How to be an Activist for Social Justice, Everyday

Written by Claire Langenbach-Wood

At a glance, social justice can seem broad and overwhelming. Looking closer, it can seem a little less broad (or not), a bit more complicated and much the same on the overwhelming front. However, being an activist for social justice doesn’t have to be as difficult as it may seem. It all starts with how you think. Now, I don’t want to tell you what to think. What you think is entirely up to you. I just want to highlight some ways of thinking that might allow you to see the world differently, from a different angle and maybe more critically. This is what social justice is all about – if we rely simply on the information that is given to us, we end up thinking the same way and through a very narrow lens. One source is just one person’s thoughts, and what is presented as fact, is just one person’s version of reality, and not all realities. Social justice requires an understanding of not one perspective, but many.

So step one is letting go of the idea that your perspective is the perspective. Yeah… so we can’t get rid of that idea completely. What we understand about the world is always going to be effected by our beliefs and our experiences. Look at it more as recognising that EVERYONE’S experiences are as valid as our own. Due to the connectedness of our experiences, all of our actions in favour of our own lives are bound to affect the lives of other people, whether that is negative or positive.

Step two is to educate yourself. This doesn’t take as much time as it may seem. Most of us spend hours online, so why not spend 20 minutes learning about a little social justice. Something I noticed when I wanted to learn more was that my Facebook and Instagram feeds were filled with stuff that required thoughtless consumption.  To combat this, I started liking/following pages or accounts that had stuff to say about social justice, and that gave me new ways of thinking about the world and activism.  It doesn’t take long to skim through an article or read a post. Stemming from this is that social media is a really good place to get messages out to a bunch of people. If you see something you think is important, SHARE IT! Activism doesn’t work if we all remain separate individuals, it works when individuals form a powerful mass. If you aren’t much of a reader, then podcasts are a neat way to acquire information, and videos or documentaries are just as good. Type in an inequality out there that you are interested in and you’re set. An important thing to remember is to make sure, however you are educating yourself, that you have multiple sources. Getting all your information from one place isn’t gonna give you the whole picture, especially if it’s from a mainstream media source.

Next up, check your privilege. Depending on who you are, where you were born and your circumstances, our society may favour you or discriminate against you. Our world is unequally divided between the powerful and the powerless. We are not taught about many inequalities by institutions such as schools, universities, mainstream media and the government, because the power of the most powerful lies in the exploitation of the people below them. Power lies in the hands of the capitalists who seek to divide us by our differences so that we, the people, cannot unite. Exploitation persists if the people don’t see this oppression, or choose to ignore it. People we need to rally around and support right now are people of colour, first nations people, women, the working class, LGBTI+ people, people with disabilities and people with mental illness. Use your privilege to make silenced voices heard. If you are white and you wanna know more about your privilege, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh is a really important read. This is the link: https://www.deanza.edu/faculty/lewisjulie/White%20Priviledge%20Unpacking%20the%20Invisible%20Knapsack.pdf

Thought is the beginning of action. If you want to be an activist everyday, start by challenging the way you think and share these challenges with those around you. Protest isn’t always on the street. It can start in the home. We can all be powerful catalysts for change if we give ourselves the opportunity to be.

Close the Gap Day 2017

OPINION

Written by Claire Langenbach-Wood
This Thursday, the 16th of March, is National Close the Gap Day. Close the Gap Day was put in motion to campaign for Indigenous health equality by 2030. This Thursday is about informing yourself and those around you about the health inequality that faces Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people.

The impetus for all action and change is knowledge. By giving you some of the facts, we hope that we can empower you to enact real change, by promoting Indigenous issues in your community, with the goal to create mass pressure on our government to implement a National Action Plan in cooperation with Indigenous people. If you are a non-Indigenous person then you are in a position in which you have the power to use your privilege to make Indigenous voices heard. The health problems facing Indigenous Australians are not isolated issues. They are a national problem that we are all a part of. Australia always was, and always will be Aboriginal land. It’s more than time to start respecting Australia’s First Nations people as equal members of Australian society, and as the forbearers of our nations history and culture.


