Post date – 15 December 2011
Recent Activity at the Centre
On Saturday 5 November, Professor Linda Briskman delivered a keynote address to participants at the Australian Association of Social Workers conference in Townsville. The theme of the conference was Advance Australia Fair? The role of Social Work in achieving social justice and human rights and Linda spoke on ‘The human rights imperative for asylum seekers: The role of Social Work’.
Linda also attended the First International Conference on Human Rights and Cultures held in Tehran, Iran from 24 – 26 November. The conference titled, Cultures in Support of Humanity was a cooperation between educational institutions and organisations including Curtin University. As a keynote speaker, Linda addressed the topic ‘Border security, human security and human rights’.
Dr Karen Soldatic is on her way to the United Kingdom to begin her awarded prestigious British Academy International Visiting Fellowship to work with Professor Carol Thomas and Dr Chris Grover, Lancaster University. Karen will be exploring the impact of the Cameron Government’s welfare reform on people with disabilities and will undertake extensive field work with Disabled People’s Organisations, delivering a number of public forums and developing a set of civil society working papers for local disability advocacy groups. Upon her return to Australia in 2012, further comparative research will occur.
Post date – 22 November 2011
Report: The Hidden Men
Caroline Fleay and Linda Briskman released a report on the 17th of November to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship based on their visits to the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre in 2011. The Hidden Men report details a range of issues of concern that were evident during Caroline and Linda’s five visits to Curtin IDC. In particular, it highlights the extreme levels of despair among the men detained at the centre and calls for mandatory detention to be abolished and the immediate release of long-term detainees. Read the report here.
Post date – 18 November 2011
Opinion Piece: What happens in Curtin, stays in Curtin
On the 17th of November 2011, ABC’s The Drum website published an article by Caroline Fleay titled What happens in Curtin, stays in Curtin. Caroline writes of her recent visit to the Curtin Detention Centre in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia saying, “I went to visit the many men I met on my previous visits to this detention centre. Too many have been in detention for over 18 months. Some will soon hit the two-year mark. It is not difficult to imagine the levels of despair that have set in as they continue to endure their indefinite detention, with no idea when it will end. Visits are always a welcome respite.
Imagining how they must be feeling is all I could do on this visit for most of the men at Curtin. Serco staff refused to allow my friends and I access to the main compound where we used to sit under the trees so that anyone could come and talk and share the food we had brought. This time, without explanation, we were escorted each day down a long road outside the perimeter of the detention centre to a room where we were allowed to see just six men.”
Caroline’s piece has stirred up a passionate debate by people on both sides of the argument, and continues to attract comments – it is definitely worth a read and can be found in full here.
Post date – 14 October 2011
Opinion piece – Giving and taking away: NDIS and disability pension reform
On the 14th of October 2011, The Conversation website published an opinion piece by Karen Soldatic on the topic of disability pension reform, titled Giving and taking away: NDIS and disability pension reform.
Karen writes “A report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) finds the number of Australians using disability support services is increasing. But it’s uncertain how the government will provide ongoing services for these people.
People with disabilities, their families and carers have long waited for a social support system that effectively responds to their real needs.”
Read Karen’s piece in full here.
Post date – 11 October 2011
Centre staff alert MPs to conditions in the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre
Caroline Fleay and Linda Briskman have recently returned from another visit to the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre. Shocked to see the deterioration in mental health of many of the men they had seen on previous visits, they hold grave concerns particularly for those who have now been in detention for more than one year.
In an effort to alert Members of Parliament to the situation at the detention centre, Caroline and Linda sent a letter on the 3rd of October 2011, outlining their concerns to a range of Labor and Coalition MPs. They state, “Like an increasing number of people in the Australian and international community, we call for an end to the mandatory detention policy. This policy is becoming increasingly entrenched through the proliferation of detention centres throughout the mainland, despite an ever increasing level of evidence that shows indefinite detention is harmful to those detained.” Read more here.
