Contemporary Australian Issues

When: 1st of May
Venue: North Carlton Railway Neighbourhood House, 20 Solly Ave.
Co-ordinators: Jasmine-Kim Westendorf & Aurelien Mondon

week 1

1st of May 2010

Australia’s role in the world
(Jasmine-Kim Westendorf)
In an era characterised by globalisation, protracted civil wars, new security challenges, food and economic crises, and environmental challenges, the role Australia plays in the world has changed dramatically from in the past. Australia’s response to the myriad issues currently facing the international community raises numerous questions about the role it should play on the world stage, and the role it does play. Are we a ‘good global citizen’? How do we rate against other states? How well are we balancing our national interests and international obligations? What are we doing, and what should we be doing?
We will discuss these issues particularly in relation to Australia’s response to civil and inter-state wars, refugees, international development and poverty alleviation, and environmental and climate change.
Participants:
Conny Lenneberg: Director of Policy and Programs, World Vision Australia
Clovis Mwamba: psychologist, linguist & parliamentarian in exile from the RDC
Jodi Newcombe: Manager of States and Regions Program, The Climate Group
Jasmine-Kim Westendorf: Researcher in International Relations

week 1

1st of May 2010

Race Relations in Australia
(Aurelien Mondon)
In regard to its indigenous population and to non-European immigrants, Australia was a deeply racially divided country from its settlement until 1972, when the Whitlam government symbolically opened a new era in Australia’s race relations by abolishing the White Australia Policy. The bipartisan effort to reject the racist bias which had been official for most of Australia’s existence seemed threatened in the 1990s with the rise of Pauline Hanson and the successive elections of John Howard, partly thanks to his right-wing populist rhetoric. Recently, attacks on Indian students seem to have reignited the debate on the prominence of racism in Australia, and some have implied that Australia’s racist demons are on the rise again.
This seminar will discuss the current state of things: was the transition from an officially racist state to a multicultural one a success, or was the change too swift? What proportion of the population failed to embrace this shift? Do contemporary acts of racism simply represent a yearning for a return to a ‘golden past’?
Participants:
Pamela Curr: refugee & human rights advocate, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Gary Foley: Indigenous activist and academic
Russell Marks: Researcher in Australian Politics and History
Aurelien Mondon: Researcher in Nationalism, Racism and Populism

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