: Opinion

Opinion

In each issue of the Alternative Law Journal, we run an Opinion. Although not necessarily the Opinion of the issue editors, sometimes it will be an editorial which attempts to unify the issue theme, and will point to issues raised in the edition. Other times, the Opinion will be a controversial piece designed to publicise or encourage discussion on a particular topic. But, no matter what, our Opinions are always worth reading. Here are the Opinions that we have published recently.

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A ‘fair go’ for all

Joanna Shulman

Discussion about the proposed Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination legislation has been dominated by a debate on religious organisation exemptions and freedom of speech. There has been public outcry over religious organisations being exempt from the legislation and the ramifications for service provision to some of the most vulnerable people in Australia.

This is an important debate, and yet it has somewhat hijacked discussion of the Bill overall. The Bill’s fundamental aim, to introduce a more efficient and effective regime for organisations and individuals to address unlawful discrimination, has been overshadowed by the religious exemption issue.

(2013) 38(1) AltLJ 2

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Justice and Poverty

The Editors

Can we ever claim to have meaningful access 
to justice and the rule of law, when poverty is still so pervasive in Australia? According to research released by the Australian Council of Social Service (‘ACOSS’) in October this year, an estimated 2 265 000 people —12.8 per cent of all Australians — are living below the internationally accepted poverty line used to measure financial hardship in wealthy countries. This includes 575 000 Australian children (17.3 per cent).1 ‘In a wealthy country like Australia, this is simply inexcusable,’ said ACOSS CEO 
(and Alternative Law Journal contributor)2 Cassandra Goldie, when releasing the report.

(2012) 37(4) AltLJ 220

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Constitutional reform: Are we ready?

Anne Macduff and the ACT committee

When the tall ships from England arrived on the shores of what became known as Australia, the Indigenous peoples were not recognised. Indigenous laws and culture were subjugated to the laws and culture of England. And again at the moment of Federation in 1901, the Indigenous people were not recognised. The Australian Constitution ignored both Indigenous claims to land and Indigenous sovereignty. Indigenous peoples were excluded from being counted in the census, and their right to vote was dependent on state laws which were largely exclusionary.

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 150

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Capitalism: A blunt instrument

Mark Rankin and Alice Drury

We have all seen the Occupy movement. It is a global phenomenon. Although there is no centralised organisation, but rather localised action groups, it can be discerned that the movement as a whole is protesting against social, political and especially economic inequities.1 The explanation for this inequality, according to the Occupiers globally, is capitalism.

(2012) 37(2) AltLJ 76

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You are never too old 
for community justice

Virginia Bell

On tap, not on top - TindaleCover art from David Neal (ed): On Tap, Not on Top: Legal Centres in Australia 1972–1982 (LSB, 1984)
© Bruce Tindale
The Alternative Law Journal grew out of the community legal centre (‘CLC’) movement and it is fitting as we approach Fitzroy’s Legal Service’s 40th anniversary that the Journal should devote an issue to the anniversary and to a critique of the CLC movement in settled middle-age.

My recollections are of the early days of the Redfern Legal Centre (‘RLC’), which opened its doors some five years after Fitzroy in 1977. The impetus for RLC’s establishment came from a group of very talented academic lawyers at the University of New South Wales’ Law School. Fitzroy provided the model. This journal — then under the less ambitious masthead, the Legal Service Bulletin — was influential in providing a forum for the exchange of ideas among legal academics and others associated with the emerging CLC movement. As Jude McCulloch and Megan Blair point out in their historical overview, the seeds of the CLC movement can be seen in the ‘politically turbulent 1960s’ and the movements for social and political change that stemmed from those times: the Vietnam moratorium marches, the ‘second wave’ of feminism, the freedom ride and gay liberation. I share Julian Gardner’s memories of the excitement and stimulation of practice in a CLC in those early days.

(2012) 37(1) AltLJ 2

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