Basket weaving is an important cultural and economic
activity in many parts of the world, including Australia.
IM Swedish Development Partner/Flickr
Basket weaving. It doesn’t sound much of an insult does it? But Education Minister Simon Birmingham appeared to use the term in this way in an interview following opposition leader Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech. Birmingham reacted disdainfully to Shorten’s commitment to fund fees for TAFE students, sneering at Labor’s “disastrous VET FEE-HELP program that subsidised everything from energy healing to basket weaving.”
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen described this comment as an insult to TAFE teachers. Bowen is right, of course. But more than that, this insult derives its power from denigrating and trivialising crafts traditionally practised by women. By extension, it denigrates women themselves.
It calls to mind a similar jibe delivered by home affairs minister Peter Dutton during the gay marriage debate in March last year, when he told leading Australian company CEOs who urged government action on the issue to “stick to their knitting”. Three days later, Greens senator Janet Rice pulled out her knitting and worked on a rainbow-striped scarf during question time.
Could get used to knitting in #SenateQT. But all politicians should stick to our knitting when it comes to a free vote on marriage equality.
Why is it that when dredging for an insult, male politicians turn to traditionally female crafts? It seems their gendered nature, pigeonholed as women’s hobbies – mundane and domestic, unpaid and undervalued – makes them suitable targets for ridicule. We don’t see such sneers at woodwork, metalcrafts or other “manly” pursuits.
Oppressive attitudes towards women have engendered such characterisations of their leisure pursuits. In 1986 feminist theory pioneer Sandra Harding wrote: “In virtually all cultures, whatever is thought of as manly is more highly valued than what is thought of as womanly”. More than 30 years on, the insults from Birmingham and Dutton illustrate that this view is as pertinent today.
Birmingham’s comment also marginalises and undermines the merits of the highly skilled craft of basket weaving, which has a rich history, including in Aboriginal culture. Created with extraordinary dexterity and patience, items that once served utilitarian purposes, such as carrying food or even babies, are today preserved as museum pieces.
Home to some of Australia’s finest fibre works, the Maningrida region’s Arts and Culture website notes: “There are also spiritual dimensions to weaving, which vary according to the materials used and the totemic significance of the object made.”
Curator Dr Kevin Murray, former artistic director of Craft Victoria, now an adjunct professor at RMIT University and editor of online craft publication Garland, reacted angrily to Birmingham’s insult. “Sure, basket weaving can thrive in Australia without TAFE support, but we need to address the way it is often demeaned as an art form by men in suits. What’s more meaningful: adding up figures in a spreadsheet or weaving objects for people to use that reflect a relation to the land and tradition?” he posted on the Craft in Australia Facebook page.
Two days later on that page, the World Crafts Council – Australia posted a notice of the National Basketry Gathering 2019 in South Australia with the comment, “Basket-makers stand proud!”
The inference attending the Birmingham insult is that basket weaving is a waste of money, while Dutton’s message is essentially that the CEOs should mind their own business and concentrate on what they know.
Many women are very familiar with the message of “don’t bother your pretty little head with that”. Yet crafts are increasingly recognised as appropriate subjects for scholarship. Finnish design scholar Maarit Makela has noted that “the making and the products of making are seen as an essential part of research”. They are “strongly connected with the source of knowledge. In this sense we are facing the idea of knowing through making.”
Also worth noting is that a significant body of research has confirmed what crafters have long known – that their crafts have mental health benefits. Craft has been found to enhance wellbeing – indeed some psychologists prescribe knitting for their patients.
Crafts also promote social connections, a counter to the loneliness and social isolation of contemporary life. Even trauma can be eased by participating in them, researchers have found. “The analysis revealed that feelings of agony or pain could be pushed away and turned into bodily activity or symbolic imagery by hand work,” writes Finnish researcher Professor Sinikka Pollanen.
Increasingly, craft practitioners are using their skills for other purposes than the purely decorative or utilitarian. They are actively protesting aspects of society – the Knitting Nannas who oppose coal seam gas exploration or yarn bombers enhancing desolate urban landscapes, for example. While some men are using craft to buck the gender stereotypes, for activist women it’s a means of drawing attention to and rebelling against the restrictions placed on them because of their gender. The message: craft matters; we matter.
This article was written by:
Sue Green – [Deputy Director, Journalism Program, Swinburne University of Technology]
This article is part of a syndicated news program via
The Melbourne International Singers Festival 2018 is thrilled to presented the internationally acclaimed, award winning The Song Company, with Artistic Director, Antony Pitts, at MISF for the first time, in “True Love Story” on Friday 8 June at Deakin Edge.
An Autobiographical mediaeval French Romance in a time of War and Plague as told by Poet and Composer Guillaume De Machaut. Against the backdrop of the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death this “true” love story from the Middle Ages charts the passionate affair between the 14th century’s most celebrated poet and composer, Guillaume de Machaut, and his super-fan, a beautiful noblewoman called Péronnelle d’Armentières. Their poetry, their letters, and Machaut’s extraordinary music combine to produce a unique semi-staged multi-sensory experience.
The Song Company is Australia’s Premier Vocal Ensemble. Since the dawn of history, the human voice and the act of singing have been intrinsically linked with storytelling and the acquisition of culture. The Song Company belongs to a land whose first peoples used songlines and vocal music to pass knowledge and culture from generation to generation, and is proud to continue that tradition, in a unique way, sharing music from across western and non-western art traditions. From its beginnings in 1984 the ensemble’s schedule has grown to include a mix of national and international touring, a subscription series in cities across Australia, recording and broadcast projects, education activities, and special collaborative projects.