The Centre for Human Rights Education and Asylum Seeker Christmas Island’s submission to the detention inquiry which outlines further concerns in relation to mandatory detention has also been sent to MPs. Read more here.
Post date – 14 September 2011
Submission: Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Immigration Detention Network
The Centre for Human Rights Education together with Asylum Seekers Christmas Island have made a successful submission to the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Immigration Detention Network. The document was released into the public domain on 14 September, 2011, and can be found as Submission Number 117 on the Parliament of Australia website.
A brief extract from the submission:
“The current immigration detention system is in crisis. We are all regular visitors to Australia’s detention facilities and we have all borne witness to the growing sense of despair within them. As highlighted by the recent Australian Human Rights Commission report (2011), negative impacts of detention are escalating. These include suicide attempts, serious self-‐harm incidents including hunger and water strikes, lip-‐sewing, riots, protests, fires, break-‐outs and the use of force against people in detention by the Australian Federal Police.
ASCI and CHRE believe that mandatory immigration detention must be abolished without delay.”
The submission suggests recommendations to be implemented in the absence of the abolition of mandatory detention.
You can read the full submission by downloading the pdf from this website, Submission Number 117.
Post date – 6 September 2011
Conference: Dialogue Under Occupation
Miyume Tanji joined the 5th meeting of the “Dialogue Under Occupation” held in Okinawa, Japan in August 2011. “It’s purpose is the ongoing exploration of dialogue and discourse in areas of the world experiencing occupation. Dialogue under occupation does not mean that the less powerful or powerless are accepting the occupation in any form, but that they are willing to confront their occupiers in an effort to be recognised as having equal human rights, including the ability to make autonomous decisions about how they should live and pursue their own definition of happiness.
The title of Miyume’s presentation was ‘Remaining importance of Japan’s wartime occupation of Guam‘. People from all over the US miltiary bases worldwide met in Okinawa.”
Post date – 30 August 2011
Opinion Piece: Australia’s human rights record has not improved since the Tampa
On the 26th of August 2011, The Conversation website published an article by Linda Briskman titled Australia’s human rights record has not improved since the Tampa. Linda writes, “The dramatic rescue of more than 400 asylum seekers by the Norwegian vessel, the Tampa, ten years ago set in train a series of events that has since caused immense suffering to so many. It is surely now time to reverse these policies. The main casualties of this policy trajectory have been asylum seekers in pursuit of safe haven on our shores.”
Read Linda’s piece in full here.
In the August 2011 student graduation ceremony two of the Centre’s PhD students were awarded doctorates. Nick Halfpenny completed his PhD on the topic of Discretion and Control at the Front Line: Rationalities of practice in child and youth services.
Hannah McGlade’s thesis on Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault and the Criminal Justice System: The last frontier, also received the Vice-Chancellor’s commendation. The high quality of her thesis resulted in Hannah receiving the Stanner Award of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and her thesis will be published by Aboriginal Studies Press.
Post date – 5 August 2011
Welcome to Professor Anna Haebich, the Centre’s new Research Fellow
We would like to extend a warm welcome to the Centre’s new Research Fellow, Professor Anna Haebich who has been awarded a Curtin Senior Research Fellowship for her project titled: “Sustaining Indigenous Cultures and Wellbeing through the Performing Arts” for the next five years. We look forward to having Anna here at the CHRE and learning from her rich scholarship and her ongoing research in the field of Aboriginal history and rights.
We would also like to congratulate Anna on just receiving the Margaret Medcalf award ‘for excellence in research and referencing in using the state archives collection’. The award was presented for Anna’s book Murdering Stepmothers: the execution of Martha Rendell, on 3 August 2011 at the State Library’s Theatre in the Perth Cultural Centre. ‘This annual Award honours Miss Margaret Medcalf OAM, the second State Archivist for Western Australia, for her valuable contribution to the development of archives in Western Australia. Works nominated for the Award must demonstrate use of archival sources, and substantial (but not necessarily exclusive) use of State archives held by the State Records Office.’ (State Records Office website) You can read more about Anna’s book and the award presentation here.
