Blue Mountains Hike

By Calvin Taylor

Reproduced with permission from http://undergrad-blogs.tiu.edu/2013/08/blue-mountains/

Yesterday, the group went hiking as a part of our Aboriginal culture class. Now, anybody who knows me knows that I am a city boy, and I do not do “nature” things like that – so I was not looking forward to it at all.

However, it was definitely more enjoyable than I had ever expected it to be! We had an early morning because we had to travel further than usual to get there. It was enjoyable because there was purpose behind the hike (not saying that there is not always purpose behind hikes).

We started along the path and on the way we stopped for a number of reasons. We stopped to listen to Aboriginal stories which were definitely interesting seeing as though they are said to be the longest lasting culture on earth. We stopped to pick certain leaves (some we were able to eat or suck on) and to see things that can only be found in Australia.

The ASC group
We also did some face painting (obviously)…

There’s a first time for everything right?

Playing catch up…

Excerpt from Spring 2013 student Fiona Tranquillo’s blog “My Aussieland Adventure”. Reproduced with permission http://myaussielandadventure.blogspot.com.au/

Wow… I feel so behind! There are so many things that I’ve been wanting to blog about, both for my own records and to share with you, but I simply haven’t had the time! So, now that I have a few minutes, let me catch you up on what has been happening…

-CRONULLA: Last weekend, a big group of us went to Cronulla Beach. The train ride was about 45 minutes, but it was so worth it. We actually didn’t spend time at the beach… we went to the sand dunes that Ty, the ASC intern, had recommended! It was a blast. Living in Minnesota, much of my childhood sledding time was spent thinking about how incredible it would be to sled without being cold. Well, that weekend, my dreams came true… rolling down the sand hills, sliding down the sand hills, sand angels… the whole shebang.

SONY DSC

-LEBANESE FOOD: Also last weekend, a group from St. James invited Tarah and I out with them after church on Sunday night. They took us to this fancy Lebanese restaurant and treated us to a feast of new, interesting, DELICIOUS cuisine. The food was great, but the fellowship was better. I can’t even tell you how fun it is to hang out with Australians. It’s those moments when I’m just chillin’ with Aussies like it’s no big deal that I realize what an incredible opportunity and experience I have been blessed with.

-DIGERIDOOS, SPEARS, AND BOOMERANGS: Last week in my Indigenous Cultures class, we had a special guest. Ross Smith, a famous Aboriginal artist, spent the whole morning with us in the park. First, he taught us how to play the digeridoo. It is an Aboriginal instrument and it is SO unique. If you’ve never heard of it, look it up; it’s worth a listen. Basically, we all stunk and couldn’t make any correct sounds, but we sure had fun trying. Next on the schedule was spear-throwing. After learning the techniques, we had a contest to see who could throw it the farthest. I failed miserably, but I must say, I felt quite empowered. 😉 Lastly, he taught us how to throw and catch Aboriginal boomerangs. You probably guessed it… I was real bad at it. BUT, it was a blast. On top of all that, he set up a display of his artwork, and he offered us extremely generous deals on all of it. It was such a unique, cultural, fun, rewarding experience.

-COFFEE SHOPS: I started a new “tradition.” During the first few months, I didn’t let myself spend any money on coffee, but my resolve has now crumbled. On Tuesdays, I get done with class at noon and don’t have anything the rest of the day. I’ve decided to leave Wesley right after my class, hop on a bus or a train, get off in a town I haven’t been to, and explore. After looking around awhile, I ask a local to point me towards the best coffee shop, then I settle in for the rest of the afternoon with a delicious drink and whatever work I have to do. It has been one of the most refreshing things I’ve done here. It is very unlike me to be okay with going off and doing something by myself, but it is something that I have learned to really enjoy since being in Australia. Taking the time to go out on a little adventure by myself, reflect, and drink hot, yummy drinks has brought me fresh energy, perspective, joy, and peace. So far I’ve explored an adorable town called Summerhill and a very multicultural town called Campsie

-CABRAMATTA: For the past two weeks, all of the schools have been on holiday. Since both my host parents work in schools, they have been on holiday, too. So, last Thursday, since I didn’t have class until the afternoon, Bee-Hoon planned to take Tarah and I out for the day. What a special memory! She loves introducing us to new cultures and to the foods of that culture, so she took us to a town called Cabramatta that has a heavy Vietnamese influence. On the train ride there, she taught me how to crochet these California poppy pins that she makes, and once we got there we looked around the shops and she treated us to Vietnamese treats and lunch. I had to leave early to go to class, but having Bee-Hoon want to spend that time with us is something I will hold close to my heart, and something that makes me smile every time I think of it.

