FREE Issue#1 2018 GROKONLINE.com.au
HEAD OF DESIGN
Savannah Franklin SUBEDITORS Herlyn Kaur Joe Wilson Luisa Mitchell Maria Cristina de Vicente Max Vos
CONTRIBUTING DESIGNERS Angel Nguyen Chris Leopardi Ellysia Burton Emmi Kerkham Emmelyn Carroll Jaz Baker
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Ben Lombardo Blake Treharne Daryna Zadvirna David Blayney Jay Anderson
Jessica Tobin Lola Baldsing Ophelia Roberts Sam Mead Scott Higginbotham Sherlyn Chang Tina Han
Jess Marshall Jo Newman Joe Wilson
COVER ARTIST Emmi Kerkham
Keane Bourke Leon Salam
Madigan Landry Max Vos Naomi Worthy Nick Fimognari Savannah Franklin Tanya Ajwani SPECIAL THANKS Dylan Heywood Liam O'Neill Maryanne Shaddick Mitch Bennett Nicole Lau
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contents FROM THE PREZ
FESTIVAL LINE-UPS: THE DREAM AND DRIVE FOR MUSIC DIVERSITY
A DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO THE PEOPLE YOU'LL MEET AT A FESTIVAL
GROKING GOOD TUNES: OUR MIXTAPE
CURE FOR CANCER: MY SPIDEY SENSE IS TINGLING
MEET THE INVENTIONS DELAYING OUR EXTINCTION
RANDOM SPACE NEWS
HOW TO SAVE THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS: SUPERANNUATION EXPLAINER
DO YOU HAVE A VAGINA?
DOES IT HAVE TO BLEED FOR IT TO LEAD?
TOP 25 CONFESSIONS AT CURTIN POSTS BY REACTS
FOOLPROOF BROWNIES: WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS
BITCH BETTER SAVE MY MONEY
ARE WE FUNDING ISIS? THE PARADOX OF HUMANITARIAN AID THE LONG ROAD AHEAD FOR TRANS RIGHTS IN WA
SOCIAL OUTREACH THROUGH ART: MAKING A DIFFERENCE
SKATING ON THIN ICE: I, TONYA AND THE TREND OF SUBJECTIVE TRUTH IN FILM DRAG BRUNCH: SWISH SPILLS THE TEA
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: STAR WARS
FROM HIGH SCHOOL TO HOLLYWOOD
STRESSED AF? FIGHT BACK WITH KIDS FLICKS
To understand profoundly, intuitively, or by empathy.
Grok Magazine is Curtin University’s student-run media outlet. We bring you the good, the bad and the ugly of what’s happening for students at Curtin, covering a variety of content to help keep you connected—like the latest flicks and gigs, community events, the Guild elections, Sexpo, and student housing. Students have been the driving force behind some of the most powerful social movements the world has ever seen. We are here to make sure
that you stay motivated, informed and involved. We publish regularly through our website and produce these glossy print editions each semester. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, like us on Facebook. If you’re interested in contributing to Grok as a writer, editor or designer—or if you have a scoop you want us to cover—hit up the editors at email@example.com
Pics// Emmi Kerkham
from the prez Comrades, friends and colleagues, Welcome to Grok Magazine’s semester one issue, which, as promised, is packed full of great material. Semester one for the Guild Representatives has also been packed full of great stuff. In late assessment news, it is expected that the University will announce a change to the late assessment policy, reducing the first-day-late penalty for an assignment from 10 per cent to five per cent of your marks—but every date late after that will be 10 per cent per day. This means that, for those of you who are rushing at the last minute, being a little bit late is no longer something to be as worried about. The decisions of the University to reduce the number of assessments from January 1 next year is also something that has confused a lot of people. Luckily, once again, your representatives are here to sort out the problem. Our discussions with Professor Jill Downie—Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic—appear to be leading the policy in the following direction: - - -
While the number of assessments is still expected to shrink, a cap of no more than 50 per cent weighting on exams will be restored If your group assignment is worth more than 25 per cent it will be a requirement that you are marked on your individual contribution If you come in under your word limit you won’t be penalised anymore. Basically, the new view is that if you have a 1500-word essay and write 1200 words, and it’s still really good, why should you be penalised
As a way of helping balance assessment load, a policy statement will be developed to help ensure that the workload of every 25 credit unit is reasonably the same as another Finally, for those of you wondering what assessment will be abolished, the DVC-A has stated their goal is to eliminate exams as a form of assessment. So, I think things are looking up for students at Curtin
That’s a pretty good outcome for our learning. Coming up for the rest of the year is our continued focus on creating a stronger student voice in this University—particularly within your school and your course. A federal election creeps ever closer and with the Member for Swan not willing to answer my letters about why he’s letting $80 million be cut from our University, it might be worth asking: do we need a new Member for Swan? Enjoy the rest of semester and I’ll see you around (or at least at the end of semester bash)!
Liam O’Neill Guild President
FESTIVAL LINE-UPS: THE DREAM AND DRIVE FOR MUSIC DIVERSITY
Words // Joe Wilson Pics // Emmelyn Carroll
Whether it’s Camp Cope’s merchandise selling out at music festivals or the culmination of the #MeToo movement after the Hollywood scandal surrounding director and producer Harvey Weinstein, there is appetite for change surrounding gender diversity and equality around the globe. Comments have been made recently about festivals and touring promoters not featuring gender diverse line-ups, and there is a general apathy to make change. Major touring company Secret Sounds (running Falls Festival and Splendour in The Grass) recently labelled Triple J’s By The Numbers’ report as “miscalculated” and “flawed”. But with 45 international music festivals addressing gender inequality and pledging a fifty-fifty gender split on festival line-ups and conference panels— thanks to the UK’s PRS Foundation and International Keychange initiative—there is a motivation for change among major players. Even locally, Women of Music Production Perth, run by Elise Reitze and Rosie Taylor of FEELS, are
providing a platform for female, trans and nonbinary music makers to share and develop their production skills. Both Reitze and Taylor say the fifty-fifty split in line-ups is achievable. “We think that a fifty-fifty split in line-ups is not only achievable but 100 per cent necessary for the future of equal gender representation within the music industry. “In order for more young women to choose music as a career path, they need to see female artists and role models performing at festivals at the same level as men.” When considering whether the local scene was encouraging diversity, Reitze and Taylor both say the situation is “very encouraging”. “Platforms like WOMPP and the diversity data base help bookers to find acts that encourage diverse line-ups and raise awareness on the importance of diversity within the music scene.
“We think great things are happening in the music industry right now, but there is still a long way to go before we achieve equality. “There are a lot of local festivals in Perth now getting away with booking all male line-ups and then trying to improve the representation of women last minute after getting slammed on social media.” Recycled Rainbow is a music booking company run by 21-year-old Maggie Bochat. And it doubles as a blog and promotions company: Recycled Rainbow Records. Initially kick-started as a vintage clothing brand that hawked their wares at the Fremantle Markets, they evolved into a music booking company after doing a few gigs at Mojos Bar in Fremantle. After meeting with many musicians through the gigs, Bochat became involved in promoting gender equality. “We did some events at Mojos and it just kept growing into this music booking company—I met so many musicians, I noticed and became really engaged with promoting gender equality on line-ups.”
Bochat says that running the Recycled Rainbow blog made it apparent that there was a need for somebody to push for gender equality—as well as representation for people of colour, Indigenous people and people with disabilities. “There needs to be someone driving that, because it is an issue, but not everyone is listening and we’ll make that happen. “Recycled Rainbow Records is a company that is truly based on pushing for gender diverse issues in WA; the way that’s mainly being done at the moment is through the Diversity Database which was released on International Women’s Day.” The Diversity Database is Recycled Rainbow’s online info spreadsheet on the musicians in Perth who identify as fem, non-binary, LGBTQIA+, Aboriginal, Indigenous, Torres Strait Islander, POC, and disabled, to prove the existence of diversity in the local scene.
“It was an Excel spreadsheet originally created by Xanthea O’Connor, I decided to make it public and editable, a product for everyone, a collaboration between everyone.” Bochat says the scene has changed for the better, but was different from when she started booking bands at the age of 18. “From what I entered into and I saw as successful and inspired by and tried to recreate as a culture of a celebration of music and diverse musicians, hand in hand with drinking alcohol and making revenue, the easiest way to do that booking full-ups and bands whom most of the time were white men. “For example, when I first started booking, my line-ups were almost exclusively bands, five or six people in the band were predominantly white male.”
Bochat says there is a transition coming from a change in the culture of celebrating music. “It’s become more political and changing to a space for listening to people, celebrating and reflecting. “I’m not saying that didn’t already exist, but in terms of my booking journey it’s definitely evolved. “In the general music scene, I feel like there is more space and more demand for different voices and for political messages in music for learning, safety and difference. “For going to see an Indigenous woman rap about her life or going to see a queer, non-binary individual dancer on stage as a DJ—there is demand for that.” Anticipation for change is not only being felt from local diversity groups in the music industry, but even local musicians.
Female artists that hold a national following are calling out promoters and festivals for not doing better (like Camp Cope)—similar sentiments are being felt by local acts. Local folk musician Carla Geneve says it’s not the time to be defensive when discussing gender diversity in line-ups. “It’s time to open and really try and have diversity because it is something that is lacking. “In the last two or three years there has been a really great effort and improvement for female musicians, more diverse line-ups, although there are still a lot of instance where there’s lacking in diversity in local line-ups.
While there has been a defensive attitude from punters and festivals, Geneve says there is currently a push back from it. “I think there’s definitely people pushing it, really strong, determined women. “Women and non-binary people on the scene have been pushing for change and we are slowly getting somewhere. It’s not changed already, but it’s starting to change.” With change becoming inevitable and gender equality in the music scene on the horizon, Geneve says it’s still going to take time. “Everything is going to take time and take a pretty monumental effort, but it’s going to be worth it.”
“There is a really lovely atmosphere at the moment which is moving for change. I am really proud of Perth for doing that.”
*Disclaimer: This article will be at least 34 per cent better if read in David Attenborough’s voice.
Words // Madigan Landry Pics // Emmi Kerkham
THE WOO G I R L Quickly identified by her cultural appropriation of the Bindi and vaguely tribal face paint, the Woo Girl is hard to miss. A pack animal, the Woo Girl is rarely alone and is most commonly found inside a port-a-loo with five other Woo Girl companions. Her diet consists of one vodka-soda short of starting a fight, and other people’s fries. Although she is able to interact with other festival goers, she is the natural born enemy of the Tall Boy, who she will use to get a better view for her Instagram story video by clambering up onto his shoulders.
T H E TA LL BOY Often incorrectly encompassed within other types of festival goers, the Tall Boy is somehow always in front of everyone else. An instinctual being, the Tall Boy knows the precise moment when your favourite act is playing your fave song and where you will be so that he can shift into your line of sight half way through. Is usually wearing some sort of hat—because their heads are a lot closer to the sun. If you are fortunate enough to befriend one of these almighty beings, be sure to use them as a distinctive landmark in the crowd in order to locate your mates.
YO UR DA D Okay, so maybe he’s not really your dad … but he’s definitely old enough to be. Wearing a muscle-tee and some sensible shoes, he is braving the young crowd in a desperate attempt to relive The Good Ol’ Days: When the Music was Loud and Liquor was Cheap, but, alas, those days are over. By the time 9pm swings around he’s missing the Missus’ cooking, and can be found hungry and too drunk to stand, leaning on a picnic table alone wondering where it all went wrong.
TH E A LTE R N AT I V ES Whether their clothes are too big, too small, or just too much to comprehend, you can rest assured the Alternatives stole their outfits from a Vinnies donation bin. Too focused on their ironically unflattering sunglasses to listen to any real music, the Alternatives can be found sitting in large groups on a piece of grass that is being used by the other 80 per cent of festival
goers as a pedestrian route between stages, shrouded in a cloud of cigarette smoke. An Alternative has but one task driving it's entire festival experience: looking for a cigarette, or, as the in-crowd themselves would put it, “bumming a dart.” Also loves Mac Demarco.
T HE V EG AN S They’re the ones yelling, “I’m a vegan.”
THE FA NS The Fans are the people who were hoping the one act that they’re here to see would do a sideshow … but they didn’t. So, now they’ve paid too much money to see a bunch of people they don’t like for the sake of the headline act. And instead of just enjoying the set when it finally starts playing, they spend the whole thing getting very worked up over being squished when they are three rows from the front, while commenting on how “actually, this wasn’t worth the money” while everyone around them agrees and wishes they’d just go home (okay, rant over).
