Indonesian fires lit by dysfunctional democracy

Last year’s forest fires were the worst in 20 years. They will continue to be severe if not for urgent political reform. Indonesia is widely praised as the most successful electoral democracy in Southeast Asia. It’s lauded as living proof that Islam is compatible with democratic governance and is celebrated for its relative tolerance of…

Myanmar: Why a democratic win doesn’t mean democracy

In May, 1990, Myanmar held its first multi-party elections since 1960. Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy claimed a landslide victory, but the military rejected the result. Over 25 years later, history has not repeated itself. The 2015 election in Myanmar is undoubtedly an astonishing win for electoral democracy in Southeast…

World in chains: The thriving industry of human slavery

It is generally accepted that slavery ended with the Abolitionist Movement in the first half of the nineteenth century. Was the historical yardstick planted with the death of the Atlantic slave trade? Or maybe it ended when it was abolished five years after the American Civil War in 1865? Perhaps even when Brazil ended involuntary…

Why Australia will never be Europe

Last week, Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders visited been in Australia as the guest of honour at the launch of a new anti-Islamic party, the Australian Liberty Alliance. At an event in a secret location in Perth on Tuesday, Wilders stated that the belief all cultures are equal is the “biggest disease in Europe today,” urging…

At the coalface: Working with refugees in Indonesia

In first semester of 2015 I lived in Yogyakarta, Indonesia where I was completing the second semester of my Master of Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia Pacific Regional Program) at Universitas Gadjah Mada. During my time living there, I interned with the Jesuit Refugee Service where I was asked to be an English teacher at…

How to Improve the Asylum Seeker Debate: Listen to Experts

This month, nearly 1,000 doctors, nurses and staff at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne publicly protested the government’s policy of placing children in immigration detention. Doctors refused to discharge a woman and her child to the Department of Immigration, stating that this would be against “her family’s treatment needs” to do so.  This extraordinary…

Supporting higher education key to resettling Syrian refugees

Last month the Australian Government announced that it will open the door to 12,000 refugees fleeing Iraq and Syria, focusing its resettlement efforts on women and children. 7000 people will be settled in New South Wales alone, with a great number of these likely to join the existing Syrian community in Southwest Sydney. This will…

Barnaby Joyce: The right man to mend fences with Indonesia

This week, Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce was in Indonesia in the hope of strengthening agricultural ties. Let’s hope chatting cows and mi goreng helped towards patching a fragile relationship. Australia’s historical relations with its closest neighbour have been difficult ones. Diplomacy between the two countries throughout the twentieth century has remained on…

Mental Health Week is a time to remember the forgotten children

As Australia marks Mental Health Week we should stop to remember that it is not only wealthy Australians who are worthy of effective treatment and a lifestyle that is conducive to being mentally healthy. There are too many people whose circumstances foster mental illness, who lack the proper support networks for recovery, and who are…

Dollars as well as sense needed for Syrian refugees

Last month the Australian Government announced 12,000 resettlement places for people fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq. The decision has been widely applauded by refugee advocates and heralded as a triumph of people power, given that it came after tens of thousands of Australians took to the streets in support of asylum seekers in the…