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Time is ticking away

I have been studying the use of time in literature, and the use of it in my own writing. A little while ago, I answered a writing prompt with a piece I called the Somellier. I mentioned at the time that I was using this prompt to write a longer piece for my assignment. It turned out ok, but what it also produced was an exercise in the study of time.

The Sommelier Exegesis.

The idea that time is in fact in a circle instead of a ‘timeline’ is not a new one. In the holy scriptures of Judaism and Christianity, the religions of Egypt, Buddhist, and Hindu texts alike, the idea that time is not a line is confirmed often. The theory is known as eternal return. It is the intent of this essay to show that time must be thought of as not linear, but as a circle. The exegesis will explore how this idea was manifest in the creative work and reflect on works studied and not studied in class to strengthen the argument.

Christianity shows that life itself continues beyond the grave, in the quote, “one must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven” (“Biblegateway” NIV John3:2). Of course, the quote is not referring to rebirth of a known human kind, but that of an infinite kind. God himself said, “If they ask who sent you, tell them that I am” (Exodus 3:14), using present tense, not past. God says he is “the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev 21:6) while both David and Daniel say, “His Kingdom is everlasting” (Psalm145:13 and Daniel 7). The prophet Ezekiel said of his vision that he sees everything as a wheel, within a wheel said that “everything has a season” (Ecclesiastes 3)

Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;

and God will call the past to account. (Ecclesiastes 3:15)


Eternal return has been used as a theory of time for centuries and by many different religions. The Ouroboros is pictures as a snake eating its own tail to suggest that life goes on in a circle. The flower of life looks like a series of smaller circles inside a bigger one to represent the cycle of life being eternal. In Indian religions the belief in reincarnation is itself a belief in the circles of life. In tantric Buddhism the wheel of time is known as the Kalachakra expresses the idea of endless cycles of time and knowledge (“Eternal Return”).

The eternal return is an idea that was expressed in recent times by Friedrich Nietzsche (Ross). However, Nietzsche saw this as a burden rather than accepting it as inevitable. In Thus spoke Zarathustra the dwarf states that “straight lines hold lies, the truth is crooked, and that time is a circle” (“Thus Spake Zarathustra, By Friedrich Nietzsche” XLVI The Vision and the Enigma pt 2, line 9-17). This statement was said to be oversimplifying things. But the author of this essay and creative work feels that sometimes things need to be simplified to be understood.

In thinking of the cosmos as microsections of time, we can look at the minute, being 60 seconds. What happens when that minute ends? It starts again. 60 minutes make an hour, and then the hour starts again, and so on. It is why the clock is designed as a circle. The sundial tells the time in a circular pattern. The days, the years, the centuries are all repeated.

It makes sense then that humans each have their own circles of time. There is a season for each of us. The question is regularly asked. ‘How has your day been?’ meaning that the circle of time for the person asked differs from the one who has asked. When one meets an acquaintance, one might say ‘we have to catch up’ which means there is a need to synchronise the circles and recall and relay any news that has happened to each over a period of time.

In the creative piece this is also true. For the main character, Allen, he sees that his father’s circle has ceased to turn on the earth. Allen himself operates in his own circle of time, which includes wine, and Simon as well as city living. His father’s circle interacts with his own whenever Allen is with his father. This will include fishing, drinking strong black coffee and feeding the birds. Allen is unaware of his father’s circle of time when he is not present. But he wonders about it with the discovery of the photo in the phone.

Memory is a bit part of this story as Allen recalls times with his father. The photo brings the past into the present, as does the letter. They are both reminders to Allen of the life that his father once had but also of his own mortality. Memento mori… all that lives will surely die (“Memento Mori”). Sufis of Ethiopia are often called people of the graves because of their habit of visiting graves and contemplating the vanities of life.

The choice of music is used to calm the spirit but also to invoke memories of his father. This was a tactic used in dementia patients by Oliver Sacks and adopted by many others since. “Music evokes emotion and emotion memory.” (Sacks) The morning routine and seeing himself in the mirror as a younger version of his father are other ways in which this memory is expressed.

The letter in the story represents that Allen’s father also recollects times when they were together, when his love was expressed and the fathers awareness that Allen runs in a different circle than his own, with the revelation that the father has known all along that Allen is gay, and that Allen likes his wine. The letter is a way in which the father is again brought into the present through memory. The letter also shows that his father is aware of his own mortality, possibly prompted by the death of his wife (“Memento Mori”).

The repetition of dialogue also confirms that life runs in a circle, the same words, expressions, and routine, again and again, until finally the death of the father brings a deviation in the circle.

The idea that time runs in circles has been propagated by many religions in the world and is also the basis of many philosophies both modern and ancient. The creative piece seeks to show that not cycles of time are not just mega, as in the universe or community but also personal. Each person has his own circle of time, which is interrupted by interactions with other people’s circles. The interactions with letters, photos and music bring the past back to the present in the circle of time.



Work Cited

“Biblegateway.Com: A Searchable Online Bible In Over 150 Versions And 50 Languages.”. Biblegateway.Com, 2020, https://www.biblegateway.com/.

“Memento Mori”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memento_mori.

Ross, Alex. “Nietzsche’S Eternal Return”. The New Yorker, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/10/14/nietzsches-eternal-return.

Sacks, Oliver. Musicophilia. Vintage Books, 2008.

Susan Sontag On Photography 1977 p15 (From Lectures)

“Thus Spake Zarathustra, By Friedrich Nietzsche”. Gutenberg.Org, 2020, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1998/1998-h/1998-h.htm#link2H_4_0053.         Extra information XLVI The Vision and the Enigma pt 2, line 9-17

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Using my work “White is a Metaphor for Power” and “Purity:Patrick White and Brett Whiteley”.

I have noticed that I have had a lot of hits on my previous posts entitled “Purity, Patrick White and Brett Whiteley” and “White is a Metaphor for Power -James Baldwin”. Thank you for viewing these posts. If you have referenced them for uni work of your own, on these subjects, I should love to see some of your writings. My only hope is they are not being plagiarized by people getting their essays written by somebody else. If this is the case; STOP IT. I apologise for being cynical.

Please put links to your essays in the comments below. And thanks for thinking my humble writing worthy of reading,


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“The Leader has my full support”

Do we mean what we say? The title of this post is a sentence used by many politicians when there is a leadership speculation. It is often proven to be false. In fact, when the statement is made, we can be sure that a leadership spill is imminent. It was unusual then that Julie Bishop as deputy leader of the liberal party, did not use that term when she spoke yesterday. She distanced herself from Tony Abbott, stating that the deputy position is not deputy to the person, but deputy to the position.

Also Malcolm Turnbull had been silent on issues of leadership of late. He chose not to cause division in the party by not saying anything at all. If he indeed said that the leader had his full support, we would know that he was thinking about a leadership challenge.

Political speak these days had been prophesied by George Orwell in his book 1984 as well as in his essay “Politics and the English Language”. Orwell says that the use of language can corrupt thought.What the government does in promoting a certain dialogue in the media, is direct the way that people ought to think.

Stanley Cohen in the 60’s coined the term  “moral panic”. That is the use of media by politicians and other public figures to shape the thoughts of the people. It is often used to promote an agenda of the government such as asylum seekers; creating an us and them mentality.

The corruption of the English language means that the common use of a word is no longer what the dictionary definition is. For example ‘Homophobia’ The word is comprised of two parts, originating from the Greek. Homo meaning the same and phobia meaning an intense fear. Put together, Homophobia means the fear of the same ( sex if we are taking the word Homo being as short for homosexual). The word Homophobia has come to mean not an intense fear of homosexuals, but rather a hatred and comtempt for those who are same sex attracted.

As George Orwell says in his essay, There is a solution. The solution is to get back to the basics.

