Page 1



30 6









International Transgender Day of Visibility

April Fool’s Day

World Autism Awareness Day

2020 Exchange Fair: 10-3 @ Wally’s Walk







5 Daylight savings ends


Good Friday public holiday



12 Easter Sunday














Mid-sem break ends



Easter Monday public holiday Mid-sem break begins


Earth Day






Do you have an upcoming event? Let us know and we’ll do our best to include it in our calendar. Email

























Editors’ Letters G’day MQ! We’re back again with a special Aussie flavoured issue for you all! In these beautiful matte pages we’re unpacking everything about this sunburnt hellhole of a country that makes us SWEAT. Whether it’s our increasingly cooked environment or our increasingly cooked university budget, we’re delving into all the frustrating things happening in this great nation of ours. At this time, Grapeshot also finds it important to acknowledge that things in Australia have taken a turn of late, due to the outbreak of COVID-19. With university closures and a nation-wide toilet paper shortage it seems like dire times all around. If there’s anything to be gained from this shitshow it’s maybe the opportunity to be kind to one another. Us young adults have garnered a reputation in recent years for being overly self-interested and apathetic towards others. But that’s not the stereotype Grapeshot believes most of us live up to. We have the capacity to be generous, empathetic and caring towards people we do not know and situations we have not experienced. We are the most technologically connected generation in history and this enables us to step into the lives of others, understand them and change how we view people and the world around us. We of all people have the ability to step away from the hysteria, racist rhetoric and bulk buying. We of all people have the ability to be kind to one another. So, let Aunty Grapey remind you that you are bigger than a worldwide health pandemic and you can demonstrate that even though this country is fucked up on many levels, we can be extremely kind, even in our worst moments. But enough mushiness. Check out the Illustrated section to figure out what iconic Australian icey treat you are and what that says about your inner psyche. Cause that shit is important. Good luck and may your hand sanitizer be plentiful. Katelyn x

If the first sign of the apocalypse was uncontrollable fires and floods then the second is surely the global pandemic known as the coronavirus. If I were to believe in an inexplicable cosmic power overly concerned with humanity I’d say right now it’s punishing us. Australia’s contribution to climate change has been placed under scrutiny over the past few months as fires swept across the nation killing over a billion native animals and destroying homes. In the aftermath comes this issue’s theme ‘Sweat,’ which examines exactly what’s wrong, and very occasionally right, with Australia. From the glistening sweat on the foreheads of corrupt politicians to the latest budget cuts at Macquarie Uni, we’ve got it covered. Jodie, deputy x


Got something to contribute?







CONTRIBUTING WRITERS + ILLUSTRATORS Rayna Bland, Madi Scott, Sara Choudhry, Katherine Robinson, Dominic Giles, Angelica Owczarek, Austin Lankford, John Gallimore, Steph McCarthy-Reece

COVER Sam van Vliet

EDITORIAL REVIEW BOARD Sowaiba Azad, Jay Muir, Kimberly La, Marlene Khouzam, Ateka Rajabi, Angus Webber



Gail White

Melroy Rodrigues

GRAPESHOT acknowledges the Wattamatagal clan, of the Darug nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and meet. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceeded, no treaty was signed, and would like to pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging. We would like to extend those respects to all First Nations people reading. Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land




NEWSFLASHES International Women’s Day The 8th of March marked International Women’s Day. Some observed the day with community breakfasts, others with a political march. Since the first International Women’s Day march in 1909, event organisers have been increasingly haunted by an uncomfortable question: is International Women’s Day cause for celebration or commiseration? Some suggest the former. Women occupy twenty-five percent of the seats in national parliaments. One hundred-thirty one countries have passed acts in favour of gender equality over the last decade. Abortion has been made easier to access in about fifty countries over the last twenty-five years. Others suggest the latter. Approximately one woman is murdered by a current or former partner every week in Australia. Women do up to three times more uncompensated domestic labour than their partners, and one in every three Australian women has experienced inappropriate sexual encounters. This year, you may have seen the hashtag, #eachforequal, floating around on social media as this year’s theme. Unfortunately, this theme is just a promotional branding for a company that sells unofficial International Women’s Day merch. The actual theme, as set by the United Nations, is “I am Generation Equality”. This theme is nestled within the United Nation’s focus on multigenerational activism and progress this year. “I am Generation Equality” poses one answer to the aforementioned question. We can use International Women’s Day to be empowered by the work women have done before us. We should also use the day to aspire for the next generation, and set up an action plan for the future. By Elizabeth Laughton

A Green New Leader As the year 2020 quickly rolled in, so have some changes to the leadership in the Australian Greens Party. Richard Di Natale has stepped down as the Greens leader after serving in the role for ten years. Adam Bandt, a former industrial lawyer has risen to his place uncontested on the 4 th of February. The party’s co-deputy leaders are Larissa Water and Nick McKim. Before entering parliament, Bandt worked as a public interest and industrial relations lawyer. Bandt says he represented firefighters and coal workers when they faced the threat of privatisation. During Parliament, he served as co-deputy leader of the Greens from 2012 to 2015 and 2017 to 2020. Prior to this, Bandt won his seat in the 2010 federal election, becoming the first member of the Greens elected to the House of Representatives. 8

Bandt has come in hot and strong with a ‘Green New Deal’. This campaign aims to address Australia’s climate injustice and alleviate poverty. Adam Bandt also wants to ensure that everyone’s voices feel heard. In this respect, Bandt is engaging with rural and mining communities to ensure they get a just transition into a greener economy. “We are a smart and wealthy country and if we have the guts to take on big corporations and the weak politicians they have in their pockets, we can solve these crises. That is why we need a Green New Deal,” he posted on Twitter, shortly after winning the leadership. Bandt also said the Deal would see dental care being included in Medicare and “genuinely free” education. The Greens hold a climate, environment and social focused vision. It will be very interesting to see how this spans out over 2020. by Rayna Bland

EndoMarch 2020 Endometriosis Awareness Month is upon us this March, raising awareness for the still largely misunderstood disease which affects an estimated 200 million women worldwide. With over 830,000 women diagnosed with the disease in Australia alone, Endometriosis is a disorder in which endometrial cells grow outside the uterus. While statistics show almost one in ten women have endometriosis, the disease is still largely misunderstood with a seven to twelve year delay between symptoms and diagnosis. Starting in 2014, Endometriosis Awareness Month has grown to be the largest internationally-coordinated endometriosis coalition in the world, representing over 100 organizations, groups and medical societies. Addressing the urgent, unmet needs of those suffering with endometriosis, EndoMarch Australia has focused the 2020 campaign on raising funds for education programs and endometriosis research. Through raising awareness and education of the disease, as well as raising funds for research, EndoMarch is attempting to provide women with the knowledge to to ask the right questions in the future and ultimately ensure future young women will not face the significant delays of diagnosis and treatment. This month, Endometriosis Australia will host a number of high teas across the country, in addition to offering individuals the opportunity to host their own. With no cure for the disease, Australia still has a long way to go. Whilst some action has been taken, noticeably the Australian government’s allocation of 9 million dollars’ worth of funding towards diagnostic testing, EndoMarch is encouraging more people to take notice of a disease which affects so many. By Madi Scott


PAL Cuts: Putting Education Last While Macquarie University’s budget has yet to be released in full, early reports of large cuts to student programs have been revealed. In particular, cuts to the budget for Peer Assisted Learning Program (PAL) as run by the Macquarie Business School, formerly known as the Faculty of Business and Economics. If you have ever attended or listened to a commerce unit lecture you have most likely been well acquainted with this program. Though, in case you haven’t been made aware, the PAL program is one of the two support initiatives from the university to assist learning. They involve weekly workshops or study sessions led by high achieving students in a variety of commerce subjects, particularly first and second-year units. The sessions encourage revision of content and collaboration between participants as opposed to simply teaching and are aimed to support new and inexperienced students. The program has run for 15 years, with sessions currently running for 19 units. According to the Macquarie University website, students who have taken part in PAL sessions “consistently produce higher results than those who do not attend”. With the sessions all being well-attended and popular amongst students, some even saying they are more helpful than lectures or tutorials. One cut has included reducing the amount of PAL units that a leader can take on, resulting in fewer sessions overall with fewer leaders running sessions per unit. Furthermore, the ‘Super-PAL’ sessions which consisted of an overarching revision of all of the unit’s content throughout the semester has been reduced. These sessions were particularly popular and highly attended as many students found them extremely helpful when preparing for final assessment tasks and exams. While there used to be two of these revision sessions each semester, a lack of funding means there can now only be one. However, this is also being evaluated on a case-by-case basis, meaning there’s a chance there could be no revision sessions this semester if funds don’t allow. For PAL leaders, the budget for peer observation reviews has also been slashed. In the past, leaders were able to be paid for an hour to observe the work of their peers during a session. This was an incredibly helpful tool that allowed leaders to expand their knowledge and skills through learning from others, though this is now no longer possible. The English Speakers Club, a program created for international students to practice their conversational English skills and connect with other students in a social setting has also received cuts. While sessions previously ran three times a week, they have now been cut down to two times. This means less opportunities for these students to make social connections and improve their English. Furthermore, a supposed 20-30% from every Macquarie Business School program has been cut in this year’s budget. These are presumably programs meant to support students with their current studies and help them enter the job market and further their future careers. 10

These decisions could directly affect students who now have fewer opportunities to get assistance with their studies for free. Particularly for new students starting at the university, this takes away opportunities to become more confident in their coursework as they adjust to university life. This could detrimentally affect students’ grades and hence, future career prospects. For the students who run these sessions, this reduces the opportunities they have to gain experience in leadership or mentoring roles. Many PAL leaders are passionate about their positions and will now have fewer chances to lead units and improve their work. When asked for comment on the cuts, Ammy Kwong, the current PAL supervisor, clarified that the changes would not be compromising the quality of sessions and the feedback leaders receive would remain the same, stating that the program would be run to the same high standards as previously. PAL sessions for all business units covered in 2019 would continue being covered in 2020. Additionally, the Macquarie Business School has been a continual supporter of the PAL program for the PAL supervisors, leaders and interns. Beyond just providing employment opportunities, there have been additional opportunities to attend annual PASS and Peer Learning Conferences, providing valuable experiences. In 2020, the number of PAL leaders has increased from 24 to 33 which appears to be another factor behind the changes. This includes the restrictions for how many units a PAL leader can take up due to a redistribution of leaders confirming that some units will have fewer PAL sessions than previously. Hiring a high number of leaders ensures a variety of high achieving students are given employment opportunities at the university. Funding to other Macquarie Business School programs has remained, including Lucy Mentoring, First STEP mentoring, the Young Leaders Program, Dean’s Scholars Program, MQBSucccessful and CourseCompass. The release of the university’s full budget should clarify where these funds have been n redirected to and for what benefit. PAL session offerings gs will be rereviewed at the end of each semester by the National PASS Centre, and with the quality of PAL sessions and feedback leaders receive apparently remaining the same, time can only tell how these changes will affect the program and students studying business.

by Gabrielle Edwards


“NO CUTS TO ARTS”: Student activist, Berna Erkan, explains student concerns about the university’s budgeting skills In an institution built for teaching and learning, Macquarie is transitioning into a place where faceto-face education might no longer exist. Taking away in person lectures, and encouraging students to enrol in online classes, it can make you wonder what our tuition fees are going towards. Berna Erkan, a member of the Macquarie Students Against the Cuts campaign, spoke to Grapeshot to help us understand how students and staff are being impacted by the budget cuts, and what is actually happening. She dives into the difficulties students have been facing, and how the Macquarie community can play a role to reverse these changes.

