West Papuans, Aboriginal activists and supporters held a midday vigil outside the Indonesian consulate in Perth on December 1 to mark West Papuan Independence Day. The action also called for the end of the military occupation by Indonesia that has killed more than 500,000 West Papuans since 1961, when West Papua was annexed by Indonesia.
Health services are under serious attack in WA, with the Health Department asking hospitals to finalise “budget management strategies” by the end of January. Amid claims of massive cuts to funding, hospitals in Perth are bracing for staff cuts. The Health Services Union (HSU) expects about 500 jobs to be shed at Royal Perth Hospital and similar numbers at Fiona Stanley Hospital. The union says its previous predictions of about 1000 job cuts “across the board” now appeared “conservative” and job uncertainty is causing widespread stress.
Artist Doreen Chapman at the opening night of ‘We Call It Home’. We Call It Home Spinifex Hill Artists exhibition, FORM gallery, Perth September 3 to November 30 Many of the Martu people of Western Australia’s Pilbara region, extending out into the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts, only ceased living a pujiman (entirely traditional) life as late as the 1960s. Many also took part in the huge Aboriginal stock workers strike of the late ’40s.
The Canning byelection is attracting national attention as the possibility that the Liberals may lose the seat they hold by a 12% margin is openly discussed. A loss would be a severe blow to the Coalition government — already reeling from controversies ranging from the Border Farce stunt in Melbourne to the choppergate scandal — as well as to the leadership of Tony Abbott.
The Bandyup Action Group (BAG) held its most recent speak out on July 18 to protest against conditions in Bandyup Women's Prison. There has been a dramatic rise in incarceration rates, particularly for non-violent acts such as non-payment of fines. About 30% of women detained at Bandyup are there because of unpaid fines; 30% have existing and severe mental health problems; and 90% have been physically and/or sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.
A landmark demonstration was held on July 5 in Perth. The crowd of about 5000 people — in the rain — made it the biggest protest for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights that has ever happened in Perth. It was also the biggest LGBTI protest across the country so far this year. The rally was organized by GetUp! and Australian Marriage Equality.
A 50-year-old woman died in custody at Bandyup Women’s Prison in Western Australia on June 15. The death has been confirmed by the state coroner’s office, but details of the circumstances surrounding her death are yet to be released.
The University of Western Australia (UWA) cancelled the contract for Bjorn Lomborg’s Consensus Centre on May 8 after a "passionate emotional reaction" to the plan. In a statement, UWA Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson said the creation of the centre had attracted "mixed reactions" from staff, students and the general public. "The scale of the strong and passionate emotional reaction was one that the university did not predict," he said.
The Socialist Alliance stands in full solidarity with the burgeoning movement against the forced closure of remote Aboriginal communities in WA. This movement can win and if it does it will be a victory for all working people in Australia. Without any consultation, the federal government announced in September that they would cut funding that, for more than 40 years, had been provided to support these communities. The state government, equally contemptuous in their lack of consultation, then announced that up to 150 communities would have to close.
Thousands of people rallied in cities and towns around Australia on March 19 in opposition to the planned closure of around 150 remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. The issue was thrust into the spotlight in September when the federal government — without consultation — announced that it would stop providing funding to these homeland communities from July 1 this year.