that empower kids and their communities and ensure they can be happy, safe and most importantly together. Our research shows us what factors lead to these unacceptable numbers of Indigenous kids being removed and therefore what solutions are needed to fit the problems. What are the solutions?

And we can make this happen. Together we will join our Indigenous and non-Indigenous brothers and sisters, partners and allies and campaign for: • All Australian governments to work on a strategy to reduce the number of Indigenous kids getting into trouble and being locked up in a generation. • This plan is to be jointly funded, nationally coordinated, with particular care to ensure the programs for Indigenous kids are implemented by or in partnership with Indigenous community controlled organisations. • Justice targets to be included in the Closing the Gap framework. Indigenous people have been central to this campaign since its inception. Our Indigenous Rights team has spent years 29

researching and planning the campaign using a consultative approach. This means that all the research and campaign plans have been developed under the guidance of key stakeholders in the WA Indigenous community including Elders, Indigenous people affected and Indigenous community and legal services. Nationally, our partners in the National Justice Coalition have also been consulted on project plans and provided feedback that has been integrated where it fits. This campaign is going to run for five years, and in this time we’re working towards achieving some BIG goals. To win we need to make it an issue that politicians at the state and federal levels can’t ignore. We need to get both levels of government working together and singing the same tune. It’s going to take a lot of work but together we can do it. To find out more about the Community is Everything campaign click here.


To have a solution that works properly and for everyone, state and federal governments need to work together. While the federal government has some oversight and the ability to influence and put pressure on the states, it’s the state and territory governments that have responsibility for the criminal justices system. The states need to make substantial changes to the way they work with Indigenous kids and their communities and the way they spend money.

Overall we want to see the end of the overrepresentation of Indigenous kids removed from their communities and placed in the justice system in a generation – that’s twenty-five years.

GENDER DIVERSITY Tradition, Not Trend By Carmen Cita


With celebrities Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox dominating gossip column headlines around the world, transgender identity has been thrust into the mainstream spotlight like never before. And a community that was for so long relegated to the social margins is now, suddenly, seen and heard.





T r a d i tr Not T


The findings of a recent ARCSHS report on the health and wellbeing of transgendered people in Australia and New Zealand are damning. The study indicates that verbal abuse, sexual assault and physical attacks on transgender people are alarmingly commonplace. And this widespread hostility towards the transgender community takes a significant toll on its members. Of the survey participants, one in two reported feeling down, depressed or hopeless and one in four had recently contemplated suicide or self-harm. Trapped in a society that can’t get its head around gender diversity, a society unnerved by the emergence of identities that defy normative expectations, the shared experience of many transgender people is one of exclusion and isolation. Western culture has long endorsed a strictly binary concept of gender, with two firmly fixed options: male or female. Within this framework, physical anatomy is the sole determinant of gender. From birth, children are groomed to identify with the gender that ‘matches’ their anatomy. Baby clothes are selected accordingly: blue for boys and pink for girls. Throughout childhood, the programming continues with gendered toy store catalogues, where girls learn to want soft, feminine toys while their male peers are offered tough, masculine options. And then, as they enter adulthood, young men and women are steered towards ‘gender-appropriate’ career paths and lifestyle choices.

On this rising cultural tide, films and literature with transgender themes, writers and actors are reaching audiences far beyond the communities that they describe. This newfound visibility has opened up broader discussion and understanding of gender diversity in the West. Thanks to the viral nature of social media, topical buzzwords - like cis-gender and trans* - have permeated the Western lexicon, gradually challenging, shifting and reshaping our perceptions of gender.

This widely accepted binary model makes no distinction between ‘sex’, ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’. It creates social boundaries that discourage people from crossing or mixing gender roles, or from identifying with alternative forms of gender expression.

But this growing fascination with all things trans should not attach a false sense of novelty or modernity to transgender identity. There is nothing remotely ‘new’ about being trans.

And while it may be socially convenient to box people into neat, finite gender categories, the Western one-size-fits-all approach grossly underestimates the nuance and complexity of gender identity.

Long before the term ‘transgender’ came into common usage in Western discourse, transgender identities were expressed and embraced in many pre-modern societies around the world. Gender rights advocate, Pauline Park, uses the term ‘prototransgenderal’ to describe these age-old cultural antecedents.

