Forum News

Statement by AMMA Chief Executive, Steve Knott

Australia’s national resource industry employer group, AMMA congratulates Justice Susan Kiefel on her appointment as the next Chief Justice of the High Court.

 In becoming the first woman to be appointed to Australia’s most senior judicial position, Justice Kiefel has achieved a great milestone for herself personally and for all Australian women.

 Her story is truly remarkable, having left school at 15 years of age and beginning her career in law as a legal secretary. After finishing her legal education later in life, she became Queensland’s first female Queen’s Counsel in 1987.

 Her career should be an inspiration to women everywhere, particularly those who come from humble beginnings and can look to Justice Kiefel as an example of how far they can progress through hard work and determination.

 Justice Kiefel’s elevation to Chief Justice is an excellent appointment by the Turnbull Government and one warmly welcomed by the resource industry.

 AMMA also congratulates Brisbane-based Justice James Edelman on his appointment as a High Court Judge, filling the vacancy left by Justice Kiefel’s elevation.

To all members of our TAT family, readers and contributors, who celebrate Diwali..

We wish you Safety, Good Health, Happiness, Prosperity and Good Fortune.

May they all be with you in the coming year.


This is an INVITATION to the

Make Bullying History Gala Dinner

Reduce bullying in schools by up to 70% within 12 months

Saturday, 6.30pm, October 29, 2016. Novotel Sydney, Parramatta.

$120 per head or $1000* per table of 10 (* if purchased prior October 17)

Australia is top #3 in the world for the most number of teenagers that commit suicide because of bullying.

The Make Bullying History Foundation is making an impact and have reduced bullying in some schools by up to 70% in 12 months

but they need your support to continue to do so.

The night will include a delicious two course dinner, drinks, a charity auction and five star entertainment.

Please call 0452 446 443 or email to book or for further information.

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jacqui lambie

During Senate Estimates, I raised conflict-of-interest concerns with the chair of Dairy Australia, Mr Geoff Akers, who admitted that his wife was on the board of Australia’s largest dairy manufacturer Murray Goulburn. 

Normally I wouldn’t inquire about the personal lives of any person in organisations that receive taxpayer funds, but given hundreds of Tasmanian dairy families are facing ruin because of the way the Australian dairy industry has been managed – I stand by my questioning of Mr Akers during Estimates Hearings.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners state that, “conflict-of-interest is a gateway to corruption”, and given the dangerous mess that our Dairy industry is in – farmers right now must be given a guarantee that their representatives, running Dairy Australia are acting solely in farmers’ best interests – not the interests of other parties

It’s important for all Australians to establish if Dairy Australia is a truly independent body, given the taxpayer contributes tens of million to its operations every year.

jacqui lambie

I grilled the Liberal Government about Australia’s almost $4B p/a or $50B plus (over a decade) ForeignAid Budget.

There are a number of important facts that many Tasmanians would be shocked to learn – when it comes to the management our Foreign Aid budget. Despite what the Attorney General initially told me during the Estimates questioning. 

And given that Tasmania grows and processes some of the best food in the world – I know our farming community and workers will be very disappointed to hear that Australia does not have in place an official policy to buy local when it comes to our Foreign Aid food, goods and products.

Australia sends a lot of Foreign aid to countries with much larger militaries than our own, including Indonesia approx. ($300M p/a) and Pakistan approx. ($40M p/a
I stand by my network’s policy to halve Australia’s Foreign Aid budget over the next 10 years and pull our pensioners out of poverty.
Our government should redirect that extra $25B to Australian Aged Pensioners.

A consortium comprising four Australian grazier families represented by Messrs Tom Brinkworth, Sterling Buntine, Malcolm Harris and Viv Oldfield (BBHO or the consortium), today announced its intention to submit a $386 million offer to acquire 100% of the shares of S. Kidman and Co. (Kidman) (the Offer).

Consortium spokesman Sterling Buntine said: “We have developed a compelling and superior proposal to that recently supported by the Kidman Board which will see Kidman 100% Australian owned.

“BBHO’s financing is committed and our proposal does not require Foreign Investment Review Board approval which means greater certainty for the Kidman shareholders.”

“The Kidman story and legacy of Sir Sidney Kidman is in the DNA of our cattle industry. Sir Sidney was a pioneering nation-builder whose values and vision helped build Australia into a respected leader in the global beef industry.”

“The four families comprising the consortium are deeply committed to honouring and preserving the Kidman heritage and brand which will continue under the stewardship of highly regarded and successful Australian graziers,” Mr Buntine said.

The BBHO families have direct, active, inter-generational involvement within the industry, and continue to this day to passionately work within their respective agricultural operations.

Interests of the group span livestock, grain, transport and other industry services.

