Bright futures: collaborative research opportunities through the Monash Arts Faculty

Advance your organisation’s goals and contribute towards your future success by joining with us to advance research excellence in the humanities and social sciences. Recent Australian Research Council (ARC) funding success at the Monash Arts Faculty demonstrates the excellence in collaborative research opportunities supported by our University. 

Research success by the Monash Arts Faculty

The Monash University Arts Faculty is pleased to announce a large number of successful and outstanding Australian Research Council (ARC) funding applications in 2013. As a result of these achievements, Monash Arts researchers have exciting plans to conduct research that will have a major social, cultural, economic and political impact.

ARC funding awarded within Monash Arts includes 10 successful ARC Discovery Projects, 1 Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA), 1 Future Fellowship and 2 Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRAs). Further, with the Monash Arts Faculty as the Administering Organisation (AO), there were an additional 7 grants that were accrued in the recent ARC results.

Up by nearly 20% in it’s overall ARC success rate since the 2011-12 funding round, Monash Arts is now firmly established as a hub of research excellence in the social sciences and humanities.

Research priorities with impact at Monash

Monash Arts is firmly represented within the University’s newly established four research priority areas which aim to bring together academic excellence through cross-disciplinary research collaboration. These areas link Monash to the Australian Government’s Strategic Research Priorities.

Recent Discovery Project ARC wins under each of the four priority areas below demonstrate the success of cross-discipline collaboration at Monash in advancing research excellence. These projects are due to commence in 2014.

Liveable Places and Sustainable Environments engages our researchers in the investigation of issues surround the global challenges of climate change and creating sustainable environments and more liveable cities and communities for future generations.

  • Extratropical Cyclones and their Associated Precipitation:  Understanding, Model Evaluation, and Future ProjectionsDr Jennifer Catto

Understanding Cultures promotes understandings of past, present and future cultural and social forces, and considers new and evolving forms of global citizenship. 

Resilient and Inclusive Societies research promotes resilient and inclusive communities at home and abroad to achieve greater social, mental and physical well being for the community.

Peace Security and Borders research works to advance our understanding of the sources of conflict, violence and harm at local, regional and international levels. 

  • Preventing Mass Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Conflict and Non-Conflict Countries, Prof Jacqui True
  • The Exploitation of unlawful migrant labour : crime, labour and regulationDr Marie Segrave (DECRA)

  • Rethinking the Victim: Gendered Violence in Australian Women’s WritingA/Prof Anne R Brewster (UNSW)

Join in the Monash Arts Faculty collaborative research success

Interested in partnering with us to extend the impact of what we do? 

We are seeking collaborative opportunities from industry, government and community groups who are mutually interested in supporting and contributing to the advancement of research excellence. We understand and support collaboration with stakeholders to strengthen and benefit research impact.  

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Vogel’s Literary Award for PhD candidate Kate Brabon

Earlier this week, Kate Brabon was announced as the winner of the 2016 Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award. Her book, The Memory Artist, is published by Allen and Unwin. We chatted with Kate about how she came to write this award-winning novel and what this means for her as a writer and an aspiring academic.

Kate-BrabonKate Brabon seems genuinely delighted and surprised to have her first literary work recognised by such a prestigious prize. “I’ve always felt very strongly about the story and I’m moved and grateful that the judges saw something in my manuscript and had faith in it. It’s really life-changing,” Kate said. “Yesterday I saw the book in a shop in Sydney for the first time, and it was an incredible moment.”

Kate completed her Masters in History at Oxford, which involved writing an academic dissertation as part of her course. Her work centred on the history of Russian dissidents and what their life was like under Stalinist rule. So why does someone with a history of academic writing feel drawn to a more creative process?

“I’m still asking that question of myself, and think perhaps part of the answer is unanswerable,” Kate told us.

Despite the move across disciplines, historical trauma continued to be an important theme for Kate to explore in her writing, both in the creative component of her PhD and the exegetical component (an exegesis is an academic work that accompanies a creative work in an academic program).

“I wanted a way to represent something that has not happened to me but that affects me in its horror. For my [Masters] dissertation I read oral interviews with people who lived under Stalin’s rule, and I read a lot about the dissidents in the 1960s to early 1990s who fought so hard for truth, information, memory,” Kate explained.

'The Memory Artist' by Kate Brabo
‘The Memory Artist’ by Kate Brabon, published by Allen and Unwin

The Memory Artist takes readers on a journey with its central character, Pasha Ivanov, across the sites of political and artistic struggle in recent Russian history. Pasha’s journey is triggered by the death of his mother, and Gorbachev’s promises of a new era of freedom. The themes of historical trauma reveal themselves through the character, and allowed Kate to explore her Masters research through Pasha’s experiences.

“The fiction I’ve written has all of my research behind it – for both the Masters and now the PhD at Monash – I’m still writing that knowledge, just in a different way.”

Kate explained that moving from academic to creative writing relied on exploring the work of other writers who work on similar themes, including Teju Cole, Varlam Shalamov, WG Sebald and Patrick Modiano. The result is a love for inter-disciplinary, genre-hopping literature that interrogates how we deal with historical trauma.

“The books I have read as part of my studies have been my greatest teachers,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed the process of closely reading works I loved… and learning something of their craft as I did this. They are writers who feel uncertain about words – they are constantly interrogating the notion that we can ever really understand historical trauma, and in their (incredible) attempts at doing so, they are writing works that defy or ignore genre distinctions and are so unique and flexible in their form.”

For Kate, completing her Masters, timed well with the publication of her first short story, meant that she looked for opportunities to combine research with a love of literature.

“I approached Dr Ali Alizadeh, drawn to his work as a poet and novelist interested in similar themes and ideas to me, and he generously agreed to supervise me.” And the writing seemed to come quickly too: “I flew home to Melbourne in August 2013, officially enrolled in September, and began The Memory Artist that month.”

The Memory Artist fits into a practice-based research PhD program, which asks students to produce creative work and an academic thesis side by side.

Supervisor Ali Alizadeh explained that teaching creative writing in a research university provides important training to those who take on the program, providing a space for talented writers to work on their skills in an environment that approached creative writing with the same rigour that scientists might approach their research.

“We see creative writing as a form of research. Every work of literature is an investigation of the world. You could say that Kate’s novel is about memory, or about Russian History,” Ali said, which informs both the philosophy of teaching and supervision that he and Creative Writing colleagues at Monash take on, as well as the understanding of creative writing as research.

Writing as part of a PhD program also gives Kate something she has learned is integral to the writing process: “I’ve learnt that writing needs a lot time and by that I mean in fairly long, uninterrupted stretches. After two hours with my writing, my mind is in a very different situation than it is when I can only glance at the work for few minutes. That kind of slow, measured thinking time is crucial. That’s why the PhD is so valuable for me – I am given that time.”

Being at a university with a creative writing program comes with other perks too, including that of a built-in creative community. “I have a wonderful group of fellow PhD students who are now close friends,” Kate explained. “Writers are often happy to spend large amounts of time by themselves at their desks, but having fellow writers to meet up with regularly… gives you support.”

Monash’s links with the creative writing community in Melbourne also benefited Kate, who did her first public reading at the Emerging Writers’ Festival last year (Monash has a partnership with EWF) at an event organised by Nicholas Brasch at Swinburne which brought together creative writing students across Melbourne. “It was a nice event and a chance to read work to an audience.”

“I’m extremely proud of Kate,” Ali Alizadeh said of his student. “What’s really great about The Memory Artist is that Kate has written a novel that is an important contribution to Australian literature, it’s worldly and international.”

“This is a wonderful endorsement not just of Kate’s outstanding work but also of our Creative Writing program and her supervisors, Ali Alizadeh and Marko Pavlyshyn,” said Rae Frances, Dean of the Faculty of Arts.

And what’s next?

“Another book, I hope. I’ve started the next work, another novel, and am enjoying the slow reading and thinking stage again. I’m working on my exegesis now and hope to finish that in the next few months, after which my PhD will be finished. I’m interested in an academic position as a creative writer – I think novelists have a lot to offer at universities: they can foster a space for new writers to create their work, they bring an interdisciplinary mind to the classroom and I think that innovation is important and timely. Plus their research brings novels and literature into the world, which is of such value in itself.”

Read an extract from The Memory Artist

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The Monash Media Lab: a great place to learn

At the opening of the new Monash Media Lab, Head of School, Associate Professor Mia Lindgren, and TV presenter and Monash academic, Waleed Aly, talk about what makes the new lab so important for students of Media, Film and Journalism.