HI P P I ES Probably don’t believe in deodorant, but you’ll soon find out as you’re pressed against their sweaty body in the crowd … at 3pm … in January. They migrate in pairs, normally identifying each other as “spirit partners”, gravitating towards the twenty-dollar vegan nachos.
GL A Z IS A niche clique amongst the festival community, the Glazi is a rare beast. Usually male, these shirtless wonders use their bare chests to sport enough body glitter to make RuPaul’s Drag Race look like an episode of Q&A. Despite spreading their glittery seed onto innocent bystanders in their immediate vicinity, these majestic beings never seem to lose any of their outer coating, infinitely shining on into the night.
Pics// Ophelia Roberts
Ash Westwood: Kerala — Bonobo "It's a delicate blend of so many cultural sounds; you just get hypnotised by the ethereal beauty of it all melting together."
Connor Lorrigan: Almost Had to Start a Fight / In and Out of Patience — Parquet Courts “Co-produced with Danger Mouse, this is Parquet Courts most recent release. This song perfectly captures what they’re about: internal angst with a head thrashing chorus, guitar solos galore and thought-provoking lyrics.”
Jay Anderson: Not Worth Hiding — Alex the Astronaut “For all the homos.”
Jay Anderson: Lucky — Britney Spears Naomi Worthy: California Dreamin’ — The Mamas & The Papas
“Cause I reckon I can relate to the struggles of an American, female, teen pop star.”
“I rediscovered this song recently and haven't stopped listening to it since.”
Nick Fimognari: Tomboy — Princess Nokia
Luisa Mitchell: All I Want — Joni Mitchell “For those nostalgicroad trips when you're feeling lonely and thinking about your ex—it'll give you those feels of wanting to love and be loved in return.”
“I’m a filthy hip hop and rap addict and proud of it. Destiny Frasqueri (Princess Nokia) is a total badass bitch, who’s all for rejecting racism, misogyny and body shaming through some bangin’ beats.”
Joe Wilson: Stars — Nina Simone “I picked Stars because over the past few years of interviewing and reviewing musicians and their music I have become slightly obsessed with this desire for fame and celebrity. Whether it’s the ambition of a younger performer, or the reflection of an older one, Stars captures that journey and desire. In the lyrics, Simone beautifully details the tragedy, hope and anxiety of stardom. What begins as a bluesy ballad of self-reflection ends in a shattering, piano-driven crescendo of self-realisation—it’s a track that audibly details the epitome of modern celebrity culture.”
Savannah Franklin: Rock It For Me — Caravan Palace "A boppy electro-swing tune to get you up and moving first thing on a Monday."
Ailish Delaney: No Other Way — Maddy Jane Chris Leopardi: Turn — The Wombats “It’s that song you listen to on the freeway with the lights flying by, while you’re driving back from a big ol’ night owt.”
“It has a super catchy rhythm and punchy chorus that I find myself frequently humming along to. Also, Maddy Jane has a really cool and raw voice.”
Dominic Moriarty-Wright: How to Socialise & Make Friends — Camp Cope “Raw colloquial imagery and a swift, inspirational tune make this title-track a must-check.” Tanya Ajwani: Told You So — Miguel “The ultimate tune for when your on a rainy drive home.”
Ben Donaldson: Source — Nubya Garcia and Owen Wilson
Lawrence Drown: Trouble — Grapetooth “This wine-loving, vespa-scootin’, Cha-town-living duo have dropped an anthem. Sloppy lo-fi synth, with an almost tacky early naughties sound, will have you chanting by the second chorus. Instant classic.”
"Emerging from the new wave of jazz in the UK is tenor saxophonist and composer, Nubya Garcia. Her second EP, When We Are features two original tracks and two remixes, showcasing her compositional skill and flirtation with electronic instruments. Maxwell Owin’s flip of Source has taken a step away from the energy of the original and stripped it back, ready for the dancefloor. A breezy opening is flooded by the sound of Garcia’s sax and Rhodes prominent chords before the rhythmic baselines transport the song to after-dark crevices. A thoughtful blend of contemporary sounds."
CURE FOR CANCER My Spidey-sense is tingling
WO R DS N I C K F I M O G N A R I PI C S T I N A H A N
The “land of opportunity”, or “land of plenty”, Australia is probably better known abroad as “the land of things that can kill you”.
This is unsurprising, considering there are plenty of opportunities for a dalliance with death for the average Jill or Joe. Of the world’s 25 most venomous snake species, 21 grace our golden soil, with our very own taipan taking out the spot at number one. Although the taipan’s mortal bite can claim a life in as little as 45 minutes, other venomous species native to Australia—like the box jellyfish and Sydney’s funnel web spider—can deliver death in a third of the time. What a treat!
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts, and most bountifully in venomous animal species. But Australia isn’t just a barren wasteland of toxic critters. In fact, the high density of venomous species could be very fortuitous. On a base level, venoms, by design, are highly efficient at doing their job: disable, paralyse or kill. Like an archer with their mark, these toxins must speed through the body of their would-be prey to specific target sites, and act quickly on their different systems.
Major types of venoms: Neurotoxin, Haemotoxin, Cardiotoxin, Proteotoxin
blocks nerves / brain activity
destroys blood cells and / or prevent blood clotting
Cardiotoxic / Myotoxic Cytotoxic / Proteotoxic
Venoms are also capable of adapting and evolving swiftly, to better suit the predator’s needs—like the scorpion-eating saw-scaled viper, which is able to biologically enhance the potency of their scorpionspecific toxin in proportion to the number of scorpions they eat. Basically, their venom becomes more toxic for scorpions with each scorpion they eat, so they can keep going back for seconds—making for a more efficient hunter. Less time in the kitchen and more time eating I guess.
triggers heart attack / cardiac arrest, damages muscle
kills / eats away at cells surrounding bite site
Just as venoms are highly potent, their anti-venoms are equally potent in neutralising them. This has been the basis of biomedical advancements in toxicology, which have not only yielded the antidotes to many of these venoms, but also resulted in the discovery of unexpected therapeutic components of venoms just as potent as the toxic compound they’re derived from.
How is antivenom made?
Snake venom is injected into a horse to produce antibodies.
Horse blood is separated into red blood cells and plasma.
Antibodies extrated from blood using magnetic force.
chlorotoxin antibodies channels
Serum is purified into anti-venom formulation for human use.
chlorotoxin can't bind
The antibodies help to prevent chlorotoxin proteins from blocking the channels to the cells.
SCIENCE All venoms are composed of proteins or “peptides”, but not the arrangement you’d want in your postgym protein shake. In your protein powder, there are all of these tiny building blocks—called amino acids. We break down the protein to get the amino acids so our body can make other protein (like, for muscle). Venom’s got proteins, so does protein powder— what’s the difference?! Well, the amino acids are arranged differently, because every protein is different. In venom, they’re intricately connected like a dot-to-dot, and there are many different proteins formed, which together make one lethal cocktail. So, instead of breaking them down, they break us down. But, when we take that raw venom and break it up into “fractions”, we can isolate those proteins, refine the ones that have a “good” sequence of amino acids, and venom peptides can be synthesised—ones that won’t kill us (ideal).
These venom peptides have remarkable therapeutic properties, presently used in clinical trials as antibacterial agents, anticoagulants (stops blood clots), anti-inflammatories and analgesics (pain relief). It makes sense really: venoms have a rapid mechanism of action—they quickly induce their toxic effects. So, by fractionating and isolating particular venom peptides, we can reverse engineer the original outcome of a venom, but with the same potency and mechanism of action. Raw venom’s capacity for evil is met by its fraction’s equal capacity for good. In this instance, the sum of its parts is greater than the whole, and that’s the case for a species that hangs out on our very own Sunshine Coast: Conus magus—a cone shell. This pretty little seashell has a very painful, paralysing poison, but scientists have been able to isolate a venom peptide that confers pain relief, and it is now being used clinically as a morphine alternative called Ziconotide.
. . . PRO VEN TO DE S T RO Y DE A DLY CANCER CELLS, L IK E T HO S E O F M E LA N O MA A N D L E U K A E M IA ...
Different venom peptide sequences with different effects. All are secreted in the venom (conotoxin) of the cone shell: Conus magus. Isolated, their effects can be very different. Their Omega conotoxin is used clinically for pain relief as Ziconotide — a morphine alternative. Conotoxin Type
Myotoxin - Muscle paralysis
Neurotoxin - Brain and nerve blocker
Analgesic - Pain relief
Similarly, a peptide called Gomesin—isolated from the venom of the Brazilian tarantula Acanthoscurria gomesiana—is also being used for good. Fractions made from this extract have profound antibacterial effects. They’ve additionally been proven to destroy deadly cancer cells, like those of melanoma and leukaemia, and don’t have toxic, off-target effects on our blood cells that aggressive chemo and radiotherapies can have.
rapidly destroyed and prevented the spread of the cancer. Since the Tasmanian devil population is expected to deplete by 2040 as a result of these incurable and aggressive facial tumours, venom peptides show promise in rescuing one of our native species from extinction. Brazil’s venom may be the solution for one of Australia’s biological issues, but do Australia’s untapped venomous species hold the key to another country’s biological issues too?
Oddly, they have also had a profound effect on the facial tumours of Tasmanian devils that have been slowly wiping out their population.
Perhaps the cure for cancer can be found somewhere on our land, in the literal jaws of death.
A study published just this year by a group of researchers—some from Curtin University—proved that treating these tumour cells with Gomesin
Want to know more about the venom peptide work being conducted here at Curtin? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do Yo u Ha ve a Va gi na ?
IF SO, PLEASE READ ON. Hello there vagina owner, or friend of vaginaowning person. I am here to share some wonderful news with you, just in case you happened to miss this fantastic revolution in vagina health. Words // Savannah Franklin Pics // Emmelyn Carroll
As of December last year, the biennial vagina scraping Pap smear that we all know and hate has officially been scrapped! Great improvements in our understanding of the prevention and treatment of cervical cancer led to a review of the National Cervical Screening Program that began in 1991. This review was conducted by the Medical Services Advisory Committee between 2012â€”2014, and the result is a less frequent, yet more accurate replacement, for the Pap smearâ€” called the Cervical Screening Test. Research has shown that human papillomavirus is the cause of 99% of cervical cancers; the new Cervical Screening Test will look for the existence of HPV and, if found, look for any cervical cell abnormalities. Then, if needed, monitoring and treatment should prevent cervical cancer from developing.
Ladies, we only have to begin getting the test at 25—whether you have been sexually active before this age or not—and we can cease the vagina scraping at 74. While the Pap smear test looked for any abnormal cervical cell changes, the Cervical Screening Test specifically looks for HPV. Due to the high accuracy of our new friend, the Cervical Screening Test, vagina owners with a HPV negative test result will only need to screen every five years. Every. Five. Years! That’s only ten tests in your lifetime, as opposed to the 50 or so Pap smears that you would’ve had to get. Though the Cervical Screening Test is done much less frequently, the Department of Health announced that the procedure is the same as the good ol’ Pap smear:
“A healthcare provider will collect a small sample of cells from the woman’s cervix. The sample will be sent to a pathology laboratory for examination”. So, for anyone who’s been lucky enough to have had a Pap smear in the past, the Cervical Screening Test won’t be a scary, new experience for your vagina, and anyone who hasn’t had one can still just ask a mate who has had a Pap smear what it’ll be like. The Cervical Screening Test is also supported by a new National Cancer Screening Register that will even send invitations to newbies, and reminder letters to those who have been around the block before, telling them when they are next due for their Cervical Screening Test. If you would like more information on this fabulous turn of events, head on over to www.cancerscreening. gov.au and click on the chilled looking lady with “National Cervical Screening Program” written over her head.
Last month we lost Stephen Hawking—undoubtedly one of the most incredible minds of this generation—and before he departed he left us with a startling announcement: humans have roughly 100 years left on Earth before seriously bad things start happening. So basically, we need to colonise space Wall-E style. But before we hurriedly come to terms with this futuristic nightmare, let’s consider some of the ingenious inventions that may save our skin—or at least buy us some time to sort our shit out.