Pauline Hanson was very right to ask for the definition of the word xenophobia. Before it was used in the 60 minutes interview with Pauline Hanson, this word was hardly ever used in conversational English. The word Xenos is Greek meaning stranger or alien or indeed foreign. Xenophobia has come to mean something totally different… that is racist.

Getting back to basics involves no thought really. It is saying it as it is. Saying what you really mean instead of trying to hide your views or disguise them using ‘politically correct’ language. War is NOT peace, black is NOT white, wrong is NOT right. An invasion of a country these days is termed as troop advancement into occupied territory. Please… its called invasion.

How does one start a move to combat this movement of language abuse? It starts with you. The writer of tomorrow. These days it is so simple to have an opinion, and it is so simple to share it. Get on your blog, get on facebook or twitter, or whatever platform you use to express your views and say what you really mean. Of course in academic writing a certain level of language skills is desired to be shown, but cut out the rhetoric. Use words that can be commonly understood by the level of scholar that you would like to reach. If you arent sure what that is, then go for the lowest common denominator. Use the KISS principle of language; that is Keep it Simple Stupid.

Have a nice day.


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The Man of The Crowd

I had to write a paper which is a textual intervention of “The Man in the Crowd” by Edgar Allan Poe.

Here is a link to the story, and here is my essay with Textual Intervention.

I hope you enjoy.



THE MAN OF THE CROWD… A Textual Intervention.

Poe is said by many scholars to be the grandfather of detective fiction (Nicol 465+). In The Man of the Crowd we can see the rudiments of this, but the story does not fully develop the idea of a character of detective. Poe has not made it plain that the occupation of the narrator is a detective, although with the sleuth-like movements of the man, plus his comment about wearing “a pair of caoutcouc (rubber) over-shoes” (Poe and Van Leer 88) making him almost silent gives a hint to that. The detective story is fulfilled in the later written “Murders in the Rue Morgue”.

The narrator in the story tells us that he has been ill and is now recuperating (Poe and Van Leer 84). One can speculate that he was not suffering so much from a physical illness but rather an illness of the mind. His actions of pursuing the man for almost twenty four hours proves that he is physically well but a mental illness would go towards explaining his rather disturbing unconventional behaviour.

Commenting further on his physical well-being; the narrator does not seem overly concerned with his physical health; being out in the rain at night. He does mention that he has donned an overcoat, and when the air was moist, “tied a handkerchief about my mouth” (Poe and Van Leer 88).

The illness had given him a feeling of despair: “ennui” (Poe and Van Leer 84). It is from this feeling that such anxiety, and a racing of his mind is observed late at night. He states that he is now feeling quite the opposite; somewhat euphoric.  On first reflection, one might think he had an anxiety issue, perhaps monophobia, or the fear of being alone. He expressed that he is convalescent, but it seems he is not fully recovered.

The treatment of mental illness at the time were opiates, along with separation from society in asylums or, if wealthy, at home (Dickinson 419 – 424). If the narrator was indeed suffering from mental illness, and on opiates, this would go towards explaining the delusional thinking. The separation from society would go to explain his desire to reintegrate into society and the crowd.

He had gone to the coffee house where he became engaged with the practice of observing life. One wonders what manner of illness he had, to develop the fascination that the crowd holds for him. It is as if he hadn’t been part of this life for some time and now is observing it from the outside, pondering how again he can be reunited with it.  He speaks of having a greater awareness, heightened senses as if a film has been lifted from his eyes; his mind now clear (Poe and Van Leer 84).

The narrator is assessing all manner of pedestrians in the hope that he could identify with a class.  Perhaps he is thinking; “Where does he himself fit in and with whom could he walk?” The judging of people by their appearance may have been easier in this period, mid-19th Century. People of the same class, or the same occupation wore a similar style of dress, perhaps like a uniform. It is his inability to distinguish the class of the fellow he eventually follows which perks his curiosity. Had he not spied the elderly gentleman, one wonders when he would have left the café at all. Perhaps his fascination with the old man was to judge if this is a person to whom he could relate.

He does not like the look of the old fellow. In fact his description talks of his expression looking worse than a demon or devil drawn by the hand of the then well-known illustrator Retzsch (Poe and Leer 88).  His judgement of the old fellow, even after the following of him, is not warranted. It is because he does not like the look of the fellow that he has judged him so harshly as to have a heart more abhorrent than “Hortulus Animæ” (Poe and Van Leer 91).

The narrator has admitted he has a fever (Poe and Van Leer 88). One must wonder if he was in fact delusional. He thinks himself unseen by the crowd and most importantly by the old man whom he has chosen to follow.

This is where the textual intervention would be submitted.

“I grew wearied unto death, and stopping fully in front of the wanderer, gazed at him steadfastly in the face…” (Poe and Van Leer 91)

“Why are you following me?” he asked.

I was taken aback, I stumbled and stammered. “I, I…”

“For God sake man, leave me alone.” He opened his roquelaire to reveal, what I had perceived correctly to be, the dagger.

“You have followed me all night trying to get your hands on my dearly departed wife’s last treasure. If you don’t stop following me, I shall draw my dagger and be forced to thrust it into your bosom sir.”

“I beg your pardon,” said I “I did not mean to offend, merely to satisfy a curiosity” I bowed.

The old man growled, brought his cloak close around himself, stepped around me and again thrust himself into the throng of people walking swiftly upon the rue.

I opened the door to D— coffee house and stepped inside to the welcome heat of the hearth fire, slipped off my overcoat and ordered for coffee to be brought to the window table where again I would observe life.

The old man himself was unable to recognise the class of the narrator, which left him ill at ease, knowing that this man was following him and was perhaps a potential thief.

The narrator had mistakenly judged the fellow as evil, when the countenance he was displaying was that of abject grief. With the confrontation came the sudden realisation to the narrator that he was indeed acting irrationally.

The intervention brings the story to a conclusion. By doing so, the confrontation has brought to a halt the anonymity of both the old man and the narrator. The intervention uncovers the mystery, permitting the telling of a secret that was not permitted to be told. One speculates that Poe would not have approved.

It would do the story a great dis-service if the intervention were accepted as credible. The readers must accept that some secrets are best left untold and read the story for what it is; a work of art produced by this master wordsmith.

Works Cited

Poe, Edgar Allan, and David Van Leer. Selected Tales. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.

Dickinson, Emily. ‘From Madness to Mental Health: A Brief History of Psychiatric Treatments in the                                                              UK from 1800 to the Present’. Journal of occupational therapy 53.10 (1990): 419- 424.

Web.   7 Apr. 2015.

Nicol, Bran. “Reading and not reading ‘The Man of the Crowd’: Poe, the city, and the gothic text.              “Philological                         Quarterly 91.3 (2012): 465+. Academic OneFile. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

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The Changing Role of Education from a Sociological Perspective

Following is my final paper for the course Introduction to Sociology.

Finishing this course will give me a University Certificate of Liberal Studies. It is this certificate which enables me to go on and study at ACU, doing my BA next year. I am so glad to have had the opportunity to study at this stage of my life and look forward to doing more next year.

The Changing Role of Education from a Sociological Perspective

According to Jacque Delores, the mission of education is to enable each of us, without exception, to develop all our talents to the full and to realize our creative potential, including responsibility for our own lives and achievement of our personal aims. (Delores, UNESCO 1996). This education does not begin at the start of the first year of institutionalised learning and end when one completes a degree at university, but rather continues from our first breath to our last. This essay however, will concentrate on the changing role of institutional learning from a sociological perspective.