Public Forum: The Impact of Detention on the Mental Health of Asylum Seekers
On the 23rd of June 2011, to mark the 60th anniversay of the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Refugees, in partnership with ASeTTS and Amnesty International the Centre for Human Rights Education held a public lecture exploring the Impact of Detention on the Mental Health of Asylum Seekers.
The event was well attended with almost 100 guests, who all thoroughly engaged with our presenters including our key note speaker, Professor Derrick Silove, from Liverpool Hospital, University of New South Wales and his incredibly insightful work documenting the traumatic effects of Australian detention centres on refugees and asylum seekers. Also, presentations by recent detainees, Ali and Assad, challenged the audience to reconsider any support that they may have for current government refugee policy. Presentations by ASeTTs workers Marnie Williams, and Heidi Kleinschmidt highlighted the long term impact on the mental health of aslyum seekers. The event closed with a plethora of questions from the audience.
Post date – 7 June 2011
Opinion Piece: Australia’s wake up call from the UN: Yes, we’re a racist country
On the 31st of May 2011, The Conversation website published another article by Linda Briskman titled Australia’s wake up call from the UN: Yes, we’re a racist country. Linda begins by stating, “The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says Australia is racist. And she’s right. Racial discrimination in Australia is not idiosyncratic; it is enshrined in laws, policies and practices… Racism continues in Australia. Like Aboriginal people who are portrayed as so dysfunctional that the Racial Discrimination Act was suspended, the “criminalised” asylum seeker is dealt with outside domestic and international legal norms and outside the realm of human compassion.
Read Linda’s piece in full here.
Centre event: An evening with Anuradha Koirala
On Wednesday 25 May 2011, the Centre for Human Rights Education (CHRE) along with the Curtin Research Unit for the Study of Societies in Change (RUSSIC), Amnesty International (WA) and the One World Centre, hosted an evening with anti-trafficking campaigner, Anuradha Koirala from Maiti Nepal.
The evening was well attended with more than 70 people present. Ms Koirala presented the work that Maiti Nepal do in rescuing, rehabilitating and caring for women and girls who have been trafficked into and out of Nepal for the sex industry.Factors surrounding the thriving trafficking industry in Nepal were also discussed. Maiti Nepal are successfully working with the Nepali and Indian police and governments in trying to curb the number of girls being trafficked and have a very high success rate in prosecuting traffickers.
If you would like more information on the work that Maiti Nepal do and how you can support their work, go to maitinepal.org.
(Photo by Clifford Yudelman)
Post date – 17 May 2011
Article: Out of mind out of sight, but we’re not treating asylum seekers right
On the 16th of May 2011, The Conversation website published an article by Linda Briskman on the topic of asylum seekers, titled Out of mind out of sight, but we’re not treating asylum seekers right. Linda writes, “For a brief moment in 2008 asylum seeker advocates were optimistic. This moment of optimism has now gone. As the government announces plans to send newly arriving asylum seekers to Malaysia and also enters negotiations with PNG, it seems the only way is down. But things could be better, if we would just face facts… There has been a trajectory of change backwards, and of such magnitude and pace that many commentators are expressing the view that things are worse now than in the time of Prime Minister John Howard… In essence, people are fleeing dire situations the world over and Australia receives just 2% of the industrialised world’s asylum seekers.”
Read Linda’s piece in full here.
Post date – 12 May 2011
Presentation: Fear of the Other: Asylum seekers, religion and culture
On the 20th of April 2011, Linda Briskman gave a talk at the Multi-faith Centre at Griffith University in Brisbane, titled Fear of the Other: Asylum seekers, religion and culture. The presentation highlighted the repeat of the same ideological pattern evident in 1947 towards Jewish refugees, seen towards refugees that arrive in Australia today. Linda examined “the ways in which asylum seekers and refugees have been shunned by the Australian populace and how a voracious media has reinforced stereotypes and prejudice,” and looked at “fear factors that shroud asylum seekers and the way their religious beliefs and cultural practices are seen as a threat to Australian society.”
