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.  

Find out more:

 

Five days out, Victorians look set to elect unlikely premier no. 3

by Shaun Carney

Anyone in search of a prime example of the dictum that a functioning democracy is nothing short of a minor miracle need look no further than the state of Victoria. In the past 15 years, what has been the nation’s most vibrant state in the 21st century has twice elected unlikely – some would say accidental – governments.

In 1999, the Labor Party, under Steve Bracks, fell over the linewith a bare majority of the preferred vote and managed to form a minority government with the support of three independents. Seeing off the Kennett government was one of the great upset wins in Australian politics.

Labor was not prepared for victory. It looked to the Carr government in NSW for guidance, organising a series of workshops for its new ministers on how to do their jobs. Bracks regularly consulted Carr on how to be a premier. And it worked. The government found its feet quickly and voters took to it.

In 2002, Bracks called an early election and secured the biggest vote any party had won in the postwar period.

By 2010, Bracks had handed the reins to John Brumby, who, despite being considerably less popular than his predecessor, was still expected to win another term. But he didn’t: the Liberal-National coalition led by Ted Baillieu got up – just. For the second time in just 11 years, Victorians elected a new government without any great enthusiasm.

Again, a government that was not fully prepared took charge. Unfortunately for the state and the Coalition, the Bracks experience was not repeated. Victorians never really got comfortable with the diffident, reserved Baillieu as premier. His government behaved like it was stuck in traffic and by March last year he was replaced by a more conventional political animal in Denis Napthine.

The polls suggested that voters liked Napthine’s energetic style for a while – before again turning against the Coalition.

It appears that the sense of political ennui in the state has hit a new high in 2014. If the latest pollsare to be believed, Labor will win this weekend with a small but workable majority. There would be no massive endorsement of a new administration if these figures are right.

Or there could be a repeat of the 2010 campaign. Party tracking surveys started to show a decisive proportion of undecided voters started to move towards the Coalition from the Wednesday before polling day.

In other words, those voters had done their best to switch off from the election until the final moments. Knowing that they would have to vote on the coming Saturday, they took a look and opted for something new.

Coalition losing with a little help from federal friends

At this point, such a last-minute shift looks like being the only thing that can save the Napthine government. This time, it would be driven by the notion that the Coalition deserves a second chance. But it would likely be a government hanging on rather than securing a big tick. Then again, a win is a win.

Complicating all of this is the presence of the Abbott government. Most Victorians chose not to elect the Coalition at last year’s federal election; Victoria was the only mainland state to stick with Labor.

The breakdowns of all public polls show that the antipathy towards the federal government and Tony Abbott has festered away for the past year. The hostility was turbo-boosted by the federal budget and, almost certainly, recent moves like the decision to cut the ABC’s budget and try to get away with calling it a saving. It’s a clear betrayal of a pre-election undertaking by Abbott.

Despite Abbott’s redoubled effort this year to spend more time in Melbourne, he remains anunpopular figure in Victoria. Party strategists report that their qualitative surveys of voter sentiment reveal highly negative attitudes to Abbott. That’s why one of Labor’s most prominent ads morphs Napthine’s face on to Abbott’s.

What else could Napthine have done?

If the Napthine government does fall, some Liberals might ponder the road not taken. That road would have seen Napthine running against Abbott as much as he was running against Andrews and the Labor Party.

Napthine is unhappy with Victoria’s take from the nation’s GST receipts. He speaks of it from time to time without issuing a rallying call.

And one of the reasons he has had to so heavily promote the East West Link road tunnel project in Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs as his chief infrastructure project is because Abbott refuses to stump up any money for urban rail.

The other major project on Victoria’s infrastructure books was what used to be called the Melbourne Metro rail project. This new underground network would connect the southern suburbs to the CBD and the inner north, including the Parkville knowledge precinct. The Liberals committed to it in 2010 but earlier this year, in light of Abbott withdrawing the funding promised by federal Labor, Napthine scaled down the project, gave it a new name and pushed it well into the next decade.

Melbourne needs that project built, preferably in its original form and sooner rather than later. What might have happened if Napthine had dug in and railed against Abbott, calling for him to fund all good infrastructure projects, including urban rail, and not just roads?

Napthine’s acquiescence and the fact that Labor under Andrews continues to feel its way towards the election after only four years out of power has led to one of the least combustible campaigns in recent memory.

The shrinking of state politics

State politics is suffering from the centralisation of power and revenue-raising in Canberra as well as the stripping back of resources in heritage media organisations, which reduces their coverage unless there is a scandal.

At the same time, civic engagement – as measured by party membership – has fallen as Australians lead busier lives and the major parties have become less responsive to their members.

The result is that state politics, even at election time, struggles to get the attention of the community. Certainly the last couple of elections in Victoria suggest that the contest cannot get pulses racing in the way that it did in the ‘80s and ’90s under John Cain and Jeff Kennett.

The consequence of this is two-fold. First, the parties give the impression of outlining a vision for the state but in fact are mostly gathering up small, targeted, poll-tested policy announcements and tying them together into “blueprints” on jobs or transport or schools. No leader bothers to talk about anything beyond the specific; that could be dangerous, a sign of getting ahead of oneself. That’s perceived as risky.

Second, the focus on the party leaders becomes ever more intense. In the final stages of this campaign, it appears that the ALP has succeeded in selling Daniel Andrews as a young-ish, smiling, family man. Labor left it until virtually the eve of the campaign – almost four years after he took the leader’s mantle – to put effort into getting voters to notice him.

In the past month, Andrews has lost some weight, got a better haircut and ditched his frumpy, hunched suit-clad appearance for designer jeans, an open-neck shirt and a trim jacket. And his hitherto unseen young wife has been by his side throughout the campaign.

In previous years this might have jarred with a large proportion of voters, looking last-minute and tricked-up. Less so now. The truth is, few bothered to notice Andrews until they had to, which is now, when they know they have to vote. It seems to be perceived as not so much a makeover as a reboot.

Or perhaps voters don’t care much either way. Whether this voter nonchalance is a sign of the success or the failure of the state’s political system might become clearer after Victorians have issued their verdict.

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

This article has appeared on The Conversation.

 

Sign up to free Future Learn online MOOC course – World War 1: A History in 100 Stories

Change the way you see World War 1 as you explore stories of hope, suffering and loss through Monash’s new online course, offered through Future Learn.

On 25 April 2015, it will be 100 years since the Gallipoli Landings, Australia and New Zealand’s first major military engagement of World War 1. The Anzacs went on to fight in Palestine, Egypt and the Western Front and suffered one of the highest casualty rates of any allied army.

This free online course is part of the 100 Stories Project at Monash University, commemorating the Anzac centenary and exploring the cost of war. The course will take place either side of Anzac Day, and suggests new and more inclusive ways of remembering.

The 100 stories distil the experience of the Great War. They will take you on a journey, across the battlefields on which the war was fought and into the homes of the ordinary people who suffered it. Amongst the cast of the 100 stories are not just soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses, but parents who lost their sons, wives who struggled with shell-shocked husbands, children who never knew their fathers. The themes these stories explore – grief and suffering, hope, anguish and loss – are universal. They are told in a language everyone can understand and are based on archives only just opened to historians.

Each week we’ll examine a different topic, including the physical and psychological wounds of war- shell shock, disability and trauma; women’s mobilisation both at home and in the field; and what we’ve called ‘the other Anzac’: indigenous soldiers too often ignored in our history. We’ll examine grief and mourning; protest and repatriation, the politics of war and its intensely personal dimensions.

You’ll hear from leading historians in the field, and together we’ll debate the meanings of the stories. We’ll also show you how to research your own stories, introducing you to the new digital archives that are changing the way we remember the War, and explaining how to use them.

