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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Monash academics draft working paper on ‘Women in Politics’

Monash Academics from the School of Social Sciences, Professor Jacqui True, Dr Swati Parashar and Dr Sara Niner, alongside Dr Nicole George from the University of Queensland, recently drafted a working paper addressing regional issues relating to increasing women’s participation in politics.

The paper, which focuses on the Asia Pacific region, is part of the ‘Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum working papers on Women in Politics by the Social Science Research Council.

The Asia-Pacific paper discusses the various forms of resistance that women’s participation in public life faces, including cultural and religious obstacles, as well as violence faced by women seeking public life or office.

The paper also offers ten key recommendations for increasing women’s political participation that target macro and micro efforts including state machineries, electoral mechanisms, political parties, international organisations, local civil society and international governance structures.

About the CPPF Working Papers:

One of the central tools for achieving gender parity is to increase women’s presence in spaces of political representation. Even when greater representation is achieved, however, a central question remains: will having more women in decision-making positions result in more gender-sensitive policies?

The CPPF Working Papers on Women in Politics series looks at how four different regions—the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa—have encouraged women’s political participation, and it evaluates the success of these efforts, examining the correlation between wider participation and changes in the political agenda, and noting specific policy measures that have been implemented and that may be needed to overcome barriers to gender parity.

Access the papers in this series on the Social Science Research Council website.

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Joint PhD program offers global research opportunities for philosophy student

Joint PhD student, Thomas Ryan
Joint PhD student, Thomas Ryan

Thomas Ryan is the first Monash University student to study at the University of Warwick as part of the Monash Warwick Alliance joint PhD program.

The four-year program offers students the opportunity to undertake research of global importance at the two research-intensive universities, engaging with established areas of Alliance research collaboration, while being guided by a supervisor at each location.

Thomas, who is researching the ethics of European philosopher Nietzsche as part of his PhDPractical Philosophy: a Therapeutic Revival, says the joint PhD program has offered him a range of opportunities.

“I am now part of the philosophy departments at Monash and Warwick and am able to interact with a whole new cohort of fellow graduate students and faculty, which has been really beneficial to my research.

Top UK and European philosophers who would rarely travel to Australia regularly visit the department, and because I’m working on a figure in European philosophy, there’s a long history of discussion and interpretation in which I can participate,” Thomas said.

Being based in the UK also allows Thomas the opportunity to attend conferences and workshops that will benefit his research:

“This academic year the Warwick Philosophy Department is hosting the Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association, the largest meeting of philosophers in the UK.  Being based in the UK, I’ll also be able to attend the Friedrich Nietzsche Society Conference, which is the most important conference in the study of Nietzsche,” Thomas said.

While in the UK, Thomas is also organising a conference, The Modern Appraisals of the Hellenistic Legacy, to be held in Prato, Italy later this year.

The conference is part of the project Prospects for an Ethics of Self-Cultivation, funded by the Monash Warwick Alliance Student led Activity fund.

The conference will be held in conjunction with Reinventing Philosophy as a Way of Life, an ARC-funded workshop convened by his supervisors Dr Michael Ure (Monash) and Professor Keith Ansell-Pearson (Warwick).

Thomas moved to the UK late last year and will be studying at Warwick for at least 12 months before heading back to Melbourne to finish his thesis. The move has given him another perspective on university life:

“It has been quite a change moving from Melbourne to a small town set in the Warwickshire countryside. Because of the quiet surrounds, campus life is much more active than I’m used to, but the philosophy department has been incredibly welcoming, which has helped with the transition,” he said.

Formed in early 2012, the Monash Warwick Alliance represents an innovation in higher education and research and aims to accelerate the exchange of people, ideas and information between Monash and Warwick Universities.

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Translation and Interpreting internships with Antarctic marine conservation NGO

The Translation and Interpreting Studies program has recently signed an internship agreement with the CCAMLR, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. The international organisation, based in Hobart, operates in 4 official languages: English, French, Russian and Spanish.

The internship will provide Monash translating and interpreting students with the opportunity to work under the supervision of in-house translators and to learn about translation operations and services in a multilingual institution.

The CCAMLR, which currently has 25 members, was established by international convention in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life. This was in response to increasing commercial interest in Antarctic krill resources, a keystone component of the Antarctic ecosystem and a history of over-exploitation of several other marine resources in the Southern Ocean.

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Japanese Studies Centre Seminar Series

The Japanese Studies Centre holds monthly seminar series and this year’s seminars are beginning next month. Here are some ‘save the dates’ for the first semester seminars. 

All meetings will run from 12 noon to 1:30 pm at the Japanese Studies Centre, Clayton Campus.

A light lunch will be served – RSVPs appreciated but not required.


18th March: Dr. Robyn Spence-Brown, Monash University.

The mystery of the disappearing language student: structural and motivational factors affecting continuation of Japanese language study

Japanese is the most widely studied language in Australia, but, as is the case in other languages also, only a small proportion of the students who start the language continue on to senior secondary levels and beyond. This paper reports on a recent study of the reasons for continuation (or discontinuation) of students in year 11, and reflects on both structural factors and motivational factors which shape students’ choices at this level, and more generally in senior secondary and tertiary courses. It also suggests that ecological approaches which take into account both personal and institutional /social factors are important in understanding the choices which students make.


New staff member Dr. Jason Jones will present on his research.


Dr. Cassandra Atherton, Deakin University, will speak her recent research in Japan.

For more information about the seminar series, visit the Japanese Studies Centre website. 

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Tough measures on counterterrorism go hand in hand with grassroots strategy

by Greg Barton  

Long before the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the Bali bombings in 2002, the threat of terrorism has demanded disproportionate attention from the security community in Australia. Now, following the rise of the Islamic State movement in June last year, and its shift in September to actively promoting lone-wolf terror attacks, the need to invest in countering this threat has reached levels not seen since September 2001.

The Prime Minister is about to announce a suite of new policies and initiatives to deal with terrorism. He has foreshadowed this by making the emotive argument that for too long we have been taken for mugs, reflexively giving the benefit of doubt to those who do not deserve it and that now we need to get tough on those who would do us wrong. It’s hard to argue with the need to get tough on terrorism, particularly when a group as odious, brutal and potent as the Islamic State movement is provoking with new atrocities every week.

For Australia, the tipping point came with the Lindt Chocolate Cafe siege in Sydney, in December. Despite the ugly reality, often overlooked in its ubiquity, that domestic violence and other forms of violent assault claim many more lives than terrorism, there was something extraordinarily disturbing about the way that Man Haron Monis went about terrorising ordinary Australians who had stopped by for the innocent pleasures of coffee, chocolate and company. As details about the gunmen emerged the inevitable questions followed. Why, given his long history of extremist views, was Monis not under closer surveillance by authorities? Why was he allowed out on bail having been charged with committing violent crimes? Why was he given refugee status and allowed to settle in Australia in the first place? Getting robust answers to these questions will take time but there’s no doubt that there are lessons to be learnt.

We have to do things better but is it really a case of simply getting tough? It is hard not to see parallels with Abbott’s current difficulties and those faced by John Howard back at the beginning of last decade. Howard had struggled with initial poor popularity figures but prevailed. He struggled again as he faced defeat at the polls in late 2001, but against all odds again prevailed. There is no doubt that the arrival of the Norwegian merchant vessel the MV Tampa with its load of asylum seekers (rescued at our request on August 24, when their leaky Indonesian boat broke down 140 kilometres north of Christmas Island), followed a fortnight later by the 9/11 attacks, provided Howard with a platform to campaign his way out of difficulties. The claim then, and ever since, that those arriving by boat and seeking asylum might include potential terrorists threatening our liberty was a powerful and emotive one, but not a claim for which evidence was ever produced.

Monis did not arrive by boat and it’s not clear that when he applied for asylum that he held the sort of extremist views that two decades later would lead him to the murderous violence conducted in Sydney. But it’s hard not to agree that we do indeed need to get tough with the likes of Monis.

Putting aside the dynamics of domestic politics, where do we really need to focus when it comes to more effectively dealing with the threats of radicalisation, home-grown extremism, and lone-wolf terrorist attacks? The Prime Minister undoubtedly has a point that there are some areas where we do need to toughen up. Even so, with the passage of amendments to counterterrorism legislation, we have already put in place most of the legal reforms that could conceivably be necessary. Indeed, we have, arguably, got the hard side of security largely right. There will always be things that need improving and we certainly need to take on board the lessons of the Lindt Cafe siege as they become clear. However, the difficult challenge now lies not in simply talking about getting tough but in addressing the dynamics of radicalisation and recruitment of violent extremism.

The Attorney General’s Department is currently finalising important new policy initiatives on the case-management of individuals and groups recognised as being vulnerable to radicalisation or who have already come to attention for being along the pathway to violent extremism. The Department will recommend that we empower community groups, teachers, health care workers, social workers and others who, with the police, have direct connections with the mostly young people at risk of radicalisation. In the past, measures to counter violent extremism (CVE) such as those being proposed have been too glibly dismissed as “soft measures”.

The reality is that we need both hard and soft measures. We do need to get tough, or at least stay tough, with our hard measures. But the majority of the real gains to be had will come from the essential concomitant soft measures. As the discussions at yesterday’s high-level summit at the White House have reminded us, our nation is no island when it comes to the global challenges of violent extremism but it is very much on track in facing these challenges with its world-leading commitment to police community engagement and our evolving approach to CVE.