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State by state, it’s still Malcolm Turnbull’s election to lose

Nick Economou, Monash University

Even though it is not yet official, the 2016 election is all but set for July 2. The election will be a double-dissolution poll on the basis of the Senate’s refusal to pass the government’s bill to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is clearly of the view that an election fought on the matter of union behaviour suits his party’s strategy.

The graphic below shows the marginal seats by state. Three things are immediately apparent:

  • New South Wales has the largest collection of ultra-marginal seats;

  • Tasmania also has a crucial mass of very marginal seats; and

  • the margins on many of these seats tend more towards 2-3% rather than under 1%.

This list shows how difficult it will be for Labor to win the 2016 election.


Labor’s hopes for the 2016 election have been buoyed by indicators of a decline in popular support for the Coalition government and, to a lesser extent, for Turnbull himself.

Soon after ascending to the leadership, opinion polling indicated that Turnbull and his government enjoyed a surge in support. Turnbull probably should have gone to an early election at that point. But, for whatever reason, he decided instead to allow a series of ultimately fruitless “debates” to occur over taxation, wages policy and federal-state financial relations.

These poorly handled debates, and some internal instability instigated by supporters of the deposed leader Tony Abbott, have contributed to the government’s falling popularity.

The decline in the government’s position in the opinion polls, however, has not been so extensive as to constitute a sign of imminent defeat. There has been a swing back to Labor since Turnbull’s ascendancy, and Labor looks like it will improve its position from the last election.

Labor’s rise will be due more to the fact that its defeat in 2013 was so bad that a recovery in its vote and representative numbers was inevitable. Labor could hardly have performed more poorly than it did in 2013. The polls are not indicating anything more than a slight correction on 2013.

This theme is emphasised when the data is broken down by state. Both Newspoll and Ipsos find a recovery in support for Labor in every state, but not to any particularly significant level – with the exception of Western Australia.

The problem for Labor is that Western Australia has few marginal seats. Support for the Liberal and National parties has fallen since the election – but not by much. However, Ipsos finds a dramatic fall in support in Western Australia and South Australia.

More importantly for the Coalition, support in NSW and Queensland remains quite strong. Of the 20 most marginal seats, three are in Queensland and seven are in NSW. The additional seats that Labor would need to win to secure a majority are also in NSW and Queensland. These are the two battleground states in which primary support for the Coalition is much stronger than it is for Labor.

The prospect of an equal outcome in the House of Representatives (a “hung parliament”) can’t be entirely discounted, although traditional political science views equal outcomes in single member electoral district elections with plurality (that is, majoritarian) voting as improbable. In theory, such systems should reward parties winning a majority of the vote an exaggerated majority.

This is the norm in Australian elections. But, as 2010 showed, “hung” parliaments are possible. It is likely that there will be a crossbench after the 2016 election made up of at least one Green (Adman Bandt in Melbourne) and independents Bob Katter (Kennedy), Cathy McGowan (Indi) and possibly Andrew Wilkie (Denison).

This would be a handy enough collection of crossbench MPs. There could be more if Tony Windsor is elected in New England, and if Nick Xenophon’s party upsets traditional voting alignments in South Australia. Both Newspoll and Ipsos have indicated severe weakening of support for the major parties in that state, thus adding another degree of difficulty to the contest.

The swings against the Coalition occurring in the polls are in states with comparatively few seats or, in the case of Victoria, comparatively few marginal government seats. Queensland and NSW are the key battlegrounds and, so far, the polls are indicating that the Coalition vote is holding up.

With the writs for the new election still to be issued and the campaign yet to be in full swing, opinion polls are indicating that the Coalition will be returned with a reduced majority.The Conversation

Nick Economou is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Dr Andy Ruddock launches Youth and Media book in Serbia

Professor Andy Ruddock
Professor Andy Ruddock

Monash University’s senior lecturer in Communications & Media Studies, Dr Andy Ruddock, recently launched the Serbian version of his book, Youth and Media.

Dr Ruddock, who is based at Monash’s Caulfield campus, gave public lectures at the Serbian universities of Novi Sad and Nis to mark the release of the book’s Serbian version. Dr Ruddock delivered a lecture on the theme, youth and media.

Dr Ruddock also spoke at the headquarters of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Novi Pazar, and was keynote speaker at a forum on Youth and Digital Media in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.

His book, Youth and Media, addresses key issues in politics, technology, celebrity, advertising, gender and globalisation.

Clio Publishing Company founder and editor-in-chief, Zoran Hamovic, said the relationship between youth and media was one the most important topics in the contemporary world.

“Media education of young people represents unique and significant challenge for us,” Mr Hamovic said.

“The book Youth and Media is the latest among many that we have published in the book collection called multimedia.

“It is the unique book collection in the south-eastern Europe that gathers foreign and domestic authors in the field of media theory, history and criticism and aims to improve the level of media literacy in Serbia, as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia.”

Mr Hamovic said during the last 20 years, his company’s mission had been to improve the knowledge of media experts, students, teachers and professors, as well as that of journalists and other media professionals.

“The visits of different authors, lectures, debates, seminars, conferences and round tables have all been part of this mission,” Mr Hamovic said.

“Professor Andy Ruddock and his book Youth and Media have offered global media research experience to our readers. College students in Novi Sad and Niš, as well as highschool students in Novi Pazar, have all accepted his lectures with great interest.

“In Belgrade, his opening lecture at the conference Media in Serbia in the Digital Age caused exceptional reactions of Serbian media experts community.

“Besides the invitation to cooperate with the magazine of the Faculty of Political Science, he was also offered to cooperate with other media colleges and experts, which was one of the subjects of our conversation with the Australian Ambassador, her Excellency Julia Feeney.”

Mr Hamovic said all participants of these events found great benefit in Dr Ruddock’s visit, including the employees in Clio Publishing Company, professors and students who attended his lectures, journalists who interviewed him and our partners from the Ministry of Culture and Information and OSCE Mission in Serbia.

According to Sage Publishing,  Dr Ruddock offers a “fascinating introduction to how media define the identities and social imaginations of young people”.

“The result is a systematic guide to how the notion of media influence ‘works’ when daily life compels young people to act out their relationships through media content and technologies,” Sage Publishing writes.

Youth and Media features helpful chapter guides, summaries and lively case studies drawn from a truly global context.

“Youth and Media is an engaging and accessible introduction to how the media shape our lives,” Sage Publishing writes.

The book’s audience includes students of media studies, communication studies and sociology.

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Major new partnership between Monash and Australian Book Review

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Monash University has announced a major new partnership with Australian Book Review (ABR).

This alliance between ABR – one of the country’s leading arts magazines – and the internationally renowned Group of Eight university augurs well for students, scholars, writers and readers. The magazine will be active on campus, leading workshops, commissioning new writers (academics and students), and presenting collaborative events.

Professor Rae Frances, Dean of Arts at Monash University, welcomed the new agreement.

“Monash University is very excited about our partnership with one of Australia’s leading cultural magazines. We share ABR’s commitment to excellence and originality and a belief in the critical importance of the Arts. Together we can provide wonderful opportunities for our staff and students and make a major contribution to the country’s cultural life,” Professor Frances said.

According to Peter Rose, Editor of ABR, the partnership is a terrific development for ABR.

“Many of our goals and creative programs chime with those of the University – an international outlook, an enduring commitment to scholarship, and ideas aplenty. ABR looks forward to a massive injection of new talent and energy from our colleagues at Monash,” Mr Rose said.

Australian Book Review was founded in 1961, the year in which Monash University began to accept students at its Clayton campus. This alliance complements ABR’s close ties with the higher education sector.

‘It makes one feel and realise what a dreadful thing war is’ – a nurse’s story

by Janet Scarfe, Monash University

Five thousand Australian nurses served during the second world war. The most famous of these, Lieutenant Colonel Vivian Bullwinkel, survived a massacre on Bangka Island, and Japanese “hell camps” in Sumatra.

For many other nurses, life in WWII was by turns tedious, perilous and adventurous. Dorothy Janet Campbell was one of the vast majority who survived without capture, imprisonment or fatal illness. Her experiences are caught in her extensive diaries and photographs shared here by her niece Janet Scarfe.

Dorothy Campbell, 1940. Author provided

South Australian Dorothy Campbell (known throughout her life to all as “Puss”) served in the Australian Army Nursing Service from 1940 to 1946, in England during the Blitz, in the Western Desert during the siege of Tobruk, in Papua New Guinea, and in Queensland and South Australia.

She spent many nights in air raid shelters and nursing in a tin hat but she was never directly bombed on land or sea.

Campbell’s diaries and photos record the nurses’ day to day lives, mostly away from the wards. She and her friends took full advantage of their split shifts and days off. There were sherry parties, tennis and golf, and sightseeing.

