Saturday, December 19, 2015

‘Paddle Outs’ Pay Tribute to Australian Surfers #AdamandDean Murdered in Mexico

'Surfers from around the world have honoured Australians Adam Coleman and Dean Lucas, who were killed in Mexico in what authorities say was a robbery gone wrong, with ‘paddle outs‘ — a tribute in which participants paddle out into the water on their surfboards and join hands in a circle. Thousands took part in several countries including Australia, Mexico and the United States on 13 December 2015.

"Too young, too soon".'

From my latest Global Voices post: Worldwide ‘Paddle Outs’ Pay Tribute to Australian Surfers Murdered in Mexico

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Family violence still a national emergency that needs more than words

My Global Voices story for last week: Australians Unite to Tackle Family Violence on White Ribbon Day 2015

#WhiteRibbonDay, which observes the International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women, took on a strong sense of urgency in Australia on 25 November 2015.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Is Australia's ICT Workforce Facing Life Support?

Demand for ICT workers in Australia is predicted to grow by 100,000 by 2020 according to a report commissioned by the Australian Computer Society. That's an average annual growth of 2.5%. Australia's Digital Pulse produced by Deloitte Access Economics (DAE) outlines some of the challenges related to skills, jobs and education.

Digital Pulse Appendix

Those gathered at the Victorian launch on 8 July welcomed the report. According to ACS President Brenda Aynsley: “Victoria has a strong history of development in ICT and this is shown in the continuing growth in employment demand. An additional 3.2% to the ICT workforce is going to be required each year, right up until 2020. This equates to nearly 40,000 extra local workers needed over the next six years. With a sustained focus on digital education and training, Victoria will be better positioned to meet this high demand locally."

However, she believes that it is "an urgent matter".

Most of the audience were wearing their daytime uniforms, with grey suits predominating. However, there was nothing bland about the Q&A session after the presentation. Many in the audience expressed concern about the extent of the problems facing Oz ICT:

  • The 100,000 increase does not represent the actual number of new workers needed. The high industry turnover will mean many more workers will have to be replaced.
  • The critical role and importance of TAFE training needs more attention.
  • The need for concrete plans to realise future directions such as the report recommendation that higher education institutions develop "more disciplinary opportunities between ICT and other subject areas".
  • The education and training needs of so-called 'non-ICT' workers.
  • The short-sighted approach to the brain-drain, using temporary 457 visas. DAE reports that "in recent years many Australian businesses have relied on workers from overseas and importing ICT skills to fill the gap. More than 10,000 temporary skilled migration (457) visas have been granted annually to ICT workers over recent years, and net arrivals of ICT workers were around 19,000 in 2013–14. with 10,000 granted annually in recent years".
  • The increasingly artificial distinction between the technological world of engineers, programmers and web developers and their "users".

DAE has recommended "an increased national focus on growing Australia's ICT capabilities and skills in the workforce". When the report was first released in June, SBS's The Feed concentrated on the workforce's poor image in its segment Are TV nerd stereotypes holding back the industry?

Terence Huynh, aka the Tech Geek, is no nerd hiding in the backroom. His post Victoria needs 40,000 extra IT workers, according to new ACS data looks at the State data distributed at the Victorian launch:

Victoria will need 40,000 extra IT employees over the next six years in order to meet demand in 2020, according to new data from the Australian Computer Society and Deloitte Access Economics released today.

...According to the new local data, Victoria’s IT sector will grow by an additional 3.2 percent each year over the next six years – higher than the national average found in the Australia’s Digital Pulse report.

This will largely be due to the predicted growth in IT management jobs as a number of organisations are expected to base their organisations in Victoria. This was recently helped by Square announcing that they open an Australian office in Melbourne, and said they chose the city because of its “growing reputation as Australia’s technology hub”.

“Victoria has a large number of highly skilled workers, and as a result the state is an attractive place for leading edge companies to do business. What this report shows is that state based programs can deliver real results and because of this we are seeing the digital economy in Victoria reaching new heights,” ACS Victoria Chair, Craig Horne, said.

It was disappointing that there was not enough time for more discussion. The audience raised several hot issues including a perceived failure of government and business to take a lead.

