Monday, 24 September 2012

We need more compassion and empathy for refugees

We live in a wonderful country.
We take it for granted that we have more than enough water to go around.
We have food and sanitation and waste collection and order.
We have electricity and gas, heating and cooling.
We have health services. And get this, often those services are free (for example if you go to a public hospital or a bulk billed doctor's service).
We have subsidised medicine via the PBS system.
We have education for our children.
And our women can vote.

Sure, our country has some issues, plenty. But in relation to the fundamental building blocks of living a happy life, we have ours right here. And we forget because we've moved to the next level of complexity in life. We have the basics and so our mind re-focuses on other things. Sport. Politics. Current issues. Relationships. Celebrities. TV. Sometimes we need something to remind us that these things are first world problems, and that many people in the world do not ever get to worry about the same things we get to worry about. They're busy worrying about how to get clean water, or food for the family. They're worrying about getting sick and not being able to work. Sometimes they're worried because they live in a war zone. But for us we forget all of that. It's so far from our minds.

Today I got my reminder. It slapped me across the face.

I navigated my internet browser to to see what the celebs were wearing to the Emmys. I saw this:

Are Australian's refugee laws too soft? [In response to this article: 'Soft laws' bring pretend refugees.]

They had to be kidding, right?

I can't get over the lack of ignorance on this issue.

So. First: what (or rather who) is a "refugee"?

Refugees "are ordinary people who have been forced to leave their homes to escape human rights abuses, such as violence, persecution, torture, or worse". [Source: Amnesty International]

It is not illegal to seek refuge (or asylum) in a foreign country. The only thing you have to do is seek confirmation from the Government that you are entitled to refugee status.

Did you know that in 2010 only 5,500 asylum seekers arrived at Australia's borders seeking refugee status? For the whole year.

Think about how many people live in Australia already. It's around 22.6 million according to Google.
How many towns and cities and places to live are there in Australia? 2 thousand? 3 thousand? I've no idea but we have a big country here.

Consider that we are not a small nation. We have plenty of land, food, water etc. We have a large population. When you look at the figures, 5,500 asylum seekers is not a lot.

Think about the meaning of "refugee" again.

It is a person.

Seeking refuge.

From human rights abuses, violence, persecution, torture or worse (such as war or natural disaster).

Refugees are people (just like you and me) who are asking for help. By the very definition they are seeking refuge. If you were faced with war or violence or persecution would you ask for help or seek refuge someplace else? I would!!!!

This is not something that we should get our pants in a knot about. We should be encouraging our Government to approach this issue with sensitivity, compassion and creative thinking. And we should NOT be encouraging our Government to "come down" on these people.

I can't solve this on my own. But I can ask publicly that before you jump up and down about refugee and asylum seekers just have a bit of a think. Walk a mile in that person's shoes. Maybe research the facts first.
I am disgusted at how many people voted 'Yes - Australia's Refugee laws are "too soft"'. And I am incredibly disgusted at for even putting a question like that out there - even if it was in response to a stupid article quoting something someone wrote.

So disgusted I wrote an email informing them I'm not reading their stupid news site anymore (copy of email is below).

I am not asking anyone to write to or boycott the news site. But PLEASE for the love of God, PLEASE can we have some compassion for these sorts of issues? And can we PLEASE have a little THINK before we jump up and down about refugees and other immigration issues?

Because, God forbid, if were ever to need to seek refuge or asylum ourselves - I'm pretty certain we'd want others do the same for us.

Email sent 24-09-2012:
Dear Ninemsn,

Are refugee laws too SOFT?

I went to your news site today:

I saw a "vote here" question: "Are Australia's refugee laws too soft?"

What is wrong with you?!?!

First. The question is framed in a completely biased way. A question like that is completely leading. Too Soft? I know this is a topical issue at the moment but don't newspapers have an obligation to present the unbiased facts? Oh, that's right, I apologise. You need to appeal to the broader public and create sensationalised content. It's just such a shame you're doing it for this particular issue.

You might not have voted but I cannot believe that >31000 people voted "yes" understanding really what they were saying.

I voted "no". How can you even stage such a ridiculous vote?

All Australian's (except Indigenous Australians) are refugees in some way. And before you get on your high horse about the legality or illegality of how we all originally got here - I might point out that Australia was not in fact settled - see the High Court Mabo decision. I'm happy to forward it to you if you don't have a copy.

The refugee issues in Australia are actually quite complex and should not be reduced to Papa Bear fairy-tale "too hard" or "too soft" rhetoric. Those issues require much more compassion and creative thinking. What we don't need is a mob of red-neck Aussies wielding pitchforks at non western people. And you are inciting that with your ridiculous vote.

I did not previously hold your news website in the highest of regards but you have lowered yourself beyond anything I had imagined. In my mind you are now in the same category as **** and ***, i.e.: sensationalised propaganda rubbish.
I did go to your news site today. Shamefully.
Rest assured. I won't be going again.

Mary Ryan

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Green is the new black

I'm a bit of a greenie at heart, and lately I've been reading all sorts of blogs about living a greener and more sustainable life. There is so much information out there, it can be quite overwhelming.

So gradually, I've been taking a mental note of what I do that impacts the environment and produces unnecessary waste or wastes unnecessarily - and thinking of small ways I can change all that. Consistently and achievably (so I continue doing it).

