Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Indigenous youth suicides continue

The deaths of four young Indigenous people over a two-day period in Queensland has renewed calls for the federal government to take urgent action to address youth suicide. Four Indigenous people, including two young women in Townsville and two young men in Mt Isa, died by suicide last week, continuing a pattern of suicide and self-harm among Indigenous young people, especially those in remote areas. Senior Indigenous research fellow at Curtin University, Hannah McGlade, told NITV the government needed to establish a national action plan to address Indigenous youth suicide, saying “we need to have proper human rights-based interventions and responses to stem this problem”. Professor of nursing and midwifery at Central Queensland University, Gracelyn Smallwood, told The Australian ($) that most mental health and suicide prevention programs were not suitable for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and that “ there has to be a review of the ­resources that are not reaching the grassroots level”.

Australia’s annual migration intake will be cut by 30,000 people under a plan approved by federal cabinet. The Australian ($) reported on Tuesday that cabinet’s expenditure review committee had signed off on the proposal, which would impose a hard ceiling on the annual migration intake for the first time and require many migrants to live in areas outside Sydney and Melbourne for at least five years. Speaking on Tuesday, prime minister Scott Morrison said the decision was based on managing population growth rather than race, saying the issue “shouldn't be hijacked by other debates about race or about tolerance or these other issues”. Speaking on the ABC’s Q&A on Monday, defence industry minister Linda Reynolds linked the Christchurch terror attack to parliament’s approval in February of a bill allowing the medical evacuation of critically ill refugees and asylum seekers in offshore detention.

Australian telecommunications carriers are blocking access to websites that hosted videos of the Christchurch terror attack, as world leaders push for stronger laws regulating social media outlets. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone confirmed on Tuesday that they were blocking Australian users from visiting websites that hosted copies of the Christchurch terrorist’s livestream. In a letter to Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who will chair the G20 summit in June, prime minister Scott Morrison urged governments to agree on sweeping laws governing social media companies, saying it was “unacceptable to treat the internet as an ungoverned space”.

And anti-terror police have investigated a threat on social media detailing plans to stage a “copy cat” massacre inspired by the Christchurch terror attack. An anonymous post on an unnamed social media platform on Sunday laid out plans to attack Manifold Heights mosque in Geelong, prompting a heavy Victoria Police presence at the mosque later that day. Imam Shaykh Mohammad Ramzan said the mosque had been overwhelmed with messages of support since Christchurch, saying “the support from the community has given us so much strength, it has made us feel many years younger”.


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“Even five years of stagnant wages later, with the national economy rapidly slowing, with business and consumer confidence and spending falling fast, with national living standards in decline and even the Reserve Bank calling for higher wages, with only corporate profits and executive pay notably on the up, the government remains reluctant to admit any problem.”


“Now may be a good time for artists and art institutions to be asking questions about masculinity and mortality, but a better time might have been 20 years ago, when Ben Quilty started painting a series of Holden Toranas. The 46-year-old’s ways with colour and grand scale – elements that have remained consistent through distinct periods of moral inquisition and advocacy – have fortified his position as one of the most acclaimed and popular contemporary Australian artists.”


“The Nationals were always distrustful of Turnbull, none more so than Joyce. History recalls that, far from staring down the reluctant Coalition partner, Turnbull capitulated to their demands to stay with the defeated Tony Abbott’s agenda. And for good measure he even handed over water management to Joyce, with disastrous results for his own Murray–Darling water plan.”


“Lawyers for the family of a Yorta Yorta woman who died in a police station cell are asking for a coroner to consider whether systemic racism played a part in her death ... After Tanya Day was arrested and taken to Castlemaine police station in central Victoria, no one entered her cell for about four hours, her family says. They say CCTV shows Ms Day hit her head in the cell on five occasions.”


“Djab Wurrung Elders are calling for supporters to join them as they protest the planned removal of sacred trees for the Western Highway bypass and await the outcome of an emergency declaration application to have the area preserved under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.


“Last month, tragedy hit a small town in northern New Jersey when 20-year-old Kellen Walker died in a car accident. The only thing Kellen loved more than spending time with his loved ones was reading any book he could get his hands on, so his friends decided to honor Kellen’s memory in a truly amazing and fitting way: They buried him in James Joyce’s grave.”

Alex McKinnon is Schwartz Media's morning editor.