Radicalisation and violent extremism arise out of peer networks and can only be addressed at the level of communities and individuals. Doing this is tough work even if it does not look like getting tough. We need to be careful lest the rhetoric of dealing with a truly wicked problem blindsides us to the essential and difficult work that is required at the coalface.

Professor Greg Barton is the Herb Feith Research Professor for the School of Social Sciences in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University.

This article has appeared in The Age.

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Lecture Series by Professor David Engel: The Holocaust in Changing Retrospect

Don and Sonia Marejn Lectures presents a three part lecture series by Professor David Engel (NYU) in 2015, who is visiting the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation in March as a visiting scholar. This series will look at how new new research can alter the way the Holocaust is understood.


Anne Frank’s Family: Between Europe and America
Monday 9 March, 7.30pm

This lecture will discuss documents uncovered in 2006 concerning efforts by Anne Frank’s father to obtain an entry permit to the United States in 1941, before the family went into hiding, and their implications for Holocaust history.

A Jewish Collaborator Confesses: The Strange Life and Afterlife of Calek PerechodnikMonday 16 March, 7.30pm 

This lecture will highlight the fascinating story of this ghetto policeman, the questions it raises about important aspects of Jewish behaviour during the Holocaust, and Professor Engel’s own efforts in bringing the diary in which the story is told to light.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising after Seventy Years
Thursday 19 March, 7.30pm

This lecture will look at how the role played by the ghetto revolt in narratives of the Holocaust has changed over seven decades

All lectures will be held in H1.16
Ground Floor, Building H
Caulfield Campus, Monash University

 Admission free; no prior bookings

Professor David Engel is Greenberg Professor of Holocaust Studies, Professor and Chair of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, and Professor of History at New York University and a Senior Fellow of the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Centre at Tel Aviv University.  The author of seven books and more than 70 scholarly articles on aspects of modern Jewish history, he is a member of the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and an elected fellow of the American Academy of Jewish Research.

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‘Drought-proofing’ Perth: the long view of Western Australian water

by Ruth Morgan

When he visited Perth in 2012, Arizona water specialist Robert Glennon remarked: “I expected a dry city on the driest continent would be at the cutting edge of water conservation and instead I’m hearing stories about groundwater wells in everyone’s backyard and everyone has a lush lawn.” Had he known the state’s water history, he might not have been so surprised.

What Glennon observed in Perth is the persistence of what historian Jay Arthur describes as “the default country”, a settler Australian ideal of a green, well-watered landscape against which the continent does not measure up.

It was an ideal that inspired generations of “water dreamers”, to use Michael Cathcart’s term, to search for an inland sea in the continent’s dead heart. And when water was found to be wanting, they designed schemes to turn the rivers inland and to make the deserts bloom.

In 1896, Western Australia’s own water dreamer, the engineer C Y O’Connor, designed a system to transport water from the Darling Range near Perth via a pipeline to the thirsty mines of the Kalgoorlie Goldfields, nearly 600 kilometres away. Even the engineering schemes of ancient Rome had not been so bold as to pump water such a distance, let alone uphill.

At its opening in 1903, Sir John Forrest, the state’s first premier, referred to Isaiah (43:19) when he suggested that future generations would remember this achievement: “They made a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

O’Connor’s ghost – along with those of other local visionaries such as the sirs John Forrest, James Mitchell, David Brand and Charles Court – continues to haunt Western Australian politics. It has inspired bold schemes to pipe water from the state’s tropical north-west, to attempt cloud seeding in the Wheatbelt, and to moor Antarctic icebergs off the west coast near Fremantle.

Such water projects, bound to ambitions for the state’s economic progress, remind Western Australians of their state’s unique brand of developmentalism.

Successive governments have taken great steps to help Western Australia overcome its Cinderella status in order to attain, as historian Lenore Layman argued in the early 1980s, a “’greatness’ to match its geographical area”. Water, or a lack thereof, has long been perceived as a significant limit to the state’s progress and prosperity.

According to this logic, drought-proofing is future-proofing Western Australian development.

Since the gold rushes of the 1890s, water infrastructure has been a means of social engineering that prevailed long after the second world war as a way for state governments to promote development and to plant populations in particular places in a vast and seemingly empty landscape.

Reticulated water supplies helped to overcome sandy soils and hot dry summers, and improved public health and hygiene. They transformed Perth into a green oasis of carefully trimmed lawns and manicured flowerbeds.

Near Harvey, the construction of dams, drains and ditches allowed for the development of intensive irrigation for dairy farming and horticulture. In the Wheatbelt, which Public Works Department engineers once described as “hydraulically difficult country”, reticulated water supplies allowed for farming families to embark on the postwar mission to clear “a million acres a year”.

And the expansion of water resources south of Perth was vital to the postwar transformation of Kwinana into the state’s industrial hub. But this “just add water” philosophy has had its problems. As the handmaiden to the development of the Western Australian Wheatbelt and irrigated areas, water has contributed to making the largest area of salinity-affected land in the country.

The scourge of secondary salinity has not only reduced the productivity of millions of hectares of land, but has also threatened the water catchments that supply Perth and the agricultural areas. Although the relationship between land clearing and salinity was observed in the 1920s and earlier, it was not until the 1970s that the state government banned clearing in metropolitan catchments. But this was too little, too late for Wellington Dam, which is now only fit for irrigation purposes.

In the suburbs, water consumption skyrocketed after the second world war, when newfound affluence and household appliances made washing and watering easier than ever. Nowhere was this more evident than in the gardens of Perth.

During these postwar decades, more than half of the city’s water consumption took place in suburban gardens; in the dry summer months this proportion rose to almost three-quarters of water use. Watering Perth’s gardens was, as one wit described, “as necessary a daily routine as regular breathing is to the survival of man”.

Total water restrictions in 1978 came as a rude shock to many households, as it shattered their illusions of endless water supplies. Combined with the introduction of user-pays water rates, these restrictions provoked outraged gardeners to accuse the government of turning Western Australia, the “Wildflower State”, into the “Dead State”, the “State of Dehydration” and the “State of the Desert”.

Another complained, “Is our choice only to be brown lawns, wood chips or paving bricks?” Such was the public backlash to the bans on watering suburban gardens that state governments vowed never again.

In 2005, the Gallop Labor government renewed this commitment and pledged to reduce the likelihood of a total ban on water sprinklers to just one year in two hundred. Compared to other Australian capital cities, this was an extremely conservative approach to water planning. In parts of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, residents were prevented from washing their cars and using scheme water on their gardens.

What made the pledge all the more extraordinary was that Perth, water managers and climate scientists agreed, was experiencing a drying trend that was affecting the entire south west of the continent. They believed this region was the canary in the national climate-change coal mine. And they expected the drying trend to continue.

At the opening of the recently expanded Southern Seawater Desalination plant near Binningup in January 2013, Premier Colin Barnett reportedly declared that despite these climate challenges, Perth was now “basically drought-proof”. Barnett has not always been such a champion of desalination. In opposition, he had campaigned against the Labor government’s plans to invest in desalination technology as the prospect of an impending water crisis in Perth was gaining ground in the lead up to the 2005 state election.

Just a year earlier, mammologist Tim Flannery had predicted that Perth would become a “ghost metropolis” because of the impact of anthropogenic climate change on the city’s water supplies. Where water is in short supply, water security tends to equal electoral security.

Tapping into popular support for harnessing the rivers of the country’s north, Colin Barnett, then leader of the opposition, declared that a Coalition government would build a canal to bring the vast water resources of the Kimberley to Perth. But “Colin’s canal”, as the plan became known, cost him the 2005 election.

Since taking government in 2008, Barnett has changed his tune. Seawater desalination technology and wastewater recycling are now at the centre of the Western Australian Water Corporation’s 10-year strategy to ensure what it hopes to be “water forever, whatever the weather” for its 1.9 million customers in Perth, Mandurah and the eastern Goldfields – more than three-quarters of the state’s population.

In the past decade, Western Australia has set the pace for desalination with its first plant providing water to Perth in 2006. Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast followed suit, perhaps prematurely. Water managers from the US have been similarly impressed with Western Australia’s desalination investments, with experts from California visiting the state in search of solutions to their own water woes.

The sea and the sand, once sources of the Western Australian sense of extreme isolation, are now its salvation. Over the past two decades, innovations in reverse osmosis seawater desalination technology have made the Indian Ocean a viable source of water supplies for households and businesses. Two desalination plants south of Perth now provide nearly half of the city’s water supplies and, as the Premier has noted, should demand rise “you can always build more”.

But there are the environmental costs of “drought-proofing” to consider. The marine environments of Perth’s desalination plants are sensitive to the hypersaline discharge that is produced in the purification process. These plants not only have the potential to pollute the marine environment, but also the atmosphere due to their carbon emissions.

When desalination technology was first mooted as a solution to Perth’s water crisis, critics were quick to point out the irony of the situation: a desalination plant would emit atmospheric gases – the very gases causing anthropogenic climate change, which was contributing to the region’s drying trend. Mindful of this carbon footprint, the Water Corporation has offset the energy requirements of its desalination plants with wind and solar technology.

Meanwhile, extensive groundwater reserves lie beneath the sandy soils of Perth’s Swan Coastal Plain, which have sustained the suburbs since the 1970s. Increasing demand and a drying climate have taken their toll on these fragile ecosystems; but a recently implemented strategy offers the possibility of improving the health of these groundwater reserves, while increasing the water supplies available to the Water Corporation’s customers.