What are the budget cuts taking place in Macquarie and how are they impacting the students and staff of Macquarie? “Following the dissolution of the Faculty of Human Sciences last year, which saw dozens of staff face down the barrel of redundancies, students in their first year of their Bachelor of Arts degree were welcomed into the new year with two essential units in the course introduced with unprecedented cuts to face-to-face learning.” “PHIL1037, a course about critical thinking has zero on-campus tutorials. The unit has forced students to do online tutorials, slashing the option of face-to-face learning. This is a huge attack on the right of students to the precious learning that is facilitated by tutors and fellow students in the real-world. It undermines the learning of students that should be priority for universities everywhere but are simply forsaken in the degree factory that is the university. These cuts similarly undermine staff dealing with increased workloads. In the case of PHIL1037, it means tutors are taking on a hundred students that they’ve never met in person. With a cohort of 2,000 students, activists in our campaign were shocked to find students sitting on the ground in the back of the lecture theatre and in aisles in PHIL1037 because there weren’t enough seats for students who were there to attend. Cramming students into lecture theatres and slashing face-to-face learning exposes the real priorities of Macquarie University, which is to run a very profitable business, at the expense of education.” “ARTS1000, a new core unit similarly offers no on-campus tutorials, but instead gives students the option of “lectorials”. The lectorial replaces small class tutorials for huge class sizes, cramming potentially hundreds of students into a single “lectorial”. Students were similarly found to be sitting in aisles and on the floor in these big lectorials, some walking out all together because there just wasn’t enough room for everyone who was crammed in. These cuts clearly undermine student learning and place huge pressures on staff taking on larger class sizes. Even while cramming as many students as possible into these lectorials, some were told to either drop out of the unit or register into online mode because there wasn’t enough space in their lecture theatres. However, students have argued that had this been the case a couple of years ago, more classes would have been made available for students with more staff hired to take on these classes. These restructures are an immense attack on student learning and staff working conditions.” “In addition to these key restructures, there is a more general normalisation of cuts to units offered in Arts. Macquarie University already has one of the lowest staff to student ratios. Huge seminars, staff precarity, and the cutting of units have left many students and staff agonising over the ways education is being undermined at Macquarie University.” Why are students and staff protesting against the budget cuts and what do they hope to achieve? “We called a protest to defend our education and to demand quality education for students in the Arts Faculty. We also want to stand with our staff who are facing down the barrel of precarious working conditions and casualisation, dealing with huge pressures placed on them because of


increasing class sizes.” “We demand an immediate reversal of the cuts to face-to-face learning in PHIL1037 and ARTS1000. We demand small on-campus tutorials in these units because they are crucial for the kind of quality learning that needs to happen at university.” “In the long run, we have a project of challenging neoliberalism in our universities. The idea that the university’s profitability and the bloated salaries of the Vice-Chancellor and the Executive come before students and staff needs to be confronted. Macquarie University is a billion-dollar corporate enterprise. Our Vice-Chancellor, Bruce Dowton is a millionaire, and yet students are sitting on the floor at the back of lecture theatres, doing their units online and having their right to face-to-face learning slashed. One might wonder where education fits into all of this.”

What is the Snap Rally? “Students came out in their dozens to march to the Chancellery on Wednesday the 4th of March. The rally was called to save our classes and to reverse the cuts to the Arts Faculty. Before having speeches from staff and students affected by the cuts in front of the MUSE building, we occupied the foyer of the Chancellery. Chanting and raising our voices, we took an important stand against management in the building who expects that students will just be passive consumers and accept cuts to their learning.” What do the Macquarie Students Against the Cuts intend to do in the future until the university administration listens to their demands? “We intend to oppose all cuts put forward by the University. Our campaign is intent on creating a culture on campus that argues that when students and staff get a raw deal, you come out and challenge the corporate university. There’s a lot of anger and concern boiling under the surface on campus from staff and students, but that needs to be channelled into something concrete like rallies that have the power to mobilise people and rattle university management. We have a responsibility as students to disrupt the business-as-usual of budget cuts and profit-margins, because these are diametrically opposed to providing students with a quality education.” What can students or staff, who are not directly impacted by the cuts, do to help with this issue? “Get involved! Follow our page Macquarie Students Against the Cuts on Facebook. Our campaign wants to make an argument that staff and students should feel confident to stand up to management at this University. Last year activists from our campaign group organised a demonstration of 500 students and staff against the cutting of the Faculty of Human Sciences – the biggest demonstration at Macquarie for close to a decade.” “Students across the campus are facing a very unprecedented situation of huge debt, higher fees, poorer living conditions and worsening quality of education – something generations before us only had a glimpse of. Staff are facing huge casualisation, potential redundancies, restructures, and overwork geared to undermine them as the University churns in millions every year. We want to draw from Macquarie’s radical history of student activism and protest as a guide to how we can fight back for our education today and beat back the corporate interests of Macquarie University.” In Grapeshot’s last interview, Bruce Dowton, the Vice Chancellor, mentions that ‘there is no you, without us’. The statement is a clear indication that the university’s existence depends on its students. So if we’re not content with the education we are receiving, we must speak up. by Saliha Rehanaz


Coronavi-race: The race for a cure or the race for toilet paper and xenophobia? Armed with face masks, hand sanitizers, and disinfectant, millions around the world are living in fear of today’s biggest threat - COVID 19. First reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City in China, COVID-19 (also known as Coronavirus) has travelled thousands of miles to reach every corner of the world. While data and statistics are imperative to highlighting the gravity of this virus, the numbers are radically increasing making it excruciatingly difficult to provide an exact figure on individuals who have contracted the disease. On March 6th, cases of Coronavirus worldwide surpassed 100,000 and it is predicted that this number will continue to rise. Amidst the panic of being infected by the Coronavirus, the outbreak has revealed the darker side of human nature in our responses to new diseases and other catastrophic events: mistrust, fear, and outright racism. The surge of fear and racism in the face of this latest outbreak echoes that of other diseases, such as the Ebola and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) viruses. Scapegoating, discrimination, and victim-blaming have been prevalent in the aftermath of such infectious diseases. As news of the outbreak first surfaced, xenophobia and racism related to the coronavirus was limited to offensive memes on social media and verbal attacks in online comment sections. However, it did not take long before racial slurs turned to violent physical assault. On February 24th, Jonathan Mok, a 23-year-old Singaporean, shared the horrific details of the attack he faced while walking down Oxford Street in central London. Mok, who may need an operation on a broken bone near his right eye, was repeatedly punched and kicked by four males, after he confronted them. Unable to remember exactly what had been said, Mok mentioned in his Facebook post that the men told him they ‘didn’t


want his Coronavirus in their country’, as they continued to assault him. Along with the description of the attack, Mok posted photos of his sustained facial injuries, which attracted attention from tens of thousands of accounts worldwide. “Racism is not stupidity — racism is hate. Racists constantly find excuses to expound their hatred — and in this current backdrop of the coronavirus, they’ve found yet another excuse,” he wrote. Several accounts of racism and xenophobia have been reported and documented on social media since Mok’s post was shared publicly. While some government officials and politicians have denounced such incidents related to the

outbreak, others think much more could be done to show support for Chinese communities worldwide. In the beginning of March this year, Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations human rights chief, called on member states to combat discrimination triggered by the virus. The Coronavirus has also spread panic in Australia with the sudden increase in those infected, after a man in his 40s returned from Iran and became the fifth confirmed case in New South Wales. Fear surfaced in the Macquarie community when news of a lecturer from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, also returning from Iran, tested positive for the Coronavirus. According to a statement released by the university, “Our staff member became ill following their return from Iran and took immediate steps to seek medical attention… [He] has not been present at Macquarie University’s campus since returning and has had no contact with either staff or students.” On March 8th, the third Coronavirus-related death in Australia took place when the health department confirmed the death of an 82-yearold man from the same aged care facility, Baptist Care Macquarie Park, where a 95-year old resident had died earlier. A female healthcare worker in her 30s at Ryde Hospital tested positive for the virus as well, and it had been confirmed that she had been in contact with a patient who tested positive at Baptist Care. The New South Wales Health Department told sixty-nine staff and students from the nearby Epping Boys High School to self-isolate for fourteen days after a student tested positive for the virus. The school was closed on March 6th and the New South Wales Department of Education said it would reopen on March 9th after being thoroughly cleaned. Apart from buying protective gear to prepare for this contagious disease, Australians around the country have taken on the mission to buy as much toilet paper as they can possibly find. As people make memes and find amusement in Australians’ plans to battle Coronavirus with toilet paper, concerns are rising for numerous communities.

National food aid charity, Foodbank, says the recent spike in shoppers clearing shelves of essentials like toilet paper and basic medicine have ensured that the most vulnerable people are being left behind. Over the past few days, numerous images highlighted the empty shelves across the nation as people have been rapidly stocking up on supplies. Unfortunately, this has left pensioners, residents in retirement homes, and people with disabilities turning up to their local shops on their weekly shopping trip, only to face bare shelves and head home empty-handed. To combat the frenzy, Coles and Woolworths have implemented fourpack-per-customer limits on toilet paper. Thousands of people around the world are currently unable to leave their homes. Italy has ordered the closure of all schools and universities, leaving people in fear of their lives and education. The Italian government is also reportedly considering further measures, including the closure of cinemas and theatres and the suspensions of public events. In the regions worst hit by the emergency, such as Lombardy, theatres and cinemas are already closed and will remain so. Italians have also received guidance to refrain from the traditional greeting of kissing on the cheek and hugging, to avoid crowded places, and keep a distance of one to two meters from others. It is difficult to predict which way this outbreak is heading, however all we can do is ensure we are taking the necessary measures to protect ourselves and that the information we share is not only correct, but free of harmful stereotypes and racial undertones. This outbreak ultimately leaves us with a simple question: are we entering a fear of a pandemic, or a pandemic of fear? By Saliha Rehanaz