Participants in the Melbourne International Singers Festival will receive FREE ENTRY to this Recital and ALSO have the chance to workshop with The Song Company on Friday June 8!
Now in its 9th consecutive year, Melbourne International Singers Festival will be led by Guest Conductor RICHARD GILL AO and Australia’s finest conductors, musicians and singers including: The Song Company, Choir of Hard Knocks, MEN ALOUD!, XL Arts, Warren Wills, Claire Patti and Dr Jonathon Welch AM. BE CHALLENGED, INSPIRED & ENTERTAINED! An unforgettable weekend at #MISF18
According to the committee more than half of
all Australians would have to reorder some aspect of their affairs
if they wanted to nominate for parliament.
The government would have us believe there’s really no fundamental difficulty with the citizenship provision in the constitution, which has cut a swathe through the federal parliament. It is just a matter of not being careless.
Unwilling to confront the genuine and ongoing problems now the dual citizen genie is out of the bottle, the government says candidates for parliament simply need to get their paperwork in order.
But a report from the joint standing committee on electoral matters, released on Thursday, presents a compelling case for going back to taws on section 44, which covers not just citizenship but also people having conflicts of interest and offices of profit under the crown.
Staggeringly, according to the committee more than half of all Australians would have to reorder some aspect of their affairs if they wanted to nominate for parliament – and some might never be able to overcome the barriers. The title of the report is “Excluded”.
The only way of making things more workable, the bipartisan inquiry concluded, is by overhauling the section via a referendum.
The government, however, has made it clear it hasn’t any stomach to go down the referendum path. While sources claim it is not necessarily ruling it out for ever, that’s the distinct message coming from the public words.
If the committee, chaired by Western Australian Liberal senator Linda Reynolds, had recommended a referendum before or at the coming election, the government’s position might be reasonable. The challenge would be too big; its political capital too small.
The committee, however, has accepted a longer timetable is needed.
Section 44 disqualifies dual citizens from sitting in parliament. The High Court’s black letter law interpretation, which also applies to other parts of the section, is that a person must not be a dual citizen at the time of nomination.
The section “allows the laws of other countries to create dual citizenships without the knowledge or consent of Australian citizens,” the committee found. It “creates an ongoing cloud of uncertainty over those who have parents, grandparents or spouses born overseas. This cloud also covers those who do not have documentation about their family, including Indigenous Australians”.
One of the cameos given in the report is fictionalised as “Christine” but obviously based on Labor Indigenous senator Pat Dodson. It raises the issue of someone whose mother was part of the stolen generations, without family records, but whose grandfather was rumoured to have been Irish. The senator “Christine” has no disqualification she knows of but remains in “jeopardy that the identity of her grandfather will be discovered”.
The report – unanimous except for one dissenting Liberal – said the evidence suggested “only those with documented generations of wholly Australian forebears can be completely assured of their citizenship status for the duration of their parliamentary term. This creates two classes of Australian citizens for the purposes of engaging in representative democracy.”
Under the committee’s proposal, the referendum would be either to scrap section 44 or have added to it “until the parliament otherwise provides”.
It says that if the referendum passed, the government should engage with the community to determine “contemporary expectations” about suitable qualifications, in relation to citizenship and other matters (such as whether someone holding an office of profit under the crown should have to quit before nominating, as at present, or when elected).
The committee hasn’t taken a view on whether the present requirement for a parliamentary aspirant to be an Australian-only citizen should remain, or dual citizenship should be acceptable.
There are arguments on both sides: the instinctive attraction to feeling an MP should have renounced claims to any other citizenship, versus the feeling that in a multicultural country this might be too rigid a position.
Fairfax’s Latika Bourke reported British Conservative MP and co-chair of the ANZAC parliamentary friendship group Andrew Rosindell describing in particular the ban on dual Australian-British citizens as absurd. She also pointed to Catherine West, an Australian who is a British Labour MP.
While whether MPs should be allowed to be dual citizens would be a debate worth having, one can also understand a government not wanting to have it. It could be fraught and divisive.
Responding to the committee’s report Turnbull said that “what people have to do is simply get their act together.
“Australians expect politicians to set a high standard and they look to us and they say, ‘we have to fill in our forms’, whether it is for tax, or Centrelink, or childcare … ‘We have to get all the details and information together. So should you, people who want to be members of parliament’”.
No doubt many people, highly cynical about politicians, would say just that. But Turnbull knows he is resorting to a populist argument, rather than a soundly-based one. As a lawyer he’d be fully aware, as the report emphasizes, that the citizenship matter is more complex.
This is shown, for example, by the situation of Labor MP Anne Aly. She has produced a letter from the Egyptian embassy saying she is not an Egyptian citizen, but that hasn’t stopped doubts being canvassed. In response, Labor defaults to questions around Liberal MPs Julia Banks and Jason Falinski. The point is, while in the case of some people and countries, determining and renouncing foreign citizenship is relatively straight-forward, in other instances it can be anything but.
The government plans to implement measures, drawing on the report, to make it less likely people will fall foul of the citizenship trap, such as requiring candidates to publicly disclose their family citizenship history when they nominate.
Although the committee has suggested interim steps, it doesn’t regard them as an adequate permanent fix.
The committee was adamantly against giving the Australian Electoral Commission a role in vetting candidates. “For legislative, practical, and reputational reasons this is a dangerous and unworkable suggestion,” it said. “Most crucially, having the AEC both conduct elections and adjudicate on candidate disqualification would seriously corrupt the probity of Australia’s democracy”.
The citizenship provision has claimed 15 members of this parliament, of whom two (Barnaby Joyce and John Alexander) have been re-elected and another four (Justine Keay, Susan Lamb, Rebekha Sharkie, and Josh Wilson) are seeking re-election in the coming byelections.
