Friday, April 15, 2016
Actor and Aboriginal elder Uncle Jack Charles refused taxi in Melbourne, again
I wouldn't pick him up either. And I speak as a former taxi driver. He looks like a hobo. His race has got nothing to do with it. He needs to smarten up if he wants to be treated with respect. Most people present themselves fairly well before they hop into a taxi. It's just ignorant to do otherwise
Aboriginal elder and renowned actor Jack Charles has again been refused a cab in Melbourne because of what he calls systemic racial discrimination against Indigenous Australians by taxi drivers.
The 72-year-old was with two artists visiting from Turkey when they tried to catch a taxi from outside Flinders Street Station about 3pm on Wednesday.
"Uncle Jack" said a taxi pulled up and the party started to get inside when the driver told them he would not accept the fare. "My mate Ibrahim jumped in the front and started to explain where we were going and I started to jump in the back," Charles said.
"The driver said that he'd knocked off once he saw me. So I believe it was me, [that's] why he refused to pick us up. "Drivers that have knocked off don't actually pull in to pick up a fare."
Artist Ibrahim Koç, who is working on an art project about similarities between Aboriginal Australians and Turkey's Yörük people, was with Charles at the time and said it was an "ugly" event.
"The taxi driver saw Jack and he doesn't want to take us. Why? I don't understand."
Charles has forged a prolific acting career over more than 50 years, co-founded Australia's first Indigenous theatre group and starring in films including The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith, Blackfellas and Pan. He has also performed in many stage plays across the country and toured internationally.
But despite his stellar career, being refused a taxi has become a regular occurrence for the veteran actor.
Charles was told he couldn't catch a taxi unless he paid the fare upfront moments after being named Victorian Senior Australian of the Year in Melbourne in October last year. On that occasion, another taxi driver told him drivers were allowed to request pre-payment from Aboriginals.
Just two days later, a taxi allocated to collect him at Melbourne Airport sped off without him.
Charles said on Wednesday that regularity did nothing to lessen the pain caused by such acts of discrimination. "I won't sleep tonight, I'll be writhing in pure agony of the mind… this really impacts on me, totally," he said.
Charles said many taxi drivers came from overseas and industry education was needed to stamp out discrimination. "These incidents are repeated over and over again," he said. "It's illegal, it's racist, it's racial profiling and it shouldn't be done, so we need to educated this mob."
Charles said he approached the taxi industry after last year's incidents to arrange a round-table discussion about discrimination against Aboriginal passengers, but it had not eventuated.
He intends to sue the driver who refused to pick him up on Wednesday and his driving company for racial discrimination.
The Taxi Services Commission said it would investigate the incident "pending further information being provided about the taxi involved".
"Racial discrimination is totally unacceptable," a commission spokesman said.
Anti-homosexual Marriage Advertisement Banned
In February, the Australian anti-marriage equality group Marriage Alliance released an advertisement depicting a young woman in an office with a rainbow noose around her neck. Along with the image, the message “same sex marriage increases PC bullying in the workplace.”
Shortly after being posted, many people responded with disdain towards the ad.
BeyondBlue, a mental health advocacy group, tweeted to the organization, “You may not have thought about it, but you may want to consider the harm that depicting someone in a noose may cause. We’re advocating strongly in this space to reduce stigma and harmful messages around suicide like this.”
Facebook moderators removed the ad after receiving multiple complaints, citing that the image violated community guidelines by “containing self-injury” “graphic violence” and “hate speech”.
Two months after the original ad was posted, the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) ruled on Monday that the group’s advertisement breached standards set in place.
The Marriage Alliance argued that the ad “fell within the grounds of what is acceptable for political advertising and should fall outside of the jurisdiction of the ASB.”
They went onto state “You will be aware that our organization is preparing for, and engaging in the preliminary stages of a political campaign concerning, inter alia, the proposed alterations to the definition of “marriage” and “family” throughout the Commonwealth. This is a highly contentious political debate that has attracted a great deal of press and commentary.
Accordingly, it is our view that our communications fall under the exclusion of “political advertising” as per the information on your website. We therefore question the jurisdiction of the Advertising Standards Bureau in this matter but have decided to provide this response as a sign of good faith, on a without prejudice and no admissions basis, and with all rights reserved.”