Donation Debacles: Crowdfunding for Bushfire Relief Everyone reading this has Facebook. Even if you don’t use it often because it’s kinda overrun by mums, you have Facebook. Given this, you’ve probably seen that huge crowdfunding effort for the Rural Fire Service following this summer’s bushfire crisis. The appeal was created by Australian comedian, Celeste Barber (no hate, but totally one of the mums overrunning Facebook) and has since amassed over $50,000,000 in donations. This all sounds good and well, except for one thing: when Celeste first listed the appeal on Facebook, she advised donors that their funds would be distributed between wildlife organisations and community relief across Victoria and New South Wales. However, she set the Rural Fire Service (RFS) as the recipient of the donations on Facebook. This means all the money has actually gone to the RFS, who legally can’t spend donations on anything but training, resources, and equipment for their fire fighters. An RFS spokesperson stated the organisation was keen to have the funds go towards fire affected communities, as was intended. However, they were not confident it was an easy solution; instead, the RFS and Celeste have lawyers working together on the case. Meanwhile, the odd $50,000,000 is sitting in limbo. The Fire Fight Australia charity gig, which Celeste hosted, was a bit more careful about the recipients of the donations they received. They specified that donations from tickets and merchandise would go to the Red Cross, the RFS, and the RSPCA. My mum (Facebook user) is a huge concert goer, so we snagged tickets and stayed the whole bloody ten hours. The line-up was varied. We saw 5 Seconds of Summer, Alice Cooper, and Indigenous performers like Jessica Maulboy and Baker Boy. People flitted in and out for most of the day. The stadium seemed maxed out at 75,000 people when Queen performed with Adam Lambert as their vocalist. There was good music and lots of white Australians rocking out to Amy Shark. Celeste spoke intermittently. She dedicated the event to volunteers, thanking them for saving us from the bushfire crisis while politicians sat back. Every Murdoch paper in the country said she had made this huge “swipe” at ScoMo, but she was relatively tame. She did however get a bit Comrade Celeste when she bagged out corporations that were leaving the burden of crowdfunding on everyday Australians. General praise was given to Fetch TV, who had donated $100,000 worth of tickets for RFS volunteers to attend the concert. So far, it seems the donations from Fire Fight Australia have been received by the expected organisations without any hiccups. However, one of those organisations, the Red Cross, has faced their own difficulties with those donations. The Red Cross offers grants of up to $20,000 for fire affected families. Since opening their online applications, they’ve been flooded by bots generating fraudulent submissions for grants. There are only 60 staff working on distributing grants and many more Australians in need of financial aid, so these bots are delaying their access to help even further. It’s good news for all you cybersecurity majors looking for work, but it’s bad news for those who genuinely need the grants to get on their feet again. The Red Cross also faced criticism in late January over how they’re distributing the 16

funds they’ve amassed. They’ve allocated $30,000,000 of donations to immediate relief, while planning to use the other odd $80,000,000 on fire affected communities over the next three years. A spokesperson has defended this allocation, citing the organisation’s experience with responding to the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. They also cited the importance of saving that funding for when the media spotlight moves away from the immediate recovery of affected communities. There are a lot of similarities between public response to Celeste’s and the Red Cross’ donation debacles. Australians just want to know their money is going to help people, sooner than later. We don’t particularly care for the bureaucracy or legality of helping a mate. And Karl Stefanovic will hold a provocative interview with any charity so he can feel like he spoke for Australians. So, to recap it all: mums rule Facebook, Celeste Barber gave it a good crack, and Australians just want to help each other despite all bot-generated odds. By Elizabeth Laughton


Sports Rort: A Level Playing Field? Over the last couple of months, the phrase ‘Sports Rort’ has been thrown around like one of those ball things from the sports. As you can likely tell, this is the most I’ve followed anything to do with sports ever. Why? Because I love a scandal that exposes some tomfoolery. This all starts back in December 2018 when the government announced the Community Sports Infrastructure Grant Program, the aim of which was to increase participation in sports. Under this program local sporting clubs could apply for grants of up to $500,000 to put toward upgrading facilities. The applications would be sent to Sport Australia, an independent government agency, who would then mark applicants out of 100. The score would depend on how the project would increase sports participation, particularly from women and Indigenous people. The first round of funding was announced in December 2018, with $28 million being allocated to the program. This was increased twice to total $100 million for the final rounds of funding in March and April 2019. The Federal election was in May of 2019. It was considered to be a tough election for the Coalition to win. Just putting that out there. What brought this program to the attention of the Auditor General was an incident that occurred in February, 2019. Georgina Downer, who at the time was the Liberal Party’s candidate for the seat of Mayo in South Australia, was photographed giving the Yankalilla Bowling Club a novelty cheque for $127,373, the amount awarded as part of the grant. The club planned to use this money to upgrade their third bowling green. The cheque had Ms Downer’s name and picture on it as well as Liberal Party logos. The key issue here was that Ms Downer, not a member of Parliament, was seen to be awarding public funds on behalf of herself and the Liberal Party. In reality these were taxpayer dollars awarded to a sports club as part of the Sport Australia grant program. The actual member of parliament for Mayo, Rebekah Sharkie, who would normally be part of such an event, was not told about the successful application of the grant until after Ms Downer was. Ms Downer defended her actions by stating that the cheque was not legal tender (because it was a novelty check) and therefore not actually the grant money, but also that no one from the bowling club was under the impression it was her money. I know I usually put my own picture on things when I don’t want people to think it belongs to me, so I get it Georgina. Labor referred the matter to the Auditor General, whose role is to audit financial statements of government agencies, including Sport Australia and the Sports Minister. The report by the Auditor General was released in mid-January 2020 and was pretty damning of the entire grant program. The report found that although applications were marked by Sport Australia on the set criteria, the Sport Minister Brigette McKenzie ran a separate approval process. Not much is known about McKenzie’s alternative criteria or process other than it diverged from the criteria set by Sport Australia. The Auditor General found that there was a bias in how funding was allocated towards seats the Coalition either wanted to hold onto or win in the election. In other words, grants were not always awarded on merit but to improve the Coalition’s chances in targeted seats. As mentioned before, the approval process involved Sport Australia reviewing the applications from local clubs and scoring them out of 100. Sport Australia then recommended which projects should be funded based on their scores to the Minister, who would then make the final decision. The Auditor General’s report found that in the first round of funding, 41% of projects funded were not recommended by Sport Australia. In the second round, 70% of projects funded were not recommended by Sport Australia. In the third and final round, 73% of projects funded were not those recommended by Sport Australia. Ultimately, $100 million was given to 684 projects, and over 400 of them were not recommended by Sport Australia. We don’t know exactly which specific projects were not recommended, just that there were over 400 of them.


Based on the number of applicants, local clubs would have had to score 74 out of 100 to qualify for funding. I’ll give some examples of projects that were funded. The Pakenham Football Club received the lowest score out of all applicants, 50 out of 100, yet was still awarded the full $500,000 grant to build female change rooms despite not fielding a women’s team in over two years following a sexism controversy. The club is in the marginal Liberal-held seat of La Trobe. Another project that received the full $500k was the upmarket Applecross Tennis Club in Perth, despite its score of 54. The club boasts members that belong to state and federal branches of the Liberal Party. The Mosman Rowing Club was also awarded the maximum amount of $500,000. This project and five others in Tony Abbott’s former electorate were awarded funding prior to the 2019 Federal election. $190,000 was awarded to the Tea Tree Valley Golf Club that sits at the foot of the picturesque Adelaide Hills. The club applied for funding (under a sporting grant) to upgrade their foyer in order to attract more wedding bookings. You see the problem. In response to the report, many demanded the resignation of now Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie who oversaw the allocation of funding. The Prime Minister opened an internal investigation headed by Philip Gaetjens, the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The report was handed down to the PM in early February and shown to Cabinet. Then Scott Morrison held a press conference in which he stated that the report found overall, no political bias was evident in how the grants were handed out and Bridget McKenzie did nothing wrong. Except for when she failed to declare a conflict of interest by awarding her own shooting club $30,000 as part of the grant. Basically, everything is all good, but Bridget made a little mistake and she will step down from her position as Minister. Sweet Scomo, that’s great to hear. When can we see the report that says all this, seeing as the Auditor General’s report looked at the same facts and found a very different conclusion? Sorry, what’s that? We can’t see the report because it’s Cabinet material and therefore confidential to the public? The PM is right and it is technically legal for him to withhold it on this basis, but it’s not common practice. The Auditor General investigates an issue and finds wrongdoing on the government’s part and makes the report public. The government investigates the same issue and finds no wrongdoing but won’t share the report. So that is the end of it. Bridget McKenzie lost her ministerial position and is now a backbencher, right there next to Barnaby. The whole ‘Sports Rort’ saga highlights the need for transparency when it comes to government grants, a problem that is starting to get more attention. But what triggers me most is that some people literally applied for money to level their playing fields and they didn’t get the chance to. Instead, the playing field got more disparate. By Harry Fraser





Indoorsy white man goes outside for the first time


When I was asked to take on the role as Regulars editor, I knew I would face adversity. I pictured late nights judging other people’s writing and compromising my uni work for an extra-curricular. But I was not prepared for the curveballs the Grapeshot team were going to throw my way. If you’re new here, welcome to the challenge, the part where I do something that challenges me for your edification. This issue I was tasked with doing something Australian and also manly, both of which are problematic in nature but who cares, it’s 2020 I can be a man if I want. This issue, I was sent into the bush to complete various tasks. Sounded simple enough and I’ll admit I was initially unfazed by my assignment. My confidence was a little shaken when I told my mum what I was doing, and she laughed. She then asked me where the bush was and my response was “I’m pretty sure there is some bush in Castle Hill Mum”. So, I went to find some of this bush everyone speaks of and decided for my own benefit as well as the reader’s to not go full bush. I only have a couple of hours to go to a bush if I want to get this all done and come back in one piece. I had heard that Fagan Park in Galston was quite nice, so I chose this location and took a friend with me in case of an emergency. I wanted to avoid a James Franco 127 Hours situation, if it came to that. I don’t even like some massages for being too rough so I’m definitely not sawing off my own arm with a pen knife. We got there at about ten in the morning and I decided to take the first risk of the day: not paying for parking. This is me suppressing my emotions in an act of true Australian masculinity. As I walked away from my car, I pushed away feelings of fear and anxiety for parking without paying. Dreadful stuff. What if the ranger saw my ticketless vehicle? What if I got a fine? Little did I know it, I started to understand what it is to be an Aussie man. To constantly live in a state of avoiding responsibility. My taste of a Ned Kelly-esque existence. We managed to use maps in the park to find our way out of the manicured gardens and into the bush. I felt uneasy as the gravel paths turned to dirt ones, but this is what I signed up for. Getting out of my comfort zone. I was an overcast day and the bush, now becoming familiar to me as I spent several minutes there, took on an eerie atmosphere. We found ourselves walking parallel to a creek and I was keen to discover the aquatic aspects of the bush. Getting down to the banks of the creek, I recalled my editor’s quest for me to catch a fish. I saw no reason not to at least try. For some time I stared at the brackish water before me, willing a fish to come and find me. The Laws of Attraction were failing me, although when had they ever succeeded. I swung my gaze up into the foliage and thought of the wise words of the drag queen Tammie Brown, “I don’t see you walking children in nature”. The giggles of children drifted down to meet me and I thought that maybe this was the point of the challenge. I was one with nature. I was a child being walked by nature. Then my friend and safety companion pointed out the group of primary age school children skipping nearby. This was worse than any predator in the bush, for these creatures had one thing a Funnel Web Spider does not, entitlement. I’ll admit I wasn’t in my most fierce attire, I needed to dress like an Australian man after all, so we quickly made our exit to an even more secluded part of the bush. The bush around the path became denser and I started to feel slight tickles across my skin. The voice of the ideal Australian man told me to ignore all my feelings and I did my best. I’m not sure if this approach to mental health includes physical health so I looked at my ankles only to find them being viciously attacked. Swiping vigorously, I attempted to fight them off (inadvertently achieving one of my tasks, to get into a fight). It was too late.


