Cosmetic testing to be a thing of the past?

In 2013 the first complete ban of cosmetics tested on animals occurred in the European Union. The EU implemented legislation that no cosmetic that has been tested on animals can be sold or manufactured within the Union.  Since 2013 other countries such as Israel, Norway, New Zealand and India have implemented similar legislation. Now it may be Australia’s turn with the Ethical Cosmetics Bill 2016, which is the second amendment bill  to Industrial Chemicals Act 1989 since 2014, which was commended to the lower house on the 29th of February.

Animal testing for cosmetics is usually preformed on rats, mice, rabbits and guinea pigs. These animals are subjected to multiple allergy tests in the mucous membranes without pain relief. Many of these animals die and this is an outdated practice with many safe chemicals now freely available for manufacturing, as well as other scientific methods for testing such as cell culture, computer models and donated tissues.

Clare O’Neil the Member for Hotham moved the bill to see an end to the importation and manufacturing of all cosmetics and substances for cosmetics that have been tested on animals within Australia. The bill is implementing the importing of cosmetics into Australia or manufacturing a product in Australia that has been tested on animals an offence. The proposed changes also state that no applications will be granted for cosmetic ingredients to be tested on live animals under any circumstance. Though this is not the first time that an amendment has been presented to Parliament. In March 2014 Senator Lee Rhiannon commended the End Cruel Cosmetics Bill 2014 to the upper house, however, two years later we still have not seen a result.

The amendment was seconded by Stephen Jones Member for Whitlam and together they held multiple public forums where they took information from the public and industry figures regarding the proposed amendment. Mr. Jones also informed us that they received over 13 000 submissions regarding the amendment and most were strikingly in favour.

So does this mean all our current beauty products will be removed from our shelves? The answer is no. The amendment clearly states that the new legislation will not apply if testing on a live animal was conducted before the commencement of this amendment. Mrs. O’Neil has also confirmed this on her Facebook page that all products that are already readily available will remain on shelves, and that removal of these products would not help her cause. Rather Mrs. O’Neil is concentrating on ensuring that future products are not subjected to animal tests.

But what are the financial implications?  This amendment is closely modelled on Europe’s approach and they are yet to suffer any significant financial loss. Mr. Jones also informed us that the Bill is providing companies a three year transition period. Nevertheless, it is clear Australia is currently lacking behind the rest of the world, though Mr. Jones is optimistic that there is support in Parliament for the amendment saying, ‘it would be hard to argue against’. Though he did state when asked if this is the start of a complete ban on animal testing, that individuals would be less likely to approve the ban on medical testing.

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Unanderra train station departing without the disabled

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 Image source: Andrew Jackson

Unanderra train station is a major Illawarra train station, allowing individuals in the surrounding suburbs of Wollongong to travel into Wollongong or Sydney. As a society we are urged to utilise the public transport system as not only does it help lower congestion within the city it also decreases our carbon foot print. Though how can we utilise our public transport system when our local train station does not provide adequate disabled access?

Unanderra train station is only accessible by multiple stair cases, with there being thirty six stairs from the station to the top of the overpass alone, with then more stairs scaling down to the street. With no ramp or lift access this severely limits many incapacitated individuals, as well as those with Prams and luggage. Leading to these individuals struggling as displayed in the video below, which gained national attention, or these individuals are forced to take other transport to Dapto train station or Wollongong train station.

Due to the national attention this video above has received, the implementation of a lift at Unanderra train station has now become a New South Wales State Election  (which will be held on March 28th) issue. According to the ABC the Liberal Party is yet to commit to the upgrade whilst the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has pledged $25 Million to the project if elected.  The ALP had formally promised this upgrade with Wollongong Member Noreen Hay stating it was included in the 2009 budget.

The 2009-2010 budget papers included; Unanderra Station upgrade- including easy access with a total estimated cost $11 400. These budget papers do not clearly define what easy access included, though the 2010 budget papers provided a more narrowed down description of their planned Unanderra Station upgrade. The 2010-2011 budget papers included Unanderra Station upgrade – including lifts, which was estimated at $12 511, however, the 2011-2012 budget papers did not include any upgrades to the station.

