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Indigenous Australia

Poisoned chalice: global water contamination
If a baby is fed unsafe water contaminated with chemical nitrates, the child turns blue.
When deep-well bore water arrived in Australian bush communities people thought the big thirst was over. Jeff McMullen reports in New Matilda that a decade long study shows unsafe water is now cutting lives short.

NAIDOC from its beginnings
As we celebrate another annual NAIDOC Week, let's take a moment to look at the steps taken to get us where we are today.

Growing up under the intervention
Last week marked the 10th anniversary of the controversial Northern Territory Emergency Response, better known as the intervention.
Kylie Sambo, a 24-year-old Warlmanpa and Warumungu woman from Tennant Creek, was only 14 when the intervention was introduced and the military turned up in the Northern Territory.
Today she is an activist, a hip hop artist, and a full-time carer for her nephew.

Uluru: take time to get this right
Indigenous Australians want substantive constitutional change and not just symbolic or minimalist change. The question is: How much should we attempt to put in the Constitution now, and how much should we place outside the Constitution, or delay for constitutional inclusion until another day? Writes Frank Brennan for Eureka Street.

Another stolen generation?
The NT Government is creating another Stolen Generation by removing children from communities without parents knowing why, an Indigenous author and language specialist says.

See also Not home yet: The crisis of indigenous kids in care

Aboriginal people exposed to UK nuclear tests to get health aid
Indigenous Australians who were exposed to radiation from British nuclear tests in the decade to 1963 will receive upgraded healthcare, the Australian government has announced.

Why Aboriginal people with disabilities crowd Australia’s prisons
Australia imprisons thousands of Aboriginal people with mental and cognitive disability each year. A widespread lack of understanding – and action – underpins this shameful breach of human rights, write Eileen Baldry, Elizabeth McEntyre and Ruth McCausland for The Conversation.

The cost of colonisation
The German government has a $90 billion compensation fund for Jewish survivors of the genocide by its former-government. How much does the Australian government owe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Apologies for Parihaka attrocities
The New Zealand government is to formally apologise for atrocities during the sacking of the pacifist settlement at Parihaka in Taranaki in 1881.

see also the history of Parihaka.


American cities punish banks for supporting Dakota pipeline
Conservatives have long had a monopoly on the love of states' rights and local government, but in Trump's America, it's the left that has seized the opportunities of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called "laboratories of democracy." Even as the Dakota Access Pipeline inches toward completion, multiple cities including Seattle, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Raleigh, and Philadelphia have spoken with their wallets, severing ties with the oil pipeline-funding banks—in particular, Wells Fargo.

Mining company spares rare zebra rock
The world's only operating zebra rock mine has decided to stop production at its biggest deposit, opting to protect the site for future generations.

NZ’s love affair with plastic – why?
Nearly half our mayors have signed a letter calling for a compulsory charge on plastic bags, and surveys show strong public support for the idea. Still the government remains staunchly opposed. If other countries can do it, why can’t we, wonders Kristin Hall for The Spinoff.

Brazilian president foils bid to lower Amazon protection
Brazil’s president Michel Temer has vetoed a bill that would have lowered protections on 1.4 million acres of land – much of it in the Amazon rainforest; but a new bill seeks to open Amazon forests to farming and mining, writes Karl Mathiesen for Climate Home.

World reacts as Trump pulls US out of Paris accord
The view from Australia: The Turnbull government has recommitted to Australia’s emissions targets in the Paris Agreement after Donald Trump’s withdrawal but faces internal division as conservative MPs celebrated the decision, writes Gabrielle Chan for The Guardian.

See also Pope calls for intellectual conversion over climate

The Political Community

The five men who own almost as much wealth as half the world’s population
Last year it was eight men, then it fell to six, and now it’s almost five. While Americans fixate on [US president Donald] Trump, the super-rich are absconding with our wealth, and the plague of inequality continues to grow, writes Paul Buchheit for Alternet.