They left their mark on me. A streak of blood stained my shin. I cannot fully express the scene. We tried desperately to act as if nothing was wrong in true Aussie fashion, but neither myself nor my friend could look at the bush the same way after we were violated by its beasts. Trying to hide my fear, we rushed back to the open fields filled with boomers walking their something-oodles. My friend told me that I made a lot of disapproving noises, but inside I was screaming. True to form I did my best to suppress such noises, but even Aussie blokes get to grunt sometimes. At least that’s what I tell myself. Emerging from the wildest parts of the park, my ankle and elbow had been bitten by mosquitoes. A trophy of my time in the bush. A trophy I would be forced to wear for some time. Defeated, we made our way out of the bush entirely. Passing a brownish pond, something caught my eye. Swiftly, I leapt to the edge of the pond, fingers outstretched. At last, an aquatic creature I could rip from its natural habitat, like a true Aussie. But my eyes doth deceive me. What I thought to be a fish was in reality no more than a leaf. Cruelly denied my goal, I finally said goodbye to the bush and exited its sweet and woody embrace. Back in the safety of my car, I considered what I had just done. A challenge. It was hard to combine the emotional desert that is the mental landscape of a traditional Australian man with the actual Australian landscape. I suppose that my own mindset embodies that of a more progressive model of Australian masculinity and so to condemn myself, even for an hour or so, to stereotypical colonial manhood was in all honesty a real challenge. Of course, I failed abysmally. My friend and I spoke openly to each other, unable to follow the stoic and silent example. We communicated our desire to leave the bush after being bitten by mosquitoes. I could not help but run to an old-fashioned water pump and live out my colonial washerwoman fantasy. I found that my real challenge was understanding why people thought this was an example to follow. Is the bush a sphere reserved only for hegemonic masculinity? Can I, as a man who does not subscribe to toxic notions of manhood, still feel comfortable in the bush? These are good questions, but I am not a scientist, so I cannot answer them. All I know now is that leaves aves are liars, especially if they look like fish. Byy Harry Fraser


MonopolyREWIND on Media POPMurdoch’s CULTURE Who the hell is Murdoch and why does he matter? Rupert Murdoch is at the head of an international media empire. He’s the same age as Prince Phillip, so well out of silver fox territory. The only thing going for him is that he owns a huge chunk of the media we consume every day. So, S how does one old guy who isn’t a silver fox own said chunk? Murdoch’s imperial rule over our news is secured under his company News Corp Australia, among other big names like 21st Century Fox. Under t these companies, he owns various news outlets. In Australia, these include The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, The Courier-Mail, and Cumberland-Courier Newspapers (an organisation that prints twenty-three local papers like The Hornsby Advocate). In the United States, he owns The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal. This is a super condensed list. Some may ask: ‘So? What about it?’. Some may also sayy that my tinfoil hat suits me well, and to that I say, ‘Why thank you, yes it does. But also, no one person or company should own such a large portion of media outlets’. Media is an influential mechanism in helping people participate in and make sense of their world. We use it to understand politics, which social group said what, and of course, when to stock up on toilet paper. When someone has unchecked ownership of this technology, they control what we see and what we know. They can spam us with selective reporting on what they want us to pay attention to, or deprive us of the stories we could find useful in developing opinions about the world. And it’s Murdoch’s significant ownership of the press allows him to do precisely that. This dynamic is damaging to the core institution of the free press. It’s nefarious to control what someone knows and incapacitate them from acting on informed opinions and beliefs they were prevented p from even having in the first place. Murdoch’s a pretty conservative guy, given that conservative and capitalist ideologies prop up his empire. You know, all that free market stuff that says c competition in the market is a good thing and monopolies are negative for c consumers. S it’s no surprise that he wants to keep things cool and conservative So, in Australia. That’s why we’re always getting blow by blow accounts of royal family drama from ‘reputable’ papers like The Australian and The Daily Telegraph. We’re being placated by nostalgic stories of monarchy to keep us from focusing on our leaders. That is, until Murdoch wants us to focus on our leaders. Kevin ’07 has publicly called Murdoch out for selectively reporting on his prime ministership to undermine his policies and encourage public dissent. For him, News Corp is “a cancer on democracy” because of how it uses selective reporting on government figures to warp public opinion – at Murdoch’s whim. But Murdoch’s whim isn’t exclusively applied to Labor leaders. He sure as hell didn’t like 24

Malcolm Turnbull (wasn’t conservative enough, I’m guessing). Days before Turnbull was dumped by the Liberal-National Party in 2018, Murdoch had flown to Australia to look after affairs at News Corp. The Australian Financial Review and the ABC have both reported that during his trip, he told Kerry Stokes, fellow media mogul, that Turnbull’s time was up. In mere days, Murdoch owned media unleashed a torrent of bad press about Turnbull. And easy as that – a leadership spill occurred. If you’re still not convinced that Murdoch is warping public opinion, consider the longevity of his rule. Twenty-five e years ago, a TV critic from The Washington Post compared Murdoch to “some sort of monster in a science fiction movie, The Blob or something… you keep waiting for somebody to sort of shape him up and push him back in, but it doesn’t happen”. In 2020, Murdoch’s sludgy-self continues to rule unchecked. He’s wiggled his way out of police, hacking, bribery and corruption scandals of all kinds. His new outlets simply didn’t report bad press about them. For one man’s empire to last for so long unscathed, despite all his wrongdoing, there has to be manipulation present. Feel free to disagree and engage with whatever media you want. I have literally no obligation to feed you this information and make you agree with me. But I find it pretty hard to have faith in Murdoch’s management of Australian media. I, unlike Murdoch, want you to a be able to decide for yourself. By Elizabeth Laughton


What does your favourite classic Aussie icy treat say about you?


Sunnyboy You spent countless days and nights with these mangled packets only to uncover a block of ice too hard to bite into. Sadomasochist. I’m talking Christian Grey but without a contract or the money. You don’tt care who leaks your ou don fetishes to the press.

Magnum Your parents gave you $5 notes to buy your ice creams. Nothing has changed, though has it? A job would only distract you from being an influencer.

Rainbow Paddle Pop You begged for this one to unnecessarily hide your gayness. The Golden Gaytime would’ve given you away, so you went for the rainbow one instead. I’m sure you see the problem with that now.

Golden Gaytime They say it’s hard to have a Gaytime on your own, though in reality it takes more than an ice cream to maintain solid relationships. When you whipped one out of the freezer to stop your boyfriend leaving, the disgusted look on his face said it all. 26

Splice You’re that 8-year-old child who flies business class. Never had a proper childhood, nor did you want one. You didn’t even like kids when you were a kid.

Calippo Practical yet still enjoys a good time. With no chance of melted ice block on your hands, you’re free to participate in activities. Even now you’re the life of the party, clutching a watermelon cruiser while you grind up on a pergola post.

Chocolate Paddle Pop You are and always will be a utilitarian. Why buy one magnum when you could get two or even three of these for the same price? Those around you are grateful for your selflessness. What happens when their gratitude runs out?

Bubble O’Bill This was the highlight of your summer afternoons as a child. Chewing on that bubble gum nose helped you drown out the sound of mum opening another bottle of sav blanc and forget that dad still hasn’t told you where he’s living.


WRITINGDaffodil ON THE WALL Daffodil noun. A golden spring flower that is trumpet-like in shape. – Me and myself.

This word carries so much weight for me. It is a name many people have called me, mostly friends and people I know. It started the day our history class was told that in the past Indigenous Australians were not identified as human beings by the Constitution. This led to choruses of, “does that mean they were fauna?” and, “ oh shit, maybe they were flora”. Then the inevitable query, “How does it feel to be a flower? I reckon you’re a daffodil”.

Next came the cackles and laughter. No one ste stepped in, no one argued and sure as hell no one tried to defend me. This is just a small part of the racism Indigenous people have to deal with, and it’s only one example from my own life. But it’s impossible for there to be racism in such a tolerant, multicultural country like Australia, righ right? I’ve heard it all all: “take a joke”, “ we were just kidding” or “lighten up”. Within this dyna dynamic I am immediately placed in a defensive position, where it is me who is at fault in the face of ridicule. I’m sorry but my heritage is not a joke to me. This is ridicule. This is cruelty. This is racism. The basis of the nickname was from a long-past Australia – one I had thought very much dead. I guess I was wrong. Look, I get it. We all like having fun and being jovial about the people we hang out with. But this was my life. I’ve been told that I should go back to sniffing petrol, that I’m not Indigenous enous enough, that I didn’t have to try in school because the government will get me into university rsity for free. That my skin is too fair and it isn’t fair that I’m getting Indigenous benefits. Thatt we don’t need to apologise for the stolen generation – after all it wasn’t us, right? But that’s the thing, it is us. We’re halting the way forward. I was so ashamed of being Indigenous and of the so-called ‘benefits’ that came with it, that I refused to file the paperwork for special consideration. I wasn’t Indigenous enough to get any assistance, but I was Indigenous enough to reap their racism. The more I think of it though the sadder I get. What people didn’t know is that my father’s family, the Indigenous half, is broken. They are stuck in a cycle of alcohol, abuse, addiction and suffering. I know. I lived it. I learnt from a young age to never get between a Smith and their grog. Those scholarships and ways of lifting up Indigenous people weren’t even directed at me and d yet, I was still ashamed. I cannot imagine how it must feel for those who need them more than an I. This is the racism of today I guess. Just a cycle of offering Indigenous people a hand, only to o mock them for taking it. A subtle stain that lingers on the tapestry of Australia’s multicultural tolerance. ance. But here’s the thing about tolerance, there is always a tolerator and tolerated – and I’m tired d of being tolerated. By Rhys Cutler


I D OAnNAUSPOL ’ T Glossary GET IT G’day to all the readers who would like to know a bit more about the circus that is Australian politics or Auspol for those diehard political junkies. I will attempt to explain various terms, ideas and political institutions, particularly those unique to the land down under. Australian Labor Party One of the two major political parties in Australia. Main ideological goals are reducing inequality by championing workers’ rights, access to healthcare and equal opportunity in education. Labor sees the role of the government as correcting the worst inequality caused by capitalism in maintaining social welfare programs to economically and socially support working class Australians. This means greater government intervention in the form of progressive taxation, expansion of Medicare and greater funding to education. Interestingly, they still support coal exports. Just putting that out there. Canberra Bubble If you ask journalists and academics what the Canberra Bubble is, you will be surprised when they tell you it doesn’t exist. So to define it, I will have to describe it in the rough words of Scomo. It usually gets thrown around as a response whenever Scomo is asked something challenging. He says that ordinary Aussies don’t care about things like press freedom and corruption and he prefers to talk about things they do care about, like the cricket. According to Scomo, the Canberra Bubble is the insular political sphere filled with Canberra politicians and the press gallery. Those inside the bubble are out of touch with ordinary Aussies and get caught up with scheming and the toxic culture of parliament. But at least we can trust Scomo, who is by his own admission outside the bubble. Funny that. Coalition In Australia this refers to the way the Liberal Party and the National Party form an alliance of sorts. Labor runs a candidate in every seat during elections and therefore would be able to form a majority in Parliament. On the other hand, the Liberals don’t do this. In more rural seats, the Libs let the Nationals run candidates while they take the more urban areas. So two parties pool their seats to form a Coalition. The Nationals are a smaller party so for them, this arrangement gives them a greater voice in Parliament than they would otherwise have. The position of Deputy Prime Minister is always given to the National Party leader while the Prime Minister is a Liberal. Conservative In essence, conservatism opposes change, at least sudden change. They value free enterprise, the protection of private property and traditional social values. Many conservatives want to preserve the current state of things or even return to the values of a former time. Liberal This one is really hard to define because in different contexts, liberal has so many different meanings. Traditionally, liberalism refers to enlightenment ideals around individualism and liberty that emerged a few hundred years ago. Think American Revolution. Translated to today, this embodies ideas of small government, that is, less government intervention in people’s lives because people know what is best for themselves. Liberalism holds the free market in high regard and discourages government intervention in the economy. This means less taxation and free trade. Along the lines of this approach, liberals support free speech, secularism, equality before the law and the free press. Free being the key word here guys. Saying that, liberal means somewhat the opposite