Under this scheme, treated wastewater is added to these aquifers where it blends with the groundwater and is extracted later for water supplies. Recycling water in this way, the Water Corporation hopes, will ensure the people of Perth have “water forever”.

The nature of this plan has been surprisingly uncontroversial – Perth has certainly been no “Poo-woomba”. In 2006, residents of the Queensland town of Toowoomba voted against plans to add recycled wastewater to local water supplies, despite the prospect of severe water restrictions. Mindful of the potential for this outcome, the Western Australian government has not sought the people’s permission, but instead surveyed Water Corporation customers and found three-quarters in support of the scheme.

Significantly, the recycling of wastewater in Perth is an altogether different prospect than that which faced the residents of Toowoomba, where recycled wastewater was to be added to dams. Perth faces a more palatable alternative: following methods long practised in California’s Orange County, recycled water is now replenishing groundwater reserves under the suburbs, which, as the state’s Water Minister promised in 2013, will “underpin Perth’s water security”.

The recycling of wastewater has also helped Kwinana’s industrial sector to reduce both its dependence on public water supplies and its impact on nearby Cockburn Sound. The region’s industries depended heavily on local groundwater resources, but by the late 1990s it was clear that further supplies would be necessary for industrial expansion.

Meanwhile, three decades of industrial development, eutrophication and sand mining had taken their toll on this marine environment.

In the 1980s, industrial discharge was cut to 40 per cent in an effort to curb this problem, but the damage was already done: nearly 80 per cent of the region’s seagrass meadows had been destroyed. This combination of economic and ecological pressures encouraged industry to turn to recycled wastewater in 2004, which has since halved the sector’s reliance on scheme water and lowered the amount of discharge flushed into the Sound.

But “water forever” comes at a price. Desalination is an energy intensive source of water supply, and rising electricity costs suggest that water prices will soar. According to figures published by the Western Australian Council of Social Service on the eve of the 2013 state election, the average Perth household’s water bill has tripled since 2005–06, even though water consumption per capita has dropped substantially over the past decade. More expensive water is only adding to the cost of living in Perth, which is already an expensive place to live.

Wealth and privilege have long enabled better access to water in Perth. Outward signs of this status, such as the cultivation of gardens, became increasingly significant in the late 19th century when the introduction of reticulated water supplies widened the gulf between the haves and the have-nots.

Perth’s long, dry summers made gardening during those months especially difficult without easy access to water, and only those with private supplies or with enough money to pay for reticulated water could cultivate summer gardens in the sandy soils. A year-round garden was a sign of prosperity, for the garden, like the house, had become an important symbol of middle-class status.

It was a way of thinking that still associated a green garden or a leafy suburb with affluence and prestige, which may well account for the boom in backyard bores during the bans on garden watering in the late 1970s. Even though lawn has lost its appeal in some quarters, the association of a dry, unkempt garden with an uncivilised household remains particularly powerful in Perth.

Cleanliness is another late 19th-century symbol of affluence that, without a reliable water supply, is very burdensome to maintain. Once piped water became available in Perth in the 1890s, many affluent residents invested in bathrooms, which allowed them to bathe more frequently than they had previously.

By this time, cleanliness had assumed a civic importance in Australia, Britain and the United States, whereby its absence amounted to moral decay and social decline. These concerns prevailed well into the 20th century, where they became a mechanism for discrimination and exclusion, particularly against the state’s Aboriginal population.

Forced off country as the suburbs and agricultural areas grew, many of the region’s Aboriginal families were expelled from towns in the South West after the first world war and thrust onto local reserves or into native settlements.

Among the reasons for their expulsion was the view that they were carriers of disease and needed to be kept separate from the otherwise healthy (white) population. They were forced onto small reserves often situated near town rubbish dumps and sanitary depots, where there were inadequate water supplies and sanitation facilities.

In the Wheatbelt, future Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck observed, “Clothing is seldom washed – how can it be when there are no facilities for doing so or even vessels in which to carry sufficient water into the dwelling? The human body goes unwashed because there are no baths and often little water…”

Although Hasluck was sympathetic to their plight, more often than not white Western Australians blamed Aboriginal people themselves for their state of health and living conditions.

Excluded from schools and hospitals due to their apparent disregard for hygiene and cleanliness, they were denied the very institutions that could have helped to improve their living standards and employment prospects. Their lack of access to clean water not only restricted access of the South West’s Aboriginal families to education and healthcare, but also initiated a cascade of discriminatory effects that continued to be realised even after the policy of assimilation was introduced in the 1950s, promising equal citizenship and access to government services.

These suburban standards of civility reinforced the perceived need to ensure the provision of water supplies to the state’s agricultural areas, especially after the Second World War. But although the reticulation of the Wheatbelt now supplies an impressive proportion of people living south of Geraldton, the sheer distances in the west mean that some must go without.

Recent conditions in the state’s eastern Wheatbelt have made this painfully clear. A five-year run of bad seasons has hit many farmers particularly hard as mounting debts take their toll on families and rural communities.

What their experiences show is just how much rural policy has changed in Australia.

As that agrarian vision has faded, and economic policy and the climate have dried, farmers have become expected to “drought-proof” themselves and to ensure their own “climate independence” with very little assistance from state and federal governments. Once “heroic victims of fickle nature”, as historian Judith Brett has observed, drought-afflicted farmers have become “merely bad risk managers”.

It seems as though an act of collective amnesia has allowed these governments to forget the efforts of their predecessors to encourage agricultural settlement in climatically marginal areas that are vulnerable to water scarcity.

Growers closer to Perth, however, appear to fare quite differently. Those in the northern suburbs of Wanneroo and Gingin rely on the Gnangara Mound for the water they need to irrigate their fruits, vegetables, nurseries and turf farms. Despite the importance of this aquifer for public water supplies, the metering of the thirstiest groundwater users did not commence until 2007 and the Department of Water has since been extremely reluctant to police the extraction of water in the area.

This approach seems to conflict not only with efforts to revive Perth’s aquifers with recycled wastewater, but also with the Water Corporation’s more hard-nosed approach to household violations of water restrictions. The contrast between the regulation of residential and horticultural consumers highlights a long history of political sensitivity surrounding productive and unproductive water use, as well as the ongoing inadequacy of groundwater protection in the South West.

In light of this water history, it is less surprising that the state government would celebrate the triumph of “drought-proofing” the capital. South-west of Geraldton, Western Australians have developed a dependency on water that desperately demands more. They have a thirst that a government can ill-afford not to slake. But the region’s drying climate remains a challenge. Since the mid-1970s, rainfall in the South West has declined by about 15 per cent, which can be partly attributed, climate scientists believe, to anthropogenic climate change.

But Western Australia is not alone. Despite the isolation of desert and distance, of sea and sand, Western Australians are not somehow separate from the rest of the planet, as the state’s mining sector makes abundantly clear. Export wealth and job growth are the spoils, to paraphrase historian Geoffrey Bolton, of spoiling: Western Australian carbon emissions per capita are now the highest in Australia and among the highest in the developed world. And, in the drier conditions affecting the South West, this spoiling is plain to see.

In 2002, Nobel Laureate chemist Paul Crutzen and ecologist Eugene Stoermer proposed that the enormous expansion of the use of fossil fuels since the 18th century has transformed humankind into a geophysical force causing planetary change. This “hot breath of civilisation”, to borrow from author Ian McEwan, has therefore given life to a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene.

When seen in such planetary terms, “drought-proofing” Perth seems like a drop in the ocean.

Dr Ruth Morgan works in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at Monash University.

This essay was originally published in both the Griffith REVIEW 47: Looking West and The Conversation.

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Bachelor of Global Studies to be launched this year

Monash Arts will be offering the Bachelor of Global Studies for the first time in 2015.

The course is designed to enable students to find creative ways to tackle challenges facing cultures and communities around the world. Students have the opportunity to choose from one of three specialisations. They will focus on leadership development, and include an overseas study component, as well as having the option of taking the course as part of a double degree with Science or Commerce.

At the launch of the course on 4 March, the inaugural class will hear from Dr Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Dr Adams has worked extensively with governments and civil society organisations in South Africa, East Timor, Rwanda, Mozambique and beyond. Between 1994 and 2002 he worked with Sinn Fein and former IRA prisoners in support of the Northern Ireland peace process and he is also a former anti-apartheid activist and member of the African National Congress.

To learn more about the course and meet some of the key staff involved in delivering it join us at the Bachelor of Global Studies launch:


Musical Symposium Hits High Note

Indonesian Consul-General Dewi Savitri Wahab (second from right) with Riau Islands musicians.

The first international symposium on the Malay musical arts of the Riau Islands (also know as Kepri) to be held in Australia has been deemed a success. The Symposium was Hosted by Monash University and attracted more than 100 people to the first afternoon of papers and to the launch of the accompanying exhibition, which included performances of live music and theatre of the Riau Islands.

The Kepri Province was founded in 2004 and the secrets of its artistic culture are only now beginning to be exposed to the world. It is an archipelago in Indonesia, located east of Sumatra along with two islands south of Singapore.

Symposium convenor Professor Margaret Kartomi from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music said the symposium and exhibition had been a great success.

“We had 22 world experts on the music, body movement and drama of the Riau Islands from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Denmark, United Kingdom, USA, Singapore and Australia presenting cutting-edge papers on their research” said Professor Kartomi. “It was a wonderful response to the first ever symposium that looked at the artistic culture of this part of Indonesia.”

