Finally – marriage equality is law in Australia

Image of text from attorney-general's website, as follows: Marriage equality: On 7 December 2017, the Australian Parliament passed the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 to change the definition of marriage and provide for marriage equality in Australia. The right to marry in Australia will no longer be determined by sex or gender. The Australian Government is progressing arrangements for marriage equality to commence quickly. Further updates will be advised on this website as they occur.

It’s finally, finally, finally happened. Today, in the late afternoon, the Members of Parliament (House of Representatives) passed the bill that had come from the Senate last week. An amendment to the Marriage Act to remove “man and woman” and replace that with “two people”.

Here’s a link I saw on Facebook – the final minutes of procedure and voting – and a lovely celebration from the public gallery (and floor of the House).

I loved the celebration song before, but I really love it now. New Zealand’s song (and process) was better though…

This vote should’ve happened some years ago and it definitely shouldn’t have needed an expensive postal survey in order to happen – with nearly another month between that beautiful result and today. The grandstanding around this has been ridiculous from many sides (including what’s in the video).

It’s been a long time coming. (It still has to go through a final bit of procedure – the Governor-General has to sign off on it.)

Those who married overseas immediately have their marriages recognised. Weddings for others will start in mid-January because there is a requirement of at least a month’s notice. See all details about that and other procedural things at this link: https://www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Marriage/Pages/Getting-married.aspx

I can’t wait for all the lovely weddings to start. 😀

Today’s outcome is super important in a major way. For many people, the result is an affirmation of their love. Equality is equality – and equality before the law matters. Now all people have the choice to participate in marriage if they wish. It is also just nice to know that the law agrees that it doesn’t matter if they want to marry someone of the opposite or same sex. What matters is that both parties are happy and love each other.

As one of my friends on Facebook put it, “Think of all the children born today who will never know a life where marriage wasn’t legal for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation.”

Kids will grow up with that as the societal narrative now, reinforced by the law. Yes, there will probably still be the conservative nobs and fundies who say otherwise and people who just “don’t quite get it”. But the majority support the new narrative – people from a diverse background. Change has happened and will keep on happening.

After all, there’s still plenty to do to ensure all are truly equal. In the LGBTIQA+ sphere, there are broader discriminatory practices that need to be fought, for example. Also, beyond that, human rights/ social justice issues are all interconnected.

But for now, it’s time to celebrate.

 

 

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[Reblogged] Guest Post: Breaking The Low Mood Cycle

Interesting stuff in the Captain Awkward archives. Reminds me a bit of some of the things (like stress buckets and activity scheduling) we looked at in my mental health subject earlier this year. So I am sharing it and bookmarking it. Check it out.

Also: five days in a row of blogging last week, yay! That is down to scheduling and while I know I can’t always do it, it’s nice when it happens.

via Guest Post: Breaking The Low Mood Cycle

[reblog] It’s Not Over Yet

Bah humbug, of course Turnbull did.

Tosser.

Give Alistair Lawrie’s blog post a read then head over to http://equalmeansequal-justequal.nationbuilder.com/ and make sure your MP does their job in voting for what we asked for – a Marriage Act that doesn’t discriminate. Religious celebrants are already allowed to refuse service if it goes against their religious beliefs or the laws of their religion. that’s why there is a difference between religious celebrants and civil ones! Grrrr.

Bloody politicians – please get it done next week with no stupid amendments! *grumbles*

via It’s Not Over Yet

Oh, and btw, please stay safe this weekend Victorians. It looks like we’re in for a wild ride (that’ll have already begun in some parts when this post goes live). Batten down the hatches if you can – or else (if you’re like me and have pre-arranged plans) be very, very careful.

Update on “What Now for Manus?”

Last week I sent an email to some Parliamentarians as part of my personal actions in support of the men on Manus.

A spokesperson/ staffer/ etc. has got back to me from one of them. Below is the email he wrote and the one I sent back after I’d read it.

Stupid wedge politics.

His email:

Dear Clare,

Thank you for writing to the Shadow Minister about refugees in PNG following the closure of the former Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.

Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton have been woefully incompetent in their management of offshore processing arrangements – including failing to be upfront from the start about access to essential services at alternative accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees.

The standoff at the closed Manus Island RPC could have been avoided if the Turnbull Government didn’t wait until the last minute to finalise ongoing arrangements in PNG.