By the end of this course, you’ll have a better understanding of one of the greatest catastrophes of the 20th Century, and the skills to embark on independent research of your own.

This course is part of a series designed to commemorate the war. Other offerings include:

Find out more:

 

Monash Criminology and Sociology at the International Symposia on Migration

symposia-posterThe School of Social Science, particularly sociology and criminology, contributed significantly to the recent International Symposia on Migration held at Deakin University.

Dr Marie Segrave along with Assoc Professor Anita Harris and Emeritus Prof Gary Bouma were invited to present at the two Symposia co-hosted by the UNESCO Chair, Cultural Diversity and Social Justice, TASA and the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University.

The two-day event sought to examine the drivers and implications of migration as well as the theoretical and conceptual frameworks within which it is studied. Other speakers included Prof Loretta Baldassar, Dr Sara Davis, Dr Savitri Taylor, Prof Jock Collins, Prof Andrew Jakubowicz, Prof Greg Noble, Prof Scot Poynting and Dr Shanthi Robertson.

Marie Segrave gave a paper focused on interrogating border enforcement practices, particular as they related to potential victimisation in the form of human trafficking and potential migration offences in relation to breaching work visas by working without the right to work or working over visa-specifed work limits.

Study at Monash:

 

Music to the ears of world leaders

Professor Paul Grabowsky. Image courtesy of Martin Philbey at the National Portrait Gallery.
Professor Paul Grabowsky. Image courtesy of Martin Philbey at the National Portrait Gallery.

Playing before some of the most powerful people in the world has been an incredible experience for Australian jazz legend and Monash academic Professor Paul Grabowsky AO.

Professor Grabowsky, the Executive Director of Monash University Academy of Performing Arts (MAPA), entertained the world leaders at a private dinner organised by Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the recent G20 Summit.

Australian indie pop and alternative rock singer Megan Washington joined Professor Grabowsky to perform their composition Fisherman’s Daughter.

Australian soprano Emma Matthews and Aboriginal musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu and his band also entertained the leaders at the dinner, held in the beautiful surrounds of the Queensland Art Gallery.

Professor Grabowsky said he couldn’t express how amazing it was to be asked to perform at such an event.

“To be in the same room as those 20 extraordinarily important people has trumped all previous experiences, including performing in the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney,” Professor Grabowsky said.

Professor Grabowsky is one of Australia’s most prominent jazz musicians, having performed or recorded with numerous international jazz stars including Chet Baker, Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano and Paul Motian.

He is the founder and Artistic Director of the Australian Art Orchestra, with which he tours both nationally and internationally. He has won four ARIA awards, numerous other distinguished awards (including the Melbourne Prize for Music in 2007) and was the Artistic Director of the 2007 Queensland Music Festival and the 2010 and 2012 Adelaide Festivals.

Professor Graabowksy has been the Executive Director of MAPA since 2012.

Study Music at Monash

 

Spice up your memory

Just one gram of turmeric added to breakfast could help improve the memory.
Just one gram of turmeric added to breakfast could help improve the memory.

Adding just one gram of turmeric to breakfast could help improve the memory of people who are in the very early stages of diabetes and at risk of cognitive impairment.

The finding has particular significance given that the world’s ageing population means a rising incidence of conditions that predispose people to diabetes, which in turn is connected to dementia.

Early intervention could help to reduce the burden, whether by halting the disease or reducing its impact, said Emeritus Professor Mark Wahlqvist, from the Monash Asia Institute at Monash University.

Professor Wahlqvist recently led a study in Taiwan that tested the working memory of men and women aged 60 or older who had recently been diagnosed with untreated pre-diabetes.

“Working memory is widely thought to be one of the most important mental faculties, critical for cognitive abilities such as planning, problem solving and reasoning,” he said.

“Assessment of working memory is simple and convenient, but it is also very useful in the appraisal of cognition and in predicting future impairment and dementia.”

In the placebo-controlled study, subjects were given one gram of turmeric with an otherwise nutritionally bland breakfast of white bread. Their working memory was tested before and some hours after the meal.

“We found that this modest addition to breakfast improved working memory over six hours in older people with pre-diabetes,” Professor Wahlqvist said.

Turmeric is widely used in cooking, particularly in Asia. Its characteristic yellow colour is due to curcumin, which accounts for 3 to 6 per cent of turmeric and has been shown by experimental studies to reduce the risk of dementia.

“Our findings with turmeric are consistent with these observations, insofar as they appear to influence cognitive function where there is disordered energy metabolism and insulin resistance,” Professor Wahlqvist said.

The study, which was published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also involved a number of research institutes in Taiwan.

Find out more:

 

Rotten to the core: why did we deal with FIFA?

If there’s one organisation that’s more dysfunctional than Essendon, it’s FIFA.

The disagreement between FIFA’s ethics committee member Hans-Joachim Eckert and the US attorney Michael Garcia into what occurred during the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups is farcical.

Garcia’s 18-month investigation into bribery and vote-rigging allegations resulted in a 430-page report. Eckert whittled it down to a 42-page summary that cleared Russia and Qatar of any wrongdoing.

Though there were some rule breaches, Eckert suggested “the effects of these occurrences on the bidding process as a whole were far from reaching any threshold that would require returning to the bidding process, let alone reopening it”.

Eckert’s precis failed to impress Garcia. A major sticking point seemed the role of the disgraced former Qatari head of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Mohammed bin Hammam.

In his summary, Eckert found that bin Hammam had made illicit payments to delegates in his bid to unseat Sepp Blatter as FIFA president. These payments, however, were quite separate from the bidding process and so had not corrupted it.

Garcia’s report has not been published, but his claims have done little to enhance FIFA’s already well-trashed reputation for probity and transparency.Garcia claims that Eckert’s report contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions”.

The president of the German Federation, Reinhard Rauball, was so disturbed by Garcia’s outburst he suggested UEFA may quit FIFA if the report is not published in full. It’s the only way FIFA can restore its lost credibility, Rauball added.

The Qataris may have splurged buckets of money to secure the Cup, but they have always claimed their bid was above board.

The now discredited bin Hammam was not involved – supposedly. As head of the AFC he had a clear conflict of interest and was meant to keep his distance.

But this seems not to have been the case. As London’sSunday Times has just revealed, bin Hammam was allegedly engineering the bidding process in contravention of FIFA’s rules. As he told a member of the English bid team, his job was to win the Cup for Qatar.

Bin Hammam did it with staggering largesse.

According to London’s Telegraph, a Qatari company owned by bin Hammam paid Trinidad and Tobago’s Jack Warner $1.2 million in 2011. Warner’s two sons also received around $US500,000 each. It’s not clear what the payments were for, but they were issued just after Qatar was awarded the Cup.

Allegations of corruption have hung over Warner for years, and the FBI is investigating this current crop.

Bin Hammam also arranged all-expenses paid flights to Doha for FIFA ‘heavies’ – from Sepp Blatter to the ‘Kaiser’ Franz Beckenbauer – to meet the Qatari bid team.

Also on the bin Hammam gravy train was the head of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Ricardo Teixeira. With his father-in-law, Joao Havelange, Teixeira allegedly accepted $US41 million in bribes between 1992 and 2006 from the now defunct sports management outfit, ISL, for exclusive marketing rights to the World Cup.

Blatter knew about the bribes but chose to do nothing, which is not surprising.

Havelange had preceded Blatter as FIFA president. Indeed, Blatter took over the presidency with Havelange’s blessing. They have similar management styles, both preferring to turn a blind eye to FIFA’s shadier side.

The report alleged the collapse has cost FIFA $US100 million and that Blatter had bribed third-parties to ensure his re-election as FIFA president. The allegations were withdrawn before the matter headed into the Swiss courts.In 2002, Blatter saw off his biggest challenge. FIFA general-secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen accused Blatter of financial mismanagement. The allegations stemmed again from investigations into the collapse of ISL.

