Hermit’s little world… + Asylum Seekers, NDIS trial, Big Tobacco smack down & Hair Politics.

“Why do one thing properly when you can do a number of things with middling success?”

he jests… comedy writer Tony Martin. 

Experiencing a less emotionally intense/hopelessly scattered mind this week. Oy.

On Monday I watched the first cut of the WDV training film for medical students. As a consequence of being involved in this project, I have augmented my understanding of health access issues for Women with disabilities – merely by listening and reading the related research – and had the opportunity to watch the production process of another professional filmmaker (Fertile Films’ Sarah Barton). All week, my esteemed co-curator and I will be continuing to work with the fine artists who are a part of our Melbourne Fringe Festival show to coordinate it all. I just submitted my first article for the newly launched Stella Magazine (Fashion/Health/Travel/Arts/Life for Contemporary Pacific Creatives). I’m planning to revive a writers’ group, and am continuing to plug away at the play, my own scripts, freelance writing and complete my schoolwork. All the while, looking forward to eating and weaving with my sisters at the Weaving Circle this weekend… and seeing a film… and getting my driver to take the alternate way home so I can pick up a lamb sandwich from Brooklyn’s Lipo’s Kebab’s – a diamond in the rough. I love the West.

So, basically, a typical week in my little world.

Aside from the daily grind, four very different things have grabbed and held my temporarily limited attention span so far. Here they are, in brief:


Legislation was introduced yesterday in Federal Parliament to enable the establishment of detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island (PNG), a move intended to deter asylum seekers’ use of people smugglers and dangerous boat voyages to enter Australia, which has been recommended by an “expert panel” comprising the former Defence Force chief Angus Houston, refugee expert Paris Aristotle, and former diplomat Michael L’Estrange. The measures are apparently interim “circuit breaker” solutions, however, a long-term regional solution is still required.

Though a minor destination country for asylum-seekers, 964 asylum-seekers and crew have lost their lives at sea while en route to Australia since 2001. As of Monday, every asylum seeker arriving by boat risks being sent to one of the new detention camps where, under proposed ”no advantage” principles, the processing of their claims will not be fast-tracked, and they will be treated as if in a refugee camp in Indonesia or Malaysia. With no guarantee of resettlement in Australia if actually found to be refugees. All in an effort to convince asylum seekers to use the official channels for seeking refugee status here. Read more about the recommendations – including the panel’s recommendations to immediately boost the number of refugees taken under the humanitarian program – HERE.

Notably, the expert panel criticised the Coalition’s plan to turn back boats, saying this would require significant operational, safety of life, diplomatic and legal conditions. It also criticised Labor’s “Malaysia Solution” for not including enough protections for those vulnerable people sent back under the plan. However, it said Malaysia remains an integral part of the issue and the critical key to establishing a regional framework. More negotiation, Angus Houston said, is required, rather than a complete scrapping of the deal.

A number of MPs (other than the Greens), including Independent Andrew Wilkie and Labor backbencher Melissa Parke, have expressed opposition to and raised ethical and humanitarian concerns about the new measures. Read more HERE.  and HERE.

And here’s Annabel Crabb’s blog today on history repeating:

Asylum debate: same question, different argument

Fuller analysis to come.


On Sunday, the state and federal governments announced they had reached an agreement on the roll-out of the NDIS, which will commence on July 1, 2013 (READ ARTICLE). The State Government of Victoria has pledged to contribute more than $300 million to a trial of the NDIS in the Barwon region from the middle of next year, while the Federal Government will invest almost $200 million. This deal will assist 5,000 people with a disability, and has been welcomed by Advocates of the NDIS.

James O’Brien, from the Every Australian Counts  campaign, says those participating in the trial will receive more individualised care.

In the meantime…

You can still support Every Australian Counts –  THE people’s campaign for the introduction of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), as recommended by the Productivity Commission. The Commission devised and recommended the NDIS back in July 2011, following an intensive 18-month investigation of the unmet needs of people with disability and their families and carers across Australia, and analysis of high-functioning disability support systems overseas.

The gaps in services that were uncovered as a part of this investigation were frankly appalling, and unacceptable, in a country as wealthy as Australia. The NDIS is needed now; moreover, YOU may need it one day, and it is likely someone close to you may need it too.

To support the campaign, you can help by:

A)       Joining the campaign;

B)       Talking to your MP;

C)       Joining the campaign on social media and sharing the site with your friends.

Find out more here:


A more detailed analysis on the NDIS to come.


Just read this:

High Court rejects plain packaging challenge

The Federal Government’s plain packaging laws will be going ahead, after the High Court rejected a constitutional challenge to the laws by big tobacco companies. Plain packets – plain olive, without trademarks, and with graphic health warnings – will hit customer shelves on December 1. I guess no one can plead ignorance, anymore, about the effects of smoking – continue to smoke at your own peril, that’s totally your business. I’m just chuffed that the deadly, addictive product industry didn’t get it’s way on his one.

Choice quote from Jonathan Liberman, from the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer:

“The lesson for other countries is that the only way to deal with the grandiose claims, the clearly unfounded legal claims, of the tobacco industry, is to see them in court. And the High Court here has heard argument, has delivered its decision, the system has worked.”


Healthy body image amongst Women is an issue close to my heart. This is a culture that is both ageist and “lookist” – a woman’s appearance – size, shape, skin, hair, style, features  – is almost always judged, regardless of her accomplishments in life (Hilary Clinton apparently recently had to shut down an interviewer who was preoccupied with the designer of her clothing). Moreover, the way physical beauty is conceptualised is also highly racialised. The racialised nature of Western images of physical beauty over time, and racism at large, contributed to a culture amongst Black people, and Black Women in particular, that rejected the natural features and hair of Black people – in essence, THE FRO.

In contrast, I adore diversity in looks across humanity. And I love kinky, curly hair. The stigmatisation of the fro in some black subcultures is damaging and gross.  Three years ago I made a decision – for both practical and political reasons – to never straighten my hair, ever again. After many years of blow-drying, heat ironing and chemical treating, it has taken my hair all of those three years to recuperate, but it is now super soft, healthy, and mine. NATURALLY. Today, I support publications, media, and artists that affirm diversity and speak to populations that don’t necessarily identify with the dominant, “mainstream” norms.

So I was thrilled yesterday when I discovered another lover of natural hair: Baltimore-based photographer Glenford Nunez, founder and photographer of TYP Photography Studio in Baltimore (US). He started The Coiffure Project, a photographic portraiture series that captures “beautiful natural hair on beautiful, natural people.” I adore this project for the uniqueness and diversity of the subjects, the way Nunez’s captures the individuality of these Women. And, of course, their fabulous do’s:

Many years ago, when one of my older nieces was just three years old, I remember her looking in the mirror and crying, begging her mummy to make her hair straight. At three years old, she had already begun to absorb the message from the world around her that what she was wasn’t okay – wasn’t pretty, wasn’t good enough.  In contrast, today, I have other little nieces. I have babysat them, watched them joyfully comb their little kinks and curls with afro picks 🙂 And this happy sight will remain one of the most beautiful things I will ever see in my life.


I won’t be posting for a little while… next two months are going to be busy. See you in Spring!


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