Ahead, the choice is between a patch-up or a proper solution. The patch up is inevitable in the short term but is a cop-out as a long-term answer.
When it comes to updating the constitution, the task seems beyond this country. Recommendations for various changes from conventions and inquiries over many years have come to nothing. Only eight referendums (including changes to the federal parliament’s powers) have been carried since federation, the last in 1977.
For all the talk, the prospect of a referendum on Indigenous recognition, which only a few years ago seemed likely relatively soon, has once again slipped away.
Our politicians, and we the Australian people, are stuck like glue to aspects of our constitution that have become unfit for purpose.
This article was written by:
Michelle Gratton – [Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra]
This article is part of a syndicated news program via
The more the market is willing to pay, the harder it is
to regulate water use. Shutterstock.com
Groundwater being pumped from a highland aquifer, only to be whisked away in tankers and sold in little plastic bottles by a multinational corporation – it’s a difficult concept for a small farming town to swallow.
Locals have clashed with the bottled water industry in many parts of the world, including the United States and Canada, and perhaps most famously in the French spa town of Vittel, where residents have accused Nestlé of selling so much of their water to the rest of the world that they barely have enough left for themselves.
These conflicts demonstrate the challenge of balancing the competing demands on water drawn from underground. Compared with surface water, which is less tricky to monitor, groundwater is far harder to govern.
Under the Australian Constitution, water is primarily governed by the states. In Victoria, groundwater in high-use areas is managed using groundwater management plans under the Water Act, and water for commercial or irrigation purposes requires a take and use licence. This licence specifies the maximum volume of water a user is allowed to divert each year and under what conditions – what is often called an ‘entitlement’.
If a licence-holder wants to amend their licence, they need to apply to their regional water corporation.
It was one such application that triggered the dispute in Stanley. Local farmer Tim Carey applied to change the source of 19 million litres of his existing licence from surface water to groundwater, and from agricultural to commercial purposes. This would allow him to truck the water to a bottling plant run by Mountain H2O, owned by Asahi.
The changes were approved by Goulburn-Murray Water under the local water management plan. Stanley’s residents were concerned about the impact on irrigation and the environment, and tried to challenge Carey’s operation under local planning laws. But the court said that his approved water licence meant he didn’t need planning approval too. With no clear legal options now left for local residents, that may well prove to be the final say on the matter.
How did this happen?
Unfortunately, before about 1980, water entitlements were given away like kittens by various water agencies. As a result, in some areas, users are entitled to much more water than they actually use – sometimes more than is sustainable. And politics generally precludes any intervention to amend these inflated entitlements once the licence-holders have become used to having them.
Extensive droughts in the late 1970s and early 1980s, combined with the Darling River’s striking algal bloom in the early 1990s, catapulted the importance of effective water management into the public consciousness.
In 1997, this resulted in “the cap” – limits on surface water diversions in the Murray-Darling Basin. However, the cap didn’t limit groundwater extractions, which then increased dramatically. The regulation of groundwater, memorably described in an 1861 court case as too “secret, occult and concealed” to even attempt, has long lagged behind that of surface water.
It wasn’t until the Millennium Drought (2000-09), with the advent of the National Water Initiative and the federal Water Act 2007 that Australian groundwater management underwent significant, large-scale reform. The main thrusts of the reforms were the development of legal and planning frameworks to achieve sustainable management of surface and groundwater, and the restructuring of water markets to be nationally compatible.
The new water governance regime created under the federal Water Act, under which the Commonwealth assumed important powers over waters in the Murray-Darling Basin, allows for groundwater markets and new limits on groundwater withdrawals. Groundwater trading is generally constrained by rules that require the “to” and “from” locations to be hydrologically connected to one another.
Stanley’s groundwater falls within a new mega-planning area that covers great swathes of northern Victoria. The new management plan for this area is due at the end of the year, but is currently only 30% complete.
Even if the plan is finished on time, groundwater sustainability in regions like the Ovens might elude us. Limits on water extraction are generally based on the entitlements in the area. But as current groundwater usage is less than those entitlements, “sleeper” licences can still be activated. During shortages, when the economic value of water peaks, people can trade water that would otherwise remain unused. In some management regions, the total entitlement volume is roughly double or more than the actual usage.
The Stanley case shows how communities can mobilise when groundwater moves from one use to another. If new plans further encourage groundwater markets, we should brace ourselves for more of the same – although it is unclear whether other communities would enjoy any more legal success than the people of Stanley.
What are management decisions based on?
High-profile cases like Stanley’s highlight the need for a robust scientific basis for licensing decisions. Communities facing change will have a difficult time accepting decisions that are not supported by rigorous science.
Unfortunately when it comes to groundwater, it’s far from straightforward to work out how much water is down there and where it goes. An expert hydrogeologist retained by Stanley’s residents argued that the modelling used to estimate the impact of the bottled water extractions was very simplistic. Mapping groundwater with an overly simplistic model is akin to using an identikit sketch of a smiley face to catch a criminal.
But water corporations have finite resources, and if we want in-depth analysis, then we need to invest in management planning tools such as drilling programs and numerical groundwater models supported by monitoring data and surveys of groundwater-dependent ecosystems. This sort of analysis is time-consuming, expensive and currently a political stretch. Governments only tend to spend serious money on groundwater investigations once people start running out of water.
However, if we want to get groundwater licensing right, it needs to be scientifically robust, environmentally sustainable, and procedurally fair.
As Stanley’s residents discovered, there might be no second chance.