The latest tales of terror range from potentially losing chocolate in 2050, to the dead sea drying up. Meanwhile, South Africa’s Cape Town is on the brink of completely running out of water and fans of seafood have been forced to come to terms with the fact that they are consuming tonnes of plastic every year through the unnatural circle of life we’ve created by polluting the ocean with our plastic waste. On top of all of this the last male white rhino just passed away, leaving the world licking its wounds from yet another inconceivable, and probably avoidable, human-caused species extinction. The Earth has already been around for 4.543 billion years, but we, modern humans, have only been here for 200,000 years or so. This means that in
Words // Jess Marshall Pics // Ophelia Roberts
the history of the Earth, our limited existence has resulted in an absurd amount of environmental degradation that continues on as we force ourselves towards our own extinction like one of Apple’s old iPod Shuffles.
S O, WHAT ARE WE DOING TO RECT IFY T HE SITUAT ION?
For starters, there’s deforestation; despite destroying half of the world's tropical forests already, we continue to cut down one and a half acres of forest every second. If the current rate of deforestation continues experts estimate that within 100 years there will be no more forests. A truly inconceivable evaluation and a serious gut kicker.
But fear not: there are some incredible people and organisations stepping up to make some seriously promising leaps in the preservation and restoration of the world’s forests. Topher White, creator of Rainforest Connection, has developed technology that uses old cell phones to monitor for illegal logging. The phones are solarcharged and send out a text alert to authorities when they pick up the sound of a chainsaw so the situation can be assessed and any illegal activity halted.
Over the years numerous illegal logging stations have been shut down and countless animal species have been brought back from the brink of extinction due to the replenishment of the world’s forests— all thanks to GFW and Rainforest Connection, revolutionising efforts to preserve our forests.
Of course, forests aren’t the only thing we’ve ruined. The world’s oceans are being contaminated with roughly 1.4 billion pounds of garbage every year. Oil spills and the improper disposal of our rubbish have caused the deaths of millions of marine creatures— sea turtles, seals, and sea birds are but a few of many aquatic populations declining. Global Forest Watch is also attempting to combat deforestation in a big way; they’re an online system that uses satellites and remote sensing technology, combined with human communication networks, to monitor the conditions of rainforests. The organisation, now receiving assistance from Google, also sends out alerts about deforestation and provides extensive data about the state and loss of forests.
"The world’s oceans are being contaminated with roughly 1.4 billion pounds of garbage every year."
In order to limit the damage caused a series of innovative devices are being implemented—one of which was created by Australian surfers.
Seabins are these wonderful contraptions that suck garbage in while filtering sea water out, and were developed by two Australian mates—Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinksi—with the increasingly achievable goal of creating pollution-free oceans for future generations. Ocean Cleanup, led by Boyan Slat, is another company that develops technology to clean up the ocean, prioritising the removal of garbage patches—areas of concentrated rubbish in the sea. The largest and most infamous is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, consisting of—in March 2018—more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. The company estimates that their floating pipe-like devices, which catch and contain waste, should remove up to 50 per cent of this patch in five years. A cleanup of this scale will have immense benefits for the ocean, and lessen the burden caused by pollution for the creatures who inhabit it.
Since the majority of the rubbish floating in the ocean is non-degradable plastic bags, a series of organisations have been working to create a variety of alternatives, like SaltWater Brewery’s edible packaging and Avain’s biodegradable bags—both of which break down easily and are safe for animal consumption. We also have some more inventive creations coming into play, like a machine from DB Breweries that crushes beer bottles into sand—which is currently being used to preserve New Zealand beaches. Or another that turns plastic waste into a series of oils which can be used for a range of things—from fuel, to shoe polish and cosmetics.
NEXT PRO BLEM: AIR PO L LUT I O N. Simply breathing in Beijing is as risky as smoking 21 cigarettes a day! A creative invention by Graviky Labs is trying to change that by reducing the carbon emission of vehicles. They have developed a contraption that attaches to the exhaust pipe of a car to collect the carbon soot released. Once the soot has accumulated it’s used to make high quality ink for artists—branded as AIR-INK. So incredible.
"Simply breathing in Beijing is as risky as smoking 21 cigarettes a day!"
Another unbelievable invention reducing the many side effects of plastic pollution is, what I like to call, edible water blobs. An incredibly futuristic-looking, biodegradable alternative to plastic bottles created by Skipping Rocks Lab. They’re made from an affordable seaweed extract, and have the potential to save our asses. The wide-scale use of these water blobs, combined with the HomeBiogas 2.0—an inflatable machine turning food scraps into cooking gas and fertilizer—can significantly reduce our wastage. With the Earth already severely wounded from our increasingly negative impact, these inventions may form the only key to our salvation—that and powerhouse countries rectifying their policies; but we won’t get into that. Despite our situation, the only way to move forward is to do so with some semblance of hope. And hopefully, by introducing you to some of the miraculous people dedicating their lives to potentially world-altering inventions, I have provided you with just that.
Random Space News WE MIGHT ALL DIE IN A CATASTROPHIC ASTEROID IMPACT Words// Jo Newman Pics// Angel Nguyen We are but a tiny blue dot in the infinite void that is the universe (or multiverse, if your thinking is that way inclined). So, you’d think space would feature more prominently in our nightly news cycle. Alas, we are severely deprived of space news. There are interesting things happening off world though! Lots of interesting things! Australia is getting a space agency. No, it’s not ARSE (Australian Research and Space Exploration), much as the internet would like it to be. The government announced in September of last year that our very own space agency is in the works—though the details are yet to be confirmed. Look out NASA, here we come! The “Alien Megastructure Star” is doing weird things again. You might remember this from a couple of years ago, when some scientists suggested that the strange light fluctuations of star KIC 8462852 could be due to an alien megastructure surrounding it. Well, it looks like it’s not aliens— just dust. That seemed to be the end of it, until March this year, when scientists observed a massive dimming in light from the star (not hyperbole at all, I promise). Mysterious.
" ARS E
(AU STR A L IA N R E SE ARCH AN D S PAC E EXPLO R ATIO N)
3 The Kepler Space Telescope is running out of fuel. Kepler was launched in 2009, and data from its adventures has led to the discovery of about 2649 exoplanets—as of March 2018. NASA predicts that Kepler’s mission will end in a few months. A moment of silence for our lost friend. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is shrinking. In the 1800s, this storm was perhaps four times the diameter of the Earth. In 1979, it was just slightly more than two Earths wide. And now it’s only about 1.3 times the size of the Earth. NASA’s Juno space probe snapped some excellent pics of the Spot last year, and is scheduled to fly by again this year, twice next year, and once in 2020. After that, who knows when (or if ) we will see this great swirling storm again.
We might all die in a catastrophic asteroid impact. The Bennu asteroid has a 1-in-2700 chance of hitting Earth sometime around 2135. If it hits, it would strike with 1200 megatons of kinetic energy. In other words, we would not be in for a fun time. But, as Hollywood has long predicted, scientists have devised a Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response vehicle (HAMMER) to save us all. So, no stress, really.
3 . R.I.P. Kepler 2009 - 2018
How To Save Thousands of Dollars :
EXPLAINER Words// David Blayney Pics// Jaz Baker
D I SC L AI M ER The information in this article is general, and does not take into account your financial circumstances or objectives. Always read the Product Disclosure Statement before signing into any financial service. Changing super funds may adversely affect your insurance coverage and result in exit fees. Grok recommends you seek the advice of a qualified, independent financial planner.
D O YO U K N OW HOW YO UR S UPE R’ S GOING? Chances are the last time you thought about your superannuation was when you started your last job, or when you filed your tax return. How many accounts do you have? One? More? Forty per cent of Australians have more than one. Fifteen per cent of Australians have three or more accounts.
Are you paying for life insurance or Total Permanent Disability insurance you didn’t ask for? If you have a super account, the answer is probably “yes”. How much are you paying in fees and insurance premiums? Do you know how much those fees will cost you over your working life? If you know how to answer these questions, you could save yourself tens of thousands of dollars.
WHAT IS SUPERANNUATION? Superannuation is a system Australia uses to help you fund your retirement. It’s a bit like a private pension. In most circumstances, your employer is required to pay a portion of your salary—just shy of 10 per cent—into an account called a super fund. The money in your account is invested into property, companies, and fixed interest — among other things. When the time comes for you to retire, your superannuation will be a crucial asset.
H OW M ANY FU NDS DO I H AVE?
CHOOSING A SUPER FUND
Having a super fund isn’t free—every fund comes with a slew of administration and investment fees. According to the banking regulator, APRA, the median cost of the fees for one account is $532 every year.
First, you should ask your employer whether they will pay your super contributions into the fund of your choosing. Some employers, like Coles and Woolworths, only pay into the account that they, or your industry’s union, have chosen for you.
This means that having multiple super funds could cost you thousands of dollars in unnecessary fees every single year. Luckily, the Australian Taxation Office has a handy tool on their website that can help you keep track of how many accounts you have open.
If you can pick your own super account, you should do some research to make sure you pick a good one. Here are a couple of tools that can help you: -
Canstar is a financial comparison website that rates super funds (along with insurance policies and more) on a five-star rating system Super Ratings rates funds either “Platinum”, “Gold”, “Silver”, or “Other” (average or belowaverage) based on its fees and investments Chant West rates super funds on a scale of one-to-five based on its fees, investments and administration
To do this you’ll need to register for a myGov account, which is an online service that allows you to do business with government agencies like Medicare and the ATO online. You can register an account at my.gov.au.
Next, you’ll need to link your myGov account with the ATO. To do this, you’ll need to know your Tax File Number, and you’ll need to have a couple of documents to verify your identity—like a notice of assessment or a PAYG payment summary.
I cannot recommend a specific fund to you—that’s a decision you need to make yourself. I recommend you look at all three of the tools listed above. Make sure you read the Product Disclosure Statement and Financial Services Guide before signing into any financial product.
If you need some help, you can call the ATO on 13 28 61. If English isn’t your first language, you can call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50, where you’ll be able to speak to the ATO in your native tongue.
This all might sound a little complicated and boring, but remember: picking the right super fund could mean the difference between tens of thousands of dollars when you retire.
So, we’ve gotta get thrifty. Here are some tips, from one student to another: Steal toilet paper from campus bathrooms. You’re paying that SSAF—if not now, eventually—so, you deserve it. You’ll want a tough asshole though, because that one-ply TP will definitely give you haemorrhoids.
If I had a dollar for every time I called myself a povo uni student, I wouldn’t be one.
Sell your body. There’s lots of ways you can do this. You can sell your jizz or your baby-making eggs. You can get a small fee for donating your blood plasma. Clinical studies and psychological trials need participants—and you need money. You can probably sell a kidney or something on the black market. And prostitution is legal, of course, under the Prostitution Act 2000. Twenty bucks is twenty bucks.
The broke uni student is archetypal; our struggles are well documented. A survey of nearly 2000 Australian students conducted by Anglicare and Union of Students last year found that 89 per cent struggle to buy textbooks and other items essential for studies. Despite the fact that 75 per cent were working—half completing two to three days a week, while a fifth were working up-to full time hours—the vast majority (87 per cent) also reported studying full-time (which is equivalent to 40 hours of work per week). And a survey from Orygen found that students have higher rates of mental health issues than non-students. Financial stress was, unsurprisingly, listed as a key reason. But the government wants us to pay more for our education, and they want us to pay it back faster.
Be more aware of your bills before they arrive. Have shorter showers. Turn appliances off at the switch. Instead of running the aircon, pretend you’re a demon that enjoys sweating. Steal from Coles, or Woolies, or any other store with self-serve checkouts that don’t have their scales on. This is a moral grey area in my opinion, so I only steal avocados. Take that Tim Gurner, I’ll get a bloody house and eat my smashed avo to boot. Food prep. It sounds boring because it is. It’s easy to buy a donut here, a coffee there, to go out for lunch, and afternoon tea, and dinner, and second dinner—but it adds up. Take snacks everywhere; taking muesli bars (chocolate bars) to uni and work curbed my snack-food expenditure a bit. Imagine if I actually food prepped.
