The Project SafeCom Reading Room
Below are short summaries of everything that's longer, gutsier, more eloquent and - according to us - has higher content rating.
In the past we categorised them in various sections, but they're now all listed in the date order from top to the bottom of the page. The different colors for the 'bullets' identify the broad topic of human rights (grey), war and terrorism (grey and also orange), environmental and climate change issues (olive green) and sustainable living (brown).
UPDATE: All 2002-2009 pages are now archived and [the hundreds of pages!] can be accessed through the links in the archive tables below. The Iraq War and terrorism pages can be accessed through the orange table, linking to our Orange section on the website. There's now also a Blog archive page - see below.
:::NEW PUBLICATION::: 31 October 2008: Jacquie Everitt's The Bitter Shore: The story of Shayan Badraye - An Iranian family's escape to Australia and the hell they found at the border of paradise. The Bitter Shore is Jacquie Everitt's account of Zahra, Saeed and Shayan's flight from home and the shocking events that lay in store for them on the other side of the world. It's also the story of the effects of the government's policy of mandatory detention on children, and the court case that took on the Howard government. "...he had been taken to hospital nine times for rehydration after witnessing incidents and violence in the camps no child in Australia should ever have seen."
3 March 2008: The Bill of Rights resources archive - Project SafeCom's archive of Bill of Rights resources: speeches, papers, presentations and books have seen the light of day right around Australia since the 2001 Tampa standoff and the anti-terrorism legislation introduced during the Howard years. This page brings together our resources on a Bill of Rights for Australia.
13 February 2008: Archive of Indigenous Issues pages - the number of pages dealing with some aspects of Australia's First Peoples has been growing steadily since we started our work in 2001, so it's appropriate we bring them all together on one page. Here's our archive of Indigenous issues.
18 October 2006: The Project SafeCom Blog Archives - This is the page that brings together all entries from our Blog. They are manually entered, so please accept apologies if sudden and new entries are not posted to this page immediately.
All archived pages: 2001-2008
Click on the blue button below to open all archives, and click it again to close and hide them
Articles, papers and speeches
19 January 2013: A Department of Reactive Control Freaks - A July 2012 Report into the performance of the Immigration Department by the Australian Public Service Commission confirms that not one area of the Department performs to a sufficient standard of operation. The DIAC Capability Review offers up a damning indictment on the lack of professional standards in all functional areas in the Department.
3 October 2012: The Immigration Department's new media control - Just three months after ABC reporter Leigh Sales' July 2011 critical commentary, news broke that the Department of Immigration had informed Australian media outlets of its newly drafted media strategy. The new detention centre access rules were based on the media strategy in place at Guantanamo Bay.
30 September 2012: ASIO: now targeting kids and lying to the Parliament - For the first time in history, Australian spooks claim refugee children are national security risks, and it appears that ASIO tried to provide false claims to a Parliamentary Inquiry.
5 August 2012: The Deportation of Dayan Anthony - For seasoned refugee advocates, the forced deportation of a Tamil asylum seeker to Sri Lanka in July 2012 is a concerning event. It is feared that politics and a political agenda is overriding clean, fulsome and thorough refugee assessment inside the Immigration Department and in the Gillard government.
11 March 2012: The EVIL travel brokers in Indonesia - Media reports about asylum seeker travel brokers. In Australia, the boats simply bring asylum seekers to the region of Australia's "refugee prison" on Christmas Island so they can (as Article 31 of the United Nations Refugee Convention states) "present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence".
3 January 2012: Just how sick is the Immigration Department? - The Immigration Department claims that 'people are our business' on the stationery, but does fanatic control with inflexible rules govern its operations? The Department's slogan has no credibility when considering that its complex maze of rules and criteria are not only rigorously applied, but that they are applied without a skerrick of decency or moderation.
16 December 2011: Evil Smugglers or Extreme Rhetoric? - The Political Origins and Development of Australia's People Smuggling Legislation. Jack Smit's Masters Thesis - The research findings indicate that the increasingly harsh measures imposed by successive Australian governments targeting smugglers and passengers represents an increasingly punitive and continuous series of policy proposals and parliamentary discourse...
12 December 2011: When Canberra neuters the courts - When asylum policies are unlawful, Australian politicians manipulate the law and make it legal. With the Deterring People Smuggling Bill 2011, the Gillard government responded just within the nick of time: one day before the courtcase was to come before the Victorian Court of Appeal, the measures were rammed through the House of Representatives within 54 minutes. Its sole purpose was to stymie the courtcase.
12 November 2011: A Suicide Bomber in Quetta and an Australian Poster - For Hazaras, it's bad enough being stuck in Quetta, Pakistan, when staying home in Afghanistan is too dangerous. Things get worse if you then get targeted in Quetta. Three recent photos of one such incident in Quetta show people are cleaning up the bodies against the backdrop of an Australian Government poster, depicting "a leaky boat" and warning people not to try to come to Australia in "the illegal way".
7 November 2011: Julia Gillard and Labor's factional warlords - The Gillard government's asylum politics in pictures. The raid on Kevin Rudd was not orchestrated by Julia Gillard, although she was a willing pawn in the ruthless raiding minds of the foolish apparatchiks in the right-wing factions of the Labor Party. Some members of these factions are known to have applauded John Howard and Philip Ruddock's merciless vilification of asylum seekers. A series of cartoons depicting the increasingly desperate political development vis-a-vis asylum seekers by the Gillard government.
6 November 2011: Australia's extra-judicial jailing of Indonesian children - We avoid the Criminal Code, because that would prevent us from jailing children without charges; we use discredited wrist X-ray testing to determine their ages without getting results in due time; while this goes on, our Immigration Department cowboys collude with Australian Federal Police in order to jail more than a hundred kids in adult Australian prisons. And barely anyone stirs this hornet's nest of Australia's medieval lock-em-up mentality.
