Alana wins Sir Keith Murdoch Scholarship

Alana Mitchelson has won the Sir Keith Murdoch Journalism Scholarship.
Alana Mitchelson has won the Sir Keith Murdoch Journalism Scholarship.

Monash University journalism student Alana Mitchelson has won the Sir Keith Murdoch Journalism Scholarship, a three-month paid internship at the Herald Sun.

The scholarship commemorates the contribution of Sir Keith’s journalism to changing the course of the Gallipoli campaign in World War I.

Alana will commence her scholarship from December 2014 to February 2015 and will work on the Herald Sun’s Gallipoli centenary coverage.

Alana wrote an 800-word news story on the 1915 Gallipoli landing, which successfully fulfilled the scholarship’s requirements.

“I found the application process itself a hugely rewarding experience and enjoyed reading through old newspapers as well as personal diary accounts to better authenticise my contemporary take of the Gallipoli landing,” Alana said.

“I often felt it was difficult to do the piece justice as I felt so far removed from the horrific realities faced by those young Australian men in 1915.”

Alana said she had not previously been aware of Sir Keith Murdoch’s key influence in changing the course of the Gallipoli campaign.

“I hope this scholarship will draw more awareness to the contents of Murdoch’s letter and just how crucial it was for his honest account to bypass the censor,” she said.

Alana said her three-month scholarship was an amazing opportunity and that it was “nice to have my work recognised on such a level”.




Scanlan wins shooting gold at Glasgow Games

Laetisha Scanlan has won gold at the Commonwealth Games. Picture: Herald Sun
Laetisha Scanlan has won gold at the Commonwealth Games.

Monash journalism graduate Laetisha Scanlan has successfully defended her Commonwealth Games trap shooting title, winning gold at Glasgow.

Laetisha, 24, made a spectacular recovery in the Games final to claim gold from Georgia Konstantinidou of Cyprus.

Laetisha, from Berwick, hit 13 out of 15 targets to defeat Konstantinidou by one target.

She thought her chance to win back-to-back title was gone after an ordinary performance in the third round.

“I finished my third round and I came off and my coach said, ‘You didn’t make the final, it’s time to go home’,” Laetisha told Neil Mitchell on 3AW.

“So I packed all my stuff up and you wouldn’t believe it, he (coach) comes in and said, ‘Well, you’ve got a shoot-off to make the final.”

Laetisha, who also won gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, said previous disappointments had made her a stronger competitor.

“I was the underdog, I had no pressure and no one expected anything of me going into the final … so it’s a good learning experience.”

Leatisha has been invited by Mr Mitchell to learn more about radio journalism in the 3AW studios in Melbourne.

She told Mr Mitchell she hoped to practise journalism when her international shooting commitments had eased back.

“I’ll always do shooting because I love it as a sport but it’s very hard to make it a career in Australia,” Leatisha said.


Troops in Terror Zone ‘cutting edge’ in journalism

Members of the Special Operations Task Group prepare to embark on a night time operation in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan, June 2008. Picture: Supplied
Special Operations Task Group members prepare for a night-time operation in Oruzgan, Afghanistan. Picture: Supplied

Monash University’s journalism and multimedia students have joined forces with The Australian editorial team to produce a digital interactive, Troops in Terror Zone.

The digital interactive, which features cutting-edge technology, tells the story of Australia’s military involvement in the Afghanistan War.

Troops in Terror Zone has been published on The Australian website in the national affairs section.

Second-year journalism student, Warren Clark, directed the project and also wrote the original music with Gavin Butcher.

Master of Multimedia lecturers Jeff Janet and Neil Minott teamed with digital journalism coordinator Julie Tullberg to guide the post-graduate and undergraduate students during first semester.

View Troops in Terror Zone here

Mr Clark said the most rewarding part of this project was having the chance to lead groups of students in the design and creation of the interactive.

“There were many instances where the rationale of design was at odds with journalistic values and this led the group to finding solutions that satisfied both schools of though,” he said.

“I also really enjoyed the challenge that comes with the pressure of a deadline. Trying to maintain a level of clear-mindedness under pressure is crucial and having the chance to experience this first hand was invaluable.”

Monash University’s Head of Journalism, Associate Professor Phil Chubb, congratulated students and staff on the innovative digital production.

“Taking advantage of the new storytelling opportunities available for journalists is a key part of what we teach at Monash,” Assoc Professor Chubb said.

“This is a great example of what that means. Congratulations to the students involved, staff member Julie Tullberg, and our colleagues over in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture.”

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The troops worked in tough conditions, while having the spoils of snow-capped mountain views in Afghanistan. Picture: Defence

Mojo executive editor Bill Birnbauer said Troops in the Terror Zone was a wonderful tribute but also represented the fairly recent trend of collaboration in the production of outstanding journalism.

“The project drew in Monash University journalism and arts and design students and staff, a key mainstream media organisation, historians and other players,” Mr Birnbauer said.

“It shows that an international media organisation was ready to work with and trust the staff and students at Monash journalism to produce accurate, entertaining and informative content.

“Once again, it highlights that student journalists working under supervision are both students in the traditional sense but also a resource that is capable of producing great work and doing so at the cutting edge of online technology, as this project shows.

“I know Monash journalism students will continue to produce amazing content that enhances their job prospects.”

An Australian troop on patrol in Afghanistan.



The Journey from AIDS to HIV

The School of Media, Film and Journalism hosted a fascinating preview of Transmission: The Journey from AIDS to HIV on Wednesday, July 16 at Monash University’s MADA building at Caulfield.

Staffan Hildebrand offers insight into his extraordinary film.
Staffan Hildebrand offers insight into his extraordinary film.

Film director Staffan Hildebrand has collected film material, captured between 1986-2013, on HIV/AIDS. The film captures the difficulties during the 1980s and progresses to 2013, which highlights the improvements in HIV treatment and longevity.

Hildebrand answered questions after the preview, which highlighted the depth of work and its target audience for AIDS 2014.

Hildebrand has been filming the HIV/AIDS epidemic since 1986, and is the founder and producer of the Face of AIDS film archive housed at the prestigious Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

Staffan Hildebrand  (left) with Associate Professor Mia Lindgren.
Staffan Hildebrand (left) with Associate Professor Mia Lindgren.

Transmission: The Journey from AIDS to HIV was commissioned for AIDS 2014, the meeting of the  International AIDS Society to be held in Melbourne, 21-25 July 2014.

This film is a centerpiece for the conference that will engage delegates, HIV/AIDS professionals and the general population by exploring how the Australian response  was coordinated
across political and ideological boundaries and driven by the community but why today,  young people continue to be at risk of HIV.

Staffan Hildebrand (left) with producer Daniel Brace.
Staffan Hildebrand (left) with producer Daniel Brace.

It introduces us to many of the characters who have been influential over the three decades of the fight against HIV and AIDS.

It contains original never before seen historical footage from the Face of AIDS archive, along with new interviews from contrasting countries in the Asia Pacific region and how there is the real possibility of the virtual elimination of the transmission of HIV, and the hope that a cure or vaccine might yet be found.