In earlier generations, it was the role of the family, and the mother within that family to be the primary agent of socialisation for a growing child. The mother was there to teach the first words, to encourage first tentative steps and to praise the efforts of children as they grew. Now these milestones are being achieved in day-care without the input of the mother. In fact, there is a curriculum called Early Years Learning Framework written to encourage and document milestone achievements from birth to five years of age. (Community Childcare Co-operative, n.d)

Increasingly, due to economic pressures, the mother is returning to work and placing the children in child care, day care or kindergarten at a much earlier age. Where previously it had been the role of the parent to prepare children for the next phase of their lives, the first day of school, this role is now being given to institutions who have specialised ‘school readiness programs’. (Wellbank Children’s Centre, n.d.)

From a functionalist perspective, Emile Durkheim wrote that the main function of education was to create social cohesion or unit (Durkheim, 1956). This is achieved not only in the classroom, being a collective class, but also on the school sports field as a unified team. Durkheim went on to say that schools are likened to mini societies in which we are to live and work.

Talcott Parsons, continuing on that theme, stated that schools take over the socialisation role of the family becoming a secondary socialisation agent. Peers are also an important secondary socialisation agency. Students at this age are influenced greatly by what their friends collectively think and do.

Where in previous generations secondary school was about learning the fundamentals and a range of cultural and social subjects; it is becoming more geared towards gaining credentials for future employment. The Higher School Certificate was considered an achievement in itself, whereas in this generation it is a means to achieve the required Tertiary Entrance Rank to study for further qualifications.

Tertiary education is now more vocationally based, with the end result being certification or a credential to obtain employment. William Chace states in The American Scholar that over the last four decades there is a shift away from English with the study of business becoming the most popular major.

English: from 7.6 percent of the majors to 3.9 percent
Foreign languages and literatures: from 2.5 percent to 1.3 percent
Philosophy and religious studies: from 0.9 percent to 0.7 percent
History: from 18.5 percent to 10.7 percent
Business: from 13.7 percent to 21.9 percent (Chace, 2009)

Credentials are becoming more important to be considered for meaningful employment. This is also reflected in changing statistics from ABS on education levels completed across the generations. Whilst generations labelled Oldest, Lucky and Baby Boomers had a consistent level of around 10% for the highest level of schooling being year 12; this has jumped to 23% for Generations X and Y. Indeed non – school qualifications have risen from 23% in the Oldest Generation to 57% in Generation X and Y. (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] 2006). Those without qualifications have little chance of competing for well-paid employment in this capitalist society.

In previous eras, following work comes retirement and leisure time. Durkheim states that the old should retire and leave the work for younger people. (Durkheim, 1984) Leaving a work environment with its own social structure could leave one bewildered, wondering where they fit in. It is fitting then that older people seek to include themselves in groups of likeminded people.

Leisure, then, is a block of unoccupied time, spare time, or free time when we are free to rest or do what we choose. Leisure is time beyond that which is required for existence, the things which we must do, biologically, to stay, alive (that is, eat, sleep, eliminate, medicate, and so on): and subsistence, the things we must do to make a living as in work, or prepare to make a living as in school, or pay for what we want done if we do not do it ourselves. Leisure is time in which our feelings of compulsion should be minimal. It is discretionary time, the time to be used according to our own judgement or choice. (Brightbill, 1960)

Increasingly, leisure in retirement is including further education. Sydney University of the Third Age organises life-long learning for retired and semi-retired people in a friendly and stimulating environment. Mature aged students learn subjects that are not geared toward further employment, rather what is of interest to the student. These could include new skills in Arts, language, music, history and a whole range of subjects. There is no qualification needed and none is achieved. Education at this time of life is for interest sake only, not to gain a qualification. Older people can then reintegrate themselves into a new social group, again feeling a sense of belonging.

So we can see that education and educational institutions are important not only for the teaching and acquiring of knowledge and skills, but from a functionalist sociological perspective, to socialise people on all levels. Day-care takes over the primary socialisation agency from the parents, in teaching basic social interactions and skills needed to progress to the secondary stage. Primary and secondary schools teach social cohesion as well as preparing students for adulthood and vocations. Tertiary education facilities continue that vocational focus preparing young adults for work and family life. Then after employment ceases, mature age students learn subjects of interest to them, for pleasure not productiveness, and as a way to stay part of a community.


Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2006) A Picture of a Nation. Retrieved from http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/5f72bc4e2f670666ca25754c0013fa19/$FILE/20700_a_picture_of_the_nation.pdf

Brightbill, C.K. (1960). The challenge of leisure. Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice- Hall.

Chace, W. (2009) retrieved from http://theamericanscholar.org/the-decline-of-the-english-department/#.VEWxevnLfig

Community Child Care Co-operative Ltd (NSW) (n.d.) Early Years Learning Framework Practice Based Resources – Developmental Milestones. Retrieved from http://files.acecqa.gov.au/files/ACECQA/2014/developmental-milestonesDevelopmental%20Milestones%20and%20the%20EYLF%20and%20the%20NQS.pdf

Delores et al, (1996) Learning, The Treasure Within. UNESCO publishing retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0010/001095/109590eo.pdf

Durkheim, E. (1956) Education and Sociology. New York: Free Press

Durkheim, E. (1984). The division of labour in society. New York: Free Press

Wellbank Children’s Centre, Canada Bay (n.d.) School Readiness and Transition School Program: Retrieved from http://www.canadabay.nsw.gov.au/link.aspx?id=749

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Ethical dilemmas. Asylum seekers

I recently completed a philosophy course on Ethical perspectives. It was hard going. We were asked to look at an issue that is current and discuss  the ethical perspective of the people involved. In other words… “What makes them think its OK to do what they do?”.

Below is the essay I submitted on the ethical perspectives on Asylum seekers. While the subject is not enjoyable, and may cause you to squirm in your seats, I do hope you will enjoy being enlightened and informed.

The Australian Government is not alone in their inhumane treatment of those seeking to become citizens of a more preferred country. I hope my international readers will take a look at your countries treatment of displaced persons and protest, even peacefully at the treatment of fellow human beings.


That the Australian Government use all means possible to stop unauthorized people entering Australian territorial waters (borders).


The purpose of this preface is to show a learning outcome of studying ethics, and in particular my writing of this paper on the ethics behind the topic. This preface is not to be considered as part of the essay but is purely one student’s reflection of the course studied.

That the Australian Government use all means possible to stop unauthorised people entering Australian territorial waters (borders).

This issue is alive. It is not an issue on which we can look back with hindsight and think “how could we have done it better”. It is an issue which is daily evolving as the problem of forced migration will remain with us as long as we have inhumane governments preying on vulnerable people.

I have been greatly impacted by all the information surrounding asylum seekers and the Australian Government policy concerning it. Until now, I have been unaware of all the issues surrounding asylum seekers and like others believed the rhetoric that the spin doctors spun.

Previously I had made assumptions that all that was told to me through the media and by politicians was true, call me naïve. Now I am aware that I don’t know the true motivations behind certain policies or what ethical perspective people are coming from. It causes me to research and ‘dig deeply’ to find the true motivation behind the rhetoric.

Researching the issues covered in this essay has opened my eyes not only to the motivations behind the policies but also to the concerns surrounding the people who are desperate enough to risk life and limb to get away from the dangers of remaining in their home country.

I have become passionate whereas prior to studying ethics, I was blissfully ignorant. If it didn’t affect me, then I wasn’t concerned. I guess studying ethics has awakened within me the ethics of care that was sleeping within. I now feel the need to research for myself topics before becoming a staunch advocate of one side or another purely on one newspaper report or one point of view.

This course has ruined me for life. I can no longer read a news article or watch the news and accept things at face value. I am no longer content in my ignorance, but must be informed before I make a decision on an issue.

My thanks go to the staff for their guidance in this topic and to my fellow students for their insight and opinions on such a variety of issues. Also I think that the Mission Australia sponsored learning partners are an invaluable resource which as a student I am greatly appreciative.