For all that, Campbell’s “real work” was “looking after our boys”. Long periods of inactivity, such as waiting for hospitals to be set up or weeks at sea became tedious, despite the games and socialising.

Campbell nursed in several hospitals that were state of the art, including the Australian Hospital in Surrey and in the Greek hospital in Alexandria. She also worked in freezing tents in Queensland and grass huts in Buna in Papua New Guinea.

She was devoted to her patients – provided they were genuine. She deplored the “B Class” men she nursed in England in 1940. Deemed unfit for service and awaiting repatriation to Australia, they made difficult patients, malingering, drunk and dismissive of the nurses’ orders. By contrast, the sick and wounded evacuated straight from Tobruk received her complete attention:

How I love to be able to help them, and to listen to their great stories they tell … it makes one feel and realise what a dreadful thing war is …

Occasionally she described cases as “very interesting” or “difficult” but mostly her comments relating to work were “busy”, “very busy” or “dog-tired”. Comparisons between her diary entries and the hospital daily war diary show what an expert in understatement she was.

Campbell was never too tired to sight see. She loved England and Scotland. In Alexandria, she sponged her patients very early one Saturday morning, rushed off duty and caught the train to Cairo with several nurses and officers. They shopped, dined and danced till late, saw the sphinx and pyramids, rode camels and donkeys, had their fortunes told (“damn lot of rot”) then caught a small plane back to Alexandria on Sunday afternoon.

She and the other nurses had a rich social life. In Alexandria, there were sea bathing and sailing, occasional dinners with colonels yearning for some female company, mosques to visit, and customs to marvel at.

The American base near Buna guaranteed a rich social life. She learned to drive a jeep, spent time off socialising with American officers and fell for one who was charming but duplicitous.

Dorothy Campbell (first women on the left) at an American officers’ club, Buna c1943.

Campbell’s diary entries change over the years. Exhaustion and monotony set in as the war ground on. England, Egypt and Papua New Guinea were highlights.

Queensland in 1942-43 and 1945 was dull and she never liked dull. Entries from Townsville in 1945 were brief and largely confined to golf games (nine holes most days between shifts) and the narrow-minded matron. There were few photos. Her exaltation at the news of peace was personal, professional and patriotic. Here are her diary entries for 15th and 16th August 1945:

Wednesday. 15th

Very exciting day PEACE. Every body very excited – Party arranged in Red + Hut for all Hosp. (pts and staff.) – had few drinks in our Mess first, then… went to Sgts Mess – and then to dance, and then on to Officers Mess and spent very bright evening happiest night ever spent in army – felt rather ill and went out for walk…

Thursday Aug 16th [Townsville].

Terriffic [sic] headache., after a few hrs felt better and got busy and arranged party in our Mess – Off [duty] 1–6 – had a little rest and helped to prepare supper… Went off duty 8pm to party, it was one of the best we have had and it kept on until 1 am. every body thoroughly enjoying themselves.

The diaries end abruptly the night before she boarded the train home to Adelaide on 28 November 1945. Her great adventure was over.

Campbell (front right wearing green) in the 1994 Adelaide VP Day Parade. Author provided

She had nursed men with battle wounds and serious illnesses. She knew the anxiety of air raids and long sea voyages. But she also relished all the opportunities that came her way, particularly the friendships, the sightseeing and new experiences.

Campbell remained in the Citizens Military Forces until 1958 and was decorated for her work with the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps.

After her demobilisation, Campbell worked as a radiotherapy technician, one of the first women in South Australia to do so. She remained single, explaining to a small boy in an Anzac Day school talk that she “had loved them all and married none”.

She spoke of her time in the war to her family only in the broadest terms (“When we were away …”). She kept her diaries to herself to the end of her life. But kept them on her bookshelves for easy discovery.The Conversation

Janet Scarfe is an Adjunct research associate at Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Let’s celebrate “this thing called life”

PrinceBy Dr Andrea Baker

“I don’t wanna die.  I’d rather dance my life away”, US music icon Prince sang on his fifth album, 1999.

Today we are celebrating the legacy, the passion and genius of Prince (Rogers Nelson) who passed away suddenly at his home in Paisley Park, Minneapolis (Minnesota).  He was 57.

“I’m gutted, he wrote the sound track of the better part of my teenage years. He is the American Bowie”, said Gretchen Wood, a music researcher from the University of Mississippi.

Bowie’s death on 11 January this year was gut wrenching, but Prince’s passing on 21 April seems surreal.

When the news broke on April 21st at 1.15pm US time that Prince had died, MTV in the US immediately stopped its regular programming and began a marathon of his music videos.

NASA projected images of Purple Rain, the title track of his 1984 album on its website. The album sold more than 13 million copies in the US and stayed No 1 on the Billboard charts for 24 consecutive weeks. In 1984, Prince won an academy award for Best Original Music Score, for the film Purple Rain which was derived from the album. 

He also won a Golden Globe in 2007 for another composition Song of the Heart for the Australian film director’s George Miller’s Hollywood feature animation Happy Feet.

One of the most advanced, multitalented artists this century has seen, Prince was a singer song writer, a multi instrumentalist, dancer, performer, producer and the occasional actor, like his cameo appearance in Wes Anderson’s 2014 comedy film, The Grand Budapest Hotel.   In the pure sense of the word, Prince was an impresario.

Growing up in a musical African American family in the mid west US, his father John Lewis Nelson, was a pianist and song writer and his mother Mattie Della (Shaw) was a jazz singer.  Following the release of his first single, at age 19 For You (1978) the kid from Minneapolis scored a three album recording contract from Warner Brothers, and was given complete creative control, and publishing rights, which was unheard of at the time.   Prince’s swift rise to musical fame helped to create a lasting legacy, the Minneapolis sound, which since the 1970s, has been described as of smart mix mash of rhythms and blues, synthpop, rock, jazz, soul, funk with a dash of hip hop.

Prince became a music superstar with other smash hits such as Little Red Corvette (1983) and continued to  party “like it was 1999″. He disturbed the rock formulae and musical thread with his long mixed genre compositions, but still appealed to the mainstream and the underground.

Winner of seven Grammys, while presenting the Album of the Year in 2015, the radically outspoken Prince said that, “Books still matter, Albums still matter, being Black still matters”.

Influenced by Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix, the unpredictable Prince was majestic on stage, with or without, his extraordinary weeping guitar playing.

His impromptu jam sessions were legendary. Like his last three hour marathon in 2013 at South by South West in Austin (Texas) which some of us were lucky to attend. Held at the last minute at an intimate venue of La Zona Rosa, Prince entertained a few hundred fans until 2am when the police kicked everyone out.

With only two weeks’ notice, Prince’s HitnRun tour in February 2016 played to sell out concerts in Sydney, Melbourne (Australia) and Auckland (New Zealand).    

Serge Thomann, music photographer (and Deputy Mayor, City of Port Phillip) was at the Melbourne concert.

“Even a piano and a microphone seemed superfluous at times in the purple shadow. For me, it was the concert of a lifetime.”

Between  1978 and 2015 Prince composed more than 50 albums and sold over 100 million albums worldwide, making him one of the best selling artists of all time.

Prolific and hyper protective of his work, Prince’s musical legacy lives on in many unreleased compositions which remain locked in a vault at his Minneapolis home. 

Dr Andrea Baker is a senior lecturer in journalism within the School of Journalism and Australian Studies, Faculty of Arts.

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What we know and suspect about the causes of Parkinson’s disease

By Dr Darshini Ayton, Dr Narelle Warren and Dr Scott Ayton

Parkinson’s disease is the second-most-prevalent neurodegenerative condition in Australia, with an estimated 70,000 Australians living with the disease. Because of its complex and debilitating nature, Parkinson’s is a great burden on its sufferers and a great cost to society.

95e778a98d8592287659a77a6af07b9a_nKey motor symptoms include tremors, rigidity and stiffness, slowness or loss of spontaneous movement, and poor balance and co-ordination. Non-motor symptoms can be equally debilitating and include dementia, constipation, pain, sleep disturbance, dizziness when you stand up, and sexual dysfunction. Not all people with Parkinson’s will experience all of these symptoms; there is considerable variability in the severity of symptoms among patients, breadth of symptoms, speed of decline, and responsiveness to therapy.

Currently, there is no cure or drug to slow the underlying disease progression. However, there are now multiple surgical therapies and medicines that can be very effective in managing the motor symptoms of the disease.

There are some known causes of Parkinson’s disease, but these are the exception. The underlying causes of sporadic Parkinson’s are unknown and likely influenced by a number of risk factors – molecular, genetic, behavioural and environmental.

