Twas the day before Christmas when all through Punch house, not a reader was stirring except all of youse
The stories were hung by the interwebs with care, in hopes that the nice commenters soon would be there
We interrupt this doggerel to invite you to share a little goodwill. How about a declaration of love for someone you’ve argued with all year? Dare ya!
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We are about to embark on the final parliamentary sitting week of the year, and it promises to be ugly. Speaker Anna Burke will earn her money.
The complete collapse of the Government’s measures to discourage boats loaded with asylum seekers from reaching our shores has the Coalition even more fired up than usual.
Julia Gillard no longer seems to have any defence against the charge that Labor opened our borders to people smugglers when it dismantled the Howard government’s policies.
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When my parents arrived in the 1950s as ’10 pound Poms’, Australia was a brave new world. Their street in Melbourne’s Glen Waverley bustled with fellow European migrants eager to create a life for their families.
But while our neighbourhood was a snapshot of multicultural Europe there wasn’t a lot of mixing. My parents socialised with others from the old country while their Italian and Greek neighbours went to their own churches and started their own small businesses.
The ‘poms’ and ‘wogs’ in the street lived together quite happily, but separately.
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Australia’s reconciliation situation is worse than that of post-apartheid South Africa.
As we celebrate National Close the Gap day, it is time we focus on the real gap that needs to be closed - the gap in trust between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. For this is one gap that we can all take responsibility for closing once and for all.
When we hear the Close the Gap catch cry we immediately think of the shocking news headline statistics:
- An Aboriginal man is expected to live 11.5 years less than the Australian average.
- An Aboriginal baby is twice as likely to die before their first birthday.
- An Aboriginal girl is 32 per cent less likely to finish her high school education.
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It took courage back in 2007 for then Prime Minister John Howard and Indigenous Minister Mal Brough to announce what was known as the intervention in Aboriginal communities across the Northern Territory. It was a rapid response to the Little Children are Sacred report, which revealed the terrifying reality of child abuse, health and social degradation within remote indigenous communities.
The intervention was necessarily swift, as large numbers of police and army personnel moved in to communities in crisis.
Alcohol restrictions were put in place, medical examinations were carried out on indigenous children and school attendance was enforced, while 50 per cent of individuals’ financial welfare payments were quarantined for food and life essentials. While controversial at the time, the intervention had dramatic results, improving the health and welfare of children and reduced alcohol abuse in many indigenous communities.
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Reconciliation, multiculturalism, sustainability (including confronting human-induced climate change), feminism and economic redistribution are five ‘big ideas’ that, not only excite the passions of The Punch readers, but have characterised Australia’s post-War history.
Each one of these concepts represents a noble goal to be achieved in our society. Let me explain by starting with reconciliation. Reconciliation has little to do with ‘saying sorry’ – though it is an important symbolic act – but more to do with confronting the forced and illegal dispossession of the Australian Indigenous population.
Reconciliation is about reconciling the past with the present, as well as defining the type of future we want – one that recognises and celebrates Indigenous culture and finds a way to compensate for things passed.
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Every now and then life deals you a moment which overloads your emotions.
You’re not sure whether to cry or cheer or run and hide just to catch your breath.
That’s how I felt standing on the sixth floor of NAB’s Melbourne headquarters when watching Kevin Rudd’s apology to my people’s stolen generation.
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Why does scare-mongering worry us so much? Because it works. And it is simple to do.
This is how it is done in four easy steps: First, you must have a position of actual or perceived authority. Either’s fine.
Second you proclaim your objectivity, or your access to some knowledge that sets yourself apart from the mob. Fancy titles, having written a book, or apparently having seen something nobody else has, are all a good start.
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Aboriginal reconciliation hit the headlines again this week with an extraordinary call for all non-indigenous Australians to make restitution for the crimes of theft and genocide – or leave the country.
Dr Peter Adam said that atoning for the sins of the past required such a radical solution.
‘‘No recompense could ever be satisfactory because what was done was so vile, so immense, so universal, so pervasive, so destructive, so devastating and so irreparable,’’ Dr Adam said in a speech to the NSW Baptist Union.
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