Dave McGettigan

21 May 2014


That the Australian Government use all means possible to stop unauthorised people entering Australian territorial waters (borders).

I have compassion for the people that try to enter our borders, going to extreme lengths to ensure they arrive to Australia. I come from an ethics of care perspective. I believe the Australian Government should actually care for all people equally, showing no bias to current citizens over potential future citizens. Australia has responsibility to care for displaced persons under  international treaties (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1951) and as a global citizen.


The Australian Government espouses an ethics of care in its Sovereign Borders policy (Liberal National Coalition, 2013). If this were truly the case, then it is to be applauded, as it would be doing its duty as a global citizen and also what is morally right. If this were truly the case, then caring for the asylum seekers once they arrived within our sovereign borders would be the priority, not turning them back, detaining the people within detention centres or processing them offshore where their welfare is not best served. This essay will argue that it is not an ethics of care that the Australian Government is coming from; but rather a consequentialist ethic on so many levels.


In the Sovereign Borders policy, the Liberal Government states a key objective is to protect asylum seekers aboard the boats that come primarily from Indonesia (Liberal-National Coalition, 2013). Many have drowned or risked their lives by attempting to travel to Australia in unseaworthy boats provided or captained by people smugglers. I will endeavour to prove that the true outcome of such a consequentialist policy is that “it is not a question of stopping people dying at sea (the ends), it is just that this Australian Government just wants these people to die somewhere else” (pers.comm. Michael Foley quoting Phil Glendenning’s 2014 Palm Sunday speech, 26 March 2014 ). I will show that Kant’s categorical imperative should apply: at all times people should not be seen as a means to an end, but should be valued as individuals in themselves (Burgh and Freakly, 2000, p. 114).

The Australian Government has an ulterior motive. The Australian Government has adopted a policy with a utilitarian or consequentialism perspective towards asylum seekers coming by sea and justifies this as necessary in order to protect Australia’s ‘national interest’ and to preserve the relationship between the Government and the people it serves. This consequentialist approach is encapsulated by Minister Scott Morrison in his statement:

What the people smugglers and anyone trying to get on a boat need to understand is that this Australian Government will take the actions necessary to protect Australian sovereignty and stop the boats. (Morrison, 2014)


A Minister in the Howard Liberal-National Government expressed similar views:

The protection of our sovereignty, including Australia’s sovereign right to determine who shall enter Australia, is a       matter for the Australian Government and this Parliament.

(Ruddock, 2001)


This means the Australian Government uses the definition of sovereignty as ‘the right to exclude’ (Gelber and McDonald, 2006). It will decide who is worthy of humanitarian aid and whose visa is granted on humanitarian grounds.


The policies and attitudes of the Australian Government create  an ‘us and them’ mentality. Instead of embracing those coming from countries where safety and even life cannot be guaranteed, it forms in the mind of current citizens that, since these asylum seekers are perhaps different culturally from us, then they should not be permitted to cross our borders. It marginalises people who have fled these countries with little more than the clothes on their back, branding them as criminals and a potential threat to our safety without any evidence of this.


Department of Immigration and Citizenship statistics show that on average over 93% of asylum seekers asylum seekers are granted visas (after appeal) to remain in Australia in the period 2008 – 2013 (Cited by Refugee Council of Australia, 2014). These people have proved to be genuine refugees and enrich the lives of communities who choose to embrace them often opening restaurants and various retail outlets reflecting their culture. Such diversity can also be found in the different religions in communities settled by immigrants.


Three former asylum seekers serve as notable examples of this. Ahn Do, the famous comedian, was an asylum seeker who arrived by boat from Vietnam in 1981. He came with his mother and little brother Khoa Do who was named Young Australian of the year in 2005.  Accepting his Young Australian of the Year award, Khoa Do said, ‘I hope it might just inspire young people from other backgrounds to find their own way in life and maybe make a difference.’ (Do, 2005). Tan Le was named Young Australian of the year in 1998. She arrived by boat with her family in 1982 when just 4 years old.


The asylum seekers are not permitted to work while on Temporary Protection Orders. It is not until they have obtained a permanent Protection Order (or granted asylum seeker status) that they are able to work, have access to medical assistance and social security. The asylum seekers are not going to take jobs that could have gone to Australian Citizens. Often asylum seekers will do work that no one else wants.


Under an ethics of care, which is an agent based approach; all people have an intrinsic value. Each life is valuable and one should not place greater importance of one life over another.

According to the 2014 Australian National Budget, the desired end of a consequentialist policy is to save money. It costs less to turn back boats, to process asylum seekers offshore, to return them to countries of origin than it does to house and care for people physically, mentally, socially and spiritually within our borders. Money continues to be spent on ‘managing the legacy’ of Labor’s border control failures (Australia’s 2014 National Budget cited in Lyon, Daily Telegraph, May 14, 2014).

Meeting the needs of a growing population absorbs and saps our political energy. It requires a lot of money – money for transport infrastructure, money for new electricity and energy infrastructure, money for water infrastructure like desalination plants. And building these things requires effort – effort from the private sector, effort from public servants, effort from politicians. There are decisions to be made, conflicts to be resolved. (Thomson, 2010)

The desired end for marginalising people who attempt to arrive by boat is to garner support from voters. To not provide aid to people is to save money, therefore no changes to taxes are needed. To embrace asylum seekers and provide assistance in the forms of housing, health, jobs etc. all costs money that the voters need to supply. This while not getting voter support from asylum seekers themselves; these people have no right to vote.


There was a substantial increase in people attempting to arrive in Australia by boat, known in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection as ‘unauthorised maritime arrivals or UMAs, over the last decade. Between 2003 and 2013 the number rose from 53 to 20,587.  This may seem large on a national level but on a global level Australia absorbs a relatively small number of people seeking asylum.  In 2012 10.5 million refugees were hosted by countries around the world. Australia ranked 49th in the world hosting just 30,083, or 0.29% of the world’s refugees (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 2012). The need is certainly there. Each day brings more news of countries in strife and Australia, along with Canada, are desired destinations for those fleeing such countries.


The current Liberal National Coalition Australian Government, along with the previous Labour government, is determined to enforce its sovereign borders by all means possible. This includes turning boats back or towing them back to Indonesia, detaining people seeking asylum in inhumane conditions; most in offshore detention centres, returning people to countries of origin despite the danger that these people will be persecuted or even killed and firing across the bow of boats to deter them from entering the Australian territorial waters.


Turning the boats back to Indonesia, towing them, or providing other safe passage back to Indonesia puts those people on board at risk of persecution, imprisonment and inhumane conditions. They are not welcome in Indonesia and are either imprisoned or sent back to their country of origin. Returning these people to Indonesia or sending them to other countries for processing creates an underclass of people not wanted and therefore persecuted and treated inhumanely until they can be returned to the countries of origin. They will not be granted citizenship or refugee status by Indonesia as Indonesia is not a signatory to the treating concerning displaced or stateless persons.  While this is a utilitarian or ‘useful’ approach (consequentialist) it does not address ethical obligations that arise if an ethics of care (or even non-consequentialist approach) was used.


The Australian Government is currently working on having agreements in place with Papua New Guinea to resettle people from Manus Island detention centre and Cambodia to house refugees currently residing on Nauru. Australia is ‘fobbing off’ its responsibilities as a signatory of the convention concerning refugees and stateless persons to third world nations, sometimes without that capacity to assist. Failed compliance with international standards include placing people in arbitrary and compulsory detention,  not providing fair or efficient procedures for asylum claims, not providing safe, humane conditions (UNHCR, 2013). This can be seen as unethical from an ‘ethic of care’ perspective.


