By Eva Csik and Bec Devitt

8 June 2012

Australians is support of protection for whistleblowers

A recent poll has shown Australians are very much in support of protecting whistleblowers and their right to go to the media. This finding debunks the notion that Australians dislike “dobbers” and calls for the federal government to introduce promised legislation to safeguard whistleblowers.

Independent MP and former intelligence analyst Andrew Wilkie speaks from personal experience in saying that whistleblowers pay a heavy price for going public. Whistleblowers face stress, loss of income, hatred from former colleagues, as well as family breakdown, Mr Wilkie said.

There is currently no legislated protection at the federal level for whistleblowers in government agencies. The Special Minister of State, Gary Gray has said that the government is still considering reform.

Detention not addressing increasing youth crime in Cairns

James Cook University Assoc Prof Glenn Dawes has said that in order to minimise the increasing juvenile crime rate in Cairns a stronger focus needs to be placed on youth drug and alcohol services and anti-truancy programs, warning that juveniles were honing their skills in detention centres.

Prof Dawes said that factors such as drug and alcohol abuse, family circumstances and school attendance were influencing youth crime rates.

The Government should look at better ways of managing at-risk kids who disengage from school,” he said.

Definition of homelessness extended

The federal government is to release a draft legislation that looks to broaden the definition of homelessness. Under the planned new national laws caravan park and boarding house residents with no formal lease as well as those with no fixed address will officially be considered “homeless”.

Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Brendan O’Connor has said “without a secure home, people struggle to find and keep jobs or stay in training or education, or to keep their kids in school.

Supporting gay marriage through theatre

A line up of leading Australian actors will perform a play to support gay marriage, the “civil rights issue of our time, says Magda Szubanski.

Rachel Griffiths, Lisa McCune, Daniel MacPherson, Shane Jacobson and Magda Szubanski are among the cast in 8, a play about An American court case over whether gay and lesbian couples should be able to marry.

Cast and crew of the australian production are volunteering their time and all profits from the performances will go to the Australian Marriage Equality Lobby Group.

Legalising Prostitution in Tasmania

Hobart State Parliament is getting ready to debate the legalisation of the sex industry. Attorney-General Brian Wightman has said that there are no plans to make prostitution illegal and that Parliament would debate whether to legalise, decriminalise, or make no changes to prostitution law.

Controversial anti-prostitution campaigner Professor Sheila Jeffreys has said that legalising prostitution equalled legalising violence against women.

Mr Wightman says “The Government’s top priority is the health and safety of sex workers and the Tasmanian community.

Sinking refugee boat coverup

It took Australian authorities almost four hours to tell Indonesian rescue services that a refugee boat, which left Indonesia on October 3 2009, was sinking 17 nautical miles off the coast of Java.

The delay meant it was almost seven hours before an Indonesian navy ship was given the information and able to assist by which time it was reported that there was nothing left to find.

A nine month investigation has revealed that the delay was a result of the Australian Federal Police trying to avoid linking the boat to its spy who informed authorities of the situation while also attempting to delete information in the documentation relating the their spy. The AFP denies this and maintains they passed on the information to customs immediately.

Remote Aboriginal community given payout over discrimination claims

The remote Aboriginal community of Wadeye in the Northern Territory has received a $7.7 million payout from the government after it argued it had been the victim of racial discrimination because it’s school had been underfunded.

Federal Education Minister Peter Garret has announced that while the Government did not accept the merit of the claim, the community would receive the payout in exchange for dropping the complaint.

Traditional owner and former co-principal of the school Tobias Nganbe claims it was severely underfunded for 30 years, resulting in huge disadvantage.

Given the chance, given the right tools, given the right information, we are people that can do things for ourselves,” said Mr Nganbe.



Making sense of Mabo, reflecting on Reconciliation and the way forward

June 3rd marked the 20th anniversary of the Mabo decision, it also marked the end of Reconciliation Week but what does this mean for indigenous Australians?

Margaret Wenham at Courier Mail has said “The Mabo decision, the national apology and the reconciliation movement have not assuaged the racism and denialism that’s alive and well in this country and it’s time we squarely tackled this, no matter how unpalatable some of us find it.

Not everyone was joining in the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the High Court’s Mabo decision. For a number of the protesters at the Musgrave Park Tent Embassy in Brisbane the day simply marks a moment in Aboriginal legal history to be acknowledged but not necessarily celebrated.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has said the system has been slower than many people expected in creating positive change for Indigenous Australian land rights and there are improvements that can be made. Ms Roxon has announced there have been changes made to the budget and also plans to move mediation from the National Native Title Tribumal to the Federal Court in order to speed up the determination process.

The proposed changes include making land use agreements more flexible and working with stakeholders so that historical extinguishment of native title in parks and reserves is not a barrier to reaching agreement.

Native title has been recognised in 141 cases, approximately 620 indigenous land use agreement have been reached while 475 claims are yet to be settled.

General manager for indigenous services and education for Anglicare in the ACT, southern and western NSW Karen Kime has said at a Reconciliation Week event that there has been little positive change for indigenous people since the Sydney harbour Bridge walk in 2000.

On some indicators we have gone backwards as a nation.” Ms Kime said.

Ms Kime has also said that although there is much support for national reconciliation there has been no progress for more than 10 years in addressing the increasing over representation of indigenous Australians in prison; noting that lack of police training was a major concern.

Until the way we deal with Aboriginal young people is radically reviewed, these children will continue to graduate into adult prisons; a situation that is a grave injustice and an injustice to the Australian public who must pay dearly for such a system,” Ms Kime said.


Click here for a clear and concise time line for the Mabo decision.


Some relevant articles that have previously appeared on Right Now:

Native Title 20 years on: time for reform by Dr Bryan Keon-Cohen AM QC

Indigenous Juvenile Detention: Australia’s neglected crisis by Samah Hadid, Chris Varney and Benson Saulo

The State’s Responsibility to Care: Aboriginal people, human rights and the justice system by Kate Johnson




Review – Renewal: Five Paths to a Fairer Australia

By Georgia Cerni

Sophie Cousins’ book Renewal: Five Paths to a Fairer Australia is, in many respects, a proposal. For Cousins, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided Australians with an opportunity to reconsider the ways our society currently functions. Cousins aptly makes her case – while in some ways the pandemic reinforced burgeoning inequalities, it also presented us the chance to apply collectivist values to solve systemic problems.