Wednesday, 16 August 2023

Racism has real life consequences

This open letter to Annabel Crabb was written by Su Dharmapala in response to an episode of Kitchen Cabinet.

Su said "I would really appreciate it if you amplify this message so that I can have some kind of dialogue with Annabel"

I asked Su if I could share her letter here so that it might reach people who don't use X (formerly Twitter) or Facebook.

Su kindly agreed.


Dear Annabel, I know you probably get thousands of emails on any given day. Some, full of hate and abuse, and probably others that are nice and complimentary. This will be neither. You need to know that this is the first time I have ever been tempted to reach out to a journalist to express my deep horror about anything. And your commentary that Peter Dutton has 'muscular' politics that is affronting to people has truly driven me to a state of despair- both as a woman of colour and as a mother of son who has been on the receiving end of racism in this country. Just for clarity - my name is Su Dharmapala and I am both an author and a start-up founder. I came to Australia on 21 November in 1989 at the age of 15 with my family from Singapore. I am ethnic Singahalese but was born and raised between Singapore and Sri Lanka before I immigrated to Australia. I was in Sri Lanka during the 1983 Black July riots and I have seen first hand what inter racial violence can lead to.

There is nothing 'muscular' about racism. It does not just cause affront - it kills people. The violence is both psychological and physical. In many ways I would prefer physical violence to the hatred that drips in your mind and makes you hate the skin you were born in - because there is really nothing you can do about it. My experience of racism in this country is long. From my first day of high school to the day I was a young graduate working at Coles Myer and was accused of 'coming in and speaking better English and 'stealing' jobs'. FYI - I was racially abused in my work place a day after Pauline Hanson's maiden speech. Then there is subtle racism - when people who have trained and mentored at work get promotions ahead of you when you are three times as capable. The not so subtle daily microaggressions and need to hide yourself to fit in. There have been two times, Annabel, when I have seriously questioned my citizenship in this country. The first was when I was about 5 months pregnant with my son and I had gone out for my daily walk around Vermont - a suburb I have lived in for nearly 30 years. It was a coolish evening in late spring and I had a beanie on that was stripped and colourful. I felt safe to amble gently through the streets - my belly making all to clear that I was about to become a mother.

Only two blokes in a ute decided to follow me - up and down Mitcham road. On the first pass - they made eye contact and jeered - calling me a black bitch. I ignored them. On the second pass they threw apple cores at me. I was terrified now. I could not run. I was pregnant. On the third pass - they screamed at me to go back to where I came from. I was genuinely terrified for my life and that of my unborn child. I peed in my pants. I went home and sobbed in the shower. I wanted to leave Australia. What kind of country was I about to bring my child into? Would he be safe? Just for your information - that incident happened on 8 October 2007. A day after Kevin Andrews said that African Immigrants did not integrate into Australia. The second instance was in 2021 - and the trauma is still too brutal to talk about. It was a workplace incident. Annabel - racism is neither brutal nor affronting. It has real lived consequences. It impacts kids in the school ground and it impacts people. I would love to schedule some time with you to help you understand what it means to immigrants like myself who have to live with the nastiness that Peter Dutton enables every day. You have my email address.


Su's original post and the responses can be accessed:


A couple of personal comments:

We need to call out racism everywhere, and particularly when it's gifted a platform on the national broadcaster.

Our families, friends and communities are endangered when intolerance and "muscular" brutality is amplified, normalised and sanitised.

As a result, racists feel empowered, especially when the damage and danger it encourages and unleashes is minimised or ignored, in the name of balance.


Democracy In Colour offers a range of bespoke workshops for organisations and as interventions in key moments in society – such as bystander intervention trainings, anti racism at work and more.

Monday, 18 April 2022

The Bin fire of Vanities: A gaffe? No A GAFFE with thanks.

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is the most widely-used global corruption ranking in the world. It measures how corrupt each country’s public sector is perceived to be, according to experts and businesspeople.