Detaining people in refugee camps or detention centres either in Australia or in third party countries has proved to be detrimental to the mental and physical health of those detained. The Australian Government provides mental health workers to detention centres to minimise the effects, but this does not stop people detained from sewing their lips together or going on hunger strikes as a protest to the their treatment. It has come to light recently that although mental health nurses and psychologists are employed on Manus Island, there is not a fulltime psychiatrist.


In his film, ‘A Well Founded Fear’, Phil Glendenning and his team from the Edmund Rice Centre research the fate or demise of those rejected as refugees by Australia. This film and the associated report found that many people returned to their supposed country of origin were persecuted or killed as a result of returning to a hostile country.

Glendenning also learned that Australia has been deporting people to Syria on short-term visas who aren’t Syrian. When their Syrian visas run out they must go into hiding. Equally disturbing is evidence that Australia has been knowingly using false passports to deport people (cited in Film Finance Corporation Australia & November Films, 2008).


The use of force in the laws of the sea is acceptable in times of conflict. Are we at war with asylum seekers? Under the 1982 Convention on the Laws of the Sea (LOSC), of which Australia is a signatory, forcing a boat to halt or change course” must be avoided as far as possible. Where force is unavoidable, it must not go beyond what is ‘reasonable and necessary’. Turning back the boats therefore does not meet our obligations under this treaty and is therefore not in keeping with an ethics of care.


The Australian Government is coming from a consequential or utilitarian ethical perspective. The end justifies the means. The aim or end result sought is to have the borders protected and the means of entry into Australia by boat stopped. The Sovereign Borders policy seems to have been successful, in that fewer boat arrivals are reported in the media.

It has now been 95 days since the last successful people smuggling venture. For the same time period last year the number of IMAs that arrived was 3,116. The number of SIEVs during that same period was 55. (Operation Sovereign Borders Joint Agency Taskforce Spokesperson, 24 March 2014 cited in Leslie & Corcoran, 2014)



It is clear from the statistics that while the Labor Government was in power, the number of boat and asylum seekers increased dramatically. Something needed to be done in stemming the tide of people arriving by boat. The current government policy is that anyone arriving by boat will not be processed on Australian soil and will not be granted a visa to live in Australia, whatever the situation.


The percentage of asylum seekers who are successful in their bid is over 90% with very few people refused entry. The total immigration for 2012/2013 is over 200,000 people. The 200,000 places granted includes over 20,000 immigrants from England, New Zealand and India. That is 20,000 from each of these countries, not as a total. Yet we are concerned with the comparative few who arrive by boat.


Many asylum seekers are even prepared to be detained in processing centres for the privilege to be able to settle in Australia after fleeing a country where persecution, war, torture and murder are the norm.


Concluding, the aim of the sovereign borders policy is to stop boats containing asylum seekers from entering Australian waters; thereby protecting the lives and lifestyle of people already citizens of Australia. In that sense, being a utilitarian ethical perspective, it has been a successful operation as the flow of boats has seemingly slowed or even ceased by information released to the media and passed onto us, the citizens.


It is my belief that if the government was coming from an ethics of care, it would increase the immigration places allocated to humanitarian causes, granting quick visas to those who are desperate enough to come by leaky boats and decreasing the immigration to others who are not under any threat of harm in their country of origin. The Australian government could further show an ethic of care by quickly processing those already in detention centres and thereby reducing the need for such centres. Those people arriving under desperate conditions should be housed and cared for in the community and processed quickly, so they are able to gain employment, access health care and everything else a citizen enjoys in Australia.


Many articles under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1958), The United Nations on the Law of the Sea (1982) and Convention and Protocol relating to the status of refugees (2010) are being totally ignored or flagrantly broken by Australia. Coming from an ethics of care perspective, the question needs to be asked is; “Why does Australia remain a signatory of these agreements if it has no intention of upholding these treaties?”


Burgh, G and Freakly,M (2000) Engaging in Ethics. Ethical       perspectives. Katoomba NSW: Social Science Press, 95-140

Do, Khoa (2005) Acceptance speech for Young Australian of the         Year Award. Retrieved from             http://www.australianoftheyear.org.au/honour-   roll/?view=fullView&recipientID=148

Gelber,K. and McDonald, M (2006) Ethics and exclusion:        representations of sovereignty in Australia’s approach to asylum          seekers. Review of International Studies, 32, 269-289. Retrieved          from http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0260210506007029

Glendenning, Phillip (2008) In Film Finance Corporation Australia &     November Films (2008) Press Kit for the film ‘A well-founded            fear’. Retrieved from     http://www.novemberfilms.com.au/assets/inline/AWFF_Press_k            it_FINAL.pdfGlendenning, P. Speech given to Palm Sunday Rally and March ‘Declare Peace on Refugees’, Hyde Park, Sydney on  13 March 2014. Pers.comm., Foley, Michael, Australian Catholic University, 26 March 2014.

Leslie, T. and Corcoran, M. (2014) Operation Sovereign Borders. The first six months. Australian Broadcasting Commission. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/interactives/operation-sovereign-borders-the-first-6-months/

Liberal National Party Coalition (2013) The Coalition’s Operation Sovereign Borders Policy. Retrieved from

Click to access The%20Coalition%E2%80%99s%20Operation%20Sovereign%20Borders%20Policy.pdf

Lyon, Patrick (2014) The Daily Telegraph May 13, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/money-continues-to-be-spent-on-managing-the-legacy-of-labors-border-control-failures/story-fni0cx12-1226916649570

Morrison, Scott, Australian Minister for Immigration, Media      interview. , January 17, 2014. Retrieved from

\http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-17/australia-breached-   indonesian-territorial-sovereignty-morrison/52047462014            Refugee Council of Australia (2014) Statistics on asylum seekers           arriving in Australia. Retrieved from          http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/r/stat-as.php

Ruddock, Phillip (2001) Member of Australian Parliament, House of     Representatives Hansard, 18 September 2001, 30869-72.

Thomson, Kelvin (2010), MP for Wills, Population growth and the        democratic deficit. Address to the Australian Capital Territory           Branch of Sustainable Population Australia, Wednesday 10       February 2010. Retrieved from     file:///C:/Users/Sue/Downloads/100210%20population%20and %20democratic.pdf

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2010) Convention     and Protocol relating to the status of refugees. Geneva: United             Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Retrieved from             http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/3b66c2aa10.pdf United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2012)           Statistical Yearbook 2012, 12th edition sourced from             http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/r/stat-int.php obtained 20th    May 2014.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2013) UNHCR         monitoring visit to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea 23 to 25            October 2013. Retrieved from http://unhcr.org.au/unhcr/images/2013-11-        26%20Report%20of%20UNHCR%20Visit%20to%20Manus%2   0Island%20PNG%2023-25%20October%202013.pdf




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Dick Smith. Essay 3

The third essay we had to submit asked us to find an Innovative thinker who has influenced our lives. I chose for my subject Dick Smith (The Australian Philanthropist and adventurer, not the Hollywood make-up artist). I hope you enjoy this essay. He is a truly remarkable man.

Dick Smith is one of Australia’s most popular businessmen and philanthropists. He is consistently in the top 20 of most trusted Australians .He is a staunch nationalist, believing that Australians should support Australians and the Australian way of life. Smith is also a great believer in Social Justice and possesses a deep-held conviction that everybody deserves a fair go. He was awarded Australian of the Year in 1986 and was made a Member of the Order of Australia (A.O.) in 1999.

Smith likes to challenge the status quo. He is not content with people telling him, ‘That’s just the way it is’. It is for this reason I believe he is an innovative thinker and a person whose actions and attitudes constantly challenge me to do the same. He inspires me to always look for a way forward, never to accept inaction on the basis of ‘that’s the way we do things’.

