Journalism

What are the major parties saying? A guide to this Federal Election

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Your choice matters. Image via Power FM.

The Federal Election can be a very confusing time—especially if you’re not really sure what to do, who to vote for, or what the major parties are even saying. It can be pretty overwhelming—particularly researching what it is you want to find. Here’s a guide on what the major parties are saying to help you decide:

The Greens:

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Image via the Greens.

Animal welfare

  • Stronger animal welfare standards and legislation with tougher penalties.
  • Ending unnecessary use of animals for testing and education.
  • Clear definitions of “free range eggs”.
  • Abolish animals in circuses.
  • Ban the slaughter of whales, greyhound racing, recreational shooting, selective breeding, race jumping and shark culling.
  • Stop the importation and exportation of zoo animals unless it will assist the continuation of the species.
  • Establishment of a national animal welfare body.
  • More power given to RSPCA and animal cruelty investigations.

Environment, climate change and nuclear energy

  • Plans for habitat management, species loss, and protecting native plants and animals.
  • Ratify international environmental law.
  • End broad-scale clearing.
  • Increase educational resources.
  • Cleaner oceans and protect costal zones.
  • Ban dumping and creation of new coal mines.
  • Detailed emission targets each year until 2050.
  • Net zero or net negative emissions within a generation.
  • 100% stationary electricity to be sustainable as soon as possible.
  • Renewable energy implementation and research.
  • Aim for a nuclear-free world.
  • Cease uranium mining and exportation.
  • Eliminate nuclear weapons.

Finance and economics

  • Banks to make greater contribution to public purse through taxes and levies.
  • Minimise ATM fees.
  • Programs introduced to improve Australian financial literacy.
  • Tax and superannuation reforms to benefit low-income earners.
  • Reduce excessive executive salaries.
  • Housing affordability and availability.

Workplace:

  • Stronger protection of worker’s rights.
  • Protection for casual and fixed-term probationary workers.
  • Childcare incentives.
  • Paid parental leave scheme.
  • Minimum of 5 weeks leave for all employees.
  • Shorter standard working hours.
  • Expenditure increase of 3% to support science and technology research.
  • End criminalisation of consensual sex work.
  • Protection of journalism sources and regional independent media.

Peace and security:

  • Ratify international human rights legislation.
  • Global disbarment strategies and promotion of non-violence.
  • Close foreign defence bases within Australia.
  • Stronger support for the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.
  • Reform restrictive “counter-terrorism” legislation.
  • End global death penalty.

.Education:

  • More funding for schools based on equity.
  • More infrastructure and specialised teachers.
  • Free university education
  • 16 and 17-year-olds can vote.

Health and mental health:

Gender and sexuality:

  • Allow same-sex marriage.
  • Equal access to adoption, fostering and assisted reproduction regardless of sex, sexual orientation or marital status.
  • Transgender rights.
  • Remove religious exemption for anti-discrimination laws.
  • Create commissioner for sexuality, gender and intersex rights with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
  • More funding to domestic violence and women’s shelters.
  • End the gender wage gap.

Liberal:

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Image via the Liberal Party of Australia.

Workplace and tourism:

  • $20 million in funding to protect vulnerable workers.
  • Tax cuts for small businesses.
  • Tax incentives for innovative start-ups.
  • $23 million investment for small businesses.
  • Trans-pacific trade agreement and free trade with Indonesia, the European Union and Pacific Islands.
  • $20 million investment for infrastructure for tourist regions.

Environment:

  • Planting 20 million new trees by 2020.
  • $70 million investment for green spaces.
  • $30 million to support local parks.
  • Emissions reduction fund.
  • $15,000 to community groups for renewable resources.
  • $5 million to a threatened species recovery fund.
  • $3 billion to invest in the Great Barrier Reef and clean water over 10years.
  • $100 million aim per year for Smart Cities program.

Education:

  • Additional $60 million in funding for sport programs.
  • STEM funding of $73.6 billion over 4 years.
  • $4.6 million for alternate education pathways.