The ASB noted that the image used was extreme and stated the “depiction of violence which is not justifiable in the content of the product or service advertised.” They also noted that it is standard practice “in both the print and television industries” to accompany suicide related material with information that will assist people who may find the information concerning.
Telstra slammed for backing away from its support of same-sex marriage
What's a telephone company doing in politics anyway?
TELSTRA has caved to pressure from the Catholic Church, pulling a public campaign in favour of same-sex marriage — and its customers are not happy.
The telecommunications giant, and one of Australia’s largest companies, copped heat on social media after it said it would no longer actively back marriage equality.
Queensland mum and the national spokeswoman for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) slammed Telstra and said the company should be “ashamed” of itself after caving into “bullying” from the Catholic Church.
Shelley Argent told news.com.au she had even considered disconnecting from the telco but in her neighbourhood there were no other options.
The former nominee for Senior Australian of the Year said she was furious at Telstra’s apparent decision to step away for its support of same-sex marriage, despite it officially being a backer of the campaign.
But Telstra said it hadn’t changed it’s position, it just had no plans to express it’s view.
Last year, Telstra joined hundreds of other companies in publicly declaring its support for same-sex marriage with its logo appearing online and in press adverts from Australian Marriage Equality (AME), the primary campaign group backing the change.
Telstra’s main rivals, Optus and Vodafone, are also listed as backing the marriage equality campaign.
The Government says it will hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage if it wins the next election, a move criticised by marriage equality campaigners who say Parliament should make the decision and a public vote will stir up hatred towards gay people.
However, a letter from the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, suggesting religious organisations could scrap contracts with companies supporting marriage equality, appears to have toppled Telstra’s support.
The archdiocese’s business manager, Michael Digges, wrote to companies whose logos were associated with AME saying it had “grave concerns” about them backing the campaign, reported The Australian.
“You may be aware that the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney is a significant user of goods and services from many corporations, both local and international,” Mr Digges wrote.
“Undoubtedly, many of the Catholic population of Sydney would be your employees, customers, partners and suppliers. It is therefore with grave concern that I write to you about the Marriage Equality for Australians campaign.”
It’s understood Telstra has contracts with Catholic schools across the country.
A spokesman for Telstra said the company had a “long tradition” of supporting diversity and inclusion. “Our position on the issue has not changed,” said a statement. “What has changed is that the Government has indicated it will call a plebiscite on the issue.
“Our people and stakeholders can contribute to this process and out of respect, it is important we allow them to voice their own views. “Given this we have no further plans to be active in the debate.”
It hasn’t satisfied Telstra customers who have given the company a roasting on social media. One customer was particularly unimpressed when a staff member suggested his anger was due to his “ideology”.
Sydney needs more schools
With the constant high inflow of migrants this was inevitable
Over the next ten years demand for schools across Sydney is almost going to double.
Public schools in areas already battling with surging enrolments will be pushed to breaking point over the next decade as the number of school-aged children swells by two to three times the state average, new data shows.
Some desperate parents are looking to move their children to the country with little relief in sight for stretched schools in the Waverley, Canada Bay, Sydney and Ryde local government areas.
Enrolments have skyrocketed by between three to five times the NSW average over the past four years across these Local Government Areas, according to a Fairfax Media analysis of Department of Education figures.
And it is set to worsen. Over the next 10 years, the population aged 5-19 will balloon in these areas by more than 25 per cent. In areas of Sydney's south west, such as Camden, this figure will soar past 55 per cent, according to Department of Planning projections.
The City of Sydney will be among the areas hardest hit, with a projected 41 per cent surge in the number of school-aged residents. Schools in the area are already under pressure, with enrolments growing by more than 13 per cent since 2012 – nearly 3.5 times the state average.
Despite the numbers, the Department of Education has no plans to build new primary schools in key areas such as Green Square, which will become Australia's most densely populated suburb by 2030 following the influx of 61,000 residents.
While Camden will get two new schools, the extra 3000 places will only just meet demand at current growth rates.
A lack of extra schools in some areas could put further pressure on institutions in the surrounding suburbs, some of which have already been forced to relocate future students.
In a letter to families last week, Newtown Primary School principal Abbey Proud advised the school had been forced to change enrolment boundaries to cope with surging demand as the school runs out of space to build more demountable classrooms.