This article was co-authored by:
Emma Kathryn White – [PhD Candidate, Infrastructure Engineering, University of Melbourne]
Rebecca Louise Nelson – [Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Melbourne]
This article is part of a syndicated news program via
You can see koalas at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast,
but the city council has won a planning battle to preserve their
wild population too. Dave Hunt/AAP
Gold Coast City Council has won a four-year legal battle with Boral Resources, with the courts upholding the council’s refusal to approve a proposed quarry because of its impacts on the amenity of local residents – including the area’s koalas. In some rare good news for local government in Queensland, which has been under a cloud lately, the Court of Appeal’s decision confirms that councils are entitled to rely on their own planning schemes when deciding on local development applications. Even though Boral had secured approvals from the Commonwealth and Queensland governments, the Queensland Court of Appeal has upheld the council’s decision to refuse Boral’s application to develop a quarry.
A quarry quarrel
The council took on Boral and won after a four-year battle. In May 2014, Boral Resources had applied to the council for a permit to develop a quarry over 65 hectares of land at Reedy Creek, west of Palm Beach. State planning instruments had identified this land as a key resource area of state significance. For Boral, the quarry would generate hard rock and overburden worth A$1.4-1.5 billion.
In January 2014, the federal environment minister, acting under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, approved the development. In July 2014, Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection did likewise.
All that remained was council’s consent. But, even though its own planning officer recommended approving the development, on July 11 2014, the council refused Boral’s application. When the local protest is loud enough and big enough – 4,200 objections were received – then even the Gold Coast Council will hear!
Not surprisingly, Boral immediately appealed that decision to the Planning and Environment Court. The court had to balance numerous competing interests to re-decide the merits of the case.
To some extent, the economic arguments were on Boral’s side. If the proposal did not proceed, competition could be reduced and the additional costs to the community could be around A$240 million over the life of the quarry, as even the Court of Appeal later accepted.
On the other side of the equation, the development would have adverse impacts on the amenity of nearby residents. These included creating ugly views and generating noise and dust by introducing an extra 450 haulage truck movements per day on local roads.
Now the Court of Appeal has upheld that decision. The council, local residents and koalas have won the day.
The case also raises some points of more general planning interest. These relate to:
the respective roles of state and local planning instruments
whether profitable economic development may legitimately be delayed to another day
whether protecting koalas requires protecting their habitat as well.
State versus local planning instruments
In Queensland, the state planning policy identifies 16 state interests arranged under five broad themes. No one state interest is given priority over the others.
The Court of Appeal’s decision confirms it is the rightful business of local governments to balance and resolve competing state interests at the local level in their own planning schemes. Notwithstanding the site’s designation as a key resource area in state planning policy, the council had acted lawfully in relying on its own planning instruments to decide that adverse environmental and amenity impacts justified refusing the application.
Should good economic development be postponed?
Despite refusing the application, the judge conceded the resource should be protected for future exploitation when appropriate.
Boral argued this was an “irrational decision”. How would the amenity of residents and the survival of koalas be any less of concern in the future if they were so important even now? In Boral’s view, if this was a valuable economic resource (and everyone agreed it was), development now was the only sensible decision.
The Court of Appeal paid short shrift to this notion. It held that although the local planning instruments currently prevailed against an approval, amendments to these over time might alter the balance in favour of development. Local government, once again, is in the driving seat.
Do koalas need their trees?
Koalas are a recognised matter of environmental significance at both the Commonwealth and state levels. Developing the quarry would involve, over time, clearing 30,000 trees, including 23,000 koala habitat trees. The Planning and Environment Court judge recognised this would have an adverse impact in relation to a matter of environmental significance.
Boral had, like every other developer, argued conservation efforts at other sites (imposed as offsets) could produce a better outcome overall for koalas in southeast Queensland. The court dismissed this claim because the local planning scheme specified matters of environmental significance should be protected in situ.
Not to be defeated, Boral argued the judge confused koalas (a recognised matter of environmental significance) with koala habitat (of no particular status in this case). The Court of Appeal denounced this logic:
It cannot seriously be disputed that to destroy its habitat is to fail to conserve and protect it as a listed threatened species.
What are the broader planning implications?
The Boral litigation explores some really interesting principles for planning law and local governments.
Let’s just imagine, for a moment, a land use planning world where state planning policy is always applied with reference to the affected community’s vision for its neighbourhood; where councils regularly protect habitat for endangered species; and where, just occasionally, the drive for ever more resource development gives way to a holistic view of sustainable development … oh, what a different world that would be!
This article was written by:
Philippa England – [Senior Lecturer, Griffith Law School, Griffith University]
This article is part of a syndicated news program via
A section of this article was written based on many conversations with Vanessa’s late father some time ago Frank Amorosi and an interview with her former manager Jack Strom and I thank him for his contributions.
On the back of her debut back in the year 2000, Vanessa Amorosi climbed her way up the charts to secure her spot in Australian Music History as one of the top five best performers among the likes of Silvie Paladino, Tina Arena, Olivia Newton John and Kylie Minogue. But its been quite some time since we have seen anything from camp Amorosi, so here’s a reminder of why she was once held in such high regard.
Vanessa Amorosi was born in Melbourne Victoria on the 8thAugust, 1981 and has an Italian background. As a child of 4 years, Amorosi and her siblings would attend tap, jazz and classical ballet classes, run in studios by her Uncle. Living in the suburb of Emerald, she attended Emerald Primary and Secondary schools.
Amorosi was born into a very talented family, her parents were professional singers/dancers, working in Australasian threatre restaurants and the cabaret circuit. Growing up surrounded by music and singing, this would have a profound impact on her future career choice. At the age of 12, Amorosi was already performing in shopping centers and local council concerts under the keen eye and control of her parents.