A country’s score is the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0-100, where 0 means highly corrupt and 100 means very clean.

progress against corruption cannot be taken for granted – especially not when human rights and democracy are under attack. In the last year alone, high-level corruption scandals, fresh allegations of misused COVID-19 funds, and deliberate efforts to weaken institutional and societal checks on power show that vigilance is needed across the board.

Transparency International’s analysis reveals that in 2022 our societies will need to be on particularly high alert in nine countries.


Australia (CPI score: 73) is one of the world’s most significant decliners, having dropped 12 points since 2012 to hit a record low this year. Its deteriorating score indicates systemic failings in tackling public sector corruption. Despite public calls and previous promises, last year Australia missed a landmark opportunity to establish a national anti-corruption agency with broad powers to investigate corruption.

As Australia heads into a federal election, anti-corruption commitments – and a firm resolution to follow through on them – will matter more than ever. The establishment of a strong anti-corruption commission, which is long overdue, should be a top priority. link

Interest shown by the bulk of Australian media about this worrying information?

For some of our excellent Independent media see:

An illustration of a crane lifting a huge gold bar, to put it with other gold bars in the back of a truck

Friday, 7 January 2022

15 minutes and six lifetimes.

This thread was compiled by Sam Connor (Twitter: and is reproduced here with permission. 

It's an ordinary thread, about ordinary people, chatting in an ordinary waiting room after managing to receive their booster injections during these extra-ordinary times.

Sam's writing is exquisite. 

Yesterday I received a booster shot. I was at the doctors and he said if I came back in the afternoon about an hour after they started jabs, I’d almost certainly score a cancelled appointment. I was with five others, all elderly. We spent the next fifteen minutes together.

Fifteen minutes with a stranger is a long time. After the nurse gave us our boosters, we waited in chairs, lined up in the clinic. Three older women, two older men. As you do when thrust together, we began talking.

The woman with the walking frame was Deaf and her companion was mad because she kept having to shout. Finally in exasperation she said, don’t you have your hearing aid on, Sylvia? ‘What?’ Sylvia bellowed at her. Eventually she understood. ‘I can’t hear through these masks!’

My mother was Deaf. I said there were masks with clear panels - she was clearly a lip reader. Her companion pointed to her own ear. ‘I have a cochlear implant,’ she told me. ‘When they turned it on for the first time…’ She must have been at least 70. Her grin was dazzling.

One of the men was impatient. ‘Do you have a watch?’ he asked me. ‘I have a phone.’ He looked unimpressed, because he didn’t ask for a phone. I told him I would tell him when time was up. Small talk, they used to call it. Nothing important, nothing deep. Just talk.

Sylvia’s companion told me that Sylvia had a cousin who lives in Toodyay. Sheila, her name is. She likes horses, she told me. ‘Do you know her?’ she asked. Perhaps by face, I told her. Mostly a lie. I don’t recognise people by their face. I don’t know if I know Sheila.

Sheila was my mother’s name. I wondered how many children and grandchildren these people had between them - how many jobs they had held, how many houses they had built, beds they’d laid in and loved in. I wondered what that hole in the world would look like if they left it.

Small talk. I remember all the words, but nothing really was said. A cousin called Sheila who liked horses, masks with clear windows. A minute to go, I told the impatient man. He got up immediately. ‘Not yet, not yet!’ said Sylvia gaily. He smiled at her, left.