Smith seems to want to do things to the best of his ability. He has been involved in many areas of business, social justice and philanthropy including:

  • Dick Smith Electronics (1968)
  • Dick Smith Foods
  • Australian Geographic (1986)
  • AustGrow
  • Civil Aviation Safety Board (1997-1999 & 1990-1992)
  • National Council for the Centenary of Federation (1996- 2000)
  • Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (1998)
  • Population Sustainability.

Each of the above endeavours serves to demonstrate Smith’s own approach to life and living.

Smith was born in 1944 at Roseville and grew up in the northern suburbs of Sydney. His father and uncle were away at war when he was born.  Smith’s uncle never returned.

At age eight, he was given a key to his uncle’s room to discover his uncle was a radio enthusiast.  This led to Dick’s passion for all things electronic. Dick received his amateur radio license at 17 and seven years later, started Dick Smith Electronics with a start-up capital of $610.

Growing up, his family was not in a good financial position and in fact in 1964, the business owned by Smith’s father failed, and the family was rendered bankrupt.

Although he is a risk-taker in his personal life, the opposite is true in his business career. He has never taken out a business loan, and states that he only takes on a business which he knows can be successful. “There’s a formula for being successful in business. That’s a simple formula. Copy the success of others”. (Smith, 2007).

When he started Dick Smith Electronics in 1968, Smith could see that the Electronics industry in Australia was not serving the needs of ordinary Australians. While in Britain he noticed how a popular electronics company was doing things and decided to emulate its model; right down to copying the catalogue.

Australian Geographic followed the pattern set by National Geographic and Dick Smith Foods was developed on the same framework as Paul Newman Foods.

As an Aviator and adventurer, Smith witnessed how the aviation industry, in different countries he visited, had adopted important air traffic control and safety measures. He lobbied to have similar policies implemented within Australia when he chaired the Civil Aviation Authority and the Civil Aviation Safety Board. This was without success. Australia is highly regarded in terms of aviation safety in the world, but the Boards would not be swayed by Smith’s arguments for further improvement.

As an adventurer however, the appeal for Smith was not in doing things others had done before, but to go beyond. He has flown around the world, equatorially and from pole to pole and describes himself as a responsible risk-taker. Smith is known for his helicopter flights. He flew over Everest and K2. More recently he has flown hot air balloons from New Zealand to Australia, a feat not before attempted due to the strong head winds.

Smith credits his 14 years in the scouting movement to his adventurous spirit. During his time in scouting he achieved the Baden Powell Award in 1966. “I owe a lot to Scouting. It had to be the most fantastic influence on my life. It taught me responsible risk-taking.” (Smith, n.d.) He also states that scouting taught him organisational skills and how to motivate people.

The foundations of Smith’s deep sense of patriotism and support of local industry is evidenced in his outrage when, in 1987, he discovered that the Australian Encyclopaedia was not owned by Australians, but an American company. He purchased the company and the rights and sold it on to the Australian owned Fairfax Media Group in 1995. It was during this period also that he began Australian Geographic with the aim of showcasing Australia to the world, and to highlight Australians achieving remarkable things throughout the world.

Similarly Smith was angry that Australian companies were being bought out by multinational companies with bases mostly in the USA and China. He is passionate that Australian farmers should prosper and that Australian companies should remain owned and operated by Australians. Hence he started Dick Smith foods in 1999 and is Patron of AustGrow.

Smith has a proven commitment to philanthropy and a sense of compassion, which is demonstrated in many events across his life.   Smith credits Paul Newman and his food company “Newman’s Own” for his motivation for starting Dick Smith foods in 1999 with the aim not just of giving Australian farmers a way to sell their produce at a profit, but also to give something back to charity. In the beginning most of the profits (approximately 90%) went to charity and the rest to establishing and maintaining the business. These days 100% of the profit is returned to various Australian charities.

Smith has no prejudice when it comes to generosity. He receives hundreds of letters per week asking for assistance. With his wife Pip, they carefully decide which causes to support not only with money, but at times to provide support by way of his name and reputation.

Smith encourages others in the same financial position to be socially responsible. He credits Dame Elizabeth Murdock as an inspiration when it comes to philanthropy, and calls for her son Rupert to return to Australia to “Give something back”. (Smith, 1986)

Smith is constantly named in the top 20 of Readers Digest of Australia’s 100 most trusted people. “Trust is being able to believe in what a person says. Trust is developed from experience, from knowing a person over a long period of time. Trust is the most important part of human relationships.”(Smith, 2010).  Like Smith I believe honesty is of paramount importance in all relationships, business and personal.

Most recently Smith has been studying population sustainability which illustrates his continued efforts to tackle big issues which he believes he can play an important role in effecting change. Smith believes perpetual growth in the use of resources and energy, is not sustainable. At our current rate of growth, our resources will not last for long into the next generation. ”Some time in the next few months, the world’s population clock will tick over 7 billion people. Global population has tripled in my lifetime, and is continuing to rise. The United Nations has just predicted we face a world of 10 billion in 2100. This has immense implications for all of us, and Australia will not be immune from the impacts.” (Smith, 2011)

Smith is supported in this belief by Bill Clinton and other leading thinkers who argue for population control strategies Statistics show Australia’s birth rate is 1.98 per woman. The Population Referencing Bureau Report of 2010 highlighted the difference in the population growth rate of Germany (1.3 births per woman) and Ethiopia (5.4). (PRB, 2010). Australia benefits from immigration as its birth rate is low. We should open our borders to those from developing countries where the birth rate is high and unsustainable.

Smith received the honour of being the Australian of the year in 1986. Smith was nominated for the award by Labor MP John Brown, who wrote that Smith’s talents derived from ‘an unfettered need to explore and understand.’ (Brown, 1986).

Smith is passionate about Social Justice and the right of all persons to a fair go. He paid $60,000 towards costs to free David Hicks from Guantanamo Bay. It wasn’t Smith’s belief that David Hicks was innocent, but that like anybody else, he deserved a fair go.

Peter Qasim, a refugee, was held in detention from 1998 to 2005 making him the longest serving refugee in detention because he couldn’t prove who he was and where he came from.  In 2003, he decided to give up his fight for citizenship and return home to India. The Indian government identified that he was from the Kashmir region on the basis of voice patterning, but refused to take him back. Dick Smith chose to support his cause and lobbied the Minister for Immigration to release him from detention.

‘If my profile can be used to help just one or two people get a “fair go”, I’m well pleased and I don’t care about the flack I get. ”. (Smith, 2010)

“My father fought in the Second World War so we could have certain freedoms and one of those freedoms is that you are going to have a fair go.” (Smith, 2010)

Dick Smith has been a source of inspiration to me as an innovative thinker in so many areas of my life. He has inspired me to be adventurous, but also to be a responsible risk taker. It is because of my national pride that I have chosen to concentrate my artistic pursuits on Australian Native Birds, however it is Smith’s influence that has motivated me to narrow my focus to those that are considered endangered; with some of the profits to go to Australian Geographic, the magazine founded by Smith, and which he remains a patron.

I continue to explore Australia with thoughts of Smith and others who have been before me, and to bring beauty back to those who can’t see it for themselves through my art and photography.  Smith showed me some of the beauty of Australia through Australian Geographic. It is this reason, and the further inspiration of the Leyland brothers that leads me to explore our great land, to photograph and paint it, documenting the beauty that others can’t see up close.

Smith’s core beliefs resonate with my sense of compassion and social justice and remind me that compassion is not limited to those with resources; that one needs to stand beside others who are being unfairly treated or even abused by those in higher authority.  I add my voice to Smith’s by demanding a ‘fair go’ for everyone, especially those incapable of voicing it themselves.

I share Smith’s passion to give people a fair go and to not be judgemental. My viewpoint is that I know that I too have my faults and failures. If people have seen fit to give me a fair go, what right have I not to give others the same?

