Saturday, May 23, 2015

Perth rally to rescue Rohingya refugees

Sixty people protested outside the department of Immigration offices in Perth calling on the federal government to actively rescue and resettle the Rohingyan refugees fleeing Burma.

Sally Thompson from Refugee Rights Action Network said that there are more than 100 Rohingyan refugees in Manus and around 50 on Nauru. She read messages from these refugees who explained the violence that forced them to leave Burma.

Other speakers included Michelle Bui from Students for Refugees and Clare Middlemas from Unionists for Refugees.

A Refugee Welcome Fiesta will be held in Fremantle on June 14 and a protest at the Perth Immigration Detention Centre on June 20.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sam Wainwright: Freo council votes to stop running women's shelter

Socialist Alliance member and Fremantle councillor has reported that the majority of Freo council - including mayor Brad Pettitt - to stop council involvement in running the Warrawee Women's Refuge. Sam was one of five councillors to dissent to the move.

I'm sad to report that at its April meeting, council voted 6 votes to 5 NOT to reapply for state funding for the Warrawee Women's Refuge. This means the City will relinquish the service and the Department for Child Protection and Family Support will have to find another organization to take it on.

The City founded the refuge back in 1972 and has the distinction of creating the first purpose-built facilities in Australia.

The state government has been cost-shifting by systematically underfunding Warrawee relative to other refuges and expecting us to make up the shortfall.

However the City has also reduced the scope of the service in response, so it's not correct to suggest it was a growing "burden". Some perspective, I think we spent more on Australia Day and ANZAC Day activities this year.

In a letter to the Department the City has advised of its decision, but suggested council would reconsider if more funding was offered.

I think this might be a pretty feint hope and I'm sceptical that a new service provider will be given any more funding than the City receives. However I would be very happy to be proven wrong on either count and report an unexpected happy twist to the story.

All my thanks and commiserations to the staff who I expect will lose their jobs. All the reports I hear is that they did great work in very difficult circumstances. A transition to a non-government provider will likely see new staff on lower pay and conditions. It's a pity that as a society we don't value this work a whole lot more.

Thanks also to fellow Councillors Josh Wilson and Andrew Sullivan for their passionate and intelligent contribution to the debate at council. I think we have some work to do to claim the mantle of a leading social justice council.

Every level of government federal, state and local should be spending a lot more to combat the scourge of domestic and family violence. It's the biggest crime of violence in every suburb and town in Australia, but where are the politicians who like to bang on about "law and order" every election?

Notice how the Barnett government invokes domestic violence when it wants to use it as an excuse to shut down remote indigenous communities, but is happy to leave the sector desperately underfunded every other day of the week! We need a big change in our society.

You can follow Sam on Facebook and check out his website.

[Photo from Fremantle Reclaim The Night protest 2013 which campaigned to save the refuge.]

Campaign against community closures forces government response

The latest round of national mobilisations against the forced closure of Aboriginal communities is making the government feel the pressure. This is revealed by the comments by WA premier Colin Barnett on the day of the rallies which took place in over 90 locations around Australia and around the world.

On May 1, Barnett said again that "no person will be forced from their land, no person will be forced from their community" and that not as many communities would need to close as had previously been advised. The media interpreted this as a partial retreat.

Then on May 7, the government released a plan "abandoning projections that 150 [communities] will close" according to The West Australian and promising consultation with Aboriginal people.

To top it off, on May 8 the Aboriginal Affairs minister Peter Collier explicitly called for future protests to be called off.

This proves that the protests which not only blocked city streets in Melbourne and occupied the town hall in Brisbane, but more importantly have proven capable of mobilising large and growing numbers of people, are having an impact.

It is not the time to call off the protests but to continue the momentum until the WA government is forced to fully withdraw from any community closures and the federal government is forced to not only restore but increase the funding to these communities.

[Comment by Alex Bainbridge.]

Friday, May 8, 2015

Public forum: Fight racism! Fight Abbott's cuts! Tues 26 May

Public forum - all welcome

From refugees to closure of remote communities, the "Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs" leads a racist government. This goes hand in hand with the broader attacks on the whole population such as cuts to Medicare, education and pensions.

This forum will discuss the link between racism and austerity as well as the solidarity required to defeat both.

Speakers include:
Brian Bintley (Plumbers Union WA)
Nicole Cullbong (Nyoongar Tent Embassy)
Chris Jenkins (Socialist Alliance)

6:30pm, Tues 26 May

Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth (next to McIver station)

Hosted by Socialist Alliance. Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.

Attend on FaceBook:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Successful forum against closure of communities

Approximately 45 people attended last night's forum on Defending Aboriginal Communities at the Perth Activist Centre.

Speakers on the night were Uncle Glen Cooke (Co-Chair of the Australia Nuclear Free Alliance), Tammy Solonec (Indigenous Rights Manager at Amnesty International), Seamus Doherty (Socialist Alliance) and Herbert Bropho (Swan Valley Nyungar Community).