Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Heroin in The Age

Yesterday The Age ran a number of articles about Afghanistan's heroin industry and the recent increase of heroin on Melbourne's streets:

Hammer horror - the curse of the streets returns
MELBOURNE is set to be caught up in an international tidal wave of high-purity Afghan heroin flooding world markets — with local addicts confirming the more lethal drug is already available on the city's streets.
The potential influx of Afghan heroin — produced from record opium crops flourishing in regions under Taliban rule — has sparked fears that Melbourne could once again become a destination for cheap, high-purity heroin as it was in the late 1990s.

A scourge woven into the fabric of Afghanistan
THE opium poppy symbolises the complexities and dilemmas confronting Afghanistan and its allies.
There are no easy answers in dealing with the crop that has made Afghanistan the world's largest opium producer, supplying 93 per cent of the illegal opium trade.
Opium cultivation accounts for 60 per cent of the Afghan economy and 90 per cent of its exports. More than three million people, 14 per cent of the population of 23 million, depend on it for their income.

Nothing but hits and memories
We cannot allow a repeat of the late '90s heroin scourge
Tragically, smack is coming back and drug experts such as Nick Crofts, from the Turning Point centre in Fitzroy, say we need to do some serious thinking about our treatment service. It is, he says, inadequate and struggling to cope with existing demand, let alone with what is yet to come. Says Dr Crofts: "We are working in a policy environment where the previous premier (Steve Bracks) said very clearly heroin is gone and the only problem we have now is amphetamines. Which is utterly wrong. State Government support for both medical treatment for people with addictions and the pharmaco-therapy program is pathetic."
A few days back it also mentioned Family First senator Steve Fielding's rebuke of the Labor Party for considering giving the Greens preferences, because of the Greens' harm minimisation policies:
'Outrage' at Greens preference deal
"It is absolutely outrageous to think that Kevin Rudd would want to preference the Greens, knowing their stance on drugs, free injecting rooms in streets, free heroin," Senator Fielding told ABC television...
...Senator Brown responded that the Greens' policies on drugs were for harm minimisation.
"Free heroin on the streets - that's absolutely wrong," he said.
"I'm a doctor. I hate drug addiction.
"But we've got to have sensible policies to meet it and we will make sensible policies."
(You can read the Greens' drug policy here.)

Monday, October 29, 2007


I saw this ad when I was down in St Kilda this morning, and it made me think about the Jewish and Christian idea of Sabbath:

I've written a bit about it on Advoc8, which you can read here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

'The Rudd identity'

One of the central issues in this election campaign is what Kevin Rudd would be like as prime minister. Much of John Howard's campaigning is directed towards convincing us that, once he'd won, Rudd's me-tooing would stop and the real man would be revealed.
But here's the funny thing: what Liberal supporters fear, many Labor supporters hope for. They hope that once he'd won, Rudd's me-tooing would stop and the closet socialist — any kind of socialist — would be revealed.
(Read Ross Gittin's whole article from The Age here.)
It does seem really stupid that people are supporting Kevin 007 because they think he's going to be something that he's currently pretending not to be.

'Christianity, the vote and social change'

Dave Fagg (from the Seeds mob in Bendigo) has written an article for Zadock about why he doesn't vote. You can read it here.

Monday, October 22, 2007


While I was skating in St Kilda this morning I saw a tern. I don't think I've seen a tern before. It was on the bridge that does over the Elwood Canal, and I saw it catch a fish from the bridge.

(Terns migrate between Antarctica and the Arctic every year, so some of them travel via Melbourne.)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More from 'The Other Election Campaign'

RW rang me from Sri Lanka. Details have emerged surrounding the circumstances of his deportation. These include the following facts:
- he was woken at 3am and restrained by 6 guards, some of whom stood on his head and neck, he was helmeted and handcuffed, presumably for his own “protection”.
- he was injected with a chemical sedative, and woke up on the plane.
The full post is here.