Known risk factors


Advancing age is the biggest risk factor for Parkinson’s disease. However, not everyone who ages develops Parkinson’s (only around 1-2 per cent) and not everyone who has Parkinson’s is of advanced age (approximately 20 per cent of cases begin before age 60).

It is likely ageing increases the vulnerability of the brain to the degeneration seen with Parkinson’s. Fundamental processes of the cell, such as mitochondrial activity (energy production) and protein degradation, fatigue with age and have been identified as factors involved in cell death leading to the symptoms observed in Parkinson’s.

Iron also accumulates in the brain with age, and especially in people with Parkinson’s. Too much iron can cause cell death by oxidative stress – a rusting-type chemical reaction. In fact, rare genetic causes of brain iron elevation often present as Parkinson’s.


Approximately 15 per cent of individuals with Parkinson’s have a family history of the disease, which is one of the greatest risk factors. For most cases, however, the genetic contribution is complex. Familial mutations can cause Parkinson’s and account for around  of cases.

There are 18 chromosomal gene locations that have been named “PARK” (PARK1-18) because of their link to Parkinson’s. However, mutations in only six genes have been unequivocally shown to cause the disease. Scientists are still trying to determine the functions of these genes and how they interact normally compared to in the diseased state.

Variants in other genes have been shown to increase the risk of Parkinson’s, yet not everyone with these variants develops Parkinson’s. This shows the complex genetic and environmental interactions that underlie the disease.


In 1983, a group of injecting drug users injected drugs contaminated with MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetra hydropyridine), resulting in the development of Parkinson’s symptoms. MPTP is a synthetic chemical compound with a similar chemical structure to the herbicide paraquat.

Paraquat and especially MPTP are used routinely in laboratories to induce Parkinson’s in rodents. Rotenone is an organic pesticide that also causes Parkinsonian neurodegeneration in rodents. Historical exposure to pesticides, especially paraquat and rotenone, has been repeatedly associated with increased risk of Parkinson’s in studies throughout the world.

A meta-analysis reported pesticide exposure was associated with increased Parkinson’s risk with an odds ratio of 1.94. This means persistent exposure to pesticides is associated with almost doubling of the risk for Parkinson’s. It must be clarified that this would only increase the risk from 1-2 to 2-4 per cent in those aged over 50.

Paraquat is a widely used herbicide, while the use of rotenone has declined significantly throughout the world. Farming practices have changed dramatically over many years. It is possible that the increased risk of Parkinson’s associated with pesticides reflects the use of these and other chemicals in a time when they were handled less safely.


Manganism is a condition with symptoms that resemble Parkinson’s and is caused by chronic exposure to the metal manganese. Animal experiments have shown that iron exposure in infancy is associated with Parkinsonian neurodegeneration later in life. Epidemiological evidence of exposure to iron and heavy metals is inconclusive (although brain iron has been repeatedly observed in Parkinson’s independent of environmental exposure).

Suspected risk factors

Head trauma

Epidemiological studies linking head injuries to the development of Parkinson’s have been inconsistent, with varying strengths of association reported.

The nature of the head trauma appears to have relevance in determining risk. Injuries causing concussion or loss of consciousness have been more strongly related to Parkinson’s disease.

Many believe chronic brain damage from boxing led to Muhammad Ali developing Parkinson’s. It is not possible, however, to determine that boxing definitely led to the development of Ali’s Parkinson’s.

Protective factors

Some studies have suggested antioxidants, vitamins and smoking may have a small protective effect on the development of Parkinson’s. Caffeine intake has been consistently associated with decreased Parkinson’s risk, particularly for men, and lower Parkinson’s incidence is reported in people who have ever smoked cigarettes.

Most of the studies to date have been case control studies or cross-sectional surveys, which are prone to recall and selection bias. These studies cannot determine causation. More robust epidemiological studies, such as large cohort studies looking at large populations and incidences of the disease, are required to further investigate the causes of Parkinson’s.

The main research challenges are the lack of clear markers of the disease, lack of diagnostic tests, and the later age of onset of the disease. Parkinson’s research requires significant commitment on the part of community members, researchers, community-based stakeholders, the health sector, governments and other funding agencies.

Dr Darshini Ayton works in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, and Dr Narelle Warren works in School of Social Sciences. Dr Scott Ayton works at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.

This article has been published in The Conversation.

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Monash Arts welcomes the first Monash Asylum Seeker Bursary recipient

Ali Khan, a new member of the Monash Arts student family, came to Australia from Afghanistan, via Pakistan. He is a member of the Hazara community, a persecuted minority group in West Asia. This year, Ali took up the Monash Asylum Seeker Bursary and started his Bachelor of Arts at Caulfield.

Ali-Khan-Profile“I didn’t speak much English before coming to Australia,” Ali said about his arrival in Australia at the age of 17.

Ali soon gained language skills and completed Years 11 and 12 at Lynndale High School. He became school captain, and studied hard, getting good VCE grades and a place at Monash Arts.

The first few weeks of university life were a challenge for Ali. “It was a totally new environment, the buildings are new, everything was new…” he explained. However Ali soon settled in with help from a Peer mentor (part of the Monash  PAL mentoring program), and now he looks comfortable and relaxed, and is excited about all the possibilities ahead in his Arts degree.

When asked about his favourite subject this semester, Ali told us that it was easily human rights because it gives him tools to understand rights he wasn’t aware were his.

“I enjoy international relations and politics because usually in our tutorials there are different perspectives on different issues, like immigration. It’s interesting to know what other people think about these issues, and [to know] how my life has been affected by these issues,” he added.

Ultimately Ali hopes to do a double major in International Relations and Criminology, or perhaps Human Rights.

The best thing about studying Arts and being in class? “It’s a place where you can express yourself and learn to communicate effectively, how to make your argument and discuss while sitting with other students,” said Ali.

“Each of us has a different perspectives, so we learn how to communicate and respect each others views,”

And what does the future hold? Ali says that while he isn’t sure what he’ll end up doing just yet, he hopes it’ll be in a role that has good impact on the world about him using his own experiences as a launch-pad.

“It’s about how I can make the world a better place for others,” he said.

The Monash Asylum Seeker Bursary was introduced in 2015, and Ali is one of two recipients.

Undergraduate study at Monash Arts



Explainer: the road to a July 2 double-dissolution election

by Zareh Ghazarian, Monash University

Australia appears set for a double-dissolution federal election on July 2 after the government’s bill to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission failed to pass the Senate – again.

How double dissolutions work

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appears to have built his government’s electoral strategy on contesting a double-dissolution election. Section 57 of the Constitution allows the governor-general to dissolve both the House of Representatives and the Senate and hold fresh elections if the Senate twice rejects a bill.

This, according to Westminster tradition, can only be done if the prime minister advises the governor-general to do so.

If the government is returned after winning the subsequent election (and the houses disagree again on the same bill), a joint sitting of both houses may be held to resolve the matter.

Unlike the House of Representatives, in which all seats are up for election, only half of the 12 senators from each state are up for election at a normal poll. At a double-dissolution election, however, all 12 senators are up for election from each state.

What about the budget?

Despite apparent miscommunication between the prime minister and treasurer, the budget has been brought forward a week to May 3. This is the biggest opportunity for the government to try and set its policy course and demonstrate to the electorate why it deserves another term in office.

Bringing the budget forward will also bring forward the budget reply speech, which is usually delivered by the opposition leader a couple of nights after the budget is handed down.

This speech will present Bill Shorten and Labor with a platform to present themselves as an attractive alternative to the Coalition. It would serve as a campaign launch of sorts. Labor could signal the policies it would pursue if elected to government.

Calling the election

With the budget and reply speech out of the way, the government will be free to call the double dissolution by May 11 and hold the election on July 2.

Doing so will ensure the government reduces the potential complications of backdating Senate terms.

A July 2 double-dissolution election would also mean that the government would have the full three years to govern.

The exodus from Canberra

Having a clearer sense of the election’s timing, MPs will leave Canberra and return to their electorates to embark on the final stage of campaign preparations.

Traditionally, it’s the MPs who hold seats with fine margins (from about 5% and under) who will engage in vigorous campaigning to head off their challengers.

This will be most evident in the shopping centres, cafés, small businesses and a range of community spaces that will be awash with candidates meeting with constituents, hearing their concerns and kissing their babies. Hard-hats and hi-vis jackets will be donned and sleeves will be rolled back. Partisan volunteers will be enlisted. The traditional stuffing of mailboxes with party paraphernalia will ensue.