Viewing these figures it is interesting that the parties now feel the need to pledge $25 million to the upgrade when previously their budgets were only estimating $11 000 -$12 000. It seems there was limited research into the project and once they discovered it would cost more than their estimated amounts they disregarded the project, also clearly evident by the photo above which was erected near the station in 2010. Instead they upgraded the station in 2013 with improving the station platform, reinstating CCTV, lighting, draining and maintenance to the pedestrian footbridge.  There was also an extensive upgrade to the surrounding station Dapto (upgrades made to this station can be seen here), a station that in comparison to Unanderra was not in need of an upgrade.

Accessibility for all individuals should be a main priority for any public transport infrastructure upgrades and yet still the current NSW Government cannot commit to ensuring disabled access to Unanderra station. This is allowing our public transport system to discriminate against individuals who do not have the capacity to walk up multiple stair cases.

Simply allowing our trains to leave these individuals behind.

Migrants intimidated by the media?

SG_729_Azadeh-620x349Image source: SMH

In the 2013 Australian Federal election we witnessed how poorly migrants are represented within the media, especially Asylum Seekers. Since 1945 an estimated 6.6 million people (Salazar 2012 p.2) have migrated to Australia with only 10 percent being refugees. These migrants often face many battles; racism, language and cultural obstacles, health issues and struggling with the feeling of displacement and loss (Salazar 2012 p.3). Consequently these individuals can often be a vulnerable group within our society and with media representing stereotypes, moral panics and politician’s degrading these individuals, how can they feel a sense of belonging?

A main campaign area for the last Federal election was Asylum Seekers. Within this debate we were subjected to the Liberals media propaganda declaring to ‘stop the boats’ and presented with weekly statistics of the number of ‘illegal Asylum Seeker’s’ attempting to seek refuge on our shores. The media neglected to note that seeking Asylum is not illegal but is a fundamental human right to request asylum under international law.

The mass media also framed our boat arrival numbers to be that of an extreme influx when The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (2013) puts Australia as 49th in the world for the total number of Refugees and compared to our GDP we are ranked 87th (The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre 2013). In regards to Asylum seekers the resource centre places Australia at 20th in the world and 52nd compared to our GDP (The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre 2013). Therefore in comparison we are not being “Swamped” by refugees/Asylum Seekers as we are not even in the top 10 nations within the world to receive these migrants.

Representations through the media will not cease until our politicians accurately address these communities within the media. Liberal Member of Parliament Fiona Scott during the election campaign placed blame on Asylum Seekers for traffic on the M4 and for long queues at local hospitals (Blake 2013).  Yet as stated earlier Salazar (2013 p.2) only found that 10 percentage of all migration were Asylum Seekers/ Refugees, hardly an amount of individuals that could cause such disruption as Fiona Scott is trying to state.

Politicians and the media need to take a diasporic view and help to familiarise these migrants into their host country without intimidation. Rather than promoting stereotypes and neglecting facts within reports framing these individuals to be illegal and essentially disrupting the Australian way of life

References:

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre 2013, Australia vs. the world, viewed 22nd May 2014, < http://www.asrc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/australia-vs-rest-world-refugees-asylum-seekers___.pdf >

Blake, S 2013, ‘Liberal Fiona Scott links asylum seekers to Sydney traffic problems’, News.com.au, 3rd September, viewed 22nd May 2014, < http://www.news.com.au/national/liberal-fiona-scott-links-asylum-seekers-to-sydney-traffic-problems/story-fnho52ip-1226709650526 >

Salazar, J 2012, ‘Digital Stories and emerging citizens media practices by migrant youth in Western Sydney, Journal of Community, Citizen’s and Third Sector Media and Communication, no. 7.

 

Social media giving women a voice

Social media has been a brilliant tool for activism because of its ability to reach global audiences within seconds of posting their content, thus providing a quick and vast reach of campaigns to individuals from all over the globe. Social media also provides those whom don’t have a voice within their own nation to hold a voice globally; and provides a space where traditional governing societal rules can be set aside (Lengel & Newsom 2012).

Social media activism is prominent within the Arabian countries where women are very restricted with free speech in a public context. Some are not provided an education while Saudi women are not even allowed to drive a car. Both of these issues have seen social media campaigns globally, but why? The simple answer is if women have access to these technologies they are able to freely voice their opinions and appeals on social media, thus campaigning to a global audience. This platform gives them a voice that their own nation denies them, which also leads to global pressure regarding these campaigns.