Similarly my generosity and compassion are without prejudice and are not limited by borders, skin colour, race or religion. In 1981 I read the quote “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet” (attributed to many). It was then that I began to do charitable works and to think of those less fortunate.

In 1993 I served as a missionary to the Philippines. In 1999, I was asked to sing in Indonesia to raise funds, sending doctors to outlying villages to perform eye surgery. I have worked with abused children, teenagers, underage prostitutes and drug addicts in Kings Cross. Although I am unable to undertake those roles now, Smith is a constant reminder keeping compassion and empathy in the forefront of my thoughts.

I share Smith’s concern that Australia is not immune to population sustainability issues. The bureau of statistics states that the majority of our immigrants come from the UK (21%) and New Zealand (9.1%) While I can see the benefits of having people of similar cultures come into Australia, it’s my opinion that we should reduce immigration from these countries and increase or sustain our immigration from developing countries, or countries in conflict, on humanitarian grounds.

In conclusion, it is obvious that Dick Smith operates from the soul. He is motivated by compassion, empathy, social justice and has an adventurous spirit. I believe his Myers Briggs profile would be similar to mine; INFJ which represents those who act from the primary traits of introversion, intuition, feeling and judging.

Smith recognises the plight of people less fortunate than himself, listens and empathises with their situations, then finds a solution and acts upon it; whether this is a systemic solution or one where his finances or reputation could be used for the betterment of others.

Smith is an innovative thinker in the true sense of the term as he often discovers solutions which are not obvious to others; thinking outside the box. Dick Smith inspires me to be a compassionate, non judgemental human always looking for ways I can help others. He will continue to inspire for many years to come.

Smith, D. 2010. Australia’s most trusted people 2010. Retrieved from http://www.readersdigest.com.au/australias-most-trusted-people-2010


Gott, R. (1998). Dick Smith: entrepreneur and adventurer. Port Melbourne: Heinemann.


Brown, J. 2010 retrieved from  http://www.australianoftheyear.org.au/honour-roll/?view=fullView&recipientID=90

http://www.scouts.com.au/main.asp?iStoryID=848 (n.d)

Smith,D (2010) retrieved from www.readersdigest.com.au/dick-smith-interview

http://www.abc.net.au/sundayprofile/stories/s1416294.htm July 2005

Smith, D. (1986). 1960-2010 Australian of the Year. Sydney: Murdoch Books.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-27/dick-smith-takes-aim-at-rupert-murdochs-philanthropy-record/4655184 April 2013

http://www.thebottomlinetv.com.au/interview/dick-smith-ao/?actscript=transcript 2013

http://www.smh.com.au/world/hostage-experts-should-have-been-called-dick-smith-20091127-jwz6.html  November 2009.

http://www.abc.net.au/talkingheads/txt/s1913699.htm May 2007.

Smith, D (2011) retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/the-idiocy-of-endless-growth-20110529-1fata.html

Clinton, B (2009) Lateline. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2011/04/01/3179045.htm


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2011, Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census, 2012-13, (cat. no. 2071.0). retrieved from  http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2071.0Main+Features902012–201

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A S Neill and Summerhill. Essay number 2

The second essay asked us to look at some of the Innovative Thinkers within education, and asked our opinions. It had to be a critical essay with peer review articles to support our views and findings.

I chose A S Neill and Summerhill as the subject of my second essay.

I disagree with A.S. Neill’s statement that “A child is inherently wise and realistic…if left to himself will develop as far as he is capable” ( Neill 1968). Wisdom comes with age and experience. This is not inherent in a child but must be nurtured and encouraged to grow to maturity.

I believe Neill’s ideas in education are admirable but simplistic. I certainly admire his goal to produce happy individuals, but his view on how to produce children that are happy, functioning individuals is simplistic and based on the notion that a free child is a happy child. It doesn’t take into account external factors and fails to acknowledge that feeling sad is a natural part of life.

The style of education presented at Summerhill, while producing happy creative people, is not realistic or conducive to producing a responsible member of society and does not consider the personal and social implications for the child who attends nor the community in which He is to integrate.

In my opinion, an educational institution should provide:

  • Guidance in the learning of basic skills such as reading, writing and elementary arithmetic
  • A framework which provides guidance to learners from those with the ability to make informed decisions
  • Basic tenets for individuals on how to function within a structured community
  • Situations which allow the child to recognise that life will include the full gamut of emotions.

For a person to be able to survive successfully in a society basic literacy and numeracy skills are vital. “The school enables the children to develop their numeracy and mathematical skills based on their individual needs and choice and at their own pace. Summerhill Numeracy Policy “If a child doesn’t want to study mathematics, it is nobody’s business. (Neill 1964)

Neill’s vision of creating happy children rather than knowledgeable ones while admirable does not do the child or society justice where assessment is based on Summerhill being an academic facility. Neill claimed often that “Summerhill was not a boarding school, it was a children’s community.”(Neill 1964) I agree that it should not be considered an education facility however with its provision of teachers it is on some level striving to be one.

Education should be designed to prepare a young person for the future, both as an individual and as a member of the community. Summerhill does neither of these. Summerhill houses a child until they are 16 (maximum), and then thrusts them into the community to try to survive. Neill’s view of producing “happy street-sweepers” doesn’t work in a society where one is expected to know how to fill in an application form and communicate at an interview.

A child is not inherently wise. Wisdom comes with age and experience. A child is far from realistic. A child both then and even now lives in an instant society. They want things and they want it now. Children cannot fully comprehend that each action has consequences that are far reaching.

Freedom at Summerhill included freedom to be yourself, freedom to play and general freedom. (Neill 1964) Children enjoy as much freedom as is given. The self governing system at Summerhill while helping children see that there are consequences, needed far more guidance from those with the ability to make informed decisions; people who are able to foresee problems and able to circumnavigate any disasters rather than simply let them happen, and pick up the pieces afterwards. It was because of the self – governing aspect of Summerhill that the buildings were in disrepair, were dirty and the electricity was not operational. ( Cassebaum 2003)“This is a children’s community not a boarding school” (Neill 1964)

The community meetings were held weekly to discuss problems within the school and the breaking of the rules. Each person has an equal say in the community regardless of age or status. Fines are issued for misdemeanours and recompense overseen. The act of stealing from another student is not punished per say but if the offender confesses, the debt is to be repaid and then the matter is closed. There is no societal debt. If a child should commit a crime in the community outside Summerhill however, the child is berated at the meeting and given punishment that fits the crime, as this affects not only the victim but the reputation of Summerhill as a whole. Profanities were not dissuaded in Summerhill; rather swearing is an accepted form of communication at the institution.

Rules and Laws are generally put in place for the benefit of all society and as guidance for individuals on how to act within a functioning society. Summerhill itself had rules governing limits put on children of certain ages, and times. For example different bedtimes were allotted to children of a specific age group.

Happiness should not be the ultimate goal of an educational institution.   Happiness is not just a matter of “freedom to be oneself”. It is not a bad thing to be unhappy, it is a part of life and one should know that it’s ok to feel that way. Happiness is desirable but only one of the emotions that make up a full life.

In conclusion, it is my opinion that children at Summerhill do not benefit from such a liberal method of education and that the capabilities of children are extended by more formal educational facilities. When the wisdom of ex-students has matured, they discover they do indeed need more instruction in the three R’s and further their education later in life.

