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Image of Aborignal art

Image by esther1721, Pixabay, CC0 1.0 Universal

By Eisha Farrukh

In 2014 Ken Wyatt, Australia’s first Indigenous member of the House of Representatives, urged the public to not ‘lose momentum’ in the push for constitutional recognition as the referendum date was and is constantly delayed, an acknowledgement long overdue for the original inhabitants of Australia. But there is a greater issue, even beyond the question of legal recognition, that the Indigenous communities face in preserving their culture. The Indigenous cultures of Australia, rich with 65,000 years of tradition, are faced with the threat of being lost and forgotten due to our increasingly globalised environment, promoting the process of assimilation and cultural integration. Luckily, 21st-century media platforms have enabled the preservation of practices that were previously passed down intergenerationally through the oral tradition from elders.


“For individuals who chose to break society’s most fundamental rules, the stakes could be very high indeed.” Image by George Henry Dancey (1864-1922), “The New Woman’s Ball” (detail), Punch, 11 April 1895.

An internet search on recent discussions of cross-dressing in the media reveals a myriad of articles, ranging from toddlers to be taught about sexuality and cross-dressing in a new Australian national program, to Newtown Performing Arts school being criticised for allowing cross-dressing, to traditional Indonesian cross-dressing performance art under threat from authorities who are denying them the ability to perform on television. It is clear that cross-dressing, sexual and gender identity remain highly contentious topics in wider society. Lucy Chesser’s Parting with my Sex frames cross-dressing as “disruptive of stable binaries – not just male and female, or heterosexual and homosexual, but across culture more generally. [It] intervenes the crisis of category itself.”


Paid care in Australia=

By Jacqui Shilson-Josling

In a recent report by Lateline on the “aged care crisis” in Australia, revelations arose about the quality of care in facilities around the country. Common complaints included “being left in faeces and urine, rough treatment, poor nutrition, inadequate pain relief, verbal abuse, and untreated broken bones and infections”. With accusations of neglect and even abuse in our aged care system, questions arise as to who is best able to provide adequate care for our ageing population. This ongoing discussion is the focus of Debra King and Gabrielle Meagher’s book, Paid care in Australia: politics, profits, practices.


Patrons and devotion: the University of Sydney's Hours of Anne la Routye=

By Katharine Leonarder

I did my honours year in Medieval Studies. This is where most people stop me and ask if I joust, dress up in crushed velvet or go to Renaissance fairs. Aside from the obvious problems with these questions – one can’t really joust alone, and especially not when they live in an inner-city terrace house – there is also a deeper concern: that most people know very little about that dark period of history called the Middle Ages. So for the next few paragraphs let me tempt you to find out more about the Middle Ages by reading Peter Rolfe Monk’s book Patrons and devotion: the University of Sydney’s Hours of Anne la Routye.


Sydney: the making of a public university=

By Monica Purcell

With the Labor Government announcing plans to fund the Gonski school reforms with $2 billion of university funding last month, the importance of funding Australian universities is once again at the forefront of political debate. Critics such as Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon condemn the plans, predicting a sharp decrease in the quality of higher education in Australia, with the inevitability of higher class sizes, staff redundancies and impoverished facilities resulting from budget cuts. Regional Universities Network executive director Caroline Perkins raises concerns about accessibility for disadvantaged students, with potential reductions of funding in scholarship and pathway programs. And Professor Glen Finger of Griffith University worries for the reputation of Australian universities worldwide. With such debate in mind it is worth taking time to reflect on how Australian universities have been valued since the opening of the first, Sydney University, in 1852.


Playing in the bush: recreation and national parks in New South Wales=

By Monica Purcell

With thousands of protesters rallying outside Parliament House last month to stop amateur hunting in New South Wales’ national parks, issues regarding the purpose and ideals of our national parks and their visitors have once again come to a head. On the one hand, amateur hunters maintain their right to enjoy these parks just other members of the public do. However, public figures such as former NSW environment minister Bob Debus condemn the NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell’s plans to allow amateur hunters to conduct ‘pest control’ in national parks, labelling them as ‘a deliberate attack’ on the environment. Organised groups of bushwalkers and various other stakeholders raise cries in concern for the safety of other park visitors. Today, Fairfax Media broke the news of a draft report recommending that ‘the government should “immediately” consider opening national parks and other reserved areas for logging to ensure the viability of the timber industry’. In light of such heated debate it is worth taking a moment to reflect on how responses to these issues have changed over time.


