political · Uncategorized

My Political Pants

Last Sunday the Australian Federal Minister for Education announced that an
expert group had been formed to work on the implementation of a nation-wide phonics assessment and numeracy check for year 1’s. He asserted this action was part of a plan of getting back to basics in Australian schools. I spent the afternoon reading comments and looking into it more – I was excited to finally have some something from my Facebook feed spark my attention. Even more igniting was a blog I read that night by Cate Speaks –Imperfect activism. She wrote  about the shared despair resulting from the politics of the wider world and the mental exhaustion resulting in a lack of time or energy to devote to activism.  Most importantly she proclaimed that while it may be impossible to do ‘enough,’  even if you only do one thing, ever, that’s still one thing that wouldn’t have been done if you hadn’t done it.

She particularly inspired me with the goal ‘to do your one thing, and then encourage two or three more people to do their one thing too’, in order to make a difference. She plans to do 2 things a week , one that is political or big picture and the other small and local – ‘something that aims to maintain and build the communities I am a part of’.  I’m pretty keen to follow her lead so am adding yet another 2017 blogging goal to me list – the political post.

To recap this year I’ve said I’m going to do – a reading post (WWW Wednesday and When are you reading challenge), an issue post, my regular whatever posts and now a political post. Let’s just not set too many timelines on these! I had a bit of a crazy busy week – daughter back to school, now a big Year 1, son started kindy, I attempted to work clients around various schedules, hubby had shearing and our puppy broke his leg! I was extremely happy to make it to the weekend. I’m now trying to work my way through several tabs open in my internet browser and this is where my first purposeful political post shall begin….

Firstly I am still trying to get my head around Simon Birmingham’s education announcement (mentioned above). My first thought was WHY more assessment? H’s reception teacher last year did reading at least once a week with each student, I’m sure all teachers already know where their kids are at reading-wise. More important than assessment in my opinion is resources to respond to what teacher’s already know. Resources to help the students who are identified as struggling. Anyhow I still need to look into this one further – maybe next weeks post.

Secondly Trump. I don’t know who I would’ve voted for if I was American but I am not 100% against this guy. Then I read this summary of his first week in office…

Thirdly Trump. again. well no actually Russia. A lovely friend joined me on the five hour round trip to pick my puppy up after surgery and we discussed all and everything. She mentioned fears of Trumps relationship with Russia, especially since Russia was seeking to decriminalise domestic violence, what the what?! She wasn’t making it up:

According to CNN ‘The pending legislation would consider an assault — if it’s a first offense that does not seriously injure the person — an administrative, rather than criminal offense. The legislation would also apply to children…Women’s rights groups say domestic violence has an insidious hold on many Russian families and fear that decriminalizing assaults will only encourage more violence… An old Russian expression “If he beats you it means he loves you.”…Official data on domestic violence in Russia is not centrally collected so it’s hard to verify. But the state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports that 40% of serious crimes in Russia are committed in the family, 36,000 women are beaten by their husbands daily, and 12,000 women die yearly as a result of domestic violence — one woman every 44 minutes.’

‘Yelena Mizulina, the politician who introduced the legislation believes it will bring domestic violence offences into line with other assault and battery charges, which were decriminalised last year.The change would mean that ‘battery within the family’ as an administrative offence would be punished with a fine, community service or brief prison term.’ (http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/01/13/despite-outcry-russia-set-de-criminalise-domestic-violence). It also returns the crime to the realm of “private prosecution”, where the victim is responsible for collecting evidence and bringing a case. Repeat offences would be criminal infractions, but only within a year of the first, giving abusers a pass to beat relatives once a year.’

The Economist reported that Russia is one of three countries in Europe and Central Asia that do not have laws specifically targeting domestic violence. Instead it is treated like other forms of assault, ignoring the fact that spouses and children are more vulnerable than other victims.

Alena Popova, an advocate for laws against domestic violence, is reported to support the new law, believing that more women will come forward if they do not think their partners will be sent to Russia’s harsh prisons. Similarly comments on the Economist article shared

For those still confused [with the] difference between “criminal” and “non-criminal” violations in Russian law
1. While both types of violations are prosecuted by the state, only courts (1 court per 1 mln people, roughly) can do criminal cases. Many smaller offices can process administrative cases. Speed of processing will be much higher after de-criminalizing.
2. Standard of proof is easier for “non-criminal” violations, more domestic abusers will be sentenced after de-criminalizing.
3. Range of punishment is lighter for “non-criminal” cases, but still includes forced community service and short detention ( weeks / months ). Certain types of theft and battery are routinely treated as non criminal.