More than one participant expressed the view that the 2.5% growth in the ICT workforce reflects a "pathetic trend" when compared with our international competitors.

If the sector is to balance some of 5 million Australian jobs tipped to go by CEDA (Committee for Economic Development of Australia), then it needs to get cracking. Ironically, the disappearing jobs will be the result of "technological advancements".

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Human Rights Video: Do We Have a Right to Vote?

Do We Have a Right to Vote?

Who has the right to vote (and who should) and when can that vote be taken away?

Monash University's Castan Centre for Human Rights Law tackles these issues in the latest of its video series "Have You Got That Right?".

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Video: What human rights obligations do corporations have?

Do companies have human rights obligations? How can corporations fulfil their responsibilities as global citizens?

Monash University's Castan Centre for Human Rights Law tackles these issues in the latest of its video series "Have You Got That Right?".

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Australians Tweeting for #MotherLanguage Day

What is your first language? Do you use it on social media or in other communications? From my latest post for Global Voices:

Even though more than 7,000 languages are spoken in the world, the Internet is dominated by a handful of them. For International Mother Language on 21 February 2015, Global Voices was part of an international community which promoted the campaign to Tweet in Your #MotherLanguage.

In Australia, it is estimated had between 300 and 400 Indigenous languages at the time of British colonisation in 1788. Of those remaining today, perhaps only a few dozen remain strong while many of the others are threatened.

Australians Shake Up Internet With Indigenous #MotherLanguage Tweets

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Federal Government considering welfare card to limit spending on fast foods

The Australian Federal Government proposes to crackdown on the use of welfare payments at fast food outlets. This would be part of a new welfare card designed to stop people from spending the majority of their government benefits on alcohol, gambling and poor diet.

A trial is to take place involving fast food giants McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Coded named ‘No fries with that”, welfare recipients will be restricted to one unhappy meal per week per family.

The Minister responsible for the Obesity Epidemic, Kevin Morrison, is to join a fat finding mission to the United Kingdom next month. The British government is currently considering cutting welfare benefits to people who will not undergo treatment for drug problems and obesity.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Trudge, insists that the card will not only apply to indigenous people. He has emphasised that, “it would not apply just to Indigenous people. It would be colour-blind. It would apply to everybody according to a set of criteria”. The installation of weighing machines in Centrelink offices could be the first step in establishing benchmarks.

As spokesperson for the Trans Fat National Foods Association, Colonel Ronald Sanders, has responded, “The government must weigh its options carefully. They cannot afford to clown around with people’s health”.

Monday, February 16, 2015

‘St Valentine’s Day Massacre’ at Melbourne Cricket Ground #AUSvENG

Really enjoyed writing this post for Global Voices: Cricket World Cup: 'St Valentine’s Day Massacre' at Melbourne Cricket Ground

...The thousands of tweets about the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) match fell into a number of clear categories. The majority were descriptions of the action and scores, such as those above. The next most common involved either triumph or disaster. A recurring theme amongst England supporters was the sorry state of their team and their performance.

...Aussie supporters revelled in their team’s dominance... However, some were unforgiving when it came to individual players.

...Cricket commentators and celebrities were frequent targets, especially Oz cricket icon Shane Warne and the Mail Online’s Piers Morgan.

...A meme soon emerged comparing England to the minor cricket nations.

...There were other more serious political connections. Protesters gained some support online.

...Finally, the Valentine’s Day meme popped up numerous times, culminating in the inevitable cliché:


Friday, February 6, 2015

Last-Minute Pleas to Stop Indonesia's Execution of Two Australian Drug Smugglers

The vigils continue for Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan. My roundup for Global Voices of online reactions to the latest developments:

Tony Abbott says he has done everything he can but will not engage in “megaphone diplomacy”, according to the Jakarta Post. Many are not convinced:
Last-Minute Pleas Pour In to Stop Indonesia's Execution of Two Australian Drug Smugglers


Friday, January 30, 2015

Global Voices: Call for Immediate Release of Jailed Online Media Workers and Activists

Six of the detained bloggers in Addis Ababa. Photo used with permission.
Six of the detained bloggers in Addis Ababa. Photo used with permission.