I think the best way to understand the health implications that come with being Indigenous in Australia is by looking at the factors that effect Indigenous people in this country every day. To start with, if you are an Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander person, you are not recognised in the Australian Constitution. This exclusion is blatant discrimination, and the silencing of Indigenous people in Australia’s integral legal document prefaces the silencing and racism they face in broader society. Australia’s history of colonisation and genocide is present in this silence. Each day, Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people endure 200 years worth of intergenerational trauma, reflected in many Indigenous peoples poor levels of education, health, high incarceration rates, high unemployment rates and poverty.


If you are an Indigenous Australian you are likely to experience discrimination in Australia’s health system and find it more difficult to access health services, especially if you live in a remote community. If you do access health services, they are likely run by someone who is not a fellow Indigenous person, it is likely the services will not not take into consideration your culture, or the racism your people have experience since colonisation. If you are an Indigenous or Torres Straight Islander person, your life expectancy is 10-17 years less than other Australians. The death rate of your baby is twice that of a non-Indigenous child. Among 25 to 50 year olds, the likelihood of you getting type 2 diabetes is 10 times higher than that of Australians with European decent. Your likelihood of having another preventable illness, such as kidney disease, is also much higher. If you are in the youth age bracket, death from self-harm is higher for your people than it is for the whole of Australia’s population of youth.


If you want to close the gap, here’s how you can start. You can register to hold an activity to promote Close the Gap, uniting people around you in the sharing of information and support for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people. Organise an event at your school, university, workplace or amongst friends and family. Register here: https://my.oxfam.org.au/ctg


Make this Thursday about starting the conversation about closing the gap with a friend, family member or colleague. Use your social media platforms to advocate Close the Gap. You can sign the petition to Close the Gap, demanding the Australian government invest in Indigenous health equality. Share it online and tell a friend. Here’s the link: https://act.oxfam.org/australia/close-the-gap-pledge

 

Eco-Friendly Beauty

Written By Jovana Lazovic

Plastic waste is becoming a serious problem affecting the wildlife and the environment therefore it is vital to take into consideration which products to purchase/consume

The world’s oceans have unfortunately become a home to a quiet but deadly killer which is endangering all its living organisms. This killer is plastic, it lingers around and never entirely goes away. I’m sure you have at least once encountered a piece of plastic in the nature’s water systems but now the threat is increasing and in desperate need of attention. The world’s oceans have become a stew of plastic that the defenseless wildlife is drowning in.

Plastic has become one of the most dominant materials used for consumer products. Despite its immediate convenience it has now created a worldwide problem as the waste is impacting oceans and wildlife. According to Plastic Ocean, 300 million tonnes of plastic are being produced annually. Out of the 300 million, 8 tonnes of plastic waste unfortunately ends up in the ocean. This in return has tremendous consequences on the well-being of wildlife as around 700 marine wildlife species ingest plastic into their system (Parker 2015).

One company that recently caught my eye was Neutrogena’s new line of products “Neutrogena Naturals.” It is a very sustainable and eco-friendly line of products which benefits the planet greatly. Their products are formulated without any harsh chemicals, sulfates, parabens, petrolatum, dyes, or phthalates and only contains pure and natural essentials for skin care.

Naturally obtained ingredients: An average of 94% of the ingredients are naturally derived from plants.

No animals were harmed in the production process: Neutrogena has a public commitment to make sure none of the products are tested on animals. However if the government requires it is then permitted. It is still a vast improvement from companies who still test on animals in this day and age.

Sustainable packaging: Neutrogena packaging is made up of 50% recycled plastic as well as 100% recycled paper. This includes the folding cartons also with 60% post-consumer recycled content. Another notable fact to mention is that the recycled paperboard cartons use 75% less water during the manufacturing process than it would take to manufacture virgin paperboard.

