Social Justice

After all is said and done, a lot more will be said than done.

..our worst enemies are the intelligent and the corrupt.
Graham Greene, The Human Factor (1978)

Never do anything yourself that others can do for you.
Agatha Christie

Be careful in revising those immigration laws of yours. We got careless with ours.
advice given to Hubert Humphrey by an American Indian from New Mexico

Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it. Abraham Lincoln

The LORD your God . . . . . loves the foreigners (refugees) who live with our people, and gives them food and clothes. So then, show love for those foreigners (refugees), because you were once foreigners (refugees) in Egypt.
Deuteronomy 10:17—19 (GNB)

All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.
Albert Einstein

In some countries, deliberate attempts to dehumanise asylum seekers are continuing, always presenting them as menacing statistics, as criminals and bringers of disease, or as some other form of generalised abstract aberration that is easy to hate.
António Guterres UN High Commissioner for Refugees June 2006.

What country? - You're standing in it!

Refugees Imprisoned!

Synopsis: Australia is the only country in the world (Dec 2002) that puts refugees in prison and then charges them rent for the priviledge. The only other country ever to do this was the "Third Reich"! (As at 28/8/2003) Peter Qasim owes an estimated $350,000 at the 5 year mark!!

Peter Qasim finally freed after 6 years and 10 months in detention!! Read more...
<-- Click to see a larger version of this image (32K).

Green paper    link to green paper    Lost Their Way!

Rural Australians for Refugees
Country folk in Australia are doing something positive about our refugee crisis. Discover the real facts.

Other Links:

The big lies of 'border protection'
Former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, refutes the lies being told about 'asylum seelers'.    cache version
Human Rights Commissioner - Australia
Refugee Council of Australia
Children Out Of Detention (ChilOut)
ChilOut is a group of parents and citizens opposed to the mandatory detention of children in Australia's immigration detention centres.
How sewn lips speak
The Wisdom of Shakespeare on Refugees
in the play Sir Thomas More he has More show leadership before a mob. . .
Other ways
There are more humane alternatives to mandatory detention which still address border security
Why burn the place down?
There has been a great outrage in the press about the spate of fires ..... Here is another view.
Australia's Treatment of Asylum Seekers - The View from the Outside
Julian Burnside argues that "crimes against humanity" as defined by Australian Law have been knowingly committed by Prime Minister Howard and Minister Ruddock.       Cache version
Fear and Denial in Public Policy
Dr Carmen Lawrence speaks to the Australian Psychological Society on 19th June 2003. "Far from welcoming those who come across the sea and sharing in our good fortune, as our national anthem boasts, we are, as a nation, rejecting the most traumatised of people and adding to their suffering."
Click here       Original pdf file at

The only thing that really matters. Our common humanity
An account of a visit to the Baxter Immigration Detention Facility, Port Augusta, South Australia.
Behind The Wire: Children in Immigration Detention
Why all children in detention should be released immediately. Multiple stidies have shown the damage being done, so the government has no excuse any longer. The government is now culpable! (my comment) A report from the Newsletter of the National Rural Health Alliance September 2003
Click here
Nauru - Howard got it wrong.
How Howard's Pacific Solution has brought shame to Australia. Now it's time to end it. But the government refuses to see the truth! (Media Report from SAFECOM - December 17 2003)
Click here
Another Big Lie Exposed
The Howard Government has frequently used the term illegal to describe asylum seekers or refugees arriving by boat. This terminology has been deemed clearly incorrect by the UK Press Complaints Commission and moves are being made for the Australian Press Council to take a similar stance. The use of the term "illegal" is erroneous when describing asylum claimants rights under the UN Refugee Convention. So if the press uses this terminology in reporting , dob them in. (Project SAFECOM tells you how. - Jan 13, 2004)
Click here
Changes to TPV only leads to more pain for many! - July 2004
Under pressure of a looming election and liberal backbenchers with refugees in their electorates, Howard has wriggled out of any real change to government policy. When announced the policy was greeted with tears of joy by many, but the tears have now dried up and the silence is deafening ..... the devil is in the fine print. Jack Smit analyses the situation...    Click here
Baxter Pain Continues - Dec 2004
After the return of the Howard Government in 2004 the pain for asylum seekers in Australia continues. None more so than at Baxter Immigration Detention Facility where recently Iranians fearing deportation went on a hunger strike. One of their number, an Iranian Christian, was secretly deported back to a state where the penalty for apostacy is death. A secret Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Australia and the Islamic Republic of Iran which is well documented for its human rights abuses seems to put trade ahead of the lives of people. Project Safecom has the latest news.....    Click here
Also the latest RAR Newsletter documents the Iranian story... RAR National Newsletter No. 15
The Agony Continues . . .
"Peter Qasim is free at last, but the mandatory detention policy remains a national disgrace." - from The Age editorial Read more . . .
Last Children removed from Detention at Last! Oops!
No child remains in mandatory detention as at 30 July 2005 but the law has not been changed to prevent this happening again. And there is still much to be done reports Chilout Australia. . . They're back!!
Baxter is CLOSED!
Baxter Detention Centre was closed on Monday August 20, 2007 but the pain continues, as the last detainees were shipped off to Villawood in Sydney thus losing the local support persons who had been visiting them for years.
The Electorate doesn't get it!
We will see after the election if the demonising continues - and it has! Now there is Nauru and Manus Island.

