Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Safe Schools activist Roz Ward is a Commo

The architect behind a contentious sexual diversity program set to become mandatory across all Victorian schools is an outspoken hard-left warrior who has publicly denounced Immigration Minister Peter Dutton as a “sexist prick”.

Safe Schools Coalition ­Vic­toria co-founder Roz Ward has also conceded the Safe Schools Coalition program is part of a broader Marxist strategy to change society.

Ms Ward is a La Trobe University academic who moonlights as a writer for Red Flag, the publication of the Socialist Alternative, a Trotskyite self-des­cribed Marxist organisation that has become a dominant force among university radicals and the broad-left ­activist movement.

Ms Ward’s recent contributions include an article published in January, titled “Sexist text messages are the least of Peter Dutton’s crimes”, in which she accuses the minister of being ­responsible for instances of sexual abuse being experienced by refugees at the Nauru processing centre.

“Dutton is responsible for these horrors,” she writes. “Sure, call out casual sexism, but we should rage longer and harder against his ongoing crimes against refugees.”

In another article, Ms Ward accused the former Victorian Liberal government of turning train stations into prisons after the ­introduction of a safety policy in 2012 of manning platforms with armed guards. She denounced the guards, known as “protective services officers”, as “uniformed thugs”.

The program has recently been linked with an improved public perception of safety.

A prominent campaigner on gay, lesbian and transgender ­issues, including marriage equal­ity, Ms Ward has repeatedly claimed that the Safe Schools ­Coalition was derived out of a bid to stamp out homophobia within schools.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino, who posed for photographs with Ms Ward at the recent Pride March, declined a request for an interview yesterday.

However in a statement, his spokesman said that the “scare campaign” being run by opponents of Safe Schools Coalition has been “nothing short of disgraceful”.

“The comments from federal MPs like Cory Bernardi and George Christensen are perfect examples of the kind of attitudes that we need to change,” he said.

The Victorian government was the first to provide public funds to the cause. Former Labor education minister Bronwyn Pike, who has an openly gay son, announced $80,000 in seed funding in October 2010. A year later, the newly elected Coalition government announced further funding of $416,000 and the federal Labor government then lent its support in 2013 when Senator Penny Wong, who is gay, unveiled $8 million over four years to “help stop homophobia and create more inclusive school communities”.

The Safe Schools Coalition program has since been rolled out to more than 500 schools and has the backing of the Australian Secondary Principals Association and the Australian Education Union.

Despite the program’s stated aims, its politically correct approach to sex education — under which teachers are counselled that it is “heterosexist” to refer to students as “girls and boys” and children are instructed to role-play gay teenagers — has outraged religious groups and conservative politicians.

Many have questioned whether it is appropriate for schools to be teaching children as young as 11 the meaning of terms such as “queer”, “pansexual”, “sister girl” and “trans guy”.

The Coalition’s website also lists more than 40 primary schools or P-12 colleges that have registered.

One of those, St Kilda Primary School in Melbourne, took part in the Midsumma Festival’s annual Pride March in January alongside the Safe Schools Coalition.

Ms Ward, who manages the program in Victoria, wrote about the landmark occasion on the coalition’s website: “For the first time ever we marched with a primary school as well as more than a dozen secondary schools, which just really shows the progress that has been made.”

St Kilda Primary School principal Sue Higgins confirmed that the school had taken part, but did not respond to further questions via email, including whether students had taken part.

West Australian Education Minister Peter Collier has raised concerns, describing aspects of it as “almost offensive”.

A former high school teacher, he said it could hurt the children it aimed to protect, although it had the hallmarks of an effective bullying strategy.  “I cannot see or fathom any situation where drawing attention to a particular set of students is going to necessarily assist that child,” Mr Collier said.

“I feel as soon as you start to identify or isolate very discrete elements of student cohorts, inevitably you’re going to draw attention to those students and if anything it could work in reverse.”

He said only 16 of the state’s 800 public schools had registered for the program.


Aboriginal man claims non-Indigenous passenger refused to sit next to him on Virgin Australia flight because of his skin colour

Would YOU want to sit next to him?

An Aboriginal man claims a non-Indigenous passenger on-board a Virgin Australia flight refused to sit next to him because of his skin colour.

Kevin Whyman, from Wilcannia in New South Wales' north-west, said he was 'racially discriminated' against on Sunday morning's Flight VA 1175.

'The woman asked the stewardess if she could sit in another seat cause she didn't want to sit next to me because I'm Aboriginal so the [steward] agreed with her and they told me not take it personal,' he said in Facebook post that has since been deleted.

'I'm very disappointed in Virgin Blue airline [sic] it made me feel like I was some sort of dangerous animal in my own country.'

But a Virgin Australia spokesman denied the woman asked to move because the man was Indigenous.

'Due to the privacy of our guests and crew we are unable to provide specific details, however we can confirm that our guest requested to change seats, which is not unusual, and that this request was not racially motivated,' he said. 'Virgin Australia does not tolerate any form of discrimination.' 

Mr Whyman's friend, Vickie, sent a complaint into Virgin Australia who has investigated the claims

Mr Whyman, who was on a flight from Albury to Sydney, told BuzzFeed News the woman was reassigned a seat two rows in front of him, next to 'another white person'.