When she turned 14, she began volunteer work helping disadvantaged children. This would have an everlasting impact on Amorosi, who continues to be involved as a patron for the ‘Kids Help Line’ and ‘Variety Club’. For a short time there, Amorosi also trained with the Australian Army, but the call of her fans and the entertainment industry soon had her returning to what she knew best, singing.
The turning point in Amorosi’s career came at the age of 15 and a half years, taking on a part time job singing in a Russian Restaurant called ‘Matrioshkia’. Here she would perform solo, and here is where the powerfully voiced teenager was spotted by TV producer Jack Strom. Strom had worked with and observed many of the worlds greatest performers during his long television production career, but it was Amorosi who gave Strom goosebumps on hearing her amazing voice and vocal range.
Strom then asked friend and 70’s recording star Mark Holden to come along with him to the restaurant to hear the young girl for himself. Holden was a successful singer/songwriter and producer in his own right and was also equally impressed. It was after hearing Amorosi, Strom and Holden decided to form a management company called Marjac.
It took Amorosi quite a bit of convincing to allow Marjac to represent her, as she had already had numerous people in her past make promises of fame, fortune and stardom, only to walk away empty handed. Strom worked his magic, signed Amorosi to a management contract in 1998, and then set about working on her debut album and getting a record deal.
This resulted in Amorosi being signed to an Australian production company, CBK Productions, and independent record label, Transistor Music for distribution in Australia and New Zealand. After being signed to MarJack Productions (co-owned by Strom and Holden), she recorded a promo cd (500 copies) titled “Get Here” for an opening at a shopping center in Sydney.
Known for her outstanding vocal range, Amorosi is able to cover many genres of music including Pop, Rock, Blues, Jazz and Gospel. But what surprised Strom and Holden even more about Amorosi, was that not only could she sing, but she was also an extremely talented songwriter. Thus, began the rapid rise to success of this extraordinary young lady.
In 1999, Amorosi released her debut single “Have A Look” produced by Steve Mac (Boyzone, Five, Westlife) which achieved gold status in just 7 weeks and became a huge hit thoughout the country. Her second single “Absolutely Everybody” was also a instant success, certified gold in just 3 weeks, and going on to achieve Double Platinum sales in Australia and also becoming the longest charting single by an Australian Female artist – ever staying in the ARIA Top Singles Chart for a duration beyond 6 months. When it was released in Europe, it again reached the Top 10 in most countries, including Germany, and the UK, receiving a gold certification.
Amorosi became an obvious choice being selected to perform at large televised events such as “The NRL Grand Final”, the opening of the “Philip Island Motorcycle Grand Prix” and the new Millennium “New Years Eve Concert” at Darling Harbour (1999).
Amorosi received 6 ARIA nominations in the year 2000 and her debut album ‘The Power’ and was nominated for ‘Best Female Artist’ and ‘Best Pop Release’ in the ARIA Music Awards of 2001. The album entered the Australian charts with Gold sales at #1 position and went on to achieve Platinum status just 3 weeks later, confirming her position as one of the most successful female artists in Australian history.
However her largest audience was still to come, when she was selected to perform at the Opening and Closing Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics and Paralympic Games. At the opening ceremony, she belted out the song titled ‘Heroes Live Forever’ and then at the closing ceremony, one of her own singles ‘Absolutely Everybody’.
In 2002, Amorosi made a special appearance at the ‘Goodwill Games’ Opening and Closing ceremonies in Brisbane. And in 2002, she travelled to Manchester where she was one of the stars of the Commonwealth hand over ceremony performing her #1 hit ‘Shine’ and a new song, written especially for her ‘I’ll always be a Melbourne girl’.
2003, saw Amorosi perform her “Blues” set for the first time at the Melbourne International Music And Blues Festival and then travelling to Germany to perform her latest European single “True To Yourself” on Top Of The Pops and the hugely successful long-running show ‘Wetten Das’ which screens throughout Europe.
Also in 2003, for her service to the music industry, Amorosi was showered with many impressive awards including “Young Entertainer Of The Year” award from the Variety Club of Australia. She also received a special award from the Governor General of Australia, Sir William Deane, in recognition of her patronage of ‘Kids Help-line’ and in appreciation of her being a positive and inspiring role model for Australian youth.
Amorosi was awarded a Centenary Medal in April 2003 for her services to children’s agencies and the music industry in Australia and was nominated for the Australian of the Year Award in August.
She was also awarded “Best New Australian Artist On Commercial Radio” by the Federation of Australian Radio Broadcasters and was also was named “Young Victorian Of The Year” by the National Australia Day Council, having previously won the “Career Achievement Award”.
Then In June 2004, at the personal invitation of the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. John Howard, Amorosi performed “Heroes Live Forever” (her song from the 2000 Olympics) at the “Prime Minister’s Olympic Dinner” in Melbourne. Amorosi was accompanied by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, The John Farnham Band and an 80 piece choir.
January 2005 saw Amorosi in her first permanent television role, when she was asked to join the cast of “StarStruck”(the Nine Network’s new talent show) as one of the show’s two permanent judges.
Over the next few years, she would maintain a low-profile, concentrating on writing and recording.
2008 saw Amorosi sign on with a new manager, new recording contract with Universal music and re-emerge as a ‘rock chick’ with red wig, tattoos and attitude. A far cry from the girl next door image we all grew to love.
Still in 2008 and Amorosi was signed on as a support act to Rock Legends “Kiss’ for their tour downunder.