in other contexts. Many, particularly in the United States, divide political beliefs upon whether you are conservative (see above) or liberal. In this case, liberals support the involvement of the government in correcting social wrongs, such as inequality of opportunity and harsh income inequality. In the Australian context though, liberal usually refers to the party itself. Liberal Party The other major political party in Australia. The Liberal Party embodies the classic liberal ideals of small government, free trade and lower taxes as well as some new ones like border security, budget surpluses and fighting for small businesses. Now I’m going to break it down to a VERY basic level to show what this looks like IRL. Smaller government means less spending on public and social services, such as healthcare, welfare and education. Less spending means less debt for the government. Tax rates are usually lowered in accordance with liberal ideals and the flow on effect of this is less income for the government. So basically, they want more money coming in than going out (by cutting funding). In the end they would love to minimise the presence of the government with less tax and less spending. They also love coal. Moderate This is a category for people who sit towards the middle of the political spectrum. Usually they shy away from anything radical when it comes to ideology and prefer instead to find a happy middle ground. Many believe in the mixed market economy, where capitalism is regulated to avoid extreme inequality and the exploitation that comes with unbridled capitalism. National Party Formerly the Country Party, the Nationals fight for regional Australia. Politically and socially they align to conservative values, similar to the Liberals, of small government and the free market. In an unusual and ongoing paradox however, the Nationals support a sort of agrarian socialism. They believe in government subsidies and welfare for the farming, agriculture and resource sectors. The Nationals have faced significant criticism for their hybridity when it comes to economic ideology. The Nationals are Joe Goldberg from the Netflix Original Series You and coal is the poor woman inside the Perspex chamber. Literally obsessed. Neoliberalism A series of economic policies that gained popularity in the late 20th century. It promoted a return to the laissez faire approach and resulted in significant levels of deregulation of financial markets and privatisation. These days neoliberalism is being critiqued for the impact of its policies. It increased market volatility, which many argue resulted in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2009. In Australia, neoliberalism has widened income disparity and wealth gaps leading to greater socio-economic inequality. Most notably for young Aussies, we have neoliberalism to thank for creating a housing bubble and pricing us out of the property market. Progressive To be a progressive means that you support social reform. Progressives are not by default more leftwing but rather are the opposite of conservatives. Progressives believe in changes to economic and social policies that will make the world a more equitable and modern place. Progressives don’t want things to stay as they are, while conservatives usually do. Pulling a Scomo This is when you fuck off despite being needed the most during a crisis. Can also refer to shaking someone’s hand despite their physical resistance. “Where’s Johnny? Someone just ordered five packs of 24 nuggets for ten dollars and he’s on nug duty!” “Yeah nah can’t find him, must be pulling a Scomo.”


YO U A R E H E R E An Outsider’s Guide to the Northern Beaches

I’m sure you’re all familiar with Sydney’s Northern Beaches. That place on the coast with all the beaches? Here we’re all your ‘typical Aussies’. Beachy blonde surfer dudes, and girls with flawless tans, all with nothing to do but lay by the beach and catch some waves and rays.Maybe this is true to some extent, but there is much more to it. There are many things you can’t avoid while living on the beaches. Here’s what to expect: EVERYTHING is expensive and we’re all poor, pretending not to be. At every cafe, restaurant and bar, you’ll find gluten free, dairy free, vegan meals. As I’m sure many of you are aware, these don’t come cheap, but ironically we don’t have many other options. We created this norm for ourselves being hippie trendsetters and all. We live in a literal bubble. I’m not proud of it, but this basically means that we’re not usually very concerned about what happens elsewhere, and we rarely leave. Everything seems so far away and we have all we need! Home & Away is filmed on the beaches too, and guess what? Many of us have probably been an extra at some point (don’t judge. It pays well and we’re all looking for our 5 minutes of fame okay). You will definitely run into some familiar faces, or maybe become one yourself. You have noticed the private/public school divide…I’m sure this isn’t only a Northern Beaches thing, but it’s hard to ignore the gap between private school and public school kids in high school. In private high school, you don’t talk to the public school kids (peasants) and you only date the boys who go to your ‘brother school’. How do you meet these boys you ask? Only at the most anticipated event for every 13 year old schoolgirl: the year 7 dance, where you get to stand in the corner, huddled up with your girlfriends while watching the boys line up to straight-arm dance with the strange girl in school. I’ll leave it at that. You’ll find you can’t visit Warringah Mall without running into a horde of 15 year olds ‘snuggling’ and swearing while sitting on the couches scattered around the centre. You’ll also likely avoid the mall for this reason. Another thing we’re all fortunate enough to witness over here is Tony Abbott in budgie smugglers. Yes you read that right. You may be enjoying a day at the beach, when out of nowhere you spot something blindingly white in the distance. As it gets closer, you’ll notice it’s none other than Tony Abbott in nothing more than speedos to cover his junk. Thanks Tony, I’m scarred for life. 31

An uber home from anywhere outside the beaches (or even inside if you’re coming from Avalon), will cost you an arm and a leg. No seriously. I once spent $150 on an uber home from the city. Not cool. Living on the beaches you will have heard of Lady Wakehurst, and know not to drive down the winding Wakehurst Parkway after dark. The myth suggests that she will show up in your rear view mirror, and you’ll crash if you drive on the road after dark. Ironically, this road is a major thoroughfare for the Northern Beaches, and the detour will take an extra 20 minutes but we’re not taking that risk.

I couldn’t possibly sum up the Beaches in so few words, but if you want to know more, you know where to find me. By Brooke Mason




I’m Not Racist, But… Australia! Mate-ship, a fair go, the good ol’ Aussie spirit, friendly bogans, Rhonda and Katut, and systemically embedded racism. Australia has always held the image of a relaxed, laid-back, free-spirited country. While this facade has begun to crack in recent years due to political turmoil and a global systematic right-wing shift, the idea of Australia being a racist country still draws controversy. This country was birthed from stolen land and genocide, it contains a history littered with the White Australia Policy, and the likes of One Nation. Only those who have the privilege of being blissfully unaware, or those who want to keep a system which grants them disproportionate power, would dare make the claim that racism is not deeply entrenched in the foundations of this land. Today, you only have to look to the lack of sensitivity towards the hardships faced by refugees, or the dismissal of the disenfranchisement of Indigenous peoples to see the very normalised view of oppression held in this country. When hate crimes occur, when a politician makes racially insensitive comments about needing a “final solution to the immigration problem” (see Fraser Anning), when an Australian citizen commits a racially motivated act of terror in another country; these aren’t ‘un-Australian’ acts. These are the very behaviours we and the systems which make up this country foster. Being a Pakistani woman born in Australia to immigrant parents, I cannot speak for, but can reflect some of the experiences of many second-gen South Asians in this country; one of the many groups of people who experience everything from hate crimes, to ‘casual everyday racism.’ I was sixyears-old, sitting by myself eating a rainbow paddle-pop when a group of white boys in the school playground ran up, circled me and chanted “brown monkey.” Several weeks later I was told by the friend I had made on the first day of school that her mum had told her not to be friends with “Indian people.” When I was nine a brown man was brutally beaten at our local train station in a perceived hate crime. My dad had to catch the train home from work every night one week, and every night I wondered if he’d make it back. In high school I was casually told by a ‘friend’ during a political debate in class that I wasn’t “as bad as other immigrants” – the fact that I was born in Melbourne aside – this exhibited a common trope of being brought up on the backs of others like me. My own people being put down to point out how I “acted quite Australian” and was “pretty for an Indian” etc. Over the years this has highlighted to me some of the privileges I have such as being light-skinned and speaking English as my first language. I cannot fully understand how much worse many others have had it, yet these ‘compliments’ must also be recognised for the oppressive tools that they are. Even when you are differentiated as one of ‘the good ones’ you are being other-ed and used by someone to put down a group of people. You are painted as the exception to whatever the racist rule may be. These are just my first-hand experiences. I’ve seen my mum face random glares when she walks out with a headscarf on or speaks to me in Urdu in public. I’ve seen passersby's experience shouts of “go back to your country,” friends having to fight the fetishization of their ethnicity. We hear of hate crimes on the news, hear of innocent brown people being questioned and detained by the government agencies that are meant to protect them. We’ve seen it with how asylum seekers are demonized in this country, with whole elections hanging on whose border patrol policies are strict enough to keep them out. Most notably at the moment we are seeing heightened racism against those of Chinese (or perceived Chinese) descent being revealed as a result of Coronavirus reporting. The key word here being ‘revealed,’ because this hatred and prejudice has always


bubbled within the foundations of Australian society, rearing its head far too often. From hate crimes to the casual ‘just-a-joke,’ this is Australia. Many hear of instances like these and presume that they are in the clear because they’ve never shouted racial obscenities at a passerby or used slurs or done any number of the things mentioned. The minority experience (in this case racial minority) is riddled with not just these more jarring experiences, but the day to day casual racism. Looking at Macquarie University’s official Instagram story and seeing the caption “it’s hard to find a local among all these international students” (yes this was really posted), being the only woman of colour in a tutorial full of white men, and struggling to have your voice heard or validated, the seemingly trivial things like people not bothering to learn how to pronounce your name, hearing statements like “it’s all the same” when clarifying “oh, where I’m from isn’t the same place as India.” Racism is complex and characterised by forceful power structures and systemic suppression and will not always present itself as a white hood or a racial slur. It is a series of norms. It’s growing up in a country you love which will not love you back because the other-ing of people like you is in its roots. We cannot kid ourselves and believe that casual racially insensitive comments and jokes at the expense of minorities are harmless or not a part of a greater oppressive system. Australia is full of beautiful wildlife, awe-inspiring natural and man-made structures, a rich Indigenous history and cultures, and a diverse group of people from all over the world. For that it is beautiful, but it can also be ugly. Its ugliness lies in the hatred which has been bred within it. In the oppressive power structures that date back to colonisation and are deeply entrenched as a result, and in those who continue to perpetuate these knowingly and unknowingly, and therefore are complicit. It is racist, no but. By Sara Choudhry