Mr Buntine said: “As Australian grazing families we share a strong affinity with the Kidman properties. My father carted cattle for Kidman for many years, while several members of the Oldfield family earned their stripes as drovers on Sir Sidney’s properties. More recently the Brinkworth family’s epic 18,000 head cattle drive from central west Queensland to southern New South Wales followed in Sir Sidney’s similar footsteps from earlier this century.”

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Earlier this month, at the grand age of 90, Peter Tripovich has just completed a walk all the way around Australia.
The jubilant Echuca man strode down Melbourne’s Bourke St mall, arms held high in victory at the end of a decade-long quest.
The RAAF veteran and farmer began the walk when he was 79, wanting to raise money for children in poorer countries who were “worse off than ourselves”.
He started on the approximately 20,000 km walk around Australia in Melbourne, choosing to work with the charity, International Children’s Care Australia and aiming to raise $200,000. His anti-clockwise circuit continued for 15,000km when he reached Pemberton, WA. At that time, he needed to return home to tend his wife who had terminal cancer. He spent the next four years caring for her, during which time he flew to the mountainous Thai/Burmese border region to help build shelters for children and villagers. An experience that’s had a lasting effect on him.
Last Australia Day, at the age of 89, he returned to Pemberton for the final 3500 km jaunt to Melbourne. Each day he woke at 3 am and walked between 30-40 km. He was followed all the way by his support staff of three.

Peter is a true “aussie battler that overcame”.
If you would like to help Peter reach his $200,000 goal – visit ICC Australia

Support our friends at Street Organics to help raise funds for GROW FOUNDATION 

street organis logogrow logo 

Information Courtesy of Kristen Morrison from Street Organics

Street Organics is proud to support Grow Foundation – a unique Melbourne-based charity which offers support  & natural health solutions to families of children with special needs.

For the past 5 years, a small group of kids has participated in the Melbourne Marathon to raise funds for Grow Foundation.

This year, a group of our staff will be running with a group of over 50 kids – and we would love your help!

These kids run 3km, 5.7km or 10km – because they want to help other children who can’t run, walk, see or speak like they can.

Some of them even set up their own fundraising efforts to help raise more – amazing!!

The team’s target is $20,000-  We are nearly half way there!

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While more subsidised mental health-related prescriptions are being dispensed in Australia, government spending on these medications has fallen, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Mental health services—in brief 2016 shows that $753 million was spent by the Federal Government on mental health-related subsidised prescriptions under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS)—accounting for about 8% of all PBS/RPBS subsidies.

AIHW spokesperson Tim Beard said that after adjusting for inflation, spending on subsidised mental health-related prescriptions fell on average by 1.4% per year between 2009–10 and 2013–14.

‘Despite this, more prescriptions were dispensed—rising by an average of 2.6% per year over the five years from 2010–11,’ Mr Beard said.

‘This was largely due to the decreased cost of many subsidised medications.’

In total, there were 35 million prescriptions dispensed to 3.9 million patients during 2014–15.

‘Antidepressant medication was the most frequently dispensed medication, accounting for about 68% (or 24 million) of mental health-related prescriptions dispensed,’ Mr Beard said.

The rate of prescriptions was highest in Inner regional areas, at 1,934 prescriptions per 1,000 people. It was lowest in Very remote areas, at 436 prescriptions per 1,000 people.

‘Among the states and territories, Tasmania had the highest rate of prescriptions, at 1,942 per 1,000 people. The lowest rate of prescriptions was 738 per 1,000 people in the Northern Territory,’ Mr Beard said.

Today’s report also shows that overall, an estimated $8 billion was spent on mental health-related services in Australia during 2013–14—equivalent to $344 per person. This included $2.1 billion on public hospital services for admitted patients and $1.9 billion for community mental health care.

The report is accompanied by other updates to information on the Mental Health Services in Australia website ( including emergency departments, community and residential care, hospitalisations and GP activity.


The age old saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ no longer has a place in today’s society when the number of children being emotionally abused has increased by as much as 85% in some Australian states.

Act for Kids is calling for everyone to be vigilant to suspected emotional abuse.

When you think about child abuse and neglect, it’s easy to conjure up images of a bruised and battered little boy or a girl in dirty clothes.
It’s more difficult to picture a subdued little boy, often mistaken as an introvert when in fact, he’s broken inside from being called ‘stupid’ over and over again.
According to the latest Government figures*, in the year 2014-15 emotional abuse was the most common form of abuse substantiated for children.

The age old saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ no longer has a place in today’s society when the number of children being emotionally abused has increased by as much as 85% in some Australian states.
The total number of substantiated cases of abuse and neglect was 42,457 and emotional abuse makes up 43% of this.
The number of abused and neglected kids across Australia is now greater than the entire population of Tamworth in NSW (41,810 pop. in 2014), but the real figure is much, much higher, said Dr Katrina Lines, Executive Director of Services, Act for Kids.

