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Equality of access and outcomes in Indigenous education was a key demand at the 2010 Garma Festival, held over August 6-10. Up to 1200 visitors from around Australia and the world joined 2-3000 Yolngu people for the famous festival in north-east Arnhem Land. Each afternoon, clan groups from across Arnhem Land, Kunnunurra, Groote Eylandt and Central Australia performed traditional song and dance. Evenings featured Aboriginal bands from across the Top End, and films by and about Aboriginal issues. The mornings were dedicated to forums and workshops.
On July 28, the UN General Assembly passed a Bolivian resolution to make water and sanitation a human right. No country voted against the resolution, but 41 abstained. The following text is abridged from the speech to the General Assembly motivating the resolution by Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN. * * *
Forty-one countries abstained in the July 28 UN General Assembly vote on Bolivia’s resolution to recognise access to water and sanitation as basic human rights. Rather than honestly vote “no”, they abstained to avoid being labelled as opponents of access to water, but many made statements that revealed their hostility to the very idea of recognising water as a human right. Australia “had reservations about declaring new human rights in a General Assembly resolution”.
The Socialist Alliance proposals for the federal election, detailed at www.socialist-alliance.org, won’t come cheap. They include lifting welfare payments above the poverty line, ending the 200,000 public housing waiting list, achieving 100% renewable energy by 2020 through a plan of public investment, boosted public transport including inter-city high-speed rail, and closing the gap in Indigenous health, education and housing.
A spectre is haunting the healthcare system — the spectre of Big Pharma. Fears over the side effects of a widely used diabetes medication in Australia have revealed the power of big money and its influence on the healthcare system. The medication — known as Avandia — is under fire for potentially causing heart attacks and strokes in patients. The manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), is accused of hiding evidence of the drug’s harmful side-effects.
“The poisoning of groundwater near Kingaroy is just the tip of the iceberg with coal seam gas [CSG] extraction”, climate change activist and Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Brisbane Ewan Saunders told Green Left Weekly. The contamination of groundwater by toxic chemicals was revealed two weeks ago, sparking calls for urgent action against the CSG industry, which is rapidly expanding in south-eastern Queensland.
Professor John Mendoza, head advisor to the federal government on mental health, recently resigned his position, citing frustration at government inaction on one of Australia’s leading causes of death and disability. The article below is abridged from a letter he sent to members of campaign groups GetUp! explaining his reasons for resigning. * * * On June 18, I resigned my position as the head advisor to the government on mental health.
On June 16, the Queensland Nurses' Union (QNU) condemned the new computerised payroll system that has caused ongoing problems with wage and allowance payments to staff in the public health system. In a statement the QNU said: "This week will mark the seventh pay run under Queensland Health's new payroll system. It is a debacle of monumental proportions.”
It’s been dubbed the “suicide express” by Chinese media, LabourStart.org said in an appeal to support workers in a Chinese factory at which there has been a spate of suicides by its workforce. “Twelve workers, all between 18 and 24 years old, have committed suicide, at the production facilities of Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwan-owned enterprise based in Shenzhen, southern China. “Foxconn is a key supplier to various leading brands including Apple. International brands constantly drive down prices and demand shorter delivery time when placing orders.
Cuba provides the best conditions for motherhood among developing countries, Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers 2010 report has found. The Times of India reported on May 5 that the report “examines 160 countries — 43 developed and 117 developing ones — and analyses the best and worst places to be a mother based on 10 factors such as the educational status, health, economic circumstances of the mothers, as well as the basic well-being of children”.

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