Yet there are still a range of challenges that need to be overcome.

The Face of AIDS film project raises important questions about the role of documentary and life stories in medical research.


The Dual Crisis: HIV and Human Rights

AIDS 2014 Conference
Image: Daniella Zalcman

Strides made in the last decade have inspired a new vision of “ending the AIDS epidemic.”

But among sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, and people who inject drugs, barriers still persist limiting their access to HIV prevention and treatment services.

Melbourne will be the host of AIDS 2014 International Conference, between 20th and 25th July 2014.

The school of Media Film and Journalism will present leading international journalists from the Pulitzer Centre in Washington to talk about the ongoing challenges facing key populations.

“The battle is not just about the gays: We need to fight for the rights of others also. And let us fight not because we need to win today, but for future generations.” – John, Ugandan LGBT activist. 

Michael  Hayden is a writer originally from Queens, New York. The son of an Egyptian mother and an American father, and the husband of an Indian citizen, he has lived and worked in both America and India.

As a journalist, Michael has written on health and politics for The New York Times, and reported extensively on the state of India’s prisons for The Wall Street Journal.

Michael is also a critically acclaimed playwright and screenwriter.He received his MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in 2007.

Daniella Zalcman is a photo-journalist based in London and New York. She has worked for The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, the New York Daily News and Vanity Fair.

Her photographs have appeared in exhibits throughout New York City and are part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

She graduated from Columbia University in 2009 with a degree in architecture.

The Dual Crisis: HIV & Human Rights, Journalism’s Role in the Fight Against Stigma and Discrimination, will be held at Monash University’s Caulfield Campus on Wednesday, July 23 from 1pm to 2.30pm,  Building H, Basement Room 36, (HB.36).


Getting to know … Nick Parkin

Welcome to former ABC journalist Nick Parkin, who has joined our team full-time in the School of Media, Film and Journalism to teach video.

Nick Parkin.
Nick Parkin.

Name: Nick Parkin
Title: Teaching Associate
Faculty/Division: Arts
Dept: Media, Film and Journalism
Campus: Caulfield

How long have you worked at Monash?
Since 2012.

Where did you work prior to starting at the University?
I was employed at ABC News as a radio and television news reporter until 2013. I have also spent time working as a producer for ABC News Online and ABC News Breakfast.  I have also dabbled in freelance journalism, publishing material for various online technology publications.

What do you like best about your role?
Teaching enthusiastic students about the exciting world of reporting news.

Why did you choose your current career path?
It allows me to pass on my knowledge about journalism and news, while also maintaining links to the media industry.

First job?
Video store sales assistant (in the days of VHS tapes).

Worst job?
Poorly paid “English conversationalist” at a Tokyo Chat Cafe. It’s a long story.

What research/projects are you currently working on and what does it involve?
Working on ideas for a PhD in Journalism / Media Studies.

What is your favourite place in the world and why?
Either Tokyo (the most exciting city on earth) or Rio de Janerio (the friendliest city on earth).

What is your favourite place to eat and why?
Anything from/in Southeast Asia.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Don’t take anything too seriously.

Tell us something about yourself that your colleagues wouldn’t know?
I have DJ’d at nightclubs in Australia, Asia and South America.


‘Cultural imperialism is dead': Castells

By Dr Andrea Baker

More than 800 scholars from over 95 countries, including Dr Johan Lidberg , Dr Fay Anderson and Dr Andrea Baker from Monash’s Journalism section, are attending the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) conference in the HITEC City of Hyderabad, India.

Dr Johan Lidberg.
Dr Johan Lidberg.

IAMCR is the pre-eminent worldwide professional organisation for journalism, media and communication scholars. Its inception and history as a scientific association is linked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) post World War II and its first conference was held in 1959.

IAMCR (and US Scholar and Knight Chair in Communication Research at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication)  President, Professor Janet Wasko, describes this year’s program as “an intellectual feast”.

Dr Andrea Baker.
Dr Andrea Baker.

Renowned scholar of urban sociology and the information society Professor Manuel Castells kicked off the conference on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 with a Opening Plenary titled ‘The networked metropolis: global connectivity, regional disconnection’.

“Cultural imperialism is dead. The Nation has split from the State”, resulting in “fragmented and multiple cultural identities”, Prof Castells argued.

The world was “globally connected”, he noted, but it is also “disconnected in terms of local geographies”.

Aligned with the ideology of the left leaning, progressive IAMCR, Prof Castells’ talk focused on economically disadvantaged regions and the networked societies.

Professor Manuel Castells.
Professor Manuel Castells.

Manuel Castells was born in Spain in 1942 and is currently based of the Annenberg Centre at the University of Southern California where he holds the Chair in Sociology, City and Regional Planning.

He is considered a pre-eminent scholar in relation to the information society, communications and globalisation; has penned more than 25 books, edited many more and won numerous awards for his research.

In 2013 Prof Castells was awarded the International Balzan Prize for his outstanding achievements in the fields of humanities and culture.

“The world’s population exceeds 7.4 billon”, Prof Castells said. “But only “three billion have access to the internet”.

On the other hand, about “7 billion have access to mobile communication”, he said.

Prof Castells described how mobile communication was “more important in poor communities of India than food” because of its connection to job security and safety.

Reflecting on a recent United Nations report, Prof Castells highlighted that New Delhi is now the world’s second largest city, after Tokyo.

Today “53 percent of the world lives in urban areas”, Prof Castells noted. By “the end of this century it will rise to 75 per cent”, he said.

“The Nation-State is under stress” (it’s a tug of war) between globalisation and territorial identity.

The territory (or the State) is “rooted in historical context”, Prof Castells said, while the Nation is linked to globalisation and “the emerging communication networks”.

We are living in a “fragmented media world” and “need to speak a common language”, he added.

Prof Castells suggested we look to forms such as art to build a “universal protocol of communication” to “bind the fragmented networked societies”.

Art is directly “linked to the human condition”, he concluded.

Prof Castell’s Opening Plenary at IAMCR is followed by four days of paper presentations, panel discussions, themed plenaries, book launches plus a festival of films from South Asia.

A tribute to renowned Jamaican-born UK scholar Professor Stuart Hall was held on Wednesday, July 16, 2014.

As one of the iconic cultural theorists and Marxist scholars, 82-year-old Prof Hall passed away on February 10, 2014. He was one of the original figures in British Cultural Studies and founder of the influential journal, New Left Review.

This year’s IAMCR conference is jointly hosted by the Department of Communication, University of Hyderabad, and the School of Communication, English & Foreign Languages University. The conference is held annually in different countries and has returned to India after a gap of 28 years.

HITEC City, where the conference is held, stands for Hyderabad Information Technology and Engineering Consultancy city.

The cyber city was established in 1998 with extensive technological infrastructure, which encouraged multinational companies such as Google, Microsoft (operating its largest branch outside the US), IBM, Yahoo!, Dell and Facebook to have offices there.

The broad theme for this year’s IAMCR conference is “Region as Frame: Politics, Presence, Practice”, as the program states:

“The breaking down of some the world’s walls have created an uncertainty about the geographies and substantive nature of the regions they had once defined.