For all of our intellectual enlightenment, game-changing technology and so-called progress, in our limited view of gender, the West could learn a thing or two from pre-modern societies.

According to Ms Park: “There is a very wide misconception that [the LGBT movement] constitutes a purely modern phenomenon created by late nineteenth and early twentieth century sexologists and activists. In fact, every pre-modern Asian and Pacific Islander society had what could be termed ‘proto-transgenderal’ and homoerotic traditions which anticipate these contemporary LGBT identities.”


“When it comes to homosexuality and transgender, the truth is that we have been here — in every Asian or Pacific Island society — since time immemorial.”

In American Indian tradition, people with proto-transgenderal identities are described as ‘nàdleehé‘ or ‘two-spirit’. Two-spirit persons often looked after their siblings’ children, took care of elderly relatives, and served as adoptive parents for orphaned children. Within the community, they were held in high respect.

History tells us that, in these cultures, transgender people were valued, included and sometimes even revered - unlike their contemporary Western counterparts, who are often ostracised and misunderstood

Professor Walter L Williams, author of Two Spirits: A Story Of Life With The Navajo, writes, “The emphasis of Native Americans is not to force every person into one box, but to allow for the reality of diversity in gender and sexual identities.”

According to Native American tradition, everything that exists is thought to come from the spirit world; and so a person’s character is considered a reflection of their spirit. Professor Williams explains how this belief effectively elevates the social status of transgender people.

On a global scale, many traditional cultures have acknowledged and respected gender diversity: from the Native American two-spirit people, to Samoa’s fa’afafine, to the Aboriginal Australian yimpininni (now known as sista girls and brother boys). History tells us that, in these cultures, transgender people were valued, included and sometimes even revered - unlike their contemporary Western counterparts, who are often ostracised and misunderstood.

“[They] are seen as doubly blessed, having both the spirit of a man and the spirit of a woman. Thus, they are honoured for having two spirits, and are seen as more spiritually gifted than the typical masculine male or feminine female.”

While the Gay Pride movement has made steady gains in the West since the 1970s, the movement for transgender equality has not yet hit its stride. Transgender people frequently experience harassment, violence, workplace discrimination and stigmatisation due to their gender identity.

Native American families saw their two-spirited kinfolk as an economic gift because, as a masculine-feminine composite, twospirit people could do the work of both men and women. Respect for two-spirit people diminished in the 20th Century as European moral ideology penetrated Native American culture. 32


Homophobic and transphobic attitudes were introduced in the North by English colonists, and by Spanish settlers in Latin America.

participate in the local economy and are accepted by most of the Island’s inhabitants. Traditionally known as yimpininni, proto-transgenderal Aboriginal people were considered – like the fa’afafine and twospirit people – the nurturers of the family. They were respected within their communities, and performed a sacred role in island ceremonies. With colonisation and the arrival of the Catholic Church, however, they too became social outcasts. Here, as in other colonised territories, Western morality has sought to undermine, stigmatise and deny expression of transgender identity at every turn, damaging the collective psyche of gender diverse people in the process.

Professor Williams explains, “Two-spirit people were often forced, either by government officials, Christian missionaries or their own community, to conform to standard gender roles. Some, who could not conform, either went underground or committed suicide.” On the far-flung tropical shores of the Samoan Islands, transgender identity among males is not only acknowledged, it has been actively encouraged for generations. Known as the third-gender people, fa’afafine are anatomical boys who are raised as girls. Translated literally, the word fa’afafine means ‘in the manner of woman’.

In marked contrast, Eastern history wears its proto-transgenderal traditions and rituals with pride. Korea’s paksu mudang, for example, was a male shaman who performed a woman’s role

When seeking to explain the Samoan third-gender, the question

of nature versus nurture has no hard and fast answer. While some Samoan boys intuitively demonstrate signs of the fa-afafine spirit from a young age, others are taught, or sometimes even coerced, by their families to adopt feminine traits and perform female gender roles. In a family of boys, it is not uncommon to raise one child as a girl, to help the mother shoulder the domestic burden.

in ancient shamanistic spiritual traditions inherited from prehistoric eastern Siberia. In Vietnam, the shamanic tradition of dao mau is often presided over by transgendered shamans. And within the Bugis Indonesian ethnic group, the bissu people are regarded as gender transcendent spiritual mediums.