But they resurfaced in 2012 with a Council of Europe report into bribery allegations associated with the ISL collapse. The Council found that bribes totalling around $US16 million had been made by ISL to FIFA delegates in an attempt to influence the allocation of World Cup television rights.

Blatter’s fingerprints were not on any of the documents. But the Council did note: “[s]ince FIFA was aware of significant sums paid to certain of its officials, it is difficult to imagine that Mr. Blatter would not have known about this.”

At 78, Blatter’s days as FIFA head seem far from numbered. The mud associated with FIFA under his presidency simply hasn’t stuck. In 2011 he saw off bin Hammam’s challenge, and his only real credible replacement, Frenchman Michel Platini, has refused to run against him in 2015.

Change is urgently needed as FIFA has become a global laughing-stock under Blatter.

But when it suits, Blatter’s prepared to take the moral high ground. He’s already asked gays intending to go to Qatar for the 2022 Cup to “refrain from any sexual activities” rather than contravene local laws which forbid homosexualityThe one-time president of the World Society for Friends of Suspenders (Blatter’s apparently no fan of pantyhose) has dated views on race and gender. If Blatter had his way women would be playing football in “tight shorts” and plunging necklines.

Blatter can’t be blamed solely for the decision to award the Cup to Qatar. It was made by FIFA’s 22-man executive. But even this vote was plagued by corruption. Twenty-four members of the executive should have voted, but two were disqualified because of vote selling allegations.

From a business perspective the Cup in the Gulf makes good financial and political sense.

The West often forgets that Qatar and the UAE are major players in global football. Qatari concerns own one of the world’s major football brands, Paris-St Germain, and sponsor another, Barcelona.

Qatar has experience in staging mega sporting events. Doha hosted the 2006 Asian Games and was an early bidder for the 2016 Olympics.

Money has also talked in FIFA and so it’s no surprise the Cup was awarded to Qatar.Money’s not a problem when it comes to sport in the Gulf. The region hosts the world’s richest horse race, the Dubai Gold Cup, and major tennis and golf tournaments, amongst numerous other events.

So powerful is Gulf money these days that FIFA is contemplating disrupting Europe’s major domestic football competitions to stage the Cup in the cooler months of November and December.

But money can’t mask the abuses of migrant labour from Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh working on Qatari World Cup building sites.

Over the next eight years this – and not the heat – will be the real bugbear for FIFA and Qatar. The International Trade Union Confederation alleges that migrant workers’ passports have been confiscated by their employers. Furthermore, workers frequently go unpaid and are subjected to intolerable conditions.

Recently The Guardian obtained documents from the Nepalese embassy in Doha which allege that 44 workers died on building sites between June and August this year. The main causes of death were heat-related “heart attacks, heart failure and workplace accidents”.

These deaths are the hidden cost of the 2022 World Cup.

Given these abuses and FIFA’s history of shonky business practices, it’s a bit rich to accuse the Australian and English bids of shady dealings.

They can be accused of naivety, however.

Why Frank Lowy, the FFA and the then Labor government decided to splurge $44 million on securing the Cup beggars belief.

For starters, there was too much money flowing out of resource-rich Russia and the Gulf to even get to first-base. Then the Australians were up against bin Hamman’s cashed-up Qatar.

The Australians were lucky to get a vote at all. But we did pick up the door-prize – the Asian Cup. There were no other takers!

Garcia has done us all a favour. In challenging FIFA’s interpretation of his report, he’s reminded us of the shonky practices and cover-ups that have gone on under both Blatter and Havelange’s presidencies.

But the FFA and the English FA shouldn’t whinge. FIFA’s history should have warned them against doing business with Blatter’s mob until they clean up their act.

With the suspender-loving Blatter still in the chair, that seems a long way off.

Find out more:

 

Music Archive awarded Community Heritage Grant

Senator Simon Birmingham presents Bronia Kornhauser with the Significance Assessment Grant certificate.
Senator Simon Birmingham presents Bronia Kornhauser with the Significance Assessment Grant certificate.

The Museum of Indonesian Arts (MIA) at the Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU) has been awarded a Community Heritage Grant to fund a significance assessment project. 

The grant, which is funded by the federal government, was announced at the National Library of Australia in Canberra late last month. MAMU’s founding director Professor Margaret Kartomi, AM, FAHA, and MIA chairman Halina Nowicka said they were pleased the archive was collaborating with the Museum of Indonesian Arts on this important project.

“The project will document the national significance of our joint holdings which include performing, visual and ethnographic art objects and field recordings from Indonesia collected by friends of MIA, staff and student researchers, and significant donors since the early 1970s,” Professor Kartomi said. 

MAMU research archivist Bronia Kornhauser was presented with the grant during a recent three-day intensive preservation and collection management workshop in Canberra. Ms Kornhauser said the grant was important in supporting the effort to preserve the collection at the grassroots level: “While the grant provides the funds, the workshop offers the expertise to help us protect our collection and make it widely accessible while still remaining in the local context,” Ms Kornhauser said.

MIA and MAMU are the only organisations in Australia devoted to collecting, digitising, cataloguing, conserving, performing, researching and exhibiting the historical and contemporary arts – including audio and video recorded performances of music, dance and theatre, costumes, textiles, leather shadow puppets, theatre and dance masks, and paintings – from many parts of Indonesia. MAMU is possibly the only archive of its kind in the world. 

Find out more:

 

A modern water conundrum

A project that unites civil engineering and the social sciences is showing how developing countries can benefit from tailored solutions rather than an unthinking uptake of advanced technology.

Faced with rising populations and rapid urbanisation, developing nations such as Vanuatu are often keen to acquire first-world water-management systems.

But that can mean buying into costly mistakes. The developed world has not necessarily “got it right”.

Simply adopting first-world systems can also mean emulating the same costly cycles of trial and error involving unsustainable solutions, says Monash University’s Professor Rebekah Brown, a program leader for Australia’s Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Water Sensitive Cities and associate director of the Monash Water for Liveability Centre.

“Poor countries can look to rich countries and say ‘we want what they have’. What they might not see are the significant environmental and economic impacts of these older systems, which have really only been recognised in the past 20 to 30 years,” she says.

“In the so-called first world, many urban environments have highly degraded waterways and river systems. Yes, we have high availability of potable water, but we use a lot of energy to make that water very, very clean, and then we use it to flush toilets. This, in the long term, is not sustainable.”

In an interdisciplinary PhD research project supervised by both Professor Brown and Monash civil engineer Professor Ana Deletic, environmental engineer Michael Poustie devised a proposal for drainage in Port Vila that took account of local priorities.

The plan is a hybrid of conventional pipes and pits, combined with grass swales and infiltration systems to slow and treat stormwater, and the use of composting toilets in districts that do not have access to improved wastewater systems.

It will be cheaper to build and operate, and more environmentally sustainable, than the previous proposal, lifted straight from a conventional developed-country model. It might have improved drainage for the city itself, but would have exacerbated coastal pollution and created serious headaches for the tourism on which the local economy relies.

“You can’t just look at water infrastructure from a technical perspective. You have to incorporate the management, the institutions and the governance structures to enable water technologies to be implemented, used and maintained,” Mr Poustie says.

Read more about the work of Professor Ana Deletic, Professor Rebekah Brown and Mr Mike Poustie in A modern water conundrum in the October issue of Monash magazine.

Find out more:

 

Monash on ABC’s ‘The Philosopher’s Zone’

Associate Professor Rob Sparrow, currently part of Monash’s School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, recently joined a discussion with Jai Galliot and Brent Franklin on ABC’s ‘The Philosopher’s Zone’.

