Concern over NSW Government’s Inaction on Fishing Amnesty in Marine Sanctuaries Reply

By Finlay Boyle

National Parks Association surveys indicate 91 per cent of fishers support sanctuary zones. Image by Luke Boote, used under Creative Commons licence.

National Parks Association surveys indicate 91 per cent of fishers support sanctuary zones. Image by Luke Boote, used under Creative Commons licence.

In March last year, the NSW Government introduced a fishing amnesty in marine park sanctuary zones where fishing had previously been prohibited, allowing recreational fishers to fish from the shore.

While only intended to last six months, the fact the amnesty is still in operation is causing widespread concern for the future of the marine parks.

Claudette Rechtorik, president of the Sea Life Conservation Fund, believes shore fishing should not be allowed in sanctuary zones, and should be regulated due to its impact.

“It is a real threat when you consider that recreational fishers take more of some fish species than commercial fishing, and they do have a significant impact on fish stocks,” she says. “Coastal fishing is where most of the environmental disturbance occurs and where most of the damage is done.”

Ms Rechtorik says marine parks and sanctuary zones are imperative to ecological sustainability. “We’ve got a huge population living on the coast and we are having an impact. We need to be able to manage our impact on the environment and marine parks are a part of that,” she says.

In regards to the Government’s inactivity on decision-making, Ms Rechtorik and the Sea Life Conservation Fund are “waiting every day because the decision is supposed to be imminent, it was supposed to be imminent last year”. However, Ms Rechtorik believes the Government is responding to environmental concerns. “We think our campaign as marine organisations working collaboratively has actually rocked them a little bit.”

The National Parks Association acknowledges the need to preserve the parks for future generations of fishers and snorkelers alike.

John Turnbull, executive committee member of the NPA says, “The marine environment is there for a number of purposes, so clearly we’d like to see people able to go boating and fishing and we’re supportive of that.“ However, he says “while you want to allow those activities, you also need to manage the environment so that there’s not so much of it that you start to damage the very thing that attracts you”.

Although supportive of a variety of marine activities including fishing, John Turnbull explains that marine parks “only make up 6.7 per cent of NSW waters, which means that fishers have access to 93.3 per cent of NSW waters, and in my view, that’s plenty. Why do we now need fishing in the last little bit?”.

Mr Turnbull says NPA surveys indicate that people are supportive. “If you talk to fishers, they’re quite happy for there to be sanctuary zones. They know that there needs to be an area put aside so that they can then catch fish later,” he says. “Ninety one per cent of fishers, when we survey them, support sanctuary zones.” He puts the resistance down to “a noisy minority, or a politically powerful minority, whichever way you look at it”.

Dr Will Figueira, senior lecturer in marine biology at the University of Sydney, has worked extensively in the field of marine ecology and believes that the amnesty should be lifted.

“All the data that’s been collected on fishing in NSW so far would suggest that this is a bad course of action,” he says. “The NSW decision was made, probably not overnight, but that’s how it looked. The Government has yet to supply any evidence that shows that there was any discussion or any consultation that went into making that decision prior to it being made.”

Due to the lack of funding available for marine research, Dr Figueira says, “We are living in a very data-poor environment. The lack of data is being interpreted as a lack of effectiveness of sanctuary zones. But, of course, that’s not what that means. It takes roughly two to three years to go through the zoning process for a park, similarly the process to undo it should be equally onerous, and it’s not.

“As a scientist I can appreciate that we always need to re-evaluate our management strategies, and they should always be science-based. If scientific research shows that more fishing can be allowed, then so be it,” Dr Figueira says.

However, he remains disappointed with the Government’s inaction. “In the history of human exploitation of resources, when has biology and ecology won out over financial and social considerations? It doesn’t happen very often, unless someone steps in and says you just have to stop.”

Poverty as industry: a plea for conversation and change Reply

by Larissa Payne

Napping but not asleep to the issues of poverty and homelessness. Photograph by Somaya on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

Napping but not asleep to the issues of poverty and homelessness.
Photograph by Somaya on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

Mr Lance Priestly serves the homeless in Martin Place.

“I’ve always had a sense that we either go up together or down together,” says Mr Priestly. “And when poverty has become an industry, when charities are mostly businesses that exist by keeping the marginalised marginalised, some of us don’t want a bar of it.”

Mr Priestly helped establish Sydney’s first 24/7 homeless support network as an offshoot from the Occupy Sydney protest against corporate corruption and neo-liberal globalisation. It is run by entirely by volunteers and community donations.