“Sadly, these statistics only tell us about the traumatic stories of children who told someone what was happening, or where an adult spoke up about what was happening to a child,” said Dr Lines.
“Many more children are living in situations where they are harmed and exploited by adults – and no one notices or does anything to help.
“Act for Kids is an organisation which does just that – we act to keep children safe and to ensure they have safe, happy childhoods. We provide early educational experiences for young children to help prevent harm from occurring and specialised integrated therapy services for children who have experienced abuse and neglect.”

For more information about Act for Kids please visit: Continue reading

Your voice has real power!   That’s why you can help to make some noise.

For too long the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has turned a blind eye to sexism in advertising, because it’s not specifically mentioned in the advertisers’ Code of Ethics.

That’s why I need your help to get your networks to sign our petition by October 11.

In total we need 10,000 signatures.

Together we will call on the ASB and the AANA to revise the Code of Ethics and stop letting Australian advertisers get away with sexism and objectification. Enough is enough.

Click here to share the Facebook post below now.

collective shout

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Mental Health Australia, the peak group for mental health in Australia, has today issued a Position Statement on marriage equality.

The statement highlights the negative effects of ongoing discrimination on the mental health of LGBTIQ Australians and calls on the Parliament to pass laws to establish marriage equality.

 “LGBTIQ Australians experience routine discrimination, along with all its negative mental health effects.  Marriage equality is squarely a mental health issue” said Mr Frank Quinlan CEO of Mental Health Australia.

 “Determinants of mental health are the same for LGBTIQ Australians as they are for the rest of the community, but ongoing discrimination creates additional challenges.”

 “LGBTIQ Australians experience triple the rate of depression and double the rate of anxiety when compared to their heterosexual counterparts.”

 “LGBTIQ Australians are also between 3.5 and 14 times more likely to attempt suicide.”

  “More than half of the LGBTIQ population have experienced verbal homophobic abuse.”

 “No part of the population should be reliant on the outcome of a plebiscite to free them from discrimination,” Mr Quinlan said.

 “$160 million saved on a plebiscite would go a very long way towards providing much needed mental health and suicide prevention programs for LGBTIQ Australians”

 The Position Statement is available at

Embark on a Delicious Celebration of the Senses

The future will look rosy, sparkling, sun-dappled and everything in between as the 3rd annual Wine & Cheese Fest firmly plants its roots back in Williamstown and returns to Seaworks on Sunday 23 October from 11am-6pm.

w and c fest 3
Over 60 fine quality wine, cheese and gourmet food providores will be showcasing their artisinal products accompanied by live music entertainment, DJs and stunning views of the city and seascape. From wheels of fine cheeses and savoury sauces, to home-style pastries, pickled preserves, smoked and cured meats, luscious desserts and of course a huge array of wine, ciders and beers for all palates, the Wine & Cheese Fest is a tantalizing feast for the tastebuds.

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More than 80 per cent of Australians believe our society is becoming a lonelier place, according to new survey results released today by Lifeline Australia.

CEO Pete Shmigel said findings from the national charity’s recent Loneliness Survey highlight the lifesaving importance of caring real-world relationships, as well as the need for whole communities to play a role in combating Australia’s suicide emergency – with deaths at 10-year-high levels.

“For a society that is more technologically connected than we have ever been, these results suggest we’re overlooking good old-fashioned care and compassion when it comes to our mental health and wellbeing,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Of the 60 per cent of respondents who said they ‘often felt lonely’, a large cohort lived with a partner and/or children. This is consistent with Lifeline data showing that, while a majority of callers (55 per cent) to our 13 11 14 crisis line live alone, often without strong support networks, there are many who feel unable or unwilling to seek help from loved ones in their own homes.

“Furthermore, with about 70 per cent of survey respondents having never called Lifeline or a similar service, we as a community need to be more mindful of how the people in our lives are coping, and send a strong message that no person in crisis should have to be alone – help is available.”

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Lifeline Australia is today excited to announce that property development and investment company PAYCE will be lending their considerable support to Lifeline Australia’s participation in the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon.

PAYCE will be the primary supporter of Lifeline Australia’s CEO Pete Shmigel and Lifeline National Ambassador DJ Tigerlily (Dara Hayes), who will be competing in the prestigious marathon together in November. They will be running under the Lifeline banner to build awareness of the national suicide emergency in Australia and raise funds for the vital services that Lifeline provides.

Lifeline Australia CEO Pete Shmigel runs the Blackmores half-marathon in Sydney to prepare for the NYC Marathon in November

“Having PAYCE come on board as our biggest supporter for the New York Marathon is massive,” Mr Shmigel said. “The idea of running the New York City Marathon is daunting, but it is nothing compared to the crises that some of our help-seekers face every day. We are very excited to have found a partner in PAYCE for this event.

“PAYCE’s contribution is going to allow us to make a real difference in communities and across our Network. To give some perspective, $50K pays for about 2000 calls (one day’s worth) to be answered by Lifeline Centres across the country, or for 100 people to be trained to work on our 24/7 crisis support helpline, 13 11 14.”