‘A Space Mess': “The Virgin Galactic tragedy over the sands of the Mojave is a reminder that a new space race is on in earnest. Unlike the original, this one is supercharged with private equity, and has the masses in mind. It will only be a matter of time until we all know someone who’s been ‘up there’. Could it be a tabula rasa for humanity? The truth is, though, that wherever we go our foibles follow quite closely behind. How to make a space mess: let us count the ways.”

Download or listen to the program.

Study philosophy at Monash University:

 

2015 sees Monash become major sponsor of Malthouse Theatre

MALT_082The Centre for Theatre and Performance is delighted to announce that from 2015, Monash becomes a major sponsor of the Malthouse Theatre.

The Malthouse Theatre is one of Melbourne’s premier theatre companies, and probably the best venue for seeing the state of play in the Melbourne performance culture.

CTP Director Jane Montgomery Griffiths says, “This is a terrific opportunity for CTP and Malthouse. It’s very fitting that CTP, as one of the leading educators of the next generation of theatre makers, should partner Malthouse, the most exciting producing venue for new theatre and performance. I’m particularly pleased about the opportunities this partnership will open up for our students to engage with professional industry practice and visiting international artists.”

The relationship opens the way for a large number of internships for CTP students in the  areas of stage management, literary management, marketing, lighting design, scenic design, assistant directing. It also opens the way for some third year performance students to present their work at Malthouse‘s Tower Theatre. This will become a show case for the industry to show off the talents of our students.

CTP will organise a series of public cultural conversations on the Malthouse Season, with panels and audience participation.  CTP students and Monash staff, students and alumni will also have access to discount ticket offers, and will have first option on any complimentary offers. Monash and Malthouse will share visiting international artists. This means that students entering the performance minor with have the chance to be taught by internationally renowned companies such as Reckless Sleepers and Belarus Free Theatre.

In addition, Malthouse will offer career advice to CTP students wanting to enter various aspects of the industry.

This is just the beginning. As the relationship develops, we’ll be developing more connections between the company and our Centre. We look forward to a fruitful relationship ahead!

Study Theatre and Performance at Monash

 

Interview with Rosalie Triolo: Schools and the First World War

Image: MALACHYTARPEY http://flic.kr/p/ozQ6pp License: CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Image: MALACHYTARPEY http://flic.kr/p/ozQ6pp License: CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Why did enlisted school teachers die at a greater rate than other soldiers and proportionately receive more military honours during the First World War?

Monash historian Rosalie Triolo recently spoke to Natasha Mitchell, host of the ‘Life Matters’ program on ABC radio about the contribution of teachers to the war effort and the impact, both immediate and long-term, of war on those teachers and on their students. During this period in Australian history, students were taught lessons about patriotism, the British Empire and Australia’s role within it.

Dr Triolo recently developed an education resource, in the form of a book and CD set, to highlight the role of education in the war effort and the way the British Empire’s role within it was taught to students.

Download or listen to the program.

Find out more:

 

Soldiers’ real stories are the best defence against Remembrance Day conditioning

Our politicians ask us to imagine that our ‘fallen’ soldiers ‘sacrificed’ themselves for a higher cause. For many young men sent to the first world war, there was no happy, patriotic ending

Article by Paul Daley, originally published in The Guardian

remembrance day anzac
Corporal Hurtle Emery, who was killed in action in France on 11 April 1917. Photograph: flickr

Our politicians ask us to imagine that our ‘fallen’ soldiers ‘sacrificed’ themselves for a higher cause. For many young men sent to the first world war, there was no happy, patriotic ending

This year, yet again, the keepers of our national myths will tell us that the soldiers of the “Great War” have passed from life into our collective memory.

Some of us knew a first world war soldier. But, a century after the war began, for most of us who’ll stop today to mark a minute’s silence for Remembrance Day, the soldiers of the first world war long ago passed into – or always have been part of – our imaginations rather than our memories.

Good men, all, and brave too, we have long been assured, were those who were “lost” to the war. The fog of hindsight has inaccurately rendered them a rarefied, almost saintly, generation, whose terrible experiences have become cloaked in benign euphemism and cliché.

The reason, I think, is as unsettling as it is simple. If we can be culturally conditioned to imagine that the “fallen” somehow “sacrificed” themselves for an end loftier than just the battlefield – be it empire or freedom or a new federation – then the prosaic ugliness of war death and survivor torment becomes ever more remote from the politicians who are ultimately responsible for it.

What will we imagine today about the 62,000 Australian first world war soldiers who died and the countless hundreds of thousands more who were maimed, physically and psychologically?

You can listen to what the politicians say. Or you can make an effort to understand the real experiences of those who died or survived to live on with guilt, remorse, endless sorrow and pain. A good place to begin is One Hundred Stories, a project by Monash University’s centre for Australian studies.

They are stories that tell it like it was. They do not deify the men or the women who looked out for them. They don’t sugarcoat the post-war treatment meted out to the living and the dead by society and the responsible authorities.

remembrance day anzac
Driver Albert Llewelyn Lang suffered trench fever on deployments in Egypt, France and Belgium. He survived the war and died in 1951. Photograph: flickr

But before I go to one of the stories there, let me tell you another – that of John Francis Naughton, a young baker from Charters Towers in Queensland, who enlisted in the 3rd Battalion in September 1914 just after war’s outbreak.

He was big for his day, standing five foot ten, and weighing 11 stone, dark complexioned with blue eyes and fair hair. It sounds like he was a spirited bloke: in January 1915 he was sentenced to 14 days’ detention in Egypt, for what we don’t know but can well imagine.

Naughton was among the first wave who landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and was wounded less than a fortnight later. He was less fortunate the second time he was wounded during the allied August offensive; a bomb exploded in his hands, shredding both and badly injuring his knee and thigh.

A full day passed before Naughton could be evacuated to a hospital ship, during which time his hands became gangrenous and fly-blown. Eventually he arrived in England. A note on his file reads: “Bomb exploded in his hands necessitating immediate amputation both hands.”

For the next 15 months Naughton was moved from hospital to hospital in London, while back home his mother and brother were left to ponder his fate. In November 1916, he died of kidney disease at Fulham military hospital. His pain was over. But his indignity was not.

remembrance day anzac
Lance corporal John Vockins, a teamster before enlisting, served in France and was discharged in 1919. Photograph: flickr

A recent article by academics from Monash and the Australian National University has disclosed that Naughton was among many Australian troops who were buried in mass graves after dying in English hospitals. It’s a story that has not been told before, but one that should be for all that it says about the empire’s treatment of the men who supposedly “sacrificed” themselves for it.

“A parcel of personal effects was sent to his mother in Australia and the body (of Naughton) itself bundled up for burial,” write Bruce Scates, Frank Bongiorno, Rebecca Wheatley and Laura James in their paper, Such a great space of water between us; Anzac day in Britain, 1916-39.

“Yet death did not end his indignities. Naughton’s body was left in an open grave in [London’s] Kensal Green cemetery; exposure to the elements led to ‘consequences’, as one anxious report put it, ‘better imagined than described’. It was several weeks before the plot was filled in, and then only after protests by the London branch of the Australian Natives Association.”

The ANA, which organised some of the earliest Anzac day ceremonies in Britain, focused on attaining the type of decorum and grace in commemoration that eluded some of the soldiers during sudden battlefield or lingering hospital death. Only imperial officers were entitled to individual graves.

“Enlisted men were often buried in common plots, as many as twenty corpses piled unceremoniously one on top of the another. Naughton’s grave was left open to receive other bodies in just this way,” according to the paper by Scates and the others.