She even found time to finally release a new album titled ‘Somewhere in the Real World’. This particular album was scheduled for release in 2007, but was delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. Within hours of its release, it had secured the #3 spot on the national itunes chart, climbing to #2 within the first 24 hours and then on to #1 after 4 days on the charts.
2009 saw the release of her forth studio album titled “Hazardous’ debuting at #7. The album went on to produced hit singles “This Is Who I Am” (her first #1 single) ‘Hazardous’ and ‘Mr Mysterious’. In February of that year, she flew to Los Angeles to film the music video for her duet with Mary J. Bligh for the upcoming single titled ‘Each Tear’.
In 2010 Amorosi, supported Rob Thomas on his Australian Cradlesong Tour as well as many private performances for her fans.
Later that year, Amorosi announced on Twitter that she was back in the studio again writing and recording in Los Angeles describing that that next release will ‘push boundaries’ even to the point of shocking people.
In 2011, her first single ‘Gossip’ from her forthcoming album titled ‘V’ was released and peaked at #1 in the first week of its release. The second song from the album titled ‘Amazing’ was released later that year peaking at #83 on the ARIA Singles Chart.
The song was featured on Channel Sevens promo for the AFL Grand Final, resulting in a live performance at the actual Grand Final of 2011.
In 2012, Amorosi announced that she was no longer with Universal Records, and that she would be looking to rebuild her career as an album artist.
Amorosi is an ambassador for many charities including ‘Variety Club’, ‘Kids Help Line’ and ‘Headspace”.
Even though Amorosi may appear to have been typecast an ‘overnight success story’, her family maintain her feet are planted firmly on the ground. She will always make time for her beloved pets and friends.
Amorosi’s charity work predates her fame. One of her dreams is to establish a farm where disadvantaged kids will be able to visit and interact with the many animals she intends to keep.
Now based in LA, last year Amorosi made a rare appearance on Australian television on nine’s “Today Show”, appearing alongside Eurythmics legend Dave Stewart and Aussie rocker Jon Stevens to announcing a joint musical project. The trio were booked to play a Stakes Day concert in Melbourne on November 5th.
It has now been nine long years since she last released her album, 2009’s Hazardous — home to the multi-platinum number one single This Is Who I Am.
Plans for a follow-up album, V, faltered in 2011 when a couple of pre-released singles failed to make any impact in the charts. The album was shelved and Amorosi parted ways with her record company, Universal.
Amorosi’s next move with her career is anyones guess, as she uses social media sparingly to keep in touch with fans, however she did hint at working on a memoir to be released in the not too distant future.
Amorosi was once one of the most successful female solo pop artists in Australia and internationally, lets hope she returns to her fans and her music in the not to distant future.
Singing increases breathing control and lung capacity,
can improve your health,& release the happy hormone.Mai Lam/The Conversation
Do you have a pair of vocal folds that can produce sound? Can you tell the difference between a higher note and a lower note? Good news! You and about 98.5% of the population absolutely can be taught how to sing.
And the rest? Well, according to a recent Canadian study, about 1.5% of the population suffer from a condition called “congenital amusia”. They have real difficulty discriminating between different pitches, tone, and sometimes rhythm.
So if you were to play a well-known melody – say, the tune to “Happy Birthday” – and you played a few wrong notes, most people would identify the errors straight away. However, someone with congenital amusia might not notice anything wrong at all. You can see examples of that in this video, from about the 3.20 mark:
Natural talent aside, most of us can be taught to sing
Several years ago I had a request for private vocal lessons from a woman who just wanted to sing one song for her husband’s birthday in six months time.
What I noticed was that she was unable to accurately pitch match. She came to lessons each week and maintained her practice with incredible diligence. What she lacked in natural ability, she made up for in heart and work ethic. Within six months, she was not only matching pitch, but she was singing one and a half octave patterns slowly through her entire range (for example, from low C to A in the next octave up).
More importantly if she sang a note incorrectly, she could discern and correct it herself. She performed the song for her family and it was a happy outcome for all involved.
Her experience shows that hard work pays off, but that’s not the only factor. Work by German researchers found that that it is not just how much you practice that counts, but rather how quickly you identify and correct your error. This is what makes an OK singer into an expert performer. That said, without deliberate practice even the most talented singer will reach a plateau and get stuck.
How singing works
Understanding exactly how singing works is a surprisingly complex field of research. There is a rather significant leap from singing in the shower or being part of a community choir (although both are a great place start) to pursuing singing professionally.
Singing practice and training involves generating a sense of vocal freedom – this is what you’re seeing when you watch someone sing movingly, beautifully but seemingly without effort. For most singers, years of practice go into developing that kind of freedom.
As singing voice teacher Jeannette Lovetri writes:
It takes about 10 years to be a master singer. Ten years of study, investigation, involvement, experience, experiment, exploration, and development, and in some way, that’s when you start really being an artist.
We are all born with the key ingredients of a singing voice. The early gurgling and bubbling sounds we make as babies contain some of the key components of singing – a variety of pitches, dynamics, rhythms and phrases. But some of us may have a genetic advantage that can be enhanced by training.
A person needs to be able to control the air pressure in their lungs and use their abdominal muscles to push air through the trachea, where it meets the vocal folds, which start to vibrate. In a really good singer, vocal health, posture and alignment, breath management are matched with imagination, self-expression and creativity.
A really good contemporary professional pop singer isn’t just born that way. They also need an inquiring mind, dedication to understanding the physiology of the vocal instrument, the discipline and daily practice of warm-ups and a variety of exercises, a deep understanding of music harmony, ability to notate and transcribe music, some degree of improvisation and stagecraft skills.
Film stars learn to sing all the time for a role (usually surrounded by a team of vocal teachers and months of daily practice). The results aren’t always perfect, but that’s not necessarily what is important. Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, for example, has a small, breathy voice but it suits her role and enhances her character.