PAYCE Managing Director, Brian Boyd, said it is a pleasure to support Lifeline Australia.

“At PAYCE, we are keen supporters of grassroots community work and are excited to partner with Lifeline Australia to help provide more crisis services to Australians in need. We anticipate this will be the start of a great partnership with Lifeline.”


This week DJ Tigerlily also launched her own fundraising campaign for Lifeline in the New York City Marathon. The popular 24-year-old musician has been outspoken on a range of issues, from mental health and body image to online bullying to social media, and hopes to make a bigger difference in her role as Lifeline National Ambassador.

For crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit

NB: Lifeline’s 24-hour telephone crisis line 13 11 14 is pronounced ‘thirteen eleven fourteen’

A survey completed by Essential Media shows similar results to the surveys done by PFLAG that 60% of people of Australia are strongly in favour of marriage equality, 68% are strongly against public funding for the Yes and No campaigns and 70% are strongly concerned about hate speech and the negative impact it may have on LGBTI people and the community generally.

National Spokesperson for parents with LGBTI loved ones, Shelley Argent, said,

I cannot understand why Mr Turnbull and his Government are intent on a wasteful, non binding plebiscite that only benefits the nay sayers and their negative campaign.

An increase of nastiness and divisiveness on both sides of the debate has already started on social media.  Mr Turnbull needs to recognise that a plebiscite, should it be called, will not be respectful.

Additionally, we call on Mr Shorten, Leader of the Opposition to stand by his word and block the proposed legislation in the Senate.

It should be noted, a survey initiated by PFLAG in July showed that of the 5500 LGBTI people surveyed 85% definitely do not want a Plebiscite and 65% would prefer to wait for a new government or for Mr Turnbull to have a change of heart and allow a Free Vote.

Attorney General, George Brandis stated late last week that he knew that 70% of Australians were in favour of marriage equality, so he believed the Plebiscite would easily win.

However, the Government is still prepared to waste $160+ million dollars and put unnecessary stress and anxiety on LGBTI people and their families.  Meanwhile, LGBTI people’s rights continue to be withheld because of a right wing minority  group will never change their minds or understand the feeling of being considered second rate.

It is time for Mr Turnbull to stand up, show leadership and make it clear to Abetz & Co that they are not leading this country, he is. If Mr Turnbull wants to be remembered as a Leader of worth he needs to do what he knows is right.

Advocates have welcomed a new poll showing Australians support marriage equality, support a parliamentary free vote on the issue and are concerned a plebiscite may result in anti-gay hate speech and abuse.

 The Essential poll, released today, also shows the public is strongly against funding for the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ cases if a plebiscite is held.

 Spokesperson for LGBTI advocacy group, just.equal, Ivan Hinton-Teoh, said,

 “This poll shows Australians back marriage equality, support a free vote on the issue and are concerned about a plebiscite.”

 “We will use this poll to lobby Coalition members to push for a free vote and to lobby Labor to finally close the door on a plebiscite.”

 According to the Essential poll, 60% of Australians support marriage equality, with majority support across the supporters of all parties, including the Coalition.

 53% of Australians support a free vote in Parliament should a plebiscite be blocked, with only 29% against. There is majority support for a free vote across all parties.

 48% are concerned about hate campaigns during a plebiscite compared to 39% against.

 A whopping 68% reject the Government’s proposal for public funding for the respective sides.

 Mr Hinton-Teoh said many LGBTI people will take heart that more Australians than not share their concerns about hate campaigns.

 “As Malcolm Turnbull says, a majority of Australians are sensible, fair-minded people. It is precisely these qualities that lead us to share a deep concern with a plebiscite.”

TV & RADIO personality joins forces with innovative stationery brand Yoobi and The Smith Family to provide free school supply packs to 1,110 kids

AUGUST 23rd, 2016:

Yoobi, the innovative stationery supplies brand that promises that if “You Buy, Yoobi Gives,” will be joined by Yoobi ambassador Osher Günsberg on Tuesday 30th August, to deliver a truckload of free school supplies to more than 1,000 Mt Druitt Primary School children. The “give” comes thanks to Yoobi’s innovative “one for one” business model, where for every Yoobi item purchased in Australia through Officeworks stores, a Yoobi school item is donated to a child or classroom in need, in partnership with The Smith Family children’s education charity.

Yoobi’s vibrant stationery range was launched in Australia in December 2015, with a mission to provide school supplies to the one in 10 Aussie kids who grow up in financially disadvantaged families and may lack access to the required stationery items to get them through the school year. In just eight months, the colourful, socially responsible brand has already impacted the lives of nearly 16,000 school children.

“What I love about Yoobi is that giving is at the centre of the business, you know that by choosing to buy a yoobi product, you know that an Australian child in need will be receiving essential school suppies also. That’s why I am so thrilled to be helping Yoobi support Willmot Public School in providing fundamental school items for its students,” said Günsberg.

