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Exploitation of workers in Australia’s cleaning industry

The 2010 Cleaning Services Award sets the minimum hourly rate for a Level 1 full-time cleaner at $18.46. It is not a lot for such a vital service. Imagine what our offices, schools and commercial precincts would be like without cleaners. Yet it seems too...

Myanmar election: what about the Rohingya?

Elections took place in Myanmar over the weekend, marking the country’s first free nationwide poll in 25 years. Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, has described the elections as “a watershed moment in the democratic transition of Myanmar”, capturing the...

How to improve the asylum seeker debate: listen to experts

This month, nearly 1,000 doctors, nurses and staff at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne publicly protested the government’s policy of placing children in immigration detention. Doctors refused to discharge a woman and her child to the Department of Immigration, stating that this would be...

In small places

On 16 November 2011 Robert Bretherton was relaxing with a few beers while his wife Jodie Jurd made dinner. The couple was in the process of separating and things were tense. She asked what they would do with the proceeds of the sale of their...

No dogs, no fruit, no firearms, no professors

As with any language or dialect, Australian English has its share of idiomatic expressions in which simple-seeming words come together to produce a meaning inexplicable without cultural translation and therefore destined to mystify newcomers to the language. It might even be the reason such expressions...