The keynote speaker, Professor Leonard Andaya from the University of Hawaii, presented results of his latest research on the Southern Malay World, of which the Riau Islands Province is part.

Professor Kartomi said a highlight of the symposium and exhibition were the live performances, including the troupe of Riau Island makyong theatre actor-dancers and musicians performing a theatrical episode and a brilliant biola (violin) player who accompanied a female singer’s performance of the famous poem Gurindam Duabelas written in the 1850s by Riau Islands poet Raja Ali Haji.

Professor Kartomi said the accompanying exhibition, which was opened by Indonesian Consul-General Dewi Savitri Wahab, added to the success of the symposium.

“The beauty and distinctiveness of the arts of Java and Bali are well-known around the world, however, Indonesia’s equally beautiful and unique Malay arts from the cradle of Malay-Indonesian civilisation – the Riau Islands/Kepulauan Riau – are yet to be discovered outside the province,” she said.

The curator of the Exhibition of Malay Performing Arts, Bronia Kornhauser, said the exhibition held 250 Malay performing arts objects, including jewellery, costumes, textiles, musical instruments, rare books from the Monash Library, and poster-size colour field photos from Indonesia’s Malay world.

“The exhibition, which was co-presented with the Museum of Indonesian Arts, and its 60-page illustrated catalogue, covered several regions of Indonesia’s Malay world, including coastal Sumatra, South Sumatra, Jambi, Riau, Riau Islands, North Sumatra, West Kalimantan and North-coastal Sulawesi,” Mrs Kornhauser said. “We also included items from the John Noble Bequest to the Music Archive of Monash University.”

The double event was the first to be presented in the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music’s Jubilee year in 2015.

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Australia must prepare for the mother of all hangovers

by Rémy Davison

You know Australia’s in trouble when the Reserve Bank cuts interest rates.

Last week, the central bank did precisely that, in belated recognition of the income recession that has struck. Gross domestic income (GDI) fell by 0.3% in the June quarter of 2014, followed by a further 0.4% slump in the September quarter.

The RBA has cut its 2015 GDP growth estimate as well, by 0.25%, predicting a 1.75 per cent –2.75 per cent range.

In 2012, I predicted an Australian recession, albeit as a “delayed tsunami” effect of the global financial crisis of 2008–12. However, some bank economists since late last year have declaredthere is a recession in the making in 2015.

Welcome to the post-industrial economy. Fortress Australia is long gone; the automotive industry is evanescing before our eyes; while textiles, footwear and clothing barely exist on these shores.

Steel, once the linchpin of Australia’s heavy industries, is a shadow of its former self. Battered by fierce competition from China and India, Australian steel tonnage output didn’t even crack thetop 20 world rankings in 2013.

As everyone knows, the main game in Western Australia and Queensland is mining, mining and mining. Meanwhile, the sucker-fish, located predominantly in Sydney and Melbourne, comprising the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) industries, gorge themselves on the vast swathes of export dollars produced by coal and iron ore.

But for how long?

From hero to zero?

Throughout the last 12 years, Australia has produced world-beating results. Australia’s GDP doubled between 2007 and 2013. It is the world’s 12th-ranked economy, a remarkable feat for a population comprising a mere 24 million people (and 20.7 million cats, apparently). Nationally, unemployment is low. In 2013 and 2014, Australians were the world’s richest, thanks to the property boom, with every man, woman and child worth an average of $A258,000.

And oil prices are so low that they’re better than any tax cut any miserly government could ever give you in its wildest dreams.

Everything’s going swimmingly, isn’t it? Where’s the party?

But Australia is also facing an income recession. Real household disposable income is falling, exacerbated by the tumbling Australian dollar. Ominously, the world may be about to experience a Great Deflation.

Agriculture and manufacturing – the mainstays of Australian employment from federation until the 1990s – have been displaced by service sector industries. These largely feed off the revenues of a resources sector whose exports dwarf all others. But even iron ore export prices have halved in the past year, and there could be worse to come. There is not much point in Australia boosting its iron ore output if no one wants to buy it. Just ask the Soviets what they did with their surplus steel. Komrade (they dumped it in the west, to save you looking it up).

Unfortunately for us, we like to party hard and we didn’t invest all the enormous benefits of the boom in the terms of trade during the 2000s. We spent it on tax breaks. Which we then spent. On property. And Chinese consumer goods.

And speaking of being dwarfed, Australia’s Future Fund – designed to fund public service pensions and the odd politician – is paltry by comparison with Norway’s, which ranks third in the world with almost $US1 trillion in assets.

By contrast, Australia ranks 13th globally (as it does in most things, except cricket), with a mere$A109 billion at its disposal. Or about 2.1 years of Commonwealth deficits, roughly.

The Great Deflation

This week, China reported its inflation figures and the numbers are troubling. Year-on-year domestic demand has weakened considerably. Moreover, in January, the US economy saw its consumer-price index (CPI) fall to its lowest level since bottoming out during the Great Recession of 2009.

Deflation means prices are down. One type of deflation can be positive, as it emerges from gains in technology, efficiency and scale, coupled with cheaper labour and energy.

But too much of the wrong kind of deflation – where inflation is negative – leads to long-term unemployment, reduced demand and low, zero or negative growth. Exhibit A: Japan. Two decades of deflation.

The main reason price deflation is occurring is due to weak demand. This is due partly to a reduction in the gross money supply, and partly as a by-product of lower wages.

Money supply evaporated – temporarily – as credit markets froze in 2008. As governments poured liquidity back into financial markets in 2008–09, credit cautiously returned, but growth was non-existent or hesitant throughout most of the developed world. Millions of jobs vanished during the Great Recession, and the jobs that eventually returned paid much less than they had just a few years earlier.

In fact, the US has reportedly regained all the jobs it lost during the recession. With one hitch: these jobs pay 23 per cent less.

Now, this scenario has some resonance in Australia. The 2007–13 period saw Australian wages rise much faster than their OECD counterparts. But in 2014, wages hit a brick wall, barely matching inflation. Yes, even miners saw lower wage growth. And, judging by their trade magazines, neither white-collar nor blue-collar resources industry workers are too optimistic about the future.

Oh Eurozone crisis: we’ve missed you most of all

If you thought the IMF and European Central Bank (ECB) had muddled successfully through the 2011–12 eurozone crisis, think again. Exhibit B: The ECB’s January 2015 quantitative easing program, injecting €60 billion per month into the eurozone economy.

Sounds impressive. But it isn’t. What it will do is simply refinance the banking sector, which is now beginning to pay back the three-year Longer-Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO) funds it borrowed during the crisis. Over 500 eurozone banks accepted more than €1 trillion during the crisis.

Now the ECB’s LTROs are maturing. As of January 2015, banks were due to repay up to €196 billion on LTROs by the end of February. But they still owe nearly €900 billion.

Consequently, the ECB’s QE program will only keep liquidity flowing back to the banking sector, as it replaces old LTROs with new QE.

The elephant in the room is not Greece. It’s inflation – or lack of it, to be precise. Eurozone inflation is running at -0.2 per cent, a far cry from its 2% target. Not to put too fine a point on it, but -0.2 per cent is not inflation. I’ve met inflation. And that’s not inflation.

The clear objective of the ECB’s €1.2 trillion QE program is to reflate the eurozone economies and ensure sufficient bank liquidity. But it also has a secondary objective: currency manipulation. 18 months of the Federal Reserve’s QE 3, which concluded in late 2014, injected $US85 billion per month into the American economy, pumping up its GDP growth figures, manipulating its currency and, coincidentally, depreciating China’s massive stash of US bonds.

How has the ECB responded to this? By engaging in its own currency manipulation scheme. This has sent the euro below $US1.15, a far cry from its $US1.45 rate of mid-2011. With the euro closer to parity with the US dollar, eurozone global exports can at least remain competitive.

Why does any of this matter to Australia? First, the EU is Australia’s largest source of foreign direct investment. Second, the currency power-play between New York, Tokyo and Frankfurt has hurt Australian productivity and exports, even as the Reserve Bank tries to play this poker game as well. Although the dizzy heights of an above-parity Australian dollar are a long-forgotten dream, currency depreciation in Europe, North America and Asia has contributed to the loss of Australian industries, such as the automotive sector. Equally, the Australian dollar, even at $US0.70, is not competitive enough to substitute for a lack of productivity.

The ducks are all lined up. A perfect storm approaches.

Welcome to capitalism. We hope you enjoy your stay.

Dr Rémy Davison is Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the School of Social Sciences, and Associate Director of the Monash European and EU Centre.

This article previously appeared on The Conversation.


Explainer: what is halal, and how does certification work?

by James Wong and Julian Millie

Halal food certification in Australia has become a contentious issue. Recently, a Western Australian cafereceived hateful and anti-Islamic messages after its owners tried to explain halal on Facebook. A South Australian companystopped certifying its yoghurt in November 2014 after it was targeted by a social media campaign.

And on Tuesday, independent senator Jacqui Lambie threatened to introduce a private senator’s bill to close what she claims are “legal loopholes” that:

… could allow financing of terrorists and Australia’s enemies through halal money.

Lambie is not the first to raise the issue in federal parliament. WA Liberal MP Luke Simpkinsclaimed that halal is converting unwitting consumers to Islam. LNP MP George Christensen linked halal certification to religious extremism.

Activist groups are telling consumers to boycott halal products. They also claim that certification funds extremist groups and is part of a campaign to introduce sharia law.