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In 2002, when Anj Barker was just 16 years old, her life changed forever when she was brutally bashed to near death by an ex-boyfriend. She suffered severe brain damage and was in hospital, rehabilitation and a nursing home for three years, before being able to return home to full time care.

Anj continues to amaze everyone with her recovery and currently lives independently, despite needing a wheelchair for mobility, and is employed part-time at the National Australia Bank. Despite the enormous challenges she faces daily, Anj is determined to open the hearts and minds of others.

Anj campaigns to educate the public on anti-violence, pushing the boundaries for disability rights and fighting for better rehabilitation faculties as well as fighting for more appropriate accommodation for Young People in Nursing Homes through talking to students, men, women, health workers, Police and Politicians. She has spoken to around 30,000 young people around Australia so far, spreading the message of empowerment to say \’no\’ to violence by advocating respectful relationships.

Anj has been working on increasing her independence and is slowly overcoming all the obstacles that face someone with a disability. However, a specific challenge she is currently facing makes it hard for her to get around to talks, therapy and to visit family;

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Early childhood is one of the most important but also most at-risk areas in Australian education, according to a new report by the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University.

Today’s report, Quality Early Education for All finds that better access to quality early years services improves children’s capabilities and wellbeing that in turn lifts school outcomes and national productivity—but these critical services aren’t getting enough support.

Mitchell Institute Director, Dr Sara Glover said governments should heed the evidence and treat early childhood education as just as vital as schooling.

“This year’s election battle is being fought across education, so it is timely for governments to look closely at what works across the whole system and target spending to get the greatest return on investment,” Dr Glover said.

“Today’s report tells us improving access to quality education in the early years must be on the table.”

The report shows that nearly five years after National Quality Standards (NQS) were introduced, a quarter of services have not been assessed and of those that have, a third are not meeting minimum standards.

More than 60,000 children start school vulnerable—less able to engage in learning or build relationships with their peers. These children show poor social skills and emotional wellbeing when they start school, then experience behaviour problems that can harm progress throughout the rest of their school years.

Most worryingly, the latest data from the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) shows the learning and wellbeing gap between wealthiest and poorest children is widening.

While good early education could help turn some of these issues around, the report finds one in three children are not getting the number of hours needed to make a difference.

The findings also highlight a need to move away from talking about early years services as ‘child care’ that allows parents to return to work to ‘early education’, which sets children up well for a lifetime of learning.

The Mitchell Institute makes clear recommendations for change, urging governments to ensure all services meet minimum NQS levels by next year, invest in high quality intensive services in communities that need it most and introduce an early education campaign to build awareness of the importance of early years.

Dr Glover said today’s report confirms that early years development should be a policy priority.

“We need to maximise the potential of all children by providing quality early education opportunities that target areas where we can make the greatest difference.

“Getting the early years right will give Australian kids the best chance of success in life,” Dr Glover said.

The full report is available online at

The Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) 2016 annual lunch promotes conversations

By being present at the annual lunch today, I have now become a part of the conversation, here’s what I learnt.

Perinatal anxiety and depression affects both mothers and fathers.

It is important as an outsider, whether a friend, a family member or a health professional, to recognise when a parent is not coping and to act immediately by asking them about their emotional wellbeing.

Perinatal anxiety and depression sufferers tend to hide their symptoms from everybody, even doctors, causing the illness to manifest and stalling early intervention.

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Madison Manning; the creative writer, the literature scholar, the photographer.

Profile: View Madison 's profile here


The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has paid tribute to
Mrs Mununggurr who passed away in Arnhem Land earlier this week.

Mrs Mununggurr was a senior traditional owner of the Gumatj Clan and a visionary Yolngu who was instrumental in establishing the Garma Festival in North East Arnhem Land, the annual celebration of
Yolngu culture, Minister Scullion said.

“I treasure the times I spent with Mrs Mununggurr in Arnhem Land,
particularly at Garma, an event I know was particularly dear to her heart.”

She was a foundation member of the Yothu Yindi Foundation, which
hosts and coordinates Garma, an event that draws thousands of people
from across Australia and beyond to Gove Peninsula to experience and
learn about the Yolngu.

The Chairman of the Yothu Yindi Foundation, Mr Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM,  describes the festival as an integration of Yolngu and Balanda culture, an opportunity for Yolngu to speak of their dreams and visions for their future.

“I acknowledge Mrs Munungurr’s legacy in the establishment and ongoing success of this important event.”

Minister Scullion extended his deepest condolences to Mrs Mununggurr’s family and her community at this difficult time.

Opinion Article

By Madison Manning


Jesinta CampbellDanii Minogue and Megan Gale have all been featured in the Marie Claire magazine’s latest issue, in an attempt to bring awareness to domestic violence*.