Following the transfer of refugees from the closed Manus Island RPC to alternative accommodation, Malcolm Turnbull has a moral obligation to ensure refugees have access to essential services including food, water, security, health and welfare services.

Manus Island and Nauru were set up as regional transit processing facilities but have become places of indefinite detention because of Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton’s failure to negotiate other third country resettlement options.

Labor strongly supports the US refugee resettlement agreement and has called on Malcolm Turnbull to work with the US to expedite the resettlement process.

Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton have put all their eggs in one basket with the US agreement and have failed to secure other third country resettlement arrangements.

It’s extremely disappointing Malcolm Turnbull has failed to show leadership and accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle eligible refugees from both Manus Island and Nauru.

Of course, there would need to be conditions on any resettlement deal with NZ in the same way there are conditions on the US arrangement.

Malcolm Turnbull needs immediately begin to negotiate the New Zealand and other viable third country resettlement options to get eligible refugees off Manus Island and Nauru as soon as possible.

Thank you for taking the time to write to the Shadow Minister on this issue.

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Dunlop

The Hon Shayne Neumann MP | Federal Member for Blair

Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

My response:

Hi there,

Thanks for answering my email. I’m still left feeling a bit dissatisfied.

In my original email I asked certain questions, namely: “Has anyone from Labor attempted to go and see conditions for themselves? Where has this idea that the offered alternative accommodation is acceptable come from? Why [was] the onus on the men to move there, rather than the violence to stop? The men have been asking us to listen to them about this. Why are you ignoring their voices?”

Are there any answers for these?

Thank you.

 

We’ll see what happens.

What now for Manus?

Urrrrgh.

I bloody hate this situation.

I’ve made phone-calls, including to Peter Dutton MP (Minister for Immigration and Border Protection). I’ve also sent an email to my local member, Bill Shorten MP (Opposition Leader) and Shayne Neumann MP (Shadow Minister for Immigration).

See that below. This sickens me…. and I feel so hopeless and helpless about it.

Check out the statement from Shadow Minister for Immigration here:  http://shayneneumann.com.au/news/immigration-and-border-protection/former-manus-island-regional-processing-centre/ A lot more mealy-mouthed than I’d hoped for. Luckily I saw it when looking up his contact details and could address the icky bits in my email (they’re the bits in red). In the email, when I speak of the “current situation” I’m referring to the situation today. The angle I took was influenced by a phone-chat I had with a staffer from Shayne Neumann’s office.

 

Dear Mr David Feeney MP, Mr Shayne Neumann MP and Mr Bill Shorten MP,

My name is Clare Keogh and I am a young university student living in [suburb], Victoria. I am deeply concerned about the situation on Manus Island that has been unfolding for several weeks and escalated today. I am also keeping the people detained on Nauru in my thoughts, as they should not be forgotten either.
I know that the current situation is not Labor’s doing and that the centres, when Labor restarted them, was intended to be used for regional processing rather than indefinite detention. 
 
However, the fact remains that the current situation is not the responsibility of PNG but of Australia. There have been reports of AFP involvement in today’s crisis on Nauru, after all. 
 
By what right are the men’s phones being seized? By what right are their few belongings being taken and destroyed? By what right have their only means of getting water and shelter been destroyed? By what right has their access to even the most basic medical aid and food been removed? Why has Behrouz Boochani been arrested?
 
I understand that, as you are in Opposition, it makes it harder to make concrete change. But you and your colleagues should speak up about the situation still. Perhaps you are advocating for them behind closed doors. Can you explain, concretely, how? 
 
I am particularly concerned by some of the information that has been presented in the statement produced by Mr Neumann an hour ago: 
 

The situation at the closed Manus Island RPC could have been avoided if Malcolm Turnbull was clear from the start about refugees’ access to essential services at the alternative accommodation in PNG.

Turnbull has a moral obligation to work with PNG to deescalate tensions and guarantee the ongoing safety and security of these people.

Labor accepts that the former Manus Island RPC has closed as the result of a decision of the Supreme Court of PNG.

The men at the closed centre need to relocate to alternative accommodation – such as East Lorengau – to access security, health and welfare services.

Footage and reports from advocates who have visited the East Lorengau site make clear that the “alternative accommodation” at East Lorengau is not ready. No water, toilets, or showers. No power. Inadequate shelter for the tropical conditions. No security and no safety. The locals do not want them there. After all, Manus Island is a tiny part of PNG, with scarce resources for the local population.
 