Over our dead bodies: Port Arthur and Australia's fight for gun control=

By Lotte Chow

Republicans and lobbyists for gun manufacturers have been blamed for today’s defeat of new gun control measures in the US Senate, despite the public support for the legislation that aimed to expand background checks for firearms purchases. This debate over gun control in the US was restarted in the wake of the shootings in December 2012 when a gunman killed 20 children and six teachers in a primary school in the small US town of Newtown, Connecticut.

Following the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, President Barack Obama vowed to use ‘whatever power this office holds’ to prevent similar atrocities being committed. Ironically, gun permit applications skyrocketed after the massacre. Obama proposed universal background checks on gun permits and a ban on assault rifles. The Second Amendment, along with difficulties of attaining federal reform in gun control, makes this a daunting task for the President.


Archibald Liversidge: Imperial Science under the Southern Cross=

By Jacqui Shilson-Josling

In my time studying at the University of Sydney, I have always taken for granted the existence of the large and well respected Faculty of Science. I, like most of my fellow science students, had never stopped to think how I would attain my degree if the University did not have a science faculty. That is, until I read the fascinating account of the life of Archibald Liversidge and his countless contributions to the University of Sydney and the wider field of science in Australia.


Academic writing is ... A guide to writing in a university context=

By Lauren Maule

I think every university student remembers the overwhelming feeling of starting their first university degree. Everything seems so different from high school – the atmosphere, the students, the teachers, the rules, the assignments. One of the biggest differences, and the one hardest to wrap your head around, is writing essays. For one, the sheer number of them, all different types with various requirements. After completing a bachelor’s degree you finally feel as though you have a handle on what academic essays should be and how to conquer the process of writing them. Of course, having this knowledge at the end of your degree hardly helps you during it.


The 1897 Cooperage, Newington

The 1897 Cooperage (also known as the Gatehouse) at the RAN Armament Depot Newington (photo by Agata Mrva-Montoya, 2006).

By Sophie Watt

When I was a child, my parents dragged me all over the Australian countryside to develop “an appreciation for Australia’s history” by visiting colonial houses, convict-built bridges and, in some sad cases, the crumbling ruins of what was once a proud part of our country’s heritage. While it impressed on me how little choice I had in my own history schooling, it did open a rich world of heritage-listed architecture built well before my time, and demonstrated what it stood for.

But have you ever wondered who decides whether that run-down cottage you drive by, or the sandstone bridge you walk over, survives modern development? Or how much this heritage conservation costs?



Photo by Hannele Tervola InsectIntelligence (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Common

By Desiree Conceicao

In World War 2 dolphins were trained to place explosives on the hulls of ships, dogs were used as antitank operatives, and pigeons were trained to guide missiles − although the birds’ skills ultimately were never called upon. Examples abound throughout history of animals doing weird and wonderful things that we would never expect or imagine. Ancient Egyptian paintings show hyenas (which we know from Lion King are not easily submissive) on their backs, being hand fed by humans. Animals as unexpected as guinea pigs and geese have been used as guards to warn of intruders. Dogs working with anti-terrorism forces are sent case samples to be scrutinised for their expert opinion.


Mandawuy Yunupingu, photo by Scott H. Welsh

By Desiree Conceicao

I remember as a child, that I once flicked on the television to see a group of men performing what looked like a traditional Aboriginal dance, to what sounded like non-traditional Aboriginal dance music.

As I realised later, this wasn’t a new song. Released in 1991, ‘Treaty’ was the first big hit for the legendary Australian band Yothu Yindi, and while it only peaked at no. 11 on the ARIA charts, it climbed to no. 6 on the international Billboard charts and has been both an anthem and requiem for the Aboriginal rights movement.


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