Self Sustainability Missing - Self Determination Lost!

Synopsis: It seems that Aboriginal communities in Central Australia are failing to provide hope for the future survival of cultural traditions and community that they were set up for. They remain mendicant to governments and seem unable to make the hard decisions needed for future development in the face of substance abuse, crime and nepotism.

Green paper   link to green paper


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC)
ATSIC was abolished in 2005. This site is now archived - click here!
Reconciliation Australia
Reconciliation Australia is an independent, not-for-profit organisation established in 2000 by the former Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. They are the peak national organisation building and promoting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians for the wellbeing of the nation.
Aboriginal Students Can Succeed
This research looks at the positive factors that enable Aboriginal students to succeed
at senior high school level and how to get there.

Click here
What Educators Can Do to Help Aboriginal Students Stay at School and Succeed
Educators can have a powerful influence on both the immediate and long-term educational outcomes for Aboriginal students.
Click here
Teaching & Learning in a Desert Community
Some brief comments to guide piranpa (white) teachers newly arriving in a Desert School.
Click here
Why Warriors Lie Down and Die
Some answers to the crisis in health and education experienced by Aboriginal people in Arnhem Land. A must read.
"Self Determination" - a problem for Howard!
Australia is the sole remaining country opposed to the right of indigenous people having the right to "Self Determination" under a UN statement on Indigenous rights! This has now changed as the Rudd government has signed the declaration. However it seems that a future Liberal government will ignore the provisions! (my opinion) The Labor government was not hot on Indigenous rights either when it came to continuing the Northern Territory Emergency Response.
Countering Racism
In 2003 four Aboriginal girls from Year 7 at Flinders View Primary School in South Australia entered a web site competition and won. But it was not just the winning that had a profound result..... explore the site then go to the credits page. = broken link.
Note: this site has been removed from the MCCSA link above so it has been cached.   Click here for cached version.
End the Denial. . . .
Former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, calls upon governments to stop the blame game and suggests 8 steps to take to make a positive difference to the tragedy that is Indigenous Australia in 2006. In the present sea of controversy, here is one of the few non-indigenous commentators to make sense. (my comment)
The Past We Need To Understand
Malcolm Fraser delivered the Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture in 2000. To read this again in 2007 and reflect on what has and hasn't changed is a telling indictment both on government and Australian society at large. (my comment)
'White Men Are Liars'
Margaret S. Bain's book subtitled, "On another look at Aboriginal-Western Interactions" is the book I wished I could have read before working on the Pitjantjatjara Lands. It explains the cultural factors that lead to misunderstandings between people even when they believe they have command of the language. From the examples given it becomes clear why these misunderstandings persist and prevent good things from happening.(my comment)
Read more . . .
Australia signs UN Declaration
On April 3, 2009 Australia signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Read more . . .