The pre-modern transgender trail does not end in the South Pacific. Aboriginal Australian folklore indicates that gender diversity was also threaded into the fabric of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.

Images Courtesy of Jocelen Janon www.jocelenjanon.com

In the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin, a community of about fifty Aboriginal transgender women live among the small Island population of 2,500. Referring to themselves as ‘sista girls’, they



Where so many traditional societies embraced, nurtured and honoured, the West demanded compliance. And while it’s great to see today’s transgender celebrities using their fame to wind back the binary barriers that inhibit gender diversity, we should not have had to wait for Caitlyn, or Laverne, or any of their contemporaries to show us the way forward. Traditional societies have had a handle on this for centuries.

An estimated 3,000 fa’afafine are thought to be living in Samoa today. Fa’afafine usually identify and are regarded as women, and their relationships are usually with heterosexual men.

THE Campaign


By Lucy Howard-Robbins



From a documentary on the right to education, Girl Rising has grown into a global campaign. Through the powerful tool of storytelling, the campaign unites people across the world who believe that every girl has the right to reach her full potential and live free from fear and oppression. The main focus of the campaign is to get girls into school and help those who are already there to remain, but it also wants girl’s education to become part of mainstream conversation. The film is the campaign’s main tool, but the movement also uses other education and advocacy videos, screening guides and free standards-aligned school curriculums. There are opportunities for teachers, schools and corporations to become involved in the movement and information is available on the website. You can support the work of Girl Rising by purchasing the DVD, visiting the online store, hosting a screening to spread the message, donating directly or hosting a fundraiser.



Girl Rising is partnered with many not-for-profits that do the ground work in the developing world to improve the lives of girls there. These are A New Day Cambodia, CARE Peru, Partners in Health, Plan International USA, Room to Read, United Nations Foundation/Girl Up, and World Vision. Money from the Girl Rising fund goes towards the work these organizations do. As of March last year, USD$1.3 million had been raised by the Girl Rising fund.



...the campaign unites people across the world who believe that every girl has the right to reach her full potential and live free from fear and oppression


TH Campaig A New Day Cambodia uses the Girl Rising Fund to rescue Cambodia’s scavenger children and provide them with food, healthcare, education and a safe and hygienic place to live. CARE Peru assists Indigenous children to access bilingual and intercultural education and provide vocational and entrepreneurial training to girls in rural and urban schools. Money from the Girl Rising fund goes to the Yachay Wasi Munasqanchik School Program.

Plan International USA directs the Girl Rising money to the BRIDGE Project for Secondary Schools in Burkina Faso, which constructs new schools and additional classrooms, girl’s dormitories, provides scholarships and works with communities

Room to Read promotes literacy and gender equality in primary and secondary schools across Asia and Africa. They develop libraries, support girls in school and renovate schools in disrepair. Girl Up supports UN Programs that help rural Indigenous girls stay in school by assisting with finance, healthcare, training, leadership opportunities and protection from violence. Girl Rising funds go to a program to help indigenous girls in rural Guatemala. World Vision uses Girl Rising funds to support their Kenya North Rift Child Protection and Education Project which builds dormitories, libraries, bathroom and classrooms to create clean and safe school environments and provide care and counseling to victims of gender-based violence. Photos provided by GIRL RISING ©2014 37


Partners in Health’s Malawi Program provides healthcare and other support to children and their families to enable the children to devote their full energy and time to education and learning.

to delay marriage and keep girls in school.


By Lucy Howard-Robbins


Wadley’s story is about determination and perseverance. The 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti shattered Wadley’s happy life and ripped her from her muchloved schooling. She now accept a future of a poverty stricken shanty town and no education.

more so – a force for activism and change than horror. Amid a world of campaigns that operate primarily through guilt and shock factor, it is refreshing to watch girls like Suma take their lives into their own hands and feel the impact of the difference they can make.

“Wadley decided that although money could do a lot of things, it was a cursed thing, because only a cursed thing could keep her out of school” – Cate Blanchett voicing Edwidge Dantican’s words in ‘Wadley’.