How are these messages perceived globally? Lengel & Newsom (2012) believe that these messages contain empowerment within their initial localized social media spaces but will lose power as they become translated into the global sphere. I believe Malala is a great example against this statement in regards to her online diary (blog) for the BBC. Her blog was fighting for the rights of young girls everywhere to receive an education, which resulted in Malala not only being wanted by the Taliban for the global recognition her content received (Synvitz 2012); but Malala is now globally recognised as an international icon for girls’ rights(Synvitz 2012). Clearly her media campaign was translated without losing power as shown through the thousands that have signed her online petition to stand with Malala and dedicated support through the use of the hashtag  #IamMalala.

Wolfsfeld, Segey & Sheafer (2013), however, take a different stance and believe that social media revolutions are not revolutions within themselves but follow these campaigns. That the real revolution still occurs on the streets through protests and that the ‘key to protests are not technology but how technology resinated with various local contexts’ (Wolfsfeld,Segey & Sheafer 2013 p118).

It is clear through any context that technology plays a part within social media activism but depends on what the campaign is. It is clear with women social media perhaps provides a singular outlet where they can freely voice their opinions.

References:

Gadi Wolfsfeld, Elad Segev and Tamir Sheafer 2013,  “Social Media and the Arab Spring: Politics Comes First.” International Journal of Press/Politics, Vol. 18, No.2, pp. 115-37.

Lengel, L and Newsom, V 2012, “Arab Women, Social Media, and the Arab Spring: Applying the Framework of Digital Reflexivity to Analyze Gender and Online Activism.” Journal of International Women’s Studies, Vol. 13, No.4, pp. 31-45.

Synvitz, R 2012, ‘Malala Yousafzai, the Girl shot by the Taliban, Becomes a Global Icon’, The Atlantic,12th October, viewed 12th October 2013, <http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/10/malala-yousafzai-the-girl-shot-by-the-taliban-becomes-a-global-icon/263527/>

The educational digital divide

Dapto nbnImage source: NBNCO

In Australia there has been a shift in educational materials, especially within High Schools. Gone are the days where you find yourself walking around a store with your parents searching for the correct stationery. Schools this year have seen the implementation of bringing a device such as a Tablet or Laptop to class as a requirement. Caringbah High School has seen this policy implemented with 150 of their year nine student’s stated to be ‘embracing’ the policy (Smith 2014).  Though this policy has the potential to create economic class warfare as the child’s family’s economic status will decide which device, if any, that they will be able to bring to school.  Smith (2014) described this as a “digital divide” though is this inevitable? Laptops are now part of the culture of education as are pens and paper (Wright 2013), thus, this is an issue which needs to be overcome.

With the Federal Government no longer funding the Laptop for school’s program, schools have had to find alternative solutions. Some schools have made arrangements with a private provider thus allowing parents to buy a laptop under $1500 or provide a renting scheme (Wright 2013). This perhaps will allow those with a lower socio economic status to provide their child with a sufficient laptop.

Laptops do provide benefits within the class room by connecting students to organisations and other teaching facilities across the globe. However, to allow these students to efficiently use these devices better broadband infrastructure needs to be implemented. The Labor Government started to implement upgrades on current communications infrastructure under the National Broadband Network (NBN). Though this infrastructure has not been installed in many areas, it has been installed in my area within the Illawarra (Dapto and Kiama), with 11 900 homes in Dapto soon to be connected to the NBN (Lynch 2013). Therefore students from Dapto High School will be able to benefit from this implementation and their students will have a fast and more efficient internet usage.

This is beneficial to Dapto High as Smith (2014) states student’s devices must be compatible with the school’s existing Wi-Fi network. Though with the implementation of the NBN it would guarantee up-to-date Wi-Fi connection infrastructure therefore allowing all devices to adequately connect.

There are clearly obstacles in implementing a device driven education structure. It can create class warfare between students and communication infrastructure needs to be updated to allow this education system to effectively provide students with the learning benefits that computers can provide.

References:

Lynch, C 2013, NBN rolling out in Dapto, Stephen Jones MP, Website Blog post, 31st July 2013, viewed 9th April 2014, < http://www.stephenjones.org.au/nbn_rolling_out_in_dapto >

Smith, A 2014, “It’s BYO Laptop now as Schools End Free Program.” Sydney Morning Herald, 3rd February.

Wright, J 2013, “Computer Cash in Lap of Chaos.” Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Feb.

