Name: Eamonn Warner Age: 25 Occupation/title: Editor, Freelance Journalist Industry: Media
Same sex marriage. A bill used to drum up Labor party support, or genuine?
The timing is calculated but it should have been introduced a few years ago if we’re being honest about it. On the back on the Irish voting yes on the issue hopefully the momentum is there and our political class can finally do something to make the lives of those in the LGBTQI community a little easier.
Adam Goodes. Was his ‘war dance’ celebration a cultural tribute or should he have not done it?
Australia’s most high profile indigenous man, celebrates his people’s heritage, after kicking a goal during a round built around the contribution indigenous people have made to his sport – it was a brilliant moment. If you think otherwise you probably enjoy Andrew Bolt un-ironically.
FIFA. What will happen now Sepp Blatter has been outed?
Hopefully wide scale reform. But given FIFA’s history even before Blatter (Havelange taught Sepp all the tricks), I fear the cycle will just start all over again.
Caitlyn Jenner. Is the widespread media coverage justified or over the top?
It has felt saturating, but the coverage of her transition is doing wonders for educating people on the issues facing people who identify as transgender.
Daly Cherry Evans. Do contracts mean anything in sport anymore?
Not in rugby league. The system they have in place in the NRL around contracts is ridiculous. Introduce a two month transfer window at the end of the season and problems like this will disappear.
Indigenous and jail. How big a problem is the high levels of Indigenous Australian youths in prison?
It’s a massive issue and we just aren’t doing anywhere near enough to try and fix it. Indigenous Australians have been, and continue to be an afterthought when it comes to solving societal issues.
Entourage v Jurassic World. Both out over the next seven days, what is your pick?
If you’re a clever girl there’s only one possible choice.
Uber. Will the GST add ons stop you from using the service?
Never caught one. For most people I guess it will depend on the severity of the tax.
NBA finals. Golden State or Cleveland?
I’d have to say Golden State. Bogut has been slogging it out in the NBA years, so he deserves a title. Although I do enjoy how much Americans hate Dellavedova’s niggly style.
Russell Brand. He’s in the country soon, intelligent social commentatory or only popular because of his fame?
I think he’s leveraged his fame to get his voice out there when it comes to the big issues in UK politics. Being incapable of nuance is more damaging to his current image than his past fame.
Name: Matt Bahi Age: 26 Occupation/title: Restaurant Owner Industry: Dining
Nauru inquiry. Do you feel that asylum seekers at the detention centre are subject to significant abuse?
Locking up a human being for the ‘crime’ of seeking asylum is significant abuse in itself. Reports of sexual, physical and mental abuse, particularly of children is rife and it’s quite disturbing.
Married at first sight. The new realty show has been slammed, are we scraping the barrel?
Reality TV has been scraping the barrel since its inception. Completely orchestrated bullshit palmed off as ‘reality’. The fact that people are willing to go on TV to marry a complete stranger shows just how depraved and shameless we have become as a society.
Football. The A-League grand final brought in an estimated 250-300 million global audience – can/will it become the biggest sport in Australia?
I think australia is becoming increasingly open to sports outside of tennis and NRL. I don’t think it will ever be bigger than any other sport in Australia.
Cardinal Pell. Should the former Sydney Archbishop, be forced to return to Australia to face bribe claims relating to sexual abuse in the church?
Yeah, it still astounds me that powerful figures can get away with assisting sexual abusers while people like Julian Assange, who fights for freedom and governmental transparency, are vilified and forced into hiding.
Eurovision. Is our participation fair and just a bit of fun or a waste of time?
I don’t know anyone who watches Eurovision and I don’t want to. Our participation is a waste of time but I don’t think it’s a big enough issue to cry over it. I’m sure there will be plenty of white people having Eurovision parties so that’s something.
Animal cruelty. Australia’s cattle exports have been criticised for extensive animal cruelty – should they be shut down?