“This includes physical boundaries such as the Berlin wall, ideological ones such as those in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, economic ones such as those that had once separated India and other socialist economies from the capitalist West, and cultural ones such as those that had hidden the lives of people in the Middle Eastern and Soviet bloc”.

The IAMCR conference concludes on Saturday, July 19, 2014.

More information, visit the conference website here.


Premiere of Trees Falling in the Forest

Monash University Masters journalism graduate, Kim Nguyen, will celebrate the premiere of his film, Trees Falling in the Forest, on Wednesday, July 30.

Masters journalism graduate Kim Nguyen has produced a film, Trees Falling in the Forest.

Follow the story of six activists as they try to grab the public’s attention, hoping to convince the Australian Government to protect the environment and fight climate change.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on media and the environment, featuring top journalists and activists.

They include Monash University’s Head of Journalism, Associate Professor Phil Chubb and Ellen Sandell, former Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) campaigner and Greens candidate for the state seat of Melbourne.

The screening will be held on Wednesday, July 30 at the Union House Theatre, University of Melbourne, and is free.

Monash staff, students and the public are welcome to attend.

To RSVP, click here here or book here at Eventbrite. 

Trees Falling Poster (2)


Ramadan & World Cup coincide, but it’s no big deal

By Nasya Bahfen

The World Cup and Ramadan – the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which strict fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset – last clashed in 1986. This year they did so again in spectacular fashion, with both the fasting month and the tournament’s Round of 16 in late June.

Prior to Brazil 2014, Muslims in a range of sports fasted during their regular club competitions, with seemingly little or no impact. In Australia, Sonny Bill Williams joins Hazem El Masri as rugby league stars who have fasted during an NRL season, and Bachar Houli in Aussie Rules.

NBA great Hakeem Olajuwon’s playing stats famously improvedwhile fasting in Ramadan. Liverpool and Cote d’Ivoire defender Kolo Toure says his body adjusts after the first few days.

This year, there are several Muslims in teams still in the knockout stages of the World Cup including at least five players from France, seven from Switzerland’s diverse squad, two from Nigeria, three from Belgium, two or three from Germany and most of the Algerian team.

 Two soccer players from the Maribyrnong Swifts, an all-female club who field two sides in the Victorian women's state league. Every Ramadan, Muslims who play sport at all levels face the challenge of fasting while doing so. Photo: Nasya Bahfen
Two soccer players from the Maribyrnong Swifts, an all-female club who field two sides in the Victorian women’s state league. Every Ramadan, Muslims who play sport at all levels face the challenge of fasting while doing so. Photo: Nasya Bahfen

There are several factors that suggest the clash of the World Cup and Ramadan this year won’t present a problem. For a start, there’s a general agreement among Muslim scholars that anyone who is travelling is included in the list of Muslims who are exempt from fasting, along with the sick, young children, and the elderly.

Several players have announced they will still be fasting, and won’t be seeking to make up the missed fasting days after Ramadan, as those claiming the travel exemption must do.

Algerian captain Madjid Bougherra who has played for a number of European clubs and fasted while doing so. Manchester City right back Bacary Sagna, who plays for the French national team, says he will continue to fast, citing the experiences of players who used to do so while playing in European leagues.

There is a growing body of research on coping strategies that Muslim athletes can undertake if they wish to continue fasting while playing, as FIFA found out.

Ramadan changes not just the amount of food and drink consumed by a fasting Muslim (none at all during daylight hours) but also his or her sleeping patterns (as a fasting person will get up pre-dawn for an early breakfast).

Muslims in general, not just those who play professional sport, are advised to consume a pre-dawn meal consisting of foods that release energy slowly throughout the day, as a listicle widely shared on social media in the days before Ramadan suggests.

Imagine the impact that a change in sleeping patterns and the timing of food and drink consumption might have on a professional athlete’s training regimen. Some studies suggest an increase in fatigue and a decline in speed and agility among Muslim athletes.

Others indicate that performance isn’t affected by fasting in Ramadan as long asregular training is maintained, and the same amount of nutrients are consumed (at night).

Finally, the Muslim world doesn’t have a central authority acknowledged by everyone who follows the faith.

This makes the fasting/sport equation even more complex because some religious figures looked up to by the players say that because of the nature of their jobs, they don’t have to fast even if they aren’t travelling and can make it up later or otherwise compensate for the fast.

Fasting exemptions for sports people are, of course, hotly debated and will probably continue to be discussed at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, scheduled for June 8 to July 8 in a year when Ramadan is expected to last until the first week of the tournament.

In a nutshell, it shouldn’t be an issue if Ramadan and the World Cup clash this year, as the players will be covered by the travelling exemption.

Those who don’t want to claim this exemption and still fast will be able to draw on the emerging research into how the body is able to adapt to fasting while maintaining physical performance.

This article first appeared in The Conversation.



Getting to know … Nasya Bahfen

Welcome to Journalism senior lecturer Nasya Bahfen, who has joined our team this semester.

Senior lecturer Nasya Bahfen.
Senior lecturer Nasya Bahfen.

Name: Nasya Bahfen
Title: Senior Lecturer
Faculty/Division: Faculty of Arts
Dept: School of Media, Film and Journalism
Campus: Caulfield

How long have you worked at Monash? Since June 2014

Where did you work prior to starting at the University? UNSW and RMIT in media teaching roles, and at the ABC and SBS in journalism

What do you like best about your role? That the units and the field that I’m teaching in are forced, by default, to adapt to a rapidly changing industry. This means that journalism academics are always being challenged to find current material, to keep a foot in the media, and to explore new ways of teaching. You’re never bored, in other words.

Why did you choose your current career path? The very bland, and truthful, answer is that I had always planned to be an academic – it just happened a bit earlier than I anticipated. I was working at SBS radio a few years after I finished honours and on a whim I applied for a PhD and got a scholarship. I figured that over time those scholarships were going to be more competitive, so I took it, and then started full time teaching while continuing to work as a casual journalist. Eventually, juggling two jobs got to me.

First job? Service station attendant in Blackburn. The service station wasn’t 24 hours, so every night I’d have to close up by pushing the trolleys of LP gas cannisters and car batteries into the mechanics’ section of the place. During the uni summer break I went full time. It was a very effective way of losing weight.

Worst job? Market research. This was back in the day when everyone had landlines. It paid for my textbooks and other uni outlays, though, so I can’t really complain. But eight hours of talking to different people about their voting intentions wasn’t exactly a laugh.

What research/projects are you currently working on and what does it involve? I’m on an ARC Linkage project on cyber-racism and building community resilience. Because the majority of racist activity by far right organisations can be found online, cyber racism represents a new front in a socio-cultural ideology war, and our research looks at efforts to strengthen the communities who are victims of such activity. We take the position that communities ought to engage in discourse about cyber racism and online hate, particularly where these pertain to attacks on them. Focusing on victimhood results in the risk of the target of online hate becoming the passive object and not the active subject of history. We basically want to find out how they can strengthen their responses to online hate, as opposed to just arguing for censorship of online material.