Grandpa Chaucer

A few weeks back, this guy who comes to lunch at Credo asked me if I could help him research his family history online, because he doesn't know much about where his family came from or anything. Anyway, we found a bit about his family, including that the Queen of England is his seventh cousin twice removed, and that his 20th great grandfather was Chaucer.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Adam's new house

This morning I caught the train down to Noble Park to help Adam move into his new house. We lived in Noble Park until I was almost 15, and I think Adam was about 12. Adam's moved back there to do stuff with Urban Neighbours of Hope.
I got there fairly early, so I had a bit of a wander around.

This is where we went to Primary School:

This is where we got haircuts, bought five cents worth of lollies and got fish and chips for tea:

This is the street we lived in:

And this was our house:

(When we lived there it had heaps of trees out the front, but the new people cut them all down.)
This is the UNOH van, which Adam used to move his stuff:

(The van was painted by the kids from Springstarz, which is a kids program that they run in Springvale.)
Adam's new place is on top of a shop, just off the main street, and he works at the Salvos across the road. Here's some pictures:

Friday, October 19, 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

'ELECTION CAMPAIGN - the other side of the story'

Tab: hey
Tab: guess what?
Chris: what?
Chris: elephants?
Tab: only 6 weeks left of annoying election campaigning!!!!!!1
Jessie Taylor (a lawyer who's been having a lot to do with asylum seekers in detention) is running an alternative commentary of the election campaign:
DAY 1 – Monday 15 October
Lunchtime - RW placed in solitary confinement pending his deportation. His migration agent is not notified of his negative outcome until 1pm Monday, despite the decision having been made on Friday. Conversation ends with “we’ll be removing him tomorrow”. All afternoon, he begs to speak to friends – Nicki Moseby, Jessie Taylor & Joan Lynn. Nobody is allowed to speak to him, despite our incessant attempts to contact him. The Privacy Act is cited as the reason, despite his having begged to speak to us. We are told that we’ll have to go through his migration agent.

Afternoon – government announces billions of dollars in tax cuts. Cheap, cheap, cheap tricks to woo an electorate which is hopefully smarter than that… although precedent is not reassuring…
You can follow the commentary here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Recent photos

Thursday, October 11, 2007

'Community's anger spills over'

The Age has published an article about how Kevin Andrews comments about Africans have given permission for people to bash Sudanese:

Youth leader Paul Bor Gatwech said said the minister's comments had given others licence to attack Sudanese people. He said an apology from Mr Andrews would help quell community fears that Sudanese-born migrants were being targeted.
Yesterday Mr Andrews was standing by his remarks on Sudanese refugees. A spokeswoman for the minister said: "Funerals are a very emotional time and the minister stands by his comments."
The full article is here.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

John Howard and the death penalty

I wouldn't have expected John Howard to support the death penalty. But this is what he said regarding the Bali bombers:

"The idea that we would plead for the deferral of executions of people who murdered 88 Australians is distasteful to the entire community," Mr Howard said.
"I find it impossible myself as an Australian, as Prime Minister, and as an individual, to argue that those executions should not take place when they have murdered my fellow countrymen and women."
'PM slams Rudd over death penalty' - The Age
(The Labor Party's foreign affairs spokesperson, Robert McClelland, has promised that a Labor government will campaign against capital punishment in south-east Asia.)

I think this story from ABC News is worth a read: 'Bali bomber now campaigns to stop terrorism'

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Praxis punters and rugby

This weekend we have six New Zealanders from Praxis (youth work/community development training) staying with us. They're visiting Victoria for the week and visiting places like Urban Seed, UNOH and the Footscray Salvo mob. Last night we stayed up and watched Australia get beaten by England in the Rugby World Cup. Then we got up at 4am to watch New Zealand and France. Leon said, 'Jesus came to me in a dream and said we're going to win.' New Zealand get beaten by France. When the All Blacks were beaten, Greg Morris (he was an Urban Seed resident years ago) said he couldn't go back to New Zealand anymore.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Revolution in Jesusland

Just came across a blog called Revolution in Jesusland. It's being done by a guy who's trying to encourage reconciliation between secular progressives and evangelical Christians, and showing what both of these groups can learn from each other.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

'On common ground'

The Age's social affairs editor Farah Farouque has written a response to the federal government's decision to accept less African refugees:

RMIT's Professor Desmond Cahill, who was responsible for helping develop Vietnamese and Greek settlement programs, certainly sees something familiar in this week's debate. "In any immigration and refugees debate there are echoes of the past," he observes.
"When the Turks came in the early 1970s there was much doubt about there capacity to settle and integrate, followed by the East Timorese and larger Vietnamese groups. "Migration and refugee policy has always been a controversial topic, and most groups have taken a long time to be accepted.
"By the early 1970s, for example, 40 per cent of the Australian population did not want Italians admitted to Australia, even though most had already arrived."
The full article is here.

