It’s all about priorities #auspol

I’ve had the TISM song Big Fucking Whoopee ear-worming into my brain all day. And quite frankly I blame the Government, particularly Bishop and Pyne.

My care factor about this whole what happened to some cash 20 years ago with Gillard’s bf of the time – BFW! This is the last sitting day of Parliament, and the PM has introduced into Parliament legislation kicking off the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).  The bill sets out the structure and eligibility criteria for the scheme and will be voted on early 2013.

This is a big fucking deal people.

Did you have a shower this morning? Do you have two a day? None? But if you have a choice of when and if you shower, then you are most likely a fully able bodied person. You are very lucky then. There are thousands of people who need support for daily fundamentals like showering, going to the toilet and eating. And there are thousands of exhausted carers, family members and nurses – underpaid and under resourced and stretched to the limit.

I am lucky that my brother, although he has Cohen syndrome, is quite capable of looking after himself physically. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t need any additional support to give him and my family respite care and that all important factor in anyone’s life, choice. The whole point of the NDIS is to give all Australian’s independence and opportunity, therefore people are not dependant and are given choice in their lives. This is brilliantly explained by Stella Young when she was on QandA recently, and from the ABC website

“Disability advocate Stella Young says the scheme will allow people with disabilities to more easily contribute to the economy. Ms Young used the example of her wheelchair, which costs $22,000, but would be provided for under a NDIS, to illustrate how the scheme would work. “If I have a functioning wheelchair I can work full time I can be a taxpayer, I don’t claim the disability support pension or any other government benefit,” she said. “If I didn’t have a functioning wheelchair I wouldn’t be able to leave my house, I wouldn’t be able to leave my bed, I’d require full time care, and I’d be very expensive [to the Australian taxpayer].””

In other news that no one in Government has mentioned at any point in question time this week is 35 yr old Omid Sorousheh, an Iranian asylum seeker  was hospitalised  after 47 days of hunger strike in Nauru. Also on Tuesday four other hunger-strikers collapsed and were given medical treatment in the camp. Nineteen asylum-seekers are currently on hunger-strike.

I’m so glad our elected officials are focussing on what really matters, areas of legislation which have massive quality of life and human dignity implications.

Sudan’s looming referendum – not all doom and gloom

Africa: it’s big, it’s complicated and it’s very far away.

When we call a situation ‘complex’ we are essentially washing our hands of the issue and putting it in the too hard basket. Turning our back on Sudan over the next couple of months has potentially catastrophic consequences.

On the 9th January 2011, a referendum is scheduled in Sudan, the largest country on the African continent. The people of southern Sudan have the opportunity to decide whether to remain united with the larger Sudan or declare their independence.

Sudan has endured unrelenting instability due to a range of political rivalries, clashes between tribal groups, natural disasters and conflict fuelled by scarce resources, drought and oil revenues. Over the past 55 years, 40 of those years has been marred by bloody civil war causing Sudan to have the highest number of Internally Displaced People in the world; an estimated 4.9 million

Sounds complex.

Which it is, but that doesn’t mean we should switch off. One of the myriad of issues that result from this complexity: only 56% of the population have access to clean drinking water .

The quote “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph in the world is for good men to do nothing” springs to mind in a lot of conflict situations, but in this case it seems particularly pertinent. The origin of the quote was Edmund Burke, an 18th century Irish statesman, philosopher and all round great talker. On one hand he was a champion for liberty but also a firm believer in authority.

In 2009, a dramatic increase in inter-ethnic violence in Southern Sudan caused a significant deterioration in security. For the Sudanese to enjoy a safe and prosperous future there needs to be a carefully measured balance of democracy and power. The international community and the UN have to be prepared logistically and financially to deal with the humanitarian consequences of the months ahead.

Australia increasingly plays a hand in Sudan, and we are certainly ramping up our aid spending in Africa with $140 million in extra assistance towards maternal and child health programs in Ethiopia, Tanzania and southern Sudan announced in September. According to Transparency International, Sudan is viewed as the fourth most corrupt country in the world. Needless to say there has been some noise in the aid and development sector about aid reaching its intended targets.

But it’s not all doom and gloom – Australia has also deployed 27 Australian Defence Force and Australian Federal Police peacekeepers to the United Nations Mission in Sudan. KRudd said Australia would continue to work with the UN, African Union and the international community to tackle security and development challenges in Sudan, in the lead-up to and beyond the January referendum. Australia’s assistance will comprise of:
• $3 million to the UNDP Referendum Basket Fund, to support the referendum, including voter registration and training for domestic observers;
• $1 million to the International Organisation for Migration to conduct out of country voting, including registration and polling of southern Sudanese in Australia;
• $5 million to UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund to provide health, education and other essential services to women and children in southern Sudan.

We as global citizens need to keep watch to make sure Sudan doesn’t plunge even further into violence and human rights abuses. For more info go to Human Rights Watch – Sudan  and listen to the podcast.

Oestrogen poison that is saturating, permeating and festering in Australian media

Damn it

I can’t stand you …

While you were on Q and A last night I was giving you the Julie Bishop treatment with my eyes blazing. Oh yes, tremble in fear Janet Albrechtsen.

On one hand you point the finger of blame of our hung parliament at the bland, poll-based election campaigns we saw unfold. But it was you Janet *insert stern finger point* who said Gillard is “showcasing a bare home and an empty kitchen as badges of honour and commitment to her career” and not knowing about how to meet “the needs of a husband or partner.” How the f*k would you know Janet? Did you ask Tim if he was getting any lately? Are you under the redhead’s bed dictaphone in hand? Of course she’s not screaming ‘oh God’, she’s an atheist, and heaven forbid she might be too busy running the damn country.