Just a small group of people, faces I’ll never recognise again. I wondered if Scott Morrison

thought about we people who are considered disposable, expendable. If they’d gone to war for their country or brought up someone else’s children or volunteered their whole life long.
Small talk, but an enormous loss to the world if taken before their time. And yes, they were old, and yes, many have lived their lives - but preventable deaths are NOT ‘God’s will’. If you believe in a God, you also believe He gave you the ability to make others safe.
Not make others rich. I wonder what Sylvia would have thought of our PM, with his Humpty Doo barramundi from a fish farm who had more than thirty million in grant funding. I wondered if she’d know him if she saw him in the street. If she knew he sees her as collateral damage.
Small talk but a gaping hole in the world when any one of us leaves, regardless of age, fitness, disability or race. Those people, combined, have paid more taxes in their lives than Scott Morrison ever earned, I’ll bet. And now, apparently, they are regarded as less than.
I am tired of us being regarded as Minus People. We are worth as much as any other Australian. And I reject the idea we should not be treated as human. We have the right to be treated fairly and equitably BECAUSE we are human. That’s why they call them human rights.
This tweet doesn’t say anything much. It’s like small talk. But I wish I could carve out those few minutes and stitch them together like a quilt, as a reminder of the worth of humans, humanity. I wish I could wear it like a priceless cape that nobody would ever want to buy.

Thankyou Sam

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Eight hefty rorts not covered by Australia's mainstream media. Why the silence?

Graphs & information shared with permission of Vince O'Grady Oct 16 2021
Twitter: @vogrady2132


I have wanted to express this for the last three days. Here goes.

I am disgusted at the lack of Integrity and the dishonesty of the Main-Stream Media in Australia. Because they have been nobbled by the Coalition generally. This week they have been discussing Labor Branch stacking Ad infinitum in Victoria. Branch Stacking is NOT an offence. It is a manipulation of the Internal Labor Party rules.

What might be an offence is the fools of MP's who used employees on the public payroll to do this manipulation. I agree that that needs to be addressed. If those  MP's have committed offenses against State or Federal laws, then they should rightly suffer the consequences.

The press have been spending an inordinate amount of time discussing this this week, YET they have totally ignored another outrage perpetrated by the sitting Federal Coalition Government.

The reporting of the rorting of the latest round of the BUILDING THE BETTER REGIONS FUND ROUND 5. This was reported in the Guardian and The New Daily within days of it being released. I was one of the people who analysed it.

One: Here is a graph of the uneven distribution of the funds:

I cannot understand how this is not Newsworthy, especially in light of the following other analyses done and hardly reported by the press.

Two: Sports Rorts. Value $100 Million

Three: Community Development Grants 2013 - 2019 Value $1.1 Billion.

Four: Regional Development Programs 2013 to 2019 to the value of $714.5 million

Five: Community Development Grants in 2020 for a value of $392.3 Million

Six: Building the Better Regions fund in 2020 for a value of $158.4 Million

Seven: Female facilities and Water Safety Stream Grants worth $135.75 Million

Eight: The Commuter Car Park Fund. Worth $704.39 Million


You'd expect so, but not covered by the bulk of Australia's media.

Why is that?

Who benefits from the lack of analysis and coverage?

Who loses?

Is the above pattern of funding in the spirit of the Australian "Fair Go"?

How can we make informed decisions about who to vote for if we don't have relevant information?

Get involved!

Murdoch Royal Commission

Read and subscribe to some of our excellent Independent Media!

More information:

Does your political rep vote the way they say they do? Or is what's presented in gushing enthusiasm a ruse to get your vote? How do they vote on: Vaccines, Aged Care, Education, Financial support during covid, water & food security, foreign ownership to name a few?

Is your vote being used as YOU want it to be?

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Media Manipulation & gaslighting. Why would a media org run articles with opposing views on the same day?

Twitter thread by:

A. Based on a tweet this morning (September 10, 2021) about why a media organisation would run 2 pieces today with completely opposite points of view on lockdowns, here’s a thread about why they do this.

It’s absolutely crucial to understand this if we want to demand (and get) better media in AUS.
B. Firstly, it’s really helpful to watch the movie “Gaslight”, as it’s hard to understand the gaslighting concept otherwise.
We can briefly explain it but that’s not a replacement for watching the movie or reading deeply about gaslighting. Gaslighting is when a person is …

C. … taught to doubt the evidence of their own senses. It is NOT simply lying, although many confuse gaslighting with lying, which is unhelpful as it means people have NFI what it really means. Lying is far more simple than gaslighting, since if a person continually ..