Halal food certifiers and others in the Australian Muslim community have rejected these claims, and those who make them are yet to produce any evidence. But a lack of transparency from certifiers, along with a fragmented marketplace and confusion over what the halal certification process involves, creates a climate of uncertainty for anti-halal campaigners and Muslim consumers alike.

What is halal food?

Muslims choose to eat halal food because it meets requirements that they believe make it suitable for consumption. Halal originates from rules set out in the Qur’an and the Hadith (the Prophet Muhammad’s example), which have been followed throughout generations of Islamic practice.

As a concept, halal does not only pertain to food. Halal means “permissible” and can refer to any aspect of life covered by the teachings of Islam.

Halal is a part of sharia as a system of morals to guide Muslims’ actions and behaviour, but this should not be confused with halal as part of a codified system of sharia law. Halal prescriptions might be considered by observant Muslims to be religious obligations, but Australia is a secular country and halal forms no part of any Australian law.

As with many aspects of Islamic practice, the definition of halal food is a contested issue. For example, there is disagreement within the Muslim community about whether stunning animalsbefore slaughter produces halal meat. Both sides draw on Islamic teachings and traditions to support their positions. Disputes such as this highlight why halal certification is important for Muslim consumers.

How does halal certification work?

There are three different types of halal certification in Australia.

Individual products can be certified, meaning the production process and ingredients in that particular product are halal. So a consumer could buy halal yoghurt, for example, from a store that also sold non-halal yoghurt.

Production facilities can be certified, so that any products produced according to the certification standards can claim to be halal. For example, in an abattoir that is certified to produce halal meat, the meat will be halal no matter what cuts or final shape the meat takes. However, it may not even get labelled as halal when it reaches the market.

Retail premises can also be certified so that all food prepared and sold from that business is halal.

The halal certification process varies depending on who is performing the service. This is where uncertainty creeps in. Muslim consumers are largely unable to find out exactly what process has been followed in the certification process and what standards have been set by the certification provider.

Why is halal certification needed?

Halal certification is needed in Australia for two key reasons.

Firstly, certification helps local Muslims decide which products to buy. Modern food processing and globalised markets make it hard for Muslims in Australia to know how their food was produced and where it has come from. To get around this uncertainty, consumers who want to buy halal food need a system that checks whether products meet the requirements of being halal.

In this sense, halal certification is similar to any type of food certification and audit system. Whether it be halal, kosher, gluten-free or organic, food certification services help consumers to make informed decisions about the food they eat.

The second reason has to do with trade. With the global halal food trade estimated at A$1.75 trillion annually, Muslim markets provide a lucrative opportunity for Australian companies. If companies want to export their products to those markets, they need to have halal certification.

Who certifies halal food?

Certified halal products in Australia can come from two sources: domestic products that are produced locally and certified by local businesses, or imported products that have been certified overseas.

Numerous halal certifiers operate in Australia. The Department of Agriculture maintains a list of Islamic organisations that have an “Approved Arrangement” to certify halal meat for export. There are 21 such organisations operating in Australia as of November 2014.

However, Australian government regulation applies only to providers that certify meat for export. While much of this meat may end up in the domestic market, certification providers that service only the Australian market do not come under any government regulation.

While some halal certification providers are associated with, or part of, larger Australian Islamic organisations, such as the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, others are stand-alone businesses that provide local certification services.

With so much uncertainty about what constitutes halal, how products are certified and who is doing the certification, consumers who wish to buy halal food can find that a difficult task.

For non-Muslim Australian consumers, however, halal food is little different to any other food available. It only matters whether or not food is halal if a person has the religious conviction and desire to eat only halal food. Although improvements could be made, halal certification is one way Muslims are able to do this.

James Wong is a Masters student in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University.

Julian Millie works in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University.

This article has previously appeared in The Conversation.

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Ebola and the ethics question

Photo: Caoline van Nespen/Medecins Sans Frontieres
Photo: Caoline van Nespen/Medecins Sans Frontieres

Tolerating impoverished healthcare systems dramatically increases the risks associated with contagious disease, as the current Ebola crisis demonstrates.

The three West African countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – that have been the main sites of the current Ebola outbreak share decades of political turmoil, historical injustice and extreme poverty.

Professor Michael Selgelid, director of the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash University – one of six World Health Organisation Collaborating Centres for Bioethics worldwide – says the current Ebola crisis is an injustice on many levels.

Professor Selgelid, an international authority on ethical issues associated with infectious disease control, has been centrally involved in WHO’s deliberations on Ebola.

“The disease has been around for 40 years, so we should have already done more research and development of Ebola medications,” he said.

“This was presumably not done because Ebola has historically affected poor countries, which are not an attractive target for private, profit-driven pharmaceutical companies, on whom we rely too heavily for medical R&D.”

However, as it spreads, Ebola has been mutating.

“The more individuals of a species that a pathogen infects, the better adapted it becomes to that species. Ebola could, theoretically, become more transmissible and this could be disastrous for rich as well as poor countries,” Professor Selgelid said.

“From an ethics and humanitarian perspective, we should have conducted more studies during and after the earlier, small-scale outbreaks. We should not have waited for Ebola to become a global emergency to get this research happening.”

He said the Ebola crisis had amplified numerous fundamental issues that bioethics has to address, such as the rights of the individual versus the common good in the context of infectious diseases and public health.

For example, many ethical challenges – such as whether healthcare workers have an obligation to care for people infected with Ebola, whether to use measures including isolation, quarantine or travel restrictions, and how to best allocate scarce resources in emergencies– have previously been evident in outbreaks such as SARS and H1N1 influenza.

Read more about Professor Michael Selgelid’s work in “Ebola and the ethics question” in the February 2015 issue of Monash: Delivering Impact magazine.

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Victorian Model United Nations comes to Monash

Monash University is hosting the Victorian Model United Nations (VicMUN 2015) this year. The model conference will run from Wednesday 11th February – Friday 13th February, and is held at Clayton Campus. There will also be social events every evening of the conference, where participants will be able to mingle and network with delegates from all committees.

Model United Nations (also known as Model UN or MUN) is a conference designed to simulate the actions of the United Nations, in which students participate as delegates to various UN committees. Participants research and formulate political positions based on the actual policies of the countries they represent, and are expected to objectively advocate on behalf of their country. Global issues are presented to each committee, which are then discussed at length by the delegates. Delegates then attempt to form a resolution to the issue being debated.

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Liberal leadership tensions give neglected backbenchers a voice

by Narelle Miragliotta

It is difficult to pinpoint a specific reason to explain the leadership crisis presently gripping the federal Liberal Party. Why is it that Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a leadership spill only 17 months after having led his party to government? Why is it that individuals within the Liberal party room are willing to trigger a leadership spill when such actions proved so deeply destabilising for the federal Labor Party in 2010 and 2013?

Some put it down to an “unfair” set of policies; others – including cabinet minister Andrew Robb – say the government failed to prepare the public for its agenda. And then there’s the leader himself.

Abbott, if media reports are to be believed, is arrogant, a poor communicator, a bully, a micro-manager and poor listener, and hopelessly captured by his ministerial staff – in particular by his high-profile chief of staff, Peta Credlin.

If some of these grievances sound familiar it is because they are. A similar array of complaints was levelled against former Labor leader Kevin Rudd, including by his then-colleagues.

While there are times when a party room must take decisive action against its leader, it is not always apparent to the casual observer what finally pushes them to initiate drastic action against (what have been) relatively inexperienced leaders. Why is it that, over the last five years, federal party MPs have reached the conclusion that the only way to deal with an unpopular leader is by deposing them?

The recent spate of leadership instability at the federal level may prove to an aberrant phenomenon – simply coincidental. Leaders from both parties have been stood aside by the parliamentary wing because they were simply not up to the task.

However, this theory is a little too neat, particularly in light of similar leadership woes in theNorthern Territory and, to a lesser extent, in Victoria under former Liberal premier Ted Baillieu.

Another explanation might lie in the internal dynamics of what is an increasingly fractious modern party room.

Backbenchers – two of whom, Luke Simpkins and Don Randall, will move the motion for a leadership spill on Monday – have always been anxious about their prospects for re-election, especially those who hold lower house electorates. Over time, however, defending seats has become a much more difficult task for many MPs because of the increasingly volatile nature of the electorate.

While the levels of partisanship in Australia is one of the highest among established democracies, it is showing signs of underlying fragility. A report compiled by political scientists at the ANU found that the proportion of voters who always voted for the same party has dropped from 72 per cent in 1967 to 45 per cent in 2007.

The decline in partisanship affects the ability of major party MPs to retain their seats. Formerly safe and fairly safe seats are proving to be more difficult for incumbents to hold.

One indication of this is in the growth in the number of lower house seats that are decided on second preferences as against first preference votes. In 1993, 43 per cent of seats, or 63 out of 147, were decided on preferences compared to 64 per cent in 2013, or 96 out of 150.

The uncertain electoral fate confronting MPs is aggravated by their inability to influence the election strategy and the policy direction of their party.

Modern election campaigns are centralised, standardised and tightly constructed around the party leader. Once the leader is installed in government, they become even more remote from party backbenchers. The leader is placed behind a firewall of staffers whose first and only priority is to shield the leader from media, public servants, ministers and backbenchers. It seems this is true in Abbott’s case.

As a result, it has become increasingly difficult for MPs to remain masters of their own electoral fate. An MP can work tirelessly for their electorate but that is not always sufficient to ensure their re-election. MPs cannot easily disentangle their electoral survival from that of their leader.