What is your favourite place in the world and why? Melbourne and Jakarta are both places I’d consider ‘home’, and technically my favourite places to be. The runner up would be New York city where I was a visiting scholar with NYU – NYC holds a very special place in my heart.

What is your favourite place to eat and why? It’s always changing. Right now it’s a halal, organic, wagyu burger joint in Fitzroy. In Singapore where I lived a while back, there were these 24 hour roti prata places where the meal would cost less than your 2am taxi ride to the place.

What is the best piece of advice you have received? Learn to say no.

Tell us something about yourself that your colleagues wouldn’t know? I suffer strange allergic reactions to rose by products like rose oil


Holly wins 2014 Walkley Student Journalist of the Year

Monash University’s journalism graduate Holly Humphreys has won the 2014 Walkley Student Journalist of the Year.

Holly, a Masters of Journalism graduate, was recognised for her outstanding story Call for better life for dairy’s rejects, which was published in The Sunday Age.

Holly Humphreys with ABC award-winning journalist Caitlyn Gribbin.
Holly Humphreys with ABC award-winning journalist Caitlyn Gribbin.

She was presented at the Walkley Young Australian Journalist of the Year Awards at the CBD Hotel in Sydney last night.

Holly’s piece was also published in mojo, an online news site edited and written by Monash journalism students.

Holly said she felt privileged to win a Walkley award, which was sponsered by the ABC.

“I must admit that I was shocked to hear my name announced as the winner of my category,” Holly said.

“All of the hard work I put into the story has paid off in a myriad of ways and being formally recognised is an event I will remember forever.

“It encourages me to strive to be a skilful journalist, no matter the hard yards that need to be dedicated to succeed.”

The Walkley judges said: “Holly Humphreys’ story on the fate of male calves born into the dairy industry shone a light on a confronting and little-known aspect of dairy farming.

“She wrote objectively on a complex, emotionally charged topic. We were impressed by her immersive research and vivid storytelling technique. Congratulations Holly.”

SBS News reporter Naomi Selvaratnam, who graduated from Monash in 2012, was a finalist in the Radio/Audio Journalist category.

Naomi’s story, Crisis accommodation shortage hits migrant women, was broadcast earlier this year on SBS World News. She is a finalist in the Radio/Audio Journalist category.

Head of Journalism, Phil Chubb, said he was speaking for all staff in congratulating Holly.

“It was obvious throughout her course that Holly had a great future,” he said.

Phil also paid tribute to Naomi, a Young Walkley finalist.

“Naomi likewise always presented herself as a student who was going places,” Phil said.

“These awards are a recognition of the huge amount of time and effort Monash staff put into mentoring students and it’s great for them, too – not just for the students – when it all comes together on nights like these.

“In many respects this type of recognition is what keeps staff going.”

Holly said she would investigate career options in foreign correspondence, “perhaps to couple my interests in Asia and journalism, but to be honest I am undecided about which medium I prefer”.

“Based on the range of young journalists I met at the awards event it has inspired me to be open to career opportunities in radio, television, online or print, but potentially online because of the rapid changes to the way we access news today and what the online platform allows for,” she said.

In 2013, Monash graduate Ashley Argoon won the Walkley Young Australian Journalist of the Year and was a finalist in this year’s Quill Awards.

Herald Sun AFL reporter and Monash graduate, Sam Landsberger, was a finalist in last year’s Young Walkley’s innovation category. Sam was also acknowledge for his series,  If you don’t mind, umpire, and his exclusive story, Drugs ban for VFL player.

The Walkley Young Australian Journalist of the Year was awarded to Sydney freelance journalist Ella Rubeli for her “outstanding and compelling work” and “extraordinary” use of video, photojournalism, print and multimedia in multi-platform storytelling.

“Ella Rubeli’s outstanding and compelling work has made her the clear winner of the 2014 Walkley Young Australian Journalist of the Year Award … an incredible job and a very worthy winner,” judges said.


Holly Humphries, Monash University, “Call for better life for dairy’s rejects”.

Judges: Jeannette Francis, Monique Schafter and Trent Dalton.

Finalists:  Ben Westcott, RMIT, “ALGA to slug councils for vote” “Ratepayer ‘no’ to yes campaign” and “Early poll to stymie referendum”

Allison Worrall, RMIT, “The other road toll”


The Value of the Arts: a new Australian study

By Andrea Baker

 On the ABC TV Q & A program on June 9, 2014, titled Primates, Populism and Utopia, a video question from an audience member asked the panel of respected elder Australians (across the arts, anthropology, journalism and academia) whether the responsibility of art was to bring people to passionate awareness of reality.

Dr Andrea Baker.
Dr Andrea Baker.

A doyen of the visual art world in Australia, and former National Gallery of Australia director, Betty Churcher responded to the question by noting that the arts (in general) in recent times has certainly brought Australians together.

A study, The Arts in Daily Life: Australian Participation in the Arts, released in late May this year, from the Australia Council supports Churcher’s claim.

Based on national sample of 3,000 people living in Australia conducted in late 2013, the survey covered visual arts and crafts, music, theatre, dance and literature, as well as community and Indigenous arts.

It found that more than 95 per cent of Australians has engaged with the arts in the past 12 months.

Examining consumers as well as creators, the Australia Council reported that over 48 per cent of Australians were creating art in 2013, compared to 41 per cent in 2009.

The study highlighted that one in three Australians are creating visual arts and crafts, which is up to 30 per cent in 2013 from 22 per cent in 2009.

These findings support the American urban studies guru, Richard Florida’s creative class thesis which contends that over one third of today’s workforce consist of the creative types.

In despite his many critics, since 2002 Florida has argued that the creative class is the economic force of the new industries and businesses; and ‘therefore the dominant class in society in terms of influence’ with ‘the power, talent and numbers to reshape the world’. 

If Australia is aligned with Florida’s world, then we are also a musical nation where one in five Australians are making music, which is up 20 per cent in 2013 from 15 per cent  in 2009.

Literature is also important to us and reading (especially the novel) is still our popular pastime with over 87 per cent of the population reading in 2013, which is slightly up from 84 per cent in 2009.

Ninety-two per cent of Australians also feel that Indigenous arts are an critical part of Australia’s culture, a point which Betty Churcher  along with Amatjere Indigenous elder, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, a Aboriginal activist from Alice Springs and former lead actor in Charles and Elsa Chauvels’ seminal 1955 Australian film classic, Jedda, alluded to on the ABC program last night.

Perhaps most importantly, the study found that 66 per cent of Australians think the arts have a big impact on the development of children; and can influences their participation as an adult.

This last point is of particular importance to me, as an Arts and Culture coordinator of a large undergraduatejournalism unit at Monash, which runs in 2nd semester this year.

Since 2010 in this highly popular, third year elective unit over 100 journalism students explore the research and reporting practices associated with contemporary arts and culture.

Reporting Arts and Culture canvasses contemporary issues and case studies across the visual and performing arts, cinema, comedy, music and literary reporting.

It examines the key personalities and institutions in the cultural world and critically considers the professional and social implications and accountabilities of reporting in the fields.