Another commentator suggested that while the first punishment is administrative there is then an INEVITABLE criminal case for the second offence led by a government prosecutor that cannot be closed by the “consent of the parties”, with maximum punishment of 10 years in prison. Thus giving family members more protection – previously calling the police was useless; police could do nothing; now they can fine the offender, and lock him up for 15 days to think about his behavior, and get into him that the next time he will be on direct way to state prosecutor and 10 years imprisonment with very high chances of case going through.

I think in the end I will have to leave this issue to the Russians (although I did sign an online petition). The most important takeaway message for me is, one woman dying every 44 minutes from domestic violence, ANY woman/child/person dying as a result of domestic violence is unacceptable.

‘Enough’ for one day I think.

 

 

Although FYI

More ideas from Cate’s Blog https://catespeaks.wordpress.com/ (I also like Leaning to Speak Politics https://learningtospeakpolitics.wordpress.com/)

Here is a highly incomplete list of really small, easy things you can do for yourselves and for each other.

  • Donate to a charity on behalf of someone else.  Oxfam Unwrapped will send a friend a card on your behalf, telling them what you donated in their name.  The bag of pig’s manure seems like an appropriate choice right now.  So does the Women’s Rights gift, that trains women in Bangladesh for leadership roles.
  • Bake something delicious and give it to someone.  I feed my colleagues a lot (but not tomorrow, because I’ve spent all evening writing this.  Sorry, my scientists!), but dropping something in to a local homeless shelter, or for the doctors and nurses at your local hospital is a nice touch.  Or you could do this.
  • Write a letter to a politician thanking them for their work on something you appreciate.  Or write a letter or a card to a teacher or friend who has helped you, telling them how much you value them.
  • If hand crafts are your thing, make a quilt or a cape or knit a teddy bear for a sick or traumatised child, or check out one of these campaigns.
  • If you are in a choir or orchestra or other musical group, get a group together and see if there is a local retirement home, or hospital, or detention centre, that might like a short concert.
  • Recommend a book to someone.  Buy it for them, if you can afford it.  Make it something fun and clever and escapist and quietly feminist.  (My recommendations this week are Sherry Thomas’s book A Study in Scarlet Women, which is a really clever gender-swapped Sherlock Holmes; The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman, a fantasy adventure with secret agents, alternate worlds, and stolen books; and anything by Lois McMaster Bujold, but especially Paladin of Souls.)
  • Ring someone who you know is having a rough time right now for a chat.
  • Volunteer for a tree planting day, or at a wildlife shelter.
  • Download Mapswipe, and help Medecins Sans Frontières find people in disaster zones (note that you will need good eyes for this activity)
  • Take a bath, turn off your phone, and have an early night.  Books, music, favourite TV programs, partners and pets might all be part of this arrangement.  It doesn’t have to be tonight.  But give yourself permission to take a night off from the fear.  You can afford one night.  We all can.
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political · relationships · social issues · Uncategorized

Opinion post: Legalising Same-Sex Marriage in Australia

Haiku for the religiously observant via On the sabbath — poemsinseason

Freed by Jesus’ words,
standing upright, rejoicing;
giving praise to God.

Religious leaders
speak to defend the sabbath
from such outrages.

Six days for working!
The seventh’s not for healing;
come another day!

Get real, says Jesus.
Common sense and compassion
must rule ev’ry day.

Living is empty
if love no longer shapes us;
Embrace its freedom.

 

Is our faith empty if we are not ruled by compassion, by love? Or is our faith empty if we pretend that everything is ok, sin is not really that bad, love (not forgiveness) is all you need?

 

From a Human’s of New York post

“I call them clobber verses. There are six of them. They’re the verses that get used to hammer gay people… I had tried so hard but nothing worked [therapy, straight marriage etc. etc.]. I got so angry with God for not keeping up his end of the bargain. But after some time, I finally realized why he wouldn’t change me. He never felt like he needed to.”