5 November 2011: We're terrified of the boat people - We're terrified of the boat people: Children and boys are depicted as smugglers in Australia's psychotic war against boat arrivals. This is a page containing a number of media reports about the fate of those who sail asylum seeker boats to our shore.
16 April 2011: Island boys and Indonesian smuggling laws - Why did Indonesia formulate their anti-people smuggling laws? A massive political campaign has long told Australians that people smugglers are evil, that they are the scum of the earth, that they run a vile industry. That campaign has run in tandem with one convincing us that those sailing to Australia are 'illegal immigrants', 'queue jumpers' or 'economic forumshoppers'.
10 March 2011: Malcolm Fraser and 'commercial' refugee voyages - A published academic paper about Malcolm Fraser and refugee boats. Australia's former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser was not the great humanitarian of Australian refugee policy many people have claimed in recent years. Such claims are held especially when painting a contrast with the hardline policies implemented by Prime Minister John Howard from 2001 onwards.
2 January 2011: The SIEV-221 drama: lessons from a disaster - Will anything be learnt from the wreckage of the SIEV-221 off Rocky Point? If anywhere Australian politics is broken and bankrupt, it is around maritime asylum seekers arriving on its shores. Labor is still captured in a fatal strangehold of its perpetual neurosis since the 2001 'Tampa election', while conservative-radical politician Tony Abbott and his immigration spokesman Scott Morrison continue with their brazen and opportunistic baiting of Labor with a continuous 'stop the boats' howling.
30 December 2010: Missing boats or media sensation? - When the West Australian first broke the story of claims that a boat with asylum seekers was feared missing, the reporter based her story on claims of just one advocate, they were not cross-checked, and the report confidently stated the number of missing passengers at 97, and a 'rumour' that a vessel had arrived on December 2, 2010.
22 November 2010: High Court demands process fairness for boat refugees - The full High Court ruling of the M61 and M69 cases in November 2010 was a significant reprimand of Australian politicians by the highest court in the land - but before we jump for joy, it's imperative to remember that the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is prepared in the kitchen of those same politicians.
24 October 2010: Remote Islands and Penal Colonies - Australia's response to boat refugees is marked by dehumanisation, regimentation, incarceration and isolation. The way we respond to those seeking shelter is similar to the way the British expelled thousands of their own unwanted in the 18th Century: those on the First Fleet were sent to the penal colonies on the far-away island of Australia.
2 October 2010: The forgotten Human Rights Watch letter - You won't know about this letter - except for a mention in half a sentence in The Age one day. No Australian media outlets bothered reporting it during the election campaign - all outlets were running around Australia, jealously scooping exclusives from the Tony and Julia Circus Show.
2 October 2010: Behind the Story of The Sun Sea Tamils - Gisele Gauthier's fantastic summation of the journey and background of the MV Sun Star also mentions it: the ship with Tamils, now docked at Canada's Esquimalt Base, was turned away by Australia during the 2010 Federal election campaign. Here it is.
2 October 2010: Hadi Ahmadi's People Smuggling Trial - To incorporate that farcical National Indignation with that nagging Breach of Sovereignty, Australia has created extreme punishment for those who bring refugees to safety. We call these punishment mechanisms our "people smuggling laws". The collection of media reports around trial and punishment from 1/6 to 24/9 2010 of Mr Ahmadi: a Perth Court hears about moral duty and bribed police witnesses.
9 August 2010: MV Sun Sea: Tamils wandering the oceans - There's a boat wandering across the world's oceans, with reports that at the start of the Federal election campaign, Australian authorities boarded the ship and told the captain to move on and 'bugger off' - in the underlying spirit of "sorry folks, we have an election on". This page tells the story.
5 July 2010: Karzai Solution a dangerous Afghanistan Theatre - PM Julia Gillard may be announcing the Karzai Solution, where in a "pact" with Afghanistan she expects guarantees for safety for Hazaras from the Karzai government. If reports about this are accurate, then the Prime Minister is either dreaming or lying about the prognosis of safety for Hazaras to the Australian electorate.
20 June 2010: Rudd and Readings for World Refugee Day 2010 - It may all have started with the Australian version of Yes We Can with Kevin07, but not much seems to have survived the onslaught of the nasty monster of Parliamentary politics. Are Kevin Rudd's human rights troubles irretrievable? Around 2010 World Refugee Day and Refugee Week, several writers link with the issues.
1 June 2010: The 2009 missing Hazara boat - On October 2, 2009, a boat with 105 refugees sailed from an unknown Indonesian port to Australia. One of the passengers phoned his New York family to tell they were on their way now. Nothing more was heard of the person who called or from anyone else on board. This is the page for those passengers.
8 May 2010: Laws for smugglers are jailing the ferrymen - Australia's nasty laws jail innocent Indonesian fishermen instead of smugglers: By marginalising the fishing communities that used to fish around Ashmore Reef for centuries, we contribute to their availability to smuggling networks as sailors. Australia supplied and 'trained the bus drivers for the bus company' - the sailors we jail as people smugglers.
21 April 2010: Rudd re-opens Derby's Curtin detention hell - Temps climbing to 44° C. Guards that treat refugees with violence and disdain, telling them they're illegals who will never make it into 'Australia proper'. Immigration officers who screw up formal requests for medical or other assistance and throw them in the rubish bin. That's how many remember the Curtin detention centre...
19 April 2010: The 2010 Anti-Smuggling Legislation - Punishing smugglers, or finding a covert way to lock Australia's borders? "In view of commitments given by Australia under the UN Refugee Convention, also to refugees arriving by boat, this legislation gives the appearance of being highly manipulative in nature."
18 April 2010: World Outrage about Kevin Rudd's Big Asylum Freeze - From psychiatrist Jon Juredini to Malcolm Fraser, from human rights lawyer Greg Barns to Andrew Bartlett, outrage swelled fast around Kevin Rudd's processing freeze of Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers. The anger did not stop just there, it went international within a week.