What the students are reporting on in (as noted in the Australian Council study) is the growing demand for cultural related events, where arts journalists (alias critics) have the  responsibility of communicating the transformative nature of the arts.

Similar to outcomes from the Australian Council study, I hope that from this tertiary arts educational experience these 18 to 24 year olds emerging cultural critics will develop a stronger ability to think creatively and develop new ideas.

As Sebastian Smee, former art critic with The Australian said: “Inside every critic is a painter, photographer or sculptor fantasising about the opening of their own sell-out show”. 

Participating and education in the arts is not an indulgence, it is a necessity. As the Australian Council reflected, it improves our sense of wellbeing, and the ability to deal with stress, anxiety or depression, which is often so prevalent in our busy lives.

More than 85 per cent of Australians surveyed in The Arts in Daily Life: Australian Participation in the Arts study affirmed that the arts have a fundamental place in our culturally diverse lives and offers a richer and more meaningful life.

Cultural activity is part of our soft power diplomacy. It is a way of understanding our national psyche. Investment in all creative fields adds cultural value to society as a whole.

But in the recent Federal budget cuts, our peak cultural organisations such as the Australia Council and Screen Australia stand  to lose more than 10 per cent of their  annual budgets, which will means few grants to artists and arts organisations.

Despite this, the Abbott government, with Senator George Brandis at the helm as Arts Minister, has sought to reassure the Australian arts community that the Government remains pro-arts, despite slashing millions of dollars from the sector.

In this current post budget climate are these motherhood statements about the arts meaningless?  


Monash graduates recognised in young Walkleys

By Todd Shilton

Two Monash University journalism graduates are finalists in the prestigious Walkley Young Australian Journalist of the Year Award.

The award recognises excellence by young Australian journalists.

Holly Humphreys is one of three finalists for the Walkley’s Student Journalist of the Year.
Holly Humphreys is one of three finalists for the Walkley’s Student Journalist of the Year.

Master of Journalism graduate Holly Humphreys story Call for better life for dairy’s rejects was published in both The Sunday Age and mojo, an online news site edited and written by Monash journalism students. 

It has already won an Ossie award for Best Convergent Media Story from the Journalism Education Association Australia (JEAA). Holly is one of three finalists for the Walkleys Student Journalist of the Year.

Naomi Selvaratnam graduated from Monash in 2012 and works for SBS News. Her story, Crisis accommodation shortage hits migrant women, was broadcast earlier this year on SBS World News. She is a finalist in the Radio/Audio Journalist category.

Both are in the running to be named the Walkley Young Australian Journalist of the Year, which comes with invaluable news experience at CNN and Twitter in the United States.

Holly said the finalist nomination was a pleasant surprise.

To be nominated by the Walkleys is an honour because the foundation strives to maintain innovation and ethics in journalism, and encourages training and education to basically better those pursuing the craft, Holly said.

To be recognised is an unforgettable compliment, which gives me courage.

Holly said her time at Monash helped prepare her for her journalism journey.

Not only did I learn practical techniques, but I also benefitted from the wealth of knowledge and quality of teaching presented by my lecturers (who were experts in the industry), which they delivered with a personal touch; they were encouraging, genuine, and inspiring, which I am extremely grateful for.

Monash Universitys head of Journalism, Associate Professor Philip Chubb, said the recognition was well deserved.

Here at Monash we get just as excited as our students when they’re nominated for awards like this, even after they’ve left us, Associate Professor Chubb said.

In this case both Naomi and Holly were identified as having great potential from very early in their time with us. We’re very proud of them.

Monash journalism lecturer Matt Mitchell said the nominations highlighted the talent coming out of the Monash University School of Journalism.

Our graduates work exceptionally hard and passionately on researching and investigating stories that are worth knowing about, Mr Mitchell said.

These nominations are a testament to the quality of that work.

The awards ceremony will be held at The CBD Hotel in Sydney on June 25.


MFJ celebrates successful school and book launches

Associate Professor Phil Chubb launches his book, Power Failure.
Associate Professor Phil Chubb launches his book, Power Failure.

The new School of Media, Film and Journalism (MFJ) was formally launched on May 14 alongside the launch of Associate Professor Phil Chubb’s new book Power Failure.

More than 100 people including Monash’s Chancellor, Alan Finkel, and Dr Elizabeth Finkel, along with Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, who is Phil’s brother, and staff and students attended the joint celebration.

MFJ is the only  school of its kind in Australia housing the three disciplines Media and Communication, Film and Journalism.

Distinguished Professor Ross Garnaut launched Power Failure with the words: “This is an interesting and important book.

Professor Ross Garnaut.
Professor Ross Garnaut.

“It is a good read, and teaches us important things about our political culture. I was close to many of the events described in the book and I learned new things from it.”

The book attempts to answer the question of what went wrong with climate policy development during the years of the Rudd and Gillard prime ministerships, between 2007 and 2013.
Australia's Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb.
Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb.
Professor Garnaut and Associate Professor Chubb addressed more than a hundred people at the launch.

Associate Professor Chubb told the audience how he had gone about conducting more than 100 interviews with politicians, public servants and ministerial staff during the research for the book.

Those who agreed to be interviewed included both prime ministers.

Read Professor Garnaut’s speech here

Power Failure Book Launch
Associate Professor Mark Gibson and Professor Bruce Scates.
Power Failure Book Launch
Dean of Arts, Professor Rae Frances (centre).
Power Failure Book Launch
Professor Ross Garnaut (left) congratulates Associate Professor Phil Chubb.




FOI requests likely to get more expensive

By Johan Lidberg

Tony Abbott’s 2013 election platform promised to “restore accountability and improve transparency measures to be more accountable to you”.

Dr Johan Lidberg.
Dr Johan Lidberg.

In spite of this promise the first Abbott government budget will see the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) closed, and its functions assigned to other government agencies.

This back-to-the-future move is likely to make it harder and probably more expensive for long suffering FOI users.

The OAIC was formed in 2010 as part of the reforms of the federal FOI law, which sought to address long turn-around times and an expensive appeal system for rejected FOI requests that had rendered the first 1982 law close to useless.

The OIAC brought together the privacy and Freedom of Information (FOI) commissioners, allowing appeals on rejected requests to be made directly to the FOI commissioner. This proved a much cheaper process than the old system of having the appeals dealt with by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Had the OAIC been properly staffed and funded it would most likely also helped improve turnaround times compared to the AAT.

From the budget statement, it’s clear the FOI review function will be transferred back to the AAT from 2015. Funding for the AAT will be beefed up with some of the $35 million in savings (over five years) delivered as a result of the restructure. The Abbott government claims this will make the FOI appeals process more effective.

A step backwards

In reality the budget has returned much of the federal access to information system to its dysfunctional pre-2010 state. The cost to appeal a FOI decision could increase significantly. The fee to lodge an appeal with the AAT is currently A$816. Some of the FOI reviews could be exempt from the fee and part of the cost will be refundable if you win the appeal, but in most cases the fee will increase. Add to this the cost of legal representation needed before the AAT and most FOI applicants will probably think twice before they appeal.