Don’t be stupid, look into adult things. See if you’re eligible for Centrelink or a Health Care Card. Look into your Superannuation and consolidate it if you need to. Make sure you claim shit on tax. I know, but do it anyway. Get a sugar daddy or a sugar mummy. I’m still looking, but I’ve had friends who financially benefited from their relationships. They’re a bit cunty for doing that to be fair, but desperate times. Take advantage of those student discounts. But be smart and don’t buy shit you don’t need (like, I got a Stan account that I only use to watch Will and Grace and that’s probably a bit extra). But you can get: reduced subscriptions to iTunes and Netflix; cheaper tech with Microsoft and Apple; discounts on clothes at ASOS, The Iconic, and City Beach, to name a few; and, if you’re into that kind of thing, some gyms have reduced prices for students. If you don’t know where to start, sign up to Student Edge to get loads of discounts from businesses all around Australia.
Be smart about transport. Take the bus with the other sweaty meat-bags in the morning and afternoon, if it’s cheaper. Or make an effort to park in cheaper bays (I used to park blue, now I park yellow and one day I’ll park green. Effort making). Use your friends and your family. I’m an art student so I will definitely be getting my brother (who studied business? Honestly, I don’t actually know) to do my taxes. I recently got my mate to cut my hair (I’ll be frank: she well and truly fucked it up. And sure, I had to shave my head; and okay, I look like I’m about to star in an all new season of Prison Break; but, I saved some dollar-dollar bills.)
Use the services on campus. Hit up Curtin Medical Centre (it’s bulk billed my dudes); Curtin’s Counselling services are free (as mentioned, you’ll more than likely need a hand with your mental health); Curtin Health Services offer free STI checks from Building 109 while the Guild’s got all the condoms you’ll need for free. And the Guild’s Student Assist offers confidential financial advice (if these tips aren’t enough). Just think about your finances. Sounds obvious, but I bet you’re not doing it. Find something to save for and work hard at doing it. Think about what you’re spending your money on. Don’t be frivolous with money like me. Reading this was a good start.
Get literally thrifty: go op-shopping, dumpsterdiving, and curb-collecting. I read a story about a woman who bought vintage-y clothes from op shops for nothing and sold them on for a profit. Another woman made her way to her first house by selling curb-collected furniture on E-bay.
Donâ€™t let small problems become big ones. Student Assist is an independent support service to help you with academic, personal, or financial issues. email@example.com.
DOES IT HAVE TO BLEED FOR IT TO LEAD? Words// Tanya Ajwani Design// Sherlyn Chang
“I told my friends that I wanted to get more experience in the corporate journalism world and then I would be comfortable enough to start my own media company, but then jobs sucked and my friends said ‘just make your own company- you already have the vision in mind and you keep talking about it.’” After graduating from Curtin University and moving to Jordan, Cesilia Faustina created Hybris Media with the vision of reshaping news coverage and representing society more accurately. She believes that the portrayal of society through the news is significantly more negative than it needs to be, and is therefore out of touch with the average person. Cesilia spent her adolescence travelling between the US and Indonesia, so she was a well-seasoned
traveler by the time she had to make the move from Indonesia to Australia for university. She had already completed an advertising degree in Indonesia, but she wanted to pursue studies in journalism and visual communications in Perth. As she approached the end of her degree at Curtin, reality dawned on her: there may be a lot of fish in the sea but the same could not be said for employment prospects in Perth. Just when things were starting to look quite bleak, Cesilia was offered a copywriting position at a marketing company in Jordan. Something clicked in Jordan, and, after two years of creating content, her website was launched in February of 2017.
Photos Supplied: Hubris Media
Through Hybris Media, Cesilia and her team of interns and volunteers report on feminism, environmental issues and the stories of inspirational individuals in Jordan.
“Some of the volunteers are people who have reached out to me and they’re really just passionate about it and that was the biggest achievement and proudest moment of Hybris for me,” she said.
Contrary to what we might imagine when we think of life in the Middle East, Cesilia insists that there’s more to Jordan—and, luckily, Hybris Media allows us to experience it second hand.
Cesilia’s main obstacles have been time and money: not having enough time for everything she wants to achieve, or enough finances to run a greater number of projects and give back to her team.
“Living in a country that is landlocked between countries at war, Jordan is very chill, it’s like it doesn’t affect them and it’s very interesting to see that,” she said.
“I have an amazing team and they’re all a bunch of volunteers, and to be honest, I would love to be able to give them some sort of income, even if it’s only a little.”
The most popular article on the Hybris Media website is one Cesilia wrote about a Palestinian inmate who travelled the world thanks to his social media presence. It takes an unbelievable amount of dedication and determination to launch a media company while working full time. Not to mention that Cesilia has done it in a foreign country, away from her friends and family and completely out of her comfort zone. When asked about her biggest achievement, Cesilia laughs: “I’m always bad at this question!” Cesilia believes that collaborating with a team of passionate and driven individuals to instigate change in the media has been a force for Hybris Media’s success so far.
A typical day in Cesilia’s life involves working 8am to 5:30pm at her marketing job, then going straight to her Hybris Media office (the commute usually takes half an hour) and staying there until the early hours of the morning. Nobody said it was easy! Hybris Media’s content has maintained an average of 500 views per month, peaking at 800 in March. This year, Cesilia hopes to double that average for online content, and publish the documentary and podcast series her team has been working on. For the longterm, Cesilia’s goal is to take Hybris Media to other countries to further establish the organisation. “I was thinking of moving after this, perhaps to Sudan—mostly because I know that they have a big entrepreneurial scene there that is untouched.”
Words // Jay Anderson
Pics // Emmi Kerkham
CONFESSIONS AT CURTIN IS AN INSTITUTION OF CURTIN UNIVERSITY. FOR MANY, THE POSTS ABOUT POO, SEX, DRUGS, LOVE, THE KOI POND, AND A MYRIAD OF OTHER THINGS PERTAINING TO CURTIN ARE A BOON IN THE OVERFILLED JUNKYARD OF THEIR FACEBOOK FEED. CREATED IN 2014 BY STUDENT DYLAN HEYWOOD—WHO WAS INSPIRED BY SIMILAR PAGES AT OTHER UNIVERSITIES—THE FACEBOOK PAGE HAS AMASSED NEARLY 35,000 FOLLOWERS. AND ONE OF THOSE FOLLOWERS CONFESSED A REQUEST: THE TOP CONFESSIONS OF ALL TIME, BY REACTS. FROM 25 TO ONE: A HISTORY OF WHAT WE’VE CLANDESTINELY CONFESSED AT CURTIN.
#lifegoals The only reason I'm motivated at the moment is because the girl next to me just selected 'price: high to low' while online shopping and I want that life
#thanks Forgot your pen: All good $0.60 from the spot Forgot to bring lunch? No worries $3.40 pie from Main Cafe No time to brush your teeth? $2.50 pack of gum's got ya back! Didn't remember you're assignments due? RedBull $3.50 pound that mofo out. Forgot to text Becky back? Buy that bitch a Soy Chai Latte $3.20 Bam. Sorted. Becky's back to bitching in no time. Forgotten your Oasis password? OASIS Central gonna reset that shit $0.00 free of charge. What lads. Forgot to start Cellopark on time? Oh You're fucked, You dumb shit pay $45, wait did I say $45?!?! It's actually $65 now cuz you didn't pay right away Oh you want a parking permit? LOL nah only staff can have those you gotta remember to push this fking button every fking day twice a fking day otherwise we gon find you. And. We. Gon. Get. You. #Cellosatan2015
Regret not hitting the gym during the break, my back isn't prepared for all the groups i'll have to carry this semester
#Education We did a team building activity in class today where we had to discuss a teacher that influenced us throughout our schooling to make us want to study education. This chick in my group was like "well I had this Lit teacher in year 7..." And I was thinking "nice, wonder what subject she taught?" but then I realised she meant Lit as in Literacy, not Lit as in trendy af. Too hip for my own good
#Angry #FuckChad Every class always has the overly smug student that thinks they know more than the lecturers and ask questions in the form of a statement just so that everybody can hear how smart they are. I always assume your names are Chad. Dont be a Chad. Fuck Chad.
#Poo To the girl that burst into tears at the end of the Functional Anatomy mid semester exam.. i feel your pain i went home and ate a whole cake
#alcoholisasolution If a degree's learning outcomes are chronic anxiety, depression, alcoholism and giving up the will to live then I am ready to graduate ahead of schedule Take me out of the oven, coz I am so done
#angry #education #thanks #library Huge shout out to the hardworking lads in the library, refusing to give up their spot in the library and let people actually studying in.
#love When I was a lowly first year I asked a girl out on a date. It's now my final semester and I proposed to her. She said no both times.
#excited #education #thanks #kanye Been strengthening my back in the gym to prepare for all the groups I'll be carrying this semester.
Photos Supplied: Confessions at Curtin - Facebook
#sad Awesome shoutout to that girl who insisted on doing 90% of the group assignment and refused to let us do anything because she didnt want us to "ruin" it. then the day before the report and presentation she says she is dropping out and left us with jack shit. you da real MVP. Bitch.
#Love, #Food when the kebab shop man asks for you number and you say you have a bf but he meant your order number
#Thesis It's week 2 and I'm already 6 weeks behind
#sad my assignment was due last night at midnight... i still havent started. i am concerned by how unconcerned i am.
#guilt #library #datboi memes fuel our procrastination
#Education #HNNNNNNNG dat level of satisfaction when u close 10 billion journal articles tabs for your piece of shit assignment
#physio #sex Done today by the incredible physio students.
#sex #lmao I feel like Curtin is going to regret this
Photos Supplied: Confessions at Curtin - Facebook
#love #angry "Took a girl I'd been going steady with for a couple of weeks out to dinner the other night. My brother had told me about this quaint little Italian place that serves scrumptious homemade woodfired pizza along with heaps mad veal parma for a decent price, so I figured ""what the heckadoodle"" and asked if she wanted to check it out with me. All was going well initally, chatted about the usual stuff uni students complain about (no parking, shit lectures, no good parties), told a few stupid puns which surprisingly got giggles out of her which are just some of the cutest goddamn giggles I've ever heard in my life. I liked her a lot, so when the waitress came over and asked if we wanted anything to drink, I decided I would splash out for a pretty expensive bottle of her favourite wine which was very quickly brought to our table and poured for us. We clinked our glasses and toasted to our future.
I'm a sucker for a good parma, so I ordered that, then smiled and looked at her waiting to hear what she was going to order. When the words left her mouth, my smile quickly transitioned into a gimace of pure horror and disgust. I quickly downed what was left of my glass of wine, stood up and put my coat on, then walked out of the restaurant, got in my car and drove off, not even bothering to consider how she'd make it home since I picked her up. I've never felt better about a decision in my life though. She ordered a Hawaiian pizza. What the fuck? Pineapple does NOT belong on pizza. Glad I avoided that train wreck of a future. I have to thank the big man upstairs. I was never really a believer before, but tonight he helped me dodge a bullet. Cheers God, you fucking legend."
I'm quite the cliche romantic, and we were talking about future things we can do together and everything was going great so far. The waitress then came back to take our orders of food. She, taking the initiative, ordered a serving of garlic bread, but then stopped and then quickly asked me if that was alright with me, to which I quickly reassured her that garlic bread is in the holy trinity of food (garlic bread, nuggets and hash browns), and thus to not order some would be to commit sacrilege (to which I got another cute giggle and smile from her).
#Happy #Education #Parking Just didn't really feel the walk to my car today, so I walked up to the car who was slowly stalking me back to my car, and said they could have my park if they drove me to my car. In this great success i saved myself from a 15 minute walk in the rain and made a new friend! The perks of being lazy
#EOSB I don't know why people say uni is so hard. I just submitted my assignment and turnitin gave me 86%!
#education #thanks My computer just crashed and deleted the last 6 hours of progress on my 2000 word assignment. Oh well, it shouldn't take too long to retype 23 words.
#excited #education Highest result I've gotten all semester.
Photos Supplied: Confessions at Curtin - Facebook
#lol #fyl #sorrynotsorry
#poo #parking #creepy To the person who keeps a creepy mannequin in the back seat of their car. If your intent was to cause me to shit myself whilst checking my blind spot you were successful.
WORDS // LEON SALAM PICS // ELLYSIA BURTON
FOOLPROOF BROWNIES: WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS
Look. I get it. You don't have your shit together. That's perfectly alright! It can be challenging not knowing what to cook and not having things be the way that you would like them to—especially when you’re a novice in the kitchen. Burnt rice? Crunchy pasta? Unintentional chicken sashimi? Don't worry about it because you aren't the first, and you certainly won't be the last. Many may make a point of ridiculing you for the fact that don’t know how to do certain things in the kitchen. To that, I say you can do *anything*, provided you have the right instructions and a bit of know-how. Here, I have a recipe for a great batch of brownies; they are low effort, high impact and people will love you for them.
