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A special film screening will take place in Petersham, Sydney on September 28 to celebrate the graduation of the first 18 East Timorese students through Cuba's medical training aid program, which began in East Timor in 2003. The event will be presented by Dr Tim Anderson of the University of Sydney, who has followed the journeys of these doctors from the start. He will present his films The Doctors of Tomorrow and The Pacific School of Medicine, as well as footage from the recent graduation ceremony.
On September 8, race and discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes used a forum at the University of NSW Indigenous Law Centre on racism in sport to condemn the racist dog-whistling in the recent federal election. “You only have to look at the race to the bottom that you saw in the recent election on asylum seekers. Don't tell me there's not a racist part in that issue.
September 5-11 was National Body Image and Eating Disorders Awareness Week. “Awareness” about these serious and widespread issues is reasonably high these days. No young person can get through high school without being acutely aware of the pressures on physical appearance and personal image. The Mission Australia 2009 National Survey of Young Australians found that body image was the third-ranked issue of concern. A quarter of respondents (25.5%) said it was a major concern.
The Socialist Alliance national council meeting on September 5, involving 72 members from around the country, grappled with the new and intriguing political situation opened up by the August 21 federal election result. At the time, it was unknown who would form a minority government. But it was already clear that the result presented a challenge and opportunity for the progressive social movements to mobilise to demand a just, equitable and sustainable response to the big problems facing society.
By attacking the Gaza Freedom Flotilla (GFF) in international waters on May 31, Israel intended to deter people from attempting to break the siege of Gaza. However, since the attack, organisers have been inundated with calls and emails from people around the world wanting to join the next flotilla. Coordination for the next fleet has begun and GFF supporters in Australia want to raise $145,000 to send a contingent of 17 people from Australia and send aid as well. People will break the siege of Gaza, not governments.
Palestinian-Iraqi refugees are some of the forgotten victims of the Iraq war. In 1948, Palestinians were forced to flee from Palestine and became refugees. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), around 34,000 Palestinian refugees were living in Iraq when the United States and its allies invaded in 2003. After the invasion, many Palestinians faced harassment, threats of deportation, death threats, abuse by the media, arbitrary detention, torture and murder.
Barangaroo is one of the last waterfront development sites in the City of Sydney. Its controversial redevelopment is starting a brushfire of protests because of the way it is being handled. Once the heart of the docklands, was the birthplace of the bubonic plague in the early 20th century Barangaroo, which led to the takeover of much of the area and its wharves by the government-appointed Sydney Harbour Trust.
One of Australia’s biggest carbon emitters, Bayswater coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley of NSW, will be the target of this year’s Camp for Climate Action. Over December 1-5, the camp will bring people from around the country to a site near Bayswater, and will culminate in a mass protest against the proposed expansion of the power station.
The following speech was delivered by Jeff McMullen to a September 8 meeting in Parramatta, organised by Reconciliation for Western Sydney. * * * If you are out under the stars tonight, look up. We live in a world of wonder and this is our shimmering moment in the greater scheme of things. The Aboriginal ancestors who walked this land before us developed in their sophisticated knowledge system the concept of custodianship to keep life in balance. It is one of the keys to the strength and resilience of the world’s oldest continuous cultures.
Veterans peace group Stand Fast and the Peace Bus held a protest against the war in Afghanistan on September 9 at the gates of Enoggera Barracks. Enoggera is the home of the 7th Brigade and one of Australia's largest military bases. Also present were members of a local anti-war group who hold a vigil every Thursday against the war on the main road near the entrance to the barracks. Speakers at the protest included military veterans Hamish Chitts and Graeme Dunstan. Many motorists passing by, including some military personnel, waved their support or "honked for peace".
Hazara asylum seekers, who broke out of the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin on September 1 to hold a peaceful seven-hour protest, have been transferred to the WA Curtin detention centre. On September 3, Australian Association of Hazaras spokesperson Arif Fayazi told ABC radio he was concerned for their welfare. Fayazi said that when he was in detention in similar circumstances in 2000, many of his fellow detainees became so distressed they harmed themselves.
On September 6, 35 people attended a meeting held by the Perth Refugee Rights Action Network to hear a reportback from participants of the RRAN “Compassion Caravan”. The Compassion Caravan involved 25 people traveling to the Leonora detention centre, in remote Western Australia, where 200 men, women and children refugees are detained. The caravan delivered toys and welcome notes to the refugees, written by Perth primary school children.
Thankfully, no lives were lost in the September 5 earthquake that hit the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. But it has caused vast damage, up to half the buildings in the region need repairing. As I watched the evening news report about the disaster, I was struck by a comment a local resident made to reporters. Half jokingly, he said the good news was that the rebuilding effort would help pull New Zealand out of recession.
Workers at Megabolt in Melbourne’s northern suburb of Campbelfield have not had a pay rise for 10 years. This is despite working for a company that makes bolts for the rapidly expanding mining industry. The company’s production has increased by 25% in the past two years, but this hasn’t been reflected in wages. Australian Manufacturing Workers Union delegate Zelko Cimboro told Green Left Weekly that 75% of the workforce survives on the minimum wage of $15.04 an hour or $15.63 an hour.
“This issue is deeper than sand-mining on Stradbroke Island”, Aboriginal community leader Dale Ruska told a group of protesters outside the Magistrates' Court on September 7. “It's also about justice for Aboriginal people. This mining company has stolen more than $80 million in illegal sand, and will probably be given a modest fine. “Meanwhile, Aboriginal people are being jailed for minor offences. We need justice for Indigenous people now.”

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