Media’s election outcome; Politics or Popular Culture

The media present the perfect platform for democracy to take place and if the mass media were less biased it would present the perfect public sphere for political debate. The public sphere has allowed more individuals to be a part of public debate since Athenian time (McGuigan 2005). Though this discussion is not aimed at biased media disrupting the democratic capabilities of the public sphere, but rather looking at how other media within the public sphere affects an individual’s attention to “Real issues” and thus the political landscape loses the audience’s attention to popular culture content.

Popular culture has had a significant impact on the media sphere; Berkwoitz (2009) states that it is often hard to distinguish between journalism and popular culture and it is up to the audience over what they define as journalism.  While McGuigan (2005) discusses how audiences have become “amused consumers” therefore, making them unresponsive to the bigger issues. McGuigan’s (2005) ‘amused consumers‘ is regarding current popular culture where the audience learns from melodrama’s and the news is consumed with trivial matters such as celebrity news. How does this provide any democratic platform for political issues?

The role of the media is to inform citizens so they are able to adequately make decisions and thus be involved in debate within the public sphere which effectively could affect policy. Below is a screen shot of the Facebook trending list from my personal account. It shows that a Government policy is third trending compared to Gwyneth Paltrow’s divorce which is facebook trendingtrending significantly higher, showing that the audience prefers to debate about celebrities lives rather than state issues. It also seems that citizens are only interested in politics when it relates to the politician’s personal life as Castell’s states “Public interest in official politics is mediated largely by scandal” (McGuigan 2005).

Therefore, popular culture seems to have overthrown politics because the audience seems to be more receptive to public scandal than participatory democracy.

 

References:

Berkowitz, D 2009, “Journalism in the broader cultural Mediascape”, Journalism, vol. 10, no.3, pp.290-292

McGuigan, J 2005, “The Cultural public sphere”, Cultural Studies, vol.8, no.4, pp.427-443.

Wikileaks are they really just traditional media?

Wikileaks has taken the world by storm by allowing access to a vast number of cables from around the globe sharing confidential Government documents. Wikileaks became primarily  known through their leaking of the United States of America’s drone attack on innocent civilians that also killed two Reuters Journalists. They present their cables online without embellishments or editing the content, they simply present the the information which they have obtained directly from the source.  This  is where the question is posed about whether Wikileaks is a media organisation?

This is a hard question to answer as Wikileaks represent’s both a non media organisation and a media organisation at the same time. I believe this argument is well developed and explored in Coddington (2012).  Coddington (2012) presents  Wikileaks to be intimidating to current media foundations through  the Times quote there they  find the Wikileaks to be “Journalistically deviant” and ceasing their partnership with Wikileaks in regards to reporting stories. This partnership limits the arguments for Wikileaks being a media organisation as in this instance they are conveying a free lance media group whom are providing media organisations with content to report on.

Coddington (2012) also presents three professional journalism dimensions that Wikileaks has violated:

  • Institutionality
  • Source based reporting routines    and
  • Objectivity

Therefore they are violating modern standards of journalism and would not fall under our current perception of what a media organisation is. I personally  would define Wikileaks as a political protest organisation, however, Coddington (2012) does state that Wikileaks is actually fulfilling the traditional sense  of what journalism is. The traditional sense as stated in Coddington (2012) is finding  the truth regarding important issues for the public interest and publishing this to ensure the public become fully aware and can make informed decisions.

How would one define wikileaks? I believe it is more of a political protest group rather than a media organisation. I view an organisation as a company that is merely concerned to make a profit and to construct the news to ensure they receive an audience. Though Coddington (2012) presents a sound argument; Wikileaks are portraying a traditional sense of what journalism is. This is perhaps a debate which has no conclusion.

-Amy

References:

Coddington, M 2012, “Defending a Paradigm by Patrolling a Boundary: Two Global Newspapers Approach to WikiLeaks”, Jouranlism and Mass Communication Quarterly, vol. 89, no. 3, pp.377-9

Social media aim for universal education rights condemned by the Taliban

article-0-1891315D00000578-146_634x530Malala Yousafzai, who received a Pride of Britain Award from David Beckham
Image source: Dailymail

Social networking platforms have led way to a new form of activism. No longer are activist’s confined to merely demonstrating plights in their local areas, with social media tools they are now able to demonstrate such plights on a global scale. Social media is now used to co-ordinate, mobilize and disseminate protests around the globe in order to bring a large amount of individuals together from all corners of the globe.