Disability Care: How It Affects Everyone

By Colin Turnbull

“I am prepared to be judged by these choices” said Prime Minister Julia Gillard earlier this year, in regards to her bill to raise Medicare tax in order to pay for disability care. In her bill, Gillard proposes to raise the Medicare tax from 1.5% of a person’s annual wage to 2%. The extra .5% increase would help cover the cost of medical bills for those who have disabled loved ones. This would cost Australian citizens another $350 a year, on average.

This proposal has sparked much debate. Although Opposition leader Tony Abbott agrees with Gillard that there should be more care provided for those with disabilities, he argues that her current scheme would only cover half the costs required for disability care. Shadow treasurer Joe Hockney is against the tax, saying it would only hurt business because people would feel less confident about their smaller amount of discretionary income. “This levy is going to hit every household budget,” he said in a recent radio interview.

Before putting the bill into motion, Gillard will ask the nation to voice their opinions in the September 2013 election, “to make sure that we support disability care around Australia.” As members of a democratic society, voting is an essential part of moving our country in a positive direction. That is why it is the citizens’ responsibility to stay informed on all the current issues involved with politics, regardless of whether or not the issues affect them directly or not. Chances are, there will be a political issue that affects everyone at some point in their life. Voting is a privilege that everyone should take advantage of. By staying informed on the issues and voting accordingly, ordinary citizens can take part in the problems faced by society, and hopefully say they were part of the solution.

Articles referenced:

http://www.skynews.com.au/topstories/article.aspx?id=868513&vId=3941346&cId=Top%20Stories

http://www.brw.com.au/p/business/gillard_to_raise_medicare_levy_to_1S3NTrBy3bMj3ct2Vb44BJ

http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2013/s3749689.htm

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/budget-to-set-path-back-to-surplus-swan/story-fn3dxiwe-1226632694834

The Struggle to get on Facebook

By Dylan Schrom

One of the biggest modern problems here at Wesley, and anywhere else in Australia, is the difficulty to get on the Internet with the number of students using it. The problem is that the current Internet connection in Australia does not have the bandwidth to support the need for Internet Australians seem to have. Luckily, the process of installing new fiber optics cables to greatly modernize and quicken the Australia’s Internet has already begun.

Currently, most of Australian Internet is supported by copper wires, which were first installed for land-lines when phones first came to Australia [much like Dial-Up connection](Maxwell 2013). There is much talk about replacing these slow, copper wires with more modern fiber optic lines. This material will allow the speed of the information to be much faster over longer distances. Australians are also in the transition where they require more reliable Internet connection. The new fiber optics system will allow the bandwidth that Australians currently need. But two problems arise when trying to modernize the Auzzie Internet experience.

The first is time. Much controversy revolves around the fact that Australia won’t experience this innovation for another three to six years. By that time, the bandwidth will meet the needs of the current Australian, about 25mps by 2016 and 50mps by 2019. That’s the problem though; just as the use of Internet has dramatically increased from two decades ago, many are predicting the same increase in the next two decades (Griffith 2013). Some people don’t see the point in paying for an increased broadband width when they will have to further renovate it to meet their new needs. While the plan will support their current needs, they may do little for them after it’s actually installed. “It’s like the M5 tunnel,” said Brad Howarth, “by the time it was completed, it was already jamming up.” Some have requested a larger bandwidth to be constructed in light of this prediction, but the problem is that the tunnels do not currently exist for that type of installation (Moses 2013).