Let me just talk about me for a minute – what I find so difficult to understand is why I should get so blessed to not be plagued with such a sin as same-sex attraction, not having to live with it makes it incredibly easy to get on my high horse and when I read of people such as above who try so hard to fight this sin it seems so unfair. How do I resolve that?

 

From my understanding of the Bible I do believe that homosexuality is a sin, just as when I lie or say or think mean thoughts, it is not the way God intended the world to be. But there is sin in this imperfect world and we need to find a way to live with it. Through resurrection and grace of my saviour Jesus Christ I live with it in constant forgiveness and a promise of eternal life. In gratitude I try my best to lead a ‘good’ life, attempting (and constantly failing but forgiven) to avoid temptation.

I do not believe same-sex marriage should be legalised as to me it promotes temptation. I do not fight same-sex marriage for this reason though. I’ve come to a belief that just because I as a christian hold to certain beliefs does not mean I can force society to live according to those beliefs, I can simply promote them (and also use my political vote to do this).

Now for me it comes down to semantics, which sounds a horrible reason and yet…. Marriage by definition is the union of a man and woman therefore same-sex relationships are different. Many argue that it’s all love and the difference is unimportant (see a previous post I’ve written on love for an opinion on that topic) but I believe if merely from a biological point of view it IS different. Because I believe they are different does not mean I believe one is better than the other.I consider it a issue around equality and equity

Equality doesn't mean Equity

Psalm 98 v9 He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity

(an aside  -read this recently as with above haiku parable it doesn’t quite fit but does show the Bible talking about equity.)

I don’t think society needs to be quite so concerned with equality (at least in this example) as with equity so straight marriage is different from LGBT marriage however we can ensure there is equity between the two.

 

 

(I actually prefer this image from here as it shows not only different heights but different people with different and equally valuable personalities)

 

 

I strongly support civil unions and for same-sex couples to have the same rights as current married couples ( I do not argue on the basis of the needs of children as there is already so much sin and despair in family relationships across Australia I don’t think straight couples can claim any moral high ground in that area – although I do believe children should ideally have a mother and father there are no guarantees in our society such a family unit is any better than any other). I have long meant to look into whether same-sex couples who are recognised in civil unions receive the same rights as married couples in Australia, please inform me if they don’t as I would certainly work to rectify that.

 

Thus ends my first hopefully regular ‘issue’ post, next – netball in small communities.

I imagine they may be many who disagree with me, I hope I have been respectful and would love to hear any responses.

 

 

 

faith · political · social issues · Uncategorized

What I learned from this weeks US election results

Firstly I know nothing about the American political system but I do believe it could do with some improvements. As an observer who mostly tried to avoid observing, my biggest issue is how long the whole process takes and the money spent on the campaign…but that’s not what I’ve put my effort into learning this week….

Rather I’ve learnt that:

  1. Many people believe that “Trump being elected means bad things –  electing Trump in light of his deplorable views and behaviours, tells America and the world that those actions are okay, and that bullies can and should win by doing whatever it takes to get to the top. He is setting a horrifying example for those who already agree with some of his ideals”

Whilst I can understand how it can be seen that way, I in contrast don’t believe the results of the american election TELL us anything (other than Trump won). You can perhaps say it implies such things but I believe we as individuals and communities choose what is ok or not, not the American president, or America.

Also I don’t think you can judge how people see the world and their values by a vote. Each candidate had pros and cons. However if it is the case that his voters have questionable morals then I believe we should be thinking about why/how they have come to that view. One Trump voter whose morals I do agree with shared her reasons for voting here https://beautybeyondbones.com/2016/11/10/profile-of-a-trump-supporter/

2. Campaigns based on hate and fear are what I hate most about politics, it’s what’s done in Australia too. I would love to see the focus taken away from the candidates themselves and energy used on properly investigating the policies they stand for.

3.  I’m against demonizing Trump but do understand peoples reactions of fear/sadness “I think one reason people like me have a big fear about this man is because he is a misogynistic, homophobic racist – him being the president represents all of the hate and oppression women, LGBTQI people, and people of colour experience.”