By 1919, 2135 Australian soldiers of the first world war were buried in 343 graveyards across Britain, a good number in common graves. In 1921, what remained of Naughton was exhumed and individually buried in a special plot that (thanks to the ANA) was established in Kensal Green cemetery. A simple wooden cross marked it.

anzac remembrance day
Corporal John Moore, who was killed in action on 12 May 1918 in France. Photograph: /flickr

Instructively, Naughton’s mother Harriett did not want any other memorial to her son erected on English soil, writing: “I haven’t any desire to have any further action being taken with the erection of a permanent headstone on the resting place of my son.”

It’s fair to assume that, a world away in Australia, Harriett’s private commemoration of her son would have had as its focus his few possessions: a photo, hairbrush, autograph book, four handkerchiefs, a collar, tie, tie pin, four cigarette holders, a cigar holder, a pipe, rosary beads, a safety razor, a cigarette lighter, some letters and a “Lock hair”.

The lock of hair; another tragedy of which we’ll never learn.

Lives like Naughton’s make it impossible for me to accept any notion that our soldiers’ life force somehow transformed into an enduring “spirit” of Anzac after they supposedly willingly sacrificed themselves in battle. No less ludicrous is the cultural acceptance that they are the “fallen”, not the killed or dead.

The real stories of the men who died and survived are harrowing. The men themselves deserve more than to have their reality shrouded in distracting, quasi-religious hyperbole.

The truth is that politicians and generals, both British and some obsequious Australians, sacrificed antipodean troops. Yes, the men followed orders, sometimes knowing that doing so would lead to death. But that is not the same thing as actively renouncing life.

Which brings me to one more real story I’m thinking about today – that of Gordon Wallace, “the man with half a face”. Searing shrapnel ripped off the other half at the battle of Menin Ridge.

So began the rest of his life as one of thousands of Australian “face cases”. He could never eat properly, was difficult, violent, cruel, depressed, miserable, unemployable and often drunk. He lived like this until Anzac Day 1954, when he drowned in Melbourne – an apparent suicide.

His wife Evelyn, who’d long cared for Gordon, could not survive without her husband’s pension.

“The Repatriation won’t accept his death as war related but the background of it all was due to war service. Gordon gave his life for his country and what is his country doing for him?” she wrote.

“It is all very well to say Greater Love Hath No Man.”

There was no happy ending. There rarely was. And it pays to keep this in mind when remembering – or imagining – the war dead today.

The authorities refused to grant Evelyn a widow’s pension on the grounds that drunkenness, not war service, caused his death. She died just two years later.

Gordon Wallace and his wife would have been better off had he sacrificed himself on the battlefield. But it just didn’t happen like that.

Article originally published in The Guardian

Find out more about the Great War

Monash University in commemorating the Centenary of the Great War. Find out about Monash Great War Centenary news, events, projects and publications at the website:

 

Lest we forget: why November 11 lives in the shadow of Anzac Day

by Ben Wellings

For all its importance, Remembrance Day, November 11, does not capture the Australian imagination in the way that Anzac Day does, despite the sustained efforts of successive governments to promote the day in the commemorative calendar. The reasons for this low profile are diverse, but can be organised under three broad headings: ideological, atmospheric and prosaic.

Anzac has nation-building appeal

First, to the ideological: Remembrance Day does not have the nation-building dimension in Australia that Anzac Day has. Despite the spontaneous outburst of mourning witnessed in Australia during the earliest Anzac Days, it also carried a sense of relief at the seeming proof of once-doubted national qualities. The day was always leavened with a dose of imperial endorsement for the qualities of the Australian fighting man.

In other words, there was something positive amid the solemnity. Grief and national pride were combined in equal measure, meaning that Anzac Day was understood in different ways. For some it was a day to proudly remember service and sacrifice. For others it was a day to remember the futility of war.

Thus Anzac Day combined mourning and nation-building in a way that November 11 did not. It explained something about modern Australia to Australians in a way that Remembrance Day never could.

At this point, it should be noted that commemorations are not static, despite elements of continuity. They need to remain relevant in order to resonate: that is to say, they need to reflect the social and political contexts in which they take place if they are to sustain and speak to a changing set of participants and spectators.

A comparison with commemorations in other countries helps make this point. In inter-war France and Belgium, November 11 initially represented victory and liberation from the German aggressor as well as an occasion for collective mourning. But in the context of European integration after 1945, acts of collective remembrance were required to perform a different political function, that of sustaining Franco-German reconciliation on which European integration was founded.

This was the impulse behind the famous hand-holding gesture by Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand at Verdun in 1984, which was echoed by the present-day French and German presidents in Alsace in August 2014. Commemoration and politics are closely entwined.

As Australia’s imperial connection weakened in the second half of the 20th century, Remembrance Day was no longer needed to sustain a political connection throughout the British Commonwealth. In any case, Empire Day served this function into the 1950s.

But nor was it clear in the 1970s and 1980s that Anzac Day, itself capable of accommodating an imperial dimension when necessary, could change with the times either. Opposition to conscriptionand the resistance from returned services organisations to allowing non-combatants to march risked pushing Anzac Day into irrelevance too.

But this is where the nation-building element returned. It wasn’t quite the same nation-building required as 100 years ago, although there are obvious continuities. In an era of globalisation, reworked national narratives were required to help explain Australia’s place in the world and ways that Australians could relate to each other in changing socio-economic contexts.

With its portrayal of Australia as an emerging and middle power on the battlefields of Europe, Asia and the Middle East and with its powerful transmission of national values, “Anzac Day 2.0” emerged as the dominant expression of Australian nationhood at the turn of the 21st century.

Such ideological reasons grounded in shifting political needs are not the only reasons that Anzac Day dominates over Remembrance Day in Australia. There are “atmospheric” and “prosaic” dynamics at play too.

Spring vs autumn

The atmospheric dimension relates to the fact that Remembrance Day in Australia falls in the spring. In the western tradition, springtime is traditionally associated with growth, rebirth and renewal. This is at odds with the messages contained in the autumnal services recognising sacrifice, loss and death.

For Anzac Day, like Remembrance Day in the northern hemisphere, autumn forms the sympathetic and emotive backdrop to the commemorative event. The day aligns the participant’s experience with the solemnity of the occasion, reinforced by the falling leaves, grey skies and chilly temperatures.

Public holidays are popular

Lastly, to the prosaic: Anzac Day has the great advantage of being a public holiday. Remembrance Day is not a public holiday and so it is not as prominent in the public imagination. It is not signalled as being as officially important as Anzac Day.

This means that there is a sense in which days of commemoration are in competition with each other. Such competition is being played out in Canada as the parliament debates whether to make November 11 a national holiday. But in some ways, this is in competition with Canada Day – nicely situated in the middle of summer. For all its solemnity, a day spent on the shores of Lake Ontario in November is not as appealing as one in July.

These three broad reasons – the ideological, the atmospheric and the prosaic – help explain why Remembrance Day is the perennial also-ran in Australia’s commemorative calendar.

Dr Ben Wellings is a lecturer in European studies in the Monash European and EU Centre at Monash University and the author of English Nationalism and Euroscepticism: losing the peace (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2012).

This article has appeared in The Conversation.

Find out more:

 

Support for new parents is just a click away

New parents and their partners have a new online resource to help them feel less isolated and alone.

Covering topics from IVF to work-life balance in early parenthood and everything in between, and illustrated by film and audio clips from interviews with parents from varied backgrounds and family types, the website aims to inform and support expecting and new parents.

The site has been developed by a team of researchers from the School of Social Sciences, based on the ‘Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood in Australian Families’ project.

Leading researcher, Associate Professor Renata Kokanovic, said the research she and her team (Kate Johnston-Ataata, Nicholas Hill and Caroline Hart) had undertaken to develop the website found a lack of support was a common experience for new parents.