“Homelessness is a by-product of the corporate excesses that the Occupy movement talks about. It would be remiss of us not to point the figure at JP Morgan or the Macquarie Bank while gazing over the heads of the homeless,” says Mr Priestly.

Originally from Ruatoria, in rural New Zealand, Mr Priestly experienced the hardship of Ruatoria’s 85 per cent unemployment rate during the 1970s and how it led to chronic homelessness.

“It was the same in the early 1900s but the difference between then and recent times is debt,” Mr Priestly says. “Most of the community left town to pay off a house they would never get to live in. It made me question how debt is unacceptable in its current form.”

Before 1994, Mr Priestly worked in management for Land Lease and reworked James Hardy’s occupational health and safety requirements after the asbestos debacle. During this time, he helped develop Just Enough Faith, an organisation that serviced the homeless community for 17 years.

After a Government take-over that imposed what Mr Priestly considered “red tape and restrictions”, he concluded that in order to properly serve and understand the homeless community, he would need to become an independent part of it.

“I needed to understand if what we were doing was relevant. This wasn’t possible from the comfortable position we sat in. So I chose to live on the streets,” says Mr Priestly. “All my perceptions about homelessness were completely out of sync with reality.”

Mr Priestly decided he would not work with established charities because he regarded them as corporations with many of the goals, such as growth, of corporate business.

He suggested that protecting business and government interests has led to the 32 evictions, known to the Occupy Sydney 24/7 homeless support network, since July 3. When the City of Sydney Council moved to dismantle Occupy Sydney in June, there were objections from just two Councillors, Labor Councillor Linda Scott and Greens Councillor Irene Doutney.

“I found the elitist attitude behind this move absolutely disgusting,” says Ms Doutney. “The Occupy protestors cause no harm. They’ve kept the site tidy, even cleaning up after people who make a mess when they emerge drunk from the bars nearby, and have a rule of not approaching people who don’t approach them first.”

During the estimated 760 days that Mr Priestly has slept rough and served the homeless through Occupy Sydney, he has been arrested 58 times for apparent “camping” yet no infringement notice has been given and no conviction granted. The courts have heard 128 similar cases from Occupy Sydney activists with only one conviction.

“They have no legislative powers to stop us feeding the homeless,” says Mr Priestly. “They use the police to impose the desires of Council and government only to have the courts insist they’re wasting their time and taxpayers’ money.”

Regardless of obstacles, Mr Priestly’s goal is the eradication of homelessness.

“Laws need to be changed,” says Mr Priestly. “We need conversation about sustainable incomes that reflect living affordability within a worker’s city. City cleaners get $18 per hour. How can they afford to live in the city? Campbelltown and Penrith don’t exist to serve the city. We need to address Sydney’s economic apartheid.”

The other September 11: a visual representation Reply

by Larissa Payne

Chilean-Australian artist Miriam Cabello: ‘Tanks of Terror’

Chilean-Australian artist Miriam Cabello: ‘Tanks of Terror’

“I want to inform people that there was another September 11 also linked to the United States,” says Chilean-Australian artist Miriam Cabello. “I want to talk about conflict as a cross-cultural exchange for Australians, especially with what’s happening in Syria.”

Ms Cabello’s artworks at the Seymour Centre in September marked the 40th anniversary of the CIA-backed military coup in Chile. Led by General Augusto Pinochet, the coup dismantled Salvador Allende’s democratically elected government bringing an end to 100 years of Chilean democracy, the longest running democratic tradition in South America.

Miriam Cabello uses a bold, confronting technique in her artwork through contrasting colour and her trademark grid-drip pattern.

“I developed the grid-drip technique to represent the people who were locked up; also the dripping of blood or tears. It’s like a whitewash of bleach. When they bleach out history, they whitewash it. They don’t expose it,” she says.

The paintings insist that viewers look and respond while creating a voice for the silenced.

“Systematic torture, incarceration and murdering people caused much fear so many people won’t speak out,” says Ms Cabello.

The exhibition’s focal point is the large ‘Tanks of Terror’ series. Soldiers ready to betray Allende and switch sides to coup leader Pinochet, are depicted.

Paintings of the artist’s family are juxtaposed with these tanks of terror.

“My uncle was trained to go into La Moneda that day. I’ve not been able to ask questions about it. That’s why the images are important,” Ms Cabello says.  “The colours are intentional. Red stands for blood spilled for independence but also blood spilled by the military killing their own people.

“My father is in red as a warning of what is to come. My mother has blue for mourning and sorrow. They’re divided to symbolise the separation and division of people that went missing.”