The magazine has been active in raising awareness about domestic violence concerns, including the publication of an article about makeup being a tool for domestic violence sufferers, and the sharing of a story about an abuse counsellor who was also a victim of abuse.

This month, Marie Claire launched a campaign of editorials featuring celebrities with younger children, in an effort to promote the following message:

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Madison Manning; the creative writer, the literature scholar, the photographer.

Profile: View Madison 's profile here


By Abigail R. Hall Blanco, Jennifer Schneible

For a new college graduate, finding a job is stressful. That first job is more than a paycheck. The job represents the accumulation of hours of hard work and a start on a stable future. In a job market dominated by resumes, connections and previous work experience, college students will often turn to internships, paid and unpaid, to gain a competitive edge.

While paid internships are usually seen as similar to other jobs, unpaid internships have come under increased scrutiny. Critics contend that since employers know students are desperate for experience, employers can abuse their interns with long hours and poor work conditions, all without compensation.

Two interns who worked on the film “Black Swan” recently sued their former employer, with one claiming that unpaid internships “rob … people of the value of their labor.”

In light of such concerns, some perhaps well-intentioned critics want unpaid internships outlawed. But there is nothing exploitative about unpaid internships.

The charge that companies exploit unpaid interns is false and misleading. They do receive benefits. Economics teaches us that people engage in exchanges only when each party expects to come out ahead. Unpaid internships are no different. No one forces anyone to take an internship, so students must expect to gain even if unpaid. How so? They expect to learn on the job.

Prohibiting unpaid internships is a bad idea for many reasons. It would make the competition for paid internships skyrocket. An estimated 500,000 to 1 million unpaid interns are employed annually, and there wouldn’t be enough paid internships to go around if unpaid internships were abolished. Many companies may not be able to afford the added expense and wouldn’t hire interns at all. This means many students would miss out on the opportunity to gain work experience. Continue reading

Hoddle Street Billboard

A stripper agency using females for advertising has been taken to the Advertising Standards Bureau Board meeting.

Strippers Wanted Agency will be under discussion at this week’s Advertising Standards Board (ASB) meeting after too many complaints were sent through about a billboard on Hoddle Street, Melbourne.

Members of the public expressed concerns about the nature of the billboard perpetuating issues like domestic violence, rape and incest.

The advertising image is of six females wearing lingerie, facing away from the camera. Strippers Wanted contacted the Outdoor Media Association and ironically, ASB, before deciding on an image to use.

“We wanted to ensure that we complied to all of the advertising guidelines, we want to promote the agency, not offend people” said Strippers Wanted.

“In fact, we were quite surprised when we learnt the word ‘strippers’ could be used, but definitely not shocked when the photo of the six girls was sent back with a red line running across their hips, where the image had to be cropped.”

The agency offers private party and function services, with a variety of different semi-nude and nude waitresses and showgirls.

And although the services offered are classed as adult entertainment, some of the Melbourne (and Sydney) public think the billboard represents much more than that.

When Strippers Wanted was contacted by the ASB, it was assured this was not an attack on its company or its industry, and that brands such as Bonds are constantly under scrutiny for promoting females in lingerie for advertising purposes.

“Some people just don’t like females in underwear on public display, it’s that simple,” said an ASB staff member.

Sexuality is used in advertising to sell us an ‘idea’, and we tend to be OK with that, until the sexuality is contextualised.

For example, a topless Rihanna selling her Rogue fragrance doesn’t really make a heap of sense when you think about it. What does perfume have to do with semi-nudity?


I never spray some sweet-scented fragrance on my neck and then head out with just my knickers on; the use of sexuality is out of context with the product.

But what else is a strippers agency going to utilise to sell their services?

Semi-nude females are what you get, so using their image for advertising is completely in context.

Some will argue the core issue here is the adult entertainment industry feeds into the sexualisation of females (and men; let’s not forget there is a market for both genders), and of course this is true to an extent.

I’m not here to raise issues about the adult entertainment industry, but I will call it what it is.

But to ascribe problems such as domestic violence and rape, and use Rosie Batty‘s name to support the opinion, is disproportionate to the advertisement and demonising to those working within the industry.

There is already enough of a stigma attached to the industry, and to accuse it of directly contributing to violence and sexual abuse against women across all of society is unproductive, misguided and not going to solve the issue.

This particular billboard represents the industry with more tact than I’ve previously seen.

At the very least, it is refreshing to see some strippers who are not a bad shade of orange and laying on their sides with their legs slightly ajar.

The decision to leave it or take it down now rests in the hands of the ASB jury. What do you vote?

Note: The billboard has been public on Hoddle Street since, 27th of November 2015.

Images courtesy of Madison Manning.

Madison Manning; the creative writer, the literature scholar, the photographer.

