An asylum seeker family has received a payout of more than $100,000 after suing the federal government over mistreatment in Australian detention centres. Last week the New South Wales Supreme Court approved a settlement granting $100,000 compensation, plus costs, to the family of Hamed Hendi, an Iranian man who attempted to reach Australia by boat with his family in 2010. The family claimed they endured severe psychological distress while detention, and that the children “witnessed detainees engaging in self-harm and attempting suicides as well as physical fights between groups of detainees and between detainees and guards”. In her ruling, Supreme Court judge Christine Adamson found “there is a real question whether the Commonwealth would have been found liable had the proceedings not resolved”.
Abortion rights advocates have urged the New South Wales parliament to decriminalise abortion. In an open letter, dozens of legal rights organisations, medical peak bodies, women’s rights groups and family planning agencies said the state’s “current abortion laws are archaic, cruel, and degrading, and deny a woman the right to make decisions about her healthcare”. Last week, both major parties in South Australian parliament committed to a conscience vote on a private member’s bill removing abortion from the criminal code and establishing safe access zones outside clinics. Queensland passed a similar measure in October, after all MPs were granted a conscience vote.
Two trade unions have teamed up to organise workers at Amazon Australia after a contractor claimed he was fired for attempting to unionise his fellow workers there. Guardian Australia reports that Raj, a forklift driver who worked in Amazon’s Sydney “fulfilment centre” through labour hire company Adecco, claimed he was ordered to remove union clothing at work and stop distributing union material to colleagues. The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association and the Transport Workers Union have agreed to collaborate to organise Adecco contractors working at Amazon. Workers have described conditions in Amazon warehouses as a “hellscape”.
And left-wing delegates to the Labor Party’s upcoming national conference have joined a push urging Labor to increase Newstart if it wins the next federal election. The Australian Council of Social Service’s Raise the Rate campaign is pressuring federal Labor to commit to a $75-a-week increase to the Newstart rate, which has not been raised in real terms in more than 25 years. Labor delegate and mayor of the Inner West local council in Sydney, Darcy Byrne, described raising the rate as “a moral issue for an incoming Labor government”, claiming that working people in Australia “are now among the poorest people living in the developed world”. While Labor described Newstart as “too low” in its draft policy platform, the party has only committed to a review of the rate while in government.