17 April 2010: Labor compassion and decency freezes over in Election Hell - Some had expected it sooner, but finally Labor has buckled under the weight of the attack dogs. In a joint and televised joint press conference by Stephen Smith (Foreign Affairs), Chris Evans (Immigration) and Brendan O'Connor (Home Affairs) - a sad affair where they resembled The Three Stooges - they announced Canberra's Big Freeze.
1 April 2010: Is Mr Hadi Ahmadi a people smuggler or escape organiser? - Mr Hadi Ahmadi assisted in bringing four boats to Australia. His passengers were not 'illegal immigrants' but asylum seekers: of the 900 passengers, no less than 866 were declared genuine refugees once their claims were processed. That's a success rate of 97%. Does that make him a people smuggler or a UN Convention enabler - or an "escape organiser"?
11 March 2010: SBY in Canberra: smugglers will be crims - but the passengers? - Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's remarks were reported after the morning press conference by AAP, but no media outlets picked them up or read between the lines. What the Indonesian President gave away after closed-door talks in Canberra was more than we heard from Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
4 March 2010: Uninvited and unheard: Australia's case of post-Tampa boat arrivals - Author's copy of a peer reviewed paper by Project SafeCom's Jack H Smit in TAMARA, Journal for Critical Organization Inquiry, 8(2), pp. 207-224 - Special Issue: Refugee and Migrant Integration in Developed Nations: The Discovery of Discourse, September 2009.
2 March 2010: To Catch a People Smuggler, to Wade through Brine of Spin - Anyone who tries "to catch a people smuggler" needs to first peel off the many layers of spin and labelling. This page, primarily about 'Captain Bram', one of the Australian government's "notorious" people-smugglers, wonders why he has not been extradited to Australia.
28 December 2009: Some are lucky, but we killed Andrew Moore - "Accepting the legitimacy of section 501 elevates the formalities of citizenship above all other factors used to justify punishment by the state, it undermines the principles of rehabilitation and reintegration, and enforces permanent separation from social and family networks beyond any measure contemplated by the sentencing court."
6 December 2009: Show Your Copenhagen Vote at Project SafeCom! - Enter your vote for Copenhagen on our website! Your entry will be presented to world leaders at the COP15 UN climate summit in Copenhagen, telling them to seal a fair and effective climate deal. Google Australia's 'innovationist', Justin Baird, developed the Show Your Vote platform after meeting Al Gore earlier this year and helping develop the web presence of the Earth Hour campaign.
8 November 2009: Kevin Rudd, stuck and becalmed in Merak - Australia's Prime Minister dreams of an Indonesian Solution that fails within a week. Rudd may have made 'that phone call' to President Bambang Yudhoyono, promising even more funding 'to stop the boats' before they would arrive in Australian waters, but he had not counted on local resistance and to fury from Australia and the rest of the world..
6 November 2009: John Pilger: Breaking the Australian Silence - In Pilger's 2009 Sydney Peace Prize acceptance speech he describes the "unique features" of a political silence in Australia, and how these affect the national life of his homeland and the way Australians are manipulated by great power against our own first people and those seeking refuge...
21 September 2009: Seeking asylum: Non-protection horrors in Indonesia - An expose of media debate and coverage of the rapidly detoriorating warehousing situation in Indonesia, sponsored by the Rudd government - where the International Organisation for Migration, UNHCR Jakarta and the Australian and Indonesian government all 'assist' to wreck the lives of thousands who seek protection and a better life in Australia.
2 September 2009: In 2009, it's getting crowded on Christmas Island - Slowly Christmas Island is filling up with refugees - but in August 2009 it seemed that senior and high-profile advocates all flocked to the place. Human Rights Consultation Chief Frank Brennan, Psychiatrist Louise Newman, and Sydney Morning Herald Journalist David Marr all looked in on the bizarre scenery.
24 August 2009: Reaching Australia: Iraqi asylum seekers in transit in SE Asia - This paper considers the relationship between asylum seekers and people smugglers, based primarily on interviews with Iraqis settled in Australia and Iraqis stranded in Indonesia since 2001. The study is responsive to recognition within forced migration research of the importance of giving voice to the main agents - refugees and asylum seekers - as part of the research process.
23 August 2009: Growing Christmas Island Troubles - It started all so subtle, and immediately after the November 2007 Federal election. But while the Inquiry into Detention condemned the caged walkways, perspex barriers and electrified fencing, how disappointing was the reply to the report by the Immigration Minister, who almost wholeheartedly dismissed the bipartisan recommendations.
17 August 2009: Iranians on a journey fraught with dangers - A page with a message via friends from someone in Iran, who was worried about two Iranian families who had to run away from Iranian authorities after becoming associated with the Bahai'i faith. A friend's cousin and family are on the run, and he asked us to help publish the summary of their story and some photos.
14 July 2009: Chris Evans tables Immigration Reform Laws - "This Bill makes provision for suitably risk-assessed persons in immigration detention to be given some effective control and personal responsibility for their own circumstances ... for persons in immigration detention to attend an educational facility to undertake a course, to visit a doctor unescorted, or attend a wedding or funeral of a close friend or relative..."
26 June 2009: The 2009 Detention Debt Bill Atonement speeches - Four Liberal backbenchers dissent with their Opposition party and speak out about the Government's Migration Amendment Bill 2009. Liberal Petro Georgiou was close to tears as he argued for the "dehumanising" charges to be dropped, and Russell Broadbent stated in his speech: 'God forgive me that I was part of the parliament that did that, which caused so much distress to so many families over such a long period of time.'
18 June 2009: Christine Milne: The climate nightmare is upon us - Greens Environment spokesperson Christine Milne's June 2009 address at the Press Club: "It is not a lack of climate science that holds back action. It is how we respond to the challenge that the science poses, and that is deeply cultural. It is the values that we bring to bear, what we think is good for us, our religious underpinnings, our view of power and opportunity, of what is possible in the world and Australia's place in it. All these value judgements stop us from embracing change."