The Attorney-General’s department will from 2015 be responsible for overseeing the Freedom of Information Act and issuing FOI guidelines. In essence Attorney General George Brandis will be expected to drive the decades-long effort to change the culture of secrecy to one of openness and facilitation of access to information. Based on Brandis’ weak interest in the Open Government Partnership there are reasons for concern regarding this culture change aim.

What the research tells us

Preliminary findings in my research project comparing the first generation Victorian FOI law with the reformed Commonwealth law shows the federal law provides quicker and easier access to information.

In the project six members of the public were asked to seek the expense accounts (including details of travel and work dinners) of six Victorian state ministers and their federal counterparts. For all the federal ministers the information was found and downloaded within hours without submitting formal FOI requests. In Victoria FOI process, while the requests were submitted in most cases, the information was not obtained.

The federal reforms were overseen and to a large extent driven by the OAIC. The question is, will Attorney General George Brandis carry on the work of the OAIC? Openness, transparency and accountability is easy to promise when in opposition, but hard to deliver in government. This is why the Open Government Partnership is so important.

The starving of the Commonwealth FOI system in this federal budget will most likely make it harder for long suffering FOI users. This is a great pity. A well functioning FOI system creates a win-win situation. It encourages public participation in the political process and it builds trust between governments and citizens via true openness and transparency.

It is hard to see how the slashing of the OAIC will deliver on the Abbott election promise of increased government accountability. Perhaps this should be added to the growing list of “please explains” that the first Abbott/Hockey budget has created.

This article first appeared on The Conversation.


Australia’s budget emergency: it’s all about carbon

By David Holmes

A new book released today, Power Failure: The Inside story of climate politics under Rudd and Gillard, documents the failings of the Labor government between 2007 and 2013 in tackling climate change.

Written by my colleague Philip Chubb, Head of Journalism at the School of Media, Film and Journalism at Monash University, Power Failure puts in perspective the politically “wicked” problem of climate change and the missed opportunities that Australia has had to implement policies that measure up to its global share of responsibility.

Power Failure (1)Chubb is an award-winning journalist who created the documentary series Labor in Power, and his reading of the power struggles at the centre of Labor’s climate politics is detailed and revelatory.

Having interviewed 74 key political players including Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan, Greg Combet and Penny Wong and relying on some surprising leaks, the book maps out the great fall of Labor from the “greatest moral challenge of our time” moment to abandoning any meaningful leadership over the problem.

The research behind the book is meticulous, and it includes a helpful timeline of the key policy and political events, tables comparing the strategies of Gillard and Rudd, polls and the key quotes and declarations that emerged at the policy pressure points.

Associate Professor Phil Chubb.
Associate Professor Phil Chubb.

As Chubb explains, from the moment he was a newly elected prime minister, Rudd was given executive power to choose his cabinet (and much more), a dysfunctional political culture was to haunt the Labor Party.

Rudd’s early decision to abolish cabinet’s climate change subcommittee and make climate his own personal crusade proved disastrous as he became disengaged from it.

Chubb argues that the communication of Labor’s climate policies was very poorly managed throughout Rudd’s term in office. So too were the regulatory concessions made to big coal, power generators and carbon-intensive industries.

Chubb shows how the period up to 2010 was marked by the appeasement of polluters, whose influence was decisive in keeping an unconditional target of 5% cut in emissions below 2000 levels by 2020: what environmental groups knew to be “shamefully inadequate”.

The fact that the Emissions Intensive Trade-Exposed Industries (EITEs) were to to receive 35% of all their permits under the 2008 settings of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme made the Labor policy not much different from the Coalition’s direct action. Chubb writes:

The government was trying to force companies to change their behaviour, but then paying them so they did not have to change.

Some, like economist Ross Garnaut, saw the policy as an international embarrassment, and questioned whether it was “even worth the trouble”. The relationships between the key fossil fuel lobbyists and Canberra are uncovered to reveal how figures like federal resources and energy minister Martin Ferguson and state premiers were courted by the “greenhouse mafia”.

The animosity between Ferguson and climate change minister Penny Wong was central to the policy paralysis that ensued in 2009. Ferguson’s decision to commission an investment bank, Morgan Stanley, to conduct an open book – and therefore confidential – study of the EITEs was a pivotal moment, in which the perspective of the polluters was able to hold sway. What followed was:

…the amount of compensation ultimately agreed to was a whopping A$7.3 billion, an increase of $4 billion on the May 2009 version of the CPRS.

Power Failure contrasts the different leadership styles of Rudd and Gillard in achieving reform. Gillard would never rival the “Kevin from Queensland” popularity with voters, but was a far better leader, negotiator and administrator.

But as prime minister, Gillard was beset with insurmountable problems, a divided party, perpetual undermining by Rudd and ubiquitous misogyny from shockjocks and the opposition.

Gillard achieved much more than Rudd ever would on climate change, and her announcement with the Greens in February 2011 of an ETS in line with policies overseas was potentially a game changer.

But the intitial fixing of the price on carbon, and the ease with which Abbott could label this as a tax – a label that Gillard herself accepted later – was the beginning of the end. Thereafter ensued what Chubb describes as:

…a public campaign of intimidation by business, media and Coalition opponents the like of which had not been seen since the mid-1970s – and probably not even then.

In opposition, Abbott was able to run with an enduring scare campaign over carbon that was more effective than Gillard and new climate change minister Greg Combet had ever anticipated.

They were never able to force Abbott into a serious debate about climate change and energy policy, as he simply fell back to cross-media reproducibility of three word slogans.

The book is important and timely because it places in context the preconditions for the inaction on climate change of the current Coalition government. The targets for carbon mitigation that were set under Labor fell woefully short of what is needed, meaning that the Coalition actually has a very easy task in matching them.

Rudd aside, it is probably Martin Ferguson who did more than anyone within Labor to ensure policy failure on climate change. Readers will recall the rare, heartfelt speech that Abbott gave for Ferguson at the time of his retirement.

But even with Ferguson’s department having lowered the bar on climate policy, there is every indication that the Coalition won’t even be matching Labor’s ineffective targets. It is reported today that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, set up by Gillard in 2012 to fund private sector renewable energy projects, is to be axed.

Australia is using up its carbon budget at a rate well above the global targets. The Climate Change Authority estimates that total emissions of 1700 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) between 2000-2050 would give the world a 67% chance of keeping warming below 2°C.

To contribute to even this high-risk scenario, keeping emissions to only 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 is nothing short of pathetic. Instead, the Climate Change Authority says Australia needs to aim at 15% below 2000 levels by 2020 and then a whopping 60% reduction by 2030.

Up until 2050, Australia only has 10.1 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent to play with, which means – as academic and Climate Change Authority member Clive Hamilton has pointed out – we need to be very careful about when we spend it.

In other words, there really is a budget emergency thanks to Labor and it is all about carbon. Or, as Hamilton summarises the Climate Change Authority’s report:

We would have to halve our emissions in 10 years, and even then we would be left with only 14% of our total budget to cover the remaining 20 years.

Failing to achieve these cuts will make Australia, one of the wealthiest per capita countries in the world, a pariah state over climate in the eyes of future generations.