I’m a bit biased because I don’t think animals should be used for our consumption at all. Reports on live exports just makes a cruel act even worse. All animals deserve the same respect we do, and the same respect we give domesticated animals.
Vivid. A continually innovative festival or has it become predictable?
I can’t really say because I’ve only been to one and I was really underwhelmed. Maybe I got hyped up too much but I think it’s boring as bat shit. Frankly I’d rather the money spent on something more practical like more outdoor cinema events or a winter wonderland giant ice skating rink or something.
David Letterman. Will you miss the iconic late night host, or do you prefer Jimmy Fallon, Conan etc?
Letterman has been a late night staple for years. I can’t imagine not seeing him on late night TV. I like Conan but Jimmy Fallon is such a wank box.
Death Penalty. Yes or no?
Absolutely not. Imagine you were accused of a crime that you did not commit but evidence suggested your implication to the crime and you were executed by the state? It’s fucked; all life is precious.
Global warming. Are you concerned about growing reports about a forthcoming El Nino?
Absolutely. I hear that the El Nino will affect food distribution. This could will be detrimental to global economies, especially poorer nations in Africa who rely on trading coffee and other food staples. Some say that there have been more occurrences of it in recent years and that’s attributed to global warming, so I hope that global powers, particularly Australia, change their stance on climate change.
Name: Kevin D’Lima Age: 22 Occupation/title: Paralegal Industry: Law
Budget 2015. Were you happy with the result?
Neither happy nor unhappy. I think it seemed very much a budget of consolidation in the wake of the 2014 budget. A lot of the practical details of the budget are still filtering through.
What cut/addition/part of the budget do you feel will affect you the most?
Changes to the Youth Assistance Scheme probably.
Zoo Mag. Should the revealing magazine be banned from Woolworths and Coles?
Probably sitting on the fence for this one. I think there are definitely aspects of it that can be viewed as having an unhealthy effect on the image of women; however, if someone wants to take that stance I believe there are numerous magazines stocked by Coles and Woolies which are guilty of the same. So why not attack the regulation which permits it rather than a particular product?
Struggle Street. Do you think the 2-part series was effective or did more damage than good?
I haven’t watched a lot of it yet, but from the little I saw I was unsure of what the actual purpose of the documentary was. It seemed to have a micro view that didnt really point out any socio economic factors which would have provided context to the show – which I would expect from documentaries in general.
Death Penalty. Post the Bali 9 events, do you think we will see changes in attitude towards the death penalty?
I’m not sure, but I think it certainly has the potential to do so. I think the media’s willingness to cover similar events will be the defining factor.
El Nino. Is the predicted upcoming severe weather conditions a concern to you?
Definitely. I think the drought experienced by NSW in the past is a resounding reminder of the possible ramifications. Further, the existing probelms faced by farmers in Australia highlight the significance of the potential effects of an El Nino cycle.
Vegemite. It’s been getting a lot of media, so really, love it or hate it?
My first experience of Vegemite involved my brother tricking me into trying some, claiming that it was actually Nutella. Haven’t been a big fan ever since. Can’t say I hate it though, I think it definitely has a unique significance within Australia which can be appreciated without enjoying its taste.
Terrorism. The US Consulate in Melbourne has issued the high chance of terror attacks in Australia. Are you concerned?
Probably not any more concerned than I was prior to the warning. I think that Australia has effective policies and procedures in place to deal with most threats.
Johnny Depp. Should he have been allowed to bring his dogs into Australia?
No. I don’t think putting them down is the answer either. Quarantine them and send them back in my opinion.
Kylie & Jackie-O. They’ve come under a bit of pressure this week, do you find them crude or is it good entertainment?
Crude. But those that listen to their show are aware of this already and I think there are many other options for those that are offended or not interested.
Name: Elyse Di Stefano Age: 21 Occupation/title: Law Student
Bali 9 fallout. Should the death penalty exist for some crimes or none at all?
