This piece originally appeared in the Identity issue of SWINE Magazine


By Alex Edwards

I get asked every so often whether pride events are still important.

Do we still need to celebrate being queer?

When I hear these types of questions, I think about all the pride events I have attended and what they meant for me….the most recent being Midsumma Pride March, held on the 23rd of May, 2021.

The march was a great event which ended up having around 8000 marchers from about 240 groups and a couple of hundred spectators. As one of the marchers at the event, it was amazing to attend – especially after the wild year that was 2020. Being part of the march, you can feel the love and support that exists, and for a moment you forget about the rest of society and just focus on the fact that there are other people like you with similar experiences. When you live in a society that is run by rich cis white men, a society that doesn’t understand you or your experiences, being in an environment that makes you feel included and a part of society is a huge thing. Pride events are a celebration, but they still act as a form of protest against a society that doesn’t accept us.

This is what pride has always been about. Queer people fighting for equal rights and acceptance in a society that doesn’t understand us. That fight isn’t over but also, sadly, we have our own problems accepting others, which continue to persist in the queer community (as in the community more broadly), including racism, gate-keeping of queer identities, and ableism. These things work to further isolate queer people who don’t fit into the more widely understood boxes of queerness or who aren’t cis or white, and who don’t have disabilities. These are issues that the community needs to work on.

I love being part of the queer community, however at times I am ashamed by the behaviours of some of its members. Instead of letting this dishearten me though, I see it as on opportunity to become better informed and then pass on that knowledge – something I work towards in my role as the SSU Queer Representative. I try to pass on knowledge about our history to those who are new to the community or want to become better allies. I also work towards finding out how we can better assist those who are marginalised within the community.

All of us deserve to feel safe and accepted for all elements of our identity. While we continue to fight for acceptance and recognition from wider society, it’s also important for those of us who understand what it’s like to be excluded, to ensure that we don’t continue to perpetuate those feelings of erasure or exclusion in our own communities.


Alex Edwards is the current SSU Queer Rep.

Photo by Raphael Renter on Unsplash

federal jobs plan another blow to full-time students

Author: Sam Roberts

On Thursday, the Morrison Government’s Job-Ready Graduate Package passed the senate with the support of One Nation and Centre Alliance. This new university funding model provides places for an additional 30,000 students by cutting government funding in many key disciplines, including for ‘job-ready’ degrees such as engineering. Centre Alliance’s price for supporting this bill – triple the funding for universities in their home state of South Australia, and over $250 million in pork-barrelling infrastructure spending – paints a stark picture of the harm of this legislation on the rest of the country.

The future for higher education funding under this model is dire, and worse still are the fee hikes for students studying degrees deemed less job ready by the Liberal Party and their bureaucratic central planning.

This bill alone is a terrible blow for low SES students, Indigenous students, and students who simply wish to study the degree of their dreams. But following the release of the Federal Budget last Tuesday, it is clear that we will soon face an even greater threat to the accessibility of our university system.

Enter the JobMaker Hiring Credit. This $4Bn measure is aimed at getting 16-35 year olds back to work, and off their JobSeeker payments. Under this measure, employers will receive up to $10,400 over 12 months for hiring an eligible young person. The catch is, only welfare recipients not studying full-time will be eligible. So while this program may help 450,000 young people find work, employers will be heavily disincentivised from hiring anybody not covered by the subsidy – including more than 250,000 students receiving income support payments. An employer would now have to forego the thousands of dollars they would receive hiring a JobSeeker recipient, in order to hire a full-time student.

The vast majority of students receiving income support, in fact, are currently covered by AusStudy, ABStudy, and Youth Allowance (Students). Years of neglect by successive governments has seen the rates of these payments stagnate. To cover the cost of living, most recipients are forced to supplement their income through work.

With student income support set well below the poverty line, hundreds of thousands of students now face a choice between attending university in poverty, or abandoning their dream of full-time study altogether. Following the Morrison recession, the perverse consequences of JobMaker, which will make it virtually impossible for students to enter full-time study and gain new employment, expose the fundamental flaw of our student welfare system.