The name for this recipe works twofold; it is symbolic of the desirable higher state of being that you wish to attain (that is, if you desire to be some sort of domestic goddess a la Nigella Lawson), and all you’re really doing is putting a bunch of stuff together in a bowl, mixing it and putting it in the oven. This recipe has been written for the absolute novice in mind; so, it’s (relatively) foolproof. Before we start, raid your kitchen for the following ingredients and utensils. Jot down whatever you don’t have and then get the rest from a nearby supermarket. Chances are you have most of the utensils already, but if you don’t already have some sort of heavy baking pan with deep sides, you could get one from Kmart, Gumtree or you could borrow one from a mate. If these aren’t an option for you, I’d suggest buying a disposable aluminium oven tray with a paper lid (which is in the BBQ section of most supermarkets); you’ll have less clean up and it doubles as a transport container—should you decide to share your baked goods.
Utensils - Saucepan - Large glass or metal mixing bowl - Spatula or wooden spoon - Dishcloth or potholders - Small bowl - Measuring cups or a kitchen scale - Teaspoon - 20cm square baking tray (other sizes can still work) - Cutting board - Sharp knife
Ingredients - - - - - - - - -
2 large eggs (or 3 small ones) 1 cup or 200g of soft, dark brown sugar (this helps to makes it fudgey—if you can’t find it, get soft light brown and just make sure it’s not dry or grainy) ½ cup or 100g of white sugar (can substitute with any grainy sugar, like raw, demerara or even caster) 200g of chocolate —preferably dark (you can use any brand of chocolate that you like the taste of, but I recommend dark chocolate because milk chocolate is sometimes too sweet; buy the Woolworths Dark Cooking Chocolate from the baking section if you can—it’s cheap and high quality for the price) 125g of unsalted butter (plus a little extra) ¾ cup or 100g of all purpose flour (plus a little extra) ½ tsp of salt (regular table salt will do) 1 tsp of vanilla extract (vanilla essence is artificially strong and vanilla pods are too expensive—buy a small bottle of extract and it will serve you well) ½ cup or 100g of mix-ins like chopped walnuts, macadamias or chocolate chips/chunks (totally optional)
Method 1. 2.
Before you start mixing your ingredients, preheat the oven to 180C. Use the extra flour and butter to prepare your baking tray: rub a little soft butter on the bottom and sides of the pan, then tip in a teaspoon of flour and move the pan around so that there’s a thin layer of flour sticking to all sides. This is to prevent sticking. Fill the saucepan half full of water and bring to the boil on the stove. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low.
3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
Combine the chocolate, butter, both sugars and salt in the mixing bowl and place it on top of the saucepan. The bowl should sit steadily on top and the base should not be touching the water. Stir the mixture thoroughly but gently while the heat from the water melts everything together into a smooth consistency. Once the mixture is completely melted, turn off the heat and carefully transfer the warm bowl to the counter to cool slightly. Add the eggs and vanilla extract to the mixture and mix thoroughly until the eggs have been completely incorporated. The mixture should be thick and glossy. Add the flour and optional mix-ins to the bowl. Stir vigorously until the flour is completely incorporated and the mixture is thick Evenly spread the mixture into your prepared baking tray and place in the oven on the middle rack for 20–35 minutes. Time may vary for your pan and oven, so it’s best to check after 15 minutes and then every five after that. It’s ready once the centre has set and doesn’t wobble when you shake the pan. Turn the oven off and take the baking pan out of the oven. Place on a heatproof surface and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, you can slice and serve.
Are we funding ISIS? The paradox of humanitarian aid WO RDS : B E N LOM BA R D O
Policymakers have to answer a big question when utilising humanitarian resources in conflict zones: will we be funding the conflict? In international relations, the answer to this question lies in the context, the conflict, and the violent non-state actors (VNSAs) who operate in the region. Humanitarian aid can assist victims in conflict zones. By “can”, it will—in the short term—support the lives of those who receive it, but in the long term it has been shown to do more harm than good. Timothy Allen writes in The Ethics of Humanitarian Aid in Conflict Situations (2013) that underdeveloped countries who were given money didn’t see a significant reduction in poverty levels, and other countries who had received aid were poorer than they were before they received aid. If aid doesn’t reduce poverty levels, then this begs the question: where is it going? Allen suggests aid is mostly redirected into the war to feed resource-starved warriors. States aren’t handing aid to victims, rather suppliers are being manipulated and supplies stolen.
P IC S : S COT T HIGGIN B OT HA M
It stands to reason that stolen aid eases the burden of war for VNSAs, like ISIS, allowing them to invest in other aspects of their war efforts. How is ISIS Funded? (2016) author Anna-Lotta Äijälä adds that ISIS has strict terms for aid groups who desire to work in or pass through an area occupied by them. The terrorist organisation demands to participate in deliveries, so long as the aid is not marked with the symbol of the group who originally intended to supply it. While this grants safe passage for the aid and aid workers, the group has filmed themselves handing out food, medicine and other supplies hosting IS Department of Relief labels. ISIS’s intention here is to take credit for helping locals, thus increasing the terrorist organisation’s popularity among the locals and slowly creating the Islamic caliphate they hope to achieve. While international law dictates combatants and civilians distinguish themselves it cannot always be enforced, especially in conflict zones such as the Middle East. As a result, aid groups have the difficult job of distinguishing between the two, and consequently they directly fund VNSAs with aid supplies.
This was evident in the aftermath of the Rwandan Civil War, where humanitarian groups were unintentionally providing Hutu armed forces with aid as they were operating in and around relief camps in disguise. Aid is clearly poorly monitored and, coupled with a lack of effective law enforcement to protect aid workers, has had disastrous effects on conflict. According to the Aid Worker Security Report, at least 200 aid workers die every year. Inadvertently, humanitarian aid is prolonging the conflict. When humanitarian aid arrives from abroad, militant groups can profit from import duties, airport and port charges. To distribute aid, humanitarian groups often hire protection rackets from local militias or larger terrorist organisations. Additionally, the groups must hire local staff to secure the distribution of relief to the locals. In essence, humanitarian groups must pay VSNAs to operate. From landing to distribution, this process creates an economy that is unfortunately tied to the continuation of the conflict. A war economy. But, there are still approaches that may solve the issue that humanitarian aid inadvertently presents. In her article, Does Providing Aid in War Zones Do More Harm than Good? (2016), Mina Chang outlines four solutions to the issue. An extreme strategy that would drastically curb all undesirable outcomes that aid creates would be to cut it off entirely. However, in the case of Syria, where local and displaced civilian populations desperately require help, this would undoubtedly punish innocents.
Another option Chang describes is distributing aid with clear political motives, as it would encourage a sense of trust between a foreign power and innocent locals. Although this is a common approach that foreign powers are using, it raises ethical questions about cooperating with an invading army. Next, Chang describes using a military force to protect and, or, distribute aid. This would undoubtedly ensure civilian populations receive aid supplies, but it also counters two cardinal tenets of humanitarian aid: neutrality and impartiality. Even more alarming is that this would turn aid workers and victims of war into targets for combatants. This was evident in Somalia during 1991, where U.S efforts to secure food convoys ended in a violent conflict. Lastly, Chang describes a separate soft power approach to the distribution of humanitarian aid: expanding education and communication. It would require no military intervention and ensure civilian populations are presented with long-term solutions, including knowledge of food production and understanding of aid manipulation. However, as inviting as some of these may be, all presented solutions are uncertain to work given the unpredictability of human behaviour and war. Humanitarian aid is undoubtedly required to better the lives of a civilian population that suffers from the ruthlessness of VNSAs like ISIS. But if VNSAs get a hold of the relief supplies, the consequence is simple and terrible: it funds and continues the war. Policymakers must work more actively towards a solution that protects aid workers, distributes aid to victims of conflict, and prohibits VNSAs from abusing relief.
T HE FOR
LO NG ROA D AHEAD
T RANS RIGHT S
The LGBTQIA+ community is asking what’s coming now that we’ve won marriage equality? Among other things, expect proper trans rights and protections to be put in place. Finally. WORDS // MAX VOS
PICS // ELLYSIA BURTON + CHRIS LEOPARDI
Despite how desperately Turnbull wanted to claim marriage equality as his (and the Liberals’) win, it was ours. The LGBTQIA+ community braved the queerphobic storm and made it through to the next item on our agenda. In addition to the debates on whether we should have the same rights as everybody else, we had to face an onslaught of transphobic rhetoric— “the school told my son he could wear a dress!” Oh, the horror! Since we’re talking about trans people, you may as well know what that means (just in case you don’t already). The word transgender (often shortened to trans) is an adjective used to describe someone whose gender does not match the gender assigned to them at birth. It’s the same kind of descriptor as any other adjective—tall, short, fat, thin, and so forth—and like all the other descriptors, it’s separated from the subject it describes—just as you wouldn’t call a tall person a “tall person”. The word cisgender is also an adjective, used to describe people who identify with the gender assigned to them at birth.
Trans people have male, female, and, or non-binary identities. The term non-binary means “not exclusively binary male or female”. Non-binary identities are as plentiful and diverse as non-binary people themselves, and there are dozens of cultures globally which have recognised the existence of more than two genders for thousands of years. A lot of people are still scared of trans people, or they don’t understand us. So, I asked some friends (through social networks) for personal anecdotes that they were willing to share; this was the first response:
“oh lord y you k now I have stor ies”
Our existence has been shrouded in intentional innuendo, ignorance and insensitivity. We’re misrepresented left and right, fetishised into exoticism, and misconstrued until we’re killed. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, over 35 per cent of trans people across Australia have been verbally abused; Amnesty Australia reports that transgender people face casual discrimination up to 60 times a day; and a study outlined in the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that many older trans people faced lifetimes of abuse and discrimination—often being refused care from GPs, psychiatrists, dentists, and other medical specialists. Around three in four young trans people have been diagnosed with depression, a number that is 10 times higher than cis children of the same age group.
Around the same number of trans kids have also been diagnosed with anxiety. A quarter have been diagnosed with PTSD, 74 per cent experienced bullying, around two thirds have experienced discrimination, and 22 per cent had experienced accommodation issues and homelessness. And legislation doesn’t protect us. Not in WA. To defend multiple groups of people against similar discrimination, the WA government wrote the Equal Opportunity Act 1984. At the time it was cutting-edge legislation; in 1984 gay people were still being arrested and frequently (legally) harassed by police; and WA only removed “consenting homosexual activity” from the criminal code in 1989. The Equal Opportunity Act 1984, like many (if not all) ideological remnants from the 80s, has well passed its use-by-date. And maybe that’s why trans people need a special certificate to protect us against discrimination. The certificate is known as a Gender Recognition Certificate, and the Equal Opportunity Act doesn’t protect trans people if they don’t have it. Funnily enough, the only way to get it is to appeal to a board of examiners—five people known as the Gender Reassignment Board— and present evidence for your case. This “evidence” must include a letter from two different psychiatrists and proof that you have undergone reassignment procedures. These procedures include having surgery (which often costs thousands of dollars) or undergoing hormone replacement therapy—neither of which are always sought after by every trans person. Transitions,
medical or otherwise, are unique to trans people themselves. There are reports which indicate the only way your case will be taken seriously is if you get your letters from one of the psychiatrists that sits on the Board. Those that have been through this process have described it as “dehumanising”, having to face a team of strangers who pull your identity to pieces, as you plead for basic recognition. Not only do you need the Gender Recognition Certificate to protect you from discrimination, but you also need it to change your gender on your birth records. In contrast, all you need to change your gender on any other official government record (for example, with the Department of Transport), is one letter from a psych saying that you are the gender you want to change it to.
“I had an exp er ience at the Cit y West Licensing Cent re t r y ing to change my gender; she was say ing I didn’t have enough supp or t ing ev idence —which I clearly did. She sent me away say ing she couldn’t help and I sat in my car and went over it all again and went back in and the next g uy that ser ve d me change d it st raight away.”
