‘Our kids need proper water’: Families plead for action over uranium in drinking water

‘Our kids need proper water.’ Racist policies are making remote Aboriginal communities sick. At least three communities in central Australia have levels of uranium in drinking water that exceed health guidelines, with dozens more not meeting good quality.

“It’s an international scandal that this is allowed to happen in a country like Australia — a rich country like Australia… If that was happening in Victoria, you’d have a hell of a row… Because they’re bush people and not a concern to politicians, they don’t worry about it.”

The National Health and Medical Research Council advises: “The main toxic effect of short-term exposure to high concentrations of uranium is inflammation of the kidney. Little is known about the long-term exposure to low concentrations.”

Levels of uranium in drinking water have been exceeding guidelines for a decade. Traditional owners have been lobbying for change with viable solar power option. In 2017 the Australian Medical Association urged Gov to invest in treatment facilities in remote parts of the country.

“Water is not meeting aesthetic guidelines in the majority of the 72 remote Indigenous communities provided by the Power and Water Corporation…”

“This water looks like it’s got rust coming out and [it’s] salty, and looks bad because it’s black, and makes the stomach sore.”

‘Our kids need proper water’: Families plead for action over uranium in drinking water

On an incredibly hectic day, I had back to back meetings where I received feedback on a case study I was co-designing, and then a discussion on drafting a template for research agreements. In the afternoon, I went across town to carry out fieldwork on a justice advocacy program. The day ended with another meeting to incorporate feedback for a forthcoming presentation and I had to work on the commute home and the rest of the evening to make final revisions (as did our teammates).

Source: Social Science Insights.

Last of my phase 1 fieldwork interviews for my project on justice for vulnerable groups! Fingers crossed there’s good news about progressing with phase 2 fieldwork this week. Today’s interview was wonderful. Excellent reflections on how cyclical policy funding undermines community justice and how to build respectful relations between programs, legal system and minority groups.

Photo: Other Sociologist.

Why Memphis Has Two Marches for Science

I was interviewed by WIRED on the disunity caused by scientists who have tried to split the March for Science from social justice activism. 

The case study in this article is the appalling treatment of organisers in Memphis, USA. Scientists split from the Memphis March to form a separate rally in the same city. Both groups have scientists but the March has centrally been led by women of colour activists with more experience in social movements, and they incorporate a focus on inclusion of minority communities. This is symbolic in their decision to march to an historically Black university. Participation of minorities in science is not mutually exclusive to the goal of enhancing evidence-based science policies.

I’ll point out what I said in my interview: scientists from underrepresented groups have always been part of, and learned from, social justice movements.

“Both groups feel that their work isn’t done—and with the perception that science is under attack in the US, they wish they could show a united front. But ‘that in itself is a false picture of science, because we are not united,’ says Zuleyka Zevallos, a sociologist at Swinburne University in Australia who has studied the online reaction to the March for Science’s shifting messaging. Saturday’s marches, rallies, and other events around the world will surely pull some science supporters together. But they’re just as likely to highlight the clash over science’s priorities. Should the science community focus on fighting back against a hostile administration? Or on improving itself from within?”

Read more on Wired.

Why Memphis Has Two Marches for Science

Scientists and Activists Look Beyond the March for Science

I was interviewed by The New York Times on issues of equity and diversity in the March for Science: 

‘It set off alarm bells,’ said Zuleyka Zevallos an applied sociologist from Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. ‘How can we trust them to look after inclusion and accessibility if they are going to buckle under pressure?’

The statements from the organisers in this article are easily disproved from public record. For example, the organisers resisted the idea that science is political, and they have created a series of sexist, racist and ablesit problems (discrimination against people with disabilities). They have completely ignored the needs and representation of LGBTQIA scientists. 

The organisers have also inadvertently created an anti-diversity discourse the fuels exclusion amongst their supporters.  

Most tellingly, several women have left the organising committee due to a toxic organisational culture, with influential women of colour in particular leaving after months of problems.

The problems with the march reflect broader issues of discrimination in science and academia. This includes a lack of awareness about the structural barriers inhibiting the full participation and success of minorities and White women in research. The march is also plagued by ineffective leadership, policy and practice responses to diversity, which is another troubling hallmark of science.

We must do better to ensure everyone can achieve their full potential in science.

Scientists and Activists Look Beyond the March for Science

Stop Another Stolen Generation

#OurKidsBelongWithFamily Twitter photo of founder @RarriwuyHick

The 13 February 2017 was the ninth anniversary of the Australian Government’s formal apology for the Stolen Generations. From 1910 to 1970, up to one third of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (100,000 children) were forcibly removed from their families and sent away from their communities. They were classified according to their skin colour and put into Christian missionaries where they suffered abuse and neglect, or they were placed with White foster families who did not understand their needs. These children were forced to forget their language, culture and spirituality, and in many cases they were not told of their Indigenous heritage.

The Bringing Them Home report of 1997 gathered evidence of the impact this cultural genocide had on Indigenous Australians, showing that it led to intergenerational trauma, poor health, and socio-economic issues. The report made 54 important recommendations to end the cycle of violence against Indigenous Australians.