Without a serious overhaul of existing student welfare payments, Australia is headed for a return to a university system built purely for the rich.

A system where only kids whose families can afford to support them through years of study have access to the full university experience, and the many opportunities it affords. A system where those who aren’t as fortunate are at best forced into 6 or more years of part time study, and at worst locked out of university altogether.

We can build a fairer and more accessible higher education system for the future.  A future where full-time study is viewed with the same level of dignity as full-time work. But for this future to become a reality for all, study, like work, should be fairly remunerated, not with welfare payments, but with a full living wage.

Sam Roberts is the current National Secretary of the National Union of Students, and the former President (2018-2019) of the Swinburne Student Union.

Header image courtesy of ABC News

Iso Pet Peeves: Lockdown 2.0

Author: Grace Ashford

By now, I’m sure everyone has experienced their fair share of frustration regarding all things corona. But is there anything more irritating, blood boiling and hair-pullingly exasperating than having to go back into lockdown because a security guard couldn’t keep it in his pants?

We’re back for a Lockdown 2.0 edition of Iso Peeves – this time, focusing on our favourite variety of aggravating personalities, all of whom played a role in The End of the World: Part Two.

“I just needed to see my gals!”

I hope that ‘last hoorah’ with the squad was worth Grandpa getting sick, Tiffany! Just a quick reminder: our mate COVID-19 doesn’t pick and choose when it will be highly infectious. It’s the night before lockdown, not the night before you’re most likely to contribute to the spread.

In a single night, you and your girls jeopardised the health of everyone you came into contact with afterwards! I trust you found the perfect Snapchat filter to hide the shame. ♥

“Pete Evans is my god.”

5G conspiracists, please leave the chat. It’s really cute how you think you can fight science – oh, wait! It’s actually not, because people are dying. Take off your tinfoil hat and read the stats.  It seems you haven’t allowed yourself time to process the severity of the global pandemic we are amidst. Once you’ve come to terms with your denial, please kindly buy some hand sanitiser and stay the fuck home.

“Wearing a mask doesn’t actually do anything.”

Out of everything to complain about, you lot are choosing to get strung up over a piece of fabric. (And you were likely the same people to blame the BLM protests for the outbreak while simultaneously hanging out at Chaddy with your other 7000 pals every weekend). Fact check: you’re wrong. While wearing a mask doesn’t stop you from contracting anything, data from the World Health Organisation states it severely reduces the spread of oral and sinus droplet transmission via breathing, coughing, and even talking by 95%. That’s a serious statistic, and if you feel the need to take issue with attempts to reduce the spread of a disease with a global death toll of more than eight hundred and twenty-nine thousand (as of 27/8/20), you need to check yourself.

“Just one last stop at Woolies on my way home from getting tested.”

Congratulations Patricia, you are literally doing the opposite of what has been so clearly reinforced since the beginning of this sh*t show! While our everyday supermarket workers are putting their lives at risk for minimum wage before our economy comes crashing down, you thought you’d quickly nip in for some quarantine supplies. And yet, you’ve not even had the respect to place actual necessities into your basket. Instead, you’ve had the audacity to snatch up a family size bag of Maltesers and a nice big tub of iso ice cream. Hope you ate up your chocolatey treats along with your words when you saw the news announcing Stage 4 restrictions.

Featured image by Tom Radetzki, via Unsplash

a fool’s paradise: the lost history of the idiot

Author: Andrew Dopper 


The word chatters off the tongue as it hits the roof of your mouth once, then twice, like the flourish at the end of a Spanish dance. Even those with a weaker grasp of the English language know both the word and the meaning. But what does it really mean?

A fool?


Yes, and, well, no. To truly understand the word, we must cast our minds back over two thousand years, to ancient Greece. It was here, deep in the Mediterranean, that the word idios was birthed – later adopted by Latin as idiota.

From angry old European men to Ren and Stimpy, the use of the word bears more history and importance than we give it credit. Variations of “idiot” existed as far back as the Ancient Egyptians, who used the term idi, meaning “to be deaf”, and in Old Babylonian with the word idim, meaning “to be blocked”. But it was in the ancient empire of Greece where the word became the insult we see today.