Testing Times for Schools

Synopsis: NAPLAN is the National Assessment-Literacy And Numeracy Program that tests students in all Australian schools in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. For more information on these tests go to the NAPLAN website. The particular way these tests have been used has proven to be problematic in the UK and USA and there is increasing evidence that the test results are being used in a way that is detrimental to schools and students and does nothing to assist school improvement.


The Basic Criticisms
Professor Michael Nagel puts no value in NAPLAN testing used to rate schools' progress across Australia.
NAPLAN is not a system-destroying monster. Here's why we should keep our national literacy and numeracy tests
Shane Rogers attempts a balanced assessment but does not convince me.
A Review but the Test goes on? (2020)
NAPLAN, the standardised test of every Australian student's literacy and numeracy skills, could be replaced by a new, broader test that also includes science, technology and a greater focus on critical and creative thinking.

Class Size Matters!

Synopsis: Having small class sizes makes a big difference not only in student attainment, but a whole raft of issues ranging from health and safety to general wellness of both students and staff improves. Teachers have known this for years but only lately have the research results been coming in to show this is true. The US started to implement class size reforms but the Bush administration now want to haul back! Whether we ever get started in Australia will be problematic. It might be interesting to check out the class sizes in some of the rich private schools.
Note: Class size is NOT the same as teacher student ratio. The latter statistic is derived in a variety of ways and is a favourite way educational authorities confuse the issue. It does not indicate actual numbers of students sitting in front of the teacher in a classroom. Only the class size figure gives this precise information.

Green paper    link to green paper      Cached version


Smaller Class Sizes
Class Sizes Grabs Boards' Attention - Washington Post
West Ed - Lessons Learned from Experience
More on Research Findings
The Effect of Class Size on Achievement: What the Research Says - Harold Wenglinsky, David C. Illig
Backing Off!
Some US states are getting cold feet
Class Sizes Grow as States confront Budget Woes.
Charles Achilles Seminar
Some brief notes and comments at a recent seminar by Charles Achilles at the AEU in South Australia - 9th July, 2002
Click here
Special Education: The Myth of Least Restrictive Environment
Mainstreaming has big implications for the class size debate. Unfortunately, general education teachers do not get reduced class sizes and support staff. But we keep asking them to teach multiple curriculums to different learning levels of huge numbers of students. It simply does not work. In this article, a practising teacher in the US, Dr Steven Simpson, discusses the implications of mainstreaming Special Education. It's much the same here...
Click here

Third World in Australia!?

Synopsis: School facilities on the Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal Lands in the far north-west corner of the state of South Australia have been neglected for many years.

At Pipalyatjara the main classroom block is cramped, lacks storage facilities so items of equipment are crammed into every corner and nook, has an extremely low ceiling and poor natural lighting. Ventilation is a problem. When it is hot the evaporative air conditioners make so much noise it is hard to hear even as children have ear infections and hearing loss. In winter the doors and windows are closed to heat the rooms adequately. Not a healthy environment.

Despite the conditions in these schools teachers are doing good work (see link below). However, if these schools were in Adelaide, or any where else in the state, there would be a public outcry.
(written in 2002)

Other Links:

Hansard Record
- Click here

Please click here to go to the Pipalyatjara Anangu School site:

My apologies this website today is no longer what it used to be. Even after I left this school in 2001 the old website lingered on. It was crammed full of information about the school, the local community, flora and fauna and particularly what the kids and the staff were doing, reported regularly in the online newsletters. And there were lots of photos as well as worksheets and reports on how the school and the community tackled, health issues such as hearing loss, trachoma and FAS. Some remnants remain like the article below - "Teaching & Learning in a Desert Community". I am considering putting up a copy of the website, as it was in 2001, as a legacy site.

In 2005 Di and I visited Pipalyatjara School on a brief visit back to the Lands. Not much had changed except for a new CPC which had been placed without regard to the overall school development plan that was in place at the end of 2001, though this plan may not have been agreed to. So? It looked like bring in a building and dump it anywhere! Anyway the same old facilities were still there, largely unchanged? I do not know what the current situation is at this time (August 2010), nor now (2019) although I believe buildings have now been replaced and there have been significant upgrades.
A section of the report on the building upgrade can be read here.

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