Has anyone from Labor attempted to go and see conditions for themselves? Where has this idea that the offered alternative accommodation is acceptable come from? Why is the onus on the men to move there, rather than the violence to stop? The men have been asking us to listen to them about this. Why are you ignoring their voices? 
 
 
Nauru is also a small place that is struggling to care for all of its people. Yet today I heard news of a new contract being given to Canstruct to build more facilities (described as “garrison-type”) for those held there. There are children and vulnerable women on Nauru. Can nothing be done for them? 
I thought Australia was better than this. It makes me sick at heart to think of this going on, when it would be so much cheaper and more humane to fulfil our international and moral obligations and either bring them here or resettle them in another country who are willing and able to take them – like New Zealand – while working with other countries in the region to create a viable long-term solution. 
 
The idea that these measures are in place to “save lives at sea” or “protecting Australian borders” is rubbish. There are far cheaper and better ways of preventing people risking lives on boats to Australia, like investing in real regional dialogue and processing, providing support and resources to countries, like Malaysia and Indonesia, where the boats set out from. 
 
The current situation is a punitive measure created to encourage asylum seekers to think that going to Australia is worse than staying where they are. Now that has led to desperate people being treated like animals, denied even the most basic human rights. 
 
Please do something. This is a major sticking point for myself and many others in terms of voting. More than that, making a stand is the right thing to do. Have some political courage, listen to those who are experiencing the crisis, and act, please. The situation has gone on for far too long! 
 
If you reply, please don’t use an automated response but something real. 

Central Australia trip report #7 & 8

Wow. I didn’t realise I’d forgotten to upload the last two days of these.

 

Day 7

The next morning we were up and going early. We soon arrived in Alice Springs.

View out the front of a car windscreen from the passenger side, showing two red stones with "Welcome to ALICE SPRINGS" written on them. Sky is blue and everything else outside is red.

We saw the sights and had a drive around. Including Charles Darwin University:

Foreground has red dirt and yellowing grass. Then the black sign with white words stands in front of some buildings with blue sky behind.

And a place called “Anzac Hill”, a memorial to those who’d died and served in war.

At the top, I realised that I’d been up Anzac Hill before – when I went to Central Australia with school, some seven (!) years ago now.

Then:

I'm standing in front of a steel fence two bars across. Behind me is Alice Springs town. It's a close-up photo and I'm wearing a black t-shirt with "Hong Kong" and a gold dragon on it, with tan/grey shorts. My hair is out and long and I'm wearing my "jillaroo" wide-brimmed hat.

…and now:

I'm standing in front of a steel fence - two bars across. Behind me is Alice Springs town. I'm wearing a blue collared t-shirt and jeans with my "jillaroo" wide-brimmed hat. I'm standing next to a green shrub and the sky is clear blue behind me.

We drove on through and around the town and found other things to see. Like the monument to four people who died during the “Inaugural Cannonball Run” in 1994. You can find out more information about the race and monument here. (It’s located to the south of Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway.)

Red rock and mortar creating a fence with a raised corner which has a dark stone triangle on it. On the stone triangle is a plaque dedicated to those who lost their lives during the "Inaugural Cannonball Run"

We also took a squiz at the Cultural Centre and town square. We’d had the luck to visit during NAIDOC week, so there were events going on. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of those.

Eventually, we had to travel on, aiming for Uluru.

Sunset over scrubland, creating a layered effect of blue, pink and orange-yellow stripes on the sky's horizon. The half-moon is bright and small high in the darkening sky above.

Day 8

The next morning, we awoke early. We’d spent another night “free-camping” just outside the national park (Uluru campsite itself – Yulara – was full), to take the total to three. We had set our alarms to wake us before dawn. I remembered seeing the sunset at Uluru last time and wanted to experience a sunrise with family.

So off we went.

We found a good spot in the designated viewing area (they have different ones for sunrise and sunset), then set up to take photos.

Hello, Uluru.

Photo of me in puffy black coat (with fake-fur-rimmed hood), standing in the foreground with Uluru, a bit of grasslands and trees/ shrubs behind me. The sky is blue.

I’m so glad the climbing ban’s been placed… There are plenty of different ways to experience the place with respect.

We took photos of the distant Olgas too.