I don’t care how flattering her jacket line is, how much fruit is in her kitchen or her womb for that matter. I want policies, I want choice – and I want the media to be actual journalists again.

I have a dream – but that dream is hung.

And the c hunt diaries begin …

It has been a while since I have articulated my thoughts on the intertubes. I’m sure the www has not been the same without me.

Which is not entirely true, have been beavering away socially for the NGO I work at and have been  #spilling and RTing to my heart’s content.

So bloggy-wog, a new PM eh?

The furry-angry little feminist that dwells within me (I keep her in my armpit for safe keeping) is thrilled to have an amazing, intelligent woman in the top job. And I don’t use the word ‘intelligent’ in that patronising back-handed compliment sense like ‘articulate Indigenous leader’ (implying that this is the minority?). Ms PM is super-dooper smart and is totally unflappable, even when the Grand Master of Journalism Tony Jones has her totally cornered within the confines of the ‘East Timor Solution’. Sending our asylum seekers to the 20th poorest country in the world which has 40% unemployment? Genius.

With gay marriage off the cards, dumping our ‘boat people’ onto a developing nation, the carbon trading scheme shelved until 2012, it appears its business as usual in the Labor camp.

However, Sen Stephen Conroy has put the internet filter on backburner so we can be thankful for that (for now …).

Wow, written something with more than 140 characters *lies down with a cold flannel on forehead*

The decay of decadence

“It was then that I began to understand that everything in the room had stopped, like the watch and the clock, a long time ago… I glanced at the dressing table again, and saw that the shoe upon it, once white, now yellow had never been worn. I glanced down at the foot from which the shoe was absent, and saw that the silk stocking on it, once white, now yellow, had been trodden ragged. Without the arrest of everything, this standing still of all the pale decayed objects, not even the withered bridal dress on the collapsed form could have looked so like grave-clothes, or the long veil so like a shroud.” – Great Expectations.

While being given a very unenthusiastic tour of the Santo Niño Shrine & Heritage Museum another quote sprung to mind, “Money can’t buy taste.”

The Santo Niño Shrine is one of the 29 presidential rest houses that the late President Ferdinand Marcos had built. It was designed by his wife Imelda who was born near Tacloban, and is deteriorating from the tropical heat and neglect. Her family, the Romualdez, hold a great deal of political clout in Leyte, the relatively rich neighbour of poverty-ravaged Samar.

The Romualdez still command a large political following in the area and I noted that my sarcasm and open ‘dissing’ of Imelda’s lack of taste and opulence where not appreciated by the tour guide (it wasn’t that my comments were just not that funny, impossible).

It did strike me how the bathrooms are bigger than your average Filipino’s home and that the communities work with have communal latrines and a water pump.  And here was Imelda with all this – stuff.

Stuff including: chandeliers from Czech Republic, crafts from throughout Asia, antique mirrors from Austria and my personal favourite a Louis Vuitton leather-clad bedroom for old Ferdi. Not wallpaper or paint on the walls – Louis Vuitton leather. Who thinks of Louis Vuitton walls? And the dioramas were fantastic: each guest room depicting a scene from Imelda’s life, her humble beginning, helping the poor, winning a beauty pageant, hanging out with men in lab coats. Like the many reincarnations of Barbie – collect all Imeldas today!

And how can one talk about Imelda without mentioning the ultimate collection. Next on my list is the Marikina City Footwear Museum in Manila which contains hundreds of pairs of shoes, many of them found in the presidential palace when Imelda and Ferdinand fled the Philippines in 1986.

In her own words, “They went into my closets looking for skeletons, but thank God, all they found were shoes, beautiful shoes … Filipinos don’t wallow in what is miserable and ugly. They recycle the bad into things of beauty.”

I wonder what Santo Niño would have to say.

Money can't buy taste

Money can't buy taste

Chasing a fake rabbit

Yesterday was one of those days that did not turn out the way I planed, like everyday here really. My neighbour invited me to a guest lecture of Jun Lozada, the man who caused a minor riot at the airport the other morning. He is the star witness of the ZTE deal, a complex maze of corruption involving more money that is fathomable in such a poor country.

He shared the personal side of being a whistle blower and the impact on his wife and five children. Jun said he was offered 100 Mil Pesos and would retain his position in the cabinet if he kept quiet, “came back to the fold” and apologised to GMA.

Instead he is a man on the run, protected by nuns (seriously, only in the Philippines) and can face up to 11 charges when he returns to Manila.

When asked how he could walk away from so much money, Jun told the story of a greyhound that ran away from its owner. The dog was well looked after, winning all of his races but discovers that “the rabbit I was chasing was not real at all,” he then asked “what are the ‘real rabbits’ in your life?”

A simple metaphor, but made me ponder my own ‘rabbits’. The fake rabbit was certainly my no longer satisfying job in Sydney, but how real is my current ‘rabbit’? Why am I volunteering? What am I doing here? The desire is borne from my altruistic nature but it is not a selfless act by any means, I was in search of a challenge. The assignment and remote location gives me time and space to reflect upon the rabbits I am yet to seek.

Jun was unsettling jovial and relaxed for a man on the run

Jun was unsettling jovial and relaxed for a man on the run