2013 Editors’ Picks – Summer Reading Pack

By Right Now
sketch of a homeless person lying on a bench

As 2013 comes to a close, our editors look back at the year that was.

We’ve focused on a wide range of topics, as our monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) themes reveal.

This is our last article for the year, but we’ve collected enough reading here to get you through the festive period!

So, what were the best of 2013 according to our editors?

Sam – Sporty Spice

Article of the Year: “Some Violence is Better Than Others”, Kate Galloway

I chose this article, not merely for her articulate and thoughtful exploration of the ways the law and society deals with violence against women, but also because Kate draws out the critical issue of how subtle language choices can betray and reinforce misguided and harmful perceptions about a person or group of people.

Theme of the Year: Sport and Human Rights

It was something a little different, but sport proved a fascinating topic, with a mix of concerning and uplifting stories. Anna K-Hassan wrote a hugely popular piece on Muslim women playing AFL (and was soon featured widely across mainstream media); Jason Ball spoke to Erin Handley about homophobia in the AFL; and if you haven’t read Anna Krien’s Night Games, add it to the summer pile.

John – Consultant Spice

Article of the Year: “Artistic Dreaming – Women, Art and Empowerment in La Perouse”, Jacqui Fetchet

This outside choice for “best article” was an easy one. The article does something very important. It explains how human rights are not merely a thing of trans-national calamities or media-saturating court cases. It is a thing of community, culture and empowerment in even small contexts. This article explains how with its engaging example.

Theme of the Year: Religion and Human Rights, February 2013

For someone with a background in studies in religion, who thinks there’s no more interesting – sometimes fascinating, sometimes horrifying – human phenomenon, it was easy to go with this theme. But it was easy in any case given the great array topics by a great array of contributors: Julian Burnside, Tim Costello, a number of leading academics and more.

André – Old Spice

Article of the Year: “The Banality of Police Racism”, Mohamad Tabbaa

Not only is this a poignant story about the tragic effects of police racism, it is also a great illustration of Right Now’s role in focusing attention on issues glossed over by the mainstream media. With space on the opinion pages of daily newspapers at a premium, this article was able to find a home in our magazine and went on to become one of our most popular articles of the year.

Theme of the Year: Cultural Shift

This was my favourite theme of the year because it’s inherently optimistic – how do we effect social and cultural changes? Whilst it’s important to be able to diagnose Australia’s human rights ailments, it’s even more important to know how to cure them.

Roselina – Tea person

Article of the Year: I know I’m cheating here, but I couldn’t just pick one article that I enjoyed the most this year, so I’m going to tell you about my two favourites: “Stumbling in the Dark, Reaching for the Light” by Tilman Ruff and “Interpreting Justice” by Chloe Potvin.

As Tilman writes in his exquisite, albeit chilling, article on the scourge of nuclear weapons, ‘if nuclear weapons are used, everything else could become tragically irrelevant in an afternoon.’ Tilman reminds us why we should never become complacent about nuclear weapons and that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is one of the greatest challenges that we face today, one which has direct consequences for all inhabitants of planet Earth.

In her article, Chloe Potvin draws attention to a problem that I confess I hadn’t thought about until she wrote for us on deaf jurors in Australia, or rather, the lack thereof. No deaf person has ever been permitted to serve on a jury in Australia, despite multiple studies having shown that deaf persons should be allowed to carry out their civic duty to serve on a jury like any other Australian. Nevertheless, debate continues about the impact that the presence of a deaf juror may have on the outcome of a trial. This is a fascinating issue that is grossly under-reported in the media.

Theme of the Year: Homelessness in Australia

Homelessness is only an “invisible” problem because as a society we choose to avert our eyes. This year it was important for us to help highlight the persistent problem of homelessness in our country. It also so happened that some of our best articles and art this year were based on our homelessness theme. Seriously, if you haven’t read Tony Birch’s long-form essay, or Sienna Merope’s reflection on homelessness in the NT, go read them now!

Erin – (Christian Feminist, or Empowered Female Heroine)

Article of the Year: Muslim Women Kick Goals, Amna K-Hassan

This piece was a delightful surprise and a privilege to publish. Amna recounts her journey forming a Muslim women’s AFL team, the Auburn Tigers, and her struggle with patriarchal men who challenged her “with religious arguments and cultural stigma”. After we published this story, it was widely featured in the mainstream media, but Right Now gave Amna a voice and the space to talk about her faith in depth. She explores the potential conflict between Islam and AFL and finds that the problem is with sexist men, rather than something inherent in the Quran.

Theme of the Year: Institutions and Human Rights

One of the great human rights tragedies is when institutions designed to deliver services for society’s most vulnerable people ultimately neglect or violate those rights. From the representation of women in government and their treatment in the military, to banning smoking in prisons, we look at institutional failures to uphold human rights. In particular, Anne Manne’s feature essay investigating the culture of the Catholic Church, which allowed perpetual rape and silencing of children, is a devastating and necessary piece.

Laura – Arty Spice

Articles of the Year: Emerge Festival and Mothers & Ink Exhibition

A nice break from reading – here are two of our best image based articles from the year.


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.