You can download and read Linda’s presentation here.
Post date – 12 May 2011
Opinion piece: Perpetuating human rights abuses against Australians
Centre Adjunct Research Associate Susie Latham has had an opinion piece – Perpetuating human rights abuses against Australians – published on the ABC’s ‘The Drum’ website on 13 April, 2011. Referring to an opinion piece written by Anglican vicar and self-proclaimed human rights activist Mark Durie, Susie states, “Durie claims ‘There is a debate going on about Islam.’ Unfortunately, there is not. Discussion about Islam in Australia is woefully one-sided, with Muslims being stereotyped as terrorist, backward and threatening to Western ideals… I’m writing this because I’m an Anglo Australian who married into a loving Muslim family and have two gorgeous boys who will be brought up as Muslims in Australia… Articles like Durie’s legitimise the one-sided view of Islam that informs these verbal and physical assaults, as do ignorant or politically opportunist pronouncements on Islam…” Read Susie’s piece in full here.
Post date – 10 May 2011
Event: Australia’s Detention Values: Rhetoric or Reality?
On 30 March 2011, approximately 100 people attended an evening speaking event at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin University, which included numerous speakers from across Western Australia: – Linda Briskman; Michelle Dimasi; Clare Middlemas; Sue Hoffman; Dr Caroline Fleay; and Dr Anne Pederson. As all of the speakers discussed, Refugee Detention Centres are a breach of Australia’s international obligations under the UN Refugee Convention, which further stigmatise and traumatise refugees seeking protection in Australia.
A new lobbying project was also launched on the night which is open for anyone to get involved with. If you are concerned about the treatment of asylum seekers, particularly in relation to mandatory detention, you might like to visit your local federal Member of Parliament to tell them about your concerns. If you would like to find out more, you can find more information in the Campaigns link on this Blog.
Post date – 10 May 2011
Book Launch: Australia and Human Rights: Situating the Howard Government
Caroline Fleay’s book, Australia and Human Rights: Situating the Howard Government, was recently launched at the event ‘Australia’s Detention Values: Rhetoric or Reality?’ on 30 March 2011. Approximately 100 people attended the evening event which included numerous speakers from across Western Australia including: – Linda Briskman; Michelle Dimasi; Clare Middlemas; Sue Hoffman; Dr Caroline Fleay; and Dr Anne Pederson. As all of the speakers discussed, Refugee Detention Centres are a breach of Australia’s international obligations under the UN Refugee Convention, which further stigmatise and traumatise refugees seeking protection in Australia.
Post date – 4 May 2011
Visiting Members of Parliament about the Treatment of Asylum Seekers
A new lobbying project was launched at the Centre for Human Rights Education’s recent event ‘Australia’s Detention Values: Rhetoric or Reality?’ in March 2011.
If you are concerned about the treatment of asylum seekers, particularly in relation to mandatory detention, you might like to visit your local federal Member of Parliament to tell them about your concerns. If you would like to find out more, you can find information here and here on mandatory detention and how to go about visiting your local MP.
Linda Briskman together with a Monash research team (Dr Deborah Zion and A/Professor Bebe Loff) was a finalist in 2010 for the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics.
Welcome to our six new PhD students who started with CHRE this year. The Centre’s Post Graduate Research program has extensively grown over the past 12 months and we now have over 20 PhD students with us researching a diverse array of topics under the broad rubric of Human Rights.
The Centre is now registered with Open University Australia (OUA). This has enabled the Centre to attract a diverse range of students from across Australia in our post-graduate course work program – the Graduate Certificate and Master of Human Rights. Welcome to all new OUA students. We hope that you enjoy the course as much as our local Curtin students have over the years.