A challenge for candidates, their staff, the media and commentators will be the length of the campaign. Usually, a federal campaign is around five weeks but this campaign will go beyond seven, if called for July 2 on May 11. With more campaign time comes more potential for gaffes and voter fatigue.

Australia’s 44th parliament may be coming to an end, but there will be plenty of political action before the 45th can start.The Conversation

Zareh Ghazarian is a Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Social Sciences grad Lucie Cadzow heads to Oxford on Clarendon Scholarship

A Monash Social Sciences graduate has won a scholarship to study at the University of Oxford.

Lucie Cadzow (left) with her supervisor, Dr. Remy Davison.
Lucie Cadzow (left) with her supervisor, Dr. Remy Davison.

Lucie Cadzow, an Honours graduate in Politics & International Relations, has been awarded a prestigious Clarendon Scholarship to study a M.Phil, leading to D.Phil research at Oxford.

Clarendon Scholarships are awarded to academically excellent students with the best proven and future potential. They provide a stipend, as well as covering tuition and college fees over four years.

“This is an amazing opportunity,” Lucie said. “It’s a privilege to be chosen for such a competitive program.”

“Lucie’s success demonstrates that Monash produces world-class graduates,” said Dr Remy Davison, Jean Monnet Chair in Politics and Economics, and Lucie’s Honours supervisor. “Our highest-achieving students, like Lucie, gain admission to the most prestigious graduate programs in the world.”

Lucie plans to conduct research in the field of international political economy, with particular emphasis upon the politics of international taxation treaties.

In 2014-15, Lucie won a Faculty of Arts publication award for her Honours thesis. She also won the 21st Contemporary European Studies Association of Australia (CESAA) essay prize in 2014. Her award-winning paper was published in the Australia and New Zealand Journal of European Studies in 2015. She is currently Head Tutor in Foreign Policy Analysis.

Lucie will take up her scholarship at Oxford in 2016.

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Rediscovering Victorian war correspondents at State Library Vic

Alan Moorehead by Ida Kar, c1950s, National Portrait Gallery, UK. Source: SLV website
Alan Moorehead by Ida Kar, c1950s, National Portrait Gallery, UK. Source: SLV website

School of Media Film and Journalism academic, Associate Prof Fay Anderson, will join other historians in a panel discussion on Victoria’s war correspondents, from the Bower War, to Vietnam and beyond.

The panel will explore how Australians have long relied on war correspondents to being home reports from the front line, including well-known correspondent Alan Moorehead. 

The lives and experiences of war correspondents is also explored in the State Library Victoria’s Media Legends display. Mark Baker, CEO of the Melbourne Press Club (which partnered with SLV to bring the display to life) will also speak at the event. Media Legends is on until the 31st of October.

Panel Discussion

Date/Time: 21 April 2016, 6:00 – 7:30 pm

Location: VIllage Roadshow Theatrette

Bookings: Bookings are required and can be made on the State Library Victoria website.



Criminology Public Panel: New and Persistent Challenges in Sexual Violence

On Wednesday 6 April 2016, the Monash Criminological Horizons Annual Public Lecture was held at the Village Roadshow Theatrette, Victoria State Library before a packed crowd of 200 researchers, students, members of various academic institutions, legal practitioners, police, government department representatives and victim advocacy and support workers. The anticipation surrounding this year’s panel – Sexual Violence: New and Persistent Challenges – was demonstrated by the event (which is free, but subject to limited seating) ‘selling out’ in the days leading up to it.

Criminological HorizensThe panel, facilitated by the thought-provoking and always entertaining, TV and radio broadcaster, and social connector and satirist, Libbi Gorr, brought together a panel of leading sexual violence and gender researchers, support advocates and practitioners, to reflect on the new and persistent challenges inherent to sexual violence and exploitation in a contemporary, technology-facilitated world.

The event, organised by Monash Criminology’s Dr Asher Flynn, dealt with the topics of ‘revenge pornography’ (the non-consensual distribution of intimate and sexual images); online justice forums for victim-survivors of sexual violence; sexual harassment in the workplace; challenges in investigating and prosecuting sexual violence offences; confronting the myths of sexual violence that persist within the community; and restorative justice processes for sexual violence victims.

Following a brief welcome from Dr Asher Flynn and Libbi Gorr, the event commenced with a keynote presentation from Dr Nicola Henry (La Trobe University) who offered an engaging, succinct and thought-provoking insight into the five main persistent challenges surrounding the non-consensual distribution of intimate images (‘revenge pornography’). In particular, Dr Henry emphasised the need for further research in this area to inform any types of responses introduced – whether they be in the form of education, legislation or increased resources (or hopefully a combination of all of these). RMIT University’s Dr Anastasia Powell then moved the discussion onto the potential benefits of technology and online justice forums as a way of redressing the limitations of the criminal justice system, which so often fails to provide any sense of justice to victim-survivors. Overviewing the divergent justice needs of victim-survivors, Dr Powell demonstrated how online justice forums can provide a way for victims to share their experiences, gain support and contribute to reducing the likelihood of others experiencing harms; outcomes often at odds with the traditional prosecution process.


The next keynote speaker, Kelly Thomas (Legal Associate, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers), drew on her experiences representing victims of workplace sexual harassment to demonstrate the seriousness of this issue and the harrowing ordeals women go through from the many varying forms of sexual harassment; an experience no industry or organisation is exempt from.

Using case studies, Ms Thomas highlighted the many challenges and traumas victims face, particularly in relation to shame and stigma, but also showed some of the positive changes emerging more recently in response to legal challenges and the actions of some very brave women.

Following this, and presenting a very real account of sexual violence investigations and prosecutions, Victoria Police’s Patrick Tidmarsh used a series of case studies to highlight the persistent challenges victims face in the legal process revolving around blame – whether that is blame being attributed to them for what happened to them; blame for not responding in the way society ‘wants’ them to respond; or blame for not remembering every minor detail accurately.

Drawing on the Whole Story Investigation Framework, Mr Tidmarsh highlighted the importance of society and criminal justice authorities shifting their focus from the victim, to instead, always being on the perpetrator, their actions and their harmful behaviour. The final keynote was presented by the South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault’s (SECASA) Carolyn Worth who discussed the emergence of the current SECASA restorative justice trial project in Victoria. In demonstrating the positives and challenges of this trial, Ms Worth emphasised the importance of restorative justice processes remaining victim-driven and independent of the criminal justice process, if they are to retain any sense of justice for victim-survivors.

An insightful, rousing and sometimes challenging question time followed the presentations, as the audience reflected on the key issues identified and queried how we can best respond and prevent the significant harms caused by sexual violence and address ongoing, misguided social attitudes towards those experiencing these harms. The poignant and compelling comments of Dr Powell in response to these queries was followed by momentous audience applause, as she highlighted the importance of ‘addressing the myths, stereotypes and treatment of women in our own backyard’ as the first step in responding to sexual violence and exploitation in our community.

The Monash Criminological Horizons Public Lecture series, hosted annually by Monash Criminology (School of Social Sciences, Monash University) was created to showcase leading international thinkers within criminology whose work contributes to a more just and inclusive future. Keep posted for information on next year’s event.

To follow the tweets and other comments from the event, search for #crimhorizons on Twitter, or check out any of the following handles: @AsherFlynn, @Dr_AnastasiaP, @kelsytomo or @n_henry.

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New Report on Restrictive and Coercive Interventions in Disability and Mental Health Care

Monash criminologist, Dr Claire Spivakovsky has released a short Reportdetailing findings from a state-wide consultation into the current landscape of research, policy and practice in disability and mental health care. The Report is based on a number of interviews Claire recently conducted with key stakeholders in policy, service provision, advocacy and practice-based research across the disability, mental health, aged care and justice sectors of Victoria, Australia.

The report brings to light a number of concerns surrounding current approaches to people with complex needs and/or ‘challenging behaviour’ who receive services in and across the disability, mental health, aged care and justice sectors. It also shares some of the key challenges facing service providers as they negotiate the move towards the new, competitive, and market-driven approach of the NDIS.  

Click here to read the full Report.

Claire has previously written a number of articles and papers exploring the ways that people with cognitive impairments and/or mental illness become subjected to restrictive and coercive interventions in disability and mental health care (for Claire’s full publication list, click here).

In September 2016 Claire, along with co-investigators Professor Wayne Hall (UQ), Dr Kate Seear (Monash) and Dr Adrian Carter (Monash) will host an Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia funded workshop on Intervention, prevention and punishment: Authenticity and capacity in mandated treatment, which will bring together academics, practitioners and policymakers to identify and explore the rationales used to support a range of mandated medico-legal interventions such as involuntary detention, compulsory treatment and mandated alcohol rehabilitation.

