Monday, May 30, 2005

Childhood must be spared this huge responsibility

Ian Whang, former student, man-of-the-house, interpreter, 12 years old.

That our Immigration Department does not offer an interpreter to all their clients is a matter of great concern, in fact it borders on a breach of duty-of-care.

DIMIA must adopt an opt-out-service culture.
Not this opt-in-service culture that we are witnessing that leaves 12 year old children with the responsibility to interpret for their parent documents that their tender years cannot comprehend.

I was the same age as Ian when I would help my grandmother with her shopping. I not only provided muscle...I also provided interpretation. I found that the delicatessen staff would bypass me and try and get her to agree to ham instead of bacon. They would look for any signs of agreement, after all they were running a business and time is money.
My English was not very sophisticated, it all took time and I had a child's worldview.
Pressure for profit...
I wonder how much pressure was put on the Whangs to get this DIMIA agenda driven document done?

"The Department of Immigration issued a statement denying it had deceived Ian Whang's mother. And they said at no time had she asked for an interpreter."
I believe that DIMIA does behave in this opt-in way as an overriding organisational culture and I call it abusive and I am beyond ashamed.

Image from here

Sunday, May 29, 2005

I love my job it's the work I hate...

Tony Abbott thinks that some jobs are really tough and if you just do your best, try your hardest, however poor that might be, then it's ok.

This is Tony justifying Amanda (and let's not forget Phil) breathing in and out somewhere near their office...
"What people need to remember is we're talking here about very difficult situations. We're talking about, in some cases, people who are in very difficult personal circumstances. It's not always easy to know exactly what is going on in their lives, it's not always easy to know exactly what's happening in their home countries or even which are their home countries. These are difficult personal situations and the idea that you can resolve these questions in a moment is just wrong."
It's been many moments strung together Tony, they go on to make weeks, months and years.

Image from here

Sunday, May 22, 2005

David quiets a Goliath

Today on the Insiders David Marr, Virginia Trioli and Piers Akerman were Barry's studio guests.
One of the Goliaths of bullying Piers Akerman was visibly uncomfortable.

David's presence on the couch-of-the-left raised fear in Piers, who at times was unable to comment from under his jauntily tied sweater to defend himself or his right-wing spew.

Piers managed a pathetic bitchslap under the rolling credits at the end of the show...thank you David Marr!

Now if we can only get David to quiet Insider Goliath #2 - Andrew Bolt.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

When fascists eat their young

I had a rare politically inspired giggle today when I read how intolerant Alex Hawke the national president of the Young Liberals is.
Mr. Hawke had this to say about being a Liberal,
"The party should adopt tougher stands on social issues such as drugs and abortion so people know what we stand for. Nobody joins the Liberal Party to be left-wing. If you stand for compulsory student unionism, drug-injecting rooms and lowering the [homosexual] age of consent, you can choose the Greens, Labor or the Democrats."
Earlier, we prepared this elected, successful dish of Liberal MP.
MP Robyn Parker, who is part of the moderate Liberal faction and a former president of the Liberal Women's Council, said recent discussions on abortion had been highly offensive to women and had taken place for the wrong reasons. Ms. Parker stated that,
"Any debate on abortion should be about supporting women and their choices, and it should ultimately be a decision made between a woman and her doctor, not a topic used to obtain political advantage on a ballot or anywhere else."
Tension has been simmering since the conservatives gained control of the Young Liberals.

Mr Hawke later denied that his criticism extended to the state leader, John Brogden, a moderate who has previously supported injecting-room trials and lowering the homosexual age of consent.

Typical fascist...
Kiss up
Kick down

Saturday, May 14, 2005

DIMIA = Defensive Inward - Minded Ideologue Assessors

A former Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (DIEA), John Menadue, has added his voice to calls for a broader, public inquiry into the workings of the Department now known as DIMIA.

John Menadue says that Amanda Vanstone's department is badly led, inward looking, has a culture of suspicion and contains racist elements.

Speaking to ABC Radio National John Menadue says,
"Those [racist and suspicious] sorts of attitudes are everywhere in the Australian community. Unfortunately I don't think we've had good leadership on those issues in recent years where, under the name of border protection, outsiders have been subject to appalling treatment. So I think in many senses, the Department reflects the community generally, but they've been very badly served by the leadership that they've had."
[...]"the Department and the community gets the nod at the senior level of Government, from the Prime Minister in particular, that they can behave this way towards some of the most vulnerable people in the world – asylum seekers – it is not surprising that some people in the Department pick up that sort of view and believe that they've got to translate it into toughness in their own administration of the Migration Act."
"But when there are so many people to choose from, it is not surprising that if an Australian migration officer has to choose between and English-speaking engineer who's a refugee and a refugee who's a single woman who's been raped and she's illiterate, the latter will scarcely ever get a look in."
I first heard 'Fuck me less' when my sister came back from Papua New Guinea. Over there it is used by a powerless person towards a powerful person.

Fuck us less DIMIA!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Accented English

Absolutely every one of my relatives speaks English with a noticeable accent.
My father jokes that after 50+ years here he still sounds "fresh-off-the-boat."

With the recent revelations of DIMIA policy and process, I tell my family that this is no laughing matter.

The mindset of DIMIA, and by extension Australian society, is clearly to begin from a starting point that anyone 'other' = 'illegal immigrant.'
There seems very little capacity in this government, or in the wider community to accept that accented English or non-anglo features, could begin from a point of Australian and then widen into diversity.

At my work, when anyone with an accent phones, I will be called because I am the only 'foreigner' who has family who speak English as a second, third, fourth or fifth language. Therefore, it will be clearly for me or understood by me.
It wouldn't occur to anyone that my grandmother is in fact an accomplished linguist who speaks two languages fluently and three others conversationally.
No, accented English in my little workplace corner of Australia is a deficit and
a difficulty to be quickly moved onto Suki the foreigner.

In DIMIA, with these new revelations we can see that similar thinking occurs. Foreign is difficult, send it away...

I am so sad and angry that after all this time my beautiful family, and many like us, are still made to feel other, inferior and unwelcome.

Image from here

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Placing a woman central to her right not to be abused

Late one night in the NSW parliament women gained protection from violence without losing their right to reproductive choice.

The Government refused to consider an amendment by Christian Democrat MP Fred Nile, and backed by most Coalition MPs, that would have redefined the fetus as "a child in utero".

The Government alleged that MPs with an anti-abortion agenda were trying to hijack the debate.

Thank you Carr and Co., you saw the agenda coming and gave it no life.

Image from here

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Placing a woman central to her reproductive health choices.

Most people want to reduce the number of abortions, but don't want to limit existing access to abortion on demand, according to a national survey conducted for the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, published in The Australian yesterday.

"Significantly, an overwhelming 87 per cent of Australians endorse an approach that works to reduce the number of abortions without restricting access to the procedure."
This measure (if implemented) places women central to the issue whilst adding extra services. It builds on already existing services that are increasingly overstretched. Whilst I understand that the person is political, worker neutrality is possible. Currently such counseling exists where three options are discussed,
  1. abortion
  2. continuing with the pregnancy
  3. adoption
With careful screening of additional service providers which assures worker and organisational neutrality, providing counseling, information and referral, then more resources would be welcome.