Technology and science:

  • A further $60 million to upgrade or create 499 new telephone bases to tackle an additional 3,000 mobile phone service black spots.
  • $50 million to the MyGov website.
  • $7 billion in funding for clinical trials.
  • $650 million in 4 years for medical funding, including $20 million for childhood cancers.
  • $1.1 billion for the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Security:

  • $2.5 billion boost to law enforcement and security.
  • $1 billion to strengthen borders.
  • $40 million Safer Communities Fund,

Labor:

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Image via the Labor Party of Australia.
Education:

  • $37.3 billion investment for education.
  • Girls Into Code initiative with $4.5 million in grants.
  • Safer Schools program of $6 million over 3 years.
  • Increase in child care benefits for low-income earners.
  • $50 million to support family day care systems.
  • $31 million funding for tertiary education.
  • Additional funding for undergraduates.

Health:

  • Restore medicare benefits.
  • Legalise medical cannabis.
  • Give citizens the right to die.
  • $72 million funding for mental health.
  • $7 million for breast cancer, $10.6 million for prostate cancer.
  • $25 million for dementia research.

Climate Change and Environment:

  • $500 million to the Great Barrier Reef.
  • 50% renewable energy by 2030.
  • Net zero pollution by 2050.
  • $17.4 million in funding for Climate Change Authority.

Animal Welfare:

  • Ban cosmetic testing.
  • More investigations and sanctions to breaches.
  • Establishment of animal welfare body.

Infrastructure:

  • NBN to premises.
  • $400 million Western Sydney rail package.
  • $1.2 million National Cycling Strategy.
  • High-speed rail between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.

Workplace:

  • Protect weekend penalty rates.
  • $4.5 million for Fair Work Commission.
  • No baby bonus.
  • Paid parental scheme leave.
  • Tax reductions for small businesses.
  • Crack down on multinationals.
  • More jobs and courses available.
  • Creative Australia Policy.
  • Building 12 submarines in South Australia.

Gender and sexuality:

  • Marriage equality.
  • $70 billion to family violence services.
  • $8.4 million investment for indigenous girls.
  • Paid parental violence leave of 5 days.
  • More coverage for women’s sport with $21 million in funding to the ABC.
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Image via Mamamia.

Despite all of these lovely promises, there’s no promises they will be put into place. I would encourage each and every one of you to think for yourselves–and to do your research: because your vote matters.

 

 

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It’s time to free the nipple.

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Model and actress Cara Delevigne posted this image on Instagram in support of #FreetheNipple. Image via Instagram.

Warning: this post contains nipples.

It all started with a simple Facebook post.

Renee Gerber is a 21-year-old Queenslander—and she’s the latest person to get on board with the #FreeTheNipple campaign—in particular, a social media campaign promoting—you guessed it—nipples.

The campaign—set to launch later today—plays a game of “Guess Who?” by editing female and male (as well as transgender) nipples onto male bodies in order to protest the irrational and unequal status of women created by the sexualisation of the female nipple and breast. The goal of the campaign is to grant women the right to legally expose their breasts, as well as to destigmatise breastfeeding in public. In order to promote inclusiveness, the 20 images (with various quotes and captions) will include nipples of all genders, sexualities, races and body types.

“It’s important to understand that they’re simply body parts, and if you constantly sexualise them, that’s your own inappropriate interpretation.” Ms Gerber said.

After viewing an Instagram post last Sunday night about Orange is the New Black star Matthew McGorry doing something similar, Ms Gerber decided to upscale it into a campaign for equality. A simple Facebook post about her frustrations brought the campaign to life—and 29-year-old Clinton Ulfhedinn-Visi into the picture, who too believes it’s an important issue, and that women shouldn’t  be shamed for their natural bodies.

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Matthew McGorry photoshopped Miley Cyrus and Chrissy Teigan’s nipples in support of the #FreetheNipple campaign. Image via Instagram.

“It’s about mother’s breastfeeding, [women] swimming in uncomfortable tops, having to constantly think about what you’re wearing, and if you’re covered up correctly,” he said.

“It’s about the fact I don’t even think about putting a shirt on when it’s hot around the house. It’s the fact that it’s just simply not fair and equal.”

The pair hope the campaign will raise awareness, encourage conversation and eventually lead to parliamentary change with enough support.

“We want it to go viral,” Ms Gerber said.