From Georgia Popplewell, Global Voices Managing Director:

The Global Voices community released today a statement condemning the imprisonment of bloggers, media workers and online activists around the world. Names of jailed individuals from countries like China, Bahrain, and Mexico were read collaboratively in the opening session of the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2015, in Cebu City, Philippines. The statement asserts Global Voices’ commitment to freedom of expression and their support for their release from prison.
We, the members of the Global Voices community, call for an immediate release of all online activists, independent media workers, and bloggers around the world who are currently imprisoned by governments or held by extremists. Like these individuals—many of whom are our friends and colleagues—we believe in the right and power of open expression to drive change, inspire cooperation and resolve conflict. This power cannot be realized, however, without protection of the universal human right to free expression.
The following are just some of the people suffering repression at the hands of their governments or other powerful actors capable of organized military force. There are many more. We cannot remain silent—and you should not either. We ask you to join us in demanding that all governments fulfill their duty under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: protect and respect the rights of these individuals.
Youcef Ould Dada
Rasul Jafarov
Khadija Ismayil
Omar Mammadov
Abdul Abilov
Rashadat Akhundov
Rashad Hasanov
Ilkin Rustamzade
Mahammad Azizov
Abduljalil Alsingace
Hussein Hubail
Ali Mearaj
Ahmed Humaidan
Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja
Zainab Al-Khawaja
Ammar Abdulrasool
Nabeel Rajab
Ghada Jamsheer
Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, Chomei
Xiang Nanfu
Ilham Tohti
Qi Chonghuai
Memetjan Abdulla, Freelance
Dokru Tsultrim (Zhuori Cicheng)
Niyaz Kahar, Golden Tarim
Chen Wei
Gheyrat Niyaz (Hailaite Niyazi), Uighurbiz
Liu Xiaobo
Gulmire Imin
Yang Tongyan (Yang Tianshui)
Zhang Miao
Ángel Santiesteban Prats
Alaa Abd El Fattah
Mahmoud Abdel Nabi
Ahmed Fouad
Abdullah al-Fakharny
Samhi Mustafa
Sanaa Seif
Yara Sallam
Eskinder Nega
Reeyot Alemu
Woubshet Taye
Temesgen Desalegn
Abel Wabela
Befeqadu Hailu
Atnaf Berahane
Natnael Feleke
Mahlet Fantahun
Zelalem Kibret
Edom Kassaye
Tesfalem Weldeyes
Asemamaw Hailegiorgis
Saraj Aladin Mirdamadi
Mahdieh Golroo
Saeed Malekpour
8 Facebook users
Soheil Arabi
Mohammad Saba'aneh
Abdullah Fairouz Abdullah Abd al-Kareem
Tomislav Kezarovski
Teresa Kok
Ahmed Rizwan Abdulla
Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed
Brahim Ould Bilal Ramdane
Djiby Sow
Biram Dah Abeid
Pedro Celestino Canché Herrera
Junaid Hafeez
Saudi Arabia
Soheil Arabi
Souad Al-Shammari
Mikhlif Al-Shammari
Raif Badawi
Tal al-Mallohi
Mazen Darwish
Hussein Ghrer
Jihad As'ad Mohamed
Akram Raslan
Fares Maamou
Ali Mahmoud Othman
Hani al-Zitani
Razan Zeitouneh
Bassel Khartabil (Safadi)
Yassine Ayari
Sevan Nisanyan
Osman Garip
Metin Ozturk
United Arab Emirates
Osama al-Najjar
United States
Barrett Brown
Bui Thi Minh Hang
Dang Xuan Dieu
Le Quoc Quan
Truong Duy Nhat
Minh Man Dang Nguyen
Hong Le Tho
Nguyen Quang Lap
Truong Duy Nhat

There are reports that Iranian Mahdieh Gorloo, a women’s rights activist arrested in October 2014 after she protested about acid attacks in Isfahan, is free on bail.

Mahsa Alimardani reports for Global Voices:

Iranian Women's Rights Advocate Mahdieh Golroo Released From Jail

Monday, January 5, 2015

Countdown to Asian Cup 2015 Hots Up

The Asian Cup 2015 kicks off on Friday 9 January in Melbourne. Global Voices is covering the unfolding stories.

The first post: Countdown to Asian Cup 2015 Hots Up in Australia