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Homicide, Gender and Responsibility Edited Collection published

Kate front cover imageMonash criminologists Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon and Professor Sandra Walklate have edited a new book examining the relationship between homicide, gender and responsibility.

Homicide, Gender and Responsibility: An International Perspective brings together a range of leading international  criminology and legal scholars to provide a unique contribution to the academic and policy engagement with the crime of homicide. Recognising that the crime of homicide has long animated academic debate, community concern and political attention, the editors propose that notions of gender, responsibility and justice are pivotal in understanding and responding to the continuum of lethal violence. The book builds on existing scholarship in this area by examining the relationship between homicide, gender and responsibility not only in the context of the ‘private’ world of domestic murder but also in the more ‘public’ world of the state, the corporation, war, and genocide.

As well as chapters from Kate and Sandra, the collection also includes a co-authored chapter from Monash criminology doctoral graduate Associate Professor Alison Gerard examining deaths in custody in Australia’s offshore detention centres.

Professor Rosemary Gartner (University of Toronto) describes the book as ‘impressive, informative and imperative’ and notes that it ‘reveal[s] how our understandings of lethal violence shape constructions of gender and criminal responsibility’. The book will be of interest to students, scholars and policymakers working in criminology and socio-legal studies.

 Homicide, Gender and Responsibility has been published by Routledge as part of their Routledge Studies in Crime and Society series. More information about the book is available here.

Kate and Sandra are both members of the Monash family violence focus research group. Click here for more information on family violence research currently being undertaken at Monash Arts.

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Place and Character: Monash Prize judge Mridula Chakraborty on what she loves to see in new literature

We recently chatted to Monash Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing judge (and Monash academic) Mridula Chakraborty about what she loves to see in literature, her current reads and what she’s working on at the moment.

The Monash Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing is run in collaboration with the Emerging Writers’ Festival. The 2016 prize is open until April 18th and open to undergraduate and honours students in Australia and New Zealand. 

What makes a good piece of creative writing?

It’s writing that makes me sit up and take a look at contemporary Australia in a fresh way. I think when outsiders, or even Australians, think about Australian literature, they have an idea about a sort of static or even empty space. But actually there’s so much exciting new writing happening, and it reflects all of Australia in its diversity, whether it’s writing from small student groups who come together, or about migrants coming to Australia, or Indigenous writing. It really interests me to see what emerges in the literary space which many people would think was static.

Authors with Literary Commons project organiser Mridula Chakraborty in Melbourne
Writers with Literary Commons project organiser Mridula Chakraborty in Melbourne

What do you look for in a story, what grabs your eye?

I have to say great characters always make a difference to me. The character that has a story to tell. The character could be the most boring person imaginable, but the writer can make the human being come alive. I like writing that makes me think about what makes human beings tick, what makes them do this or that, that really interests me. I also like reading about it in ways that are unpredictable. The writing doesn’t have to be flamboyant or spectacular, it’s just the everyday quotidian life of flawed human nature that really grabs me.

What are you reading at the moment?

I always have books on the go, I’ve got three or four things on the go at the moment. Something I’m reading at the moment I picked up at the department table, where people put things out for others to pick up.* This is a 1966 issue of London Magazine, a journal, that’s kind of an insight into what happens in literary spaces, how a physical place itself can become a literary corpus. When I think about that environment of 1960s London and then I think about what’s happening in Melbourne at the moment, it’s really wonderful to see how place creates stories. What I said earlier about having great characters, I think great characters are also formed by the place they are in.

I recently read Ellen van Neerven’s Heat and Light – she’s an Indigenous writer based in Brisbane and the debut novel was shortlisted for the Stella Prize in 2015. It’s a wonderful story about what Australia might look like 50 years into the future. It’s really interesting speculative fiction. It’s a vision into the future of what’s possible.

I’m also reading Indian Nocturne by the Italian writer, Antonio Tabucchi, and published by Canongate. It’s a travel narrative but also a narrative about insomnia. It’s interesting to see how a writer uses such restraint in description in the face of such an excess of spectacularity that India offers – it appears as though the narrator is trying to tell you about the places he is travelling to but you get to know everything about the interiority of the character, about the person telling you the story, through the story-telling. That always interests me – how much you get to know the protagonist from what they’re saying.

Literary Commons participants in Melbourne
Literary Commons participants in Melbourne

Do you see any trends in writing currently that you really like?

We live in a globalised world and there’s so much mobility. If you think of a place like Australia, because it’s one of the oldest places in the world, and one of the youngest. That juxtaposition, to me is very interesting, that meeting point of old Australia and new Australia.

I think writing about how people move in between spaces, how mobility affects them, whether it is from country to city, from rural to urban, transnational and transcultural: all that movement transformed into the literary space, through the prism of experience and the leap of imagination is really wonderful and provokes thought.

For example when I read Nunga poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s Ruby Moonlight, a verse novel about the massacres that happened in NSW on Indigenous People by colonisers, it evoked place in all its horror and trauma. You can be in Melbourne, and be surrounded by its splendid architecture, and then you think about country in NSW, and the picture that evokes.

It really interests me how place gets narrated through people’s lives, through their narratives and through people’s description.

There’s another book I finished recently by Michael Mohammed Ahmad called The Tribe, about a Lebanese family in Annandale. There’s one wonderful scene in it where the narrator is at a cousin’s wedding with all his relatives, and you could almost feel the pounding excitement of the wedding, and this is where the narrator manages to evoke place with sound. Even though this was a very personal story about family history, it brings another Australia alive in a unusual way.

What are you working on at the moment?

One project I’m working on at the moment is Literary Commons! – it brings Indigenous writers of India and Australia together through their story-telling. It also brings together writing in different languages. In 2014, I took 10 Indigenous Australian writers to India to participate in literary festivals and translation workshops. This year, (during the first week of April), 10 Dalit and tribal writers came from India to Melbourne to again have an exchange of their ideas and literature.

Apart from this I’ve been working on something called Literary Habitats, it’s a project that’s part of the Monash-Warwick Alliance and it looks at how literature is created in different settings. It compares two locations, one is Melbourne and one is in the Warwick area, around Coventry – it looks at these two sites as cities of literature, and what makes a place into a city of literature. How do people imagine themselves as literary? Is it because of a large reading audience, or a lot of writing happening? That would suggest that publishing and literary festivals come together to make that happen. Literary Habitats goes into understanding what makes an environment for literature possible.

*Editor’s note: tables like this can be found outside departments at universities sometimes, and are often a goldmine of long lost publications, magazines and other interesting writing.

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Monash’s School of Music hosts the inaugural chair in Indian Studies

The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music has been honoured with hosting the inaugural chair in Indian Studies at Monash University. This prestigious chair was established by the Indian Government through its cultural body, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in partnership with the Faculty of Arts. We are really pleased to announce that the inaugural chair will be in the School of Music.

The ICCR has selected Mumbai based Dr Aneesh Pradhan for this position and he will be with us for all of the second semester. Dr Pradhan is an artist of the highest calibre, highly respected performer, composer, historical researcher, author and teacher. We are very lucky that he will be sharing his enormous store of knowledge and performance expertise with undergraduate and graduate students in the School from July to November, 2016. He will also be giving a number of major public performances and research seminars during his visit.

A little about Dr Aneesh Pradhan
Dr Pradhan is one of India’s most respected and revered tabla players in India. A disciple of Pandit Nikhil Ghosh, he inherited a considerable repertoire of traditional tabla solo compositions from the Delhi, Ajrada, Lucknow, Farrukhabad and Punjab gharanas. Recognised by both the cognoscenti and the lay listener as the consummate soloist and accompanist, Aneesh Pradhan is the recipient of several prestigious national awards and prizes in India. At the same time he is widely recognised and in demand around the world, with performances in the Albert Hall London to Sydney Opera House. He has also recorded prolifically for national and international record labels accompanying a host of vocalists and instrumentalists. 

Apart from his work with art music, Aneesh Pradhan is also a frequent participant in cross-cultural musical collaborations both in the capacity of performer and composer. Drawn equally towards melody and rhythm, Aneesh’s compositions range from pieces composed for tabla solo repertoire, traditional vocal and instrumental forms of Hindustani music, films, music dramas, documentaries and stage productions for film, television, theatre and dance projects. Aneesh has worked extensively with many leading international ensembles as a performer and composer including the Japan-based Asian Fantasy Orchestra and the Ensemble Modern, Frankfurt. 