As you walk the well-trodden road in lower Athens, a woman passes by leading a goat. She asks of your health, and whether you have an interest in the purchase of the animal. You decline and carry on. A breeze sighs over the land from the Aegean Sea, and you detect the subtle tang of brine and fish from the docks where another trade ship has just moored. The breeze catches at your robe, and you nod a greeting to a passing mason, well known and respected. He respects you, for you are a politician, of sorts. It is 456 BC, and you are on your way to an assembly.

The term “democracy” first appeared in ancient Greek political and philosophical thought in the city-state of Athens during classical antiquity. The word comes from demos, “common people” and kratos, “strength”. The Athenians established what is generally considered the first democracy between 508–507 BC. The assembly you head to is of a smaller scale, for the citizens of only three local townships vote.

You enter the court atop the hill to warm greetings and the wave of friends. Your brother leans up against a column sucking on an olive. Then, you are greeted by Andros. You agree to go fishing with him come weeks end, and he moves on. Andros is a nice enough fellow, but unfortunately, my fair reader, this man is an idiot.

A senior member of the parliament you often visit the bathhouse with steps up beside you. A vibration runs up from his vocal cords, and his tongue presses the roof of his mouth like a mother testing a child’s forehead for fever. His mouth changes shape and muscle memory produce the final vibrations that reach your ears.


In this form, the word is not inherently negative. The older man was referring more to Andros’s class as a layman, a private citizen. Idios, after all, most commonly describes a private person. There is nothing wrong with this, but whilst all men over thirty are allowed to attend and vote at assembly, not all have to. Some take the label of idiotai, conceding to their class, maintaining that they are unskilled in the area of democracy. Yet whilst many humble commoners do not attend parliament, some do.

Andros is normally just another shuffling robe and raised hand. A good father and husband. A terrible fisherman but a decent carpenter. But, as mentioned, he is an idiot. Especially on this day, for the assembly plans to vote for a new road to a shrine of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, passion, and procreation.

Andros does not agree to the paving of this road. He insists on a road to the Eastern fields, to aid carts in reaching the Cephisian plains to the East, where the rivers flow long and slow. But the Eastern road is only an issue for the final month of winter when it becomes muddy. The shrine walk, however, is overrun by brush and thorns and visitors get lost.

The vote comes and all raise their hand, except Andros and one other man.

Talks begin.

“The road to the fields shall be repaired come next winter,” announces your uncle.

A compromise.

Nods and grunts.

A slave boy offers you more wine and you take advantage.

All hands but Andros’s reach to the sky now. It is the third time this vote has been held. Andros pleads his case and others too have prepared statements. A senior member makes his declaration, and all agree.

Andros shakes his head.

You see, the year passed, the term idios has been used with growing negativity.

The word is spoken now, and, soon enough, yelled. The senior members, too, mumble their labelling of Andros. Andros throws his arms up and is collectively ejected from the assembly. He has finally been pronounced an idiotai, or idios.

If, after reasonable and lengthy discussion, one person continues to hold up the vote, despite overwhelming research, evidence and agreement from experts, their attendance becomes pointless. Defunct. They are an idiot and are ejected from parliament. Some concede earlier. Some agree to carry on with the consensus of the most knowledgeable: the people of science, architecture, and philosophy. Some, like Andros, are sent back through the stone arches of the assembly to the scowling and shaking of fists.

It is not until the word idiot was used colloquially in 17th-century theatre, that it truly came to be used the way it is today. But its existence in early democracy gave idiot its foundation. The Greeks, in fact, held one of the greatest civilizations in human history. They invented machines, democracy, universities, mathematics, and science itself.

Don’t get me wrong; they were not flawless. War was perfectly viable as a tactic for expansion and resource gaining, and while the life of women in ancient Greece was not Hell, it was far from desirable.

a fool’s paradise: the lost history of the idiota fool’s paradise: the lost history of the idiot

Pericles’ Funeral Oration (Perikles hält die Leichenrede) by Philipp Foltz (1852)

Bringing our mind back to the present day, do we still go to war and destroy entire cultures for political tiffs and resources? Are women equal to men globally?