The squeeze has been replicated across Sydney at schools such as Homebush West, where children have been banned from running due to overcrowded playgrounds, and in Willoughby, where growth has continued unabated for more than a decade.
The strain on enrolments is driving parents to look to schools beyond Sydney.
"We are going to go further out into the country because it is very difficult to find places in the city," said Janine Barrett, whose son Frederick will start high school next year.
"The government are burying their heads in the sand," she said. "They think they are providing adequate facilities but they are not even trying to future-proof the situation, they are just looking to stick a band-aid over it."
Erskineville parent David Hetherington said he was concerned about his son's future in local high schools in Balmain and Leichhardt, which grew by between 29 and 22 per cent respectively over the past three years.
While the NSW government has just announced the relocation of the nearby Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, a department spokesman said the government had no plans to turn any part of the vacated space into a school.
Such a plan, suggested by NSW Labor leader Luke Foley, could counter swelling demand in the area due to the nearby redevelopment of the Bays precinct, where 16,000 homes are expected to be built.
"I don't think our schools can handle it. Demand has changed out of sight, there is an enormous influx of apartment building going on," he said.
Instead, the government pointed to its redevelopment of the existing Ultimo public school to accommodate 700 students – 300 fewer than originally proposed.
Across town, enrolments at Bourke Street Primary in Surry Hills have boomed by 160 per cent.
A department spokesman said construction has begun on a new two-storey building with two new classrooms, a new library and a hall. The multimillion-dollar investment will only increase capacity at the inner-city school by 80 students, from its current 360.
Further east, two Bondi public schools have grown by more than 50 per cent since 2012, while Waverley Council's enrolments have increased by more than 22 per cent – the largest of any Sydney LGA. The area's six schools now serve 3500 students, compared with fewer than 2900 in 2012.
In October, the department submitted an application to Woollahra Council to start work on a $12 million makeover of Bellevue Hill Primary school to take in up to 1000 students from Woollahra and Bondi public schools.
NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the government had invested almost $4 billion in capital works, including expanding capacity and new schools.
"The NSW government is making a massive investment in public education, including $1 billion in funding from Rebuilding NSW for up to 1600 new or refurbished classrooms to service growing student populations," he said.
Labor leader Luke Foley accused the government of looking after the interests of property developers.
"While public schools are overflowing, children have no room to run around and playgrounds are full of demountable classrooms," he said.
Soldier Mark Dransfield jailed over one-punch Adelaide attack on Liam Sutcliffe
An Adelaide soldier has been sentenced to five months in jail over a one-punch attack, with the judge saying the crime is becoming more frequent. An Adelaide soldier has been sentenced to five months in jail over a one-punch attack, with the judge saying the crime is becoming more frequent.
In January last year, Mark Dransfield, 23, punched Liam Sutcliffe in the head outside a licensed venue in Currie Street in the Adelaide CBD late at night.
Dransfield pleaded guilty to recklessly causing harm.
District Court Judge Paul Cuthberton said the victim was seriously injured, suffering a fractured skull, cheek and eye socket, and then faced dizzy spells and impaired vision.
He said Mr Sutcliffe was now wary of big crowds and busy public places, and had trouble remembering names. "The consequences of your actions have been devastating for your victim," the judge told Dransfield. "He was not committing any crime, nor was he affecting you in any way ... you saw fit to hit him hard at a time when he was not expecting a blow to come."
Soldier will lose Army job
Judge Cuthbertson said Dransfield, a private in the Australian Army, would lose his job and he accepted the man was truly contrite. "The offence was a spur of the moment one and certainly committed without mature reflection on the possible consequences to your victim or to yourself," he said.
Dransfield's guilty plea, remorse and agreement to make compensation payments for his victim led the judge to reduce the sentence, but he said others had to be deterred from such crimes.
"There is an expectation in the community that members of the community should be able to feel safe in public places and not be required to watch out all the time, to guard against a sudden blow coming suddenly from somewhere," he said.
Outside court, the victim's father Howard Sutcliffe welcomed the jail sentence for the single-punch attack. "It's happening far too much and the general public wants to feel safe," he said. "I think if we start giving people like that jail sentences, I think the message might get through.
"I went to the hospital thinking I was just going to pick him up, that he'd just gone there to get a few stitches, so I couldn't believe it when I saw him on a table, bleeding from the ear, incoherent." He added that his son's recovery had been slow.