The stakes for modern MPs are in many respects greater than what they were for their predecessors. Increasing numbers of MPs appear to have made politics their first career as against their second career. To lose their seat not merely jeopardises their livelihood but also cuts short a much-coveted parliamentary career.

In the face of such political and electoral uncertainty, the only way that a backbencher can exert any type of influence over the party is through the selection (and the removal) of the leader.

We should expect, therefore, that as control over policy and election campaigns becomes more and more centralised, and the parliamentary wing is dominated by professional politicians, leadership spills will become even more commonplace.

Dr Narelle Miragliotta is a Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation.

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Australia vote: No ringing endorsement for Abbott

by Zareh Ghazarian

When Mr Abbot became prime minister after the 2013 general election, he promised to provide stable government. This was in contrast to the Labor Party that had changed leader three times in three years. Now, the Liberal Party has found itself in a similar leadership quagmire.

Critics inside the party have argued the prime minister’s leadership style has not worked. His failure to consult and an over-reliance on making “captain’s calls” have fuelled discontent, especially among backbenchers who have felt locked out of the government’s decision-making processes.

The government has struggled to attract support from the community for the past year, but it was not all Mr Abbott’s fault. The inaugural budget delivered in May 2014 was geared towards reducing government spending while navigating a course towards budget surpluses. But it was poorly received by the electorate.

A controversial plan to charge a A$7 fee to see a general practitioner, higher university fees and a small increase in an existing petrol tax were among the more unpopular budget measures.

The government also appeared to fail to explain why it had made some of its tough budget decisions and then failed to negotiate many of the measures through a hostile senate.

It back-flipped on some major promises, putting the prime minister’s trustworthiness in doubt. For example, when he was in opposition, Mr Abbott promised he would not cut funding to the state broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Then, in its first year, the government did exactly that.

It was at the helm when General Motors, Ford and Toyota announced they would close their auto-assembly plants and it refused to extend support to the car industry, which employed thousands of people.

‘Lurking’ rival

Unlike the Labor Party, which has now adopted a UK model of ordinary members electing the party leader, the Liberal Party only allows its MPs to hire or fire the leader.

Today’s result, which had 39 members vote for a leadership spill versus 61 members voting against, is not a ringing endorsement of Mr Abbott’s performance.

Recognising the level of concern in his party, Mr Abbott has in recent weeks recalibrated his leadership style, ditching his signature paid-parental leave scheme as a clear signal he was willing to change. This approach may have been enough to keep wavering MPs onside but the question is how long that support will last.

Neither the government nor the prime minister are popular with the public. A string of polls in recent months has shown that the government stands to lose dozens of seats at the next election. Ultimately, Mr Abbott’s future as leader will rest on these polls.

If they do not improve, wavering MPs will join his opponents and the party will once again agitate for a new leader.

It’s not too late for Mr Abbott. The party has put him on notice and he can still turn things around. A greater emphasis on consulting his colleagues and communicating clearly to the public will go a long way.

But he will be only too aware of a potential challenger, in the form of Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, lurking in the shadows.

Mr Turnbull, a former leader of the party and a man popular with the public – both Liberal and Labor supporters – may one day be a force to be reckoned with but he has yet to announce his intentions.

Dr Zareh Ghazarian works in the School Social Sciences at Monash University.

This article has appeared on BBC News Australia.

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Death or Liberty concert and documentary commemorates rebels exiled to Australia

Since November, filming has been underway in Tasmania and Ireland for the television documentary Death or Liberty, the screen adaptation of the history of political rebels and radicals transported as convicts to Australia. The documentary is adapted from the book Death or Liberty: Rebels and Radicals Transported to Australia 1788-1868, written by Dr Tony Moore from the school of Media, Film and Journalism. 

Billy Bragg, Lisa O'Neil and Mick Thomas (left to right) perform at Theatre Royal, Hobart with choir. Image: © Mark Hopper and Roar Film 2015
Billy Bragg, Lisa O’Neil and Mick Thomas (left to right) perform at Theatre Royal, Hobart with choir. Image: © Mark Hopper and Roar Film 2015

The highlight of the production has been a free public concert on 21 January featuring English legendary English troubadour Billy Bragg, Irish singer-song writer Lisa O’Neill and Australia’s Mick Thomas. Together, they performed a song cycle based on lives of the political convicts transported to the Australian colonies in the late 18th and 19th Centuries.

Dr Moore attended the performance held at Hobart’s historic Theatre Royal, and said ‘along with re-imaginings of classic folk ballads, the majority of the songs were original compositions by Billy, Lisa and Mick, that brought to life some of the leading characters in the book, notably Irish rebel leaders Michael Dwyer, Phillip Cunningham and William Smith O’Brien, American Linus Miller and the Afro-English Chartist leader William Cuffay.

on stage at Theatre Royal, Hobart: left to right Billy Bragg, Director Steve Thomas, Lisa O'Neil, Executive Producer anna Grieve and Mick Thomas
on stage at Theatre Royal, Hobart: left to right Billy Bragg, Director Steve Thomas, Lisa O’Neil, Executive Producer anna Grieve and Mick Thomas
Image: Photography Mark Hopper
© Mark Hopper and Roar Film 2015

The concert occurred in the same Victorian era theatre where Cuffay delivered witty, fiery speeches as a Tasmanian union leader in his new life as a colonial radical.’

Bragg, who is Musical Director for the film, told, ABC Radio ‘they [The British government] were trying to get rid of these people and sent to the other side of the world where they couldn’t be heard any more, realising if they were hung, drawn and quartered for treason they’d become martyrs. I don’t think the Crown realized it was ceding the colonies with a bunch of crazy radicals. You can see links between what happened with transportation here in Tasmania and Eureka Stockade, the early achievement of democracy and universal suffrage ahead of what we had in the UK. Many of the people who were sent, the Chartists, the Welsh, Irish, French Canadians, Americans had an impact.’

Listen to the full interview with Billy Bragg:

Death or Liberty is produced by Tasmania’s Roar Film, which is partnered with Irish company Tile Film, and is co-directed by Ireland’s Keith Farrell and Tasmanian Steve Thomas. Roar stated, ‘the concert commemorates the 3,600 convict rebels exiled to the prison without walls; revered in their homelands their convict lives are an amazing untold story – until now.’

Billy Bragg noted that music was an important way that the messages of political movements are remembered and communicated, and by which the emotional aspect of struggles and sacrifice, like passion, sorrow, and hope, are conveyed to inspire new generations. The musical performances and interaction with the audience will thread through the film, as an important part of its narrative.

According to Moore, ‘As well as extensive dramatisation of characters, battles and daring do escapes, the documentary emphasises the media of protest and political activism, such as journalism, poetry, cartoons and especially songs, which were crucial for mobilising movements for democracy, human rights and decolonisation, and ensuring that those transported to Australia for their actions were not forgotten.’

The Tasmanian Government, through Screen Tasmania, invested $150,000 in the project, which will be broadcast in Australia on ABC, and also in Ireland and Wales. Other partners include Screen Australia and the ABC. The Tasmanian Minister for the Arts, Vanessa Goodwin, said ‘Death or Liberty is the first official Tasmanian / Irish co-production’ … More than $600,000 of Death or Liberty’s $1.6 million budget has been spent in Tasmania, resulting in the employment of over 90 cast, crew and extras, and providing a boost to the local screen industry.’

Dr Moore was interviewed for the film, along with many other Australian historians such as Prof Hamish Maxwell Stewart, Prof Cassandra Pybus, Dr David Martin Jones and authors Richard Flanagan and Thomas Keneally.

Learn more about the film on the Roar Film website. 

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The case of Peter Greste and notions of press freedom

By Dr Andrea Baker

The imprisonment of the Australian journalist Peter Greste in Egypt received news attention worldwide.

The court case was complex and multifaceted and riddled by unsubstantiated evidence, contradictory testimonies and procedural irregularities. As a result, it proved to be a difficult case to report on by three major media outlets such as Al Jazeera English, the BBC and the ABC.

Their news coverage was reduced to a Western versus Egyptian view, according to a new study, with less than half the reportage focused on the allegations against the three journalists

As a former ABC and BBC journalist, Greste, along with Egyptian-Canadian national, Mohamed Fahmy, and Egyptian, Baher Mohamed was working for Al Jazeera English when they were arrested by Egyptian authorities on 29 December 2013 for allegedly producing false news that was detrimental to the country’s transition to a democracy.

The trio were also accused of associating with the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s oldest and largest Islamist organisation, which had been blacklisted as a terrorist group since late December 2013.

The long trial concluded on 23 June 2014 and the journalists were sentenced to seven years (Greste and Fahmy) and 10years (Mohamed) in jail in Egypt.

This case marked the first time a Western journalist (such as Greste) had been imprisoned due to terrorism-related offences in Egypt, amid fears of a frenzied press freedom crackdown by military authorities afterthe Arab Spring of 2011.

Journalism academic Dr Andrea Baker from Monash University’s School of Media, Film and Journalism analysed the coverage of the trial by Al Jazeera English, the BBC and the ABC from the day of the arrest (29 December 2013) until a week after their final sentencing (30 June 2014).

“The networks were chosen because they were credible, public broadcasters, Greste has worked at all three; and it would be insightful to examine how the outlets reported on a court case of their employees, both past and present,” Dr Baker said.