16 June 2009: Elder Mr Ward: Coroner delivers damning findings - West Australian Coroner Alastair Hope delivers his damning report on the death of Indigenous Elder Mr Ward. This page brings together some resources, links, documentation and media items around the release by the WA Coroner of his Inquiry Report into Mr Ward's death on 12 June 2009.
2 June 2009: Mohammed and Juliet: A Modern Tragedy - Finally, here's the full 2003 text transcript of SBS reporter Sophie McNeill's Award-winning documentary, as screened on SBS Insight Television on 8 May, 2003. The transcript was posted to this website because its original version has been deleted from the SBS website.
18 May 2009: Kevin Rudd's vile band of people smugglers - Kevin Rudd, with his media remarks, had escalated the issue of people smuggling, and remarkably, a crack appeared in their vileness. For the first time in Australian history, media opinion started to turn against his line, and reporters and opinion writers started to open the issue and, almost unaware of it, started to 'humanise' people smugglers. Thank you, Prime Minister!
10 April 2009: Privatising human rights abuses with Serco Australia? - Given its history where its 'jailed clients' abused or died in custody, UK jail contractor Serco is not an organisation that should have been chosen to jail Australia's refugees. But that's what seems to happen: the Immigration Minister announced in April 2009 that this company's Australian subsidiary Serco Australia is his preferred tenderer to run Australia's Immigration centres...
5 April 2009: Addicted to Growth: the Economy's Road to Perdition - "The wheels have fallen off the wagon, but the world's politicians are fiercely divided between those who feed the monster billions of dollars at a scoopful in hope that it recovers, and those who think that it's just the wheel bearings that have run hot. Both of the groups are prisoners of the paradigm or their own making that has kept them elected: promising growth, better welfare, more jobs and better services."
21 March 2009: Cleansing out the Internet you would never see - "[Communications Minister Stephen] Conroy's filter proposal represents the greatest assault on free speech and an open society in the country's history. By its very nature, it is categorical and self-concealing, far beyond the sleazy and capricious 'sedition' laws of the Howard government."
20 March 2009: The Inquest into Mr Ward's death - The damning indictments against Global Solutions Ltd, the company Australia uses to lock up refugees and detainees in immigration detention, the same company that has a contract for prisoner transportation in Western Australia, grew rapidly as the Inquest into Mr Ward's death progressed. This page brings together the media reportage about the inquest.
17 March 2009: Thanks for everything, Jean Oates and Nancy Cooper! - A page that remembers two fiercely devoted advocates who left us: As dedicated as Jean was, was Nancy Cooper, who acted as the secretary of the Whyalla RAR group, and who together with Jean and many others, carried a deep commitment to visiting all "their friends" in the Woomera and Baxter detention centres, and who wrote and wrote and wrote to their politicians in an effort to change the policies and politics in Canberra during the Howard years.
14 March 2009: What if no one had spoken out against this policy? - 'The Rise of Asylum Seeker and Refugee Advocacy in Australia'. By Diane Gosden, "...this paper examines the rise of an asylum seeker and refugee advocacy movement in Australia in recent years. A harsh onshore refugee policy with mandatory detention has existed for more than a decade, and had been contested by small numbers of concerned individuals and core refugee, human rights, professional and church groups."
9 March 2009: Kevin Rudd's The Monthly Essay: The Global Financial Crisis - Kevin Rudd established himself in 2006 as a philosopher and thinker on social issues with an article about John Howard's views on the economy with the essay "Howard's Brutopia". For a second time, also in the respected magazine The Monthly, Rudd wrote about Politics and Religion, and about his respect for Dietrich Bonhoeffer's theology - just a month later. This is his third contribution, of February 2009.
3 March 2009: The jailing of Daniel Snedden: an Australian gets jailed for years, without charges - "Any Australian can lose his liberty, be put in custody along with other criminals, can be removed from this country for however long it takes in another country that the government has accepted as an extradition country and it is said that that is not punishment and he never has an opportunity for a judicial officer of this nation to have a look, even on the papers, as to whether or not..."
::: E-ACTION ALERT ::: March 2009: Time for Climate change action: Tell Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong! - Kevin Rudd's 5% reduction targets are not enough, Australia's worst polluters should stop getting obscene subsidies from Australian taxpayers, and it's high time to tell the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Climate change Minister Penny Wong, and Peter Garrett MP, that we need some "real" climate change policies!
26 February 2009: Australia's Climate Action Summit: Time for Climate change action - Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong avoid the issues, while thousands of people respond by 'Encircling The Parliament' ... The Rudd government's climate change policies, strategies and carbon reduction targets may well have been announced with much fanfare, but most of the announcements have amounted to a big sell-out to the polluters and they seem to pander to ....
20 February 2009: Australia takes its sun for granted - How Australia ignores its abundant sun and its energy contribution to a post-carbon society. An investigation into the Australian government's avoidance to use its main asset, the sun, and how it could power much, if not all of Australia's energy needs. Australia is not just avoiding its role in building a post-carbon economy, but more disturbingly, that it keeps itself beholden to the lobbying powers of the polluting industries that use coal as its core energy source.
19 February 2009: Black Saturday 2009: Reflections after the Victorian Fires - "It's possible some people may feel upset by the link being made in the media here and overseas between bushfires and climate change. I understand that people are shocked with grief. But there are many things we can and must learn from this tragedy, and one of them is this: The climate has changed. Our 5 per cent by 2020 carbon pollution reduction target is no longer politically viable. We are facing a climate emergency and [are] running out of time."
7 February 2009: Linda Briskman at Project SafeCom's 2008 AGM - "Organisations like Project SafeCom are not out to win the popularity stakes with government; like other organisations the emphasis is on bringing about an inclusive society where human rights are not violated and where human rights tenets are to the forefront of our thinking."