“We found that many people, especially those who had moved away from family and friends or migrated to Australia felt they weren’t getting the support they needed,” Associate Professor Kokanovic said.

“Health statistics tell us that up to a third of women and men in Australia are thought to experience some emotional distress while expecting a baby or during early parenthood.

“Feeling isolated is a common experience for new parents, as is finding that their experiences of pregnancy and early parenthood are different from their expectations. Many people we spoke described this as distressing, particularly around the degree of change in their lives, and the impact of parenthood on their relationships.

“The website is designed to be a tool to help new parents to survive the transition to parenthood and the early years when they are at their most vulnerable.”

The website provides information and videos from parents talking about their experiences of conceiving, IVF, miscarriage, surrogacy, adoption, pregnancy, labour and birth, life in early parenthood, antenatal and postnatal depression, the impact of becoming a parent on relationships, balancing parenthood with paid work. It also includes advice to expecting and new parents, and messages for health professionals.

Associate Professor Kokanovic said despite considerable research on emotional distress of early parenthood, most research did not consider the broader social context or the diverse family and parenting arrangements found in contemporary Australia.

“This website is unique in that it features a really diverse range of parents and families; single parents, same-sex parents, blended and step-families, families with adopted children, parents through surrogacy, and parents from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds,” Associate Professor Kokanovic said.

“Despite the challenges, most people we interviewed found the experience of becoming a parent rewarding and did not regret it. It allowed us to better understand the emotional rollercoaster all new parents, no matter what their situation, go through.”

The website is a partnership between Monash University, Healthdirect Australia, and DIPEx Australia.

The online resource is housed on DIPEx Australia’s website. As well as supporting expecting and new parents and their family members and friends, it also aims to educate health and allied health providers working with new parents, and inform policy development.

Find out more:

 

Applications open for ‘Seeking Justice: South Africa and Rwanda’ program 2015

Applications are now open for the Seeking Justice: South Africa and Rwanda 2015 international study program scheduled to take place 5-20 July 2015.

Find out more about the program and the application process on the Study Programs and Tours webpage.

Applications close 4pm Monday 17 November 2014. Be quick to secure your place!

 

PhD student Indika Ferdinando wins Chicago International Children’s Film Festival award

Indika Ferdinando’s début feature film “The Singing Pond” won the Special Jury award (Teacher’s Choice) at the 31st Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.

The film, which centres on the students of a primary school in a remote village in Sri Lanka who learn to dream big,  was screened at the Arts Centre of the University of Chicago and well received by the audience.

Film still from 'The Singing Pond', image: http://www.hogaanapokuna.com/Ho_gaana_pokuna/HOME.html
Film still from ‘The Singing Pond’, image: http://www.hogaanapokuna.com/Ho_gaana_pokuna/HOME.html

Indika Ferdinando is an award-winning writer and director for the stage and screen in Sri Lanka. In 2010, his theatre production, “Colombo Colombo”, was sleceted for the South Asian Women’s Festival in New Delhi and Mumbai, as well as the International Theatre Festival in Nepal. Ferdinando is currently a PhD student in the Theatre and Performance program at Monash and is researching Sri Lankan ritual traditions in relation to contemporary theatrical practice.

Find out more:

 

 

 

Remembering the man who changed Australia

by Jenny Hocking

The 2000 people who filled the Sydney Town Hall, and the thousands more gathered around screens outside – in Melbourne, in Kings Hall in Old Parliament House, in Cabramatta, in the Berry pub – witnessed a memorial service as inspirational, as passionate and as committed as the man whose life it honoured, Edward Gough Whitlam.

As a state memorial service it could have been rigid, unyielding, old-fashioned, even peremptory, but this was a state service like no other.

In moments of sheer political theatre they cheered the good – Julia Gillard greeted with flowers to a standing ovation – they jeered the bad – John Howard and Tony Abbott in equal measure – while Malcolm Fraser, the man who will forever live in Whitlam’s political shadow, was scarcely acknowledged.

This was also the moment we heard one of the truly great oratorical performances. Noel Pearson’s memorable paean to Whitlam’s unapologetic pursuit of equality, his ‘moral vision for equality of opportunity’, was a rare match for Whitlam’s own mastery of that form.

Pearson showed better than any the significance of the Whitlam government’s Racial Discrimination Act – now too frequently seen as a vulgar anti-Bolt weapon – rather than as the fundamental protector of racial equality it has always been.

Without the Racial Discrimination Act there could have been no Koowarta case, no Mabo case and no Native Title Act. Whitlam’s was an avowedly and proudly reformist government, he saw his election victory as ‘a command to perform’ and the Whitlam government passed more legislation in its three short years than any other, despite having more legislation rejected by the Senate in those three years than any other.

Pearson described it as the textbook case of ‘reform trumping management’.

Graham Freudenberg, Whitlam’s oldest friend, confidante and long-time amanuensis, called this moment ‘the greatest privilege of my very privileged life’.

William Barton’s performance on the didgeridoo was a haunting polyphony which, from a single instrument, seemed both an impossibility and a metaphor.

Aunty Millie Ingram remembered Gough Whitlam sitting with Charlie Perkins and Chicka Dixon in the Aboriginal tent embassy, listening, when no other political leader would do either.

“I can only say to the great man, thank you. You shone a light that led the way for us,” she said.

Cate Blanchett reflected on her sense of loss at Whitlam’s death, ascribing it, to thunderous applause, to the simple fact that she is a beneficiary of the Whitlam government’s free tertiary education.

Senator John Faulkner recalled Whitlam’s wit, his intelligence and breadth of knowledge and his cutting humour which did not always work in his favour. Faulkner instanced Whitlam’s opening line to the Press Club after a particularly bad week with Canberra journalists: “Vipers, ladies and gentlemen.”

But most emphatically, he remembered Gough Whitlam as a great Labor prime minister whose achievements inspired not just his own generation, but those to come.

The emblematic Whitlam reforms continue to resonate: ‘one vote one value’ and universal health insurance, Medibank, votes for 18-year-olds, national legal aid, Senate representation for the NT and the ACT, the release of draft resisters from jail and an end to peace-time conscription, an Australian national anthem, an Australian system of honours and the end of the British Honours system, recognition of communist China, independence for Papua New Guinea, the end of the White Australia policy, consumer protection, the supporting mother’s benefit, an independent foreign policy stance, the abolition of the death penalty, no-fault divorce, the Racial Discrimination Act, Aboriginal land rights, equal pay for women and, of course, free tertiary education.

From this careful weave of countless individual reforms has come the cultural and social transformation that is now acknowledged as Gough Whitlam’s great legacy.

For 40 years Whitlam seemed destined to be remembered more as the only prime minister ever to be dismissed from office than for this reformist vision and his successfully reforming government. Yet the two weeks since Gough Whitlam’s death has seen a significant political re-evaulation take shape, finally laying this shibboleth to rest.

The consistent refrain has been clear, Gough Whitlam changed Australia and we are the better for it.

As Paul Keating said, there was Australia before Gough Whitlam, and there was a different Australia after Gough Whitlam – and things would never be the same again.

Professor Jenny Hocking works in the National Centre for Australian Studies. She is the author of Gough Whitlam: His Time, Melbourne University Publishing, 2012, and Gough Whitlam: A Moment in History, Melbourne University Publishing, 2008

This article has appeared in The New Daily.

Find out more:

 

 

Voters need pre-election details, not vague promises

by Colleen Lewis

The November state election has entered caretaker mode, which means that for the next three and half weeks Victorians will be bombarded with promises from all political parties.  However, the promise season commenced a few weeks ago as we already know, among other things, that there will be more job opportunities, more growth, better public transport, improved roads, enhanced health care that puts patients first, revitalised school programs, the South Melbourne lifesaving club will be rescued, we will have safer, more vibrant and progressive communities and action will be taken on the growing problem of domestic violence.