Of the 294 articles analysed, 40 per cent of the stories came from Al Jazeera English, 38 per cent from the ABC; and 22 per cent from the BBC.

Proportionately, 70 per cent of the AJE stories focused on the innocent victims’ news narrative; 60 per cent of the ABC reports centred onGreste and his family, and60 per cent of the BBC coverage concentrating onpress freedom issues.

The findings also highlight how parochial the Australian media are, with 55 per cent of the ABC’s coverage focused on Peter Greste while the other two broadcasters focused on all three journalists.

Dr Baker said the findings suggested the media outlets had allowed a Western bias by focusing on innocent victim, family or freedom of the press angles while downplaying the Egyptian point of view.

The complete outcomes of this research is published in a monograph titled, The best things in life are free (The case of Peter Greste and notions of press freedom) for the upcoming Australian Journalism Monograph, 2015 Volume 15, Issue 1, (which is published by the Griffith Centre for Cultural Research, Griffith University, QLD, in association with the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia).

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Overcoming the social barriers to climate consensus

by Ana-Maria Bliuc and Craig McGarty

It can be tempting to think that people who disagree with you are mad, bad or simply stupid. However, not only are such judgements usually wrong, but telling people that they are stupid is unlikely to convince them of the merit of your own view.

Yet this is often what happens when it comes to debates about climate change and what we ought to do about it.

Despite there being a near consensus in the scientific community that the primary driver of climate change is anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, and that we need to cut those emissions if we’re to keep global warming to a minimum, the public remains divided on the issue.

This division seems to run deeper in certain countries, such as US and Australia, where there are many vocal sceptics of the notion that climate change is caused by human activity.

Two views

It is common to think that believers and sceptics about anthropogenic climate change are simply people who hold different views. But we think it is more accurate to think of them as belonging to social groups that are working to achieve opposed policy objectives.

This latter view is often used to understand the division between pro-Life and pro-Choice stances in the abortion debate, for example. These are not just positions where people may “agree to disagree”, but rather they seek to promote their position in public opinion and in government policy.

In a paper published today, we took a similar perspective on the climate change debate in the US. What we found is that people’s attitudes in favour of action against climate change, or attitudes to the contrary, are predicted by three inter-related dimensions.

The first is a sense of identification with their own group. Secondly there is a perception that their group is likely to succeed in its collective efforts – what we call “group efficacy”. And finally, they tend to have feelings of anger towards their perceived opposition.

These dimensions work together to create a collective sense of “us” in opposition to “them”; a “group consciousness” that is present for both sceptic and believer groups.

This finding is important because it suggests that these groups do not co-exist in a social vacuum. They are not just indicative of differences of opinion, but rather are two social movements in conflict.

Beyond ‘us’ and ‘them’

In light of this, we propose that strategies for building support for climate change mitigation policies should go beyond attempts to simply persuade, educate or improve the public’s understanding of science. Instead, they should incorporate strategies aimed at improving intergroup relations.

We suggest that rather than concentrating solely on the sceptic movement, attempts to build consensus need to include both groups. They should also take into consideration the dynamics between them.

For example, communication from the scientific community and its supporters that ridicules sceptics’ concerns is likely to drive the groups further apart.

This is particularly problematic as we know from previous research on the politicisation of climate change. Ridicule is only likely to strengthen scepticism and therefore increase sceptics’ determination to act in support of their groups’ cause.

As Tom Postmes, of the University of Groningen, notes in an article in Nature Climate Change:

[…] to convince a sceptical public, believers need to harness knowledge about social movements and intergroup conflict reduction […] as with any conflict between two groups, efforts should be directed to prevent escalation, improve the relationships, and focus on the dynamics within groups that prevent progress.

Getting social

One way forward is to use what we know from the history of other social movements along with techniques of conflict resolution. From a theoretical standpoint, the conflict between sceptics and believers is similar to other conflicts in history that pushed forward our society. For example, the civil rights movement in the US, created a sharp division in American society, but in the long term has led to major advances.

Another path that could lead to increased consensus is to harness intergroup communication that promotes conflict reduction by maintaining dialogue between the sides in conflict, along with being open to engagement and collaboration.

Conflict between groups can also be diffused by shifting the focus from differences to focusing on similarities between the members of the two groups. And, more importantly, on broader goals that both groups share.

As this cartoon from USA Today shows, clean air, low power consumption, improved public transport, better waste management, efficient agriculture, reforestation and low cost renewable energy are all in the public interest whatever one’s position on climate change is.

So if you want to promote climate change action to people who don’t believe in climate change, then you need be mindful of the social dimension of people’s beliefs. That, and work to convince sceptics that that action is worth doing anyway.

Dr Ana-Maria Bliuc works in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University.

Professor Craig McGarty works in the University of Western Sydney.

This article has appeared in The Conversation.

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What ails Abbott is but a symptom of disease of government today

by Shaun Carney

If a single speech is regarded as a make-or-break event for an Australian prime minister, then that prime minister faces an uncomfortable future. That’s because the “make” part is a fraud. Tony Abbott could have finished himself off with a dreadful performance at hisappearance at the National Press Club on Monday. But he never stood a chance of restoring his prime ministership simply by putting on a decent or even a brilliant showing.

That’s because once the make-or-break tests begin, they never stop. Get through this announcement, this parliamentary showdown, this interview and there’ll always be another one. That’s the zone Abbott will now inhabit for as long as he remains prime minister or until the next election, should he still hold the position then. He’s only ever one more blunder away from collapse.

So too is his government. The fixation with his leadership – whether he should be replaced and by whom – at the mid-point of its first term of office unfortunately follows a modern, predictable script. Surely, it’s reasoned, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the government; the problems are down to the leader and to messaging.

There are calls, as there have been since the Queensland state election rout, for Abbott to admit error, to change his ways, or to hand over to someone else. Change the face, ramp up the PR, find a new way to tell the people that what’s being done to them is for their own good, and everything will be back on track.

This obsession with leadership pays insufficient heed to the deeper reasons behind the government’s problems. This is a government with a very long ministerial tail. Its weaknesses start if not at the top then with the second-most-important minister, Treasurer Joe Hockey, and through various parts of the ministry.

The lion’s share of responsibility for the government’s trials and its apparent lack of public support must go to Abbott, of course. The power of prime ministers in contemporary Australia is immense. But in a cabinet system of government, there’s a collective responsibility that should be shared by all ministers.

This is all too easily forgotten. The government is not and never has been just Tony Abbott; it is the sum of the Liberal and National party organisations, all the way up to the people the parties put up for cabinet membership.

Where the government has gone wrong is in its attitude to policy formulation and its approach to governing since the Liberal party room made the fateful decision to install Abbott as leader in December 2009.

Under Abbott, the Coalition has pursued a set of default positions. On policy, it has taken up the modern nostrums of economic liberalism, of smaller government, free trade agreements, the sale of public assets such as Medibank Private, of applying higher consumer prices to government services such as health and higher education. It is assumed by many of the people who write about politics and by public servants and political advisers that the public is comfortable with these policy choices, but there’s mounting evidence that this is not so.

On its communications, the government has opted for the most risk-averse positions. In opposition, despite holding a massive lead over Labor before the 2013 election, it took the safe route and chose to assure voters that it would be able to fix the budget without any cost to voters, with no cuts, no excuses and no surprises. The adults would be back in charge. Surplus budgeting was in the Coalition’s DNA, and so forth.

In office, its ministers all deliver little more than talking points. Its members run down the clock in interviews with answers that rarely address the questions that have been asked.

Government MPs are not unique in this; Labor members have in recent years taken the same approach. But that’s where the Abbott government has got itself into so much strife so quickly.

When voters heard “no surprises”, “the adults are back in charge” and a pledge not to impose costs on them during the repair job, they believed they were going to get authenticity and straight talk from an Abbott government, compared with the ALP’s chaotic, PR-obsessed shenanigans.

Instead, what voters got was a 2014-15 budget that contained nasty surprises such as a Medicare co-payment. They got a higher education policy that looked to place extra burdens on families and graduates.

Voters concluded that they’d been conned. They’d wanted something fresh, something straight. Instead – and qualitative polling by both sides suggests this – they’ve decided that they’ve elected another outfit committed to the political orthodoxy of spin and higher costs.

Being seen as a liar or a sneak is sudden death in modern politics because we appear to have moved into a new era in which – if the recent Victorian and Queensland elections are a reliable guide – there is no such thing as redemption.

The sense of crisis that has overtaken the Abbott government in the past week has been triggered by two events that have little material effect on national politics: Abbott’s awarding of an Australian knighthood to the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, and the Queensland election result.

The reason that they’ve resonated so profoundly in Canberra is that they reflect public revulsion at not being told all of the truth. Abbott reintroduced Australian knighthoods only six months after the 2013 election. It was only a tiny surprise but an unnecessary one nonetheless. The shock of the first Hockey budget came soon after and the government has never recovered.

The Queensland result was the final response by voters to Campbell Newman’s 2012 pre-election promise that the jobs of state public servants and government workers were safe. Upon being elected, he promptly got rid of 14,000 of them, and his poll ratings started to fall away from that moment. His commitment to sell off government assets – a popular policy for adherents to the political orthodoxy but highly unpopular among many voters – locked in that fall.

Abbott did not do too badly at the National Press Club, although his call for political debate in which there were no cheap shots – and in which all players acted in the national interest and not their own self-interest – was, in the context of his own performance as leader, a bit of a stretch.