Erika Roa, daughter of Chilean exiles now living in Sydney’s west, found the artworks confronting.

“I was brought to tears. The art is a reminder of what my parents escaped and what much of my family put up with for 17 years.”

Ms Cabello believes the exhibition is an awakening for non-Chileans, too.

“They ask me, ‘How did I not know? Thank you for letting me know’.”

Daniel Peters, a lawyer visiting Sydney from Melbourne, had heard of Pinochet’s dictatorship but was unaware of the impact it had on Chilean people.

“I remember a uni classmate mentioning that his parents had escaped Chile in the 1970s. I had no idea the extent of human rights abuse or that so many Chileans fled to Australia. This exhibition has taught me a lot.”

According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 18,740 Chileans voluntarily or forcibly left Chile for a new life in Australia between 1973 and 1981. The 2006 Australian Census found that 25,439 Australians claimed Chilean ancestry. Such numbers make Cabello’s exhibition especially relevant.

A second stage of the exhibition is tentatively booked for July 2014.

“I want it to be bigger and better,” Miriam Cabello says. “I want to incorporate music, poetry and footage. I want it to create an emotional experience that engages all the senses.”

The second stage of her cross-cultural exchange will continue a universal message.

“It’s something that can encourage us to preserve our rights and freedoms. But sometimes that’s out of our hands.”

‘Oppression and Diaspora: The Chilean Military Coup’ was exhibited at the Seymour Centre as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival from September 6 – 29.

A new take on city gardening Reply

by Catherine Bassey 

It just takes enthusiasm and commitment to grow a summer salad on a balcony. Photograph by add1sun on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

It just takes enthusiasm and commitment to grow a summer salad on a balcony.
Photograph by add1sun on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

Many years ago, people bought much of their fresh food from a market, before the convenience of supermarkets took over. Today there is a return to the fresh food market although the emphasis now is likely to be on organic – organic and high quality, that’s what people want.

Myriam Pitre,  who is keen on sustainability and educates people on gardening monoculture, is one of the facilitators of the city gardening workshop presented recently by Sydney City Council.

“My mum and aunt have been gardening their whole lives – about 40 years – and they still say they are learning. So learning is not enough, it’s a lot about doing, it’s about starting up, taking the risk and doing something,” she says.

Myriam has had her own garden for four years. She says growing one’s own food has more benefits than buying from the market.

“Food sold in stores has been there on average a week. You might get it a little fresher from the local markets or farmers’ market but nothing is ever as fresh as picking fruits or veggies from your garden and eating it within a few minutes of picking it up. It’s definitely fresher and healthier, healthier because freshness is directly proportional to the amount of nutrients left in the plants. The fresher the plants, the more nutrients they’re got,” she says.

And, Myriam says, “you’re guaranteed completely natural and organic food, free of any form of chemicals because you know what it’s been grown with. In the supermarkets, you can’t assume that unless it’s been labelled organic.”

In her sitting room window are four green square pots of what she calls macro greens, commonly known as wheatgrass. Part of it has already been cut, used to make ‘wheatgrass shots’, as described in organic cafes.

In her backyard she has chilli plants, kiwi fruits, lemon grass, strawberries, Australian native raspberries, blueberries, beans, cucumbers, lettuces, parsley, turnips, kale, beetroot, ginger, and canna lilies.

She makes her own compost; six large bins are full of rich, dark soil, one of which already has a few pumpkins sprouts in it. Her two-year old silverweeds had started budding again and her chicory has been producing leaves every day for a couple of years.

“I pluck chicory every day for my juicing because I do a lot of raw vegetable juice. I get just the quantity I need, so there’s no waste. For plants like that, I don’t have to replant, except once every couple of years.

“Starting a garden is inexpensive,” Myriam says. “If you have patience, you can make your own compost in three or four months from food scraps. I also go to fruit and vegetable markets and get their fruit and vegetable left-overs. So compost costs nothing, and it’s very nutritious for your soil.”

She’s even made use of the abandoned flower pots from her neighbours, so she doesn’t have to buy pots.

“Most seeds don’t cost very much. For $4 you can get a pack that has 100 seeds. When the flowers produce seeds, you collect the seeds and save for the next season, and that can go on forever,” she says.

“We try to encourage people to get open pollinated seeds because they are very fertile; most of the seeds you get from the shops are often not very fertile because they’ve been hybridized, genetically modified many times over,” she says.

Myriam says gardening can also be a great way to make friends. “We go to clubs, we exchange seeds. During Christmas, for instance, instead of exchanging gifts, we exchange plants or seeds instead.”