While some may believe campaigns like this are immoral and useless, they may not realise that in Australia, women can be imprisoned for showing their nipples. According to section 393 of the Crimes Act 1900 ACT, indecent exposure, which is defined as “a person who offends against decency by the exposure of his or her person in a public place”, carries a penalty of up to 12 months imprisonment. The legislation is similar in all other Australian states, with varied terms of imprisonment and in some cases, hefty fines

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“Who’s nipples are those? They certainly aren’t mine, but this picture is okay because i’m a male. I even stuck my chest out for you, why should the fatty lumps on my chest be okay when others are not? If those same nipples were on a different chest, this picture would violate T&C’s, be deleted, and I might even get a ban on my account. Sounds a bit ridiculous? That’s because it is.” Image via Facbook.

But really, why do we consider it “indecent”? The primary function of the female breast is to breastfeed—it’s only become sexualised because we as a society believe it to be. And let’s not forget that it was only a few decades ago that it was illegal for men to expose their nipples in public.

In the United States, it’s illegal for women to be topless—even when breastfeeding—in 35 states, with threats of up to 3 years imprisonment, and $2500 in fines. It was only 75 years ago that it was illegal for men—in all states—to be shirtless.

This is why the Free the Nipple campaign—which originated in the US—is so important. It even has a film dedicated towards the movement, which proclaims itself to be a “mission to empower women across the world” by standing against female oppression and censorship.

Ms Gerber said it’s just another form of female oppression—and also points out that women in other countries aren’t even allowed to show their ankles. While this may seem absurd to us, to them, it is normal—it serves as proof that our expectation on what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable for a woman’s body is purely social conditioning.

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Are they female nipples? Who knows. Image supplied.

“Cultures have long controlled women’s bodies, and unfortunately ours is one of them,” Mr Ulfhedinn-Visi said.

Even Facebook and Instagram follows the same logic—a person may post a picture of a woman’s entire breast, so long as it doesn’t reveal the nipple, as that would violate its “community standards”.

Ms Gerber believes Facebook further perpetuates the sexualisation of the female nipple, and that it is important to challenge that.

“With our photos, we’re refusing to reveal if the nipples used are male or female. It’s almost impossible to visually tell the difference,” she said.

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IT’S OKAY, it’s a man. No violation to community standards here. Image supplied.

“The nipple is a way to feed children. We all start as female in the womb, that’s why men have nipples in the first place,” Mr Ulfhedinn-Visi said.

“This view we as a society have of women’s bodies is really toxic and harmful,”

“We deserve the right to our own bodies—we’re born with them. When that right is taken away, it becomes oppressive,” Ms Gerber said.

“It’s an example of pure female objectification.”

Support for the campaign—even before it’s official release—has been astounding, with many volunteering their nipples as tribute. Australian model JD Gower, as well as model and musician Barnaby Oakley, are involved as well as a few others yet to be confirmed. Ms Gerber hopes to collaborate with the Veronicas, as she’s collaborated with them on similar issues in the past. Miley Cyrus and Cara Delevigne are also strong supporters of the American Free the Nipple campaign.

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Miley Cyrus posted an image in support of the #FreetheNipple campaign, which was shortly removed for violation to community standards. Image via Instagram.

“People are waking up to the sexist and slut shaming ideologies we’ve been taught, and they’re not happy,” Ms Gerber said.

“It’s time for change.”

Senate launches gender inequality inquiry into superannuation

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The Australian Senate approved a motion to launch an inquiry into gender inequality of the superannuation system. The motion, approved on Monday, was backed by Labor Senator Jenny McAllister, Liberal Senator Sean Edwards and Greens Senator Larissa Waters, spurred by recent ANZ study, which revealed that women are, on average, retiring on half as much as men.

The 2015 ANZ Women’s Report indicated numerous alarming figures regarding gender inequality within the workforce. For instance, despite the fact that 42% of women aged 25-29 hold a university degree, compared to 31% of men, women are still paid, on average, 18.8% less. Women who work full-time, therefore, earn on average $295 per week less than their male counterparts—simply due to gender. In a year, this amounts to a $15,000 difference, and in a lifetime, $700,000.

ANZ CEO Joyce Phillips said globally, women earn up to 36% less than their male counterparts; this report merely confirms the financial disadvantage all women face.

“This research also confirms what’s really restricting the financial future of women is the inherent structural bias in the way the workplace, education, social and legal systems are established,” she said.

