05 Jul 2019 | Author: Toni Hassan | Theme: Civil society and politics; The Arts, Sciences and Culture
The Victorian Government ought to be congratulated. From next year it will ban the use of smartphones during school in all state schools.
Schools are where we expect our children to be safe, to develop co-operative and pro-social skills, and to grow their capacity to focus and become critical thinkers. Smartphones blunt those skills. They are (in the main) a tool for distraction and a weapon for online-bullying. Social media is fueling anxiety and a mental health crisis.
31 May 2019 | Author: Toni Hassan | Theme: Indigenous reconciliation; Civil society and politics
What a Reconciliation Week. Not only were we reconciling differences after a bruising election, but a respected Indigenous man was appointed Minister for Indigenous Australians, the first Indigenous Australian to be given that responsibility.
Ken Wyatt was subjected to racist taunts during his campaign for the West Australian seat of Hasluck in 2010. After his narrow win for the Liberals, some people who voted for him complained they didn't realise he was Aboriginal.
31 May 2019 | Author: Stephen Pickard | Theme: Public theology and ethics; Civil society and politics
The issue of religious freedom in Australian society is a matter of significant moment. But the question of freedom of religion is never a simple, stand-alone issue. It connects with a range of matters relevant to our life and well-being as people of Australia. In one sense, the matter of freedom of religion is a window onto a whole range of contemporary issues. These include freedom of speech and practice; the place and value of religion in society; notions of equality, human dignity and discrimination; the rights of minorities; the impact of an influential and pervasive populism; the unexamined beliefs and prejudices of a particular kind of secularism; and questions about what it means to respect the rights, values, and freedoms of a nation that is richly multicultural, religiously diverse and increasingly stridently secular.
30 May 2019 | Author: Toni Hassan | Theme: Civil society and politics; Public theology and ethics
The government’s trying to scare us, which is odd because the one thing that is truly frightening it keeps trying to tell us isn’t a problem - calamitous climate change.
There’s Medivac. Scary stuff! Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said our hospital waiting lists will be bumped out by refugees evacuated from offshore detention camps.
Then there was the problem of violence by African-Australians in Melbourne, also pointed to by Dutton and ministers including Greg Hunt. Never mind that you are much more likely to be attacked (and killed if you are Melbourne woman) by someone who is not African. In fact, every week in Australia, a woman is killed by a current or former partner.
30 May 2019 | Author: Toni Hassan | Theme: Civil society and politics; Leadership and institutions
History is littered with examples where propaganda has led to appalling acts of violence. That's why the rise of social media in the hands of extreme groups is a deep concern, as is the role of public figures in potentially inflaming hate. Who could forget Rwanda. Twenty-five years ago this month the world heard of the genocide against the Tutsi. I was in South Africa covering that country's historic election of Nelson Mandela as its first publicly chosen president, a moment of euphoria, when shocking news trickled in of the mass murder of up to 70 per cent of Rwanda's Tutsi people by members of the Hutu majority.