And, on a separate occasion: “I had a fucking horrible experience at the DMV. Had the manager ask me about my genitals.” (In response): “SAME! I took it straight up to management and local MP they did apologise but never explained how they handled the staff component i.e. diversity training.” And it still doesn’t stop trans people from facing discrimination anyway. As a direct after effect of marriage equality, governments nation-wide are being forced to reevaluate their legislation regarding trans people. At the moment, trans people are forced to divorce if we want our gender to be recognised on our birth certificate. This law was put in place across all states to avoid marriages between people of the same gender, and it’s now redundant with the advent of marriage equality. “I personally find it abhorrent that laws have ever existed compelling loving couples to get divorced because one partner wishes to have a different gender recognised,” said WA parliamentarian Alison Xamon (Greens WA). “These laws need to go as a matter of urgency.” The Law Reform Commission of Western Australia is currently investigating (through Project 108) whether to review legislation “in relation to the recognition
of a person’s sex, change of sex or intersex status”. This means they will discuss whether to keep the Gender Recognition Board, whether to introduce another “classification of sex” in birth certificates— like the “X” gender marking currently available on most government records, as a recommendation of the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender (2013)—and whether people need to prove if they’re trans or not before being allowed to change gender markings. “Trans people in many regards strike me as the last bastion within the community to continue to be systemically denied their basic human rights,” said Alison. “There are clearly urgent institutional reforms that need to take place, such as abolishing the Gender Reassignment Board, as well as adopting a human rights-based approach to acknowledging gender diversity and recognising individual gender identity. “This is a big piece of work that will require solid dismantling of existing bureaucratic barriers.” The Commission always encourages submissions to their enquiries, and they have contact details available on their website. “Immediately on the agenda is the need to overhaul outdated provisions that enable religious entities to continue to discriminate against LGBTIQ people, most notably in areas of schooling and health services,” said Alison.
“I also remain deeply disturbed at the way in which a critical anti-bullying program, Safe Schools, was able to be subject to such public vilification and misinformation, and continues to be. “I have been very disappointed at the way in which Living Proud has been able to be defunded. They need their money back, then some more. “I am looking forward to taking on those institutions that use their power and influence to marginalise, discriminate and hurt LGBTIQ people.” Curtin University student, nationally-competing slam poet and Perth-based trans rights advocate Kai Schweizer was hoping for many changes to the state of anti-discrimination legislation and access to crucial services. “I'd like to see the Gender Reassignment Board abolished, and a subsequent review of the Equal Opportunity Act.” Other crucial changes included informed-consent access to trans healthcare across WA, as well as “the removal of religious exemptions, more transinclusion in crisis and transitional accommodation, and more LGBTQIA+ specific services for mental and physical health.” “Oh yeah, and trans inclusion policies in sport that mirror those of the International Olympic Committee,” added Kai. The International Olympics Committee currently allows trans women to play alongside cis women if they have been on Hormone Replacement Therapy for two years and allows trans men to play against cis men without restriction.
Looking outside the state, there is still plenty of work left to do, even outside the realm of trans rights. To start off with, conversion therapy is still legal nationally. Intersex babies, almost 1.8% of the population, can still legally be operated on to “normalise” their genitalia (even if their anatomy will not cause them any physiological harm). LGBTQIA+ people are still being held in offshore detention centres in countries where refugees can face up to 14 years’ imprisonment for being gay. Trans prisoners, like most other inmates, do not have access to proper medical care and ongoing hormonal treatment, and without this their lives are in danger. Many institutions (especially healthcare) are either under-educated or under-resourced in catering to the specific needs of LGBTQIA+ people. Senator Janet Rice (Australian Greens) is married to Penny Whetton, a transgender woman, who cannot legally change the gender recorded on her birth certificate until Victorian legislation catches up. Senator Rice holds the national LGBTIQ portfolio for the Greens. “We are working to improve access to health and other services for trans and gender diverse people,” she said in an interview. On March 28 this year, Janet passed a motion in federal parliament to recognise Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31. Her motion called to celebrate the day as “an opportunity to publicly affirm and celebrate trans and gender-diverse people’s lives, their stories and their contributions to our communities”.
The motion also called on all parliamentarians to “commit to elevating the voices and stories” of trans people in parliament, and “support the provision of essential health, social, cultural, and community services for trans and gender-diverse people and their families, delivered with meaningful input and involvement of these communities”. “Another big win late last year was a court ruling that trans young people no longer need to seek court approval to access stage two hormone therapy, now they only need approval from their medical professionals,” said Senator Rice.
“Some other issues we are looking at in the LGBTIQ space are the challenges for intersex people, especially unnecessary surgery for intersex infants, safety in schools and how to provide appropriate aged care for older LGBTIQ people.” Our healthcare professionals still need education on how to best help trans patients and treat them with respect. Healthcare organisations like the Gender Diversity Service at Princess Margaret Hospital only manage to see 26 children a year from its extensive waiting
“a few months in starting T, I noticed a lump on my chest. A history of breast cancer is common in my family. At the time I was in a long term monogamous relationship with a cis white man. I'm a nonbinary poc person, keep in mind we look nothing alike. Relevant later. So, my doctor gives me a referral to a women's ultrasound clinic. At the time my gender marker was still F, but I had legally changed my name and presented more masc [masculine] so I would pass. The admin at the clinic were brilliant, no dramas with gender and very polite and af f irming. “I was strip searched (to my underwear) Perth And then thereatwas theinternational ultrasound technician. Regardless of gender, Airport because they had no screening idea having to go through a breast for a lump is a really how to handle a trans* person … Had unpleasant and emotional experience. Takes it to another level to to sign a consent form and go intoscary a have a very terse and transphobic huge old woman rubbing go private room with two female security on a highly dysphoria inducing part of the body while your boyf riend workers … Passing male having is awkwardly presentas and theand things that come out of her mouth are: a female passport was the worst.” ‘Oh, you must be brothers, why would your brother come to this? "Why do you have boobs? That's weird. What's wrong with girls? Why don't you like girls?’ It was hostile and unnecessary.”
list. Alison agreed that the funding of trans-specific healthcare services was a priority. Religious exemptions pervade the public services sector, allowing people to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people if their beliefs are religiouslyfounded. “There is a national debate around the scope of religious exemptions underway, the important thing is to ensure not that they get further entrenched but rather that they are removed altogether, along the lines of what has been successfully implemented within Tasmania. This is a priority piece of work for me.” This is a concern which Senator Rice also expressed: “The government is conducting a review into religious freedoms. The Greens are concerned that this review will extend religious exemptions to anti-discrimination law further. We believe that religious exemptions already go too far.” National legislation falls short on enacting any sort of social change too, which needs to happen on an even larger scale than it currently is.
“I was st r ip searche d (to my under wear) at Per th inter nat ional Air p or t b e cause they had no idea how to handle a t rans* p erson … Had to sig n a consent for m and go into a pr ivate ro om w ith t wo female se cur it y workers … Passing as male and hav ing a female passp or t was the worst.” Stories like these are far too common, and there’s still a lot of work to do. Slowly and surely, trans advocates and the queer community are making room for us in Australian society. Through legislation, through activism, and through simply existing, we’re pursuing the rights and respect we deserve as human beings. “Enough,” says Alison, echoing the age-old cries of our community. “I want to live in an inclusive community where people are allowed to be who they are. I have no time for bullies, my main concern is that some of these institutions are very powerful. Probably all the more reason to take up the fight.” Contact the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia at (08) 9264 1600 and find more information on the inquiry at www.lrc.justice. wa.gov.au/.
S O CIAL O U T R EA C H THROU GH ART: MAKING A DIF F E RENC E Finding your voice is hard enough but imagine searching for it when nobody wants to listen. A program by Fremantle’s St Patrick’s Community Support Centre is helping solve this problem with some paint, a few canvases and one of the city’s most beautiful hidden corners. ARTreach was an experiment in the ever-important world of social outreach and is part of a growing push to find new ways to connect with those doing it tough. Run out of Princess May Park in the port city’s oftenneglected northern end, a diverse group of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness gathered twice a week to have a chat and tell their stories.
Words// Keane Bourke Layouts// Sherlyn Chang
Described as “counselling, but without having that clinical environment” by Hayley Nelson — one of the program’s facilitators and an Aboriginal liaison worker — it’s easy to see why the innovative approach resonated with those who gathered in Fremantle’s parks. “The best times is like we’re just sitting around, and everyone supports each other, so it’s like a family,” Hayley said. “If someone’s a bit down or anything like that, we give them ideas to maybe help themselves or help their families.” The program also connected participants with more formal and specialised support services. For Danny, one of the program’s regulars, it was the community that kept him coming back. “I just love painting and sharing,” he said. “It’s a good thing to share art with other people and learn and teach a little bit.” Sean Gallagher, the co-facilitator and assertive alcohol and drug outreach worker, thinks that the family created by ARTreach is what makes the project so successful.
“It’s a good way for people to come along and feel part of the community,” he said. “Which, obviously, when you’re homeless is a difficult thing to feel sometimes.”
The program has the firm support of St Patrick’s Community Support Centre CEO, Steve McDermott, who believes in its ability to find out more about people’s needs.
ARTreach was the result of months of work by St Patrick’s Community Support Centre, Crossroads, Local Drug Action Groups, WA Police, the Office of Crime Prevention, and the City of Fremantle.
“The program is all about meeting people where they are,” he said. “Not just physically, but also emotionally.
The City of Fremantle’s manager of community development, Beverley Bone, said the project showed how powerful organisations working together can be. “The City had the opportunity to be part of the steering committee, and to come together and work collaboratively with other agencies to identify a program that would be engaging and rewarding for everyone’s involvement,” she said.
“It’s critical to allow the time and space for trust to develop so that if assistance is required, we can provide that assistance.” Another ARTreach regular, Deborah, found the sessions a nice way to take a step back and breathe. “I enjoy doing art, I find it’s relaxing and I love it,” she said. “It’s the same as cooking—you cook with love, you paint with love.”
GROKONLINE.com.au Photos Supplied: ARTreach
POLITICS “I love people looking at my work because some people do buy some of my art, but I prefer not to sell any of my art, I prefer to collect it.” ARTreach didn’t just have an impact on its participants though, as Jennifer explained: “I’ve personally learnt that if you take the time to just sit and be still and listen, then people have the most amazing stories to tell,” she said. “People have hard stories to tell, but I think what I’ve learnt more importantly is that it’s about sitting still in the moment and really hearing what somebody is saying.” After the final session in January, Fremantle’s Old Boys School—which is right next to where the masterpieces were created—hosted the ARTreach exhibition, showcasing the outstanding work produced over the months prior.
Many of the pieces on display were up for auction, with every cent from every sale going straight back to the artist. As the program came to an end, Hayley said she hoped it was the start of something much bigger. “It’d be good for it to carry on next year, but I’d like to see other service providers come down and join us,” she said. For Jennifer O’Mullane, from Local Drug Action Groups, the program paved the way for more innovative outreach programs in the future. “Everybody has a story and sometimes our homeless are not seen, and they’re definitely, in many instances, not heard, and I think this program can provide that conduit; not only to be seen but also for people’s stories to be heard,” she said. And even as the paint dries and the program wraps up, Danny said he had no plans to finish painting just yet. “I’d like to just keep painting, you know,” he said. “It takes a lifetime, and then most artists make it after they’re dead. “And I don’t intend on dying.”
Photos Supplied: ARTreach
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I, TO N YA A N D T H E T R E N D O F S U B J ECT I V E T R U T H I N F I L M WO R DS N AO M I WO RT H Y PI CS C H R I S L EO PA R D I
I N T H E E N D, T H AT I S A L L T H I S F I L M R E A L LY I S: M U LT I PL E , CO N T R A D I CTO RY ACCO U N TS O F T H E SA M E I N C I D E N T, W I T H O U T A N Y I N D I CAT I O N AS TO W H O TO L D T H E “ T R U E ” STO RY.
