Australia (Sputnik) – Beset with vocal public opposition, significant legal barriers and a host of ecological threats, a hotly disputed coal mine in Queensland, northern Australia, is nonetheless set to become a reality, even as it will be located near the…
A number of disturbing cases concerning the offshore Asylum Seeker Detention Centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island have recently captured online attention in Australia and beyond.
As reported in an earlier post, since 2013 asylum seekers arriving by boat without a valid visa are sent to offshore centres on Manus Island and Nauru. There is currently no possibility of being allowed to settle in Australia.
The Australian government announced in August 2016 that it intends to close the Manus centre, but the facility continues to generate controversy, most recently with the death of a Sudanese asylum seeker and the beating of two Iranian asylum seekers allegedly by police.
Many Australians agreed with Greens party leader Richard Di Natale recently when he called for an end to the war on drugs. The Greens is a minority party that supports conservation, responsible environmental management such as climate change action, and social justice. It also advocates a more independent foreign policy for Australia.
The country’s politicians, policy makers and health professionals have been arguing for years over recreational drug strategies — ‘Just say no’ versus ‘harm minimisation’, and tough law enforcement versus decriminalisation are well trodden warpaths.
The United States has agreed to resettle refugees stranded in Pacific island camps after failing to reach Australia.
Under current Australian law, individuals who attempt to reach the country illegally by boat are either intercepted in the water and turned away or, if they reach the shore, are removed from Australia for processing in the impoverished nations of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, a small Pacific island.
The camps in which migrants wait for processing have been criticized by rights groups as cramped and squalid. This spring a man and a woman in Nauru set themselves on fire in protest, and many other attempts at suicide among asylum seekers have been recorded.
A petition calling for the Australian state government of New South Wales to abandon ‘Safe Schools’ — a program designed to promote acceptance and respect for gay, intersex and gender-diverse students, and implemented in over 500 schools across Australia — has reignited a long-running national debate over whether it is a crucial anti-bullying initiative, or simply a radical attempt at sexual indoctrination.
According to Safe Schools Coalition Australia, the federally-funded program provides free resources and support to school staff in order to foster safer and more inclusive school environments. However, certain aspects of Safe Schools, including encouraging young people to accept that gender is a fluid concept, has alarmed some parents.
Over two thousand leaked files revealed a disturbing string of sexual abuse, assault and self-harm incidents at Australia’s detention centre for asylum seekers on the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru. The redacted documents were published by The Guardian this week. With more than 8,000 pages, the leaks cover the period between May 2013 and October 2015. Over half of the incidents involve children.
On one occasion, a guard at the centre allegedly hit a five year old girl “so hard it lifted her off her feet and sent her crashing to the ground”. Another file detailed how a father threatened to kill both himself and his children on multiple occasions, but was initially not referred to mental health services. In another report, a female asylum seeker was told she was ‘on a list’ of single women Nauru guards were ‘waiting for’.
The leaked documents also exposed a raft of cruel and intolerable living conditions: women with incontinence refused sanitary pads; doctors’ orders for urgent medical attention routinely ignored; filthy toilets that remained so for weeks; and detainees forced to live in cockroach-infested tents.
When it comes to climate change, now is the time to react and develop defenses. Unfortunately, very few western resources are allocated to prepare for future environmental challenges. That’s not the case in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples, who’re already dealing with environmental changes. Recent months have seen adaptation techniques field tested in indigenous areas, for eventual use elsewhere. One of the many questions going forward, however, is whether progress itself is sustainable.
As important as the actual technologies is including as many voices as possible in climate conversations. Climate change affects humanity more than any war, or plague. In fact, grimmer predictions for the future suggest it may eventually cause those things. According to Glacier Hub, whereas indigenous peoples occupy 65% of earth’s land, they’re rarely included in climate debate.
After disturbing images of Abu Ghraib-style treatment of children at a juvenile detention facility in Australia’s Northern Territory aired on a national TV show, many Australians are calling for political accountability and a broad review of detention conditions across the country, especially for its most vulnerable population: Indigenous children. Others are saying local media and rights groups in the Northern Territory have been reporting the abuse for years, but it was largely ignored by the public and the government.
Despite covering over 1,349,129 square kilometres (520,902 square miles), the Northern Territory only has a population of 243,700; a third of whom are Indigenous Australians.
Four Corners, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation weekly current affairs show, which aired extensive footage taken at the Don Dale facility in 2014 in an episode titled Australia’s Shame, shows young offenders as they are “stripped naked, assaulted and tear gassed.”