Posts for the global solidarity dept
Declan Maher & Pelin Ersoy, Justine Amin & Michelle Picone
The release of the Nauru Files has once again shone light on the horrendous treatment of refugees by the Australian government. This does not come as a surprise to anyone – it has been the policy of both Liberal and Labor for some years now to subject refugees to brutal torture in offshore concentration camps as a “deterrent”, that is, making them worse than wars, persecution and poverty that Australia is directly or indirectly complicit in causing. A policy so central to the project of both parties can only be defeated through mass action and by literally tearing down the fences imprisoning refugees, as happened in Woomera in 2002. The next rally to free the refugees is on August 27th, starting at 1pm at Town Hall.
The 2016 Rio Olympics is all over the news, along with little mention of protests that have surrounded the event, drawing attention to huge wealth inequality, the poor state of education, the clearing of favelas and other issues. As the torch approached the Opening Ceremony, it was headed by riot police firing rubber bullets at those who stood in its way. The event itself, however, hasn’t been completely apolitical – USA’s swimming gold medalist in Simone Manuel used her platform to speak out about police brutality in her home country. She said to the media on her victory, ”it means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality. This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My colour comes with the territory.”
The Black Lives Matter movement has, in recent months, found footing in Australia after a number of large rallies, particularly in light of the report on the Don Dale prison in the Northern Territory, where predominantly Indigenous boys have been subject to various forms of torture from tear gas to restraining chairs to isolation. This is just another episode in the 228 year history of racism and genocide that is the Australian state. The Global Solidarity office will continue to support this struggle of Indigenous people against racism and oppression.
The Social Justice Officer position is in need of serious evaluation and amendment. The Office’s remit is nebulous and the number of Officer Bearers makes coordination difficult at the best of times. Furthermore, the position is seen as a joke.
When I took this role, I thought that something could be made of it. I was wrong. I recommend for the position to be amended so that only one person can hold the Office so that they can be held individually accountable. The functions of the Office should be clearly defined and expectations should be set. The position should not just be another line in the CV, but something of substance.
To give you an idea of what at present is involved in being a Social Justice Officer: Soon after being appointed I managed to gain access to the email account (who knew there was one?), and the messages had not been read. During my tenure I saw a Facebook page from the USYD SRC Social Justice Department sharing an event. I was joyful that it was active. However, there was no reply to my message querying who was running it. From the activity on the page I have surmised it is merely a front for Socialist Alternative and nothing more.
For next year’s Social Justice Officers, I can only wish you the best of luck that you may do better than this year. The bar has been set very low. Unless the position is significantly amended, I would recommend that it be abolished.
Hugs and kisses, Alex Eordogh
As semester hits its peak with essay season, student elections and the weight of exams just around the corner, students can be forgiven for forgetting the most important aspects of life: health, emotional wellbeing and self-nourishment.
While many of our policies pertain to financial or demographic disadvantage, we are pleased to announce our current work-in-progress; the introduction of professionally run support groups for students suffering mental illness and/or emotional challenges. An initiative proved successful by numerous London universities, we envisage a collaborative effort between the university and relative organizations such as the Butterfly Foundation and Beyond Blue.
As mental illness continues to be a leading factor for deaths of young people aged 18-25, there is no time like the present to proactively incorporate support services within the university’s largest student organisation. Free support networks run by relevant charities and mental health facilities already function throughout NSW. The Social Justice Office hopes to expand this through introducing a strictly anonymous, easily accessible branch on campus, so that students looking for peer support and guidance are afforded it.
As we intend to line up a number of relevant consultation meetings, the planning for our scholarship assistance program is also shaping nicely. We will be distributing an online survey in the very near future to accurately indicate areas of this policy which are most beneficial for the student body. We ask that all students keep an eye out for this, as any contribution will be invaluable for the opportunities of future USYD applicants.
SRC Social Justice Officer Report