One major issue city gardeners often face is the problem of too much shade. The sun may be obstructed by buildings or trees, and so plants only get two or three hours sun a day.  “So there’s not enough sun to grow most of the plants that you would love to grow,” she says.  “However, most leafy plants are more shade tolerant, and thrive even in partial shade.”

A participant in the city garden workshop, Sara Bates, of Newtown, said growing her own garden was a way to keep fresh food on the table.

“I love eating fresh food but once you pay the bills, there is not very much left over for a bunch of beetroot or a kilo of vine-ripened tomatoes, especially when you rent in the inner west,” she says.

She has used up the small space in the backyard of her apartment building to create a garden to grow tomatoes, strawberries, three different types of salad greens (red and green oak leaf, red giant mustard greens and rocket), sage, rosemary, oregano, coriander, parsley and a bay tree.

Having almost lost most of her veggies last year to pests and pesticides that destroyed  beneficial insects in her garden, she has planted flowers such as jasmine, pansies, petunias, and celosia to help attract pollinators like bees.

Sara describes gardening as fun, mentally stimulating, and something that has taught her patience. “It’s really nice to come home and see your garden doing well, and it’s very rewarding to eat what you’ve grown,” she says.

She was excited about her first home-grown strawberry. “I’ve never seen anything so juicy. Most of what we buy in the market tends to look really good but don’t taste as good.

“Every day, I walk through the front door, I kiss my husband hello, I say hello to the dog, and I come out to see how my garden is doing,” Sarah says.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said budding urban gardeners can learn how to grow their own edible gardens of fresh food as well as get tips for composting, worm farming and natural pest management.

“You don’t need much space to be an urban gardener – just a balcony, patio, window or small backyard that receives a few hours of sun,” she says. “Over 85 per cent of people who attend our workshops make use of the lessons they learnt, meaning every season more fresh food is being grown across our city.”

Sydney City Council runs a series of garden workshops under its Green Villages banner including ‘Edible Gardens in Small Spaces’, ‘What’s Eating My Basil? Natural pest management’, ‘Build a Vertical Pallet Garden’, and ‘Be a Balcony Garden Bandit’.


Controversial Zoe’s Law divides community and Parliament Reply

by Melody Teh 

Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi said the Zoe’s Law bill was “completely unnecessary”.

Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi said the Zoe’s Law bill was “completely unnecessary”.

A group of protesters with signs proclaiming “Keep your politics out of my pussy” and “Defend abortion rights” stood in front of NSW Parliament on Thursday in protest of the controversial Zoe’s Law bill currently being debated.

Speaking at the protest, Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi said the bill was “completely unnecessary, completely inappropriate and actually really dangerous, not only for women’s rights but for their doctors and lawyers”.

The group hoped its protest would show MPs their deep concern with the bill, which is being put to a conscience vote.

The bill is named in honour of Brodie Donegan’s stillborn child, who died at 32 weeks after Ms Donegan was hit by a car on Christmas Day in 2009. The driver was charged with grievous bodily harm to Ms Donegan but not the stillborn child, Zoe, as the law does not recognise a foetus as a person.

Liberal MP Chris Spence, who introduced the bill after consultation with Ms Donegan, said the purpose of Zoe’s Law was to hold a person criminally liable for the death of a foetus and “does not, nor does it intend to, have any bearing on a woman’s right to choose”.

The proposed legislation would amend the Crimes Act to consider a foetus at either 20 weeks or 400 grams as a “person” for the first time, creating a new crime of grievous bodily harm to a foetus.

This would not apply during medical procedures or “anything done by or with the consent of the pregnant woman”.

However, a coalition of women’s health and legal groups, including Women’s Electoral Lobby, Women’s Legal Service, NSW Women’s Health, Rape and Domestic Services, have spoken out against the bill saying it could have unintended repercussions for women’s rights.

Denele Crozier, Executive Officer of NSW Women’s Health, says their concern lay with the bill’s attempt to separate a foetus from the woman who is carrying the foetus.

“It has been shown in America that when you have the rights of the foetus and the rights of a woman, and they conflict, the foetus often takes the mother to court,” she says.

Ms Crozier also believes the bill is unnecessary. “The Crimes Act was already amended in 2005 to take into account the death of a foetus, which is considered grievous bodily harm to a mother,” she says.

Karen Willis, Executive Officer of Rape and Domestic Violence Services, believes that once the legal system defines a foetus as a “person”, there will be dangerous and far-reaching consequences for women’s abortion rights.