Yep he does appear to be all those things 😦 and if I am truly going to say I understand these reactions I need to allow them time/space to grieve even if I don’t 100% agree that’s the best response.

4. People are genuinely terrified of “how easy it is to brainwash the masses with fear and vulgar views. Historically we’ve seen it before and many are scared of seeing it repeated in their own lifetime as a result of this election.” “Trump himself does not scare me as much as the people who actually believe in the rhetoric he used. They just had their worldview validated.”

Yes we’ve seen it before and historically I guess I don’t see any reason why it won’t happen again. (indeed this article arguing why it could happen is highly convincing – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tobias-stone/history-tells-us-what-will-brexit-trump_b_11179774.html, but be sure to also read the follow up https://medium.com/@theonlytoby/a-response-to-some-of-the-comments-on-my-last-essay-f7917146aebe#.u50rpem0x).

I can appreciate fear of that, and perhaps everyone is right and Trump is the start of a shocking period in our time. I don’t see that so much as a sign of Trumps influence but more the fact we live in a sinful world. Indeed I’ve learnt how my christian faith ensures I KNOW we live in a fallen world and that no matter what happens I have HOPE in Jesus and him alone, not the state of the world.

“The truth is that most of these problems are the same problems that people suffered thousands of years ago…no one single human being is going to bring about the change to human suffering… So it follows: If there is nothing beyond this life then everything that happens here in this world is potentially catastrophic. Political outcomes are the end of the world, literally–because there is no other world.” Except I believe in eternal life with a Savior. Hence I heed this call “Show them, by OUR actions and words that there IS hope – and our hope isn’t in the president elect, but in the Lord Jesus Christ!”

5.  I’ve learnt that maybe I’m a glass half full person, choosing not to let other peoples choices influence my outlook on the world. And I think this may have actually been influenced by my study this semester. Shock horror I learned something at uni! We looked at Foucault’s ideas around power in professional ethics. When people argue about where power comes from there tends to be an agenda operating about where it should come from. And often when exploring this we are considering power that results in injustice, inequality and oppression.

All this came from a reading by H. Sercombe who asserted that it is better to recognise not only the inevitability but the productiveness of power. That productiveness is not limited to one person. Indeed Sercombe and Foucault argue that power comes from below. Power is constituted by relationships not institutions. Sercombe goes on to talk about mandates and collective action but I don’t really want to write an essay (or more of!). My most important point though is that no person is powerless, no person can make me do something I can only cede my power to him/her (and yes sometimes this can be done under coercive means.)

So we can choose to let Trump’s win represent hate and oppression. Or possibly we can choose to see the outrage as a positive sign and use our personal or collective power to keep Trump under check for example –

“No matter who you are, whether you supported him, or what his presidency means to you. He. Works. For. The people. There are layers of abstraction between you and him, and those layers are especially thick if you’re a Democrat or lean to the left. But the president is employed by the people. We need to remind ourselves of that today. And we need to remind him of that for the next four years.”

 

All of this links in quite well with a dream of mine to start a policitical party one day……but that’s a whole other post!

 

A few other things…

 

  • Economics is just not my thing, this article paints a rather dire picture though as a result of Trump’s election http://www.smh.com.au/comment/the-consequences-of-a-donald-trump-win-are-disastrous-for-the-australian-economy-20161108-gsl5dj.html
  • Regarding policies I’m very not in favour of scrapping Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, do support restrictions on abortions and fixing America’s mental health system (wonder how he’ll do that!), quite dubious about his immigration policies, interested in his ideas to allow families to deduct the average cost of childcare from their taxes, including stay-at-home parents (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-09/what-has-donald-trump-promised-to-do/8009846)
  • The next few years may be interesting – The long period where America’s position on issues was predictable, where America supported freer trade and helped move the world towards more open engagement, is likely to change (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-09/experts-say-a-president-trump-will-change-the-us-and-the-world/8009504)

 

life · political · Uncategorized

Licorice Allsorts on Census Night

I was going to have a shower and snuggle up to #4 in John Marsden’s Tomorrow When the War Began series (re-reading these give me a wonderful sense of coming home) but I actually have a lot of things I want to write about, I just don’t have a lot of energy to do any of them justice but what the heck, it’s Census Night!