“I’ve seen where change comes from … when it comes it’s like a song you can’t hold back. Suddenly there’s a breath moving through you and … you’re singing. And others pick up the tune and start singing too. And a sweet melody goes out into the world and touches the world of one person … then another” – Kerry Washington voicing Manjushree Thapa’s words in ‘Suma’

Girl Rising

“This is a simple story.”

This, the opening line of Girl Rising, is simultaneously a deeply accurate and inadequate description of the nine girls and their communities who are portrayed in this documentary that has birthed a global campaign for girl’s right to education. Girl Rising is comprised of nine short films woven together into a larger narrative and, in many ways, the nine stories depicting the thirst for education, equality and freedom among girls in the developing world are indeed simple stories. The things that they desire most are the most basic, simple human rights that every girl in the world should have access to. By our privileged and wealthy comparison, their lives and futures could be described as simple. Yet each girl’s narrative is bursting with complexities. Their struggles, devastation and oppression will be, thankfully, unfathomable to most of you reading this. Their daily realities are far from simple. Their passion and determination to learn and prosper in a world that seems to be working against them is far from simple. These girls – their courage, their kindness and their strength – are far from simple. The film comes from director Richard E. Robbins and introduces nine unforgettable yet ordinary girls who represent millions of others in their situations of poverty, struggle, oppression and danger. Each girl was paired with a writer from her own country and together they created a short film to tell her story, and renowned actors narrate the films.


Each film represents a different culture and a different message but there are many commonalities as well. Eight-year-old Wadley from Port-auPrince, Haiti, and teenager Mariama from Freetown, Sierra Leone, both seem relatively fortunate compared to the others. They live meagerly but comfortably with families that love them. They both begin their films at school where they devour learning in different forms.

Mariama’s life is not shattered by a terrible event but, she too, shows the power of perserverance. Mariama battles prejudice and tradition in a community that still suffers from the effects of a decade long civil war. She speaks up and fights for her own future, refusing to be denied her voice by the beliefs of older generations. The stories of Suma in Nepal and Sokha in Cambodia are both reflections on a childhood of suffering. Suma recalls the life of a Kamlari – a practice where young girls growing up in poverty are sold into bonded labour by their families to provide the family with food, money or simply as a way for the daughter to receive food and shelter she otherwise may not. Becoming a Kamlari at the age of six sentenced Suma to a childhood of slave labour, hunger, abuse and no schooling. Suma’s story is about transformation. Education gave Suma freedom and with it the power to take charge of her own life. Sokha’s too, is about the transforming effect of education. She was a child of the dump, picking over piles of rubbish rife with danger and disease, only to eke out a mere existence. Education pulled Sokha from this nightmare world and floated her into one of her dreams.

It is also important that Girl Rising addresses the role of men in the campaign to give girls an education. While women and girls are the focus of the film, it is not

neglected that the men in the lives of these girls have just as important a role to play. It is just as vital to empower impoverished men to educate their daughters and sisters as it is to empower the girls and women themselves. Fourteen-year-old Senna from La Rinconada in Peru, Ruksana from Kolkata in India and thirteen-year-old Azmera from Yilmana Densa in Ethiopia, all experience the positive effect of having men in their lives who fight for their right to freedom, safety and, most of all, education. Senna’s family live in harsh poverty in the world’s highest human habitation but Senna’a father sees for his daughter a better life than his: a life where she does not have to risk her life carving specks of gold that she will never own from a frozen mountain or parade herself in a brothel risking fatal disease and abuse. Senna and her father fight side by side to keep her in school and give her the tools she will need to build a better life.

Hers was a simple dream: the bright white shirt of a school uniform, the crisp pleats of a skirt, shelves full of books

“She had not dreamt of gold. She had not wished for beauty. Hers was a simple dream: the bright white shirt of a school uniform, the crisp pleats of a skirt, shelves full of books. The dream of school” – Alicia Keys voicing the words of Lound Ung in ‘Sokha’. These stories show that the fight for girl’s rights in the developing world is not solely about misery and despair. Girl Rising recognises that hope and inspiration are just as powerful – if not


Ruksana’s champion is also her father. Pavement dwellers in the chaotic city of Kolkata, Ruksana and her sisters are in


constant danger of slipping through the cracks of society. It is a dangerous world for a young girl and a hard one for a father and mother to keep their children safe, but Ruksana’s father refuses to let the world push his daughters down to where he has lived his whole life. And Azmera’s brother stands at her side when she is faced with a marriage she does not want. It is hard for them to stand up and say no to a child marriage when it has been accepted and even expected in their country for generations and when many people – including Azmera’s mother – see if as the only security for their daughters. “This is how it happens. One girl follows behind another until together they move forward, towards something, a future” – Meryl Streep speaking words by Maaza Mengiste in ‘Azmera’.