25 January 2009: President Barack Obama's Inauguration Speech - Barack Obama, America's 44th president, was inaugurated on January 20, 2009 as the first Afro-American president in US history. Here's his historic inauguration speech, both as a video and in the full transcript, followed by an excerpt of Guy Rundle's latest book 'Down to the Crossroads'.
11 January 2009: Israel, your local and lethal bully: the 2009 onslaught on Gaza - 18 Israelis have been killed by Hamas rockets in the last 8 years, yet in 15 days in early 2009 854 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza - 236 children and 100 women - and 3680 have been injured. Israel is indiscriminately slaughtering Palestinians in Gaza and acts like a heinous Holocaust perpetrator.
11 January 2009: Rudd government opens John Howard's Gulag - The horrendous centre suddenly had to be opened. In early December 2008, just before the Immigration Minister Chris Evans was due to retire on his Christmas holidays, there was talk in the immigration department, duly 'leaked' to the media, that "another seventy" arrivals should be expected soon, and a week after this information became public, just before Christmas, it was announced that the 800-bed Gulag was open for business.
8 January 2009: Climate Troubles: the condemnation of Australia's Climate targets - The Rudd government's 'softly-softly' 5% targets have been roundly condemned by NGO's, climate scientists - and also by Ross Garnaut, Australia's climate change consultant, who was commissioned to write the papers, and now the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Professor James Hansen, has written an open letter to Barack Obama about Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong's targets.
16 November 2008: Petro Georgiou: The limits of tolerance - diversity, identity and cohesion - "We regressed over the last decade but not because the vision was flawed or outdated. Our society has changed greatly in the decades succeeding the initial implementation of multicultural policies and non-discriminatory immigration policies, but the principles mapped then endure."
5 November 2008: The global economic crisis as an opportunity for transformation - In Beijing during the Asia-Europe People's Forum, the Transnational Institute and Focus on the Global South took stock of the meaning of the unfolding global economic crisis and the opportunity it presents to put into the public domain some of the inspiring and feasible alternatives many have been working on for decades. This statement represents the collective outcome of our Beijing nights.
:::NEW PUBLICATION::: 3 November 2008: Margot O'Neill, Blind Conscience: Heartbreaking picture, extraordinary cast - This profoundly moving book reveals the untold story of the people who struggled to get asylum seekers out of detention and change government policy. O'Neill paints a compelling and heartbreaking picture through an extraordinary cast of characters ... from the well-known such as Julian Burnside to Petro Georgiou, to those who are not famous but simply felt compelled to follow their consciences and act to help desperate people in desperate situations, often to the detriment of their personal well-being.
:::NEW PUBLICATION::: 2 November 2008: Mamdouh Habib, My Story: The tale of a terrorist who wasn't - For the first time, Mamdouh Habib reveals the full story of his journey to hell and back. He exposes the complicity of the Australian government in his abduction and maltreatment, as well as its subsequent neglect of him while in Guantanamo. He also describes his encounters with other well-known alleged terrorists, including his meetings with David Hicks both in Afghanistan and in Guantanamo. "Everyone had terrible stories to tell ... catching foreigners was big business. It didn't matter if they were terrorists or not, the Pakistanis told the Americans that they were anyway."
1 November 2008: A Well Founded Fear: a disturbing documentary - An Edmund Rice Centre documentary, the result of five years work of Mr Phil Glendenning and others, reveals what we did to those fleeing their persecutors, locked op on Nauru, when we told them to go back... "Mr Glendenning says he has documented the deaths of nine of the rejected Afghans at the hands of the Taliban, but he believes the figure is actually 20."
31 October 2008: Human Rights Overboard: the Perth launch with Carmen Lawrence and Fred Chaney - with many photos. "The Australian Council of Heads of Schools of Social Work called the People's Inquiry to conduct an independent, open and transparent investigation in order to give voice to those previously silenced, to influence policy and to place the stories of detention on the public record."
11 October 2008: Immigration Detention Inquiry: Politicians and the Whistleblower - Project SafeCom's presentation at the 9 October 2008 Perth hearings of the Joint Standing Commitee on Migration's 2008 Immigration Detention Inquiry, which includes statements from an Immigration Department whistleblower. "It was you, who created public vilification of asylum seekers, and it is you who need to create instruments that undo this damage..."
29 September 2008: Shayan Badraie's Bitter Shore - The Sydney launch of Jacquie Everitt's 'The Bitter Shore'. The intrigue around the hand-written word Bucklies in a Ministerial will no doubt go down as one of the media's central trophies of the month in reporting on the book, equivalent in news value to the former Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock's use of the word "it" to describe young Shayan.
10 September 2008: Human Rights Overboard: Media reviews and opinion reactions - "Using the first-hand accounts of former child detainees and their parents, Human Rights Overboard details the impact of mandatory detention on boatpeople and other unlawful entrants before the policy was watered down." Here is the news about this foundation document of Australian refugee detention and human rights issues.
29 August 2008: This moment, Now is the Time: Barack Obama's acceptance speech - Barack Obama's speech at the Denver Democrats Convention: "America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend."
:::NEW PUBLICATION::: 19 August 2008: Human Rights Overboard: Seeking Asylum in Australia - Human Rights Overboard draws together, for the first time, the oral testimony and written submissions from the inquiry in a powerful and vital book that stands as an indelible record of one of Australia's bleakest legacies. "This is a profoundly important book. It is an unflinching look at disgraceful events. Too many Australians allowed these things to happen. Our generation will forever be marked with the shame of it. It is not only an epitaph for the Howard government: it is also a caution to future generations."