Industry Super deputy chief executive Robbie Campo welcomes the review.

“Industry super Australia’s modelling shows that even with super, pension payments and other savings combined, 63% of single women will still not be retiring comfortably by 2055 unless we act now to restructure our retirement income system,” she said.

The Greens Senator Larissa Walters attributes the growing homelessness of older women to this inequality.

“It’s timely for the Senate to examine the structural inequalities which are seeing women retire in poverty.”

“We hope the tri-partisan nature of this inquiry will lead to real outcomes to address the alarming gender retirement income gap.”

9 things Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck taught me

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Trainwreck is a hilarious analysis of modern relationships, and breaks down barriers of what it is to be a woman. Also, it’ll tell you how to get a condom unstuck—and other vital tips below.

  • Your sexuality doesn’t define you!

I cannot stress this enough. Ladies, say it with me: your sexuality doesn’t define you! You want to sleep with multiple partners in one night—or no one at all? Awesome! Because honestly? We’re grown-ass women. Do more—and who—of what makes you happy.

  • Know when to say “no”

Whether it be to a super bitchy boss, or a hook up with a strange 16-year-old whose safe word is pineapple: know when to say no. If something feels wrong, it probably is.

  • Beware of sexy talk

Especially if your partner really isn’t into it. Otherwise, you may get some golden responses like “I’m going to put my pecker in you” and “fill you with my protein”.

  • It’s never too late to say sorry

You really do only live once; why hold onto petty arguments? If you love someone, tell them. Bonus points if you say sorry by choreographing a cheerleader dance routine where you’re the star—extra bonus points if you can’t dance.

  • Watch your come backs

No, really. Think before you speak—if you don’t, you might reply to an insult: “you know what I do to assholes? I lick them.” Errr, okay.

  • There is a wrong time for alcohol

I’ll admit: I’m a fan of wine (and vodka). Okay, maybe too much of a fan. Amy Schumer must be my spirit animal.  But there is a point where you have to take a good look at yourself and ask: “Am I really okay?”

  • Receiving head without giving

Well, if you follow in Amy Schumer’s footsteps, close your eyes and pretend you’re asleep.

  • Full-proof writing tips

Like, say . . . don’t show up to work drunk. Also, don’t sleep with your interviewees.

  • And finally . . . how to get a condom unstuck from your cervix

Behind me, I heard: “I’ve had that happen”. Is this seriously a problem? Well, if it happens to you, simply make a hook with your finger—happy hunting.

Love all of who you are—even the sloppy parts. At the time, you were doing exactly what you needed. Bless you, Amy Schumer!

Let’s Talk About Vaginas

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No, but seriously; let’s. We really don’t talk about them enough—especially in a non-sexual context. The word feels strange to write, and even stranger to say out loud. Even my phone corrects “vagina” to “cagina”, as if an inanimate object could also feel awkward. Well, that taboo ends here! This is an important issue that could save your life—and a lot of young women really don’t have a clue about it. Now that is awkward.

Okay, brace yourselves, ladies (and any men who were unknowingly lured into reading this through the word “vagina”) here it comes: pap smears. What a terrible name. Smear. Smear. They really don’t make it sound appealing, do they? But in all honesty, It’s not that bad. The procedure takes probably less than thirty seconds in all, and it doesn’t hurt even slightly.

You can get a pap smear by booking in an appointment with your doctor, or at a women’s health clinic. Basically, they take you into a private room, just like any other doctor’s visit, and ask you to remove your underwear and lie on an examination bed. This bit is rather awkward, but remember: they are trained professionals and have probably seen thousands of vaginas in their time. They use a hard plastic tool called a speculum (not to be confused with a spatula) in order for them to see your cervix. From there, they take a quick sample of the cells and send them away for testing. And then you’re done!

Now, I would definitely recommend seeing a female doctor—at least for your first time. It’s much less awkward. My usual doctor is male, and I’m also friends with his daughter. The vagina jokes he made certainly didn’t make me feel more comfortable. The female doctor I sought out, however, was kind and made general conversation and even gave me some information for this article.

