Right Now Radio March Edition

By Right Now Radio
  • Amnesty International’s Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Manager, Tammy Solonec, discusses the impact the forced closure of Indigenous communities would have on the communities’ residents in WA.
  • Local funny lady Sarah Jones tells us what to expect from her two shows at this year’s comedy festival – Guinea Pigs and Political Asylum – on now until April 19.
  • The subject of abortion is still one that remains largely undiscussed, so we’ve got Jenny Ejlak of Reproductive Choice Australia in the studio to explain just how many barriers to abortion there are across Australia and what should be done to help those facing this difficult decision.
  • Many people seeking asylum in Australia are fleeing countries that would persecute them for being homosexual – so what happens when they are resettled in PNG, a country that does exactly that? David Sandbach and Evan Ritli from Young Liberty are here to tell us what they are doing to advocate for the rights of LGBTI asylum seekers.


Prime Minister Tony Abbott came under fire last month when he declared that those living in remote Indigenous communities have made a “lifestyle choice” in response to WA premier, Colin Barnett’s plan to close as many as 150 of the state’s 274 remote communities.

Tammy Solonec, a Nykina woman descendant of stolen generations, is the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Manager and Amnesty International. Prior to this appointment she has been campaigning for the rights of Indigenous Australians for many years, through her work as a lawyer at the Aboriginal Legal Service. She spoke to Right Now Radio about how detrimental the closures could be to not only the residents, but also to the wider WA community.

“It’s so traumatic for the affected residents but also we’re all connected up there; we’re all family and it affects all of us – it has ripples all throughout.”

After the damning results of the 2007 review of the Community Housing and Infrastructure Program (CHIP) in WA were published (see: “Living in the Sunburnt Country”), the decision was made for it to be abolished. However in 2010, the Federal Government negotiated with the state governments to replace CHIP with the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing. An amendment to the Housing Act in WA was then passed to ensure that this would work in the best interests of Aboriginal communities.

Since then, communities that signed up to these housing agreements have been getting assistance under the Tenancy Act, but those that didn’t sign up are “the ones that are slowly being neglected.”

“This is something that’s … been happening for a long time.”

Solonec brings a wealth of knowledge to the issue and explains the further impact these closures could have.


Ventriloquist and comedian Sarah Jones is keeping busy at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival with her show Guinea Pigs, performed with Nicholas J Johnson, as well as another ensemble piece called Political Asylum.

The first is a self-described “exploration of nerd culture”, and the idea that “just because you’re a nerd doesn’t mean you’re a good person as well.”

Political Asylum focuses on protests and involves a “friendly” amount of audience participation, so if you head along, be prepared to get involved!


It may come as a surprise to hear that Queensland and New South Wales use exact wording from an Act written in 1861 in their respective criminal codes relating to abortion. This is just one example that demonstrates how out of touch some of our states’ laws on abortion are in today’s society.

Jenny Ejlak from Reproductive Choice Australia is in the studio to talk about what difficulties women who are considering abortion face across the different states in Australia, and what should be done about it.

Advancements like the “abortion pill”, a.k.a. Mifepristone, haven’t had the impact many thought they would, and there are still many issues with access to these services for women in regional areas.

Ejlak also talks about the idea of personhood laws, such as Zoe’s Law, that could have negative effects and “starts that slippery slope where once you start to give a foetus rights there are all sorts of implications around that.”


Young Liberty for Law Reform (YLLR), a program of Liberty Victoria, gets young volunteers involved in advocacy projects with leading human rights experts. Divided into different teams or “pods”, they work on significant human rights issues and aim for change.

Evan Ritli and David Sandbach have been working hard in the refugee and asylum seeker pod to campaign for the rights of LGBTI asylum seekers who are being resettled in PNG.

Evan Ritli explains the crux of the problem:

“We currently resettle single men to Papua New Guinea or Nauru, and Papua New Guinea actually criminalises consensual sex between males – it’s punishable by up to 14 years in jail. So refugees may be coming here on the grounds that they’re persecuted for their sexuality, and then actually we’ll send them to a country that criminalises that aspect of the identity.”

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Photo credit: Asher Hirsch. 

For details on Sarah Jones’ shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, see the below links:


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.