“Once those laws are in place, they can always be changed. So a foetus at 20 weeks is a person, but down the track this can become 16 weeks,” she says. “This is exactly the process that was used in the United States in making abortion illegal. The very first step was giving living person status to a foetus separate from the mother.”

As well as fears for women’s access to abortion under this proposed bill, Ms Willis is concerned that women could also be prosecuted for unintentionally damaging their foetuses.

“A mum might consume too much drugs and alcohol and if there is subsequent damage to the foetus past that 20 weeks, there is potential to take action against her,” she says.

She is also concerned with the implications of women in domestic violent relationships.

“We know the impacts of trauma on people who experience sexual assault are quite extreme. Sometimes that trauma makes doing everyday ordinary things really difficult, let alone realising that they haven’t had a period in while. They might get to a position of late term pregnancy and all of a sudden no service providers will touch them because they are afraid of legal action,” she says.

Ultimately, Ms Willis says she cannot support a bill that “separates a foetus from the woman carrying it”.

“The bottom line is that it’s a woman’s right to make choices about her body. This concept of the foetus as separate from the mother is, well, it simply is not. It’s part of her developed form,” she says.

The bill has divided NSW Parliament in the three debates since its introduction on 29th August and is due to be debated again, and most likely voted on 7th November.

From hand-made zines to published novels Reply

by Kate Thorburn

Zinester, author and tour leader, Vanessa Berry at large in King Street, Newtown

Zinester, author and tour leader, Vanessa Berry at large in King Street, Newtown

Vanessa Berry is a woman of many talents. She is a lecturer, blogger, raconteur and artist. She can now also add author to the list, following the recent release of her second book Ninety9. And she is a zinester.

A zine, she says, is a hand-made original magazine that is photocopied for small-scale local distribution. Vanessa is a prolific zinester, having created 130 zines since she began zine-ing in 1996. “It’s all very casual,” she  says. “I don’t have a regular publishing schedule. I’m not even in the practice of counting my zines.”

Vanessa’s zines  contain short stories, drawings and memories. They vary in length from a few pages to over 70, as was the case of her 1999 Vinnies  zine, a documentation of every Vinnies op shop in Sydney. She recalls another of her more unusual zines Laughter and the Sound of Teacups that she wrote from 1997 to 2002. It was an unfiltered account of everything she did on the 23rd day of the month. “They got really super long by the end,” she says, “but I regard them as my apprenticeship for writing.”

Vanessa moved from the world of zines to the world of books when she wrote her first novel Strawberry Hills Forever, an anthology of stories from past zines, published in 2007.

As the title suggests, Ninety9 is a memoir of the 1990s, a decade when she was an adolescent in Newtown.

“My age and the nineties match up quite well; at the start I was 11 and at the end I was 20.” During the nineties, she says Newtown experienced extensive gentrification as a café culture flourished and students and artists who had made the suburb their home were gradually pushed out by the increasing cost of living.

In conjunction with Newtown Library and Art & About Sydney, Vanessa held a walking tour through her former stomping ground in October. She even created a map of the topography of King Street in the 1990s so tour participants could revisit the Newtown of old.

“I came up with the idea of doing a King Street walking tour because when I wrote Ninety9, I thought about coming from the suburbs into places like Newtown and it being somewhere I could connect with, a world I wanted to be a part of.”

Vanessa’s three-hour nostalgic Ninety9 and 1990s Walking Tour started at Newtown Library, moved towards Newtown train station, then stopped at historic sites like the former Burland Community Hall and late-night kebab shop King of Yeeros. Along the way, Vanessa told stories from the 90s about each site.

Ninety9 is more of a novella than a novel. From the start, she approached as a book whereas says her zine-writing process is similar to writing a letter to a close friend. “With zines you don’t have to polish the writing, you don’t have to get rid of all the tangents or digressions,” she says.

Vanessa’s next project is another book, but she says she will always find time to zine. “I love writing about the past and reflecting on the past,” she says.

Yabun Festival 2014 working around funding cutbacks Reply

by Joseph Ratcliffe

Getting with a beat at the Yuban Festival.

Getting with a beat at the Yuban Festival.

While much of Australia celebrates the arrival of the First Fleet on January 26, Victoria Park in Sydney is transformed for the annual Yabun Festival that celebrates the survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.  However, cutbacks in funding could threaten the festival’s future.

The 2014 Yabun Festival, organised by Koori Radio, a part of the Gadigal Information Service Aboriginal Corporation, will once again coincide with Australia Day to present the best of Indigenous music, dance, ideas, and sport.”