E U R O V I S I O N Eurovision has crept up on us, with the announcement of Australia’s representative as none other than 24-year-old Montaigne. Yet, once again we find ourselves asking the collective question: why is Australia in the contest? The world has been blessed with Eurovision and its many offbeat and amusing contestants since 1956. Giving the people what they want, with national treasures such as ABBA, Celine Dion, and the very underrated Buranovskiye Babushki – aka the old Russian grandmas who sang Party for Everybody. The history of Eurovision is a complex one. Created by Marcel Bexençon, it was one of the earliest live broadcasted events for large international audiences. The contest has come a long way since the early years which included a live orchestra with simplistic sing-a-long performances. Now over 60 years later, the event has become synonymous with over the top musical numbers and the overuse of pyrotechnics and wind machines. Looking back at contestants such as Jedward and Latvia’s Pirates of the Caribbean themed entry Pirates of the Sea, it’s clear that Eurovision is a unique event which unites a broad number of countries through a fun and competitive annual competition. Yet behind the over the top musical entries is a history of tense political commentary and a voting system which provides a very high school clique-like spin to diplomatic tensions and yet Australia loves it. Australia-like-really-likes-Eurovision. So much so that in past years the percentage of Australian viewers who have tuned in to watch the televised event has surpassed some of the countries who actually participated in it. SBS has had a significant role in developing Australia’s love for Eurovision, dutifully broadcasting the event every year since 1983. This apparently is the answer to why Australia was invited to the 2015 Eurovision contest. Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the event, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) invited Australia to participate in honor of our country’s commitment to the competition. To many in 2015, this seemed like a very excessive way to thank Australia for broadcasting the contest. Its timing suspiciously coincided with SBS’s attempt to get a legislation passed which ultimately allowed more advertising slots during prime time. News that Australia would be competing in the 2015 contest was met with an excessive amount of backlash by a country that claimed to love the show, with one question on everybody’s mind – isn’t Eurovision only for European countries? Short version: no, it isn’t. For a country that is deeply invested in the event we seem to quickly forget that Israel competes every year, as does Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia – all countries which lie outside the continental borders. Basically the ‘Euro’ in Eurovision does not necessarily mean only European nations can compete, it was created by the EBU who is more focused on membership rather than geography. Any country which is a member of the European Broadcasting Union is eligible for the contest, and to join the EBU a country must fall within the European Broadcasting area. Again, Australia doesn’t 36

really fit this criteria. However SBS is an associate member of the EBU, a status they retain by paying a fee. So really, Australia competing in Eurovision isn’t that far left of center that everybody makes it out to be. It’s definitely not the first non-European country to compete in a Eurovision Contest, that title is given to Canada who in 1987 competed in the Eurovision Dancer’s contest held in Germany. Besides, it’s not like Australia is that bad when competing. Over the past four years we have competed, Australia has seen pretty impressive results, with Dami Im coming second place in 2016 and Guy Sebastian finishing fifth in 2015. We’ve done pretty good for ourselves, so good that instead of just performing for the 60th anniversary as a one off, we have been invited back year after year. Eurovision has invited Australia to participate up until 2023, a decision which should be met with enthusiasm by a country that claims to love the competition so much. Instead of arguing over whether Australia deserves to be competing or not, we should instead focus on the alarmingly normal contestants which have been making their way through to the grand finals. For a competition which has always been synonymous with overly dramatic performances and a celebration of each nations’ unique culture, the competition is becoming scarily boring with many of the contestants singing in English. This isn’t what the people want, we want more Verka Serdyuchka singing in head to toe tin foil, not a large scale version of the X-factor. The question around language is a historic one. Whilst it was expected for contestants to sing in their native language, Sweden was the first to break the mold and perform a English entry in 1965. Strict laws were quickly introduced by the EBU which saw entrants only allowed to sing in their national language. These language laws would only be reversed in 1977. Australia competing in Eurovision isn’t really the most pressing issue in the competition’s history. Eurovision has a very tumultuous past that brings trans-European tensions to the forefront. Scandals have included the expulsion of Romania due to unpaid debt owed to the EBU in 2016, Austria boycotting the 1969 contest in Madrid due to Francesco Franco’s ruling, and Russia’s withdrawal in 2017 after their contestant was banned from the host country, Ukraine. Eurovision has always been a very public platform for political statements as seen in Turkey’s emphasis on the importance of integration between themselves and the EU during their turn at hosting in 2004 as well as the criticism drawn to Azerbaijan’s human rights record when they hosted the competition in 2012. So as Australia gets ready to once again mock themselves in this year’s Eurovision, let’s remember that it’s not that strange for us to be performing. Instead let’s start planning our Eurovision parties, demand Julia and Sam host the SBS coverage again, and pray there will be some weird and wacky contestants to make Eurovision great again. By Madi Scott 37

The Gender Wage Gap? Yep, It’s Still a Thing Australia is one of only two developed countries which has seen a rise in the gender pay gap over the last two decades. We may have Milo and Chris Hemsworth, but this definitely isn’t a good look for us down under. Sometimes the push for gender equality saturates the media so much, you actually think that the cogs of justice might be moving. Sadly, this means we can neglect to look in our own backyards to see what’s really changed. The answer? Not much. As of 2019, the wage gap still sits at 14.9%, which means that men are making about $240 a week more than women. Depending on your priorities, that’s an entire week’s rent or your share of the accommodation for Bali in November- either way, you should be appalled. This also equals out to mean that women need to be working an extra 59 days to earn the same amount as men- that’s a lot of overtime forms to have to fill out just to even the playing field. One of the primary reasons the wage gap seems to be so persistent is gender-based hiring and the over representation of genders in certain job sectors. For example, women tend to be clustered into jobs like healthcare and education whereas men are more dominant in engineering, building and IT related fields. Highly gender segregated workplaces are pretty much stock standard, even in 2020 - meaning sectors that are dominated more by women, are paid less for their services. This is also still the case for higher ranking roles. That’ss right ladies, we are still battling our way up that corporate ladder and smashing hing through that glass ceiling, only to be told at the top


that our work is worth 14.9% less- oh and you better not be planning on having kids any time soon, cause that’s a major no-no. Yep, you heard me right: in Australia women who want a career and children often can kiss a fair wage and superannuation goodbye. All of our workplace standards are still highly entrenched in the idea that women are the caregivers, and that means their pay and future career prospects will suffer. Studies conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) show that despite some workplaces addressing this issue, nearly half of working women are concerned about what a family will do for their career prospects and feel they are often overlooked for new roles and promotions upon their return to the workplace. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that some of our recent high ranking females like Julie Bishop and Julia Gillard, don’t have children. Another little fun fact, while women tend to experience a pay hit when they return to work after having kids, fathers have been known to see an increase in salary. Go figure. So, where to from here? Well, experts say there is still a long way to go before Australia will see equal pay and there is no way we will get there without addressing the gender stereotypes we have grown accustomed to in the workplace. Chat to your employer, start the discussion around pay equity for women- but the first step needs to be reminding Australians that this is still an issue and that archaic gender norms aren’t a thing of the past. By Katherine Robinson

Last week I was watching the news, the start of this decade has been a noisy one to say the least. Bushfires, Coronavirus and the potential for World War Three. Something on this particular day cut straight through the noise. It was a developing story about a Brisbane mother being burnt alive in her car with her three children. It made me sick to my guts. Over the next few days the story developed with new details that we are all familiar with; the mother Hannah Clarke had been burnt alive in her car with her three children in an act of family violence. The feeling of being sick in the stomach intensified. Every time the story was on one of my social media feeds or on the news the sick feeling came back. Until I saw what ‘Scotty from marketing’ had to say when he opened parliament with his speech. The sick feeling turned to anger pretty quickly after hearing what Mr Morrison had to say. The Prime Minister didn’t say anything offensive or untrue; it was what he failed to say which got me offside. Firstly, he did the obligatory ‘thoughts and prayers’ which was worded in such a way that he conveyed his sentiment while noticeable not using the words thoughts and prayers. Followed by some stats, “One woman every nine days is killed by a partner or former partner.” In the next few sentences he laid down his second statistic, “One in six women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner since the age of fifteen.” Whenever I hear statistics like this the first thing I do is reach for disbelief, not wanting to accept that the country in which we live has an endemic problem of domestic violence. Unfortunately, after a while I accept the facts and acknowledge the severity of the problem. The reason why Mr Morrison upset me stemmed from this quote. “We must reflect on how and where the system failed Hannah and her children as it has failed so many others.” One would question why this quote would upset me as it seems like the Prime Minister is shining a light on a serious issue that we as a country face, the one in which he leads. My issues is that this is a series of words that have been crafted into a sincere sounding sentence that doesn’t fucking mean anything! In the house of representatives, a room that is mostly full of men, I did not see a single man take a stand and lead the country’s male population. On that day a male should have stood in that room and taken the lead and vowed, “We men must do better!” We as men are failing the women and children of this country. We need a culture shift! In the past I have seen stories like this and told myself “I would never,” and then continued on with my life. I now realise that it is not enough. We need every male in this country to know from a young age that there is no excuse for a male to lay his hands on a female or an infant with violent intent or with the intent of sexual abuse. Boys need to know that it is above all morally incorrect and illegal. Boys need to know how serious the consequences will be if they break this law. Fathers need to tell their sons; teachers need to tell their students; any male of authority needs to be instilling this information into the boys of this nation. Our Prime Minister should be shouting it from the rooftops! Violence against women is a male problem and needs to be fixed by men.

“We Men Must Do Better”


It sounds confronting that all men must take accountability for a problem that is only perpetrated by a few, but if Scomo’s statistics are correct, 41 Australian women die every year at the hands of a partner or former partner. If we let this statistic remain then there is something deeply wrong with our country. I had hoped that one of our elected leaders would have taken a public lead in the wake of the tragedy of Hannah Clarke and her three children but I was disappointed so I guess it falls on the rest of us to start fixing this issue. Without our leaders in Canberra spearheading this shift in culture, it’s going to be slow going but we as men should make a start. In the near future, I hope our leaders make a meaningful and public stand on domestic violence- but I wouldn’t expect the current Prime Minister to challenge the status quo. Until a leader has the courage to make the necessary stand on family violence, it is down to the individual male to challenge this issue. On the off chance that Scomo wants to make a meaningful stand, I know you love a slogan Mister Prime Minister so try this one, “We men must do better.” By Dominic Giles


The Dark Side of Digital Health? Hers is a US based telehealth service aiming to address women’s common health needs. Telehealth provides the exchange of healthcare services and education between patients and a digitally accessible health professional. But is there a dark side to digital health? Hers boasts to its customers about gaining a sense of control over their health by using their products for specifically women’s skin, hair and sexual health concerns: their offerings ranging from shampoo to birth control. At first glance - the website does not appear to be a medical service. It features a minimalistic design, a “trendy millennial” aesthetic seen in the likes of brands such as Glossier. The marketing strategy features little text, non-offensive pastel colours and diverse, minimally made-up women. Medications are plainly packaged. A pastel picture collage aesthetically surrounds short, punchy marketing buzzwords whilst a link takes you to a page about the company’s purpose. The web designer definitely had a field day. Because I sure forgot it was a medical service. Is it beautiful? Yes. Does it pose itself as a credible medical service? No. Hers is not a stranger to Instagram, in fact it is the platform where their marketing strategies received the most backlash. Among their social media posts and advertisements, they have marketed medication propranolol for performance anxiety; to calm nerves before a big date or presentation, and the worst of all-to stop anxiety from “standing in the way of you manifesting your badassery”. Luckily, this laughable marketing attempt for a serious medication didn’t have their aestheticloving consumers fooled. The statement has since been taken down from the Hers website, consumers taking to Instagram in anger. A comment from user sleepyhousehealing states “Bizarre. I needed a prescription for this and it was for temporary relief of PPA. Advertising drugs as a one-size fits all solution is some dystopian future shit. This episode of Black Mirror sucks.” Many users mentioned how Hers’ marketing pathologises normal experiences of anxiety, helloitssita stating “Holy. Shit. This is actual bonkers. I am so disgusted and disturbed, this isn’t ethical. Everyone has pre date jitters, some level of anxiety is normal. We all experience it. But to think with all the cute packaging and the right marketing that this is ok is so wrong. Why call it Hers? Trying to push strong medication with serious known side effects onto people who don’t know better with cute packaging. Have you thought about girls who think pre date jitters are something to medicate then they have a drink on said date, they could pass out and god knows what. This is negligent as hell to say the least.” Propranolol is a beta blocker, primarily used in the treatment of high blood pressure to prevent strokes, heart attacks and kidney problems. The way Hers uses a combination of techniques such as emojis, simplistic language and plain packaging to market the drug on their Instagram page begs the question of whether this should be subject to the same laws and regulations as a medication product claim advertisement. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “A product claim ad names a drug, says what condition it treats, and talks about both its benefits and its risks. An ad must present the benefits and risks of a prescription drug in a balanced fashion. Balance depends on both the information in the ad itself and how the information is