The second is cost. Australia’s spread towns make it expensive to connect a handful of people to everyone else. The cost is estimated to be around 29.5 billion dollars for the entire project. Some estimate it will cost 90 billion dollars [although these are unreasonable claims] (Griffith 2013). This is not including the cost of potential need for new tunnels in support of what may be desired in the future. Somehow, the people are going to pay through with higher taxes, or through higher cost of Internet. The point is, what used to be a free upgrade, has now turned into an expensive process that must, somehow be paid for.

A lot is still in the process when determining how much and how long this will take. As society modernizes, Australia must keep up with the ever-quickening world. This renovation to the broadband will drastically change Australia’s communication among its own people and internationally.

Bibliography

Griffith, Emma.  Coalition boosts commitment to broadband network, accessed April 10, 2013, from ABC News.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-09/conroy-hits-out-at-coalition-policy/4618232

Moses, Asher.  NBN: how much speed do we really need?,  accessed April 10, 2013, from The Sydney Morning Herald Digital Life.
http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/nbn-how-much-speed-do-we-really-need-20130410-2hky4.html

Maxwell, Terrance.  Live interview, April 10, 2013.

Sushi, Service, Fireworks and Frustrations

Excerpt from Spring 2013 student Fiona Tranquillo’s blog “My Aussieland Adventure”. Reproduced with permission http://myaussielandadventure.blogspot.com.au/

My first week of classes had a very delicious ending… sushi!!! As I mentioned earlier, my host mom is from Singapore, so many of the dinners we have are oriental. On Friday, she told Tarah and me that she was going to teach us how to make sushi! I had mixed feelings. First let me say, I do NOT do raw fish… ew. Just thinking about it gives me the heeby jeebies (I think I just made up that spelling). I was QUITE relieved to see that everything she had for us to use was fully cooked. It was the sweetest thing… Bee-Hoon got everything totally prepped and set up a little sushi rolling station for each of us. She had prepared cucumber, carrots, crab, omelette strips, chicken, and radish. I put everything in every roll and it was SO delicious. Also, good news, I wrote down all of Bee-Hoon’s tricks for the sushi so that I can repeat it at home! This was not easy, however. Bee-Hoon, being quite the thrifty one, told us that taking her recipe AND her being in our blogs was going to require a contract and some major cash. Good news, though, we were able to pull it out of her, free of charge. 😉

Fiona

Fiona and her host mom

I think I may have become a sushaholic.

The best part about the night, however, wasn’t just eating the sushi. More than that, I felt like I really connected with my host family and started to feel “at home” for the first time. I was able to joke with them, laugh with them, and just be myself. I went to bed feeling very thankful.

Saturday started off bright and EARLY. Part of the ASC program is that all participants are required to put in 35 hours of service in a placement of their choosing. I, along with about 7 other ASC students, was placed on the Hillsong Street Team. This is a group of people from Hillsong Church and Hillsong College that go out every Saturday morning to different harder areas of town, knock on doors, and simply build relationships and help in any way they can. If often consists of yard work, but other times is just being good company for people who are often lacking in that area.

It was a really neat experience. Most of my group’s time was spent talking with this older woman named Shirley. We didn’t clean her house, preach the Gospel, or bring radical change… we simply sat and enjoyed chatting with her and listening to whatever she had to say. This was a bit of a challenge for me. So many Americans are engrained with the belief that service means doing. I left feeling like I hadn’t actually DONE anything to help. The more I’ve thought about it, however, the more I am finding value in the simple act of being there for Shirley and building a relationship with her… showing her that we care. I think that being on this team will challenge my view of service and teach me that spreading God’s love and light doesn’t necessarily mean serving a meal or handing out Bibles.

Saturday had a pretty slam-bang finish. I’m not sure what the occasion was or how often it happens, but we had heard that there was going to be fireworks that night. To sum it up… it was magical. Darling Harbor is one of my favourite spots so far, and seeing it lit up with fireworks was incredible. The icing on the cake was some really good conversations with a couple of girls in the group… some serious bonding, which I’m a huge fan of.