 

 

Source:

http://www.neutrogena.com/category/cleansers/neutrogena-+naturals.do

http://www.plasticoceans.org/

 

To-Go Coffee Has Never Been So Eco-Friendly

Written By Jovana Lazovic

With the wastage of plastic cups rapidly increasing Nestle has come up with a clever solution

There is a major gap when it comes to the recycling of coffee cups and as a result less than 1 in 400 (Gould 2016) coffee cups which are sold in the United Kingdom are being recycled.

Most of the large coffee chains much like Nescafe, are supplied with cups which are covered in laminated plastic to make them water resistant but are ultimately not sustainable for the environment.

There are only very few special recycling organisations which are able to separate the coated plastic around the cups from the paper fiber. Nestle has taken it upon themselves to provide their consumers with more innovative designs which would reduce the waste and in return benefit the environment positively.

Nestle is producing “Coffee-to-go” which contain a pack of four disposable cups as well as a pre-filled instant and ground coffee mix. According to the official spokesperson for Nescafe the lid of the cup, the foil as well as the packaging is completely recyclable. They “will continue to work hard to overcome the infrastructure barriers of the recycleability of the entire cup” (Gould 2016).

This sudden change in perspective comes from societies imense pressure to comply with the current environmental standards to stop misleading people on the manufacturing process and too strive and be as sustainable as possible.

One of the premier coffee giants, Starbucks, had come up with a clever way to draw in more consumers as well as being environmentally conservative in the process by giving their customers discounts. They are able to redeem their discount by bringing in their own cup. Other chains have done similar things such Costa who promised to donate a proceed of 10 pence to a charity, called Keep Britain Tidy, when a customer brings in their reused cup. Another method implemented is Pret a Manger who actually has no official policy for a discount but they do give their staff the option to give customers coffee on the house if they bring in a reused coffee cup.

However, Nestle’s Nesafe to-go coffee cups are very much effortless in regards to shifting people’s habits of what they are used to. Instead Nestle was innovative enough to produce an alternative throw-away material. The idea for this particular innovation was initially pitched as a DIY solution for people travelling to and from work but require affordability as well as convenience. This design solution is very effective in what its aims are and is able to conserve the environment all whilst keeping the consumers happy and free of compromises.

Labour Rights Campaign: Day 2

Written by Jovana Lazovic

Curtin Oxfam concludes the year 2016 with one last successful campaign

Curtin Oxfam was part of a two day movement where our volunteers worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the injustice surrounding the labour rights in third world countries.

The Oxfam volunteers got a pleasant surprise from the mayor of Fremantle throughout the afternoon. The mayor of Fremantle, Brad Pettitt, lent his full support to the cause.

Mayor Pettitt himself was previously involved with the organisation as an Oxfam aid worker. It was a great pleasure having him a part of the cause, greeting the dedicated volunteers and public of Fremantle.

Through our efforts and those of many other volunteers and supporters involved Oxfam, there were nearly 30,000 signed petitions.

We hope our efforts contribute to some great changes in the year 2017 with many more manufacturing companies making it on the “nice list.”

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Photographs by Jovana Lazovic

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To get full details on the Labour Rights Campaign please refer to our previous posts.

 

Labour Rights Campaign: Day 1

Written by Jovana Lazovic

The fight for Oxfam Labour Rights continues as we head out to the streets to promote the campaigns to the public.

In order to further promote the campaign I joined forces with Oxfam Western Australia in what proved to be a successful outing. Many had devoted their time to the cause. To increase awareness we connected with the members of the public as well as taking photographs outside the naughty or nice stores.

The campaign is a great way to give recognition to those companies who have been ethical in their practices and exposure to those who refuse to change their practices for the better.

Throughout the day we had people sign the Oxfam petition (link found below) to which I had a response from Best & Less stating that “Publishing or not publishing where we produce plays no part whatsoever in guaranteeing the safety of people we work with – the two are unrelated.” This way of thinking is why Oxfam is trying so hard to make sure that all companies publish their factory locations to ensure that another tragedy like the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh.