The nature of these promises come as no surprise, as political parties are hardly going to promise fewer job opportunities, worse public transport, unimproved roads, deteriorating health services and so on.

Being less cynical, these and similar promises have been on political agendas, in one form or another, at previous elections.  Some have been delivered and others have not.  Unfortunately, voters often don’t remember the former and rarely forget the latter.

As I have pointed out on several occasions recently, voters no longer trust politicians or the parties to which they belong.  So, does it matter what politicians promise in an effort to lure our vote? Well yes, it does.  Even though history tells us that not all promises will be honoured, a party’s pre-election policy agenda offers voters some idea of the direction Victoria will be taken by whichever party wins the election.

But voters want more detail before  voting, including timelines.  This does not mean receiving a vague promise that a policy will be introduced in the life of the next parliament.  Politicians have had four years to think through the issues that arise in many of the policy areas mentioned above, and several of the challenges that beset these areas are not new.

If politicians are interested in starting to regain people’s trust, and hence having their promises believed, it would make good political sense (read also electoral sense) for parties to let voters know what they are doing about matters that go to the heart of political integrity.  That is a policy area sure to grab voters’ attention, and hopefully that of the media.

Perhaps the most important integrity-related matter voters need to know before  casting their vote is who is donating to the political parties fielding candidates, how much they have donated and what amounts they have given (if any) over the past four years.  Voters would also be very interested in knowing why donors have chosen to spend shareholders’ money and union membership fees, among other monies, on the forthcoming election campaign, particularly as money is rarely, if ever, given to powerful institutions for no reason.

Revealing this information prior to the election is not a complex task; indeed it is no more complicated than posting a press release on a website.  For example, as the money comes in, political parties could place this information on their website under a clearly visible heading “political donations”.

When donating, donors could provide a paragraph or two that outlines the reason for their donation and this could also go on the website.  This would mean that anyone casting a vote on November  29 could see, quite clearly, who is assisting what party in their quest for power   This is important knowledge, as with government goes the ability to award contracts (including to developers), enter into public-private partnerships and make planning decisions.

Political funding is only one of a series of policies that are central to political integrity.  Another is the capacity to investigate suspected corruption.  Essential reforms to IBAC’s legislation continue to languish in the parliamentary in box.  Political parties must explain exactly when the bill will be introduced into the Victorian parliament, and whether the much-needed changes, advocated by several experts in the anti-corruption area, will be included in a revised bill – and if not, why not.

What voters do not want to hear over the next three and a half weeks is a degrading slanging match between political parties. A lot of money is expended in an effort to belittle and malign other candidates and the parties to which they belong. Voters are sick of such tiresome behaviour  because they have heard it all before (ho-hum) and  because voters who contribute to political campaigns through their taxes do not react kindly to knowing that their hard-earned money is going towards smear campaigns.

We can only hope that all politicians don’t have their fingers crossed when they make election promises in the lead-up to the election. One way of feeling more confident that they won’t is for every party to place at the top of  its political agenda policies that relate to its own integrity and to explain them, in detail, to the electorate. Such an approach sounds like a vote winner to me.

Adjunct Professor Colleen Lewis works at the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University. 

This article has appeared in The Age.

 

Internships for Monash students help digitise WW1 history

chelseaaction2
Chelsea Delpirou, double major in history and literature, at Monash University

As part of an effort to commemorate the centenary of World War One, Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) is digitising around 10,000 Soldier Settlement Records with the help of Monash student interns.

The ‘Battle to Farm’ project, which uncovers a collection of individual soldier settlement records, helps to explain the highs and lows of the farming experience undertaken by many returned Victorian soldiers, who were offered leased land in return for their service as part of the Soldier Settlement Scheme. 

The project is an opportunity for Monash students to take part in the digitisation of these records, through an internship agreement Monash’s Faculty of Arts has with the PROV. These internships provide students with industry experience and a chance to be part of the team bringing the experiences of soldier settlement to the fore.

Students taking part in the project have focused on a variety of aspects, highlighting the complex and varied experiences of those involved in the rural settlement plan.

“Working with PROV, I will be specifically focused on changes within society, if women received land, and if Aboriginal and Chinese Soldiers received land. I hope to highlight various case studies to reveal the successes and failures of the Government’s Battle to Farm,” said student Chelsea Delpirou. 

The digital records will be searchable and available online by 2015.

Another Monash led project, ‘A Land Fit For Heroes?’, highlights a similar scheme in New South Wales.

Read more about the students taking part in the internship program on the Public Record Office Victoria website.

Find out more about the Great War

Monash University in commemorating the Centenary of the Great War. Find out about Monash Great War Centenary news, events, projects and publications at the website:

 

 

The Second International Symposium on the Malay Musical Arts of Indonesia’s Riau Islands (SIRI) – Registrations Now Open

Registrations are now open for the Second International Symposium on the Malay Musical Arts of Indonesia’s Riau Islands (SIRI). The symposium will be held at Monash University, Clayton Campus from 14 to 16 January 2015.

Symposium theme: The Changing Identity and Sustainability of the Music-Cultures and Worldviews of the Riau Islands’ Sedentary Malays and Sea Nomads/ Perubahan Identitas dan Kelanjutan Budaya Musik dan Pandangan Hidup Orang Melayu Tetap dan Orang Suku Laut di Kepri

Sub-theme: Sound, Body Movement and Hierarchy in the Arts of the Riau Archipelago

For more information, or to register, go to the conference homepage.

 

Monash musicologist wins statewide prize

Ian Parsons (BMus Hons. Musicology)
Ian Parsons (BMus Hons. Musicology)

Honours Musicology student Ian Parsons has won this year’s prize for best paper by an honours, masters or PhD student at the annual conference of the Victorian Chapter of the Musicological Society of Australia, held this weekend.

The judges praised Ian’s paper for its depth of inquiry and his expert handling of complex interdisciplinary narratives in which he contributed new ideas and ways of interpreting the work. Entry papers covered subjects in musicology, ethnomusicology, composition, music psychology and practice research.

Ian’s paper is entitled ‘Inderterminate logic: the expression of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theories of language as demonstrated in the performance history of Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise‘.

For more information on the Musicological Society of Australia, please click here.

Study music at Monash:

 

Continuity and change: Australian opinion in a time of stress and fear

by Andrew Markus

The report on the 2014 Scanlon Foundation Mapping Social Cohesion surveys, released on Wednesday, finds both continuity and change. On attitudes to asylum seekers, for example, there is a large measure of continuity. While there has been some weakening of strongly held views, those supporting eligibility for permanent settlement for boat arrivals remain a minority. Just 24 per cent of those surveyed were in favour.

Analysis using eight variables (gender, state of residence, region, age, education, financial situation, intended vote and region of birth) finds support for permanent settlement above 35 per cent in just one sub-group: those intending to vote Greens (64 per cent). There is a significant gap in the Australian community between mainstream opinion and Greens and advocacy groups.

While some commentators continue to hold the view that Australian bigotry – a legacy of White Australia – explains attitudes to asylum seekers, the level of support for permanent resettlement is lower among Australians born overseas of non-English-speaking background (21 per cent) than the Australian-born (25 per cent).

The 2014 findings on immigration come as a surprise. There was an expectation, in the context of rising unemployment and economic concerns, that negative views on immigration would increase – yet the reverse has occurred. Just 35 per cent consider that the intake is “too high” (the lowest proportion of the seven Scanlon Foundation national surveys), while 58 per cent agree that it is “about right” or “too low”.

This compares with 2014 American and European surveys that have found disapproval of government handling of immigration in the range of 60 per cent to 75 per cent.