“What you get out of it is an experience of Aboriginal culture,” says Kieran Satour, Events Production Co-ordinator at Koori Radio, who will be organising the festival for the first time.  “ And you could learn a lot about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living today and how our culture has adapted to urban life.”

At this year’s Festival, there were a number of stages and tents presenting a program that ranged from music and sports, to panel discussions and speakers. The two music stages were the Main Stage and the ‘Young, Black, and Deadly’ Stage, and as well as the children’s Jarjum Tent, the Kulture Tent, and the Speak Out Tent.

On the Main Stage, the MCs were burlesque performer Constantina Bush and Redfern Now actor Alec Doomadgee. Musical highlights included JPoint, Thelma Plum, Dizzy Doolan and Vic Simms and the All Star Band. A favourite with the crowd was ARIA award winner Archie Roach who sang the powerful Old Mission Road that tells his story of having been taken from his parents when his was three.

The Festival also included a rock-climbing wall, jumping castle, market stalls, and the Art Embassy that displayed works by indigenous artists. And there were sporting activities hosted by the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence and  panels led by Indigenous journalists Brooke Boney and Stan Grant.

However, next year’s Festival will be presented with a small budget than previously. “Yabun Festival 2014 will be scaled back quite a bit. We will only have the Main Stage, so there will be no ‘Young, Black, and Deadly’ Stage. What we are going to do with the Speak Out Tent and the Kulture Tent is combine the two,” Kieran Satour says.

“We’re working with different service providers to find cheaper ways to do things like the Jarjum Tent. Yabun started out as the Survival Day concert, so it was all about the music, and we are seeing a return to that because of our budget,” he says.

Kathy Dodd Farrawell, a Kaanju/Birri woman who has lived in the Glebe area for 40 years, attends the Yabun Festival each year with her family. 

“It’s a time to be able to catch up with people you haven’t seen for a while. I think it’s important for the little ones to experience their people meeting up,” she says.

As for the Festival being scaled back, she says it all depends on how it is handled. She accepts that changes have to be made but hopes they are not at the expense of the Festival maintaining a strong connection to community and continuing to include the presenters and young ones.

Yabun Festival also includes a film night on the Friday before January 26 held in association with Leichhardt City Council. Even with the cutbacks in funding, there are plans for Yabun to expand even further beyond the Victoria Park festival and the film night.

Kieran says, “We are looking at expanding so there are satellite festivals around the same time that contribute to that celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander cultures across a one or two week period. Having the satellite events means we can promote different aspects of our culture.”

The cutback in funding doesn’t just mean less tents and stages. Koori Radio is currently searching for extra volunteers in 2014 to help with running the Yabun Festival.

“We always rely on our volunteers and we had about 120 this year, but with the decreased budget, we really want to increase those numbers,” Kieran says.

Vivid Waltz set to challenge representation of ballet Reply

by Sarah Chlala

Images from Vivid Waltz, an animated installation by Jacqueline Livermore. Photographs: Sarah Chlala

Images from Vivid Waltz, an animated installation by Jacqueline Livermore.
Photographs: Sarah Chlala

From preliminary watercolours  to an animated ballet installation, Vivid Waltz is a unique and non-traditional way of representing ballet. It utilises a sequence of hand-painted works to portray the movements of a ballet dancer.

Director of Vivid Waltz Jacqueline Livermore, a Media Arts & Production student at UTS, says, “I’ve always been interested in non-traditional versus traditional. Vivid Waltz takes an old art form, combines it with new ones like animation and installation, and creates a totally new way of representing feeling and movement.

“I am not the audience for skateboarding, but I was inspired by Matt Box’s Acid Drops. When I watched his video, I was mesmerised by the way he used fluid watercolour paint to capture skateboarding. I wanted to replicate his technique so that’s when I started looking into ballet and that’s where my whole concept started,” she says.

What followed was the challenge of applying her ideas. She says she wanted to communicate the grace and vitality of the dancer’s movement to the audience through a projection screen.

“The dance lasts for a minute and can be viewed via loop. I painted 800 paintings. A usual video is 24 frames per second. But I made it 12 frames per second because 12 frames per second is the minimum you need to deceive the human eye that you are seeing movement. So I chose the minimum amount of frames and painted 12 frames for every second of video,” Jacqueline says.

Fellow student Natalia Newling, who is the editor of Vivid Waltz, says, “An interesting thing about the installation is that you can see all the brush strokes and you can tell that Jacqueline has painted every single one by hand. It really resonates.”

Jacqueline believes her approach is unique to the world of ballet.