There were many wonderful highlights of the weekend, but there was also a lot of frustration. I’ve found myself being frustrated that Australian wifi stinks and that we’re never allowed to use it. I’ve found myself being frustrated with how stinkin’ expensive everything is. I’ve found myself being frustrated with how long public transportation takes. Most of all, I’ve found myself being frustrated with myself for being so darn frustrated all the time! I was expecting everything to be easy and happy-go-lucky, but it hasn’t really been that way a lot of the time. It is in these moments, though, where the Lord is teaching me so much. First of all, the things that are frustrating me are so trivial, and I need to open my eyes to the world around me and to the needs of others. Like seriously… being frustrated about wifi?? Let’s be real, Fiona. Second, when things really are hard… that’s okay! I have been clinging to the words of Psalm 34 that tell us that, as Christians, things are not going to be easy. Our hope is not in a promise of all happy-go-lucky circumstances, but rather, our hope is in a God who will be with us and FOR us no matter what the circumstances are! It is because of that hope that we can “bless the Lord at all times” and “have His praise continually on our lips.”

Praising Him in the good and the hard,

Fiona

Adultery at the Cross

by Sabrina Johnson

Kings Cross, or ‘The Cross’, as many call it today, has been know as being the “Amsterdam of the South Pacific” (Herald Sun, 2010) right here in a suburb of Sydney. If you’re anything like me, hearing the news that prostitution is legal was flooring. Each state in Oz has their own restrictive laws that control the prostitution industry, however the running of a registered brothel is legal throughout the whole of Australia. The catch here is that registered brothels are legal. Currently, there is a widespread issue of illegal brothels that are not only unregistered, but also using trafficked women and children as their employees. For Sydney, in 2010, there were 90 suspected illegal brothels being operated, and there is no doubt that this number has increased as the demand has increased.

Due to this uprising in illegal prostitution activities, many Australian’s today are questioning the decision of making prostitution legal in their country. All over the news you can see a rage behind the prostitution laws that Australia has implemented and how those laws have created more harm then good. The Daily Telegraph said, “legal brothels are out of control in western Sydney’s sex industry” (The Telegraph, 2012) and a West Australia article discussed the pressure that government is facing to vote down the prostitution bill.

The aspect of this current topic of debate that has been increasingly appalling to me is the fact that these laws are making a way for human trafficking to become an easier illegal activity. “High growth has forced pimps to forge international supply routes to source their ‘product’, which, in the case of the sex industry, is mostly women and children” (Sydney Morning Herald, 2011). Due to the high demand of sexual partners, pimps are beginning to see a profit in kidnapping or shipping females from other countries in order to sneak around fair pay wages and appropriate worker conditions.

Something noteworthy is that fact that there can be some pros when it comes to legalizing something as dangerous, yet popular, as prostitution. The registered, legal, brothels in Australia are run as businesses, thus, must report to the government and pay taxes. According to a recent report from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), “Ten brothels, the subject of a recent ATO project in the Sydney area, resulted in additional revenue of $480,000 [to the government]” (Gallagher, B). This is an incredible amount of money that is promoting the growth of the Australian economy. In addition, prostitution laws allow the government to better control and protect those working within the walls of registered brothels keeping the women safer and healthier.

Even with the positive aspects of the prostitution laws, I’m still not convinced. With Australia being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, do they really need the taxation revenue, especially at the cost of their nations moral and ethical standards? Even though the laws that claim to be protecting the women working within this industry, what about the majority that are not working in registered, legal brothels? If Australia began to form laws against prostitution, it would leave less room for illegal activity, allow for harsher punishments, and convict and decrease those involved in trafficking. So what do you think is more important: upholding a high ethical standard or creating a wealthier, more dangerous society?

 

 

Sources:

 

Gallagher, B. (n.d.) Taxation And The Sex Industry. [online] Available at: http://www.aic.gov.au/en/publications/previous%20series/proceedings/1-27/~/media/publications/proceedings/14/gallagher.pdf [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].

Herald Sun (2010) Sydney The Brothel Capital of The South Pacific. [online] Available at: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/sydney-the-brothel-capital-of-the-south-pacific/story-e6frf7l6-1225952320313 [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].