It would’ve been nice to do a ranger-guided walk around all of Uluru, as I’d done with school, but time was against us. The tour started too late and went too “long” for our purposes, due to a scheduled flight. Before I left on that plane though we went close to the Rock at Mutitjulu waterhole and did a little walk, exploring the story told there.

We visited the Uluru cultural centre and saw the displays. Including hearing a talk by a ranger and Indigenous people about various tools the Indigenous people of the area use/d. Hint: boomerang is not universal. The Pitjantjatjara people call it a kali. (For more words, see this link: Pitjantjatjara words – Tools.)

A sign at the entrance to the cultural centre, first in Anangu then English: Yunkumytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara Traditional owners say, 'Welcome to our place'. Listen to the insects and birds, look at and feel the land as you walk down the paths to the Cultural Centre. Enter through the display. Exit near the cafe."

And then we were off on the road again, for the last time on the trip together…. (For context, I had made the decision to fly back to Melbourne while others continued back down the highway, because it got me back in time for placement with a couple of days to regroup.)

Before long, we arrived at the airport…and it was soon time for boarding.

Red runway from the plane's window, also showing the wing and red dirt.

Then lift-off.

As we were told at the start of the flight by the pilot, the flight took us south of Coober Pedy, near Leigh Creek (? At least, I think that was the name of it), over Lake Eyre North, south of the Flinders Ranges, above Mildura to Bendigo then over the outer suburbs to land in Melbourne. In other words, I reflected, it used a similar route to our trip. I liked the symmetry of that.

Here’s Lake Eyre North:

The flight was pretty good. Before long though – quicker than I’d expected – we were flying over the outskirts of Melbourne…

Ready for landing.

But my journey back wasn’t yet complete. I went out and had to choose between the SkyBus then train, or a PTV bus and ended up choosing the latter (cheaper and not much longer). After another hour and a half, I was back home.

 

A black, grey & orange Smartbus is driving on a road. Its destination is Melbourne Airport 901

An image sourced from Google as illustration – obviously going the opposite direction than me!

 

#Iamwatching – For Crying Out Loud, #bringthemhere!

I just spent 10 minutes calling my local MP’s office, as well as the offices of Bill Shorten, Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton to express my “utter disgust” (as I phrased it to Turnbull and Dutton’s staffers) at the current situation on Manus. Why, why, why do people still insist on treating refugees and asylum seekers as political footballs? Why do people not see that using punitive measures creates far more problems than it solves? Our response should be compassionate and respectful. Instead, we have this toxic dehumanising scary situation.

For those of you who are still unaware of what I’m talking about, here’s ASRC’s CEO, Kon Karapanagiotidis:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FAsylum.Seeker.Resource.Centre.ASRC%2Fvideos%2F1591307030907437%2F&show_text=0&width=560

As of 17:00 today (i.e. 30 minutes ago), all food, water (drinking and running water, so no sanitation!), electricity and medicine access to the men imprisoned in offshore detention on Manus Island has been cut off completely. The Australian government workers and contractors have walked off the site and left “control” in the hands of the Paupa New Guinean military forces – the same group that has repeatedly threatened and made attempts to harm the men.

Supply is being cut off in order to force the men to move to a “transit centre” in another part of the island. A centre which hasn’t been built yet! If they more there? Well – as Kon says above it’s not the fault of the local people, who didn’t ask for the men to be on the Island in the first place. But moving 816 men into East Lorengau, with a population of 4,000 people, where resources are scarce enough to begin with – is quite frankly a worrying prospect. As Kon says in the video (starts about the 4 minute mark), the locals do not want them to come. They have petitioned against it and also made threats. Now, why would the asylum seekers want to move there?

These men do not deserve this. Bring them here

The men have been imprisoned for more than four years on Manus Island in squalid conditions. There are better ways of “dealing” with them!

Let’s reiterate some facts:

  1. Seeking asylum is NOT illegal, whether you come by plane or boat (or land but that’s not possible in Australia)
  2. Locking the refugees up doesn’t “stop the boats”
  3. Asylum seekers leave their countries because they’re FORCED to – because they’re scared for their own lives or the lives of their families.

Australia will have blood on our hands after this, I fear.

Read more about the current situation here and here and here.

I’ve written about potential solutions before #BringThemHere, drat it! and REBLOGGED: Alternative to Offshore Detention and many others – search my blog using the keyword refugees and you’ll see. I hate this situation.

😦 I wish the politicians would actually behave compassionately rather than punitively. It bloody sucks.

