Peter Mares on Australia’s shift to temporary migration.

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Bruce Duncan.

not-quite-australianAt the SPC forum on 19 October, Peter Mares – with an astonishing grasp of detail and great lucidity – outlined changes in the categories and arrangements of visas to Australia, particularly highlighting the implications of people on temporary visas, most of whom intended to return to their own countries.

Many of these temporary migrants are vulnerable to exploitation in the labour market. Many do not know their rights, and are compelled to work for very low rates of pay. Students, recent migrants, tourists, and people on temporary working visas are particularly vulnerable.

After working in the ABC for 25 years and as a foreign correspondent based in Hanoi, Peter is familiar with issues in Asia. He presented programs on national radio, including Asia Pacific and The National Interest. Through his career, he combined journalism with public policy, particularly on migration issues. He wrote the 2001 award-winning book Borderline on Australia’s response to refugees and asylum seekers.

He has recently followed this with Not Quite Australian: How Temporary Migration is Changing Australia (Text Publishing). Many of his articles appear in the online magazine, Inside Story, where he is contributing editor.

If you have not seen Inside Story, I invite you to check it out at to see its weekly range of insightful articles on current social issues, written by prominent authors. It is free, and easy to subscribe.

Since 2002, Peter has also been an adjunct fellow at the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University, and has contributed to many other journals and books.

Launch of John D’Arcy May’s book, Imagining the Ecumenical: a Personal Journey.

imagining-the-ecumenicalFr Michael Elligate, Catholic university chaplain at St Carthage’s in Parkville, launched Imagining the Ecumenical on 13 October at the Study Centre at Yarra Theological Union before more than 50 friends and colleagues of John. Michael commended this account as capturing John’s personal journey of transformation from the initial ecumenical openings after the Second Vatican Council to a wide ecumenical engagement, and then into a complex and fascinating world of inter-religious encounter in Asia and the Pacific.

John draws on his experience in Papua New Guinea and his opening to Buddhism in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia before he began teaching and promoting interfaith dialogue during the Troubles in Ireland, where he become Director of the Irish School of Ecumenics in Dublin. He was deeply concerned about the violence in Ireland and its links with religion, and began to explore religion and violence generally.

After John returned to Australia around 2009, Dr Paul Rule introduced him to our research organisation, the Yarra Institute for Religion & Social Policy within the University of Divinity, and John served on the Board of Directors until recently. On behalf of the Yarra Institute, I thanked John for his unique contribution in helping us to navigate new areas in ecumenical dialogue, issues of religion and violence, and the increasing urgency of interfaith dialogue.

Imagining the Ecumenical is available from Morning Star Publishing for $25.95.

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