Yasmin and Amina have two of the most heartbreaking stories in the film but also two of the most powerful. It says enough that these are the only two girls who could not play themselves in their films for safety reasons. Twelve-year-old Yasmin is from Cairo in Egypt and she works with her mother selling tea on the street instead of going to school. In too many ways she is an adult already, but she has the beautiful imagination of a child. And it is this which gives her strength and resilience when she becomes a victim of rape by a man who will never be brought to justice. Yasmin can imagine a world where she has the strength of a superhero and she can protect herself from the horrors of her reality; this is both inspiring and deeply tragic.

“Impatience because we are poor, we

Girl Rising is a powerful film. Many campaigns and organisations attempt to personalise a problem with the stories, faces and voices of the people experiencing it, but Girl Rising manages to achieve this in a much more insider way. It is key that the girls depicted in the film are represented in writing by women from their own countries and cultures, and that most of the girls themselves had input into their stories. There is criticism of the fact that the girls’ stories have been narrated by Western celebrities. This is a legitimate concern when stardom and celebrity frequently get used and abused in the media to promote a cause. Some suggest that it indicates we need the name or voice of a celebrity to motivate us to care about the developing world. This may be true for some people but certainly, many celebrities and other famous people do fantastic work in a range of causes across the world and it should not be considered any less worthy because they are well known. Ultimately, Girl Rising gives the girls of the developing world a voice of our own, and if they chose to do that through a voice that we know and respect in order to make us pay attention, then I believe they are using resources wisely to make their vital message reach even further.


A book review by Sarah Mokrzycki 101 Ways YOU Can Make a Difference This gorgeous little book is an absolute must-have for anyone with kids – or anyone who knows a kid passionate about making a difference! Equal parts inspiring and empowering, (You Can) Save the Planet is a book that gives children practical and inventive ways to make positive changes in their school, community, and own backyard. Published by Lothian Children’s Books in 2007, the best thing about this book is how its activities make children aware of their own actions. Simple things like making a ‘dumper’s diary’ encourages children – and families – to examine the amount of waste they are creating, and what changes they could make. What things could they have recycled? What things could they not buy next time? (You Can) Save the Planet is the sort of book that children and their parents, carers, aunts, uncles and everyone in between will benefit from. The activities it presents are the perfect way to introduce a child to the concept of environmentalism and the human impact on the planet – and, best of all, they offer fun and ethical ways to spend time together.

“Perhaps it will be a whisper at first but just you watch. It will grow into a roar, an inexhaustible voice that will usher in a brighter future. Do you doubt me? Do you underestimate my will? Look into my eyes. Do you see it now? I am change” – Anne Hathaway speaking the words of Zarghuna Zargar in ‘Amina’. Girl Rising is available to buy from the website in either DVD or digital format. Through the website you can also arrange to host a screening of the film and find an array of resources and toolkits. Girl Rising is also viewable on Netflix Australia.



Amina’s is the final film in the series and, I consider, by far the most powerful. Amina is a young girl from Afghanistan whose words are haunting as she tells of being considered nothing from the time of her birth. Relegated to long and hard days working for the ease and pleasure of the men around her since she was a young child only to be sold into marriage at the age of eleven for the price of a used car for her brother, the embroidered cage of Amina’s burka hides anger at the injustice of her world, refusal to accept her fate and an astonishing courage.

are silenced, disenfranchised, beaten, cut, married as children, sold, raped. When we seek freedom we are burned. When we speak the truth we are stoned. When we go to school we are bombed, poisoned, shot. Don’t tell me it simply has always been so. I don’t believe in your resignation. I refused ignorance a long time ago. Don’t tell me you are on my side. Your silence has already spoken for you” – Anne Hathaway speaking the words of Zarghuna Zargar in ‘Amina’.

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