“I want to take this animation far beyond a mere video of a dancer. I want to create a space whereby the audience becomes intimate with the paintings, movement and music surrounding them. A production like The Nut Cracker is focused on technique and storyline. Vivid Waltz is focused on the representation of ballet and the way in which it is perceived. Even though many videos of ballet productions exist, my depiction is unique in its involvement of the audience and its expressive approach,” she says.

According to Natalia, what makes Vivid Waltz interesting is that Jacqueline has chosen to do it as an installation piece.

“It’s not a stop-motion video and that’s what separates it from other production projects. It’s the idea that you’re surrounded by this dancer and you really feel like she’s dancing around you. That’s what struck me as an exciting part of the project.”

Immersing the audience is high on Jacqueline’s list of priorities for Vivid Waltz. In the initial stages of planning, she says she consulted with students, teachers and producers and received an overwhelmingly negative response to her ideas. She says people weren’t keen on the ballet theme but seemed to light up when she mentioned that the audience would feel a sense of involvement by standing in the middle of a 580-centimetre wide semi-circle projection screen.

“People aren’t keen on the ballet but they’re keen on being involved in the ballet,” Jacqueline says.“I wanted to make audiences realise that ballet is not just high art and that it can be accessible. I wanted to find a new way of representing ballet,” she says.

Natalia Newling says that while she doesn’t have any interest in ballet, she found that through editing the film and watching it over and over again, she began to find it technically interesting.”

The project, launched at UTS on November 15, has been a work in progress for Jacqueline Livermore for a year.

Study shows alarming rates of stuttering in Aussie classrooms 1

by Jessie Davies

A message loud and clear. Image by Jamie R. Rytlewiski

A message loud and clear.
Image by Jamie R. Rytlewiski

A recent study by Professor Mark Onslow, Director of the Australian Stuttering Research Centre at the University of Sydney, has shown that alarming rates of young students suffer from severe stuttering, and may suffer from anxiety as a result.

He says the social anxieties resulting from stuttering  can lay the groundwork for under-achievement at school and reduced employment outcomes later in life.

Professor Onslow estimates that as many as one child in every Australian classroom suffers from the disorder but often go unheeded. “Children who stutter in primary school often go undetected as they sit in class and avoid saying anything, effectively disappearing into the background.” 

Sydney postgraduate student Caroline Geroyan, 23, knows what it’s like to be the stutterer in the class. When she was 10, she developed the disorder which, she says, made her feel like a different person. 

“I’m naturally an outspoken person, so when I developed my stutter all of a sudden, I couldn’t speak properly and that really affected me. Unless I knew exactly what I was going to say, I wouldn’t talk,” she says.

Caroline experienced anxiety, especially when asked to contribute to class activities. “I hated reading in class. If I stuttered on a word, then it became worse and worse. I was so harsh on myself back then; I was my own worst critic,” she says. 

Peter Kingston, from the Australian Speak Easy Association, a nation-wide support group for people who stutter, says that while it certainly isn’t easy for children, adults suffer from the disorder, too.

“Before I learnt to manage my stutter, tackling everyday tasks could be daunting. I used to hate introducing myself to people, answering questions, and using the phone,” he says.

At Speak Easy, Peter helps run monthly support meetings for people who stutter.  The idea of the meeting is to provide a forum for participants to practice the speech techniques that have been taught to them by speech pathologists. 

“The problem with stuttering is there is no cure. Basically, you have to do your fluency practice every time you speak. In our meetings, we try to practice this through group discussions and impromptu speeches. The practice does imbue you with a feeling of confidence, and the more confidence you have, the level of anxiety you have goes down,” he says. 

With the level of competition in today’s job market, Peter says that managing one’s anxiety is crucial in order to make the most of potential opportunities. 

“These days it is so difficult to get a job, there’s a lot of competition out there.  For one job, there could be 100 others going for it and that’s why I always underline how important it is to get treatment and to practice, practice, practice. If you leave it, it will only get worse and limit your opportunities,” says Peter.  

In his 30 years at Speak Easy, Peter has met many people whose hard work has paid off. “We have had many successful people come through who haven’t let their stutter stop them.  We have had engineers, doctors and barristers, to name a few.”

Similarly, Caroline Geroyan didn’t let her disorder get in the way of her success. In senior high school, Caroline entered the Sydney Morning Herald Plain English Speaking Award and won. 

“Winning the competition made me feel very proud, very accomplished. It was a blessing because it gave me a lot of confidence. I thought, ‘I can do this! If I can speak in front of 1000 people, I can speak in front of my friends’.”