'I was dressed nice, I didn't have any odour or anything and it made me feel belittled and discriminated against... I felt like I was not good enough to sit next to her,' he said.

Mr Whyman said he had brought the issue up with crew members on-board but he was less than satisfied with their response.

'This young flight attendant pretty much rolled his eyes a couple of times while I was speaking and pretty much had no interest in what I saying. I just felt uncomfortable, I felt like I wasn't meant to be on the plane,' he said.

His friend, Vickie, also lodged a complaint with the airline and was assured Virgin Australia was taking the allegations 'seriously'.

Daily Mail Australia understands the woman asked to change seats because he had a solid build and they could not put the arm rest in between them.


Australia as a safe place

A National Australia Bank survey into living standards has revealed Australians like living in Australia.  Ninety-nine per cent of us do, anyway.

And after crunching the numbers the bank found some revealing results; Queenslanders rate climate as the appeal in their state, Western Australians value wide open spaces, Victorians enjoy sport and New South Wales appreciates diversity.

But in the biggest twist, the survey found Australians valued their relative safety and security the most.

Thirty-six per cent of the 2000 respondents to the survey valued security highest, particularly, in South Australia where 43 per cent of respondents cited safety as their primary cause for enjoying Australian life.

Aside from the freedom of immediate danger, Australians are attracted to the general lifestyle and "friendliness" of their environment and access to quality healthcare. 

And despite the despondent cries from economists, the state of the nation's finances and economic stability contributed less to liveability in 2016, with only 18 per cent of people surveyed say it contributed to livability, down from 21 per cent in 2015.

"In particular, people were concerned with infrastructure," says NAB group chief economist, Alan Oster.

"My guess would be they feel they're spending too much time on public transport and have roads that don't work. Also, housing is not affordable. But they are certainly going in for safety and general lifestyle."

Access to open spaces, beaches and parks, climate, clean environment & unique natural wonders continued to be highly valued by around one in four Australians.

Overall, Australians and their acceptance of diversity is a stronger allure this year, up to 17 per cent from 13 per cent last year. Those who value a sporting culture also climbed to 11 per cent.

Access to quality education has become less of a livability factor, with only 15 per cent claiming it was important, down from 19 per cent in 2015.


Mining to dining: Australia becomes China's land of milk and honey

Asian consumers determined to improve their lifestyle are boosting the fortunes of Australian producers of premium baby milk formula, vitamins and honey, as the region's burgeoning middle class jumps on the health food bandwagon.

With their expanding wallets, middle class consumers are fueling a sharp increase in sales of high-quality products from Down Under, sending the profits and share prices of health foods companies -- particularly producers of infant milk formula -- into unprecedented territory.

They are led by Chinese consumers fearful of lax food safety standards at home, where cost-cutting by producers have resulted in deaths and health scares.

"You've had almost three decades of incredible GDP growth (in China) and that has brought a huge amount of spending power to the Chinese consumer," IG Markets' analyst Angus Nicholson told AFP.

"And given the fact that there has been some questions around -- particularly food, health and medical products -- in China, there has been an increase in demand for foreign, top quality brands."

The growth is being described as a shift from "mining to dining" as Australia transitions away from supplying China with key metals such as iron ore and coal towards feeding Asia's consumption boom.

While much of the focus has been on soft commodities like beef and dairy, smaller Australian-listed firms that produce infant milk powder, vitamin supplements and honey are also benefiting from the increased appetite.

Supplements maker Blackmores last year had the Australian stock market's highest share price, jumping 534.03 percent to Aus$217.98.

Its net profit for the six months to end-December soared 160 percent compared to the previous period, driven by sales to Chinese consumers, which made up 40 percent of revenue.

Bellamy's Australia, whose organic baby milk powder is nicknamed "white gold", saw its share price leap more than 700 percent last year as its net profit spiked by 325 percent in the second half. Rival formula producer a2 Milk Company is also enjoying strong demand.

A firm tapping into the growing Asian craze for honey is Australia's largest producer Capilano, which recorded a 52.9 percent surge in 2015 second half net profit.

Brands like Bellamy's and a2 are seen as trustworthy by the Chinese as they are sold in Australia's dominant supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths, Benjamin Sun of digital marketing consultancy ThinkChina said.

"What they are thinking is if the milk powder is being drunk by Australian babies, it should safe for Chinese babies," Sun told AFP.

But the baby powders' popularity has overwhelmed the two supermarket giants, which have imposed two or four-tin limits for each purchase. Even souvenir shops that usually stock stuffed toys and sheep skins now make room for formula, propolis and royal jelly supplements -- honey products believed to boost health -- as well as manuka honey.

The empty racks are the result of a burgeoning grey market where purchasing agents known as "daigou" help Chinese customers secure products in Australia and ship them to China, raking in a tidy profit in the process.

Peter Barraket, who heads up "Mr Vitamins", a chain of supplements outlets in Sydney, said he noticed Chinese customers' behaviour change over the past two years, with shoppers becoming more organised and brand aware.

He is now planning to grow the business by shipping directly to China.


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