Twenty years later, Indigenous children are being removed from their families up to four times the rate as the Bringing Them Home report.

Sorry means you don't do it again. How many stolen generations?
Sorry means you don’t do it again: Grandmothers Against Removals Sydney

Continue reading Stop Another Stolen Generation

Australia Day Protests

Tomorrow is a painful day for Indigenous Australians; the 26 January is a date commemorating the day British ships arrived on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands and decimated First Australians. Many Australians recognise that a date celebrating all that is great about this nation should not be held on this date that marks genocide, rape and dispossession, a history that impacts Indigenous life chances in the present-day

Australia Day was only observed by all states and territories from 1935 and it was relatively recently that it was made a national holiday in 1994. Indigenous Australians have been protesting this date since 1938, on the first ever Day of Mourning! Since then, Indigenous Australians have also held both Invasion Day and Survival Day events to continue resistance against colonialist, patriarchal views of what it means to be Australian.

We can — and must — celebrate being Australian on a day that is less divisive and hurtful. This year, Fremantle council in Western Australia has changed the date to the 28 January in consultation with Indigenous elders and community members; the rest of the nation must follow this example. 

Find an Invasion Day protest in your nearest capital city – there is even a protest in Berlin! March to tell our officials that we must #ChangeTheDate

Can’t attend a march? Check out the other Survival Day events around the country.

Protest in Sydney

I am writing to you from Sydney, land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation

In Sydney, I’ll be marching in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have looked after these lands for over 75,000 years (and much earlier by other accounts). The Sydney march starts in the mighty community of Redfern and ends at the Yabun Survival Day Festival, where there will be music, kids activities, panels, market stalls, and cultural performances. 

Both the protest and festival are family-friendly events. Bring sunscreen, water and food as it’ll be hot! 

Around 10,000 people marched in Sydney for the Women’s March. I was just one among many people concerned about social justice. I saw signs that read: “Women’s rights are human rights.” Well, Indigenous rights are human rights and Indigenous rights are a feminist issue! Intersectionality means showing up for all women, and recognising how racism impacts on gender equality.

I hope that the same 10,000 people who marched on the 21st will also march on the 26th of January. If you are able, join the march to support the traditional owners of this country. March because Indigenous Australians have always fought for feminist causes, human rights and the environment. It is only through Indigenous leadership that we can make Australia a better and truly inclusive nation.

See you there! I will tweet from @OtherSociology for those who can’t make it.

Learn more

[Image: Symbol for fire in red against a yellow sun and black background, the colours of the Aboriginal Flag. Text reads: “Calling all sovereign peoples and supporters to stand with us on Invasion Day 27 January 2017. Keep the fire burning.”] Image: FIRE

Source: The Other Sociologist.


via The Dallas Morning News,

A Border Patrol agent reads the birth certificate of Alejandro, 8 — the only thing he brought with him as he and others crossed the Rio Grande near McAllen recently. Alejandro is one of more than 52,000 minors traveling without parents who’ve been caught crossing the border illegally since October.

Seventy-five years ago, the St. Louis, a German trans-Atlantic liner carrying 938 Jewish refugees, was turned away from the United States and forced to return to Europe. U.S. law didn’t allow them sanctuary.

Writes author and former Dallas Morning News reporter Christine Wicker: “The St. Louis is famous now as a failure of compassion that haunts American history. Today we are preparing to send 45,000 children back to Central American countries controlled by drug cartels that routinely torture, rape and kill children who refuse to work for them. So routinely are children menaced that their families sent them away, alone, across thousands of miles on just the slimmest of hopes that they might be safe. U.S. law doesn’t allow them sanctuary.

“They walked through some of the most hostile, hot, barren, dangerous country in the world. They were sent by poor families so terrified for their safety that they paid many thousands of dollars and entrusted their children to criminals hoping they might arrive in America and be safe.

“Our hearts are not touched by these children. We want the law enforced. This is our country. Ours. And we don’t have to share it. Not now. Not 75 years ago.

“Yes, these are children whom we’ll send back to be raped, maimed and killed. They aren’t our children. Our children are precious.”

Photo: New York Times

“tall man” by Vernon Ah Kee (2010) a video installation depicting the Palm Island protests in 2004, following the autopsy results of Mulrunji Doomadgee (aka Cameron Dooadgee), confirming his death at the hands of police.

The title of this work refers to the role of Councillor Lex Wotton who acted like the tall man in Aboriginal stories; the boogey man or spirit “who elicits the truth from wrong doers.” The film depicts protests against police brutality and a call for the end to deaths in custody which almost uniquely affects Indigenous Australians. “We are oppressed people,” explains a woman after this footage.

Source: The Other Sociologist.


“I worked as a research assistant for a juvenile justice judge, and one day I saw a 9-year-old in handcuffs in a courtroom—that shouldn’t happen. On that day, I decided that I wanted my job to be about more than just money. Now I work three jobs and teach at Harvard. My goal is to go to a good law school, so I can come out and change someone’s life.”

Cambridge, MA