Definitely none at all. You can take away someone’s liberty, even for the duration for their life if they’ve committed a heinous crime, but taking someone’s life is never acceptable.
Will you boycott Indonesia as a result of this week’s events?
Yes and no. Yes, because it confirms that it isn’t the sort of country I’d like to visit. No, because to be perfectly honest I never would have gone anyway. My family had a bad experience with Indonesian officials on a stop-over at Jakata Airport and it was pretty scary wandering around a foreign place when they’ve taken your passports. In saying this, I just want to clarify that I have nothing against the Indonesian people – they are lovely people with a rich culture. However their legal system and bureaucracy is something I’d never want to be tangled in.
Nepal. Does the tragedy in Nepal deserve more news attention or has it just been overshadowed?
It does deserve more news coverage because of the huge scale of devastation and the sheer number of people affected. I work with a lot of Nepalese people so my awareness on the issue has been acute, however as a result of the big events happening internationally it has been overlooked.
Olympics. A joint Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane idea is being touted as a host for 2028 or 2032, would it work?
No, for the last century the Olympics has always been a centralised sporting competition in the one city. Logistically for spectators and tourists it would be a nightmare – what if you wanted to see the swimming and the basketball, and they were in different cities? Not a good idea.
Weather. Do you think the fluctuating weather in Australia, particularly in Sydney, is a result of climate change?
I think it’s likely however I have no idea about any of the science of it.
Boxing. Will you be watching the Mayweather v Pacquiao fight this weekend or are you against the sport?
I’m not a fan of boxing since I don’t particularly enjoy watching people beat each other up, but since Dad has control over the remote, I’ll probably see some of it.
Politics. Albury mayor Kevin Mack claimed women should not ‘walk alone in parks’ after the recent rape of a 17-year old girl. Do you agree?
NO! This really gets my blood boiling. Comments like this are blaming the victim for the crimes of someone else. If this was an armed robbery, no mayor would have made a comment suggestion it was the shop owner’s conduct that caused it. Rape doesn’t happen because a girl wears a short skirt or walks somewhere at night. Rape happens because someone raped someone. Instead of telling girls to stop walking alone, lets teach our young men to respect women and to not rape them. #redmylips
Royal baby. Do we place too much emphasis on the the royal family or is it justified?
I’m of the view that the Monarchy still has an important part to play in international and diplomatic relations, so news coverage on the new heir to the throne is not always unjustified.
Bruce Jenner. Do you think his coming out as trans-gender benefit other trans-gender individuals around the world?
Yes. After seeing the interview, you begin to understand the struggle that trans-gender people face. Bruce has given a face to which millions upon millions of people can start to empathise with, where they can appreciate the difficulties trans people face, and I believe that this empathy will be a good thing for the cause in the long run.
Waleed v Pickering. Who do you think is Australia’s leading broadcasted-news opinion?
At the moment it’s looking like Waleed from what I’m seeing on social media.
Much has been made of the looming executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the two Bali Nine members and Australian citizens whose numbers appear to be up any day now. In our fury at the barbarism of the Indonesian judicial machine, our country has engaged in rhetorical debate as to the merits of the death penalty. The position is now so universal that the full political spectrum of Australia was bobbleheading along as Alan Jones was brought to tears over the issue during Monday’s edition of Q&A.
This unanimity has led to a heightened frustration that headway cannot be made with Indonesia. Instead we inevitably turn to what our Government’s trump-card options are; do we cut foreign aid? Do we impose trade sanctions? Do we leverage our decade old Boxing Day Tsunami Appeal as a type of guilt-trip? These are all, of course, nonsense.
The answer is right under our powder filled noses. If we want to talk the talk as a progressive nation, it’s time our legs caught up to our whinging mouths.
Take into account that these 19 year olds were more than likely petty suppliers more interested in procuring a party substance, while the Bali Nine were transporting 8.3kgs of heroin with a street value $4 million.