Instead, the current government is obsessing over a financial budget, and declaring a budget emergency in a week where it was up to Clive Palmer to cut through the ideological games:

The issue is that they’re trying to misrepresent the true situation of Australia’s finances so that they can justify a lot of things to give them an ideological advantage over their opponents. But, you know, we’re elected to serve the Australian people in dealing with what the real situation is.

As I said, we’re the third lowest debt country in the OECD; Australia is still one of only 13 countries in the world that has a triple-A credit rating. And if you’re having a debt levy, it should be because you’ve got a debt problem, and there isn’t a debt problem at all with Australia at the moment.

In an economy where the only budget that we should be worrying about is the carbon budget, it is truly terrifying to see that the only political actor making any sense is a coal miner.


Power Failure: The inside story of climate politics under Rudd and Gillard will be launched this Wednesday by Professor Ross Garnaut in Melbourne. It is available for purchase in bookshops and online.

This story first appeared in The Conversation


RN’s Creative Audio Unit – what’s that all about?

By Mia Lindgren

ABC Radio National’s new Creative Audio Unit (CAU) launches on Sunday, with two new shows – Radiotonic and Soundproof– presenting a mix of fiction and non-fiction, essays, radio dramas, soundscapes, composed audio features and radio art.

Associate Professor Mia Lindgren.
Associate Professor Mia Lindgren.

So how does this fit in with the broader context of radio and the medium’s prospects?

The formation of the CAU was announced in 2012 at a time when a number of controversial cuts were being made to arts programming at RN. Its remit is to carve out a new space for creative audio work across genres, media and forms, and in service of this, a large portion of the CAU budget is allocated for commissioning new works from artists, writers, musicians and radiomakers in Australia and internationally.

It will also approach institutions such as museums, festivals, theatres and galleries to further explore the ways in which radio is made and what constitutes material for radio.

Around the world, radio is enjoying a renaissance. Creative forms of radio production, radio features and audio storytelling have become sexy and, unlike some naysayers have claimed, neither video nor new media killed the radio star.

Rather, radio, always the most versatile of media, has reinvented itself to take advantage of what digital technology has to offer. Audio content is no longer ephemeral but can now be accessed, captured, preserved, reshaped and shared with audiences through a variety of platforms.

This reinvention can be illustrated in three ways:

1) The audience is listening more than ever

2) More people want to produce creative radio content

3) The body of academic work in radio studies is growing

Listening more than ever

Audience research shows the listeners are there. The UK’s Radio 4 produced record figures for the last quarter of 2013 with a weekly reach of 11.2 million listeners, up from 10.9 million in the same period in 2012. These are the highest figures since 1999, and lead BBC director of radio Helen Boaden to remark that:

               despite the ever-increasing competition for people’s time and the growing
range of online audio providers, radio is thriving in the digital age.                                          

Audiences are also listening across markets. In Australia, a 2013 Citi Research report states that the commercial radio market is “enjoying renewed interest” with increasing advertising revenue and that the radio industry is in “a period of renaissance”.

More people want to make radio

In an interview last year, Claudia Taranto, Executive Producer for the flagship ABC Radio National documentary program 360Documentaries described how five years ago she received an average of one story proposal a week from freelancers. Now she gets one a day.

Additionally, numerous new podcasts are being created and coming online. In the US, PRX’s new Radiotopia podcast network is described as a “collective of the best story-driven shows on the planet … a new model for audience engagement and revenue growth in public radio”.

The network brings together a range of dynamic, creative podcasts – such as Roman Mars’ 99% InvisibleRadio Diaries, and Benjamin Walker’s Theory of Everything – under one umbrella, and is rapidly expanding the number of podcasts on offer and the audience for creative audio documentaries.

Academic interest

The third sign of radio’s comeback is the marked increase of academic work in the field. The academic journal Australian Journalism Review is dedicating a special issue to radio this year. The first issue of the innovative Australian open-access journal RadioDoc Review was recently published and has been well-received by international scholars and radio practitioners alike.

RadioDoc Review aims to build and sustain a new radio documentary literacy, and will preserve the canon of works it critiques, with metadata at the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia.

Why does radio endure?

Radio scholars have described the radio medium as blind, invisible, ephemeral and conversational – and therefore less mediated than other media. Listening is generally secondary to other activities, and as such radio is often taken for granted, but radio can create an intimacy unparallelled by other media.

But through the dimensions of sound and power of voice, radio creates an intimacy unparallelled by other media. Its ability to remain flexible in form and relevant in topic, coupled with the ease of distribution through technology, ensures it will continue to thrive in a fragmented media environment.

Radio literacy is increasing and audiences are eager to hear more innovative sounds and stories. The establishment of the CAU is the next stage of Radio National’s long legacy and commitment to exploring the possibilities of radio. And importantly, it’s a response to the growing international audience for creative audio content.

Building on its long and illustrious history, the future of radio is exciting, unknown and alive with sound.
This article was co-authored by Miyuki Jokiranta, a presenter and producer with the new Create Audio Unit at ABC Radio National. This  article first appeared in The Conversation.


Students retrace the steps of World War I Diggers

Monash journalism students are retracing the footsteps of Australian soldiers as part of the Herald Sun’s Great War Centenary project.

Interns Robert Moseley, Louise Almeida, Elizabeth Johnson and Jason Walls are researching the Australian stories behind World War I, under the guidance of senior journalist Nick Richardson.

Robert Moseley.
Robert Moseley.

Mr Moseley said the Herald Sun internship had been an exciting experience.

‘We’re trying to pull back the myth and uncover the human stories,” Mr Moseley said.

“Old newspapers, letters, war records and photos from the Australian War Memorial are our main sources of material.”

Mr Moseley contributed to a key story, Diggers bring footy to London, published as an digital interactive special on April 22.

“The story is about a wartime football game played by Australian soldiers in Britain,” he said.

“It’s exciting when all the research and writing finally takes form and you see it published with your name attached.”

Louise Almeida.
Louise Almeida.

Ms Almeida said the Great War Centenary project was a challenging and exciting.

“My time at the Herald Sun allowed me to flourish as a journalist in a professional setting,” she said.

“The hard work paid off – I will never forget the rush that came with seeing my first published article in the paper. The experience was truly exhilarating.”

Ms Johnson said she enjoyed the “taste of real-world” journalism.

“Having a name like the Herald Sun behind me has helped to really find the story and people have been really helpful,” Ms Johnson said.

Elizabeth Johnson.
Elizabeth Johnson.

“I’ve also been given a fair amount of freedom when it comes to angle of the story and finding the right story.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how our trip to Gallipoli and the Western Front will help us with exclusive work at the Herald Sun.”

Mr Walls said the opportunity to work with the resources and know-how of a major metropolitan newspaper on a significant project was an enormous privilege.

“Nick Richardson has worked closely with us all to guide us through the process and draw on his wealth of experience,” Mr Walls said.

“The opportunity to work alongside the guy who edited the text book for one of the units you’re studying while you’re still at uni is pretty special.”

Jason Walls
Jason Walls.

The students will travel to Gallipoli and the Western Front in July to experience the historical significance of World War I.