16 August 2008: Welcome to our Christmas Island Gulag, says Immigration - In an unprecedented move, The "new mugs" immigration department invited more than 50 community representatives, working with NGO's who work with asylum seekers and refugees, to 'inspect' Australia's Island Gulag on Christmas Island. While the general flyer sent to the invited guests stated 'no photographs in detention centres', they were told on arrival that taking pictures was fine and we received more than 50 images from one of the many invited guests. Here they are, together with the reaction of those delegates who were invited to the trip: condemnation was handed out liberally, all around.
1 August 2008: Militant gunman kills asylum seeker: Vale Akram Al Masri - Shot in Gaza yesterday, Akram Al Masri came to Australia to find protection under the UN Convention - he didn't get what he came for. But his 2003 Full Federal Court case became a landmark ruling around the question whether or not Australia could lock an asylum seeker forever (yes, we could, and still can), and if we can do that if that person has asked to be removed from Australia...
1 August 2008: Petro Georgiou endorses Labor's detention softening - Project SafeCom's first reaction to Labor's announcement of major detention changes mentioned the notion of "smoke and mirrors", and now that the dust of initial reaction has settled, more in-depth reflections on the changes are what's needed. This page brings together some of these opinions, starting with Petro Georgiou, and then pieces by The Australian's Mike Steketee and Denis Shanahan.
29 July 2008: Immigration Minister Chris Evans announces mandatory detention changes - Suddenly, a major shift in our treatment of asylum seekers has been announced ... The Immigration Minister's speech was comprehensive and announced a shift from a blanket mandatory detention policy to a selective mandatory detention platform, welcome news indeed. Regrettably, while these changes in approach to detention are substantial, and on some level represent even a retreat from Labor's intent with its mandatory detention as introduced in 1992, Labor maintains its "underclass" of unannounced boat arrivals...
:::NOW ON DVD!::: 22 July 2008: Holiday Camp: How is your liberation bound up with mine? - Holiday Camp is a 45 minutes documentary, which investigates the current Australian immigration policies in the context of 200 years of colonization. This extraordinary documentary connects the issues of indigenous dispossession, genocide, and the incarceration of refugees. It explores the implications of the mandatory detention system and the construction of national borders. Holiday Camp reclaims the voices of the marginalized and connects the issues of Indigenous dispossession, genocide, national constructions and incarceration of refugees, which are often portrayed as unrelated or divisive.
21 July 2008: Supporting GetUp!'s End Mandatory Detention campaign - Online campaign group GetUp! are partnering with a range of refugee advocacy organisations, including Project SafeCom, to send a petition to the federal government's Immigration Detention Inquiry. Chances like this don't come very often - to end a regrettable chapter of Australian history that caused unimaginable suffering to some of the world's most desperate and downtrodden.
12 July 2008: The Australia Institute: Clean coal and other greenhouse myths - This paper by George Wilkenfeld, Clive Hamilton and Hugh Saddler exposes sixteen greenhouse myths, and reiterates the basic principles of an effective greenhouse policy: no new coal-fired generation until it meets the criteria for at least half-clean use; encouragement of renewable and gas-fired generation; an increasingly stringent cap on emissions supported by a tradeable permit system; and stringent minimum energy efficiency standards for vehicles, buildings and appliances.
11 July 2008: Working with Wasim: A convergence of community - The changes that did occur and the defeat of a Bill designed to ensure all asylum seeker claims were processed offshore were in no small part due to government representatives breaking ranks after consistent lobbying by members of the refugee advocate community. A paper by Anne Pedersen, Mary Anne Kenny, Linda Briskman and Sue Hoffman.
7 July 2008: Climate Code Red - Reviews and Comments - "Having been involved with global warming climate change as a researcher in environmental health for 25 years, I can say that this is without question by far the best book to date on this issue -- the first book to have the integrity to say how the situation really is."
5 July 2008: Climate Code Red: The case for Emergency Action - Australian climate scientists David Spratt & Philip Sutton reveal extensive scientific evidence that the global warming crisis is far worse than official reports and national governments have indicated - and that we're almost at the point of no return. According to Green's Christine Milne, they "provide a valuable and sobering contribution to the policy challenge of climate change at a pivotal moment, with their key insight that the expectation of failure has become the norm in climate policy. Climate Code Red is a significant contribution which should be read by anyone seriously contemplating how to set greenhouse emission-reduction targets."
5 July 2008: Will Ross Garnaut's verdict become Kevin's Slow Boat to China? - Professor Ross Garnaut has delivered his long awaited Climate Change Draft Report, and now it's up to the Rudd government to prepare the action and implement the policies. Will Professor Ross Garnaut force Kevin Rudd's climate change leadership, or will it be silently 'averaged out' in Canberra? This page summarizes the early impressions.
1 July 2008: Climate Change: Catastrophic Impacts and Human Rights - by HREOC President John von Doussa QC: "Australia's response to climate change must be human rights compliant. What is also clear is that the international standards and norms that these rights establish themselves provide guidance to decision makers on the substantive elements of legislative and policy responses to climate change."
20 June 2008: The Gristmill: How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic - Every now and then a remarkable online resource deals with an issue so well, that nothing more needs to be added to the topic. That was also the case with the comments provided by guest contributor to the Gristmill, Coby Beck, on the issue of How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic. Here's the table of links to all related issues.
14 June 2008: This website is Uncensored ... unlike many websites in China - This page supports the Amnesty International Australia "Uncensor" campaign, highlighting human rights abuses in China in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics 2008. More information about this campaign, and links to the Amnesty campaign website, are posted on this page.
9 June 2008: First jail them, then send the Bill: Australia bills refugees for jailtime - Australia has the audacity to first jail 'unannounced boat-using asylum seekers' who use their international right to 'seek asylum in any country' (art 14, Declaration of Human Rights), and then, upon their release sending them a Bill for the cost of just having jailed them without having committed a crime - a jailing, often for years.
17 May 2008 - Australia ends its Temporary Refugee Protection Visa Cruelties - When last week Labor's first Federal Budget came down, it brought with it provisions to end the Temporary Refugee Protection Visa, cruelly introduced by John Howard to stave off political challenges posed by right-wing nationalist-populist politician Pauline Hanson. Here is Australia's initial reaction.