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air

Expect to see a lot of these coming up. I’ve finally attached myself to the local library in my new area (only took me eight months haha whoops) so I now have access to books. Including many on hold that I’m picking up, right after I write this post (the book’s due back today).

When Breath Becomes Air is a beautiful bittersweet book. It is a biography of Paul Kalanithi. On the cusp of graduating to being a neurosurgeon, he was diagnosed with cancer. It had already metastasized. Yet he wasn’t done living yet – he had a wife and they’d been making future plans. So he has to decide how to live, in the amount of time he has left.

It shows how he does this by going back to the beginning, from his childhood, through early university and his attempts at discerning what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go – ultimately, who he wanted to be.

The book is very interesting on one level because Dr Kalanithi shared an interest of mine: neurology and how the happenings within the nervous system (especially the brain) affect people. After all, he was a neurosurgeon. I recognise the terminology and the sense of stories.

The prose in the book is brilliant. Dr Kalanithi’s way of describing situations makes them crystal clear and also gives them the right sort of grace and gravity. For example:

“When there’s no place for the scalpel, words are the surgeon’s only tool.” (p.87)

“I had met her in a space where she was a person, instead of a problem to be solved.” (p.90)

“Being with patients in these moments certainly had its emotional cost, but it also had its rewards.” (p.97, emphasis in-text)

“If the weight of mortality does not grow lighter, does it at least get more familiar?” (p.138)

“Doctors, it turns out, need hope, too.” (p.194)

He talks about humanity and how it’s revealed in different forms. Death and life and illness. The book is, at its heart, an examination of relationship. The details of people, at the crossroads of what was and what will be. It is also about identity – losing what used to be yourself and having to find and create a new sense of it.

My favourite prose in the book is the last paragraph Dr Kalanithi wrote. It is a marvellous book, despite and because of its subject matter. I’m glad I read it.

 

Orange Sky charity for homelessness

Got plenty of things to say, but in the meantime (because I ran out of time today), here’s something I’ve wanted to post about for a while.

See, a couple of weeks ago, I went to a fancy dinner to celebrate the year. It was organised through uni. At the dinner, between main course and dessert, we heard a talk from Nic and Lucas, the guys behind Orange Sky Laundry.

It’s a pretty awesome story about community and people helping people. As Nic and Lucas told it, they had an idea, to wash the clothes of homeless people using a mobile laundry service in the back of a van. They had a few setbacks in starting up, but now they’ve got services in different places across Australia. They’ve also started up a mobile shower service that accompanies the laundry.

Here’s a screenshot of the front page of their website, for some visuals. The real thing can be found by clicking here: http://www.orangeskylaundry.com.au/

orange sky homeless charity

The laundry service fills a physical need. It also fills social and emotional ones. It creates community.

 

The way they told the story got me thinking.

It reminded me of the connection I made for a little while with a homeless woman, who used to beg on Londsdale Street near Parliament Station. I think her name was Sally. The first time I met her, I was walking quickly towards the station from the bus stop, on my way back home. It was 2015 I think. I remember, the fact that made me pause was that she had a dog. An old corgie if I recall correctly. As I paused I listened to her telling her story to another person. Over time, through more stops, I’d hear more of it.

She was homeless due to domestic violence. She had had a pretty rough life. It seemed like life had dealt her a series of blows – her own child died young, for example. She lived for her dog; the money she got was first spent on dog-food, then on accommodation for the night, then food for herself.

She had cancer too and had been told she only had a year to live, which dwindled away as I visited.

How do I know she was telling the truth?

I don’t. Not really. But her eyes – the pain in them – I saw that. It felt real to me.

 

I don’t see her anymore. I haven’t done since about this time last year. I think she’s passed on.

I wonder what happened to her dog? That was her biggest fear.

Busy, busy bee…

Study central around here because I have an exam with oral and written components next week…. I have to present, for ten minutes, an intervention-based session applicable to a particular case scenario I’ve been allocated to.

After the exam’s over, I have to finish writing and submit an assignment about child observation.

I shall have more to say about my Paediatrics OT subject journey after next week.

Until then – this landed in my inbox today. Check it out. I agree – health and arts are linked. After all, treating the whole person is better than just focusing on treating one part; it’s not just about the medical way of things but the social-environmental occupational etc. ways too. https://fromtheharp.co.uk/2017/10/12/a-day-out-at-parliament/