This disconnect is summed up in Tuesday’s announcement that the close friend of 19 year old Georgia Bartter, who died in the most unusual of circumstances in November at Sydney’s Harbourlife festival. Rebecca Hannibal has been arrested and charged for supplying the ecstasy pills that had the fatal effect on Bartter’s body (Bartter didn’t die from an overdose; she suffered an ‘acute, aggressive, irreversible allergic reaction’ to the drugs). Young man, Matthew Forti has also been arrested for initially selling the pills to Hannibal.
And there we have it, two 19 year olds before judge and jury because of an impossibly random biological reaction, reported at Bartter’s funeral to be 1 in 10 million. Judge and jury will sense the injustice, but their jobs are not to moralise; their job is to carry out law. The discussion about values is for our elected representatives and for us citizens – which is where you come in.
Take into account now that ecstasy is quite demonstrably less dangerous than the heroin the Bali Nine were transporting. Take into account that these 19 year olds were more than likely petty suppliers more interested in procuring a party substance, while the Bali Nine were transporting 8.3kgs of heroin with a street value $4 million.
Take into account that Professor David Nutt – lecturer at Oxford and Bristol University – has produced research finding that taking ecstasy is no more dangerous than the passé and unquestionably legal activity of horse-riding – a claim that he was dismissed from public service for uttering. Take into account that heroin use is a horribly prevalent issue in Indonesia, far more threatening to the society than a handful of ecstasy pills at festivals and dance-clubs.
If you are as upset as I am about the harshness of the penalties facing our countrymen in Bali, keep your anger for within these borders; the place where progressive leadership has not been shown and your opinions have a chance of mattering. Our diplomats are caught trying to argue, that ‘drugs are pretty bad, but they’re not THAT bad’ – when we should be calling into question the laws that find drug sellers in handcuffs at all.
Regrettably, we live in a legal structure that actively seeks to make criminals of drug suppliers; we invite disproportion, hypocrisy and personal dishonesty. The reality is that we will know and be aware of regular drug takers, even drug dealers in our circle of friends. We ourselves may have a history of drug use that could range from intermittent to casual to regular.
The ‘War on Drugs’ does not work. We know this. We know it from prohibition in America. We know it from our presence at house parties. We know it from smelling the air in the suburbs for that pungent grassy smell on lazy afternoons. Conventional global policy in this space is a Sisyphean challenge.
And besides, how else would nine Australians in their 20s have a chance at earning a million dollars each for transporting a kilo of anything if not for laws that inevitably make the drug trade obscenely lucrative? If they had each carried the same weight in pure gold back in 2004 they would have only been carrying 1.5% of that value! Black market indeed.
Now for your reflection, when the three Bali Bombings perpetrators sentenced to death were shot by firing squad in 2008, there was no public outrage coming from Australia. There were no shouts of human rights. There were no shock jocks complaining of systemic barbarism – there were more than likely a few wry smiles. This is because drug crimes are not genuine crimes; we quite clearly know what wickedness is and what it isn’t. The death penalty is actually less abhorrent to us all if it is in response to genuine and grave injustice.
The suppliers of substances that are voluntarily consumed do not belong in cells with rapists, murderers and pedophiles – one place they certainly don’t belong is in the gallows. They belong in shop fronts, running legitimate businesses and paying tax on their earnings.
If we are in search of a leg to stand on when arguing for mercy for drug traffickers in other societies, there is no better place to start than by having a meaningful conversation about them in our own.
Christopher Hitchens, perhaps the most ardent and audacious polemicist of our time, had that much to say of organised religion.
15 December 2014 marks the third anniversary of Hitchens’ death. It also now marks a date that will become indelibly entrenched in the psyche of our nation.
The grim spectre of terrorism arrived on our doorstep in the form of yet another cretin of jihad, rabidly intent on having his own hateful interpretation of fundamentalist Islam heard. The end result of his moronic, haphazard and patently amateur attempt at hostage taking was, inter alia, the tragic loss of two innocent individuals.