presented.” Hers does not provide a fair balance of information about the drug’s risks and benefits. Under the FDA, presenting a medication’s risks in “small type size”, positioned “far from where the benefits are discussed” is considered an unfair balance of information. In Hers case, the risks of the medication are not presented in the post, relying on the patient to source the information externally on their website. It fails to mention that Propranolol is not FDA approved for the treatment of “performance anxiety”, let alone anxiety, and is used off label to treat such conditions. Moreover, consumers are not presented with the FDA’s required “brief summary” including additional risk information. Does it matter if it is just an Instagram post? In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) prohibits the advertising of medication directly to consumers. As non-US consumers have access to Hers marketing, at the very least, they have a responsibility to inform consumers of the risks of their medications. Hers has issued a public apology on their Instagram page about pushing propranolol, particularly for the quote about being “nervous about your big date”. They stated that they have “permanently removed that ad and are working with our medical team to ensure that all copy is safe and accurate for the consumer moving forward”. However, a user comment from missmeganwhite reveals, “THIS IS BULLSHIT I JUST GOT THE SAME SPONSORED AD BUT INSTEAD OF FIRST DATE IT WAS “work presentation” JUST STOP”. Hers’ treatment for “performance anxiety” is no longer boasted on their front page, standing beside their golden skin, hair and sexual health treatments. Instead, it is just a few extra clicks away. The issue with telehealth services is that online doctors cannot observe a patient outside of an online interaction. A patient’s actions, speech, mannerisms or appearance could go unnoticed before diagnosis. Doctors may have trouble handling patients with complex medical history or needs digitally, and it may be easier for consumers to skip side effect warnings. As consumers are required to pay for their medication and subscription to Hers before consulting with an online doctor, this begs the question whether this is an ethical way to provide a medical service especially if a consumer only requires short term treatment. For example, if propranolol is supposed to be for a “one-off” anxiety-inducing event, why do consumers need to subscribe to receive 5 pills every month? Following in the footsteps of Hers, Kin Fertility is an Australian-based telehealth service providing access to birth control and fertility testing. The company uses similar visual marketing that lessens the seriousness of the health service. Unlike Hers however, Kin Fertility adheres to Australian TGA guidelines as no medications are mentioned or promoted specifically. You are only able to see the brands of pills they carry and their prices. They have a similar business model, and you still pay for subscription upfront, however you undertake a medical questionnaire first. Emojis are used in the questionnaire as well as casual slang terms. You are unable to proceed in the questionnaire and pay for subscription to Kin if you indicate you have never tried the pill. Kin recommends the consumer to see a doctor in person, which enables them to be seen by a health provider that can ensure full duty of care in person. Yet, there is a place for telehealth services. They create accessibility to medicine where it is unavailable. Rural women benefit from access to a doctor itself, as well as a doctor willing to prescribe contraception. It creates accessibility for people living with mental or physical disabilities, empowers marginalised groups to seek treatment, caters towards busy professionals with little time, or provides the convenient option to receive the medication you know you are happy with. From an ethical standpoint, telehealth services need to provide duty of care to their consumers. With social media being a two-way street, luckily, consumers are pushing companies in the right direction. By Angelica Owczarek




THE CREATURES The creatures were crying Lured by food All for the invasion Of outsiders like me The creatures were crying But no one could hear As we dirtied their water And broke their fins The creatures were crying And so was I As I participated in the madness All for the satisfaction Of seeing them in the wild The creatures were crying Please leave us alone And yet we came there in drones Picture after picture Boat after boat I thought it would be beautiful But it was so sad We take so much from these creatures With which we share our home I am scared we will take Until they are all gone We poison the water We poison the air So much destruction And no one seems to care The creatures are crying And so am I As I participate in the madness

by Austin Lankford


BLACK POPPIES You see the hearts of our passed brothers and sisters have fed the poppies blooming on their graves – nameless in valour as in death. But for all the red poppies in Flanders Fields there are those that don’t get to flower – black in nature and in name. The first blood of this nation left to die, to be forgotten underneath a field of red poppies – never to have their stories told. Their graves are marked instead by inverted flowers, poppies growing black beneath the surface, roots twisted around their hearts and heads – much like the red poppies flowering above. How could we turn our backs? We’ve forgotten the blood of the first, we’ve forgotten what they sacrificed for a country that beat them red. I’m not asking for us to forsake the red poppies on the memorial walls, but to give our hearts and heads to the black poppies – to remember their petals and their fall. In my dreams I see my grandmother, the Yuin blood flowing through her veins, talking to me as she places a single black poppy in a vase.

by Rhys Smith


THE SMOKE ASCENDS FOREVER It was said a long time ago, That there is a time for everything. Whether now is the time no one can say. Lady Time alone knows, she waits for that day. The formerly flickering flame of the miner’s lamp, Now paints the sky red with its radiance. Fire, flood, famine; no survival. These riders signal the inevitable arrival. A voice cries out in the desert wasteland, ‘The time is now! The end is here!’ The modern Millerites assemble, the prophecy is sure. We will all soon share the Disappointment of 1844. Is this the time? Or is there another? Of course not. There is no other chance. Yet Lady Time, looking up from her watch, in an unheard plea, Stares wistfully towards a future which only she can see.

by John Gallimore


HHEADACHE HEADAC E I woke up today with a headache. Just a dull thumping at the front of my head, a toddler bashing its fists against the wall of my forehead. Face washed, get changed, coffee down, gotta keep moving. Every step around the kitchen, every turn of my head really enraged that fucking toddler. Where are its parents? Thump, thump, thump, like a hangover but without the fun night before. There’s blood on my toothbrush. I was brushing too hard, or maybe it was the cut on my lip? No time, gotta keep moving. Metro’s packed, Opal gates jammed. Lost my concession Opal last week. God damn adult cards are expensive, god damn adulthood is expensive. Gotta buy more toothpaste, gotta buy some Panadol, gotta top up my Opal card, gotta ask for more shifts, gotta do that reading, gotta do that quiz. Gotta get rid of this headache. Train’s late. ‘I’m More relaxed now’ brags the broken metro gate. Good for you, I’m running late for class in Y3A and my head is pounding right now, almost like a stake being pushed right back into my skull. Doesn’t matter, gotta keep moving. Tute then lecture, then lecture, then study, then work, then all over again tomorrow. My favourite lecturer is away sick and the mature-aged student at the front won’t stop asking questions that don’t matter and everyone sounds like white noise, just different pitches of white noise, and not the nice kind that you fall asleep to, the grating, droning kind that really shoves that stake right into the stem of my brain. Doesn’t matter, gotta keep moving. My head is killing me now. Not enough time to study between classes and work, not enough work to pay my rent, not enough time at home to justify my rent. It’s okay, just find a seat at the library, class is over no, get that reading done, order that new concession card, gotta keep moving. Can’t find a seat in the library. Fucking high schoolers. I’m sticky and hot from the walk and the library air con is never cool enough and god damn my head is splitting now, like a miner who’s struck gold in my frontal lobe, chipping straight through to my cranial sutures. Find a seat in the silent space but the person across from me is talking on the phone, and of course they’re a fucking first year. Probably used to study here in year 12. Fucking high schoolers. My cranial sutures are coming undone in violent, hammering strikes. AskMQ is down of course. I missed a quiz last night, 15%. Is that blood? It’s not from my lip, it must be my head. Sounds about right with the miner hammering so hard. Rent is late, never enough shifts, never enough time, I missed that bloody quiz, bloody idiot. Why isn’t the first year noticing the blood? Oh god, the pressure’s starting, bursting my eardrums, the top of my head, the front of my head, I think my skull’s about to explode, why isn’t she noticing? Head in hands, please don’t explode, that’d be so embarrassing. Don’t wanna end up on MQ Love Rants. “To the cute stressed boy in the library whose grey matter hit me in the eye – love react for a dm ;)” 47

Pop. Skull bone, brain, hair, blood, arteries, the miner, the toddler, the stake, all explode outward, upward, onto the first year and her pristine AirPods, onto my screen with the AskMQ error message, onto silent space sign, it’s everywhere. I’m bound to cop a fine. Oh god, I don’t have the money for that. The first year, why isn’t she noticing? She’s still talking to her friend, AirPods still in her ears. No-one’s noticing, no-one’s paying attention, like they’ve all got their own headaches. I walk around and pick up pieces of my viscera and shove it in all my bag because maybe the librarians won’t notice if I clean everything up real quick and leave? Why hasn’t that bloody first year noticed yet? God, I’m so tired. Go home, lie down. Wake up when it’s dark, forget to eat, forget to do my quiz, forgot to go to work. Sleep bad, sleep stressed. Wake up with a headache. Do it all over again. by Steph McCarthy-Reece



reality tv

MAFS, THE BACHELOR, LOVE ISLAND AND MORE The year: 2005. Five-year-old me had her eyes glued to the screen, mesmerised by Big Brother’s Friday Night Live games in which competitors fought to win certain privileges to help them survive in the house. The challenges. The drama. The stakes. I was obsessed, and there was no going back. Reality television has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. Being so readily available on virtually any channel or network, it’s practically impossible to have not at least attempted to watch some sort of reality show over the years. While the genre is highly criticised for false advertising, formulaic attempts at entertainment and a general lack of authenticity, these shows continue to flourish, especially in Australia. Despite this, reality TV is some of the most highly rated television in Australia in terms of viewership, aside from sport broadcasts, making it a significant element of revenue in the industry. A 2018 survey of over 50,000 Australians showed that reality shows came in at the second most watched genre of television, following the news. This revealed that, on average, 41% of Australians watched reality television at least once a week. With viewership this high, it would be remiss of us not to talk about the highs and lows of Australian reality TV and just why the viewership for this genre is so high. When someone says reality TV, more often than not, the Bachelor comes to mind. Dating and relationship television shows have particularly blown up within the last ten-years, with shows including the Bachelor franchise and Love Island landing onto our screens.


The Australian iterations of the Bachelor franchise have housed a number of particularly interesting cast members and events. Of course, there’s the notable Nick Cummins, better known as the Honey Badger, who made the bold choice of picking none of the twenty-five girls chosen for him in the 2018 season of the Bachelor. And who could forget the iconic plotline from 2017’s Bachelorette, where contestant Jarrod Woodgate’s pot plant was allegedly urinated in by another contestant. Who ever said reality television wasn’t high-brow entertainment?

Then we have my personal favourite. Married at First Sight Australia (or MAFS) is a reality show currently airing its sixth season on Channel 9. The show follows two strangers being paired up by a set of ‘experts’ to get ‘married’ without having met prior. The show follows several couples as they adjust to married life and is quite possibly one of the most entertaining things on TV today. As the show has continued over the years, it’s been extremely interesting to see how they’ve moulded the format of the show to heighten the drama. When the show first started in Australia in 2015, it followed four couples across six episodes before they finally got to meet each other in the final episode. In 2017, the show expanded to feature ten couples across twenty-nine episodes, and unlike the original season featured weekly ‘dinner parties’ where all the contestants got a chance to meet and catch up regularly throughout the show.