When I think about how social media has changed activism, I think about Malala Yousafzai. Malala is a young girl from Pakistan who since the age of eleven has written an online diary (blog) for the BBC fighting for the right of young girls to be allowed to get an education (Synvitz 2012). This was directly protesting against the Taliban who are stopping young women getting an education in her village by destroying their schools. Sadly Malala was shot in the head at point blank range by the Taliban who wanted to put a stop to her message as it has been receiving global attention.  Malala survived this attack against all odds and now lives in Birmingham (UK) and her campaign has never been stronger. She is now an international icon for girls’ rights and is globally know by “Malala” (Synvitz 2012).

Her blog and brave acts have led to global support for the education of women, many have signed the online petition to stand with Malala and fight for education for children all over the world who do not currently have any kind of access to it. She also has a dedicated hashtag on twitter for her cause #IamMalala here an aggregation of tweets can be viewed from all over the world of individuals campaigning for better education for young girls and children in general, another clear example of activism through social media.

Malala started simply as an online blog protesting for the rights of girls’ to receive an education this sadly led to her being shot but post this event she has received global support and was even rumored for the Noble Peace Prize award. She has continued on with her success and gave a speech to the UN about her cause and has persuaded the UN to recommit to Millennium Development Goal two (Dias 2013), which states; “by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.” (Dias 2013).  Social media; including blogging was the key for Malala to be an activist for educational rights especially within a country such as hers. With another example of the Arab Spring it is clear that social media activism is an important tool for activists in countries such as these where Governments or rebel forces will attempt to suppress campaigns. Online activism allows these individuals to share their campaigns on a global scale.

-Amy

References: 

Dias, C  2013, ’10 ways Malala Yousafzai Has Changed the World’, policymic, 14th July, viewed 12th October 2013, <http://www.policymic.com/articles/55333/10-ways-malala-yousafzai-has-changed-the-world>

Synvitz, R 2012, ‘Malala Yousafzai, the Girl shot by the Taliban, Becomes a Global Icon’, The Atlantic, 12th October, viewed 12th October 2013, <http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/10/malala-yousafzai-the-girl-shot-by-the-taliban-becomes-a-global-icon/263527/>

 

Freedom of speech or a breach to national security?

wikileaks2Image Source: KQED

Hacktivism is  now a subculture phenomenon especially recently in regards to Wikileaks. Julian Assange started up Wikileaks under the pretence of ‘freedom of information’. Wikileaks aim was to leak classified Government documents and leak them to the public.  Assange believed individuals had a right to know what their Governments were doing, for example he felt it was a civilians right to know about Project B (Khatchadourian 2010). Project B was the code name for the 30 minute long video from an Apache military helicopter cockpit in Iraq showing American soldiers killing innocent individuals (Khatchadourian 2010).  Footage like this perhaps should be made public to make the American Army accountable for their actions against un-armed civilians. But what about the secret documents that have been accessed and released? What implications could this have?

Firstly the main implication is terrorists having access to these secure documents, clearly posing a threat to national security. As Street (2011 p.264) states, “terrorists too take advantage of the possibilities created by the new media”, Street refers to the new media as all new online publications such as Wikileaks, Streets statement provides strong argument that if others are taking advantage of looking at documents posted by Wikileaks why wouldn’t terrorists? Though a significant difference between the average individual viewing these documents and a terrorist is that a terrorist might be able to use this information to formulate an attack, thus, I believe Wikileaks could be viewed as breaching a nation’s security. However, on the other side of the spectrum this aids in a democratic society informing citizens, which is what makes a democratic society work to its full potential, as citizens would be able to make informed decisions. Wikileaks not only provides a space for public debate but also informs citizens on the actions of their Governments. Thus, it can be argued that Wikileaks presents a democratic society.

Of-course there are other types of hackers such as the group known as Anonymous and general hackers which are aiming to steal individuals bank details to use maliciously. These are the hackers which I have a clear stance on, I find these hackers to be criminals and unethical. Contrast this to Wikileaks I am in two minds due to my reasons above. Wikileaks is not a straightforward hacktivism it is; freedom of information activism verging on breaching multiple countries national security.

Thus, where should we draw the line between freedom of speech and hacking that can potentially endanger national security?

-Amy

Reference:

Khatchadourian, R. (2010) ‘No Secrets: Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency’ The New Yorker

Street, J 2011, Mass Media, Politics and Democracy, Palgrave and Macmillian, Hampshire United Kingdom.