Ainsworth.S, Cunningham. I, Gray. H, Hannam.D, Honey.P, Horsburgh.J, Reid.C, Rosen.M. (2000)REPORT OF AN INQUIRY INTO SUMMERHILL SCHOOL – LEISTON, SUFFOLK JANUARY 2000

Cassebaum.A. (2003). Revisiting Summerhill:  The Phi Delta Kappan , Vol. 84, No. 8

pp. 575-578

Appleton.M. (2002) A Free Range Childhood: Self Regulation at Summerhill School

Review by: Donald Stucky Utopian Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 171-172

Neill. A.S. (1968). Summerhill, 1968 Middlesex: Pelican books

UEA East Anglia TV (1964) Recorded interview with A.S. Neill

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Attention. first essay

I have just finished a course within the Certificate of Liberal Studies which was entitled ‘Innovative thinkers and Education

Within that course were asked to do 3 essays. I will present the essays for you here for your perusal and comment.


The question for the first which I answered is ” Is attention essential to life and living?”

I agree with the question’s central proposition that attention is critical in life and living. Our choice as to what to give attention and to what degree determines the outcomes and quality of life.

 Firstly we must begin with a definition. Attention can be defined as the amount of energy one chooses to dedicate to the present moment. Focusing one’s full attention is important to our well being. It is optimal to devote one’s full attention to the task at hand; to consciously give full command of one’s senses to now. WE can see this in a number of instances that I will highlight in this essay:

  • Attention is a choice we make
  • Attention is important in terms of safety and mental wellbeing
  • Being attentive is critical to relationships for them to be fulfilled
  • There are many impediments to being fully focused
  • There are learned techniques we can employ to help us give attention


Attention is a choice. While the brain is capable of so many thoughts at once, one can choose which tasks to devote our attention to. While the brain is capable of many tasks at once, many of these are done sub-consciously; breathing, blinking for example.


But attention is a conscious act. As the mindfulness training coursebook notes, when we are offering our attention, we can respond with awareness and clarity rather than out of habitual patterns, or learned behaviour. We can become aware and to some extent control sub-conscious tasks if we pay attention to them.  Breathing, moving, sensing, seeing, hearing, even balance can be regulated by being attentive.(2012)


 Attention is self- regulated. Nobody can force you to pay attention. Humans are a curious race. Our desire to learn demands that we give the subject our full attention for results to be optimal. The level of importance we place on learning the lesson subconsciously dictates the level of attention we dedicate to it.


Attention is about making what you are currently doing the most important thing in the world. Leave the past behind, it cannot hurt you. “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (NIV Bible 1984, p. Matt 6:34)


 “If you take care of each moment, you will take care of all time. There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. The time is now.”

(Jack Kornfield… taken from Mindfulness Training Course Book 2012)


Concentrate on now; live in the present. Focusing on the present is taking care of current needs as this is what will take you forward to the next, and the one after that.


Paying attention to the task at hand is important to our wellbeing. This includes not only our physical safety, but also our mental health.





 (Oxforddictionaries.com, 2013), defines anxiety as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. If we are able to concentrate on the now and not worry about the future, anxiety is lessened and our mental wellbeing increased.


On the other hand, being aware of the body, with all limitations, current pains and feelings let us compensate for weaknesses so one can assess what tasks the body is capable of doing; not subjecting the body to extra stress. So we can see that paying attention to the present, not letting the past control us, nor worrying about the future is optimal to our health, and the health of those around us.


Attention is important to achieving a fulfilling relationship. Relationships of all kinds demand some level of attention for them to continue. Eye to eye contact when speaking shows attention is given to the speaker.


Relationship can be defined as communication or connection between two or more people (oral workshop “looking for Mr Right” at ACON 27 August 2013). Giving attention selflessly is an important part of a loving intimate relationship. So attention is critical for maintaining and fostering relationships.

Impediments to attention are an important consideration and we can see the potential effect on the quality of life through a number of items.


Multitasking is said to be a talent that the female of our species are blessed with. Is it an actual talent? Or does it perhaps imply a lack of attention to the task at hand? Can one be fully attentive to more than one task at one given time?


The RMS (Roads and Maritime Services of NSW) suggests in advertising that driving demands the full attention of the driver. Without that full attention, the risk of accident is far greater.


“In-car distractions can seriously impair driving and potentially contribute to accidents. In-car distractions include mobile phones, entertainment systems, interaction with passengers, and most recently satellite navigation systems. ( Nevile & Haddington.” 2010,piii).



There are many other impediments to giving full undivided attention to the task at hand. These could include personal, internal and physical distractions including comfort, temperature, and hunger.


 Today’s society is an instant society demanding to be constantly stimulated. If that stimulation is not forthcoming quickly, then attention could be lost or not fully given when required.


To combat some of these impediments, there are learned techniques available to help us achieve a greater level of attention in our lives .Mindfulness training is teaching people to be attentive not only in everyday tasks, but to be attentive to oneself. Recognising different sensations throughout the body and becoming aware of different thoughts and feelings within oneself. This allows the student to be more attentive within and without to the present moment and the tasks it presents. Mindfulness helps one to overcome the distractions to attention.


As I have highlighted in the key points above, the ultimate goal for devoting full attention is quality of life. It allows the lessons that life offer to be fully comprehended. One can have an epiphany to the meaning and purpose of one’s life, giving one a goal to work towards, and the means to get there.


Attention is important to life. It assists in the development of meaningful relationships. It assists to keep one safe and well. Attention allows one to experience the fullness of the moment, getting the most out of life’s lessons and embracing all that life has to offer at that moment. There are many impediments to attention but these can be overcome by choosing to give our attention to the present time.




Openground Training and consulting: Mindfulness Training Course Book (5th ed.) (2012) Double Bay NSW


Holy Bible New International Version: Matthew 6:34  (NIV Anglicised text 4th ed.) (2008) Minto NSW


Nevile, M., & Haddington, P. (2010) In-car distractions and their impact on driving activities. Canberra: Department of Infrastructure and Transport


Anxiety. (2013) Retrieved from http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/anxiety?q=anxiety Oxford University Press.


Oral workshop “looking for Mr Right” at ACON 27 August 2013


Keating, R. (2013) Reading #1; Let us begin with attention. Sydney ACU








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Margaret Preston

This essay is about our perception of Margaret Preston’s works “Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden” and “The Expulsion”

In both paintings we can see that Mrs Preston used indigenous Australians to portray Adam and Eve. We also see the Garden is full of life, including plants and animals that are native to Australia. The colours are vibrant and the whole painting is alive. The humans seem to be content in the Garden. Adam is hard at work making a boomerang and Eve is content to be by his side. The animals seem to have no fear of the humans, because the humans were there to take care of them. It seems a contradiction then that the man is making a boomerang. He did not need to hunt the animals, they were all around him.

This is a picture of inclusion. The natives are at one with the garden, and everything in it.

In “The Expulsion” we can now see Adam and Eve (still portrayed as aboriginals) banished from the Garden while a white angel is guarding so they can’t return. On the outside of the gate, life is scarce and desolate. However if we notice closely, we can see one of the plants outside the garden is a prickly pear which is edible. We also see a Sturt Desert Pea, which I think is a beautiful flower.

This tells me that even while Adam and Eve were outside the walls of the garden, God intended to still take care of them. By giving the beauty in the flower and the provision of food in the prickly pear, God shows that he is still concerned for their wellbeing.

Focusing on the humans in this picture, it seems that the woman is happy to be banished from the garden and is now free outside Gods rules. The man however, looks to be in pain and anguish, regretting the day he ever crossed God. Let me focus also on the baby. It seems to me that this baby is a lighter colour or complexion than its parents. Is Margaret saying that the mother was perhaps raped by a white man? Maybe that is why she looks so happy to be leaving the compound.

In contrast, the expulsion shows total exclusion. The natives are now cut off from the land, with nature and everything they were once comfortable with. The natives are alienated from their homeland.

Margaret is showing she is very sympathetic to the Aboriginals and their struggles and problems. If only they were left alone to be content by white man, they would still be living a stress-free existence in the Garden.

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