One thing certainly remains superior in the days of early civilization.

An idiot was an idiot.

Today, not only are idiots not ejected from parliament, they band together. These idiots remain, despite having no evidence, research, or even democratic majority. In fact, in many places, the idiots rule entirely.

The Eastern road or the road to the shrine of Aphrodite?

Often, in the present day, it takes years for such roads to be finally built. In many cases, the Eastern road will take priority to quieten the idiots. More and more, we see roads paved to nowhere, and sometimes, no roads at all. Yet the idiots remain content. Whilst the fisherman and the carpenter are skilled and vital members of society, they’re unskilled in the areas of science, civil engineering, and commerce; an idotai.

A comparison:

Climate change.

Yes, the infamous political topic of today. Science, majority belief, and global benefit and safety heavily lean towards the issue of climate change not only being true, but something that needs to be addressed immediately.

Yet, it is a topic firmly ruled by the idiot.

By denying science, math, experts, and the greater good of humankind and indeed the natural world itself, the idiots are winning. The idiots are louder, not more numerous. They are stubborn, not correct. In Australia, it is overwhelmingly common for political leaders to only be educated in business, maybe law, or to have received no higher education whatsoever. If these people sat in parliament in ancient Greece, they would have only occasionally been consulted on monetary issues; or perhaps would not have attended at all.

Australia’s current minister for welfare has a single degree in business – not welfare. The minister for education? A Master’s in foreign affairs.

And the minister for health, impressively, has two degrees – in law and international relations, however, rather than health.

No member of the entire party currently in power, in fact, has any form of degree in health, welfare, or education. None have a PhD. Three have no higher education whatsoever, and only one, in the entire government in power, has a degree in science.

This is a far cry from the parliaments of Ancient Greece.

Have we entered the age of the idiot? If so, what is the remedy? Is it to equal the loudness of the fool?

Mark Twain once wrote: “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

How do we eject the idios when the entire assembly are idiotai?

Perhaps the idiot must reclaim their title. A scientist knows nothing of fishing, so why would the fisherman be expected to know science?

Next time you call someone an idiot, cast your mind back to the assemblies of ancient Greece, when there was no shame in being an idiot, but there was in pretending you were not.

“It is better to be unhappy and know the worst, than to be happy in a fool’s paradise.”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot


Featured Artwork: King Lear and the Fool in the Storm by William Dyce (1806–1864) 

“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” –– Angela Davis

Resources that will help you imagine a world without police.

Author: Jessica Murdoch

View this post on Instagram

THIS!!!! Probably one of the most realest statements ever. We often ask people to imagine a world without crime or violence, and people immediately respond, “that’s impossible… that will never happen.” Peoples’ imaginations are so limited by their realties that they are unable to imagine a better world. To all the Youth, never take NO for an answer. Keep imagining and keep fighting for a just society! ✊🏽 ••• “The goal of oppressors is to limit your imagination about what is possible without them, so you might never imagine more for yourself & the world you live in. Imagine something better. Get curious about what it actually takes to make it happen. Then fight for it every day.” – @smashfizzle

A post shared by ¡Viva Oxnard! (@vivaoxnard) on

There are a lot of people asking us to imagine a different world right now. It may seem kind of scary. Or confusing. And I bet you’re seeing a lot of words that are new to you, with a lot of conflicting definitions and explanations.

View this post on Instagram

🙂 #defundthepolice

A post shared by julia (@activismgirl) on

I have seen so many different explanations about what “defund” and “abolish” and “disband” mean. Out in the wild (and by that, I mean on social media) they seem to be used interchangeably, or with a lack of understanding about what they really refer to – particularly when they are being criticised.

Even people in good faith may have differing ideas.

That’s why it helps to read widely and broadly. Yes, this includes source material – not just interpretations of this material written into an easily digestible graphic (even though they can be a helpful starting point).