  1. I love census night 🙂
  2. I really don’t understand why the religion question is now optional. The option of marking no religion is there and as far as I see it you either have a religion or not, why are people more sensitive about this then sharing their income? I guess people just don’t see religion as relevant but conversely ancerstry is??
  3. MAC again – referred a client via the website earlier this month letting it go through as a RAS ax as her needs at that time wern’t ugent but she was definitely in need of additional services – which unfortunately under DVA requirements I had no capacity to assist in. I followed it up today and apparently they rang twice and whenbthere was no answer closed the file. ARRGGGGHhhhhhhh. This client has now lost her drivers license making her needs a lot more urgent, extra services could already be in progress except for….MAC
  4. NDIA providers are facing even worse issues with the new myplace portal, meaning they can’t get paid – been good to get out my political pen/keyboard again
  5. On a positive note had a client tell me last week how lucky I am to have young kids and it was a great reminder that I should be trying to enjoy and embrace it
  6. Had a good GP appt last week, a student doctor saw me and while we waited for my usual GP to sign the script I asked some questions related to a client with memory concerns, was quite useful, although I was a bit disappointed she encouraged me to seek a special presciption only appt – I think it’s good to have regular check-ups with my GP especially considering I have a chronic condition. The questions she asked me about my current mood were a lot different to how when he came in he asked how I was going.
  7. Read an ABC article tonight about recrutintg international GP’s for rural areas – that its not working, rather we should work on recruiting students from rural areas – I still get annoyed about missing out on local jobs when the people who got them have come and gone but I’m still in the area. (it worked out best for me and I’m happy to accept I wasn’t best for the job but when recruiting in rural areas I think supporting willing people planning to spend their entire lives in the area is perhaps a good idea)
  8. Also read articles tonight about the state of SA’s child protection services. Hopefully the recommendations from the commission will result in positive changes. Whenever I read stuff like this I want to DO something but what…
  9. We have a new puppy – so basically I have three kids (plus a grumpy over worked hubby)
  10. Reached 200 likes, yay! Thanks for reading

 

 

political · work

I made a mistake (+ Bonus election comments)

I missed something at work. And this week it resulted in a client being at home without services for almost a week. I thought respite had been organised but it seems it was never officially confirmed. I don’t know why this client didn’t call and let someone know he was still home, all I know is she rang someone today and an ambulance was called to take him to hospital. All reports suggest she is clinically fine, thank goodness, but nonetheless… very not good 😦

It wasn’t a work day for me but I received an email letting me know of calls made to admin trying to find out what went wrong which I was able to follow up within an hour. It’s still not all cleared up but comes down to

  • not quite right understanding relayed from phone call/messages
  • not good enough follow up by myself and I believe the respite centre

Mistakes happen, human error is going to happen and it could have been worse but I still feel awful and had a good cry before letting my bosses know what had happened. They and the other worker I talked to today were forgiving and supportive, I hope my client and family can forgive too.

Given our recent election it feels relevant to relate this back to politics – healthcare it seems was a major determinant in voters decision-making (particularly in relation to mediscare). Malcolm Turnball, the most likely ongoing leader of our country, has stated that results indicate his party needs to  work harder when it comes to health policy. Fingers crossed he means it because I have a few issues I’d like to raise.

I mentioned briefly in My Vote (previous post) that the freeze on Medicare rebate directly affects my job. The poor payment we are getting from the government means my bosses are having to seriously consider if they can afford to continue their business particular in a rural area. If the freeze to 2020 continues they will almost definitely close their business and I will lose my job.

The freeze also contributes to the quality of care I can provide to my clients. While I should be focussed on their health and care needs, I am instead needing to ask myself, am I doing enough billable hours? Follow up phone calls, an incredibly important part of my job is not considered billable thus I am forced to fit this in where I can, hence, I believe things get missed, balls get dropped, clients get left stranded.

While we’re talking about billable hours lets also consider how the government department I deal with does not truly understand the contribution my profession can/does make to client care. We have a unique outlook and perspective that places us in an ideal position to provide case management-like services but its not our role according  to this department and instead we must refer back to already over-worked GP’s rather than deal with issues arising both holistically and efficiently.

Are you feeling my frustration yet?