But it was merely the first of a long, long series of tests that Abbott will face every day from now on. And just getting a pass will never be enough.

Adjunct Associate Professor Shaun Carney works in the School Social Sciences at Monash University.

This article has appeared on The Conversation.


Illusion aids understanding of autism

bioethicsNew research could lead to a better understanding of how the brain works in people with autism.

There is an enormous disease burden from autism, and little is known about the cognitive processes involved.

Researchers from Monash University and Deakin University looked at new theories of autism that focused on the way in which the brain combines new information from its senses with prior knowledge about the environment.

PhD student Colin Palmer from Monash University’s School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies said autism was a life-long condition that affects many people in the community.

“It is still unclear what is happening differently in the brain to produce the social, sensory and other difficulties that individuals with autism can face,” Mr Palmer said.

“We are testing a new type of theory, which implicates the brain’s capacity for making predictions about its own sensory input. Autism may be related to problems with making those predictions sensitive to the wider context. This means that new sensory input is interpreted out of context, making it difficult to understand the world and to generalise to new situations.”

Using the ‘rubber-hand’ illusion, the researchers examined how adults with autism experienced ‘ownership’ of a fake prosthetic hand.

In the ‘rubber-hand’ illusion, one of the subject’s hands is placed out of sight, while a rubber hand sits in front of them. By stroking the fake hand at the same time as the visible real one, the subject can be convinced the fake hand is theirs.

Following their experience of the illusion, participants were then asked to reach out and grasp an object with their hand. The researchers found these hand movements were disrupted by their previous experience of the illusion.

The researchers found people low in autism-like traits were the most sensitive to the illusion.

“People with autism experienced the typical perceptual effects of the rubber-hand illusion, but, unusually, we find that they are more resistant to the effects of the illusion on arm movement,” Mr Palmer said.

The results suggest that in autism the brain may draw less on background information from the surrounding environment when performing movement than for someone not on the spectrum.

“The study suggests that individuals may differ in how their brains draw upon contextual information when perceiving and interacting with the world,” Mr Palmer said.

“This could contribute to sensory and movement difficulties, which are commonly experienced in autism.”

Future research will look at how this type of processing difference may contribute to social behaviour, given that our understanding of social situations (such as other people’s thoughts and intentions) often depends on taking into account the broader context.

The study was a collaboration between the Cognition and Philosophy Lab at Monash University, the Cognitive Neuroscience Unit at Deakin University, and the Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre.

The study has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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Monash Journalism students score News Corp traineeships

Monash journalism 2014 students, Caroline Schelle and Jade Gailberger, have been rewarded with News Corp traineeships after a competitive selection process.

Both journalists begin their traineeships on February 9 this year.

Caroline, a Masters of Journalism student, said she was looking forward to learning from “some of the best journalists in the country”.

“I’m thrilled to begin my cadetship at News Corp and am looking forward to a fantastic opportunity where my skills are put to the test,” Caroline said.

“I will be rotating through four major News Corp publications including the Herald Sun, The Weekly Times, Leader Community Newspapers and the Geelong Advertiser.”

Caroline said it was a demanding selection process, with hundreds of worthy applicants.

“I believe the skills that I gained at Monash University helped me achieve success,” Caroline said.

“Monash journalism staff have always been supportive about my goals and their focus on practical skills allowed me to get ahead in a competitive field.

“This included a focus on writing news for print and digital publications, radio and television skills and ensuring students undertake independent internships.”

“Starting my cadetship and career with News Corp just a few months out of uni proves that hard work does pay off,” Jade said, who recently finished her journalism training.Jade, who will report for The Advertiser in Adelaide, said she felt “very excited and fortunate to be given this opportunity”.

“I completed several internships throughout my final year, including placements at the Herald Sun and The Age which wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Monash,” Jade said.

“I can’t thank them enough for their continual advice and time, and it just goes to show that hard work and effort throughout your journalism studies doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Jade advises journalism students to achieve “good grades, gain as much experience as possible to build your portfolio, and always remind yourself that you will eventually be rewarded for all your effort”.

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Apply now for new Prato unit: War, Media and Memory

Prato War Media and memoryHow have specific media forms shaped the remembrance and commemoration of wars and their victims? How have these forms been used to enhance or proscribe particular narratives of conflict?

In Prato we will study the history, culture and politics of war’s mediation, and then put what we have learned into practice on a visit to one of Italy’s World War 2 battlefields by creating a work of remembrance.

This new unit, ‘War, media and memory: From the Crimea to the Cold War’, will run from the 13th to the 24th of July 2015, and will be held at the Monash Prato Centre in Italy.

Applications close: 4pm 13 March 2015 (or earlier if quota reached)

For more information and to apply, visit the Arts in Prato website.

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Call for Abstracts: ACFID-Monash Development Conference – Deadline Extended

Monash is co-hosting the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) University Network Conference on June 4th – 5th 2015It will bring together practitioners and academics from around the world to discuss the theme of inequality and inequity from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

Inequality is being increasingly discussed as one of the most challenges facing the world today, but what exactly is it? And, how do we know this? As the development community endeavours to address this critical issue, it is essential to shed light on emerging evidence and research where inequality is explored. The challenge of inequality is not new, rather the increasing sentiment to understand, and overcome inequality is shaping development practice and research.

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Conference themes:

  • What do we know about inequality, and how do we know it?
  • Evidence based policy and practice – what is it and how does it work?

Deadline for abstract submissions has been extended to Monday, February 2nd.

Abstract Submission

All abstracts must be submitted online.

For information on the call for abstracts, or to submit your abstract, visit the ACFID website.

If you have any questions or problems, please contact us at

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Bohemian Melbourne celebrates city’s history with film festival and lecture series

This summer, the State Library Victoria has showcased Melbourne’s vibrant bohemian history with an exhibition on Melburnian characters and their contribution to the city’s art, music and literary scene.

As part of this series, SLV, with the help of academic adviser and Monash scholar Dr Tony Moore, are hosting a film festival and a series of public lectures to accompany the exhibition.

Screening Bohemians

A two day film festival, Screening Bohemians, will be held at the Village Roadshow Theatrette(at the State Library) on the 6th and 7th of February.

The festival will showcase Melbourne’s bohemian film culture and feature screenings of films, documentaries and shorts, curated with the help of academic adviser Dr. Tony Moore, who, as author of Dancing with Empty Pockets: Australia’s Bohemians, and a documentary maker himself, will participate in a panel discussion and introduce some of the films.

Highlights include: Ruth Cullen’s portrait of Vali Myers, The Painted Lady; Tim Burstall’s Stork;Richard Lowenstein’s Dog’s in Space and We’re Living on Dog Food; Ken Cameron’s Monkey Grip, Sue Davis and Tony Stephen’s Punkline; Head On, Anna Kokkinos’ film of Christos Tsiolkas’ novel Loaded; Darius Devas This City Speaks to Me series of shorts about young Melbourne artists; and Barry Humphries’ Comfort Station, a rare 1966 personal journey through Melbourne together with Edna Everage’s once banned performance of ‘True British Spunk’ on TDT, a spoof on the follies of empire.

Bookings are essential and available on the State Library Vic website.

Bohemian Like You? Panel Discussion

Mick Conway, Elizabeth Gilliam, 1989, State Library of Victoria
Mick Conway, Elizabeth Gilliam, 1989, State Library of Victoria

What does it mean to be bohemian today? Join Dr Tony Moore, Jane Clifton and Noel Tovey, with char Richard Watts, for a discussion on Melbourne’s bohemian past as well as its future – what it means to be ‘bohemian’ in today’s world.

Date: 5th February

Time: 6:00-7:15 pm

Where: Village Roadshow Theatrette

Bookings are essential and available on the State Library Vic Website.

Bohemian Melbourne, a celebration of counter-culture

Alongside the exhibition, which will be open until February 22nd, Bohemian Melbourne will also include a cabaret, pop-up performances, walking tours and curator tours of the exhibition. A full listing of events are available on the State Library Victoria website.

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Monash Journalism grad’s hard yards pay off with Cricket Australia gig

Aaron Pereira is now Cricket Australia’s media coordinator.
Aaron Pereira is now Cricket Australia’s media coordinator.

Monash University journalism graduate Aaron Pereira has secured a  full-time job at Cricket Australia, working as its media coordinator.

Aaron shares his views on his journey from Monash journalism to his impressive role at Cricket Australia.

Q: How do you feel about your new appointment at Cricket Australia?

A: I am extremely humbled that an organisation I idolised as a child now have me working. It’s great to be able to live and breathe sport for a living, especially Australia’s favourite sport! One day I’ll be rubbing shoulders with Michael Slater in the media box and the next I’ll be interviewing Greg Chappell, it’s surreal.

Q: How has Monash helped prepare you for the role?

A: It was always a goal for me to get into Monash’s journalism program and it didn’t disappoint. I received the best advice from people who had previously thrived in the business and the avenues that opened up because I was a Monash student were plentiful. I don’t think I’d be in the role I am now without my experience at Monash. Best decision I ever made.

Q: What is the importance of practical experience?

A: This is something that needs to be stressed … go out and get experience! It’s cliché but true – it’s never too late and you can never get enough. I did placements at the Box Hill Hawks, the Herald Sun and Metro Media to name a few, and I maintained a part-time job at Network Ten. These not only allow you the chance to refine your skills but also to make connections you will no doubt need.

Q: Any advice for journalism students?

A: Entering journalism is daunting, but if you really want it, and you work hard enough, doors will open up.

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