As a scholar he has a doctoral degree in History from the University of Mumbai. He has been a keen researcher of trends in performance, music education and patronage that unfolded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a period that continues to fascinate him for its direct relation to and reason for the musical situation he finds himself in. His articles on music published regularly in newspapers, journals and other publications in India and abroad are highly anticipated and widely circulated around the world. He is the author of four books including the highly regarded authorative text Hindustani Music in Colonial Bombay. He has also directed and produced a short film entitled Pratidhvani: Reverberations of the Nanasaheb Panse Pakhawaj Tradition.

Dr Pradhan is the Director of Underscore Records Pvt. Ltd, an independent artist run online record label that he established with vocalist Shubha Mudgal.  He also co-curates with Shubha Mudgal, an international music festival called Baajaa Gaajaa: Music from 21st Century India.

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Monash Media Lab Launch Social Media Round-Up

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A grim future for Arrium, Ford and Queensland Nickel workers?

by Sally Weller, Monash University

The OECD report Back to Work Australia makes some grim predictions for workers who lose their jobs. That is the potential threat facing some 7,000 Arrium employees, those at Queensland Nickel and Caterpillar in Tasmania, and next year, workers in Ford’s plants in Geelong and Broadmeadows, Victoria.

The report was released just before the announcement that mining and materials company Arrium is going into voluntary administration. The company operates the Whyalla Steelworks in South Australia, a state hit hard by the closure of Holden’s vehicle manufacturing plant.

The OECD report says Australia faces a high incidence of job loss due to plant downsizing or closure (at 2.3% of the workforce per year). Based on analysis of data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, the OECD suggests that 30% of those who lost their jobs in recent years were still unemployed after 12 months and another third had moved into to less well-paid and less secure employment.

Surprisingly the OECD sees this as suggesting Australia’s “flexible” labour markets are “rather successful at providing new jobs relatively quickly”. However, HILDA data is unlikely to capture the outcomes of workers in concentrated large-scale closures, so this may underestimate the magnitude of the problem.

The OECD also notes that Australia’s spending on labour market programs is weak by international standards, at a modest 0.01% of GDP (compared to say Denmark’s at 0.98%). It finds that social stigma makes job seekers unwilling to access employment services, that the jobactive framework discourages training and that the payment system to providers rewards short-term placements that lead to labour market churning.

The report questions the utility of targeted labour adjustment programs such as the Structural Adjustment Fund that assisted South Australia’s Mitsubishi workforce in 2004. After reviewing these programs the OECD concludes that in Australia labour adjustment programs:

“coverage is arguably inequitable and potentially wasteful as it provides automatic access to employment services to all displaced workers in a particular sector or region, irrespective of whether the worker needs help, while excluding other displaced workers who have an equal or greater need for such services merely because they were employed in different sectors or regions.”

The OECD recommends that Australia move away from targeted assistance programs for large-scale closures towards a universal approach covering all sectors of the economy, with the intensity of intervention “varying according to the workers’ needs”.

This recommendation underplays the benefits of targeted labour adjustment assistance. If a plant closure releases hundreds or thousands of workers with similar skills into a small local labour market, the competition for work is concentrated and intense. Many workers will be forced to accept jobs in new occupations – often with a loss of pay, seniority and skill. Some will have to retrain or relocate to places where there are more opportunities.

Relocation is not an option for everyone. Programs need to be targeted to local circumstances.

If job losses eventuate in isolated Whyalla, there will a greater demand for relocation assistance than, say, for Ford workers in Geelong, where workers can potentially access the greater Melbourne labour market. In addition, local labour adjustment programs make it possible for local organisations to contribute to revitalisation efforts.

Payments are made to people undertaking retraining help to maintain the demand for services in affected regional economies. Targeted assistance is not wasteful because the workers who do not need assistance do not access assistance.

There are economy-wide benefits from labour adjustment programs. Less skilled workers tend to search for work in their local area, while highly skilled workers might look to national or global opportunities.

How successful their search is depends on individual skills and attributes, household responsibilities, and the play of wider processes of labour supply and demand. Because there are so few suitable job opportunities for them, the workers whose careers are most damaged by large-scale closures are likely to be highly skilled and specialised workers with long tenure with one employer. The value of these workers’ skills to the economy warrants investment in preserving their skill base.

The OECD recommends establishing local pilot schemes for intensive employment services, increasing employers’ responsibilities in retrenchment by demanding longer notice periods and mandatory Centrelink notification, and instituting policies that encourage firms to limit dismissals during temporary downturns. It also advocates better research follow-up of retrenched workers’ outcomes.

These are all positive steps. Sadly, however, the OECD does not suggest offering employer incentives to stimulate demand for the labour of retrenched and other jobless workers.The Conversation

Sally Weller is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Millennials v baby boomers: a battle we could have done without

By Steven Roberts, Monash University and Kim Allen, University of Leeds

The generation of young people who came of age during the new millennium – “millennials”, as they’re commonly known – has divided opinion like no other. Some have deemed them a self-pitying and entitled bunch; lazy, deluded and narcissistic. Others take a more sympathetic view, raising concerns that millennials are at risk of becoming a “lost generation”. After all, they are making the transition into adulthood under much more precarious circumstances than their parents experienced as part of the “baby boomers” generation.

The challenges millennials face include the rising costs of education; an increased likelihood of unemployment and underemployment – even for a growing number of graduates – and falling incomes even when they are employed. For millennials, home ownership is an increasingly distant prospect, and private rents are soaring. To top it all off, young people have been hit particularly hard by benefit sanctions and cuts to public sector funding.

Since the global financial crisis, the supposed plight of the millennials has given rise to the argument that inequality is an age-related issue: young people are disadvantaged, while baby boomers collectively prosper at their expense. This idea is exemplified by the Guardian’s recent series on millennials, and perpetuated by other outlets. With austerity and weak economic growth ensuring that the opportunities for younger people are comparatively diminished, even academics are raising “the issue of youth-as-class”.

Facing the changes

We don’t deny that the experience of being young has changed significantly. But this notion of a single millennial experience deserves some serious questioning. While young people are encountering changes – and often challenges – in terms of employment, education and housing, they do not all experience this hostile landscape in the same way.

By talking about “the millennials” as a disadvantaged group, we’re in danger of obscuring other, more fundamental differences between young people. For example, class background is still a particularly important determinant of a young person’s life chances. Our own research – as well as the work of many others – demonstrates the importance of parental support for young people transitioning into adulthood.

Having a room in the family home or access to other family finances is key to undertaking unpaid internships or volunteer work. A monthly allowance from your folks while at university facilitates access to important CV building activities, which top graduate employers seek from applicants. It ensures that during your exams you don’t have to carry on looking for a job, and it helps you to avoid the choice between eating or heating.

Gifting or loaning deposits for a rented or purchased home is still a middle-class practice. There are many other ways that parents can, and do, use their resources to help their children onto the property ladder.

Class struggle

So, while middle-class young people are clearly facing difficulties during their transition to independence, they are also more likely to have access to resources that are unavailable to their less-advantaged peers, which help to reduce risks and protect them from uncertainties. These resources help young people to “weather the storm” and influence who survives and prospers in the current conditions.

Let us recall some other significant class-based advantages: higher education remains very stratified, and those attending elite research-intensive institutions are disproportionately middle class. Children of middle-class parents earn more than peers of working class origins, even when they obtain employment in top jobs. And while baby-boomers may be holding onto the housing stock for now, the children of the property-owning middle classes will one day inherit it.

As well as class, research has long shown how gender, race, disability and a host of other factors work to shape a person’s future. More recent evidence suggests that the financial crisis and subsequent austerity have had a particularly disproportionate effect on women, certain black and minority ethnic groups and the disabled.

What’s more, proclaiming an inter-generational war unhelpfully clouds the fact that the prospects for certain groups of older people are just as bad – if not worse – than for many young people. Despite the dominant media image of the resource-rich retiree, many older people do not have comfortable pensions, homes or savings to fall back on. And as the state withdraws funding for public services such as social care, older women have been forced to step in and undertake unpaid labour by caring for elderly family members.

Declarations of inter-generational conflict between baby boomers and millennials might grab headlines. But the real story is the same as it ever was; that our society is plagued by long-standing, ongoing inequalities relating to class, race and gender. The portrayal of millennials as victims has allowed the experience of the squeezed middle class to take centre stage. Now, it’s up to us to question who’s really at a disadvantage in our society – and how we can make life fairer for all.The Conversation

Steven Roberts is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Monash University and Kim Allen is a University Academic Fellow – Sociology at the University of Leeds.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Monash Philosophy alumni at Oxford


A big deal: Global Studies students at Womensphere Conference, New York

Monash students in Central Park, NY
Monash Bachelor of Global Studies students Constanza Núñez Malebrán and Jessica Kensey

Monash Bachelor of Global Studies students, Jessica Kensey and Constanza Núñez Malebrán, were excited when they knew they would be travelling to New York in early March 2016 for the Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit, but nothing prepared them for how friendly it would be, and how the spirit of positive thinking would give them new energy to pursue their studies and ideas.

The Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit (World Trade Centre, March 3-5, 2016) seeks to empower “the next generation of women leaders and innovators” and “to advance women in leadership and innovation, to envision solutions to humanity’s greatest challenges, and to collaborate in creating the future.”

For the two Monash students it was a first to be mixing with a group of such high profile business leaders, politicians, entrepreneurs, academics, philanthropists, artists and musicians – but they soon felt welcome.

Constanza describing the atmosphere as ‘homely’. “It wasn’t that type of conference where the speakers only go to make their speeches”, said Constanza, “You could even have lunch with them afterwards, and they were very open to new ideas and perspectives.”

Jessica agreed, “Someone would just come and sit with you and start talking, and after a while you realise they are someone who was a big deal. I just loved the smart, amazing woman who we got to hang out with!“

Womensphere delegates
Womensphere delegates

Jessica and Constanza were inspired by the ‘get up and go’ of speakers who talked about the importance of not waiting for change, and of having the courage to go ahead and create it for yourself and others.

Jessica explained “One of the speakers told us she introduced herself to the CEO of a major consulting firm and said ‘look, I want to do this job, but you don’t have it yet, so I’ve created the job description for you’ … and they gave her the job!”

The second day of the summit there was focused on leadership and innovation, and Cindy Pace, Global Leadership & Diversity Leader at Metlife, talked about the four pillars of success: what you are rooted in; what the world needs; what you can get paid for; and what you are good at.

Jessica found this particularly interesting because she realised that in the past she had a tendency to think that if she was doing good work, then it probably meant she wouldn’t get paid for it. She can now feel her thinking change towards expecting to be able to do both.

“I can see now that I can create new possibilities for myself, and that I will have the skills through my studies to see a need and work out how to fix it,” said Jessica.

Constanza Malebrán and Jessica Kensey at the Womenshpere Summit
Jessica Kensey and Constanza Núñez Malebrán at the Womensphere Summit

One of Constanza’s favourite speakers was Jacques-Philippe Piverger, co-founder of MPOWERD Inc, and one of the few men at the summit. Piverger used the analogy of the way the world works being like a bird, one wing corresponding to women and the other to men, so for the bird to fly properly, both wings need to be working, together.

“It made me think that gender equality is not just women’s business, it’s everyone’s and that we have reached  a time in where we need to include men to the conversation, and having summits and organizations like Womensphere it’s a great place to start,” said Constanza.

Jessica Kensey in Times Square.
Jessica Kensey in Times Square.

Jessica and Constanza also found time for some sight-seeing in New York, visiting Central Park, Times Square and the Rockefeller Centre, and it even snowed whilst they were there, to the delight of both students.

Jessica and Constanza will share their experiences and insights in the form of a presentation to their fellow Bachelor of Global Studies students.

Jessica and Constanza attended the Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit with some financial assistance from the Faculty of Arts.

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In conversation with Elie Villeda Orozco, MEMs international student


Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence Report

Royal Commission calls for complete overhaul of Victoria’s family violence services and responses

Monash Criminologist Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon has published an article on The Conversationproviding an overview of the Report and Recommendations released today by the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. The Commission’s Report contained 227 recommendations to transform the family violence system in Victoria.

Kate’s article provides an overview of the key recommendations made by the Commission as well as the important funding considerations that arise in the immediate wake of the Report. Kate attended the Press Conference this morning and heard initial responses from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty as well as a speech given by Commissioner Marcia Neave.

Click here to read the full piece in The Conversation.

Dr Fitz-Gibbon has written previously about the Royal Commission for The Conversation, including an article analysing the key themes emerging from submissions provided to the Commission and an earlier article examining the nature and scope of the Royal Commission.

Dr Fitz-Gibbon’s 2015 book, Homicide Law Reform in Victoria: Retrospect and Prospects, co-edited with Monash Emeritus Professor Arie Freiberg, is cited in the Report as providing ‘a comprehensive examination of the Victorian experience of homicide law reform’.

For more information on family violence research currently being undertaken at Monash University please visit our Gender and Family Violence Research Page.

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‘Silent victims’: royal commission recommends better protections for child victims of family violence

By Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Monash University and Wendy O’Brien, Deakin University

Among the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence’s most important recommendations is the powerful acknowledgement that family violence has devastating effects on children. Commissioner Marcia Neave described children as the “silent victims” of family violence.

This important emphasis has been a long time coming.

The commission noted that children have conventionally been overlooked as victims of family violence. This is the legacy of limited or incomplete data-gathering, siloed responses, and complicated referral processes. The result is children enduring harm without the specialised supports to help them cope with the trauma of family violence.

Witnessing violence is experiencing violence

There are myriad ways in which children experience violence in family settings. Children may endure violence directly, or witness violence perpetrated on others. Both scenarios result in severe adverse effects for children in the short and long term.

The impacts that family violence has on children have been broadly acknowledged at the national level. Yet the commission’s suite of recommendations about service responses for child victims of family violence are welcome. They are a highly practical mechanism for ensuring that children’s well-being is a central consideration in reforming Victoria’s family violence services.

Central to the commission’s recommendations is the provision of priority funding to increase specialised therapeutic counselling for children affected by family violence.

Other practical recommendations to ensure child victims are no longer overlooked include:

  • incorporating child-specific indicators into risk-assessment processes;

  • increasing family violence training; and

  • strengthening protocols for child protection workers to ensure appropriate referrals for children and young people.

Multiple recommendations are made to improve children’s immediate safety needs. These include improved access to suitable crisis accommodation for women and children, complete with the specialised consultations necessary to support children.

Legislative changes are also recommended, including amendments to allow for the inclusion of children on family violence intervention orders.

The commission’s approach of mainstreaming children’s well-being throughout all recommendations enhances its child-specific recommendations. The establishment of support and safety hubs, for example, would ensure intake teams include staff trained in children’s services and that, where possible, services necessary for children are co-located.

This approach lays the foundation for the multi-sectoral cultural change that is required to ensure children’s needs are considered as a matter of course.

Adolescents who use family violence

The commission’s report also examined the system’s adequacy in preventing and responding to children and young people who perpetrate family violence.

The report found that one in ten family violence incidents reported to Victoria Police in the last five years were perpetrated by a person under 19 years of age.

Where these behaviours occur, specialised response is required to divert young people from the criminal justice system, and to provide the therapeutic support necessary for behavioural change. The report recognised that, at present, there are:

… no systemic responses to the needs of these young people and their families.

The recommendations included:

  • extending therapeutic treatment orders to children aged 15-17 years;

  • trialling Youth Justice Group Conferencing with Adolescent Family Violence Programs;

  • establishing family violence application and respondent worker positions at the Children’s Court; and

  • providing support accommodation for young people with violent behaviours.

Cultural change

The commission reinforced the importance of respectful relationship education as a key measure for preventing future violence. This is of critical importance for young people who are victims and/or perpetrators of family violence.

The commission reported that between 2009-10 and 2013-14, children were present at roughly 35% of family violence incidents. Investing resources in the rigorous design, evaluation and delivery of educational programs for children is crucial in challenging the normalisation of violence that is driven by media images and, for some children, by the violence they endure in their own homes.

There is a need for caution here, however, to ensure that preventative efforts of this kind don’t pin unfair expectations on children to champion non-violent behaviours when so much around them valourises or condones violence. How realistic is it to expect children to bear responsibility for swimming against such a tide?

Part of the answer to this question lies in the commission’s attention to the need for cultural change more generally. If we are to prevent family violence, we must change the attitudes and social conditions that give rise to it.

At the heart of the recommended prevention strategy is an effort to redress the sociocultural power imbalance that devalues women and perpetuates gender inequality. This carries an understanding that wholesale cultural change is required to permanently eradicate family violence. Now is the time for precisely this same understanding about the need to challenge views that allow for the continued harm of children within the home.

Children’s experiences of violence have been overlooked for too long. If we seek to change the narrative that devalues women then we must also tackle the cultures of silence and secrecy that allow for the domination of children.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has indicated that cultures of secrecy function to minimise or conceal violence against children. The family violence royal commission has now found that the violence endured by children in the home has been dealt with only marginally.

Together, these findings convey a powerful message about the urgent need to create the cultural change necessary to ensure children’s well-being.

The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line – 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

The ConversationWendy O’Brien is a Lecturer in Criminology at Deakin University and Kate Fitz-Gibbon is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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