The irony of such an event transpiring on this date is not lost on me and I find myself pausing to ruminate on what Hitchens would have made of this particular event, among similar others, which have ensued across the globe since his death.
We now know, with the benefit of hindsight, that the perpetrator most likely acted alone. He bore every hallmark of a psychopath. A rapist, misogynist, murderer and fear monger, he was well known to police.
If you know a good Muslim, a good Catholic, Buddhist, Shinto, Jew or anyone of any faith, they are not good because of their faith. They are good because they are inherently so.
A self-styled cleric and “spiritual healer”, he preached his own vitriolic, extremist and vituperative brand of Islam that garnered little support from the Australian Muslim community.
It is manifestly clear that his views and, perhaps more importantly, his actions are not representative of the Australian, or indeed, the global Muslim community. Admirably, the Australian Muslim community has conceivably been the most vocal and vehement of all in its revulsion and condemnation of the heinous acts that unfolded in Martin Place.
As the ordeal unfolded in full view of cameras, I inevitably found myself thinking back to Hitchens.
He once described organised religion as “the main source of hatred in the world”; inherently “violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry.”
I could not help but contemplate these words as I watched, with the utmost feeling of helplessness, as the fates of a handful of hostages hung precariously in the hands of a hateful, violent, intolerant, ignorant and irrational madman.
Across the unfolding media landscape, I saw companies, government bodies, ministers of government, holy men and women, emergency services personnel and individuals offer their condolences, thoughts and prayers.
I do not for a moment doubt the sincerity of these thoughts and prayers but I cannot help but wonder whether it was prayers that got us into this mess in the first place.
Eventually, as with many others, I found myself asking: why?
In answering that, the senselessness of it all is overwhelming.
Two people are dead, many more are injured, families have been rent asunder and innocent children have lost their mother. A city and a nation remain in shock.
For what purpose?
Because of one individual’s warped interpretation of one of the world’s largest and most prolific monotheistic religious traditions?
Could it truly be that, in the year 2014, the blood of innocent individuals peacefully going about their business on a Monday morning in a major capital city would be shed in the name of Islam?
Could the desert superstitions of Antiquity truly have influenced an individual, and filled him so greatly with venom and spite to commit such heinous acts in the name of his god?
Whilst many have been quick to point out that the perpetrator’s interpretation of the Islamic faith alongside his coldblooded actions do not represent mainstream Islam and do not represent Muslims as individuals, it is entirely disingenuous to pretend that this foul crime is separate to the perpetrator’s faith.
The issue I take with the proposition that his faith was his own warped interpretation and no-one else’s, is how tired this excuse is becoming.
Very few Muslims around the world shared the beliefs of the perpetrators of the conflagration of the World Trade Centres on 9/11. That did not stop them, steadfastly and devoutly, from flying commercial jetliners into buildings bustling with innocents.
Buddhism abhors violence in all forms but that has not stopped Buddhist zealots in Myanmar from indiscriminate killing and persecution of the minority Muslim population.
The Lord’s Resistance Army soldiers wear rosary beads and recite passages from the Bible before battle and paedophile priests in the Catholic Church have clandestinely perpetrated one of the greatest episodes of child abuse in known history.
You will excuse me, therefore, when I shudder at hearing “but I know lots of good [insert religious affiliation here] and they do not believe that” or “they would never do that”.
If you know a good Muslim, a good Catholic, Buddhist, Shinto, Jew or anyone of any faith, they are not good because of their faith. They are good because they are inherently so. They are good because their inherent sense of good, justice and fairness is incompatible with the incoherent man-made doctrines and exhortations of religion masquerading as divine commandment.
The sun is setting on 2014 and 2015 is dawning. As a species, we are faced with myriad challenges.
