The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that suicides accounted for 12.6 per 100,000 deaths in Australia in 2017, which equates to eight deaths by suicide each day. For Indigenous Australians, suicides comprised 5.5 per cent of deaths, compared to 2.0 per cent for non-Indigenous people.
Indigenous people make up 3.3 per cent of the Australian population. Yet according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, they accounted for 10.9 per cent of mental-health related emergency department presentations in 2017-18; their emergency department presentation rate for mental health reasons is four times greater than other Australians.
Indigenous Australians are experiencing mental-health related disorders at a much higher rate than non-Indigenous people. It begs the question: When is the gap going to be closed?
The Medicare system provides up to five free psychology sessions for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, in any calendar year, which must be made under referral by a GP. However an Indigenous person may claim prescriptions under the Closing the Gap PBS Co-payment Measure.
Unfortunately, GPs do not necessarily have the training to diagnose more complex mental-health related disorders. A person may need to be seen by a psychiatrist, and Medicare only provides a rebate of up to 75 per cent of the cost of a visit (average cost $228).
For the sake of our Indigenous communities, and for the sake of our nation, closing the gap needs to be a priority.]]>
Those days are largely gone thanks to the voluntary removal of billions of lightweight plastic bags from the big supermarkets in July 2018. According to the National Retail Association (NRA), bag consumption dropped by over 80 per cent to December 2018, equating to 1.5 billion fewer bags used. The supermarkets’ decision also coincided with state-wide bans coming into effect in Queensland and Victoria.
Has this change led to a reduction of plastic pollution and plastic waste?
“This is the critical question,” says Lisa Wriley, Community Campaigner with the Boomerang Alliance, which comprises 49 national, state and local groups advocating to reduce waste, recover resources and ultimately achieve a zero-waste society.
“It is too early to tell and litter data is problematic. While the voluntary bag ‘ban’ is only on the 80 per cent of lightweight bags previously handed out at supermarkets and not on the 20 per cent handed out at all the smaller shops including takeaway food shops, there are still plenty of opportunities for those plastic bags to escape into the environment.
“Are the thicker bags contributing to plastic pollution? No doubt they have been seen on roadsides since being introduced but they are less likely to blow and travel down waterways than their lighter predecessors. Sadly it would seem that they are not always being reused. Plenty have been spotted in public place bins (apparently after only one use) so there is certainly considerable waste of these new bags and the finite resources used to make them.”
Retailers and waste campaigning groups alike are calling on the NSW government to legislate the phasing out of all single-use plastic shopping bags across the board. This will bring NSW in line with all other Australian states and territories. South Australia leads the way in the effort to reduce plastic pollution. The South Australian government was the first to ban the bag (in 2009) and plans to release draft legislation as early as the end of the year to phase out single-use plastics in general (including straws, cutlery, polystyrene food containers and other plastics).
Are we getting better at remembering to bring enough bags and reuse them?
“It is my hope that the cumulative impact of paying 15 cents per bag will help us remember,” says Lisa. “If it doesn’t, perhaps we need to legislate to increase the price of plastic bags and require retailers to donate all profit on bag sales to environmental good causes. Or we can get rid of the thicker plastic bags altogether and only have canvas, calico, parachute silk bags which rightly cost more, are washable and durable, so can be re-used over and over.”]]>
Out via Parisian label Doggo Agostino, this EP is the first opus of a trilogy. The French label advises it is “a first project with smooth and casual pace, to listen during the aperitif, without moderation”.
“Will You Be My Dance Partner” is coy seduction, with a beautiful tinny guitar bit. “Saison” is a pleasantly smoky song with rolling drums.
Scores for Ella incites smouldering curiosity. This is music to fall in love to, and it doesn’t discriminate – fall for a lover, for the street, for the afternoon sky.]]>
There’s actually nothing new about 4D cinemas. They’ve been popular (supposedly) in Asia and the USA for ages, and at Movie World on the Gold Coast the family experienced a much less sophisticated version that even my wife who suffers extreme motion sickness could manage (just).