We will continue to promote the campaign on Friday 23rd of December in Fremantle outside the Town Hall. Do come along to show your support, we will have our stall there from 10am-2pm.

 

 

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Photographs by Jovana Lazovic

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Petition link: https://act.oxfam.org/australia/naughty-company-email?utm_source=oau&utm_campaign=naughtynice

 

The Labour Rights Campaign

Written by Jovana Lazovic

This Christmas season, some clothing companies having been behaving better than others.

In 2013 the Rana Plaza clothing factory in Bangladesh collapsed. It claimed more than 1,100 lives of the factory workers. After this tragedy many companies had promised to improve the working conditions within their supply chain, update their code of conduct as well as sign on to pledges designed to protect the factory workers.

Even though these are quite positive improvements, unless the companies actually publish the locations of their factories there is no way of knowing whether or not they are following these regulations.

To encourage the companies to do the right thing Oxfam has started a Labour Rights Campaign to raise awareness of the issue. Oxfam has issued out the naughty or nice list of the companies that have kept their promise to be more ethical and the ones that have failed to do so. The following is a list of companies who are on the official naughty or nice list.

This festive season you can do your part by signing the Oxfam petition to ensure a positive change within the fashion industry. Nearly 30,000 people have already signed the petition. The ultimate goal is 50,000 signatures so take action now!

Follow the link below:

https://act.oxfam.org/australia/naughty-company-email?utm_source=oau&utm_campaign=naughtynice

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8 great reasons why you should start doing charity work

Written by Samantha Hoang

 

Image source: Oxfam Australia

1.Charity work feels good!

According to research done by Harvard university, doing charity work increases happiness and happy people give more.

2. Meet new people

Doing charity work allows you to connect with others in the community and  allows you to meet people who you’ve never met before. Feeling a little lonely? Do some charity work and get connected.

3. Expand your understanding of the world

It’s a good way for you to broaden your horizon and remind yourself that there are a lot of people worse off that you are. Overall you will feel more grateful for the things you have after doing it.

4. Increases social skills

It’s important to know how to communicate with a not just people within your circle, but people with a range of different backgrounds. For an example people who financially struggling, children who have had difficult childhoods, etc.

This will also help you relate a lot better to a range of people as you progress through life and you never know who you might need some help from in the future. The larger the network the better right?

6. Sense of purpose

You only have one life and  spending your life on materialistic things may make you happy for a short period of time, but in the end  you will always want more and more materialistic things. Relationships are full of ups and downs, good times and hard times. Your career? Same concept, there will always be peaks and troughs. Giving on the other hand, will always give you a sense of fulfilment.You will always know that you made at least one person in the world’s life better.

7. Advancing your career

Being actively involved in the community will help you build on your leadership skills, which always looks more appealing to  companies hiring. It’s also great to put on your resume.

8. Realise that every bit helps!

A common misconception is that to change the world, a whole team of people is needed. In fact it only takes one person to make a change. Even if you change one person’s life, the impact you will have on them is enormous. You have to see it to believe it.

One Step Closer To Changing The World

Written by Jovana Lazovic

Making a change, although a difficult concept to grasp by perhaps not having the right knowledge is not completely an unreachable task. 

To change the world by oneself, what a daunting thought. As the well-known essayist Ralf Waldo Emerson once stated “life is a journey not a destination.” It is the little steps we take that lead to a bigger and brighter future, which ultimately instills change in people’s actions and behaviour.

During the university’s open day our stalls were open to the public where the engagement was incredible. Our aim was to raise awareness of the organisation and encourage the students to think about how they can make a positive impact in the world. We raised the question “what are three things you could do to change the world?” It made people think and socialise with their friends discussing all the ways they could make an impact.

The responses ranged from social to environmental issues. Some of the simple ways that you could help make a difference could be by recycling in order to reduce waste and conserve the environment and volunteer and contribute to charities devoted to making a difference. Another simple way you could make a difference, which a majority of the students agreed with, is by being kind and compassionate towards one another.