D. … lies, they’ll be found out and nobody will longer believe anything they say. Gaslighting is far more complex. In the movie, a woman is married to a man who wants her committed to a mental asylum so he can use her money without obstruction. So he makes things happen …

E. … so he can tell her they didn’t happen. The most obvious example is he finds a way to (spoiler alert) make the gas lights flicker/dim in their home, but tells her they aren’t dimming. After a while, she believes his assertion she’s going mad (parlance of that time).

F. The crucial thing is his gaslighting of her is INTERMITTENT. Sometimes he lies, other times he doesn’t. You can’t understand gaslighting unless you fully understand that it doesn’t work unless it isn’t constant. In fact, it’s crucial a gaslighter keeps trust with a victim.

G. Unless there is a relationship and trust, a victim will wake up to what’s happening to them. Once a gaslighter has trust, they can THEN lie (but not too much or all the time) and the victim will think THEY are the problem. Even worse, the gaslighter will make the victim …

H. … feel really bad and guilty if they accuse the gaslighter of lying. This is the manipulation and abuse part. Eventually, a gaslighted person gives up and believes they are stupid or even have serious mental health problems. In the movie it gets very close to this.

I. What happens when an entire nation is gaslighted by its media? See, bad leaders & their business mates can’t damage a country without willing accomplices: THE MEDIA. Be aware we aren’t talking about ALL media here, nor are we saying all journos are abusers, gaslighters ..

J. … or anything but good people. But we do believe most media orgs in AUS right now practice regular gaslighting behaviours, and some are deliberate and outrageous masters at it. Sometimes they call it “balance” or “seeing both sides”, and some journos actually seem to …

K. … believe this is reasonable. However, gaslighting is NOT THE SAME as balance. Because balance is when both views are presented AT THE SAME TIME, which is not generally what the media are doing now when they present news and current affairs. What the commercial media …

L. … do in AUS is to flood their publishing/shows with poor info, then throw in an occasional factual piece. Then when people criticise them for lies, they can point to the good pieces to show they’re not liars. This keeps consumers in a constant state of not knowing ..

M. … if they’re good or bad, and keeps people tuned in to see what they do next. THAT’S THE CRUCIAL PART: all this is just about retaining consumers. Commercial media orgs can’t operate without advertising dollars. Yet the needs/wants of their advertisers are diametrically ..

N. … opposed to what most consumers want (esp. since #COVID19, which is why all this seems worse since early 2020). The only way a commercial media org can balance those 2 competing interests is to repeatedly gaslight consumers of their media.

O. Essentially, media really only care about companies (advertisers) but are required to keep consumers on a string by publishing truth from time to time. This is as bad (or worse) as those who gaslight in personal relationships, and is done for exactly the same reason.

P. It keeps people off balance. It keeps true motives hidden. It makes people doubt what they think they see and hear. It creates outrage, which is link clicks. It gives plausible deniability. And it keeps both dollars flowing in PLUS keeps the populace consuming that media.

Q. We are ALL being manipulated constantly by the media for power and money. 
As we said: we believe most individual journos don’t even understand the machine they’re part of. Most are decent people so this isn’t about most of them (some are just evil, but that’s another story).

R. The ABC and other media not heavily reliant on advertising dollars are different, but we’ll leave that to another day (if people are interested). The guts of what we’re saying is this: it’s more or less impossible to reform commercial media. Their needs and interests are ..

S. … in COMPLETE CONTRAST to the needs and interests of the public they claim to serve. Those contrasts cannot be reconciled at any level. That’s why they need to gaslight us constantly, because there’s no solution and no way to keep both groups happy.

T. Once people get this, they can start to get why complaining about bad media is pretty much useless. NOTHING will reform them except (a): strong media law reform and/or (b): forcing them to change or go out of business via consumer boycotts. The second path is what MFW do.