Ever had a friend who’s a great storyteller? That one friend whose life seems like an episode of Round the Twist — who crazy things seems to happen to all the time. Then one day that friend might tell a story about an incident to you and your friends, an incident that you also witnessed, and you think, hmm, that wasn’t exactly how I remembered it; or, did that detail really happen?, or I think they left a bit out. In the past decade or so, an increasing number of films which play with the idea of subjective truth have emerged and been popularised. This raises numerous questions; whose version of reality is given voice, and whose is silenced? Can we ever really learn the true story? I, Tonya is one of the latest films to grapple with this quandary. The film, released earlier this year and starring Aussie export Margot Robbie, recounts the life of infamous American figure skater Tonya Harding. I’ll try not to spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it (which I highly recommend doing), but in summary: Tonya’s story of domestic abuse and her apparent planned attack on a fellow skater, is conveyed by herself, her ex-husband, and various other significant characters, in flashbackdocumentary style. As such, although a common narrative exists in this film, it is presented in a way that involves
multiple, often differing perspectives of the same series of events. In the end, that is all this film really is: multiple, contradictory accounts of the same incident, without any indication as to who told the “true” story. Going into this film, I had never heard of Tonya Harding or the scandalous incident leading up to the 1994 Winter Olympics; so, I’d be lying if I didn’t experience a bit of an Inception did-thespinning-top-fall-or-not sense of frustration by the closing credits. Upon further reflection, however, I, Tonya probably captured a different kind of truth about the life of Tonya Harding, particularly about the way it was presented by the media at the time — as a confusion of voices. Arguably, this screen trend of subjective, and often conflicting, truths came into popularity in recent years with the case of Steven Avery in the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer. After being wrongly imprisoned for murder, Avery is released, only to be convicted of another murder two years later. As the convicted criminal incessantly claims his innocence, the documentary explores both sides of the controversial case. The county judiciary system and the Avery family both built convincing cases for their causes, yet it is almost impossible to distinguish fact from fiction; but there-in lies the essence of the series brilliance.
These types of narratives don’t have answers, but rather present a story that is meant to intrigue, entertain and raise questions. With the rise of sceptical, post-modernist tendencies, it seems our obsession with closed, simple-tounderstand endings may be falling away. But does this make our viewing experience less appealing or valuable? When writing about truths conveyed in cinema, renowned Australian film critic Adrian Martin argues: “I do not think it even matters whether [these brands of truth] exist or not. The space of the real and the true is being kept too sacred, too pure, too separate in such discussions; it is underwritten at all times by fiction”.
Essentially, Martin tells us truth and fiction intermingle constantly and cannot be separated in film. Sociologist Elizabeth Cowie supports this adamantly in her stance that truth is not reality. She proposes that truth is an argument one makes with supporting evidence, whereas reality embodies the actual. Documentary will always embody the former while attempting to capture the latter. In the end, what separates a fictional film like I, Tonya and a documentary like Making a Murderer? One could argue, very little at all. So, the next time your friend tells you a too-goodto-be-true story and you feel like calling them out on some “facts”, think back to the final words in I, Tonya: “the haters always say, ‘Tonya, tell us the truth’—there’s no such thing as truth. Everyone has their own truth.”
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Words // Daryna Zadvirna Pics // Lola Baldsing
FILM & ART
"The flamboyant, crass character with buckets of sass that I’d met earlier, distilled to an equally sassy but very amicable, open individual."
Some say this is the golden age of drag, but what’s really changed? Award winning drag queen of 25 years, Swish Eveready, has delighted Perth with another bawdy, eccentric event: Drag Brunch— where I took the opportunity to delve into her exciting past and get answers to my questions. “One two, one two, TESTES,” Swish says, tapping the mic and grinning, “oops, I mean testing, but yes I do have two!” Her raspy chuckle echoes from the crackling mic, instantly jolting the mood in the room. “Alright—let’s begin.” Sipping spicy Bloody Marys and watching a drag queen stride on stage to Single Ladies was definitely a riveting change from my usual Sunday morning— and it sure beats a hangover in bed. The booze-andbreakfast-food-fuelled “Drag Brunch” is hosted at The Moon Café every first Sunday of the month. This event is different to most drag shows you would’ve seen. There’s no dramatic stage lights, no velvet stage drapes or elaborate props. You get to see the queens in a different light—quite literally: in glaring afternoon daylight.
off-stage—when they join the brunching audience to sip on mimosas and chat during intermissions. “It’s painful, what we do” Swish says, after slumping on a plush green armchair next to me at the show. “Once I lost my corset in a wet t-shirt competition in Broome. The next night I had to get into a dress that literally takes four and a half inches off my waist. So, I went into the kitchen, grabbed some cling wrap, wrapped it round my waist and waited for a little while till all my insides shifted. And for four hours I kept taping myself up, taking off an inch with every layer. It was hot, it was humid and I couldn’t pee ‘cause I was literally cello-taped into this outfit. But I still kept drinking!” She laughs and swirls her drink. Apparently, after 15 minutes on stage, the make-shift corset was cut off, signed and sold to a lucky member of the audience. A few days after the show I sat down to chat with Dean—the performer behind Swish—to get a backstage peak at the world of drag and how it’s changed over the last few decades. The flamboyant, crass character with buckets of sass that I’d met earlier, distilled to an equally sassy but very amicable, open individual.
“I like to bring it raw and bring it real,” says Swish Eveready, the hostess of the show. “The entertainment is cheap and it’s nasty but it’s always at 200 per cent.”
“Sometimes I just get sick of people treating me as a drag queen.”
The trio, which includes Ana Falacksis and Flo Reel, take turns performing solo, as well as collaborating. Their zesty dynamic is apparent both on stage, and
“People need to see that we are human beneath the clown,” says Dean. “Treat me like a person first, cause that’s who I am and I’m here to entertain you.”
FILM & ART
“In the 90s Northbridge was not a particularly safe place. I got assaulted a few times just for being me.”
Dean has performed as Swish for over 25 years. Growing up in a remote town made it difficult for the aspiring performer to find an identity, but the strong sense of community and sisterhood in drag helped Dean find himself, discover Swish and, several awards later, realise his real worth.
The rise of social media has somewhat created a more cut-throat industry, wearing away the familiar family bond, says Dean:
“There’s a difference between being a good performer, a great performer and being born to do it, and I go to work every day thinking, yeah, I was born to do this. Making people smile is what I live for!”
And when you have some success, it’s easy to become a target.
But according to Dean, nowadays, a genuine bond between fellow drag queens is hard to come by: “There used to be a real level of sisterhood. We’d all get ready in the dressing rooms together—a beer in one hand, a cigarette in the other, doing our make-up—everyone bantering. And by the time we’d get on stage there would be this real gel between us.” Looking down, seemingly disheartened, he admits that the family tie has dissipated from the scene: “We were each other’s family in the 90s because a lot of us didn’t have the support from our own families. We were supportive of each other, we encouraged each other, we were there for each other.”
“It’s easy to type things in and not think about the consequences.”
“I don’t get caught up in all the politics and bullshit anymore, that’s the only way you can still do it after 25 years: just step away.” When asked how else the drag scene has changed between now and then, Dean says it’s essentially come full circle: “When [The Adventures of ] Priscilla Queen of the Desert came out the drag scene became massive,” he says, and proudly adds that he used to work with Cindy Pastel—the queen the movie was loosely based on. “The movie made drag huge and mainstream, it made getting drag queens for hen-dos, private functions and work wind-ups cool.” Then it all slowed down for a while, eventually picking up again with RuPaul's Drag Race, he says.
“The main difference is that now it’s just there, you know? It’s not so hidden away, whereas it used to be a more niche thing to go and see a drag show.” According to Dean, being a drag queen was not only harder because you had to stitch your own clothes and learn to put on makeup without YouTube, but because it was also risky just to walk alone from pub to pub. “In the 90s Northbridge was not a particularly safe place. I got assaulted a few times just for being me,” Dean recounts. “But you learned to be street wise and you learned to have—what they say—pride. And I think that’s the best lesson I learned: pick yourself up, dust yourself off, have a hug, have a shot—move on!” Despite the highs and lows, backstage drama and tedious dress rituals, when Swish walks on stage, it all becomes worth it.
“I’d live on noodles if I had to ‘cause I’d need money for an outfit; all because I love seeing people smile, pushing the envelope and actually opening people’s minds to the world that’s out there.” Dean says he’s planning to stitch all his stories and experiences in drag into his very own "Bogan to Broadway" show. “I was going to do it at Fringe but it was very saturated with drag this year, and I wanted [the show] to hold on it’s own ‘cause it’s so personal.” He hopes it’ll give people an insight to what it’s really like to be a drag queen through a compilation of his best, past performances. But as for now, if you want to end a good weekend on a high or a bad weekend with a smile, I suggest hitting The Moon for a good dose of drag and a breakfast bun with a snag.
Feel like youâ€™re never going to pass that unit with such dull content? How about the looming fear of failing a group assignment because no one else seems to care? Or is university, in general, its entire being, simply the bane of your existence at this point?
Well, cheer up folks, it’s not all bad. To help you in this desperate time of need, I have compiled a list of some of the greatest children’s films for you to watch the next time you feel like university is stressing you out. As it turns out, watching kid’s movies when you’re all grown up—as I’m sure you all think you are— is quite fun. You see, you get to enjoy all of the wonder and joy of the film, while also catching the jokes you may have missed as a child. All of these films are sure to give you warm, fuzzy feelings, while they put your university struggles into perspective by revealing that these supposedly perfect characters are also rather screwed up.
THE LI TTLE MER MA I D Snuggle up on the couch with some popcorn and hey, even a glass of wine, because you’re an adult now—so be adult about this, and prepare to sing along with your favourite fishy friends. Ariel will be the perfect stress relief in times of need; you can belt out some awesome tunes, marvel at her underwater world and then take comfort in the fact that while you may be slightly under the pump at university, this chick is a gullible, self-centred fish lady whose main role in life is to play a love-sick damsel in despair.
SHREK Sure, uni life is tough sometimes, but: you’re not stuck with an overly chatty companion by your side twenty-four seven; you’re not trapped in a room, at the top of a very tall and inaccessible building; you’re not a big, large and grumpy person who pushes everyone away (if you are, stop); and your name isn’t Lord Farquaad. Imagine just how much worse this situation would be if your name was, in fact, Lord Farquaad. That’s one less thing for you to worry about.
"For this film, I urge you to stock up on your favourite poison. By poison I do in fact refer to alcohol."
FILM & ART
T HE LI O N KI N G When you sit down with the fam to watch this classic flick, take a moment to appreciate just how great your life is. You see, you are at the top of the food chain; thus, in this very moment, no other animal is trying to eat you, and that is something to be happy about. Let’s also appreciate that happy little Simba’s whole world is contained within an eye-view radius of a singular rock, you on the other hand can explore the entire globe—one day, when you have paid off your massive student debt.
THE W IZ A R D O F OZ This film is really all about friendship, love, and family, so invite some fellow stress-balls around, move those couches out of the way and skip along that yellow brick road with Dorothy and her creepy pals. Not only will it give you a warm feeling in your heart, but it will also put a sadistic smile on your face, as you realise that this entire technicoloured journey was literally an absolute fucking nightmare for Dorothy—and you don’t have to deal with that crazy shit.
A L ICE IN WO N D E R L A N D I would recommend the 1951 animated version for our intended purpose. This is a great one for that beautiful moment during the semester when you sit down to complete, not one, but five assignments all at once. Here, you acknowledge that you are past the point of mere stress and have accepted that you are voluntarily shortening your life span through stress. For this film, I urge you to stock up on your favourite poison. By poison I do in fact refer to alcohol. Alice’s wonderful dreamland is whacked enough as it is, and you will certainly need nothing more to enjoy this trippy film.
I N SI DE O UT So, you’re feeling a little all over the place at the moment; university is taking up every waking hour, or if it isn’t, you’re probably thinking about it every minute of every day anyway. You’re still expected to keep some semblance of a social life, so that no one assumes you’ve chosen the hermit life, and your love life—if you have managed to actually sustain one—is really suffering. Well guys, take comfort in Inside Out, which proves that everyone else is just as emotionally scattered as you are.
LO O K I N G O U T TO T H E H O R I ZO N :
O N T H E FUT U R E OF
WORD S: BLAKE T R E HAR NE
P I C S : S COT T H I G G I N B OT H A M
"The Last Jedi’s conflict and central dramatic backbone revolves around the characters’ relationship to the past. It’s what separates the heroes and villains" It’s become virtually impossible to escape the influence of Star Wars in the modern media landscape. After acquiring the franchise from Lucasfilm, the global cultural behemoth Disney has kickstarted a new assembly line of Star Wars films, with one to be released every year—seemingly for the next millennium. The release schedule is increasingly starting to sound more like a threat than a treat. It’ll be back, once every year, bearing down on us like an Imperial Star Destroyer over a Rebel Cruiser.