The last few days we had Ray's neice, Emmy, staying with us. Yesterday she came to Pain in the Arts and did this painting, with some corks that Eco Paul gave her, and she said it was for me to put on my fridge.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

'African refugees face integration issues: Andrews'

Kevin Andrews says that the government has cut Australia's intake of African refugees because they have difficulty integrating into Australian society.

"We have detected that there have been additional challenges in relation to some of the people that have come from Africa over the last few years," he told reporters in Melbourne.
"We know that there is a large number of people who are young.
"We know that they have on average low levels of education, lower levels of education than almost any other group of refugees that have come to Australia. We know that many of them, if not most of them, have spent up to a decade in refugee camps and they've spent much of their lives in very much a war-torn, conflicted situation.
"And on top of that they have the challenges of resettling in a culture which is vastly different from the one which they came from," he said.
(The full article from The Age is here.)
Anyway... I feel pretty uneasy about this. It sounds to me a lot like what people said about Vietnamese when I was growing up.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Buoyancy and 'Nothing wrong'

Last week during Mission Exposure, Ray took us to Buoyancy, a drug counselling place in Richmond. I was pretty amazed that in a lot of ways it seemed to have a similar feel to Credo and Urban Seed - except that I suppose they're professional, whereas we're nonprofessional.
Anyway, a few people from our group were a bit taken aback by the title of this little booklet that Buoyancy have put out:

(If you click on it, there's a PDF version.)
Deborah Homburg (the CEO of Buoyancy) was saying that when they start working with a new client they tell the client that there's nothing wrong with them. Some people from our group reckoned that was a bad thing to say, and that they should be telling people that things are wrong, because they're using drugs.
I think that the Buoyancy people are trying to get across that using drugs is not an unusual way of trying to cope with trauma. I think as well they're trying to get people to look at different kinds of behaviour as helpful or nonhelpful, rather than good or bad.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Support the protesters in Burma/Myanmar

Last week I sent an email around asking people to sign a petition in support of the protests in Burma. Today I got this update about the campaign:

Dear friends,

Burma's generals have brought their brutal iron hand down on peaceful monks and protesters -- but in response, a massive global outcry is gathering pace. The roar of global public opinion is being heard in hundreds of protests outside Chinese and Burmese embassies, people round the world wearing the monks' color red, and on the internet-- where our petition has exploded to over 200,000 signers in just 72 hours.

People power can win this. Burma's powerful sponsor China can halt the crackdown, if it believes that its international reputation and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing depend on it. To convince the Chinese government and other key countries, Avaaz is launching a major global and Asian ad campaign on Wednesday, including full page ads in the Financial Times and other newspapers, that will deliver our message and the number of signers. We need 1 million voices to be the global roar that will get China's attention. If every one of us forwards this email to just 20 friends, we'll reach our target in the next 72 hours. Please sign the petition at the link below -if you haven't already- and forward this email to everyone you care about:


The pressure is working - already, there are signs of splits in the Burmese Army, as some soldiers refuse to attack their own people. The brutal top General, Than Shwe, has reportedly moved his family out of the country – he must fear his rule may crumble.

The Burmese people are showing incredible courage in the face of horror. We're broadcasting updates on our effort over the radio into Burma itself – telling the people that growing numbers of us stand with them. Let's do everything we can to help them – we have hours, not days, to do it. Please sign the petition and forward this email to at least 20 friends right now. Scroll down our petition page for details of times and events to join in the massive wave of demonstrations happening around the world at Burmese and Chinese embassies.

With hope and determination,

Ricken, Paul, Pascal, Graziela, Galit, Ben, Milena and the whole Avaaz Team

Brent defaced

The other week someone defaced the big stencil of Brent in the laneway. The funny thing is Brent came out while they were doing it, and asked them what they were doing.