U. We must force media orgs to see that they’ll get more revenue/profit from doing what consumers demand than what they will from doing what their advertisers demand. It’s that simple. The only reason it’s NOT simple is that people don’t understand their collective power.

V. We CAN refuse to be gaslit. We CAN force them to be better, by refusing to give any money to their advertisers while they refuse to change. If tens of thousands of Aussies did this, we would change the media landscape overnight. Literally. NO MORE GASLIGHTING.

W. With the App we’re designing, we can take AUS back from media orgs who install the leaders big business want in power, and then gaslight us into believing we have the govts we deserve. It’s actually not that difficult. And it’s the ONLY thing that’ll work short/medium term.

X. If this tweet thread has given you any insight, please chuck us five bucks (or more if you can afford it). We’ll use this money to create and staff a website and App which will fuck up Murdoch, and then the others who are all gaslighting us into future death and oblivion.

Y. Don’t doubt this is one of the most important things we can collectively do for the future of a country which is at a dangerous crossroads. Thanks for reading:

Monday, 6 September 2021

Vaccines aren't the silver bullet against Covid-19. So what is? Do All The Things!

Thread as follows was shared Aug 28 2021 on Twitter by and is reproduced with permission.

Read on, it's important! Really important.

1/ HOW TO LIVE WITHOUT COVID-19: A PRIMER The maddening thing about our (the world's) situation is that the tools to live without COVID are all readily available and technologically simple to implement. Read on to see how we can (and must) LIVE WITHOUT COVID...

2/ VACCINES These are incredibly effective at preventing the most severe illness and death, much less so at preventing infection and transmission. But look, we haven't even had them for a year. They are an extraordinary scientific and technological achievement.

3/ They will be refined and developed in years to come and there is no reason to believe we will not eventually develop sterilising vaccines that will reduce transmission and have the potential to lead to herd immunity.

4/ But we are not there yet and that means vaccines are not yet the "silver bullet" we all hoped for and which many are (dishonestly) spruiking (sorry non-Aussies, there is no substitute for this excellent word).

5/ WHY IS "VACCINES AS A SILVER BULLET" SO DANGEROUS TODAY? 1. Large numbers remain unvaccinated, especially kids, for whom infection is very non-trivial. 2. Infection, even when vaccinated, carries consequences, especially the unknown, long-term effects of long covid.

6/ 3. Allowing rampant transmission of the virus within a vaccinated population selects for VACCINE-RESISTANT VARIANTS, potentially putting us back to square one. EVOLUTION. Charles Darwin, Huxley, Wallace et al: all the rage amongst the scientifically literate, don't you know?

7/ We need to face reality: Westerners vaccinated with the current vaccines will not walk amongst the virus like superbeings, immune to the ravages it inflicts on the lesser mortals in their own and other countries, with life going back to 2019 "normal". AIN'T. GONNA. HAPPEN.

8/ Luckily, there are quite a few other things we can do, IF WE ONLY DECIDE WE WISH TO. We need to simplify the strategic aim to this concept: "DO ANY AND ALL THE THINGS - VACCINES PLUS - TO KEEP R BELOW 1".

9/ If R, the (effective) Reproductive Number, is kept below 1, then the virus is in exponential decline and will eventually reach a state of zero transmission: #ZeroCovid. If R is greater than 1, the virus will continue to grow exponentially.

10/ The vaccines help to bring R down, but the current generation of vaccines does not do so nearly enough, so we need to do other things as well. What kinds of other things? Well, you know cholera? And how it's a really nasty, diarrhoeal illness which can kill within hours?

11/ This is what cholera vaccines look like and they are good(ish) , but not good enough. Cholera was not eliminated as a public health threat in most of the world through vaccination, but through improving water quality and sewage treatment.

12/\...\See where it says "Water-related spread of cholera bacterium has been eliminated in the United States due to modern water and sewage treatment systems"? We need to do the same kind of thing for COVID, and we can.