So, what the Pap smear actually does is test for any abnormalities in the cells around your cervix which can eventually lead to cervical cancer, as well as testing for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is present in 99.7% of cervical cancer cases. HPV, which is an infection of the skin around think, moist linings of the body (like the nose, mouth, throat and genital) results from close skin contact, isn’t something to be overly concerned about: 4 out of 5 people will have it in their lives, mostly with no symptoms. Your body will usually clear it naturally in 1-2 years, but in some cases, it can stay longer and lead to cervical cancer.

According to the Cancer Council, about 1 in 10 Pap smears reveal abnormalities, though less than 1% of these abnormalities lead to cervical cancer. Even so, all women, regardless of age, sexual orientation or number of partners, should be tested every two years from the ages of 18-70 (or younger,  depending on what age she became sexually active).

In 2017, based on recommendations from the Medical Services Advisory Committee, the Australian Government will make some changes to the Pap test. Women aged between 25 and 74 will undertake a HPV test every five years, which may also include various other tests. These changes are estimated to reduce the number of cancer cases by a further 15%. Hooray!

However, until then, Pap tests are absolutely necessary. Soldier through that awkwardness, and it could potentially save your life! Eighty per cent of women who develop cervical cancer had not had regular check-ups. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers with a simple test—these tests have halved the mortality rate. Can you really ignore that?

Listen to your vagina, and don’t be afraid to talk about any problems you may have, no matter how seemingly miniscule. Don’t become another statistic because you were too embarrassed to ask. After all, happy vagina, happy life. Preach it, ladies!

Small Acts of Bravery, Small Acts of Kindness

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I still believe there is kindness in this world. Even though we are engulfed with war, disease, suffering, death, hate and torture, I still believe there is hope.

A few days ago, I somehow popped my tyre while driving. Don’t ask me how. I just heard a massive BANG and there it was. A flat tyre. Now, normally I would have called family friends to come and help me. The only problem was: I now lived three hours away from them.

Oh, dear! I thought. How is it possible that I can write thousands upon thousands of words and analyse philosophical ideas, but I can’t change a damn tyre?

I was freaking out—and kicking myself for not learning to change a tyre sooner. That was when a random guy asked me if I was okay—and he helped me, with no thought of himself, not even accepting my offers of money as thanks. I was bewildered—and grateful.

Similarly, a few years ago I was at a petrol station, and my cards declined—one of which was supposed to contain child support payments from my father. I tried $20 on each. Declined. $15. Declined. $10. Declined. Even $5—once again, declined. I was humiliated to the point of trying even $2, while counting up ten cent pieces from my wallet. And that was when a man stepped out from behind me and paid the rest of what I owed.

“Don’t worry about it, mate,” he said. “We’ve all been there.”

And then he left without another word.

A tyre and some money; for them, it may not have meant much. But for me, it meant the world. Could it be that there are genuinely good people out there? People who are willing to help others with no thought of themselves?

My mum once told me a story about how she saved a woman from a rather dire car crash accident. She crawled into the overturned car to pull the woman out of the wreckage. At any moment, the car could have burst into flames: but she did it anyway.

I can’t say if I’ve saved a life—I’d like to hope someone else would have intervened if I hadn’t. Two years ago I was holidaying in Vanuatu at a place known as the Blue Lagoon—essentially, a very deep, very blue swimming hole. A mother was there, waiting to catch her two girls who were jumping off the wharf into the lagoon—only, it was much deeper than she anticipated. She began to struggle. She began to call for help—scream for help. I had no idea what I was doing, I just knew I had to do something. Grabbing the girl—who couldn’t have been older than five—I slowly made my way to where I could touch the ground, banking on the idea that I could hold my breath for longer than she could. The mother cried, thanking me. Did I save her? I don’t know. But I did something, and that’s my point.

Something is all it takes, no matter how small, to change someone’s world. Small acts of kindness, small acts of bravery—that’s all it takes to change the world. So, what will you do? All it takes is one tiny step. Will you take it?

Guess who’s back?

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So, I have been super slack with this blogging thing for about a year. But have no fear! I am back!

So basically, this will be articles i’ve written for the University of Wollongong website (and magazine), as well as assessments and other opinion pieces. If you’re reading this, you’re awesome. I will strive to make this a fairly entertaining and informing blog! Stay tuned!

ItBeginsWithZ 2.0!