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The March edition of SPC News considers a range of pressing issues, from efforts to reach a two-state solution for the Palestine crisis, to proposals from Terry Laidler for a new constructive approach to juvenile detention, offering these young people a chance for a new life.
Rowan Ireland reports on an important conference on development issues, stressing the critical role of small farmers in the struggle for increases in food production, equity, and environmental sustainability. We reprint Susan Rimmer‘s article from The Conversation, urging Australia to take an increased role in conflict mediation and diplomacy. And Gary Harkin notes the implications for social equity of recent decisions about penalty rates in Australia, and the increasing commercialisation of Sundays.
SPC also posts YouTube videos of our two most recent speakers at our forums, Bill Armstrong AO in February, and Josh Cullinan last November. Drawing on a lifetime in aid and development, Bill argues strongly that genuine development depends on personal and community-to-community relationships which empower local groups to take ownership of their own development. Josh has been a key figure in exposing under-payment of part-time and casual workers in retail and fast food sectors, and is building a new union, the Retail & Fast Food Workers Union, to ensure workers are paid a just wage.
Following renewed expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestinian lands, Bruce Duncan considers views opposed to Netanyahu internationally and within Israel itself, including those from former intelligence and military leaders. He notes that 137 countries, including the Holy See in 2015, have recognised the state of Palestine, and asks if it is time for Australia to do likewise.
Obama’s Secretary of State, John Kerry, recently warned that Netanyahu’s government is “the most right-wing in Israel’s history”, and that, by obstructing a settlement with the Palestinians, Israel will drift to a one-state outcome, Eventually, the growth of non-Jewish population will make Jewish people a minority in Israel, and Israel will never be at peace.
In light of the ongoing crisis in juvenile detention, Terry Laidler argues that juveniles need to be treated differently from adults, particularly to develop emotional maturity and impulse control. Many of these kids come from highly dysfunctional backgrounds, and a prison-like regime is likely to damage them further. To prevent such lasting damage, Laidler offers a plan for concerted efforts to help these young people deal with their issues by equipping them for a new life in society.
Leading experts highlighted the role of small farmers in responding to the challenges of increasing food production in a way which is socially equitable as well as sustainable in the changing environment. Professors Roger Jones and Bhajan Grewal from Victoria University and High Lacey from the Working Group on Agroecology in Brazil spoke in Melbourne in late February. Rowan Ireland reflects on the significance of the new views in agroecology.
With so many ‘hot spots’ around the world, with wars, environmental and economic problems, Susan Harris Rimmer is still hopeful for these coming years, particularly because of the structures of international governance and management which are in place. She urges, however, that Australia “strengthen the quality and quantum of our humanitarian responses, and continue to invest in the UN’s humanitarian architecture”, particularly in preventative diplomacy and mediation.
Most of us still enjoy Sunday as a day of rest, if not from a religious perspective any longer, then certainly from a family and recreational perspective. On Sundays, teachers don’t teach, children don’t go to school, the stock exchange is closed, parliament doesn’t sit, and professional folk have their feet up. Not so for those who need to supplement their incomes by working on Sunday. Our conventional understanding has been that, if these workers are denied the opportunity of precious family time, then they should be fairly compensated.
Bill Armstrong AO, speaking at the Social Policy Connections forum
on 22 February, drew on a lifetime working in aid and development.
He is convinced genuine development depends on personal and
community-to-community relationships which empower local groups to
take ownership of their own development. He warned about government
agendas undermining genuine community development.
Josh Cullinan, here at the SPC forum on 30 November 2016, has been a
key figure in exposing underpayment of part-time and casual workers in retail and fast food sectors, and is building a new union, the Retail & Fast Food Workers Union, to ensure workers are paid a just wage.