13/ Where we treated water for cholera, we now need to treat air for COVID. It is in the air, it is highly infectious, it floats long distances. I'm not even going to bother linking to articles about this. IT IS NOW SETTLED SCIENCE.

14/ So as we wait for even more magical vaccines to be developed - and while we humans may have a vicious evil streak, we are also very, very smart and cunning and so they will arrive eventually - we need to turn all our attention to purifying the air we all share.

15/ Because it turns out the air we breathe is the equivalent of the water we used to drink in Europe in the first half of the nineteenth century. In other words, it's FULL OF SHIT. But we know what to do to get rid of the shit and it turns out it is very, very simple:

16/ IMPROVE VENTILATION. And, where we can't improve ventilation, FILTER the viral (and other) aerosols out of the indoor air with mechanical filters and N95 or greater masks. Purifying the air we share is no less important to our health than purifying the water we drink.

17/ The only difference is that we do not understand the importance to our health of clean air in the way we do of clean water. This is simply ignorance and it must change quickly.

18/ EDUCATION We must educate the world's population about the importance of clean air and the many simple measures - avoiding crowding, opening windows - which can get us a large part of the way to breathing and sharing clean air.

19/ VENTILATION We need to set global indoor CO2 standards and we need to invest massively in infrastructure and technology to reach those standards.

20/ FILTRATION Mechanical filtration of the air we share is going to be a critical part of our future, especially in high risk environments such as hospitals. And then the other kind of filtration: masks.

21/ We are now 18 months on and N95 or above masking needs to be standard in the community. We need to get over the inhibitions we have and recognise that, for the moment at least, masking is here to stay.

22/ MOVEMENT RESTRICTIONS aka "Lockdowns". These are a necessary part of the arsenal to get R below 1 when necessary, but it is critical to realise that they are only needed as an emergency if the above measures fail.

23/ They are a sign that we have not been doing enough to ensure we are sharing clean air.

24/ By doing all of these things, "ANY AND ALL THE THINGS - VACCINES PLUS - TO KEEP R BELOW 1", then we will be able to "LIVE WITHOUT COVID". We will be able to eliminate COVID, get to #ZeroCovid. That doesn't mean COVID won't exist.

25/ It will just mean that we keep it under control, which, like cholera, means stamping on it when it breaks out to get it back to zero. And stamping on it using measures over and above vaccination.

26/ But isn't all this so terribly expensive and, frankly, a major hassle? Yes, it is, but the alternative of "living WITH COVID" is far, far worse. And come on people, look what we have done already.

27/ We are an incredible species that has transformed the face of the planet (for better or worse - we're not going there right now, luvvies). We SENT PEOPLE TO THE MOON IN THE 1960s. We carried out the D-DAY landings, the greatest, most mind-bending logistical feat in history.

28/ CLEANING THE AIR WE SHARE, like we cleaned the water we drink, is small fry compared to almost everything else we have ever achieved.

29/ So why aren't we doing it?

30/ Why are there so many voices trying to argue for a future of "LIVING WITH COVID" when all around the world we can see what a catastrophe it already is and when we know that will be nothing compared to the catastrophe of creating vaccine-resistant variants through allowing rampant transmission?

31/ Well, there are a few reasons, including:
Poverty of aspiration Poor reasoning ability Ultra short-term thinking Malign neo-liberal economic interests Failure to understand basic scientific concepts Active disinformation

32/ We simply cannot sacrifice all our futures to these kinds of nihilistic, and frankly psychopathic, influences. We need to understand the nature of the threat we face and put all our energies into the conceptually simple process of CLEANING THE SHIT OUT OF THE AIR WE BREATHE

33/ we once had to clean the shit out of the water we drink. And as we deal with this threat to humanity we must also deal with that other, much larger threat: climate change.

34/ All of the thinking which applies to the threat from COVID applies to the threat from climate change. So maybe, in the end, the COVID-19 pandemic will turn out to be the thing which awakens us from our slumber and gets us to work together rationally to save all our futures.