It’s worth pointing out that the film has had a troubled production, with the original directing duo, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, being fired and replaced by Disney for creative differences. Lord and Miller—known for their bright, imaginative comedies like the Jump Street films, The Lego Movie, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs— would have brought a comedic tone and colourful aesthetic to the series, which it seems would have clashed with Disney’s no-fun-allowed approach to the series continuity.
So, what does the future of Star Wars look like?
Meanwhile, the rumoured Obi Wan Kenobi solo film, to be set yet again between episodes III and IV, reportedly has Stephen Daldry in the director’s helm. Daldry’s best known film is Billy Elliot. No offence to Billy Elliot, but it doesn’t exactly inspire any confidence and excitement in the potential of the film’s spectacle and imagination.
In terms of its upcoming spin-off films, Disney seems to be determined to take the most creatively exhausted and boring direction possible. For a universe filled with so many possibilities, the movies keep circling the same people, the same places, and the same style. The upcoming spin-off film Solo: A Star Wars Story, a prequel elaborating on Han Solo’s backstory (who wanted this?), seems like a prime example of this. Set in between episodes III and IV—a time period that has been used in approximately one million Star Wars stories at this point—the trailer shows a world filled with drab grey stylings and familiar tropes: yet another wise mentor; yet another cynical, disillusioned hero moved to do good; yet another white, British, brunette as the female lead.
While the original Star Wars trilogy found the inspiration for their look in other sources—from World War II dogfighting films to Japanese samurai epics—many of the newer films’ touchstones seem to just be the aesthetic of the 1977 Star Wars. There’s a kind of feedback loop of nostalgia in the newer films; of the past aesthetic, characters and stories continuously coming back to affect the present. Nostalgia is simply part of this franchise’s DNA now, just like it is for so many other rebooted, reimagined, and revived franchises.
It’s such a big part of the franchise that the two mainline films from Disney so far—The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi—have built themes and conflict around the role of nostalgia in the character’s and franchise’s identity. The most interesting element of The Force Awakens is the character of Kylo Ren, who is obsessed with his grandfather, Darth Vader, and is determined to uphold his legacy. The rest of the film is filled with plot mysteries that are never answered and would have no deeper meaning if the popular, nostalgic fan theories were correct. Case in point is the mystery identity of Rey’s parents, which resulted in endless fan theories about whether her parents are characters from the past films. Is it Obi Wan Kenobi? Darth Vader? Luke Skywalker? It ends up turning the ability to use the force into a sort of weird, gross monarchy, in which only the people with the correct bloodline can use it. The Last Jedi, meanwhile, made some smart character and theme tweaks to actually explore these kinds of ideas, and have a genuine message at the end of it (spoilers for The Last Jedi ahead).
The Last Jedi’s conflict and central dramatic backbone revolves around the characters’ relationship to the past. It’s what separates the heroes and villains: Kylo Ren sees the damage that holding on to the past is doing, but goes too far, resolving to completely destroy any trace of it. Luke Skywalker sees the necessity for the old order to die, but his conflict comes from his hesitation to let go of the Jedi’s dogma. He struggles to destroy the sacred Jedi texts as he wants to, even while never having read them fully. Rey is desperate to learn the identity of her parents, only to find that they were anonymous slaves with no giant force powers. Rey and Luke’s journey is a realisation that the force is open to everyone, not just the heroes of the past; even to a young slave who spends his days sweeping up stables, as the final scene shows (unsurprisingly, the internet immediately turned to literalism over thematic weight by speculating meaninglessly over the stable boy’s origins). As a result of this genuinely critical exploration, it’s been a somewhat divisive movie. General audiences seem to have generally liked it, but among some Star Wars mega-fans it was akin to sacrilege. I think the unfortunate negative reaction
is mainly due to the film’s value system. It’s telling them not to hold onto the original films so tightly (“the sacred texts”), to allow some older things to die to allow for new things to flourish (“it’s time for the Jedi to die”, as Luke says). It’s also telling the audience that anybody, of any race or background, has the ability and right to use the force. As with many messages of diversity in modern blockbusters, it was met with laments about political correctness going mad, and ruining childhoods. The surprise and anger over Star Wars attempting to be overtly political is baffling, considering the franchise’s main villain is literally Space Nazis. Call this message corny all you want; for a younger generation being introduced to the series, just like our generation and the one before us, it’s positivity and heart will be ingrained in their minds for years to come. After the reaction to The Last Jedi, there seems to be two basic directions the franchise is being pushed towards: one rooted in nostalgia for the
"General audiences seem to have generally liked it, but among some Star Wars megafans it was akin to sacrilege."
series past, or one striving for something completely different to its roots. It can hang on to it's past glory days, endlessly imitating what has worked in the past. Or it can go the path of Kylo in The Last Jedi, and abandon the past entirely: “Kill it if you have to”. Maybe it should follow Luke’s path in The Last Jedi and find some kind of middle ground. Don’t fully abandon your roots, but allow them to gracefully fade away; grow beyond them to create something new.
While Young was at Curtin his music videos started to garner national attention and praise, and he attributes these years at the university to giving him the leaping pad he needed to launch himself into the Perth filmmaking stratosphere. “Curtin gave me my start,” Ben says. “[They] opened the door and I’ve been working with people to this day that I studied with.”
Having only recently returned to Australia from Serbia on Monday—after filming his latest project, the major sci-fi thriller, Extinction—the Perth artist says he’s been feeling a little distant from WA at the moment. But he’s adamant that this state has been vital in encouraging and giving rise to his flourishing career, and stresses that aspiring young filmmakers shouldn’t go to Sydney or the Eastern states in order to climb the staircase to fame and fortune. “I think it is a really bad idea, to be perfectly honest. The most successful people who I studied with … have stayed in Western Australia. It’s a smaller place and so everyone seems to band together a little bit more; plus, there’s less competition, but there’s the same amount of grants [as the East Coast]. I think that if you run away without the experience, you’re likely to get lost.”
When I spoke with him he had just come from lunch with Louise Bertoncini, a post-producer on Hounds of Love, a fellow co-creator of John Butler’s music videos, and an old friend from university. Similarly, Young is still in both a working and personal relationship with Zac Hilditch, a fellow Curtin student, who directed These Final Hours, and more recently, the Netflix film 1922.
He goes on to explain how he gained some local success here first and then used these achievements as his “passport to bigger cities and bigger markets.” “I think it’s a bit crazy to go to a foreign city where your family aren’t, you’ve got no support network, and then try to crack into one of the most competitive industries in the world.” GROKONLINE.com.au
FILM & ART
Fortunately for us, our little-but-large state has managed to hold on to Young for many years, and it’s seen some great art come out of his time spent working here.
But it wasn’t long ago that Young wasn’t being taken as seriously as he is now. He explains how Hounds of Love was his “big break”, and it seemingly changed the course of his life and his career instantly.
The filmmaker confesses that his directorial style can be a little cold, but mostly “slow, considered and character-driven.” He seems to be confident and firm in his directions, as any good director should be, particularly when it comes to camera shots and cuts.
When the movie was premiering at the Vienna Film Festival, Young was refused entry to the festival tent on the first day because no one knew or really believed he was a director; or at least, a director worth knowing. Young laughs at the memory: “It was really quite amusing, and I just thought, yeah, that’d be right, the little token Australian kid being here.”
“I like to keep the camera back and I don’t like a lot of edits and cuts,” he says. “I only do a cut when I absolutely have to.” For any editors in Young’s suites, it’s standard that if an editor wants a cut, they must justify it to him. “How is that moving the story forward?” the filmmaker asks; although I can’t see him—since we’re talking over the phone—I imagine a wry smile on his face.
After the film was screened and he received numerous, ecstatically positive reviews, he claims his experience entering the tent the day after was the “polar opposite.” “I was mobbed by everybody,” he says. “I had every agent in Hollywood calling me up and I started getting movies from all over the world. So, it literally took me 15 years to become an overnight success.” His accomplishment with Hounds of Love was undoubtedly a thrilling and joy-filled time in the artist’s life. However, Young believes vehemently that those seeking only the red carpets and cash through filmmaking will never be successful; it is those who love making art for the sake of it that will always find success. “I have made so much stuff that sucked over the years and got highly criticised—I even got kind of bullied for some of it—and it didn’t matter, because I wasn’t trying to be successful; I was just trying to be Ben Young. And Ben Young was always going to be a filmmaker, whether he had success or not.”
When I brought up the ancient saying in the art world that it’s not what you know, but who you know, Young brushed it aside. He cites his own attitude and reputation of being hard-working that caught the attention of producers like Ross Hutchens (The Circuit and Stone Bros). Everyone that he met, he met by putting himself out there— working for free, volunteering, subscribing to newsletters and going to events. The best advice he’ll give me today: “Stick around for the drinks afterwards.” And for those who have failed numerous times already? Young tells me that that is a good thing: “The reality is your first feature script is going to suck. Learn what you can and get onto your next one. Hurry up and fail!” The filmmaker is a realist but not a pessimist. When I told him how young filmmakers and film students, like myself, feel as if they are going into a career that will always elude them and frankly, probably doesn’t exist, his response was: “Have a better attitude than that!” He admits that entering this field certainly won’t secure you a job straight after graduation; but counters that really, it all comes down to hard work and persistence. “When I left film-school I got an ABN, editing software and a camera. I’d shoot weddings, edit little corporate videos, I’d rent my camera out—I’d just do any little thing that I could to survive and fund my habit of screenwriting. No one’s going to give it to you, you have to take it and earn it.”
I asked the director-screenwriter if he noticed any reoccurring themes in his films; I myself, had picked up that his latest screenplay, Mrs. McCutcheon—the story of a young, white, transgender child and his friendship with an Indigenous boy—and one of his more successful short films, Something Fishy, both explored a childhood friendship between two boys of different races. But Young laughs and exclaims that he hadn’t even thought about it. He tells me that Something Fishy was a film about race and inherent, inescapable racism, something he felt passionate about after getting to know Indigenous people during some time spent in the Kimberley. However, Mrs. McCutcheon, he explains, was not his own concept, but the director’s, John Sheedy’s; “It’s about two people who are both uncomfortable in their own skin.” Young admits that he has always been drawn to stories of identity, and people “wrestling with an inner demon.”
FILM & ART
I was curious to know what else made Young tick, and whether he found Australian films, great films. Like many other young people I know, the director said that when he was 18 and leaving high school, he had no intention of making films in Australia, “because I did not like Australian films.” He changed his mind after the release of films like Two Hands— which stars Heath Ledger—in 1999, and Chopper, with Eric Bana, in 2000.
to say that his next film, written by Shaun Grant (Snowtown), and made by See Saw Films (Lion), has been a pleasure to work on, as he feels his work is truly valued.
“That really gave me faith that we were making bigger stories … I thought, woah, man, that shit is dark, and it was an Australia I could relate to a lot more. It kind of contemporised Australian cinema for me.” While he thinks that there are people still releasing clichéd Australiana films (“That’s not my Australia,” states Young), he sees the industry only getting better in the future.
I couldn’t let the man leave without a little advice for other aspiring young filmmakers:
As for working in the Hollywood system, Young was less than impressed. Although he believes that audiences will enjoy his latest film, Extinction, which is yet to be released, it nevertheless has “suffered” from going through the America-led studio process. “It’s not really an example of what I would call a ‘Ben Young Film’”, he surmises. “I’ve made stuff that the producers controlled, and that stuff just hasn’t worked. Then everything that I’ve been allowed to make in the way that I wanted to make it, has always been my most successful stuff. That’s just history. That’s a fact.” His goal for the future is to work on productions where he has the most artistic control possible; so basically, every director’s dream. Whether or not he’ll get there is another matter, but he’s happy
“Just make stuff!’ Young enthuses. “And embrace failure. I was busting my arse four years ago trying to direct TV commercials and hating my life in general, but also consistently chipping away at this dream that I have, and eventually the planets all lined up. One thing that I really do know is that I’m completely talentless; I just work harder than everybody else. If you walk 10 kilometres every day, eventually you’re gonna get there.” I know I can rest a little easier now knowing that Ben Young, like us, also has his doubts, his dreams, his struggles and his moments of failure and success.
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Featuring "Top 25 'Confessions at Curtin' posts by reacts", "A definitive guide to the people you'll meet at a festival", "Cure for cancer—m...
Published on May 16, 2018
Featuring "Top 25 'Confessions at Curtin' posts by reacts", "A definitive guide to the people you'll meet at a festival", "Cure for cancer—m...