We do not have time to be warring, maiming and killing in the name of gods and faiths, vestiges of the infancy of our species. The challenges of the future cannot be resolved by the man-made wish thinking of Antiquity. Reason, science, critical thinking and humanity must prevail.
With angst, I note that as I write this, at least 140 youths lie dead in Peshawar, victims of a Taliban raid on a local school.
Ostensibly, this attack is a reprisal for counter-insurgency operations being undertaken in the restive tribal provinces of Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan. The fact that a school has been targeted is no mere coincidence. The Taliban has a nauseating predilection for targeting educational institutions and individuals who espouse the virtue of education like the courageous Malala Yousafzai.
My view has always been that whatever people choose to believe is a matter for themselves. I respect everyone’s right to their beliefs, even though I may not respect their belief itself. So long as a particular belief does not impinge upon public policy, secular laws and practices, and does not infringe the rights of individuals who do not share that faith, I have no issue.
My issue is that too often we are finding ourselves at the mercy of those who do not think this way: cretins, fearmongers, extremists and fundamentalists who demand that we bow to the dictates of their faiths.
We live in a democratic, peaceful, tolerant, multicultural and pluralist nation. We are the exception, not the rule. This is something to be cherished and something that we should strive to protect and maintain.
The only way to meaningfully achieve this is to cast off the chains of religion and forge ahead as a secular nation which, whilst respecting different cultures and traditions, governs and administers itself on the principles of science, reason and critical thinking.
This year we’ve seen a lot of buzz about feminism in the media and the public discourse. There have been awesome examples: Emma Watson’s on-point UN speech addressing equality, and our mate Karl Stefanovic’s epic experiment where his unnoticed lack of suit rotation made a valid point about the excess criticism faced by women in the media.
Feminism has also experienced some bona fide kicks to the proverbial ballsovaries ‘collective-gender-non-specific-tender-areas’.
Australia’s only current female cabinet minister, Julie Bishop, publicly rejected a feminist identity. This came hot on the heels of an online anti-feminism movement using the hashtag ‘#IDon’tNeedFeminismBecause’. Slews of young social media users raised arms (read: held up pieces of paper scrawled on with sharpies, and took selfies) in order to make a statement about why they “don’t need feminism”.
But in the absence of passion for a cause, complacency quietly breeds apathy – a situation with its own dangers.
But why are people so eager to publicly reject a movement that at its base has the most inclusive of intentions?
The reasons that the women (mostly teenage, white, upper-middle class western women) behind anti-feminism movements prudently stick the middle finger up to feminism have baffled and dismayed self-identified feminists the world over.
Meanwhile, the reasons a prominent individual like Julie Bishop would have for rejecting feminism don’t appear to have anything to do with the previous waves of feminism – movements that opened doors for women to compete with men for respected positions like the one she holds – but rather the current incarnation of the movement, which to outsiders is stereotyped as radical (not in the ‘cool’ way) and over the top.
But the greatest issue a woman like Julie would have with (publicly) identifying with feminism is that it is inherently pigeonholed with being a ‘leftie’ title. And, y’know, being associated with a political agenda that promotes equality and socialist economic policies would just not go down so well at the next polo match, tea party or whatever royal-family-approved get togethers the ‘righties’ gather at.
And it’s no wonder people get confused – on one hand the public sees feminists applauding women for proudly wearing whatever the hell they want, while also seeing other self-defined feminists shaming a woman for getting her boobs out.
If someone doesn’t see feminism as redundant, then they see it as contradictory.
These polarising examples of feminism (when seen by people who are not actively involved in the movement) leave the public with mixed feelings about all that women’s rights jazz – ranging from confused and conflicted to downright hating on feminism, to the degree of fashioning meme’s with the words “FUCK FEMINISM” emblazoned across them.
As in any topic that has been opened up for discussion by social media, feminism is now freely debated by both positive and negative voices – some dangerously so.