8 May 2008 - Asylum assessment under Rudd: tough, or just shonky? - Labor is being tougher and more ruthless with asylum seekers than the Howard Government, according to an analysis of decisions made by the new Minister for Immigration, Senator Chris Evans. The analysis of the exercise of ministerial discretion shows that Evans has rejected 97.6% of applications since coming to power - the highest rate of rejection since 2001.
8 May 2008: UN Human Rights Commission offers Human Rights to Climate Refugees - Three reports about the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution to recognise issues connected to climate change as having a human rights framework, as well as a picture by Reuters and the Reuters Alertnet about political manipulation of climate refugees and six FAQs about climate refugees.
26 April 2008 - Kevin Rudd's Canberra 2020 Summit: a photo report - "These folks seemed pretty determined to me to see things change ... there have been some signals and signs, like signing Kyoto, like some bold statements. They have made some big election promises, and they have set themselves up to have some expectant and watchful citizens through this 2020 process."
22 April 2008: The 2020 Summit: Coal Industry Chiefs overheat Kevin's Climate - "I found myself in the climate stream with representatives of coal mining companies including Xstrata and Shell, yet not a single person from an environment Non-Government Organisation. No-one from Friends of the Earth, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace, Climate Action Network Australia or any of the State Conservation Councils."
15 April 2008: Kevin Rudd at Peking University - A conversation with China's youth on the future. "The global community looks forward to China fully participating in all the institutions of the global rules-based order, including in security, in the economy, in human rights, in the environment. And we look forward to China making active contributions...."
14 April 2008: Project SafeCom's online People's Visa promoted - A Project SafeCom presentation at Curtin University's 2002 Conference: Australia - Indonesia border tensions: Continuing the Dialogue on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and People Smugglers. "I don't want Australia to become a maverick nation, and we're well on the way to becoming just that. And I'm honoured to be part of a fast growing number of people who do not permit that."
6 April 2008: Nick Poynder, When All Else Fails: Seeking Protection under International Treaties - In [the current political] climate [in Australia], it is not surprising that those seeking to protect human rights have begun to look elsewhere and, in the absence of any effective domestic human rights law, the international sphere is becoming increasingly attractive. An April 2003 lecture at the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law.
2 April 2008: Julian Burnside: Citizens' rights and the rule of law in a civil society: not just yet - Julian Burnside delivers The 2008 Manning Clark Lecture: "Personally, I would have preferred to see the [Howard] Government removed because of its lamentable approach to human rights and the rule of law. But perhaps Australia is not ready to embrace such notions: not just yet. In any event, the electorate saw industrial relations as a more pressing matter."
2 April 2008: Remembering Betty Dixon, our feisty advocate - Australia incarcerates asylum seekers in detention centers - but people like Betty Dixon were not willing to accept it. She did not have the face of a typical rebel against the system, a system she described as "degrading to humans and racist". She was one of the thousands of "ordinary Australians" who vigorously protested against mandatory detention, but for some reason many people remember her, even in the years after she passed away.
30 March 2008: Labor abandons its 'small' Excision Zone and chooses John Howard's radical version - 'Refugee advocates have accused the Federal Government of abandoning its softer approach to asylum seekers after Immigration Minister Chris Evans said he was yet to decide whether Labor would reassess the status of 4600 islands 'excised' from Australian territory for the purpose of immigration law.' This page follows the debate.
23 March 2008: About the Bali bombings and a refugee family - Everyone knows there were 88 Australian victims in the Bali bombings, but just a few know the unfolding details of the story of someone locked up in Woomera who lost his Indonesian wife, and who, while locked away from seeing his two small children, had to wait for justice for more than another year. Here's the story of that justice slowly unfolding and Project SafeCom's role in that unfolding.
21 March 2008: The Garnaut Climate Change Review Interim Report - Hasn't Australia changed radically in just a few months: under the former government Ross Garnaut, who has just released his Interim Climate Change Review Report, would have been stonewalled, ignored, vilified and sidelined, and Canberra would have followed a lead from industry on its opinion about him. Now he receives appause from the environmental lobby while big energy producers cringe...
19 March 2008: An Extract from Robert Manne et al, Dear Mr Rudd: Ideas for a Better Australia - "When I began commissioning the chapters for this book, what I discovered was that, among the commentators I approached, the hopes I felt about the new possibilities that would open up for Australia if a Rudd Labor government was elected were very widely shared."
19 March 2008: Reviews of Robert Manne et al, Dear Mr Rudd: Ideas for a Better Australia - With the coming of a new government in Australia, Robert Manne is probably the only person with the cultural and political capital necessary to so quickly produce a book like Dear Mr Rudd, in which an array of writers who, in Manne's words, 'stood against the predominant neo-liberal, neo-conservative tide' now present a positive program for the new government.
2 March 2008: Introduction to Seeking Asylum in Australia: 1995-2005, Experiences and Policies - Papers from a Conference at Monash University. The conference was held over the last weekend in November 2005 - a fleeting moment of peace and quiet in the recent history of Australia's refugee policy, during which the harshest aspects of the law had been relaxed...
2 March 2008: Matthew Albert, Australian Refugee Policy from an African Perspective - Matthew Albert reviews an international perspective of the Australian policy as it influences the lives of refugees in Kenya and he reflects on the domestic impact of the policy as it has effected Australia's fastest growing ethnic community, the Sudanese refugees.
2 March 2008: Julian Burnside, What the Government Will Do If They Can Get Away With It - It is hard to think of an Australian government more driven by ideological zealotry than this lot, and they will do disgraceful things if they can get away with it, and Burnside illustrates it with examples from some legislative areas.