So if you’ve never sung professionally but want to try singing, I encourage you to give it a go! Chances are that you can be taught to sing – and even if you can’t, there are health benefits to trying.
Singing increases breathing control and lung capacity, it can improve heart health, and release the happy hormone oxytocin, elevate your mood and reduce pain, and may even increase your immunity. Even practising a new behaviour, like singing, can be good for the brain.
So enjoy singing. Find a singing teacher who loves singing and teaching, performs regularly and incorporates their knowledge of anatomy and physiology into their vocal teaching. Once you start, you’ll likely realise that singing can bring benefits for life.
This article was written by:
Leigh Carriage – [Lecturer in Music, Southern Cross University]
This article is part of a syndicated news program via
Acupuncture might alleviate stress for women
undertaking IVF. from www.shutterstock.com
Acupuncture has become a frequently used treatment prior to and during in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). Women hope it will increase their chances of having a baby, but also provide support with reducing stress, and feeling relaxed and well while undergoing treatment.
Several small clinical trials havepreviously suggested acupuncture improved outcomes of stressful and unpredictable fertility treatments. But our new study has found this is not the case.
The study of more than 800 Australian and New Zealand women undergoing acupuncture treatment during their IVF cycles has failed to confirm significant difference in live birth rates.
We examined the effects of a short course of acupuncture administered during an IVF cycle. We were not able to show that acupuncture increased live births, clinical pregnancy or having fewer miscarriages.
Undertaken across 16 IVF centres in Australia and New Zealand, the randomised controlled clinical trial (that compares the effects of an experimental treatment on one group with those of a placebo or alternative treatment in another group) aimed to increase live births and pregnancies among 848 women aged 18 to 42, undergoing an IVF cycle using fresh embryos, over a four year period.
The first acupuncture treatment was given at the start of the IVF process when medication is given to stimulate the ovary to produce follicles.
Following successful fertilisation, acupuncture to recognised acupuncture points was performed prior to, and immediately following, the transfer of the embryo to the woman’s womb.
The control group in this study was sham acupuncture. This looks like real acupuncture but does not involve insertion of the needle through the skin. For both groups the needle is held in place by a plastic tube, but as the practitioner places the needle on the skin, for the control group the shaft of the needle disappears into the handle, while in the treatment group the needle pierces the skin.
The results showed a clinical pregnancy was achieved in 25.7% of women who received acupuncture and 21.7% of women in the sham control, and that a live birth was achieved for 18.3% of women who received acupuncture compared to 17.8% who received the control.
While a 4% increase might sound hopeful, given the low percentage of successful IVF births to begin with, this is not a big enough increase for scientists to conclude there is a difference. This means the study does not support that acupuncture can improve pregnancy or live birth rates for women undergoing IVF.
However, in clinical practice, acupuncture may include more sessions prior to an IVF cycle starting. Whether this would make a difference hasn’t been tested.
Why is this important?
Despite recent technological improvements to IVF, the success rate is still low. Consequently, new drugs, laboratory techniques and other treatments need to be developed and rigorously tested to explore their effects on producing healthy babies for women undergoing IVF.
Acupuncture has long been used for gynaecological and obstetric problems. In 2002, the first randomised controlled trial of acupuncture administered a specific form of IVF acupuncture at the time of embryo transfer. The results indicated the chance of achieving a pregnancy from acupuncture was twice that of women undergoing IVF treatment alone.
An adequate blood flow to develop immature eggs, and the endometrium (the lining of the uterus), is important to female fertility and pregnancy. Studies on a stronger form of acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, found it may influence central sympathetic nerve activity, and mayincrease blood flow in parts of the body, including improved blood flow and oxygenation to ovarian and uterine tissue.
In ourearlier research, acupuncture was shown to reduce the emotional stress and burden experienced by women during IVF treatment.
We hope the new findings will enable women and practitioners to make evidence-formed decisions about the use of acupuncture to achieve a pregnancy and live birth.
But unpublished findings from our trial highlight a supportive role from acupuncture with reducing stress, increased relaxation and improving how women feel about themselves while undergoing the demands of IVF treatments. These findings suggest while it probably won’t improve a woman’s chance of having a baby, acupuncture could help women deal with the emotional turmoil of IVF.
This article was co-authored by:
Caroline Smith – [Professor Clinical Research, Western Sydney University]
Robert Norman – [Professor of Reproductive and Periconceptual Medicine, The Robinson Institute, University of Adelaide]
This article is part of a syndicated news program via
Could this be turned into fuel, instead of just
more plastic? Shutterstock.com
Australia’s recycling crisis needs us to look into waste management options beyond just recycling and landfilling. Some of our waste, like paper or organic matter, can be composted. Some, like glass, metal and rigid plastics, can be recycled. But we have no immediate solution for non-recyclable plastic waste except landfill.
At a meeting last month, federal and state environment ministers endorsed an ambitious target to make all Australian packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025. But the ministers also showed support for processes to turn our waste into energy, although they did not specifically discuss plastic waste as an energy source.
The 100% goal could easily be achieved if all packaging were made of paper or wood-based materials. But realistically, plastic will continue to dominate our packaging, especially for food, because it is moisture-proof, airtight, and hygienic.
We need to expand our range of options for keeping this plastic waste out of landfill. One potential approach is “plastic to energy”, which unlocks the chemical energy stored in waste plastic and uses it to create fuel.
How plastic to energy works
Plastic is made from refined crude oil. Its price and production are dictated by the petrochemical industry and the availability of oil. As oil is a finite natural resource, the most sustainable option would be to reduce crude-oil consumption by recycling the plastic and recovering as much of the raw material as possible.