Profile: View Madison 's profile here


Ilana Meydan

1938 – 2015

If you or your children studied Modern Hebrew, chances are you benefited from the work of Ilana Meydan who dedicated her life to promoting the language that she loved.

Ilana arrived from Israel in Australia in 1969, in Perth. For the next three years, she taught Modern Hebrew to children and adults at the Carmel-Korsunski College, where she introduced audio-visual methods. After moving to Melbourne, she kept in touch with WA, often having long telephone conversations with Hebrew teachers, who continued to seek her guidance. While with VCAA, (Victorian  Curriculum  and Assessment Authority) Ilana conducted phone examinations of WA students for their Hebrew HSC.

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hughharrisBy Hugh Harris





Rector Michael Jensen’s article, If you want kids to be happy, try religion, in the ABC’s The Drum provides a striking example of how readily the religious mind contents itself with insufficient evidence.

His thesis as follows (my emphasis):

There’s been a lot of alarmist stuff written recently about the potential detrimental effects of religious teaching on young people. What the hard data says is otherwise: an active religious faith is much to be desired in young people, and the benefits of such a faith persist into old age.



The first is a summary report by The World Health Organisation (WHO) seemingly based on data supplied by HBLPY surveys run by UNICEF. It doesn’t provide any of the data, nor the sample size, but indicates several factors which correlate to reduced risk of early sexual initiation, substance abuse and depression. One of the factors is spiritual beliefs which get a green tick for being more often associated with less risk. There’s no detail of the actual statistics, the sample size, or the ratio of correlation. Jensen doesn’t explain what relation this has to Religious Instruction.

The second piece of “hard data” contains no data at all, rather an anecdote contained within a pop-psychology book Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfilment. It’s a story of a blind undergraduate student who criss-crosses the United States visiting religious congregations getting a measure for the relation of optimism and faith. She found that the more fundamentalist they were the more optimistic they were. Hard Data this is not – the opinion of one psychology student based on some conversations she’s had with exclusively religious people. Perhaps the message is to train children to be religious fanatics to maximise their happiness?

The third example, taken from an article in the UK’s The Independent, is a survey of 9000 people over the age of 50 who report going to church as beneficial to their mental health. I’m not so sure that the self-reported mental health of English men and women over 50 years old has any bearing on the efficacy of religious instruction for children in Australia. Again, the sequitur is missing.

So there’s our “hard data:” a report with no statistics, a survey of over 50 year olds, and the observations of a psychology student in the US. From this we are supposed to draw the conclusion that Religious Instruction is beneficial to students, or that religion makes children happy.

There’s a myriad of good reasons why the Victorian government scrapped Special Religious Instruction from its curriculum. Once parents had to opt in to the program, rather than opt out, it suffered a 40% decrease in participation. This followed controversy due to overt proselytization by Christian service providers, particularly Access Ministries, whose CEO, Evonne Paddison, had previously said:

In Australia we have a God-given open door to children and young people with the Gospel, our federal and state governments allow us to take the Christian faith into our schools and share it. We need to go and make disciples.


Children should be taught how to distinguish between beliefs and knowledge prior to considering religion. Religion should be taught as a comparative course in the development of a variety of religious traditions.

Currently, Special Religious Instruction, as it offered in all states of Australia, is taught as knowledge rather than belief. Presented as a complete worldview, by volunteer pastors from the local church, the program takes advantage of children, presenting them with a solution when it should be offering a mystery.

In an irreligious country like Australia, where less than 10% attend church, where 70% regard religion as “having no importance” (Gallup 2008), our education policies are unrepresentative of the population. Most non-believers are ambivalent about the role of religion in the public life.

This might explain why Australian children are force-fed religious belief when adults have little interest. And perhaps this also explains the apparent confusion between knowledge and belief present in the faithful who champion policies aimed at privileging the Christian tradition such as the National Chaplaincy Scheme, and Special Religious Instruction.

Once we humans adopt a belief and integrate it into our lives, the belief becomes notoriously difficult to dislodge. We must be extra careful then to ensure our children learn to use their minds as a reasoning tool for establishing knowledge, not for a rationalizing tool for defending unjustifiable beliefs. Or else we wind up content with argument fashioned out of the evening breeze, such as the “hard data” of Michael Jensen.


Hugh Harris is a freelance writer who owns a blog called The Rational Razor on philosophy, and rational thought, and is a member of the Rationalist Society of Australia.

Hugh is a contributor to the ABC, U.S. online mag The Daily Banter, the Rationalist, the Australia Times, and Secular Web.

Tony Abbott’s Conscience and the Rainbow Sails in the Sunset

Liberals, Please Speak up for Free Speech

Eric Abetz and the Case for Same-Sex Marriage

Confusing Rights with Privileges, So Many Fallacies so Little Time

The Fallacy of the “20th Century Atheist Regimes”

Tradition isn’t what it used to be

The Chomsky Harris Feud: Tribalism, Ethics and the Debate that Wasn’t

hughharrisBy Hugh Harris




It’s not going away… Over the weekend thousands of Australians rallied in support of same-sex marriage. Liberal MPs rueful at the farce of Tony Abbott’s stone-walling, might reflect on what a conscience vote really means. Individuals can vote freely on certain issues because of particular beliefs they hold – usually cultural or religious.

