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A Tamil refugee living in Australia on a bridging visa died in a Fremantle hospital on January 5 from suicide. He had a wife and young daughter still in Sri Lanka, and was waiting for an outcome on his refugee status. It was his second suicide attempt. Refugee advocates in Perth said he had been tortured in Sri Lanka and his mental health deteriorated while in detention on Christmas Island and in the remote north Queensland Scherger base — where he first attempted suicide.
While Australia and Sri Lanka battled it out at the Sydney Cricket Ground early this month, a Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seeker on a bridging visa living in Hamilton Hill, a victim of torture, died in Fremantle Hospital after attempting suicide last Thursday. The tragic event played out as momentum grows for a boycott of Sri Lankan cricket, lead by former cricket writer for The Age Trevor Grant.
Protesters targeted the offices of federal minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin on January 11. They were angry about federal Labor’s cut to sole-parent incomes and refusal to raise the Newstart Allowance. Sole parent Rose Ljubicic initiated the protest. She organised another protest on December 24 last year, sparked by receiving a government letter telling sole parents to cut up their pension cards on December 31. Macklin told journalists on January 1 that she could live on the Newstart Allowance.
Australia became one of the first countries in the world to introduce a single mothers’ benefit in 1973. This was extended to single fathers in 1977. The single mothers’ benefit was an important reform, helping many women escape from difficult or violent relationships and reducing poverty among children.
It is nearly that time again, the time to celebrate all that is great about this nation on the date that commemorates its founding by Europeans who discovered what they considered an empty continent. We have made a lot of progress since then. For instance in 1967 we agreed in a landmark national vote that Aboriginal people were people, and not fauna.
A blockade by activists opposed to the production of coal seam gas (CSG) at Glenugie, near Grafton in northern NSW, has shown determined opposition to drilling in the area since the blockade started eight weeks ago. CSG Free Northern Rivers, a community group based in the Clarence Valley, has campaigned to keep the Northern Rivers region free of coal seam gas through protests and non-violent direct action. The blockade began on November 20. Fifty activists blocked the gates to a farming property that was due to host drilling operations by gas company Metgasco.
At a meeting on December 19, Liverpool City Council resolved to oppose the proposed Stage 3 Northern Expansion of the Camden Gas Project (CGP). The council also resolved to make a submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DP&I) outlining its reasons for opposing the project. The proposed Stage 3 expansion of the of the CGP consists of the development of 11 more drill sites, each with up to six well heads, in an area running from Blairmont in the south to Denham Court in the north, in south west Sydney.
In Port Pirie, an industrial centre 220 kilometres north of Adelaide in South Australia, more than half of two-year-olds suffer from at a level consistent with later behavioural problems and loss of learning ability. The problem is more than twice as bad as anywhere else in Australia, including such lead-polluted cities as Mt Isa and Broken Hill.
Hashim bin Rashid, 25, the general secretary of the Lahore branch of the Awami Workers Party — recently formed out of the merger of three left parties in Pakistan — will be the international guest speaker at the Socialist Alliance ninth national conference to be held in Geelong Trades Hall, over January 18-20. He replaces Alia Amirali who was not given a visa by Australian authorities in time to travel to the conference.
Tens of thousands of supporters gathered in Caracas today for a huge rally in support of Venezuela's ill President Hugo Chavez. The gathering was in response to the controversy surrounding his absence on January 10, the date set for his inauguration day after he was re-elected for a new six-year term in October.
The Socialist Alliance released this statement in solidarity with the international movement against violence against women on January 4. *** The Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with the growing movement in India fighting violence against women. Progressive forces in that country have braved police brutality and repression, mobilising massive turnouts at protests against gender violence. The wave of protests was sparked by the horrific rape on December 15, and the consequent death, of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi.
Left-wing singer-songwriter Rory McLeod is on a tour of Australia. As usual, the veteran English-born folk singer’s performances are not to be missed. His six-week tour began at the Woodford Folk Festival, which he described as more diverse than other folk festivals he's been to. “You can be crossing 50 or 60 borders in a day [at Woodford]”, he told Green Left Weekly, referring to the wide variety of music styles presented. From there, he will pass through all states and many towns — large and small.
As this century progresses, the record high temperatures experienced across Australia in the past few months will no longer be dangerous departures from the norm, but a regular feature of Australian summers. This is one of the conclusions reached in a draft of the fifth assessment report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was leaked and published online last month.
A “dome of heat” has settled over Australia, causing a heatwave in every state and territory and widespread bushfires. Tasmania has been the worst hit with 150 homes damaged or destroyed.
Sydney-based Kinetic Energy Theatre Company's team of six actors performed their show about the Australian 1965 “freedom ride” at Sydney University on December 14. The performance was part of a conference organised by the Aboriginal Studies Association and attended by teachers and Aboriginal counsellors from all over NSW.
Campers at the Glenugie blockade, south-east of Grafton in NSW, were woken at dawn on January 7 to news that the police was on its way to escort a coal seam gas (CSG) drill rig to the drill site. Metgasco want to drill in the beautiful Coldstream Wetlands at Glenugie in the Clarence Valley. Many nearby land holders have Lock the Gate triangles up on their fences and the community has overwhelmingly opposed Metgasco's attempt to begin drilling.

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