Professor Bruce Scates, who is the director of the National Centre of Australian Studies, is overseeing the exciting Arts unit in Europe.

Prof Scates has also led several historical tours of the battlefields and commemorative sites of the Great War, including the Premier of Victoria’s Spirit of Anzac.

He is the author/co-author of five titles with Cambridge University Press, including Return to Gallipoli: Walking the Battlefields of the Great War, A New Australia, and Women and the Great War. 


Are we still on the highway to hell?

By Andrea Baker

Dr Andrea Baker.
Dr Andrea Baker.

By the time you read this, AC/DC may have hung up their guitars and school uniforms for the last time. Or they may have announced a new album, to be supported by a sell-out world tour. Such has been the speculation surrounding the band today.

An email sent to Perth radio station 6PR kicked off the retirement rumour frenzy. It continued with an article in The Australian suggesting the rumours weren’t true and that the band had booked six weeks in a Vancouver recording studio in May.

But – if the end really is nigh – what musical legacy will the2003 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees leave? (That’s a trick question; the answer is: an enormous one).

I’ve spoken to several people today about the band, among them Associate Professor Shane Homan of Monash University, who has written extensively about Australian music.

“AC/DC manager Michael Browning’s sustained campaign in the 1970s to break the band in the UK succeeded, where others had spectacularly failed,” he told me. And for that alone, he said, they deserve huge credit.

Clinton Walker, author of Highway to Hell: the Life and Times of AC/DC Legend Bon Scott, held a similar view. “Before AC/DC, Australia never had a rock and roll band which consistently broke the UK, and then the US, market.

“AC/DC paved the way for other Australian bands and famous music exports like Nick Cave to succeed on the world stage.”

Today AC/DC remain one of the highest grossing hard rock bands of all time, having sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, most of them in the United States. Rolling Stone magazine lists the band as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

The potted history of AC/DC will be known to many.

The band was formed in 1973 by Scottish brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, who moved to Sydney as children during the 1960s with their family.

Their older brother George Young was first to learn the guitar and became a member of The Easybeats, one of Australia’s successful bands in the 1960s.

Walker contends that AC/DC’s success during the 1970s (and beyond) was “big brother’s George’s revenge on the music industry”. The Easybeats were an international one-hit wonder with Friday on My Mind – and George was determined to help his younger brothers Malcolm and Angus (and AC/DC) to succeed for a sustainable future, where The Easybeats failed.

George introduced Malcolm and Angus to another Scotsman,Bon Scott (born Ronald Belford) who would later became AC/DC’s iconic lead singer, after founding vocalist Dave Evans left the band in 1974.

Bon Scott was the charismatic, bagpipe-blowing, kilt-wearing front man of AC/DC until his untimely death in 1980 after a massive night on the town.

At that time the band was working on one of its most successful albums, Back in Black, which sold more than 50 million copies worldwide.

Scott was replaced by the English singer Brian Johnson, who stepped in as lead vocalist for Back in Black and has fronted the band ever since.

It would be hard to name many bands who could go through such a major change in personnel and continue their ascendancy, although the revolving door and AC/DC are well acquainted.

The initial AC/DC line-up also included Larry Van Kriedt and Colin Burgess, the former drummer from Masters Apprentices, who was sacked for being drunk. Members Mark Evans, Neil Smith, Ron Carpenter, Russell Coleman, Noel Taylor, Peter Clack, Rob Bailey, Simon Wright and Chris Slade have all come and gone.

The current line-up includes Phil Rudd, Cliff Williams and Brian Johnson – but Malcolm and Angus remain the core.

The band’s name was conjured up after Malcolm and Angus’s sister, Margaret, saw the initials AC/DC – alternative current/direct current electricity – on a sewing machine. Like Young’s characteristic school-uniform attire – also Margaret’s suggestion – it proved an apt idea.

Homan describes the band as “a ferocious live set built upon a great rhythm section, front man and lead guitarist”.

Helen Marcou, co-founder of the music advocacy group Save Live Music Australia (SLAM), told me “they laid down the template for raw rock that has been replicated by generations of musicians.

Marcou and her partner Quincy McLean named their son, Angus, who is also a musician, after the legendary AC/DC guitarist.

“They redefined the simple form of rock ‘n’ roll, stripping it back and giving it to us in its purest form.”

“It was the AC/DC anthem chant Long Way to the Top that helped us [SLAM] rally 20,000 protesters to march on Victorian parliament in defence of live music back in February 2010.”

Walker said the band, nestled somewhere between glam rock, local punk and the heavy metal scene in Melbourne, “cut a huge sway in the 1970s when they started because they were playing simple, direct, down to earth (and funny) hard rock and roll”.

“The critical difference between the punk movement and AC/DC in the late 1970s, and which was why AC/DC was always more successful than the Sex Pistols or The Clash were ever going to be, was that AC/DC was rooted in rhythm and blues, which was the same as The Rolling Stones. You know, Chuck Berry. Little Richard.”

According to Homan, AC/DC were “the clearest example of a working-class band speaking to and for their pub (and stadium) working-class audiences”.

During the 1970s, AC/DC lived together in St Kilda, Melbourne (at that time Australia’s musical heartland) which Malcolm Young later described as “some of the happiest, and craziest, times of their lives”.

Today some of AC/DC’s lineage is still in St Kilda, with Dave Stevens, the son of Bon Scott, owning an independent record store, Pure Pop Records, on Barkley Street.

Of course, 40 years and 17 albums later, the band has left other marks on the city, not least the change of “Corporation Lane” to ACDC lane (but without the slash) in 2004.

Will there be more to come from them? Is this really it? Their legacy seems intact either way.

This story first appeared in The Conversation.



The inside story of a wicked problem

Associate Professor Phil Chubb.

Monash’s Head of Journalism Phil Chubb’s book, Power Failure, will hit bookstores on May 12 and will be launched by eminent economist Professor Ross Garnaut on May 14.

The book’s publisher is Black Inc.

Phil’s work explores the reasons for the successes and failures in climate policy development and analyses the related leadership issues and political strategies of Prime Ministers Rudd and Gillard.

Phil interviewed more than 70 politicians, ministerial staff and public servants and has also been able to get hold of numerous confidential government and ALP documents.

Power Failure (1)Here is a preview from Power Failure’s book cover … 

What should Australia do about climate change? A succession of leaders has tried to answer this question – and come unstuck. Politicians and public servants call it a ‘wicked’ problem – one highly resistant to solution – and many approaches have been developed and discarded by the major parties. Some believe Australia’s dependence on coal makes effective action impossible.

In this book, award-winning journalist Philip Chubb examines the tenacity of fossil-fuel interests and their allies in business, politics and the media when their power is challenged. He reveals and analyses the political strategies of prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard as they tried to overcome the obstacles created by Australia’s carbon-intensive economy.

This is a dramatic study of leadership replete with new revelations. Using more than 75 interviews with key figures (including Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swan, Greg Combet and Penny Wong), freedom-of-information requests and good old-fashioned leaks, Chubb gives a persuasive account of success and failure in climate policy, and of the strategies that leaders must use in future.