A possible explanation for this low level of concern is the effectiveness of the government’s measures to stop asylum seekers arriving by boat. This success has conveyed the message that the government has effective border control measures and can be trusted to manage immigration.

Questions on the Australian political system continue to find low levels of respect for politicians, political parties and parliament. Again contrary to past trends, there was little evidence of a honeymoon period in the first year of a new government.

In response to the open-ended question “What is the most important problem facing Australia today?”, quality of government and politicians was ranked second, after the economy. A new question in the 2014 survey asked if the Australian political system works well. Just 15 per cent indicated that it “works fine as it is”; 48 per cent considered that it needs minor change; while 34 per cent indicated “major change” or that it “should be replaced”.

In the context of concerns over the domestic repercussions of conflict in Syria and Iraq, an additional survey of 500 new respondents, comprising 12 questions chosen from the original survey in June-July, was conducted by telephone in October. The objective was to establish the extent and nature of any attitudinal shift over the last three months.

The survey found no change to the highly positive original findings on attitudes to immigration and multiculturalism. For example, 85 per cent of initial respondents agreed that “multiculturalism has been good for Australia”. In October, it remained steady in terms of statistical significance at 81%.

Attitudes to faith groups have largely been consistent since 2011. Negative sentiment towards those of the Muslim faith has been relatively high across the years. While five per cent or fewer respondents have indicated that they are “very negative” or “negative” towards Christians or Buddhists, close to 25 per cent feel this way about Muslims. This pattern continued in the October survey, but without increase in the proportion negative towards Muslims.

However, significant change between June-July and October was found in the ranking of the main problems facing Australia, in level of identification with Australia, and in trust in the federal government.

In the ranking of problems, concern over the quality of government dropped markedly. National security, terrorism and defence issues – and what may be seen as a juxtaposed issue, concern over racism – emerged as prominent in October. Trust in the federal government increased from 26 per cent to 36 per cent, the highest proportion since 2009.

In response to the proposition that “in the modern world, maintaining the Australian way of life is important”, the level of “strong agreement” rose from 49 per cent in June-July to 71 per cent in October. Sense of belonging in Australia “to a great extent” increased from 61 per cent to 73 per cent.

This selection of results from the report points to the complexity of drivers of Australian opinion. It is a complexity that defies simple categorisation. While increased level of trust in government in a time of security concern and heightened nationalism conforms to expectations, the lack of change in attitudes towards Muslim Australians and continuing high levels of support for multiculturalism and immigration provide scope for reflection.

Professor Andrew Markus is the Pratt Foundation research professor in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University.

This article has appeared on The Conversation.

Find out more:

 

Immigration and multiculturalism get the tick

Strong public support form Australia’s immigration intake, and the benefits of multiculturalism are two of the findings of the 2014 Mapping Social Cohesion Report, released today.

The report, by Monash University’s Professor Andrew Markus from the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies and produced by the Scanlon Foundation, is Australia’s largest study of social cohesion, attitudes to immigration, discrimination and cultural diversity.

According to the results, Australia’s public sentiment toward immigration intake is possibly the most positive in the western world. In 2014, 58 per cent of people agree that the immigration intake is about right or too low. Just 35 per cent of people consider the intake is too high.

“This level of public support is somewhat in the context of rising unemployment and other economic concerns, as well as international comparisons,” Professor Markus said.

“In 2014, American and European surveys have found disapproval of immigration in the range of 60 to 75 per cent.”

Public concern over asylum seeker arrivals by boat has dropped. In 2013 the issue was seen as the major problem facing Australia by 12 per cent of people while in 2014 less than four per cent hold the same view.

“It would seem that acceptance of the government’s measures to stop the arrival of asylum seekers by boat has influenced this outcome,” Professor Markus said.

In terms of attitudes toward multiculturalism, 85 per cent of people agree that it has been good for Australia, almost identical with the proportion in the 2013 survey.

Attitudes towards multiculturalism differ among the Australian population, but it is generally supported by a large majority of third generation Australians.

The 2014 Mapping Social Cohesion report also highlights areas of concern.

Experience of discrimination remains close to the highest level recorded since the surveys began – at 18 per cent in 2014, with five per cent experiencing discrimination on a monthly basis.

Negative views toward Muslim faith groups are almost five times higher than toward other religions.

Professor Markus said that overall and by international standards, this year’s report has found Australia remains highly cohesive.

“Most people have a positive identification with Australia, agree there is economic opportunity and reward for hard work and are generally satisfied with their personal financial circumstances,” Professor Markus said.

“Taking all things into account, almost nine out of ten people are happy with their lives.

“Most people also have a high level of positive identification with Australia – a fundamental prerequisite for a cohesive society. Looking specifically at third generation Australians, only three per cent of people feel that they don’t belong.”

The full 2014 Mapping Social Cohesion report is available  on the Mapping Australia’s Population website.

Find out more:

 

Monash University commemorates the Great War Centenary

"Soldiers marching to Somme" by Anders under licence CC NY-ND 2.0/p/8rsxUB">Anders  under licence Image by Anders under licence CC NY-ND 2.0
“Soldiers marching to Somme” by Anders under license CC NY-ND 2.0

One hundred years ago today, on 1 November 1914, the first deployment of Australian troops left from Albany, Western Australia, bound for the First World War.

Monash University joins with organizations and groups across Australia and the world in commemorating the Centenary of the Great War. We invite you to visit the new “Monash Great War Centenary” website to find out about our events, projects, publications and news relating to the University’s Great War Centenary commemoration:

  • Discover Monash Great War Centenary events, including public concerts, book launches and scholarly conferences, which will be running during the course of the commemoration.
  • Explore the diverse range of WWI related projects across the University, including: a MOOC, a student journalism partnership, a special Library collection, and a video anthology of “one hundred stories” previously untold from the Great War.
  • Learn more about Sir John Monash through a recently published book. Not only did the University’s namesake achieve a great deal as an engineer and in academia, he was also one of the most successful generals during the First World War.

The website also features other recent publications by Monash historians highlighting the experiences and stories of Australians both during the war and analysing the lasting legacies of this world conflict for Australia.

Join us in commemorating the Centenary of the Great War:

 

The untold stories of World War One now online at “One Hundred Stories”

Elsie-TranterOne hundred years after the beginning of “The Great War”, it may surprise some people to know that stories are still emerging from this turbulent and momentous period of history which shaped the world as well as the nation.

Monash University’s “One Hundred Stories” project is designed to capture community memories of World War One. The project invited people to submit their anecdotes or records from their own family histories. Monash historians conducted further research on each case and the findings were distilled into short videos which capture the power of the individual stories.

The videos highlight the experiences of women as well as men, and also recover the all too often forgotten contribution of Indigenous Australians. They emphasise the ongoing cost of war to the community as a whole.

Nurse Elsie Tranter’s recollection of Armistice day, when peace was finally declared (11 November, 1918) is just one of the many vignettes now online. Her account of the wild and happy celebrations outside the hospital where she worked is poignantly contrasted with the predicament of those wounded men inside, for whom the war was not over, and in some cases never would be. She talks about a young boy who was critically wounded, and in her care on that day:

“When we told him the war was over he seemed unable to realise it and asked,

‘Is it really over? Won’t I have to go back?’

He seemed so happy each time we reassured him. This poor little lad finished his battle towards evening.

He was barely 18 years old and we were all so fond of him”

(From “We were all so fond of him”, Elsie Tranter)

The “One Hundred Stories” website is being launched to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the departure of the first troops headed for the battlegrounds of World War One, on November 1, 1914. These digital narratives will feature in the new National Anzac Centre to be opened in Albany on 1 November.

The first fifty videos are now available online, and you are invited to discover these untold stories from the Great War: