Nutrition, Annual Report 2018

By Val Cocksedge

NCWQ Nutrition Adviser

Australia’s health, well-being and productivity are being threatened by an epidemic of weight-related illness. 63.4% of Australian adults are above a healthy weight, with 27.9% obese and 35.5% overweight. More that a quarter (27%) of Australian children are overweight or obese. Australia, like many countries, is seeing an increase in diseases stemming from these factors – including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancers.

There is unequivocal evidence that the marketing of unhealthy foods and sugar-laden beverages is related to childhood obesity. Dr Gary Sacks, Deakin University, says Australians spend 32% of their food budget on takeaways and eating out with unhealthy diets, thus creating a public health issue. It is estimated that in 2009, food companies spent $402 million and $149 million respectively on food and non-alcoholic drink advertising in Australia – targeting children through advertising across a number of different platforms and using a variety of integrated techniques, influencing children’s food preferences, purchase requests and consumption patterns.

Australians are eating too much saturated fat, salt and added sugar in discretionary foods. WHO recommends that as part of a comprehensive strategy to tackle overweight and obesity issues, member countries implement front-of-pack labelling systems supported by public education programs for adults and children to improve attitudes and behaviour around diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

In September 2017, thirty four leading community, public health, medical and academic groups united in calling on the Federal Government to address the serious obesity problem with a new action plan called “Tipping the Scales” highlighting eight areas where action is required. http://www.opc.org.au/what-we-do/tipping-the-scales

In an effort to encourage Queenslanders to improve their food intake, the Queensland Government has run several programs on TV and newspapers e.g. Give Colour a Spin, outlining the value of different fruits and vegetables. https://www.healthier.qld.gov.au/about/give-colour-a-spin/  The Try for 5 program encourages Australians to increase vegetable consumption to the recommended 5 serves per day. http://www.tryfor5.org.au/ Supermarkets are taking up the challenge to eat more fruit, with baskets of free fruit.

There is a global war on unhealthy food ads. There are 1100 junk food ads on TV that 5-8 year-olds will be exposed to in a year. To continue to make products tasty for consumers, recipes, food products and restaurant meals designed to be “low fat” are substituting with sugar, salt and other miscellaneous ingredients.

Junk food companies spend 27 times more on advertising than the government does on promoting healthy eating. The average Australian consumes 60g (14 teaspoons) of sugar each day. Sugar replacements reduce kilojoules but do not address people’s preference for sweet foods.

Food companies do not have to declare how much sugar is added to their products – there are 42 different types of sugar food manufacturers can use. Choice has been calling on food and health ministers to support labelling of added sugar. For more information view https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/nutrition/sugar/articles/added-sugar to call for clear and transparent sugar labelling.

Energy drinks have become the choice of Australian kids and with fruit juices and cordials laden with sugars contributing to dental problems and weight gain. Some drinks contain 15-20 teaspoons of sugar. Red Bull with a similar caffeine to a cup of coffee contains 27.5g of sugar. The AMA is reigniting its plea for a tax on sugary drinks. Members of the Australian Beverages Council have vowed to cut the amount of sugar used across the industry by 10% by 2020 and 20% by 2025. Products include soft drinks, energy drinks, frozen products, juices, fruit drinks, cordials, iced teas, coffee milk products. Some drinks with the highest sugar levels, including Coke, will instead ramp up low sugar alternatives and reduce some serving sizes.

Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia estimated that Australian adults are eating 9.6g of salt a day, well above the WHO recommended 5g a day. Almost 80% of Australian children are eating too much salt – the recommended daily allowance for children 4-8 years is 3.5g. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure – a risk factor for stroke, heart attack and chronic kidney disease. About 75% of the salt we consume is from processed foods – bread, breakfast cereals, crackers, simmer sauces, processed meats, cheese, soups, instant noodles and other “ready” meals. Eating more fresh foods and fewer processed foods is a start to lower our salt intake. Choose lower salt options on packaged foods – check sodium content on the nutrition information panel. One gram of salt contains 400mg of sodium. Food with less than 400 mg of salt per 100g is a good choice.

“Need for Feed” is a food and nutrition program run out-of-school hours and currently available to all schools. The skills-based program, managed by Diabetes Queensland, is funded by the Queensland Government. It is a practical, hands-on cooking program providing students with the opportunity to gain confidence, master skills and enjoy healthy foods. After school and on weekends in schools all over Queensland, a dedicated teacher and a group of students take advantage of 20 hours of cooking and nutrition education. Post program statistics show that 82% of participants feel confident to cook a meal at home, have improved their nutrition literacy and reported an increase in use of fruit and vegetables.

The theme of World Food Day 2017 – was “Invest in Food Security and Rural Development”. National Nutrition Week is held 15 – 21 October each year. In what is believed to be a world first, scientists from UQ are producing purple corn-on-the-cob for cardiovascular health; folate-packed strawberries to boost the nervous system and pre-natal benefits; and macadamias with more healthy fats. An international team, including the CSIRO, has developed a new type of wheat with ten times the amount of fibres of normal wheat, to help improve gut health, fight bowel cancer and type 2 diabetes. The wheat will be processed into flour and incorporated into a range of food products. The western world is looking for plant-based protein. The Goondiwindi-based Woods Group are overseeing products made from pulses, including fava beans and chickpeas. They are about to unleash the chocolate-coated chickpea – puffed with air pressure, covered with chocolate – a healthy version of the Malteser?

Yatala-based Frosty Boy plans to roll out the Philippines cheese and yam flavoured ice cream. A range of desserts is made using coconut combined with pandan leaves, tasting similar to vanilla. Frosty Boy exports its powder-based soft serve to more than 50 countries.

Queen Garnet plums, hailed as a superfood, have 3-6 times the antioxidant level of blueberries. Developed by plant breeders for the Queensland Government a decade ago, they are now grown in all States for the farming co-op Nutrafruit.

The United Nations projects that due to the rising global population, there will be a call for dramatic increase in food production. Suggested solutions include farming infrastructure; increasing farming yields; reform and commercialising agricultural industries in Africa and India; changing the way people buy and consume food; and decreasing waste. A plant-based meat start-up – Beyond Meat – backed by Bill Gates, is on a mission to replace animal protein with plant protein. The Beyond Burger is made from simple, plant-based ingredients – peas provide protein, traces of beetroot provide the beefy, red colour, coconut oil and potato starch ensure the burger’s juiciness. The patty cooks and tastes like a fresh burger and is becoming popular in selected US supermarkets.

A report released by Aust 21, an independent not-for-profit think tank, predicts algae farming could become a major industry in regional economies, providing a range of products such as livestock feed, health foods, plastics, textiles, paper, petro-chemicals and biofuels. Algae is already hailed as a superfood by health and food experts for its nutritional and environmental benefits and has been a staple diet item in Japan, Korea and China – many consuming seaweed, edible algae in sushi, miso soup and as dried snacks.

Gene Ethics campaigns to help farmers and shoppers mobilise for more control of our seed and food supplies. Merged GM and agrochemical giants Bayer/Monsanto, ChemChina Syngenta and Dow/Dupont (now Corteva) control 70% of the world’s commercial seed, including all GM varieties and 60% of agrochemicals. Over 95% of Australian farmers are still GM free – a selling point for our clean, green food.

Agriculture and chemical supplier and seeds developer, Nufarm, has approval for its world-first plant-based source of long chain omega-3 fatty acids. The company predicts its GM modified omega-3 canola will help ease pressure on wild fish stocks, currently the source of long chain omega-3, essential for human and fish health. FSANZ has approved its use in food for humans and the Australian Office of Gene Technology Regulator for use in animal feed.

 

International Relations and Peace, Annual Report 2018

By Georgina Pickers

NCWQ International Relations and Peace Adviser

International Relations and Peace and Human Rights coexist – one dependant on the other.  Like the biblical Ten Commandments, the H.R. conventions should be at the foundation of our thoughts, words and actions.

 

The UN estimates the current global population at 7.2 billion, and like Australia’s, it is increasing annually.  Population pressures; climate change; and dysfunctional or corrupt governments will be major factors affecting future peace and security.  At present the world is relative peaceful given the recent hopeful signs in relation to the Korean Peninsula, but on-going conflicts such as those in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Sudan continue.

 

UNHCR currently reports an estimate of 25.4 million refugees, 16 million stateless persons and 65.4 million forcibly displaced worldwide.  These figures are staggering especially when added to incalculable numbers of economic refugees now contributing to the mass movement of people.  The potential tensions and reactionary measures that may be triggered are a cause for concern.

 

The perceived ‘wealthy’ governments of the developed world will be greatly challenged in balancing the demands of population growth and maintaining social harmony.  Improving the economy and governance of countries helps stem the flow of economic refugees seeking a better life.  Australia’s foreign aid and trade agreements will assist.

 

While Australia’s defence budget has increased (34.5 billion dollars in 2017-2018 and $150 billion over the Forward Estimates – growing to .2% of GDP by 2020-21) Taking into account domestic economic pressures, Australia’s aid budget has been reduced in the last budget (it does not reach the UN recommended aid budget target of .07% ODI/GNI Overseas Development Assistance to Gross National Income), it does substantially focus on important areas.  One aspect targets provision for awarding scholarships, fellowships and short courses to individuals from over 60 countries; with the objectives to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and enhance stability.  The 2018-19 aid budget of $4.2 billion allocated $1.2 billion to the Pacific region and $55 million to gender equality.  Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and her department must be acknowledged for favouring the empowerment of women and girls.  This is particularly important in countries where better women’s health, higher education, greater economic opportunity and participation in the decision-making process are critical to development and beneficial to the entire community.

 

In the past security and defence pacts were foundations of bi-lateral and multi-lateral relationships.  Today trade agreements are becoming more prominent. Traditional allies such as the UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand will always remain, but Australia could be well served in looking at wider ties with established and developing nations within the Indo/Asia Pacific regions.

 

Expansionist strategies such as have occurred in the South China Sea, are a risk.  It would be chaotic for the world should other countries assert similar ambitions in expanding their territorial waters, then restricting the passage of shipping and aircraft.

Human Rights, Annual Report 2018

By Georgina Pickers

NCWQ Human Rights Adviser

At no time in human history have we been so well informed yet at the same time so unquestioning, accepting news as ‘fact’ or simply lacking healthy scepticism. The rise of social media has influenced this trend.  It may well be widening the gap in extreme opinions, reducing ground for reasonable debate or compromise.  It is a trend that is concerning.  In many countries this is causing the majority to embrace authoritarian leaders, threatening long-term instability, civil and human rights.

 

The Adviser’s report on International Relations and Peace refers to the current mass movement of people. Human Rights conventions give legal if not an assumed sense of entitlement to refugees or asylum seekers to freely enter another country no matter what category or reason.  This is severely testing the soverignty of many countries as well as their capacity to comfortably accommodate and integrate new arrivals.  A possible increase of in the numbers of unaccompanied children, in expectation that countries will be forced to accept them (and later their families) under the Rights of the Child Conventions, adds further pressures.

 

International crime in the form of people smuggling operations is taking lucrative advantage of these mass movements.  They offer desperate ‘clients’ false hopes and for a price unsafe or fatal passage to the perceived affluent Western world. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates human trafficking profits at $150.2 million annually.  More one third of the profit comes from forced labour exploitation and the remaining two thirds from sexual exploitation.

 

Domestic and Family violence reported incidents to Queensland Police were down 5% in the 2016-17, however the figure still represented 62,264 offences in that period, with breeches of Domestic Family Violence Protections Orders up 9%. The Queensland Government is asking ‘by-standers’ to speak up, safely intervening or reporting suspected cases of D.V.  The excuse of blaming the victim should not be used as a reason for the assault of women (or men).

 

From the concept that a child is raised by a village, the whole community has the responsibility of keeping children safe.  Foster parents are in greater demand than ever.  While the Queensland Government’s Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women pleads for more foster carers, they are under greater pressure to ‘vet’ suitable people following the much-publicised death of a foster child at the hands of the foster family.  Timely monitoring of the child’s on-going welfare is paramount.

 

The recently announced Federal Government national apology and National Redress Scheme for those who experienced institutional child sexual abuse (reportedly up to 60,000 survivors) is timely.

 

After national dialogue about Elder Abuse, particularly in relation to financial matters, the Queensland Government announced in September 2017 a new law to protect older persons from financial abuse.  The reform concerns powers of attorney, to address the potential of abuse by family members with these powers.  The new laws, while welcomed, have yet to be enacted.  When enforced they will be administered by the Queensland Public Guardian within the Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).  Authorities have commented that financial elder abuse may be a ‘red flag’ to other forms of abuse.  NCWQ had made a submission to the Queensland Government on the need for more regulation on enduring powers of attorney in 2017.

 

The global campaign of the ‘MeToo’ movement initially via social media and later main stream media sent a strong message to men (and women) in positions of power or authority that sexual harassment is not acceptable in any community or occupation.  The ‘message’ has hopefully filtered down through all social strata.  It is a wake-up call that behaviour that erodes the dignity of a person is neither lawfully nor socially acceptable in the 21st century.

Environment, Annual Report 2018

By Pat Pepper

NCWQ Environment Adviser

A range of environmental issues was researched and reported on during the year. Major issues included the impact of marine debris, micro and nano-plastics on the coastal and marine environment, and the impact of mega mines in the Galilee Basin.  Advocacy was undertaken on these issues.

 

Impact of micro and nanoplastics:  In October 2015, the National Council of Women of Australia (NCWA) raised concerns with the Federal Government (FG) about the impact of microplastics on the marine environment, in particular the Great Barrier Reef, and whether toxins incorporated during manufacture or absorbed from the environment onto microplastics, were transferred to marine organisms and potentially up the food chain.  Since that time further research confirmed micro and nanoplastics contribute significantly to marine and coastal pollution and if ingested or inhaled, may transfer from the lungs and guts of organisms to their cells and tissues.  In addition, micro fibres have been found present in the air and contaminating tap water across the world.  Hence another submission was made urging the FG:

  • To support legislation to be presented at the United Nations Environment Assembly meeting in Nairobi, Kenya in December, 2017 and aimed at combating marine plastic waste and microplastics.
  • To support research and monitoring programs on the impact of micro- and nanoplastics
  • To undertake cost-effective ecological and seafood safety risk assessments on micro- and nanoplastics and associated polymers, to reduce plastic use and encourage the use of alternative materials, recycling and the adoption of sustainable practices in using plastics and managing plastic pollution.

A similar submission was submitted to the Queensland Government (QG).

 

Marine Debris:  The FG is to be congratulated on its initiatives in addressing the global problem of marine debris, especially the development of the 2017 Threat Abatement Plan.  It was pleasing to read that at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, the Australian delegate moved a draft resolution to address marine litter and microplastics and facilitated the final resolution being passed.  It is unfortunate resolutions are non-binding.  But as there appeared to be much common ground between the UN declaration and Australia’s Threat Abatement Plan, one wonders why Australia has not supported the United Nations Cleanseas campaign.

A submission was prepared urging the FG:

  • to legislate appropriate measures rather than rely on industry to voluntarily reduce pollution;
  • use the UN Environment platform to argue for countries to take responsibility of the marine waste originating in their country;
  • support research and development programs into recycling plastic; and
  • investigate opportunities to partner with overseas aid organisations, community organisations and schools to tackle existing plastic debris perhaps using the plastic to fuel converters, both the small scale and commercial depending on the situation.

 

Plastic Waste:  The production and fate of the various resins and the potential environmental and health issues have been researched together with strategies to combat the resulting plastic waste.  The FG is to be commended for negotiating with the State and Territory Governments for 100% of Australian packaging to be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025, but in order to reach this target and address the plastic waste being stockpiled or becoming landfill more measures need to be taken.  A resolution has been submitted to the NCWA Conference in October 2018 urging the Government to develop policies which encouraging new or different packaging material, the participation of the public in sorting their plastic waste by resin type, the development and expansion of businesses converting plastic waste to a useful product in a manner which safeguards human health and the environment.

 

Impact of Carmichael Coal Mine:  In a submission to the FG, the NCWA raised concerns about the impact of mega mines in the Galilee Basin, in particular the Carmichael mine.  These included:

  • Contribution to greenhouse gases including that from the coal exported overseas,
  • Impact on ground water users in the Galilee Basin.
  • Loss of biodiversity and the probability that biodiversity offsets will not adequately redress this loss.
  • Impact of dredging at Abbot Point.
  • Increased shipping within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Hence, the NCWA urged the FG to:

  • Consider the merits of the court cases with respect to groundwater, climate, ecological and economic impacts rather than just legality;
  • Reconsider the granting of critical infrastructure status and an unlimited 60-year water licence;
  • Insist that the greenhouse gases from the coal exported to India be accounted for in an environment impact statement; and
  • Reconsider the granting of a tax payer funded loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to a private multinational company.

A similar submission was submitted to the QG.

 

Details of these and other environmental issues are available in quarterly reports with references on www.ncwq.org.au

Consumer Affairs, Annual Report 2018

By Val Cocksedge

NCWQ Consumer Affairs Adviser

Australia’s first national government-ordered recall focused on potentially fatal airbags installed in more than 1 million cars in Australia. Instead of deploying normally in a car accident, Takata airbags were recalled as they can propel hard fragments, causing injury or death. Car manufacturers have to publicly announce their schedule of recalls. The Government has given manufacturers until July 2018 to publish a recall schedule with a searchable database and all are expected to be fixed by December 2020 with heavy fines of $1.1million per breach. For more information, visit www.choice.com.au/takatarecall. Choice are calling for a general safety provision to be written into Australian Consumer Law.

Banks are facing a Royal Commission focusing on consumer lending practices and unsuitable insurance policies.

The ACCC has commenced proceedings against Birubi Art for selling Aboriginal cultural objects described as “hand painted – hand crafted Aboriginal Arts Australia” when they were made in Indonesia – mis-leading people when they were expecting to purchase genuine Aboriginal Art – negatively impacting on Aboriginal artists and undervaluing their authentic work.

More than $60 million will be refunded to 110,000 customers by Allianz and Suncorp after ASIC found they were selling insurance of little or no value to car buyers, and which often weren’t suitable to the people buying them – e.g. providing a warranty even though the car came with a 7-year warranty from the manufacturer. Both sold Life Insurance Policies to people such as those single or under 26.

Proposed changes to the Therapeutic Goods Laws could leave consumers misinformed by allowing a list of pre-approved “traditional use” claims to appear on ads and on labels without efficacy assessments. The government wanted to abolish the requirement for print and television advertisements of therapeutic products to be verified before being published or aired. Because of the continuing advocacy of Choice and consumer advocates, the government will now keep the pre-vetting process for ads for another two years.

A Queensland study has found that a common ingredient, triclosan, in toothpaste and handwash, may be contributing to antibiotic resistance. The US Food and Drug Administration banned the use of triclosan in soap in 2016.

Scams come in many forms – by mail, email, telephone, over the internet and door-to-door. If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers are increasingly sophisticated in their activities, moving with the times to take advantage of new technology, communication methods, emerging products or services and major events to create plausible stories that will convince people to part with their personal details and money. As a result of thousands of scam reports received each year, the ACCC has prepared a booklet “The Little Black Book of Scams” to help consumers identify and avoid common methods used by scammers. To stay ahead of scammers, visit the ACCC’s SCAMWATCH website – www.scamwatch.gov.au where you can sign up for free email alerts on new scams targeting consumers and small businesses. Information on identifying and avoiding a variety of scams is available at the Office of Fair Trading – OFT website at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or call 13QGOV (137468)

More Queensland companies now have foreign owners – Billabong – US company; Castlemaine Perkins – Japanese giant Kirin (2009); Bundaberg Sugar – Belgian based Financiere des Sucres (2000); Bundaberg Rum – UK company Diageo (2000); Kirks – Coca Cola – Amatil; Pauls – French company Lactalis; MIM Holdings – Swiss Xstrata (2003); Defiance Flour – Allied Mills.

There have been many product safety recalls covering a wide range of goods – portable single-burner stoves; Finlay and Smith Chamonix bucket chairs (legs breaking); Worx dining chairs; oil column heaters; Moretti fan heaters; Bunnings unsafe pool fence latches. See www.recalls.gov.au for Australian Product Recall information.

Flushable wipes block pipes and waterways. Two manufacturers of these wipes are being prosecuted in the Federal Court. Earlier this year, the ACCC took Thermomix to court after concerns were raised about the faulty TM31 devices – the poor recall processes and the heavy-handed treatment of its customers. Seven out of eight popular trampoline models with safety nets failed to meet voluntary safety standards. There is a call for voluntary standards to be made mandatory. A petition may be signed at https://campaigns.choice.com.au/trampoline

Despite a ban on the use and importation of asbestos since 2003, contaminated products continue to be brought into Australia – particularly from China. These include not only building products, but gaskets in Great Wall motor vehicles, brake linings in some Polaris quad bikes and even in children’s crayons. The most common form of asbestos, chrysotile, is not categorised as asbestos in China.

Combustible cladding has been used in both government and privately-owned buildings. In an extension of ongoing problems, it can be revealed about 50 buildings in Queensland are being investigated for having potentially combustible cladding. An audit taskforce was established after the Grenfell Tower fire in the UK. The Princess Alexandra Hospital is in the process of having combustible cladding removed.

A property expert has revealed foam fake bricks are being used by shoddy builders. These lightweight polystyrene walls were rendered so they resembled real brick walls. It was first used for top floor of houses, town houses to make the second storey lighter and to cut costs.

During 2017, a record $1.2 million in fines was handed down against dodgy unions and industrial actions in Queensland. There were 57 compliance investigations into contractors in Queensland to check that they were meeting the new building code and fifteen audits into whether workers were correctly paid their entitlements.

More than 40 countries have banned, partly banned or taxed single-use plastic bags. In little more than 60 years, humans have managed to fill the planet with 8.3 billion tons of plastic – most of which will not break down. On average, each of us throws away 200 kg of packaging a year. Living in an age when plastics have become ubiquitous and are easier to produce than they are able to be disposed of, much cannot be recycled and ends up as landfill, polluting waterways or find their way into the oceans as microplastic fragments. Sea creatures even in the deepest places on earth have been found with ingested plastics.

Scientists have found these microplastics consumed by marine animals and fish find their way into the food chain. It is estimated that 6 billion plastic bags are given out in Australia every year – about 40 million end up as litter.

Single use plastic bags will be banned in Queensland after State Parliament unanimously passed laws to take effect on 1 July 2018. Included in the new laws drink containers, ranging between 150 ml and 3 litres, will become eligible for 10c refunds when returned to a designated container refund point. Plastic drinking straws have been banned by the Brisbane City Council.

Japanese experts are in talks to build revolutionary new solar-to-hydrogen development in Central Queensland. The renewable hydrogen would be shipped from Gladstone to Japan and used initially to power public transport, cars with fuel cells and in the future, households.

Child and Family, Annual Report 2018

By Marjorie Voss

NCWQ Child and Family Adviser

Unfortunately, the social issues affecting the community have not decreased, but appear to have increased.   This report brings to the fore some of the newer issues and touches on past issues still affecting people to-day.

Gambling:  In a report presented by Phil Mercer (BBC News, Sydney) it was stated in part that according to Dr Charles Livingstone (a gambling researcher at Monash University) “An estimated 200,000 Australians have a ‘high level’ problem with gambling while up to twice as many have difficulties at a ‘lower level’. On an average, Australians spend approximately A$1,300 per capita a year on gambling.  The next highest is around A$600 in Singapore. We far exceed any other country on Earth and that is because we have so many gambling opportunities.” The report went on to say “Gambling losses in Australia are at a record high after punters fritted away almost A$24bn in a year (more than half was lost on poker or slot machines in clubs and pubs).”  According to a new analysis by the Australian Gambling Research Centre an estimated 6.8 million Australians are regular gamblers.

What can we do about this when we are encouraged to bet during sporting fixtures broadcast on television; sporting and other clubs around the country encourage us to “try the pokies”; the Casinos encourage us to try our luck and so on?  Gambling can start off in such a small way but can lead to loss of jobs; jail time; loss of homes and families; domestic violence; depression and suicide to state a few end results.

Digital Environment: Information published in the latest Australian Council of Children and the Media (ACCM) Bulletin and taken from the Disrupted Childhood Report by the 5Rights Foundation states. “In recent months, concerns have been raised about the extent to which surveillance data gathered by government agencies may have been sold or shared with the impact not yet known. The current generation of children are the first to have data collected about them at every stage of their life and many parents start constructing a digital profile before their child is even born.  Children are stating they could not do without their mobile phone for a day; panicked if they did not know what was going on; reaching for their ‘phones in the middle of the night, etc. Teachers are complaining that children rely on their ‘phones and don’t engage with them at the same level; that many children now prefer to sit at lunch and play on their personal devices instead of interacting with one another. Many families only interact via their devices.”

Mental Health in Rural and Remote Areas: A report published by Mission Australia Youth Survey in June 2018 states that almost one in four young people in regional and remote Australia had a probable serious mental illness. While the prevalence of mental health disorders is similar for people living in and outside a major city, research has shown the risk of suicide rises as distance from a major city increases.  Research shows that these young people struggle to access the same level of support services as young people in urban areas.  They turn to family and friends for support, so therefore parents, teachers, counsellors and sporting coaches need to be provided with appropriate skills and support to help these young people.

Behaviour On Campus at Universities: Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins is urging Australian Universities to continue the work needed to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assaults on campus and in residential colleges. She stated that all 39 Universities had accepted the majority of the Commission’s recommendations in the Change the Course. More information on this can be found on https://www.humanrights.gov.au/audit-2017   .

Bullying: An Anti-Cyberbullying Taskforce has been established by the State Government.  The Taskforce will engage with children, parents, schools and communities, and experts to draw upon best practice research and identify community driven strategies and initiatives that address the complex causes of bullying and cyberbullying.

Other areas of concern being addressed in Reports include:

(a) National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell is calling on Australian Governments to ensure all pregnant and parenting teenagers have access to education, a basic human right and a crucial tool for breaking the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage.                                                                                                                          (b) Australian Institute of Family Studies Director, Anne Hollonds stated that a research report found a need for increased support for Grandparents caring for vulnerable relatives living out-of-home. It would appear they were less likely than foster-carers to have access to professional support and training they needed for their roles.  This is despite having been approached in many cases by child protection agencies to take on the care of the relative.

There are so many areas still to be addressed such as the death of innocent children in custody battles; the ongoing elder abuse and domestic violence; creating child-safe organisations; the growing over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care.

Affiliated organisations are urged to look at the social issues mentioned and consider joining their voice and ideas with those of NCWQ to address some of these issues.

Arts and Letters, 2018 Annual Report

By Jennifer Ann Davies

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser

Secrets, stories, people, performances and paintings, present pieces of miraculous survival, and move towards change.  Our women writers and artists forge new relationships with bolder viewpoints of vulnerability, love, loss and change. In truly authentic and wholesome ways, they celebrate the strength, resilience, hardship and tenderness of being fully alive, despite all – they celebrate the wonder of being ordinary, as distinct from being ‘superior’!! These same traits are recently, publicly, stated and celebrated by our former Patron, Dame Quentin Bryce.

Writers, in particular, have emerged from a former socio-political containment, into newness. Some of these are Geraldine Brooks, Anna Spargo-Ryan, Cate Kennedy, Mirandi Riwoe and June Love. Forerunners of this new ‘shape’ in the world of arts and letters, these women remain true to the nature of each chosen genre. The newness, characterisations, themes and action evident in publications, paintings and performances, sit hand in hand with our triennial theme: – Transforming Society through Women’s Empowerment!

The change defines a determined, growing strength, independence and maturation, which can, in turn, inform cultural change, to include and influence:

  • The Human desire for connection
  • Meaning in this World
  • Understanding dichotomies between faith and reason
  • Art and Meaning
  • Tragedy, Open-ness and Perspective of Others

In symbiosis, bold photographic art presents itself, state-wide, distinctly different, graphic, beautiful and new!  Whilst we are all grateful for the exquisite beauty of travelling visual art exhibitions, which once would not have been available to us; and the delights of Queensland Ballet’s Swan Lake touring the regions, the literary and artistic ‘newness’ is to be welcomed and celebrated!

“…wild, brave and moving – smashing and repairing hearts – intensely, vividly sad and wildly, gorgeously hopeful…” Emily Maguire – Our gift for 2018!

 

Arts and Letters Report, October 2018

By Jennifer Ann Davies

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser

 

A profoundly moving and momentous decision was made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, in awarding Nadia MURAD and Denis MUKWEGE the NOBEL PEACE PRIZE for 2018!

The prize was for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. Potent, poignant platforms existed to help each of the recipients voice their experiences, via print, photography, poetry, performances and paintings; in the realm of Arts and Letters. NCWQ congratulates the recipients, who are immeasurably brave and who have never veered from the clarity of their purpose. Tragically, our own newspaper, The Weekend Australian, published a headline which diminished the honour, the event and language itself. Sex slave, medic win peace price p.13! (No typing error – this is exactly as it was printed and positioned. theaustralian.com.au

INDONESIA continued….                Sejarah, scooters, sirens, steam;

Salutations! Students dream.

Scents of spice, sagacity, song;

Sacred stones, silent, strong.

Salamat pagi!

 

Scribbles of smoke by the ream

Stupendous beauty to be seen.

Scholars study Sanskrit origin

Some scrambling, some foraging

Salamat siang!

 

Wait! Hear that “Karangrejo” song?

Deep, rhythmic – surely I’m wrong…

Beautiful memories – so much to tell

Thank you for looking after us so well!

Salamat malam!

c Jennifer Ann Davies/sejarah = history/salamat pagi = good morning/salamat siang= good afternoon/salamat malam=good evening. Indonesian language not Javanese*

 

Delegates’ visit to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, has been an exceptionally interesting one. Threaded through all events, welcomes, visits from dignitaries and varied cultural experiences, was a warm, living, throbbing ‘thread’ of connection, joining so many women of the world, as children, in work, unity, song, dance, action, myth, legend, prayer, tree-planting, tears, laughter, eating, planning and not just Hoping, but as a connected group of ‘designers of Hope’ – for the Future! Huge Welcome signs were hung throughout the busy city of Yogyakarta, with the first to greet us, at the airport.  The city buzzed with the  words: “The 35th ICW-CIF General Assembly” and “Transforming Society through Women’s Empowerment”. Our Conference room buzzed with words of discussion, debate, reports from National Councils, United Nations, results of voting, and Regional Council reports; and the Australian delegates were involved in the Council of the Pacific region – APRC – Asian Pacific Regional Council.

Robust debate, discussion and planning was involved in the development and adoption of all Standing Committee Action Plans for the next three year term and huge efforts were invested by the remarkable Elisabeth Newman, of Australia and Christine Knock, of New Zealand, who worked long and hard, into the wee hours of several mornings, to develop and present plans which were broad and open enough to allow success in every community, culture and country. The ICW-CIF theme for 2018-2021 is simple but all embracing: “SOCIAL PROTECTION FOR ALL WOMEN AND GIRLS: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT FOR THE WORLD”.

My homestay, with our African and Italian delegates, was in KARANGREJO Village, in the MADELANG Region, Central Java Province, North-West of Yogyakarta, surrounded by hills. BALKONDES is one of the state-owned Enterprises programme, wherein the villagers run small business enterprises and homestay, as the incubation for local business. Via a range of organisational hiccups, and numbers of us not being included on transport or homestay lists, meals, entertainment and transport were much later than anticipated, and tropical rains deluged our tracks! We had a spectacular Police Escort to guide us through the deluge, traffic and winding roads, as we had also the night we visited the very beautiful Pramabanan Temple.

At our home-stay, sipping our ginger tea, however, we applauded the Gambyong Dance; Karangrejo Song – Telanjengang and Cipat. Graceful and ancient Cipat dances were accompanied by the Gamelan – traditional musical instruments. In this ‘hatchery’, LIMASAN, the sharing or performances by local ‘small-medium’ enterprises, included: – Batik workshop, Patchwork Painting, Bamboo Carving and Basket weaving. After a breakfast of traditional foods, we traipsed out, across freshly turned, mineral-rich soils and furrows to plant a ‘food-providing’ tree – one for each country. I particularly chose a JACK-FRUIT Tree, which was tall and healthy, because its produce may be thinly sliced as a vegetable before it is ripe; and it may be eaten as a delicious fruit when it has ripened!

Retro VW jeeps drove us through the villages. Our interesting, active African contemporaries, the sage and wonderful Daphne Hansen; the elegant and observant Alison Bell and I waved to all enroute to the Karangrejo Elementary School. Our welcome was warm, and the children excited; yet never, at any moment of our visit, was I as aware of the contradictions and anomalies, dividing female and male, that exist in Indonesia; largely because of the elements presiding in one dominant religion. Many had co-existed for eons in this culturally and historically rich country. The kids sang for us and I was able to touch most of the tiny hands reaching out, congratulating them on their language English and thanking them for their songs, welcome, smiles and touch!  We left behind books, memories and hearts.

Then, the famed Borobudur Temple, which is built to represent many layers of the Buddhist theory, in the shape of a traditional Buddhist mandala. A mandala is central to most Buddhist and Hindu art. According to Buddhist cosmology, the universe is divided into three major zones, and the Borobudur Temple represents these zones in its rising layers: Kamadhatu, Rupadhatu and Arupadhatu. I have information available on these formations, representations and their purpose if anyone would like to be more informed. info@borobudurpark.co.id

 

HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN, JIGGITY JOG!!

Queensland major and regional Art Galleries are busy hosting creative workshops largely for children, throughout the holidays and beyond. For most, bookings are essential and details are on websites, at local galleries and libraries, and in newspapers.  Most now offer workshops for a wide range of ages, with those in Cairns beginning with the group: 6 – 9 years, for puppet making, drawing and painting the good and bad characters in traditional stories, and then plasticine to imagine those characters in 3-D form, for the 9 – 14 year olds! www.cairnsartgallery.com.au

 

PAINT YOUR PET’S PORTRAIT has become a favourite with the kids, for which the 5 – 8 year olds bring in an A4 sized photo of a pet or favourite animal, and inspired by Hendrik KERSTEN’S exhibition works, learn how to paint in a traditional portrait style but with a contemporary twist!

 

INSPIRATION FROM NATURE with YIXUAN RUAN, ARTIST invites children aged 8-11 years old to collect leaves and look at patterns in nature, before returning to the gallery or education room, to use them as stencils, while also incorporating an image of a favourite little critter to celebrate World Animal Day.

 

MASK MAKING with JOHN EATON, Artist and Educator, invites those aged between 8-10 years to create his/her own interpretation of what is beautiful, absurd, tragic, fake or real! Eaton’s workshops are based on the inspired exhibition of David GRIGGS. For the 11-15 year olds, Eaton then encourages the budding artists to design a LARGE MASK that could change the way people see or think about each other.

 

In the DARLING DOWNS area of Southern Queensland, the TOOWOOMBA ART SOCIETY promotes Galleries, Theatres, Museums, Attractions and Tours for the entire area. There are some beautiful and interesting attractions for those interested in a different social-history, as well as lovers of the Arts! The website for the Toowoomba Art Society is really informative, and all-embracing and any further information is linked for easy access.  For any queries in this oft-forgot area of our huge State: –   info@visitdarlingdowns.com.au

 

Much of the regional Art on offer is different and beautiful. Often

 content makes visible a close connection to Nature, Earth, flora and fauna.

 Other works display utterly different life-styles and values. Works have potent

congruence and messages….

To borrow and insert some of Emily Maguire’s words, used in the August AGM report:

The ART of Women and Girls in 2018 has become ‘wild, brave

and moving.’ It is also, like the text to which Maguire alluded:

‘intensely, vividly sad and wildly, gorgeously hopeful…’

It is different and beautiful. Bagus! (=good)