The Sydney Morning Herald (2011) Sex Trafficking In Australia. [online] Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/its-time-to-get-serious-about-sex-trafficking-in-australia-20111012-1lkzi.html [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].

The Telegraph (2012) A Fight to Turn off the Red Lights in Rydalmere. [online] Available at: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/a-fight-to-turn-off-the-red-lights-in-rydalmere/story-e6freuy9-1225952354505 [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].

The Western Australian (2012) Boost For Prostitution Reform Laws. [online] Available at: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/13678448/boost-for-prostitution-reform-laws/ [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].

Australian Obesity Rates

by Meagan Morrow

 

It was said in a study done by Monash University, 17 million Australians are overweight or obese, 4 million being obese.  That is a very large percentage of the 22 million alone in Australia, over 75% being overweight.  It has even taken over as the leading cause of premature death and illness in Australia.

 

In response to this epidemic, some have suggested that there be a “fat tax” on fast food and junk food.  This was presented after Demark imposed a similar tax. (Sacks) This is supposed to encourage people to lose weight. From the understanding of the economists, price incentives have an effect on society. (Irvine) In another blog on News Network, is was stated “Instead of getting off their fat bottoms and taking control of their own lives, they want the government to take care of it.” It makes them feel better about themselves, if they don’t have to be responsible for their own lack of will power. If the government continues to take control over every bit of the lives of its citizens, what will be left in the end? It’s sad how lazy people have gotten. Giving up freedoms little by little will give too much control to the government.

 

Another question arose in discussion with an Australian couple, where will the money from the tax go? If it goes into the health care system to help aid those that struggle with diabetes and other health issues that are brought about by obesity that would be extremely beneficial. But if it just goes into the general funds and is not used properly, what is the point? Making people take responsibility for their actions and indirectly pay for their own health care could be useful and encouraging to the economy. On the other hand, trying to force people to change their habits is not in the job description of the government.

 

Just because it costs more money doesn’t mean that people will stop. The cost and convenience of fast food would very possibly still outweigh that of healthy foods. (Irvine)  But many people think the fat tax is a great idea. Marianne Betts stated that 70% of Australians surveyed about the “fat tax” “support an increase in junk food prices and a decrease in healthy food prices, according to a survey by the Obesity Policy Coalition.” (Betts)

 

The article, noted above, in the Herald Sun stated that this tax would be combined with “subsidies on healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables.” This would increase the likelihood that people would buy healthier foods because of the cost, but the usefulness of pre-made or pre-prepared food is still there.

 

Health does not just directly relate to food either. “Half of Australian parents are  concerned about their kids not getting enough exercise. “ (Betts) It might take more than just a tax on junk food to bring about change. Education about healthy foods, including where and how to get them for good pricing, and how to cook them in a manner which is less of a burden is important to any society that struggles with health issues. (Irvine) Australia is not the only country or culture struggling with this. It is a world wide issue and many different approaches have been taken. Australia’s attempt to follow in Demark’s footsteps could be a chance to begin the fight against obesity, but it will not end there.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Betts, Marianne . (2012). Aussies support tax on junk food.. Available: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/aussies-support-fat-tax/story-fn7x8me2-1226358271940. Last accessed 27th Aug 2012.

 

Irvine, Jessica. (2012). Would a Fat Tax Curb Obesity?. Available: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/would-a-fat-tax-curb-obesity3f/4144548. Last accessed 27th Aug 2012.

 

Kenny, Chris. (2012). My great big fat tax. Available: http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/goodlyfabric/index.php/theaustralian/comments/my_great_big_fat_tax/. Last accessed 27th Aug 2012.

 

Sacks, Gary. (2011). Is a ‘fat tax’ the answer to Australia’s obesity crisis?. Available: http://theconversation.edu.au/is-a-fat-tax-the-answer-to-australias-obesity-crisis-3712. Last accessed 27th Aug 2012.

 

Unknown. (2012). Obesity in Australia. Available: http://www.modi.monash.edu.au/obesity-facts-figures/obesity-in-australia/. Last accessed 22nd Aug 2012.