Here's what I came up with:

Waste/r:  Take-away coffee cups!

An obvious one. I'm including it for statistical impact.

I have 1 take away coffee every work day.
1 paper cup per day, 5 days per week, 48 work weeks per year = 240 cups per year. I'm 30 now. If I work another 30 years in my life that's 8400 paper cups. That is a lot of everything. A lot of trees. A lot of chemicals. A lot of transporting the cups. A lot of landfill.

Solution: Eco cup. I now have a fabulous Lock & Lock eco cup, which I take to work every day and then wash out with the rest of my evening dishes. Too easy. It would have taken more effort and probably more resources to make - but if I'm careful it should last me at least 5 years if it doesn't break. Hopefully longer.

Saving: at least 7200 paper cups! 

[Picture: Eat Me Daily, The Beta Cup Challenge to Create Recyclable Coffee Cups by Ann Marie Awad.]

Lads, skip to the next bit. Period talk coming.

Waste/r:  Pads and tampons!

Have you ever looked at a pad in the morning and thought, what a waste, there's only a tiny spot or nothing even came out! I'm a lady. I cycle every month for 5-7 days, let's round it to 6 per month. 13 cycles per year. I've had my period since I was 14 or 15 I think (I can't remember). Let's say 14. I probably use 7 pads per cycle (mostly at night time and around the house). That's at least 91 pads per year. If I keep cycling until I'm (what is the average?) 52, that's another 22 years of using pads, which is another 2002 pads in my life.... *sigh*


These things are amazing. They're basically non disposal pads right? Too easy. They clip around your nickers like padded wings, but without the stickyness, with a press stud. Made from flannely cottony fabric, they're so soft in your knickers (far, far more comfortable than disposables), and with all the pretty fabrics you'll be excited about that time of the month. 

Before you freak out, two thoughts: we don't always opt for disposable nappies - and it's really no different to washing a pair of nickers you accidentally leaked onto. They come with instructions on how to wash, it's all very hygenic and easy to do. You just need an empty icecream/yogurt tub to soak in cold water, then you chuck in with the rest of your laundry!

They come in different designs and different absorbencies. I got 2 to try initially but have gone back for a few more. At approx $7 for liners, $9 for super thin...right up to $17.50 for supers - and lasting 5 years if you treat 'em right - they're incredibly cost efficient and will save a lot of space on land fill.

NB: I am currently working up to trying Diva Cups. Not 100% sold on that yet.

Saving: at least 2002 pads!

Waste/r: Paper towels.

Every time I go to the loo at work I use paper towel to dry my hands - 2 sheets actually because 1 just doesn't cut it. I go to the loo alot, maybe 4 or 5 times during the work day. 8 sheets per day, 40 sheets per week, 1920 sheets per year. If I work another 30 years that's 57600 sheets for the rest of my working life, potentially.

Solution: Dry my hands on my clothes, flick dry, or use a towel (there's one in the kitchen or I could BYO hand towel). 

Saving: 57600 sheets of paper towel!

[Picture from Discard Studies blog, Debut Guest Post! Friedman’s “Washing Up” by Robin Nagle. Thank you Robin it's a great pic!]

Waste/r: Flushing.

Again, I go to the toilet a lot. That's a lot of flushing and a lot of toilet paper.

Solution: Use less paper. If it's yellow...let it mellow, etc. This is something you can only really enjoy if you either live alone or with a partner. (Sharehousing and letting it mellow ain't cool.)

Saving: Potentially hundreds of litres of water.

Waste/r: Bottled drinks, in particular water.

Have you ever stopped to wonder how much you're paying for bottled water? At $3 for 400ml that's $7.50 per litre! Also the bottles really mount up. I'm talking all bottled drinks, but in particular water. We are so lucky we have beautiful water that comes right out of our taps. And yet I find myself thirsty, and looking for the nearest store I can buy water. Crazy!

[Picture: Battle of the Bottle by Rachel Browne.]

Solution: Stainless Steel Eco water bottles. They look great, they're BPA free (not that I know what that is but it sounds good...something to do with chemicals found in plastics)...and they last. You buy one, then you refill it over and over. Saving heaps of water bottles.

Saving: I'll be saving $7.50 per litre of water in the future, as well as hundreds of plastic bottles.

[Picture: Eco News, Research shows bottled water consumption slows by David Twomey.]

What do you do to cut down on waste?  

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


It's Liptember!!!

I am wearing lippy (something I never do) throughout September (Liptember!) to raise awareness for women's mental health issues.

Loads of people have sponsored me already (thank you thank you thank you) to wear lippy in Liptember! If you would like to sponsor me too click here and follow the instructions. It's easy! Every dollar helps.

All money raised goes to Lifeline and the Centre for Women's Mental Health (at the Royal Women's Hospital).

Both amazing causes, Lifeline is a 24 hour crisis support service connecting Australians with trained volunteers who can provide emotional support to anyone, anywhere, anytime. The Centre for Women's Mental Health is the only gender specific mental health clinic in Australia, providing national research and programs for gender specific mental health issues for women.

Having lived through a period in my life experiencing extreme anxiety I have utilised the Lifeline service a couple of times. The people that work there provide amazing telephone support for people in crisis.

To sponsor me use this link!

Or don your lippy this month to show your support!