Now as a self-identifying feminist, logging into my Facebook on a dreary weekday afternoon to see one such meme, shared by an acquaintance that I’ve known to display a considerably balanced degree of respect for both men and women, left a bitter taste in my mouth.
I scanned down a customary rage spiral of keyboard warrior debates in the comments section, where I saw the remarks had left a taste beyond bitter on the tongues of my feminist peers; whilst trolls and dangerously men’s-rights-activist-esque commenters boasted about desires to purchase their own versions of the scientist’s internationally televised shirt that sparked the initial debate cluster-fuck of opinions that spiraled out of control in the first place.
Livid debates by keyboard warriors are an all too common sight for social media users. Whether they are sparked by a petition against an R-rated video game, or a measured critique of the patriarchy’s damaging influence, you can be sure that the cries of “MISANDRY!” will ring through the night.
Antifeminist opinions more often than not come from a place of ignorance or from the ill-informed (unless you’ve learned the facts and yet still remain a chauvinist pig), which leads to dangerous misunderstandings and the perpetuation of a patriarchal culture.
But on the flipside, the movement needs to be accessible enough without needing to read the appendices in order for it to be widely embraced. Campaigns like #HeForShe, that invite men to get involved in positive change, are applauded by many feminists (male and female) while they are also critiqued from within the movement by those disgruntled at men receiving “special names and special recognition”.
Jargon and buzzwords have in many ways opened up a magnificent dialogue to tackle the myriad issues oppressing women and holding back true equality. But, when someone unfamiliar with the ‘slang’ sees these terms being thrown around, they may be discouraged from identifying with the greater cause. Much like how political jargon and inner conflict * cough * Julia vs Kevin * cough * might confuse a nation into voting for a leader that would turn out not to serve the public’s best interests * cough * Tony Abbott * cough *.
Extremism in any cause more often than not leads to negative, counter-productive outcomes. The delicious drama of sensationalism also makes for more interesting headlines and more passionate discussion. Mediators are often overlooked in favour of supporting an extreme opinion – a factor as to why the official apology over the Shirtstorm debacle issued by the American Astronomical Society went largely ignored in favour of supporting an anti-feminist narrative.
But in the absence of passion for a cause, complacency quietly breeds apathy – a situation with its own dangers.
Complacency towards politics means that we’ve ended up with a widely declared embarrassment of a Prime Minister. Complacency towards women’s rights means the threat of sexual assault is considered a normal part of a young woman’s night out, or walk home from work at night.
Complacency is the luxury of Western society, where many shrug off a movement with wide-reaching benefits for both genders – or actively oppose it while not understanding its depth and consequences.
In early July 2012, my application to be a rifleman in the Army Reserve was turned down because the recruiting pysch reckoned I needed more life experience. This wasn’t a “no” I’d take lightly. My “up yours” was to hike to Everest Base Camp in Nepal and then spend some time in Hong Kong during December last year.
When I got home, I began to seriously think of applying to the French Foreign Legion and when I read about them, I learnt the story of a legionnaire named Alex Rowe, who became one of its stars even though the British Army rejected him for a detached retina.
Failure gives you the chance to start again, and when you do, you’re twice as strong.
I didn’t see my first failure as ultimate, I was just moving towards my goal from another direction. I hiked up Kilimanjaro in July and when I got home I decided I was going to France in November. I was going to fly to the other side of the world to pursue my dream and why the Hell not? I’m 27, living at home and this was a way to get out and start my own thing. If I got accepted, I’d be paid in Euros and could become a French citizen after three years of service. Sure, I could be dead before my 33rd birthday but I believe it’s better to have a short yet full life than a long and miserable one.
An early death didn’t scare me, this was my hope and I would put my arse on the line for it. So I bought my plane ticket to Paris and then picked the dates when I’d quit my job and fly out. Meanwhile I kept running, lifting and taught myself to ask for the train station in French.