Tony Abbott has exercised his conscience, in order to disallow others from exercising theirs, as if in mockery of the very concept. This highlights the fatal flaw with conscience: if everyone acted on conscience we would have a country of 24 million Tony Abbott’s demanding respect for their own views. We’d never agree on anything and yet, some opponents of gay marriage insist the consciences of all Australians must be preserved under the guise of religious liberty. If we grant any credence to the “conscience” of one person, unaccompanied by evidence or argument, we devalue the objective good reasons why policies are implemented.

Of the 33 conscience votes in the Federal parliament many have been perceived as issues of principle. These include the abolition of the death penalty, euthanasia, sex discrimination and human embryo cloning. A vote occurred in 1973, when John Gorton proposed that homosexual acts in private should not be subject to the criminal law, and also in 1974, when the Family Law Bill allowed no-fault divorce. Decades later we look back at these two changes as measures of our progress, rather than matters of principle. Once we have moved on, the reasons for their adoption seem so obvious and apparent that we wonder why it took so long. One suspects we’ll see same-sex marriage in much the same way in 20 years.

Notwithstanding, the thwarting of the conscience vote for Coalition MPs provides a ray of hope for the stalwarts against change. If the leaders of our country can meet for a marathon six hours, hear from 90 speakers, and still resolve to do nothing it’s a good sign for the status quo. But unfortunately for them, the debate is de-facto already lost.

“De-facto” refers to holding a position in fact but not necessarily by legal right. As such, de-facto couples have the same rights in fact to marriage couples, and legal disputes are arbitrated on how “marriage-like” the relationship is. The laws on de-facto couples were changed in 2009 allowing same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Ah, but won’t marriage-equality opponents say there’s a big difference between a de-facto couple and a married couple?

No. They try to placate the forces for change by arguing equal rights already exist (see Rowan Dean). Also, note the following quote from senior fellow at Australian Catholic University, Kevin Donnelly:

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By Hugh Harris

First appeared Hugh’s blog  The Rational Razor


Following the US Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v Hodges its worth reflecting on some of the more hair raising departures from rational thought in our own recent debate on a Bill of Rights and Marriage Equality.

Tim Wilson echoed Coalition concerns about Gillian Triggs by suggesting her comments on a charter of rights indicate activism and that she should run for parliament (Activists Should be Politicians, The Australian, 21 June, 2015).

But since Abbott appointee Tim Wilson is a well-known opponent of a charter of rights and has made his comments on Gillian Trigg public, thus politicizing the issue, his argument is self-defeating. Why does his opinion have a special exemption? And, isn’t a charter of human rights an appropriate topic for a human rights commissioner?

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25 May 2015: KAP Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter today dubbed the Government’s proposal to remove the restrictions on cabotage in Northern Australia as potentially sabotaging domestic airlines and safety.

Cabotage is the carriage by international airlines of domestic passengers and freight between cities within another country and is restricted in most countries around the world.

Mr Katter said today that the Government’s proposal to unilaterally remove the restrictions on cabotage in Northern Australia would compromise Australian industry and jobs, with no benefit in return.

“Canberra is announcing they’re looking at cabotage, but I think they’re looking at sabotage.

“We only have one airline flying between Cairns and Townsville, and obviously if their competitor is paying their staff half of what Qantas is paying their staff, then they will break Qantas.

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On the night of the eighth of May 2013, Mr Homayon Hatami rescued a woman who had jumped from a pier near Eastern Beach in Geelong Victoria. For his action, Mr Hatami was awarded the Royal Humane Society of Australasia Silver Medal for bravery. With the authority of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Second, Queen of Australia, Mr Hatami was also awarded the Commendation for Brave Conduct by The Governor General His Excellency Sir Peter Cosgrove.

Mr Hatami, a karate champion, was selected to represent Australia several times. Unfortunately he could not go because Mr Hatami is an asylum seeker on a bridging visa which will not be renewed when it expires in April. His allowance (tiny though it may have been) has been cancelled.

This attempt to expel Mr Homayon Hatami, despite the recognition he has been awarded by this country, and achievements in sport, stand in stark contrast to a bunch of losers some public servants, and some politicians, thought were worthy of citizenship and/or protection.

David’s Republic will run a campaign, supported by The Australia Times to right what we believe is a wrong!

We are collecting signatures for a petition to the Minister for Immigration MR Peter Dutton asking him to issue Mr Hatami with a Visa that will enable him to remain and work in Australia.

Click here to sign the petition

Read the full story in the latest Forum Magazine

Image Courtesy of Amie Jessop