Building equity into 20-minute city plans

I only left my suburb once last weekend, and it was excellent. As boring as it may sound, it turns out that this highly local lifestyle is not only good for the environment, but is one that appeals to many of us. Rather than spending our time driving between amenities and activities, most of us would like to be able to walk or cycle to most of those things that contribute to living a good life. And governments are starting to take notice.

In recognition of the social and environmental benefits that flow from people staying out of their cars and getting out into their own neighbourhoods, cities around the world have been announcing plans to improve liveability by adopting the 20- (or 30-) minute neighbourhood concept. Plan Melbourne describe this as being ‘all about “local living” — giving people the ability to meet most of their everyday needs within a 20-minute walk, cycle or local public transport trip of their home’.

Read the rest over at Eureka Street.

The inequity of this silent killer

When our kids were little, our family moved to Hanoi for my partner’s job. After we’d settled in to our new neighbourhood of Tay Ho (Westlake), we enjoyed walking the streets and admiring the beauty of the city. Hanoi is set around a number of lakes and filled with historic buildings and old winding laneways that are too narrow for cars. It is also surprisingly green. Plants grow on every available square inch, crammed into tiny pockets of dirt and pots.

But we hadn’t been there long until we begun bemoaning the frequency of foggy days and waiting hopefully for the rare clear days when Westlake would shine blue and we could see clearly over the rooftops from our sixth-story terrace.

I can’t remember exactly when I admitted to myself that it wasn’t fog that was obscuring visibility. But once I had fully acknowledged the extent of the airborne pollution, I felt a lot less keen on living in Hanoi with young children.

— Read more over at Eureka Street

#MeToo exposes legal failures, but ‘trial by Twitter’ isn’t one of them

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In a 2016 ABS survey, one in two women reported having experienced sexual harassment, but 90% of them did not contact the police. – Cindy Zhi/The Conversation NY-BD-CC

Cristy Clark, Southern Cross University

Six months after the explosive allegations of sexual harassment against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein came to light, giving impetus to the #MeToo movement, this series looks at the aftermath of the movement, and if it has brought about lasting change to sexual harassment and gender equality.


Critics have raised concerns that #MeToo has turned into a “trial by Twitter”, suggesting it has turned the legal principle of innocent until proven guilty on its head. The Australian’s opinion columnist Janet Albrechtsen argued this point on the ABC’s #MeToo Q&A special last month.

But such comments reveal an ignorance of the meaning and context of this principle. Leaving aside the fact that some people on social media side with the accused, public discussion – whether it takes place on Twitter or around a water cooler – is not comparable to state punishment.

Those concerned about the failure of a legal principle in relation to #MeToo might better focus on that of justice for victims.

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Clearing homeless camps compounds the violation of human rights and entrenches the problem

On Wednesday evening, the New South Wales state government passed legislation empowering police to dismantle the Martin Place homeless camp in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. This follows similar actions in Victoria, where police cleared a homeless camp outside Flinders Street Station. Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle proposed a bylaw to ban rough sleeping in the city.

In March, the UN special rapporteur on the right to housing, Leilani Farha, censured the City of Melbourne’s actions, stating that:

… the criminalisation of homelessness is deeply concerning and violates international human rights law.

As the special rapporteur highlighted, homelessness is already “a gross violation of the right to adequate housing”. To further discriminate against people rendered homeless by systemic injustice is prohibited under international human rights law.

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With that ring, I thee judge: why the law should not allow exceptions on marriage equality

[Originally published in The Conversation – 6 October 2016]

In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins went into Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, to order a cake for their wedding. Jack Phillips, the owner of the shop, responded by informing them he would not make a cake for a same-sex wedding. Craig and Mullins immediately got up and left. Later they sued Phillips for discrimination.

What if this happened in Australia?

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‘Think of the children’ – and other spurious arguments against marriage equality

I was nine when it happened. Mum introduced my brother and I to her girlfriend and told us that she was going to move in. I remember the feeling I had in my stomach. It churned. I felt sick.

‘Lesbian’ was the worst insult in Year 4. It tarnished you. It made you dirty; disgusting.

I kept my mother’s sexuality a secret. It was a shameful burden that isolated me. I avoided inviting people over to my house. I tried not to talk about home.

That’s the power of stigma. It needs no rational basis. It just is and it sucks.

Spurious arguments against marriage equality are grounded in stigma and they serve to entrench the discrimination against same-sex attracted (or LGBTI) people and to legitimise its extension into so many areas of life.

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Adult privilege and discrimination against children

[To give you some context as to why I am writing this: see this post at Bitch PhD (and particularly check out the comments), this post at Feministe (and, oh my goodness, check out the comments); this post at Blue Milk; and this post at Student Activism.]

The funny thing about in-built privilege is that so-often the bearers of said-privilege really have no idea that they are exercising it or that they have come to feel themselves entitled to it. Instead, they justify it with all sorts of excuses and by reference to the prevailing status quo – as though ‘the way things are’ are, by definition, ‘the way things ought to be’.

A few examples (past & present):

 White privilege under Apartheid South Africa Continue reading