In mid-September shit happened, I discovered a hernia in my abdomen and had to shelve everything. I felt numb. This was something I nurtured for two years and it was over before I could put a foot in France. I suspect when my parents found out, they were secretly overjoyed. Their only son wasn’t going to get himself killed after all. I began dismantling my dream by deleting the Foreign Legion bookmarks I’d saved on my computer. Then, I went to Nepal again and Kuala Lumpur to place mental distance between that and the future.
When shit happens, and I’m sure you’ve got a story of your own, it’s easy to believe your life has ended. I felt like that in the weeks after discovering my hernia and then there’s mourning for what could’ve been. A new boyfriend or girlfriend, new job, money, whatever. I wanted a fresh start on the other side of the planet but I’m still in Sydney. It’s nevertheless important to grieve, but it can blind us to lessons we learnt over the process. And sometimes it’s about what we became, than what we had to gain.
Whenever you fail, I urge you run a post-mortem on it. Apart from understanding what went wrong, think about the qualities you displayed while you went after your goal. Mine were resilience, focus and discipline. Failure gives you the chance to start again, and when you do, you’re twice as strong.
A recent report by the Grattan Institute suggests the university you attend doesn’t make that much difference to your future salary. But there’s been a lot of backlash by those who think the prestige of your university still does matters.
I went to a group of eight ‘sandstone’ university and loved every minute of it. I made lots of friends and was involved in campus events and culture as there was always something happening. I later attended a technical university which I mostly enjoyed, although as I only attended for class I didn’t make many friends and I didn’t notice as much culture.
But if we set aside the universities cultures for a second, I honestly believe I got great educations from both, yes even the technical one which doesn’t rank well internationally… or locally, really.
However, I can tell you straight up, going to university didn’t help me get a job. Hell, not even all the internships in the world helped me get a job. Because let’s face it, in certain fields there are too many of us coming out of university and not enough jobs to go around.
I’m not suggesting we stop going to university, of course. University is there for those who want to go and for those who don’t there’s a thousand other options, including TAFE, apprenticeships and the good old fashioned way of starting at the bottom and working your way up.
But with the lack of jobs, does the university you go to matter anymore? Does going to a sandstone put you ahead of the pack like it used to? If you look around my workplace, I’d say not at all.
I work in IT and the people I work with are highly intelligent, highly skilled and incredibly detail-oriented. There’s the boy who can code in his sleep, the guy who casually drops that he just ‘wrote a script’ to fix an issue, the girl who manages our entire communications system and the 21 year old kid prodigy that you thought only existed in movies. Yet if you look at where they studied, you’ll see quite the cross-section of universities, from sandstone University of Sydney to ‘sorry, where’s that?’ University of Western Sydney. If you look further, you’ll even find a few of people who didn’t even study, they just learnt on the job.
It turns out, the data agrees with me – to a certain extent. The Grattan Institute’s report suggests that it doesn’t matter what university you go to. This is despite the higher entrance scores required to go to a sandstone and that sandstone universities continually outrank their technical counterparts in international rankings.
What seems to be the case is that research-based prestige, which is how universities are ranked, doesn’t seem to affect starting salaries or long term income in Australia in the same way it does overseas, at least for those of us who only hold a Bachelors.
Of course, the study is quick to point out that graduates from suburban and regional universities normally don’t fair quite as well as their technical and sandstone cousins (sorry University of Western Sydney, I spoke too soon!). But could there be more at play? After all, technical and sandstone universities tend to be centrally located and attract kids from higher socio-economic areas and it’s well known that a silver spoon upbringing can (but not always) give you a head start.
What is clear is that it matters what you study, not where you study. In fact, most of what the report said, in my opinion, is pretty much common sense: commerce, engineering, medical and IT students are, as a general rule, usually going to end up earning more than those who do an arts degree, regardless of what university you go to.
High school graduates will continue to go to universities in droves and wherever life leads them after that, well that’s up to them. It’s our job to ensure university doesn’t become deregulated by the government and remains a solid option for future generations.