If not let’s start on My Aged Care. A new government website introduced last year. At a time when the government was/is trying to find cost-cutting measures they started a new process which totally misses the mark. The website itself I can’t comment too much on, I think it does provide some useful information but its referral system is a complete disaster. It has introduced a completely redundant extra level of assessment which only causes confusion and delay. Talk about a waste of resources and funds, I guess it is providing someone a job?!

Anyway my next step (after complaining on my blog of course!) is to firm up our admin processes to try and reduce miscommunication and write a letter to my newly reinstated MP. Thanks for reading.

 

If interested more on the election and Medicare rebate freeze http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-06/ama-renews-call-for-coalition-to-lift-medicare-rebate-freeze/7572050

 

 

 

 

life · political · study · Uncategorized

My Vote

It’s election day in Australia tomorrow. I’m one of those weirdos who love elections and gets excited about numbering all the boxes under the line on the senate paper, but sadly not so much this year.

My big decision this week was dropping a subject, and although I knew that it  was the decision I was going to make I still spent all week overthinking it, especially when I got grades back which were much better than expected. It’s the right decision – I want to be available to support my Mum, to prioritise my family and I’ve committed to school council. Plus I’ve been enjoying my job a lot more recently so the drive to do something different is not so great even if I don’t like the idea of extending study for another year.

Back to politics – each of our two major parties are much of a muchness as far as I’m concerned. Normally I would spend a fair bit of time researching but I just havn’t had the energy this year. My electorate is a pretty safe liberal seat, the only exciting thing is that the paper reported Nick Xenophon’s party may actually come close. I’ve become disillusioned with the Family First party by their lack of response regarding refugees and the Greens candidate is just an outsider. Labor had me a bit excited with a local candidate for once and their commitment to unfreeze medicare rebates which directly affects my job. I also support their position on education and implementing Gonski so was very tempted.

In the end both my upper and lower seat votes have been mostly influenced by their position on gay marriage.

Happy Election Eve Australia. We are lucky to live in such a great democratic country.

 

life · political · Uncategorized

Small Communities

I may be biased, but country towns rock. I am so very fortunate and blessed to be part of a number of small country communities and this week I was inspired by another community to write about just how wonderful they are.

My Communities (in an attempted nutshell)

  • Family – immediate, extended and in-laws
  • Church Family – immediate, parish, state, country, world and heaven wide
  • Sporting community (for us football and cricket)
  • Town Community (state and country)
  • Various other small group/club communities
    • (think I may be pushing the definition of communities out a bit on this one)

Yesterday I attended a wedding for a beautiful couple from one of my communities. I love weddings and that feeling of looking around at your people and knowing just how blessed you are.

A seemingly common theme in my blog, death, is also a time for reflecting on those in your community and often it brings out and shows the strength of a community. From my cousins family…

“Thank you seems such a small word to say as we reflect on the enormous amount of love and support given to our family in the days that followed our beloved’s passing. We know as we write this letter that we are still not fully aware of all that was done for us during that time, as many of you acted anonymously or in a “behind the scenes” manner.
Your kindness, love, hugs, gifts of food, flowers, words of support and encouragement, warm presence and heartfelt sympathy embraced and comforted us. We were humbled by the magnitude of grace this amazing community possesses.
Your protective assistance with the unwelcome media attention was also very much appreciated.
His funeral service made us all incredibly proud of the man he was and the life he lived. Seeing thousands of people behind us, some of whom had travelled from all over the country, made us realise just how many lives he has touched. His larger than life personality stuck with every person he met and his memory lives on within each and every one of you.
The beauty of memory is that we hold it in our hearts forever. We will never forget the kindness and compassion you have shown us.”

 

A community is a place you belong, another family, a village for your children – in my experience a group of people you can rely on through thick and thin.

 

And lastly changing the tone a little and thinking about a community way out of my realm

To the Syrian regime,
Listen to the echo of my voice.
In my eyes this world has become lifeless.
In one moment I lost my country.
But these are your people too.
My heart’s broken because you’ve betrayed my country
And the life of this generation is destroyed.

 

To my people,
Be patient.
This crisis has shown you that your country is a treasure
But you see that it is only now that you have lost it.

 

(from The Lutheran vol. 50 no.2)