2 March 2008: Prof Michael Clyne, Words Excusing Exclusion - The terms 'illegal', 'queue jumper' and 'border protection' and assessments of unrespectable behaviour are used by Australian politicians to generate antagonism against asylum seekers and support for government treatment of them: this is shown also against the contrast of some historical examples.
2 March 2008: David Corlett, Do We Have Obligations To Those We Sent Back? - Australia has returned failed asylum seekers to places of insecurity and uncertainty. In some instances it has returned people to situations in which they have been treated brutally, while the Australian government claims that these people have returned voluntarily...
2 March 2008: Michael Gordon, The Media's Performance: An Insider's View - Author and journalist Michael Gordon responds to criticisms of the performance of the media since the Tampa episode of 2001, outlining the obstacles faced by journalists and some of the ways they were overcome.
2 March 2008: Ida Kaplan, Pursuing Justice and Recovery for Asylum Seekers - The experiences of refugees and asylum seekers are not incidental by-products of war and conflict but are the result of systematic and planned attempts to destroy them, including torture, planned displacement, ethnic cleansing and increasingly the targeting of children, because they are the future of any community.
2 March 2008: Legal and Ethical Implications of Extra-Territorial Processing of Asylum Seekers - Monash Law Professor Susan Kneebone discusses the current European proposals in comparison with Australia's Pacific Strategy and canvasses the legal and ethical implications of such plans in the light of the international system of refugee protection.
2 March 2008: Bernadette McSherry: What the Law Requires - "Providing Mental Health Services and Psychiatric Care to Immigration Detainees". There is increasing evidence that the provision of mental health services is inadequate for immigration detainees and that the Commonwealth had breached its legal duty to provide reasonable care toward immigration detainees. This paper explores these issues based on some court cases against the Commonwealth.
2 March 2008: Klaus Neumann, Seeking Asylum in Australia: A Historical Perspective - The debate about Australia's response to refugees and asylum seekers is largely devoid of a historical perspective. In this paper, historian Klaus Neumann demonstrates the benefits of such a perspective when reflecting on the terms 'refugee' and 'asylum seeker'.
2 March 2008: Culture Shock: Australian Youth Responding to Refugees - Melbourne human rights advocate Jessie Taylor relates her experiences visiting detainees at Baxter and Maribyrnong and speaks of the challenges of bringing the refugee issue into the consciousness of her generation of young Australians, examining the complexities and difficulties involved in advocacy and the inevitable personal bonds formed.
2 March 2008: Home Is Not Home Until Human Rights Are Respected - Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project Community Liaison Coordinator Stancea Vichie advocates lobbying for policy change so asylum seekers awaiting the final decision about their asylum claim can find a home and start building their lives without being tormented with anxieties about ordinary life circumstances.
2 March 2008: Spencer Zifcak, No Way Out: The High Court, Asylum Seekers and Human Rights - Guided by failed court cases attempting to challenge the Migration Act and remove children from ongoing immigration detention, Spencer Zifcak makes a powerful yet gentle argument for a Human Rights Act to 'control' imbalance in Australian legislation where human rights are undermined or nullified.
27 February 2008: The Senate debates Australia's 'Excision Zone' - There's no reason in 2008 for anyone in Labor to argue that the issue of John Howard's extraordinary excision zone 'has not been discussed'. When the former government pushed through changes to that exclusion zone for refugees in 2005, Labor supported a Disallowance motion put by Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett.
24 February 2008: Pamela Curr: American Torture, Aussie Style - ...how did the detention of asylum seekers spill over into a system of brutality with more in common with torture than respect for human rights? How did a country which has prided itself on lining up to sign onto the International conventions so wilfully breach them?
23 February 2008: What !!! - No Royal Commission??? - The Rudd government and Immigration Minister Chris Evans have moved very swiftly to undo some serious damage done to the asylum processing system under the previous government, but there has also been some serious back-tracking and summer-saulting backflips - one of them on Labor's furious former commitment to a Royal Commission into the Immigration Department.
14 February 2008: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Motion of Apology - Yesterday, Australia's Federal Parliament reconvened after the resounding win for ALP Leader Kevin Rudd, and the very first motion put by Australia's new Prime Minister under 'government business' was the speech to The Motion Of The Apology. Here's the movie and transcript of Kevin Rudd's speech.
12 February 2008 - The Shock Doctrine in the Northern Territory: Northern Territory Child Protection Minister Marion Scrymgour has retracted her description of of the Commonwealth Government's NT intervention as the "black kids Tampa", writes Crikey while making a link between Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine and John Howard's Intervention. Sadly enough, Crikey is right...
9 February 2008: The End of Howard's cynical Pacific Solution - 'The last 21 Sri Lankan asylum seekers on Nauru have been recognised as refugees and approved for resettlement in Australia, closing the book on John Howard's notorious "Pacific Solution".' Here's a page bringing the news, marking the end of a dark chapter.
3 February 2008: Watching Brief: Reflections on Human Rights, Law and Justice - The first decade of the twenty-first century has seen a sharp decline in respect for human rights and the international rule of law. The legal conventions of the new realpolitic seem to owe more to Guantanamo than Geneva. In Watching Brief, noted lawyer and human rights advocate Julian Burnside articulates a sensitive and intelligent defence of the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, and the importance of protecting human rights and maintaining the rule of law.
2 February 2008: Aboriginal Elder Mr Ward: another GSL Death in Custody - Last weekend's death in custody of an Indigenous offender while in transit by van, an AIMS Van operated under the contract with Global Solutions Limited from the Western Desert to Kalgoorlie was not by any means the first serious incident by this company, the company also charged by the Federal government for the running of Immigration Detention camps...
24 January 2008: Howard Mandarins and Labor Ministers - while some advocates seem to ride a wave of euphoria that followed the November 2007 Federal election that saw John Howard assigned to the political scrap heap, Immigration Minister Chris Evans' trip to Indonesia has called forth some critical comments for more senior commentators amongst our ranks.