View this post on Instagram

RESOURCES: link in bio – ACTION: link in bio to divest in police and invest in black communities. ty @mvmnt4blklives – I appreciate the folks who have let me know that my use of “Black bodies” in the 6th slide can be harmful and I apologize for that. While using that language to highlight the state’s dehumanization of Black people, I understand that I must do better in choosing my words when describing experiences that aren’t my own. – I’m currently receiving 1000’s of notifications a day from this post so I ask for understanding if it takes me a minute to get back to you in my DMs or I miss a message all together. – thx @glenfeezy and @mickmagger for the second set of eyes 👀🙏👀 – I’m staying out of the comments, gotta make space for my life offline. Take this opportunity to do your own research (link in bioooo) if you have questions on content or concepts. Please use this comment thread as an opportunity to practice compassion, especially for BIPOC folks. Stop, Observe, Care, Act 💜☮️💜 I’m not naive, I’ve been online, but it doesn’t hurt to ask 🙃 – Please repost at will, I don’t care if I’m credited, but please have sources on hand. #blacklivesmatter #defundthepolice #actionrecipe

A post shared by Gregory Flores (@afterwardsness) on

If I’m honest, trying to explain these issues is not what this piece is about. I’m not going to unpack the issues underscoring this topic, such as the history of police, police violence or transformative justice. Nor am I going to clarify how these narratives apply to the current #BlackLivesMatter movements around the world. That is being done regularly and much more effectively by many knowledgeable folks all over the internet (like the examples throughout this piece).

I am not an expert. I am just a person who is listening to so many people saying the system is broken, that it has been broken for a very long time.

This piece is for those of you who see that there is something not right with the current system, but at this stage, may not see how there can be any other options. Or perhaps, for those who can’t see how alternative options could possibly be implemented.

Honestly, that’s mostly where I am.

I can see that we have a problem, but I’m not sure that I understand how we’re going to go about fixing it.

If you are already vehemently opposed to the idea of defunding the police, this piece may not persuade you that we should be doing otherwise. I still encourage you to check out some of these resources, to make sure that you really understand what people are fighting for. This is simply a collection of resources I amworking through, in order to get my head around these ideas. If you are somewhere along the same path as me, this collection might be of use to you too.

I must note that as a white person, it’s really important for me to be careful and considered in the way I post about this type of political action. Bumbling into a conversation that we might be brand new to, and assuming we automatically have something original or useful to share is a trap. I certainly don’t want to place my voice at the centre of this conversation.

View this post on Instagram

**Edit: In place of sharing/following my account, please amplify the work of Black anti-racist educators. The best people to share about anti-racism work will always be those who have been directly oppressed by racism. You can find a list of incredible folx on the last slide, on top of countless others you will encounter through engaging in this work. I am complicit. I made the choice to include a white author’s quote in this post rather than amplify the words of Black leaders speaking from lived experience. This is a prime example of centering whiteness. I will work harder to center Black voices moving forward.** . . . I’ve had a number of conversations with white friends recently about the role of social media and whether it is helpful or hurtful to post about racism right now. I fear my whiteness and privilege will cloud my judgment. I fear centering my own whiteness. I fear getting things wrong. But I also know that sitting in my own fear is doing nothing to confront systemic racism. It continues the cycle of prioritizing my own white comfort over the life-and-death realities facing Black Americans and communities of colors. Here is my current understanding of my role as a white woman when posting to social media: 1. My silence and the silence of other white Americans is deafening. It is more important to speak out than to say nothing at all 2. Only speaking out online while taking no other actions is core to the problem. It plays a role in why “progressive” white women are one of the largest barriers to real change 3. If my words cause pain to Black individuals and other people of color, I will work like hell to learn, repair the damage and do better next time 4. If my words hurt white feelings, I am okay with that I am including a list of questions I ask myself as a white person before posting to social media. What would you add? Where did I miss the mark? . . . . #blacklivesmatter #whiteness #whitefragility #antiracist #amlearning #kidlit