Fairtrade mark threatened in UK supermarket move
When four Sainsbury’s executives met farmers from some of Africa’s biggest tea-growing cooperatives in a hotel in Nairobi last month it should have been a mutual celebration of Fairtrade, the gold standard of ethical trading and the world’s most trusted and best-known food certification scheme.
Instead, the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade products precipitated the greatest crisis in the scheme’s 25-year history by announcing that it intended to drop the globally known Fairtrade mark for their produce, and replace it with the phrase “fairly traded”.


Child abuse reports double since intervention
The Federal Government's controversial intervention in the Northern Territory has been exposed as a multimillion-dollar failure that only worsened the abuse of Indigenous children. About half of Indigenous children in the NT now come to the attention of the child protection system by the age of 10, the Royal Commission has heard.

The women and men who clean London at night
As others head home, a community of cleaners start work in insecure jobs that often leave them vulnerable to abuse.

Islamic State advances on Malaysia, Philippines
The Philippines imposed martial law in Mindanao province on May 24 to fight the Maute Islamist group who have pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Building social justice through share advocacy
Wealth inequality in Australia is flourishing. The top one per cent of household wealth in Australia is moving toward being 20 per cent of total wealth, and the country is a preferred destination for millionaires. But, check out some paths to social justice, Ann Deslandes suggests in this Eureka Street article.

Refugees and asylum seekers

Plan to restrict pension for older migrants unprecedented
Ethnic and welfare groups have warned a government plan to restrict pension access for elderly migrants is harsh, deeply unfair and takes the “unprecedented” step of punishing individuals for receiving welfare earlier in life.

Peter Dutton’s deadline for asylum seekers
Asylum seekers in Australia who are part of the “legacy caseload”, have been given until 1 October to formally apply for protection or face deportation, the immigration minister, Peter Dutton, has announced.

A Syrian violinist’s journey from brutality to hope
Alaa Arsheed and his musical partner plan to compose new songs while travelling along the Balkans refugee route.

The Edmund Rice Centre turns 21 this year

There’s a gala dinner to celebrate on September 8. More details here.

Online course teaching Sydney's Indigenous history and culture to anyone, anywhere
For 25-year-old Drew Rooke, school education on Indigenous Australia left him wanting … So Mr Rooke enrolled in a massive open online course (MOOC) run by the University of Sydney called Cultural Competency: Aboriginal Sydney.

Can plastic save the planet?
The world’s 40 million kilometres of roads use thousands of barrels of oil to make the bitumen that binds the various components together to make a road. An engineer in Scotland is trialling waste plastic instead of bitumen.

Afghanistan’s bleak situation
The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and conflict has become more intense throughout the country. The Taliban … have expanded their control and influence over many regions of Afghanistan and tens of thousands of Afghans have sought refuge in Europe, Australia and other parts of the world, according to a situation report Farhad Arian has compiled for the Edmund Rice Centre.

Helping farmers improve their livelihood
This video by the Poverty-Environment Initiative looks at efforts in Myanmar to work with small-holder farmers and help them with tools to promote more efficient farming, which in turn improves their livelihood.
Watch here  

Charity and justice – either side of a coin
This short video explains the difference between charity and justice and why society needs both.
Watch here  

Prayer for our earth
…from Laudato Si’  

Getting to know Catholic Social Teaching
For many years people have said that Catholic Social Teaching is our best kept secret, but I don’t think this is true anymore, writes Sandie Cornish.  

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

Major International Catholic Social Teaching Documents

Key Principles

Human Dignity
Each person, made in the image and likeness of God, has an inalienable and transcendent human dignity which gives rise to human rights.

The Common Good
We are called to work for conditions which ensure that every person and group in society is able to meet their needs and realize their potential.

The people or groups most directly affected by a decision or policy should have a key decision making role.

We can only grow and achieve our potential in relationship with others. Solidarity encourages us to commit ourselves to the common good.