So clearly the creators of this show hold no regard for cast member’s well-beings, always prioritising the creation of good drama-worthy moments. S Since then h the h show h h has continued with this new longer format which managed to increase ratings exponentially. For instance, last year’s season finale brought in two million viewers, a new record for the show. Beyond just the boost to ratings, the new format maximises drama making the show entirely more entertaining and discussion worthy with opportunities for clique forming and cheating scandals ripe and ready for the taking. The show even spawned an additional talk show called Talking Married that aired last year on 9Life (Channel 94) after the show, though is now an online exclusive in 2020. Interestingly, when compared with the New Zealand format you can see just how much higher the budget and production level for MAFS Australia is, and it definitely makes you appreciate it all the more. Anyway, I promise this isn’t just a not-so-subtle ad for MAFS. Aside from all the hype I give this show, there’s definitely multiple concerns viewers have brought up over the years and it would be impossible to say the show doesn’t warrant criticism. A lot of the cast over the years have complained about the way they’ve been misrepresented on the show, usually to fit particular archetypes or to shift the blame off the network or producers. Just this season, contestant Poppy Jennings unexpectedly quit the show and took to the media to report how disappointing her match had been, complaining about the way her matched husband had been portrayed a lot kinder than he actually was. She also exposed the producers for threatening to alter her portrayal throughout the show if she shared the real reason why she quit. Clare Verall from season two had a similar experience of entering the show on a whim and being pressured to continue in the experiment despite both parties realising the match wasn’t a good fit. Since appearing on the show she received many death threats from viewers, and received little to no support from the network despite them knowing she had previously suffered from mental health issues such as anxiety and PTSD. Since then she has also been diagnosed with clinical depression.

As for Love Island, I never got a chance to make a leap into that hellhole, with the original UK show being cancelled after just six seasons. This is potentially due to a number of cast members also facing severe mental health issues as a result of the show, including three cast members and the show’s host recently dying from suicide. The future of Australia’s Love Island is also left uncertain after last season’s ratings remained low throughout airing, particularly in comparison to its UK counterpart. With dating and relationship shows in particular, it is clear that cast members put a lot on the line to appear in the shows. While this definitely makes for some of the most entertaining television, it would be a lot better if networks looked out for members of the show to ensure such tragedies don’t occur. Instead, why can’t we all just sit back and watch a group of adult men gossip and debate about who the hell peed in that pot plant? It’s like producers don’t understand that you can have entertainment without ruining people’s lives. Speaking of non-life ruining entertainment, cooking shows also rank in as some of the most watched shows across Australian television, most likely due to their wide audience appeal. Whether you’re young or old, from admiring the talented contestants, drooling over the delicious food or watching beloved household names guest appearances, there’s something here for everyone. With both My Kitchen Rules and Master Chef running for over ten consecutive years, this format is clearly here and here to stay. Alternatively, shows like The Great Australian Bake-Off allow viewers to witness some incredibly talented bakers and delicious desserts without the overly ramped-up stakes and drama. This makes for a much more relaxed and wholesome watching experience for a rainy Sunday afternoon. By Gabrielle Edwards


Talent competition shows have also had quite a lot of time in the spotlight over the years, though their popularity does seem to be dwindling. Singing competition formats such as Australian Idol and The X Factor have each been cancelled due to low ratings. The Voice Australia meanwhile still continues and has been renewed in 2020. This is despite ratings showing viewership dropping from more than three million viewers for season one’s finale to just over one million viewers in the latest season finale.

An oversaturation of such a simple format that rarely changes from season to season or show to show could also explain the downfall of this genre. Potentially, the influx of talent able to find its way by other means, such as viral success online, leaves less of an incentive to apply to these kinds of shows. At this point it’s universally accepted that contestants or winners are rarely heard from again once the season is completed. Though, against all these odds, reality shows continue to be constantly pumped out by networks, leaving us all wondering, why? Well, compared to most scripted shows, reality television is a lot cheaper to produce and create, with almost guaranteed viewership. Just one example is the fact that reality tv producers aren’t part of the same unions as scripted tv writers are, making them cheaper to hire. Furthermore, most of the contestants or casts of reality shows are paid insignificantly less than actors, if they are paid at all. This allows for profit margins to be as high as 40% just through advertising revenue, making them a great investment for TV networks. American Idol is a great example of this, with the show generating a gross profit margin of 77% at its peak.

The rise of social media has aided the success of the genre even further. With apps making interactive features such as voting even easier, it provides an even greater incentive to watch the shows and get involved. After each episode, social media and forums online also provide a perfect opportunity to discuss the happenings of recent episodes, helping build communities of fans. This helps to make each episode airing appear more like a major event as opposed to a simple hour of entertainment. Furthermore, unlike scripted shows, reality TV is based on (mostly) real people, meaning they are able to have real interactions outside the show once it has finished. Many reality stars are able to gather loyal fan bases during the airing of their shows, making them perfect vessels to promote the show or other content or brands in future. Unfortunately, this can lead to issues, with certain viewers using social media to get in contact and send hateful messages to their least favourite cast members, causing complications for many past stars. Though, if everyone were to make the most of these opportunities, as opposed to abuse their power, the positives of incorporating social media into reality tv viewing is easy to see. Due to all this, it’s almost guaranteed that reality shows will continue thriving, particularly in Australia. While it seems like everyone is quick to criticise the genre as a whole, it can’t be denied that reality TV has its merits and is here to stay. Despite being a low-involvement form of entertainment, it opens up plenty of avenues for small talk or discussions with co-workers, family and friends. Certain criticisms should definitely be addressed, including ensuring contestants and cast members concerns are met both during and after their time on the show. And, reality shows could do a lot better at hiring more diverse casts that more accurately reflect the Australian population. With online streaming platforms such as Netflix already being involved in producing their own reality content internationally, it will be even more interesting to see how this will pan out with Australian content and where this next renaissance in reality TV will take us. by Gabrielle Edwards


tv show review

RONNY CHIENG: INTERNATIONAL STUDENT First off if you haven’t watched this TV show before you are missing out, go watch it, it’s on Netflix. The space for this review was initially given to the Best Picture nominee Bombshell. The reasoning behind the decision to include Bombshell in the Australian themed issue was simply that it featured two blonde Australians – Margo Robbie and Nicole Kidman. Having one to two blonde Australians seems to be a favoured element in American movies and is why in this issue we’ve also reviewed Cats – featuring blonde Australian Rebel Wilson. I do actually recommend watching Bombshell in all its white feminist glory as Charlize Theron is a phenomenal actress but for this review we’ll be keeping things a little closer to home. Ronny Chieng International Student is a six-episode miniseries that depicts uni life with startling and hilarious accuracy. The series follows its titular character, Ronny Chieng,

as he navigates the perils of undertaking a law degree at Melbourne University. Each of the episodes focuses on a different hallmark of uni life: being told in your first lecture that your degree is extremely competitive and effectively useless, missing out on borrowing the one textbook in the library assigned to a course of hundreds of people, and the long and belligerent quest of getting special consideration and an extension. The mundane struggles of uni life are looked at, laughed at, and eviscerated by a characteristically expressionless Chieng. One of the episodes solely focuses on a two-day cram session in which Ronny abuses cold and flu tablets in order to stay alert enough to study, inevitably resulting in his mental and physical breakdown. If that’s not # relatable I don’t know what is. To make a bold statement I’m going to go ahead and state that most home-grown Australian TV shows are shit. This one isn’t. The jokes land because they are accurate. Ronny Chieng survived undertaking a law and commerce degree and lived to tell the tale. by Jodie Ramodien


movie review

CATS Yes, we’re absolutely still talking about this amazing train-wreck of a movie even though it’s 2020. If you’ve somehow missed the infamous hype and meme-filled critiques of this film, Cats is a movie adaptation of the popular stage musical based on T.S Eliot’s poems, with music composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The story’s plot is simple in that there really isn’t one. The audience follows the action through the eyes of Victoria the White Cat, a new cat in the neighbourhood who is quickly thrown into the world of Jellicle cats. Each year they must choose one cat to ascend to their ‘new life,’ often interpreted as a version of cat heaven. As the film continues, we are introduced to each character as they sing a pitch about who they are, what they’re about and why they should win. With a plot this crazy, should we really have expected much? While the stage musical features the actors wearing heavy make-up, prosthetics and costumes; the movie chose a different route, opting instead to use extensive computer generated VFX to make the characters have humanoid bodies and faces, though covered with fur. Upon first reveal when the movie’s trailer dropped, it was instantly met with backlash and constant meme responses as audiences were left shocked and disturbed. When the movie was finally released at the end of last year, reactions were similarly dismayed. With an onslaught of negative reviews and a rating of 20% on movie reviewing site Rotten Tomatoes, I knew this was a movie I couldn’t miss. And hey, turns out it was not that bad. But at the same time, it was also worse than I could have ever anticipated. Things start off with a bang as the opening number introduces you to what a Jellicle cat is (which I frankly still don’t understand) while the cats dance enthusiastically with their shoulders. Watching the film though, there were at least a few positives to note. The large dance numbers were, more often than not, entertaining to watch and while not all the songs were memorable, the more catchy ones were accompanied by exciting performances from the all-star cast. Jason Derulo and Taylor Swift’s performances were particularly fun to watch and Francesca Hayward’s talent shone bright. We can only hope she’ll get another chance to shine on the big screen in the future


On the other hand hand, a major critique the film has received is the incomplete visual effects and glitches in the CGI. Many viewers pointed out, for instance, that Judi Dench’s hand in one scene is left completely untouched by the effects, with her own wedding ring actually visible. When this was realised, the studio rushed to edit and send out updated versions of the film that fixed these errors. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea if I saw the original or corrected version. I attempted to over analyse the character’s hands to determine if their strang and furry but predominantly human hands were a special effects error or a bizarre character design choice. Did Jennifer Hudson just have perfectly manicured nails on set that day or did the design team purposely supplement fake nails as claws? While many jumped to blame the VFX artists, a wider discussion was brought up regarding the pressure from executives and studios these artists are under, indicating they may not be the sole cause for this movie’s complete failure. This was brought up particularly after the movie’s stars Rebel Wilson and James Corden brutally called out the film’s VFX team at the 2020 Academy Awards. To be fair, beyond just the success of the special effects, many of the character designs completely fail me, particularly the choice to have some female characters edited to be flat chested (as cats are) such as main character Victoria, played by Francesca Hayward, while other female characters, such as Taylor Swift’s Bombalurina, did not. Not to mention the bizarre way human faces were pasted onto the bodies of other animals in the movie, including mice and cockroaches. Truly the stuff of nightmares At the end of the day, despite this movie being objectively bad, it was still a surprisingly entertaining watch. I suppose if you go in with the lowest expectations, there really isn’t anywhere to go but up. If you ever intend on seeing this movie, watching it with friends with the sole intent of making fun off it is definitely the way to go. by Gabrielle Edwards

horoscopes ARIES



Girl if you want that promotion, fight for it. You won’t get it otherwise. Especially if Brenda has anything to do with it. You know what she’s like.

I get it, you’re persistent and at times stubborn, but Gatorade is not lubricant. No one is that hot Taurus. No one.

You think you’re at an enlightened stage because you’re living your best life Gemini. Turns out, you’re emotionally stunted.




Yes, he did mean to send you that dick pic and no, you didn’t need to say thank you.

Still working on that Tinder bio sweetie? There’s only so much you can do to hide your sociopathy.

Your top fan status on MQ Love Letters won’t get you laid Virgo. Women are real people, start acting like it dude.




If you want to be the best version of yourself, you have to find out what’s going to kill you. This might just be your year Libra.

Going to festivals is not a personality. Find something that actually makes you interesting. Fuck.

2020 is all about good vibes only, cut those negative people out of your life. Except you can’t cut yourself out of your own life.




OCD is a real thing and you being anal about crumbs on your bed does not mean you have it. Get a grip.

Stop talking about US politics. No one cares about Petit Bourgeois even if he is the first openly gay candidate.

Did you know you ran a red-light Pisces? Who are we kidding, you didn’t even know you were driving.