There are two types of recycling: mechanical and chemical. Mechanical recycling involves sorting, cleaning and shredding plastic to make pellets, which can then be fashioned into other products. This approach works very well if plastic wastes are sorted according to their chemical composition.
Gasification involves heating the waste plastic with air or steam, to produce a valuable industrial gas mixtures called “synthesis gas”, or syngas. This can then be used to produce diesel and petrol, or burned directly in boilers to generate electricity.
In pyrolysis, plastic waste is heated in the absence of oxygen, which produces mixture of oil similar to crude oil. This can be further refined into transportation fuels.
Gasification and pyrolysis are completely different processes to simply incinerating the plastic. The main goal of incineration is simply to destroy the waste, thus keeping it out of landfill. The heat released from incineration might be used to produce steam to drive a turbine and generate electricity, but this is only a by-product.
Gasification and pyrolysis can produce electricity or fuels, and provide more flexible ways of storing energy than incineration. They also have much lower emissions of sulfur and nitrogen oxides than incineration.
Currently, incineration plants are viewed as an alternative energy supply source and a modern way of driving a circular economy, particularly in Japan, South Korea and China, where land is valuable and energy resources are scarce. In other countries, although waste incineration is common practice, the debate around human health impacts, supply issues and fuel trade incentives remains unresolved.
Can Australia embrace plastic to waste?
Gasification of plastic waste needs significant initial financing. It requires pre-treatment, cleanup facilities, gas separation units, and advanced control systems. Pyrolysis units, on the other hand, can be modular and be installed to process as little as 10,000 tonnes per year – a relatively small amount in waste management terms. Plastic pyrolysis plants have already been built in the UK, Japan and the United States.
As pyrolysis and gasification technologies can only process plastics, many councils do not see major advantages in using them. But by taking only a specific waste stream, they encourage better waste sorting and help to reduce the flow of mixed waste and plastic litter.
Australia has invested a serious amount of funding into research, particularly in waste conversion. It has a solid industrialised infrastructure and a highly skilled workforce. The current recycling crisis offers an opportunity to explore some innovative ways of turning our waste into valuable products.
There are direct job opportunities in plastic conversion plants, and indirect jobs around installation, maintenance and distribution of energy and fuels. We might even see jobs in R&D to explore other waste conversion technologies.
Governments have all but abandoned the commitments
made a decade ago when Kevin Rudd launched a national campaign
to reduce homelessness. Dean Lewins/AAP
Exactly a decade ago in 2008, the Australian government committed to an ambitious strategy to halve national homelessness by 2020. Through stepped-up early intervention, better homelessness services and an expanded supply of affordable housing, the problem would be tackled with conviction. Instead, as succeeding governments regrettably abandoned the 2008 strategy, homelessness in Australia has been on the rise.
Last week’s federal budget offered no response to this concern. And the problem is fast getting worse, as highlighted in our new Australian Homelessness Monitor, prepared for independent community organisation Launch Housing. Emulating a respected UK annual monitoring project, this report is a comprehensive national analysis of the state of homelessness in Australia together with the potential policy, economic and social drivers of the trends across the country.
Partly as a result, ABS statistics cited in our report show the proportion of low-income tenants in rental stress has risen from 35% to 44% over the past decade nationally. In New South Wales, it has risen from 43% to 51%. In Victoria, the figure rose from 32% to 47% over the decade.
The geographical pattern of recent homeless changes shows the housing market is driving these changes. Our report finds increases in homelessness have generally been much more rapid in capital cities. Non-metropolitan areas have recorded much lower growth rates, or even reductions.
In another pointer to housing market impacts, increases in homelessness have tended to be higher in the large eastern states. These are the states where economies and property markets have been relatively strong over the past few years. In South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, where these factors have been less evident, the rate of homeless growth has been lower.
So, overall numbers were up by 53% in inner Sydney (2011-2016), but rose by a more modest 21% in Hobart. In contrast, homeless numbers fell by over 30% in remote South Australia and Western Australia.
Governments have let this happen
Despite these stark trends, recent Australian governments, while footing the bill for homelessness services rising well ahead of inflation, have presided over cuts in social and affordable housing.
An increasingly underfunded social and affordable housing system leads to a burgeoning homelessness support system. The cost of emergency services for those lacking homes has risen by 29% in real terms over the past four years. On its current path, the cost is set to exceed A$1 billion by 2020.
Five years ago, prior to the 2013 federal election, then opposition spokeswoman on housing Marise Payne said “the Coalition’s homelessness plan” was “to abolish the carbon tax, pay down Labor’s debt, generate one million jobs in the next five years and increase our collective wealth so all of us – individuals and charities – have the capacity to help the homeless and those most in need in areas where government is not always the answer”.
While placing faith in philanthropy, such sentiment is underpinned by a stubborn belief that we can rely on market forces to provide suitable and affordable housing for disadvantaged Australians – just as much as for all other citizens. It is clear from the latest statistics that the official approach moulded by this thinking has failed.
For any realistic chance of progress, the Australian government needs to reconfirm recognition of homelessness as a social ill that must not be ignored. It needs to re-engage with the problem, starting with a coherent strategic vision to reduce the scale of homelessness by a measurable amount within a defined period. And it needs to recommit to a level of government support that ensures enough social and affordable housing is provided to keep pace with growing need, at the very least.
Disappointingly, the federal budget provided no indication that such developments are in prospect. Yet squarely tackling Australia’s growing homelessness problem demands recognition that excluding people from safe, secure and affordable housing is effectively a denial of citizenship.