Laws shine new light on impact of discrimination Reply

by Rosanna Kellett

SpringOUT Festival is a cultural, community-driven event aimed at promoting community connectedness and raising awareness about issues relating to marriage equality and discrimination.

SpringOUT Festival is a cultural, community-driven event aimed at promoting community connectedness and raising awareness about issues relating to marriage equality and discrimination.

Like a magic trick, one law has made once-invisible relationships visible. This reappearance act has also focused attention on the impact of discrimination and the social problems and costs it causes.

Following last week’s passing of state legislation to legalise gay marriage in the ACT, support groups and activists in Sydney are continuing to work to support victims of discrimination and raise public awareness of related issues and problems it causes in the community.

The November SpringOUT Festival in Canberra is a cultural, community-driven event aimed at promoting community connectedness and raising awareness about issues relating to marriage equality and discrimination. Committee member Keiran says that while no protests had been arranged, there were marriage equality groups passionate about make their presence and displeasure known.

Keiran says the removal of discriminatory laws and attitudes was necessary for the social well-being of the community.

“There is a problem with homophobia, bullying, discrimination, depression and self-harm, even here in somewhere as generally progressive as the ACT. Wherever people are marginalised, be it by societal norms and values or by those of their families and friends, there is increased likelihood of problems with mental health arising.”

Keiran says the purpose of the festival was to address such issues by providing an environment of inclusion.

“Social connectedness is incredibly important for resilience so that you don’t feel so isolated and vulnerable,” he says.

In Sydney alone, a significant portion of the community struggles with issues of identity, sexuality and thoughts of self-harm.

Dr Michael Flood, editor of The International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities, has researched the social and personal impact of discrimination and says, “In schools, same-sex attracted people typically experience patterns of bigotry, exclusion and harassment.

“The consequences of this include marginalisation, higher rates of personal stress and alienation, lowered self-esteem and self-hate, lower school performance, dropping out of school, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide.

“Unfortunately, gay and lesbian people’s difficulties are usually interpreted as a product of their sexual orientation, rather than as a perfectly understandable response to ongoing prejudice and oppression.”

Statistics gathered by telephone helpline, Lifeline, show that feelings of being “different” or stigmatised by society, laws or attitudes and fear of rejection are major contributing factors to feelings of loneliness and isolation, and self-harm behaviour.

Kid’s Help Line research into help-seeking activity in NSW in 2012 found that 49.5 per cent of all calls to the helpline related to concerns about mental health and emotional wellbeing, which included the 7.3 per cent of calls concerning self-harm and 10.8 per cent concerning suicide. The research calculated that 1 in 10 of its phone counselling sessions related primarily to issues concerning self-esteem, self-image, self-concept or identity.

Research by the Headspace National Mental Health Foundation has found that suicide and self-harm combined account for a significant portion of the burden of disability and mortality among young Australians, with 24 per cent of females and 18 per cent of males aged 20-24 reporting self-harming at some point in their life.

The research estimates that 21 per cent of “years life lost” because of premature death among young Australians in 2004 was due to suicide and self-inflicted injury. Non-fatal suicidal behaviour and self-harm are linked to disability and loss of years of healthy life.

A wide range of initiatives in the Sydney area continue to tackle these issues in the hope that recent activism will raise public awareness of the impact of discriminatory laws and attitudes.

A University of Technology, Sydney study in 2005 found that the presence of a “homophobic culture” caused young people to feel “isolated at school, at home and in society, often experiencing an identity crisis and facing a number of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, feelings of isolation, loneliness and thoughts of suicide”.

A 2010 national study by La Trobe University found that, of the 60 per cent of homosexual young people who had experienced verbal abuse and the 18 per cent who had experienced physical abuse, 29 per cent said the abuse meant they could not concentrate in school, 21 per cent said they had missed classes, 20 per cent reported a drop in their marks, 9 per cent were too afraid to use a toilet and 8 per cent had dropped out of school.

UTS Queer Officer Andy Zephyr was recently elected President of the UTS Students’ Association on a platform of initiatives focused on equity and inclusiveness, including campaigns to stop discrimination on campus, support for broader campaigns for marriage equality and reintroducing STUVAC (study vacation) in order to give students a mental health break.

He says the UTS Students’ Association supports the cause for equality through a range of services and organising events such as Pride Week.

“People come to events, or the Queer Space with the knowledge that they don’t have to face the bigotry that exists in our society.”

UTS has several initiatives and resources in place to address these issues, and people seeking help or information can contact the UTS Student Association Queer Collective, UTS Counselling or the UTS Equity and Diversity Unit.