It’s just a shame that Toy Story 4 was a let-down. It lacks all the originality and cleverness of the earlier films and indeed the novelty value of seeing the old Baby Boomer and Gen-X toys come to life has well and truly expired. What’s left is a flat and mostly humourless tale where even the 3D-4DX couldn’t save it.
4DX adds to the fun when it rains in the film and in a moving car, but for the most part it’s just bouncing around for no real reason. Indeed the best use of 4DX was with the trailer for a CGI-heavy martial arts film (certainly wouldn’t want to watch that with the missus!).
Perhaps, like 3D or IMAX which really only add value to films made for their formats, 4DX will only really work once films are made with 4DX in mind.]]>
There were lovely textures, subtle dynamics, and very occasional references to cricket.
It was a delight to sit upstairs at the Lansdowne (having enjoyed a delicious potato pizza downstairs), and the sound quality was bright and clear. Supports Motte (Anita Clarke with electric violin and looper) and blues-folk singer-songwriter Ainsley Farrell completed the bill.]]>
On Friday August 9, the ninth annual CafeSmart is uniting local businesses and customers to raise funds for grassroots homeless services. More than 700 cafes and businesses are involved this year. For every coffee sold, cafes will donate $1 to StreetSmart, which will fund a service close to where the cafe operates. Last year CafeSmart raised $238,720 for 159 projects. To find out more visit: https://bit.ly/2YR0HSZ.
Cana Communities runs a number of accommodation and education services in South Sydney and beyond. Cana’s focus is on people who are most in need, those with fewest options. Cana’s Garden Shelter at South Sydney Uniting Church (56a Raglan St Waterloo) provides supper, support and overnight accommodation on Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you’d like to know more about volunteering at the Shelter please contact Regina Madden: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SSH commends these and other initiatives, including the Big Issue, noting the strong commitment of many workers, volunteers and vendors. We acknowledge the Berejiklian government’s bid to halve street homelessness by 2025, and support Homelessness NSW chief executive Katherine McKernan’s call for government to provide sufficient housing to end homelessness.]]>
From day one, Susan Kingsmill has enjoyed running the centre, and in more recent times other family members have come on board to work there. “We are a proud, family-run business,” Susan stated. “Mum and Ken worked hard to establish it. It has been wonderful to watch the business grow over the years. We are very community-based, with many members still being with us since the early days.”
Soccer World Cup
Congratulations to the Matildas for their determined play at last month’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. After progressing to the round of 16, they were knocked out of the championships by Norway. After full time, a penalty shootout was required due to the 1-1 draw. The Norwegian team won the shootout 4-1. The USA defeated the Netherlands 2-0 in a stirring final. FIFA is hopeful of expanding from 24 participating national teams to 32 by the 2023 World Cup.
Fun run fever
Competitors are warming up their running shoes for this year’s annual Sun Herald City2Surf fun run on Sunday, August 11. Upwards of 80,000 entrants are expected to line up on the day for the 14-kilometre event. As always there will be many people sporting colourful costumes to represent a wide variety of themes. Best of luck to all local community members who are participating. May it be dry underfoot on the day!
Overcoming hurdles on the way
After suffering another injury-forced layoff, champion hurdler Sally Pearson expects to return to the track late this month, in time to compete at the World Athletics Championships in Doha from September 28 to October 6. Pearson hopes to add to her impressive tally of 100-metre hurdles victories throughout her career, which include winning the 2011 and 2017 World Championships and winning the 2012 Olympic final.
Curator Catherine Skipper says she saw one painting of Grace’s some time ago and asked if she could see the rest.
“From that one painting I knew what else I was going to see – and I wanted her to have this exhibition. To me they are lovely paintings of the human soul with its loneliness, its longing, its joy and its love.
“I was immediately drawn to the lack of features on the face, which allow you to see whatever you want. Grace also uses colour in an open way. That glorious red!”
A number of Grace’s works arise from a painful upbringing and a life split between Australia and Greece, which left her feeling isolated in both places.
“In Greece, I was the Australian girl, the daughter of the Pentecostal guy, an outsider.”
Grace points to her painting of internationally renowned singer and television personality Nana Mouskouri and says that Nana had helped her then and since to find the strength to carry on.
“Nana came to sing in Athens when I was a teenager and I fell in love with her voice, firstly because it’s a little bit fragile, and I like fragile things. At the same time, she can be strong. When you see her with her glasses and her austere style, she’s strong, and that’s what we women need – to be sweet and to be strong, and to be friends with each other.”
Nana was also the one for Greek girls to feel a connection with the West, Grace says, because she left Greece young and made a career in France, Britain and other countries, and later came back.
“I was born in Australia, so her Western-style music was part of me. But her Greek music was also the more melodic and new-wave style that I like, and not the heavy and stern music of some.
“Nana was a role model for me. When I was back in Australia, I was feeling lonely, because my Mum had died overseas. Reading her biography, I realised she’d also been also alone in other countries and felt like a stranger – and I found courage.”
Grace says Nana was forbidden to take her end-of-year classical exams at the conservatorium because she’d been singing jazz in nightclubs to earn money. But she’d persevered – working hard to become an internationally renowned singer and television personality.
“I always identify with people who don’t give up,” Grace says. “It doesn’t matter if you have humble beginnings, you follow your dream. And I love Nana also because she’s doing a lot of charitable work taking on some of Audrey Hepburn’s work with UNICEF.
“I also have almost all of her songs and know all the lyrics!”
Grace was born in Muswellbrook and went to Greece when she was 5. Her mother was Greek Orthodox from the city and her father was a villager with right-wing politics. He loved Australia but her mother wanted to go back to Greece. So, they did.
Ongoing tensions between her parents over Orthodox and Pentecostal Christianity led Grace to Catholicism.
“I was very strict with myself as a teenager, trying to do the right thing and change the world. In my late 40s I am not so black and white.
“Because I grew up in a bit of a conflict, what I try to do is marry things and make them nice together. That’s also what makes Australia special – if we do it the right way.”
Grace studied art, graphic design and icon painting in Athens and porcelain art in Australia. She has had group and solo shows in Athens and Sydney. Earlier this year she taught the art group at Poets Corner in Redfern for 12 weeks.
She says some of the paintings in Colourscape are from her “serious life and serious loneliness” – and all spring from her heartfelt attempt to express her feelings.
“In these works, I can see people in love, I can see a mother and child. But it’s interesting, isn’t it, how you can feel like anyone is your child, or that you are one yourself?
“I don’t like to paint very cruel things because I just want to give the message. If you understand this figure is a human and that they are sad – for me, this is enough. I don’t want to make it really hard for you to see.”
In recent years, Grace is glad to have found love and belonging in Australia, thanks to people like her partner Michael, the staff at Counterpoint Community Services, and Aunty Norma Ingram who comforted her once when she admitted she felt like a gypsy who didn’t belong anywhere. “Aunty Norma hugged me and said, ‘You are Australian.’ That was so nice.”
Grace glances around the gallery and seems pleased to have conveyed the things that mean most to her.
“It’s like it’s me [in these works] everywhere, and not. That’s what I like: everybody can feel they can be singers, everybody can do anything they want, if we have love together. I believe in love, with the Greek meaning agápe – which is not only amorous love, it’s every kind of love.
“Life can be a difficult journey, so we must help each other. Agápe is what’s most important.”]]>
The mouth of the Murray was closed when she visited, its devastation depicted from above in brown in “Murray Mouth – Closed”. The pale waters and red earth of the wetlands of the Paroo in western NSW, the last free-flowing river in the Murray-Darling system, contrast with the dark, muted tones of “The Barmah – the Murray River Sunset”. The only abstract pieces in the series, the two “Murray Rise” mixed-media works, convey the play and movement of the water close to the river’s source in Kosciusko National Park. The ecological richness of the Hattah-Kulkyne Lakes, Victoria, is explored in four works. Also on display are drawings of bird and fish species, as well as a map of the Basin with each of the six sites described, including acknowledgment of the traditional owners.
Many of the sites were in flood when Carroll visited. “I wanted to celebrate the river, not paint its demise,” she said at the exhibition opening on July 25. But as it becomes increasingly apparent that the implementation of the multi-billion-dollar Murray-Darling Basin Plan has failed to deliver the promised return of waters to the river and pressures such as climate change impact on the system, advocacy continues to be needed. “This is about ecological justice for the species of the rivers, social justice so fresh water gets to the people who need it, and cultural justice for the traditional custodians throughout the Basin,” said Carroll.
This is an absorbing exhibition. Hosted by the Sisters of Saint Joseph at Mary Mackillop Place, it is strongly integrated into the mission of both to care for the Earth. Museum staff have developed an educational program for Catholic school students, who will visit throughout the remainder of the year. It is an example of “integral ecology” – the interconnectedness of environmental, social, economic, political, cultural and ethical issues espoused in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato ‘Si: On Care for Our Common Home.
Speaking at the opening, Jacqui Rémond, co-founder of the Global Catholic Climate Movement and former director of Catholic Earthcare Australia, drew attention to signs of hope: the increasing profile given to the plight of the Murray-Darling in the media, more sustainable agricultural practices such as regenerative farming, international efforts such as the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. “Ecological conversion” is coming about.
Journey to Water is open to the public until December 1, 10am to 4pm daily at the Mary Mackillop Place Museum, 7 Mount Street, North Sydney (entry $10/$8 concession/child and family prices available).
“I hope you will see the spiritual, social and ecological need to save this river. I hope we can this time,” said Carroll.]]>
Every year, people of all ages and fitness levels take part. Participants say the mental challenge is the biggest obstacle, not the physical component. This is why 80-year-old walkers have out-performed younger, fitter gym junkies on many occasions.
The event has come a long way since 1981, when it was first devised as a training exercise in Hong Kong for the elite Queen’s Gurkha Signals Regiment.
David Lowes of Darling Point participated in the very first Oxfam Trailwalker event in Australia in 1999 and was involved in bringing the event over from Hong Kong. “I first participated in the event in Hong Kong in 1993 and did so again in 1996. My teammates and I found it a wonderful experience and thought it would work very well in Australia.”
In 1996 Mr Lowes approached Oxfam in Hong Kong and Oxfam in Melbourne (which was then known as Community Aid Abroad) to suggest bringing the event over to Australia. Eventually these discussions led to an established plan and in 1999 the inaugural Trailwalker event was held in Sydney.
Mr Lowes is returning to the Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney trail again this month, along with two of his original 1999 teammates and one of his sons. Their team is called Millfield Wines 2019 and they’ll be tackling the 50km event, while his other son takes on the 100km trek.
Mr Lowes is fairly certain his team was the oldest team to take part in 1999. “So we must have a pretty good claim to that title 20 years later – our combined age will be 251 years.”
Each Oxfam Trailwalker team must raise a minimum of $1,400 to take part. David and his team have already surpassed their $5,000 fundraising target.
Anna Wemyss from Oxfam Australia said the event typically raises $6 million each year nationwide. “Since 1999 Oxfam Trailwalker has raised more than $100 million in Australia. We’re so grateful to our incredible teams who really go above and beyond each year with their fundraising efforts.”
Oxfam works to tackle poverty in communities around the world through a combination of long-term development programs, advocacy work and by responding to humanitarian disasters.
The 100km Sydney trail starts at Parsley Bay in Brooklyn and finishes up at Manly Park with sweeping views of the harbour.]]>