A post shared by Caroline Kusin Pritchard (@carolinepritchardwrites) on

View this post on Instagram

Mariame Kaba is the abolitionist whose work first brought me to the concepts of transformative and restorative justice. (Buy her books, do your own work.) It’s still difficult sometimes to imagine how it could work—no, to imagine WHEN it could work, when will those in power (who are armed to the teeth) will see the direct connections between underfunding things that keep people fed, housed, educated, healthy, happy—and the perceived necessity of murderous police, a “justice system” that isn’t actually just (and the systemic aspect merely chews people up and spits them out—if they’re lucky), and a brutal prison industrial complex that is slavery dressed up as something deserved. But since the demonstrations started, I’ve felt more hope that the WHEN will happen. It might not be today or tomorrow, but it will happen if we all keep working towards it. Sustained effort that recognizes individual limits is what will make it happen. Ask yourself Mariame’s questions, and really reflect on the consequences of your actions. (That last bit is a reminder to myself first and foremost; the outrage spirals have been at an all-time peak for me for weeks-months-years). #mariamekaba #transformativejustice #blacklivesmatter #abolishpolice #defundspd #defundALLcops

A post shared by Maggi (@magggi) on


Many of us already lead a life largely free of police presence. This is due to the privilege of being white and having no previous offences to our names.

For many others, the world is very strikingly different.

Defunding the police would mean money would be directed to community services that could get to the root of numerous problems.

Many people are harmed by the current system. Black people and other people of colour, members of the LGBTQI+ community, refugees, people who are homeless or experiencing mental illness, sex workers, disabled people, and women in general can all be members of groups that experience unequal treatment. The system functions to give many of us the illusion of safety. But at what cost?

It is actively harming and killing many people and simply not working for many more – instead, it is upholding harmful systems of oppression.

View this post on Instagram

non-Black people can’t let fictions of ‘safety’ predicated on anti-Black violence limit our demands or our imagining. the price for the ‘safety’ we are invoking, the safety of togay, is too high. . [[set of Tweets by Caleb: 1. Seeing too many other non-Black people invoke specters of 'safety' as a response to abolition. With an understanding that Black folks, along with the rest of us, are unsafe NOW, we need to understand that the 'safety' we feel is predicated on a genocide of our Black relatives. 2. This is a price too high to pay for fantasies of safety, ESPECIALLY when anti-Black violence is carried out PRECISELY FOR our imagined 'safety'. Black liberation requires us to give up a lot BECAUSE so much of our 'safety,' among other affects, requires anti-Black violence. 3. We CAN'T need to be safe. We need to be brave, risky, creative &, above all, act & dream from a place of love and collective liberation, rather than a colonized & white supremacist fantasy of 'safety,' that too often means the murder & caging of our Black and Indigenous relatives]]

A post shared by Caleb Luna 🌚 (@chairbreaker) on

Police may provide me with the perception that I’m safer, but is that truly more important than the active harm others are subjected to? Additionally, do the current systems actually keep us safe in the way we perceive? One of the most common arguments against police defunding is what about the murderers and rapists?

Professor Alex Vitale has spoken about how policing has become so integrated into the rest of our lives, and why he believes reforming the police systems are not enough to make change.

In an interview, when asked about serial rapists and murderers, his response is pretty straight-forward. “Of course I’m worried [about serial rapists and murderers]. That’s the whole point of this movement. We’re worried that we’re not doing a good job of catching murderers and rapists now. We need something that’s better.

Vitale acknowledges that we may not know exactly what these strategies will look like. But looking at the root of the causes of this behaviour and committing to early intervention would a be much more effective way of with dealing with issues – especially those that stem from mental health crises and domestic violence cases. “Using guns and tasers is not the only way to deal with someone who is acting out. Often when we introduce someone with a badge and gun, we further destabilise the situation.”

In the same interview, Kimberly Foster points out that in domestic violence situations, victims often try to follow the correct procedures, but cannot be kept safe. “Police don’t prevent violence. It might postpone violence. It might postpone harm, but it is not really meaningfully intervening in the cycle that causes people to be killed.”

I don’t have all the answers for a better way. But I do believe they are out there. The fact is, the current system is actively harming and killing too many, and that’s reason enough for us to be actively looking for a better alternative. I want people to reach a place where they can acknowledge the current system is not working, and accept that not only is something better possible, but that people have already started to formulate these alternative ideas.

Just-cos-this-is-how-its-always-been isn’t a valid reason to uphold oppressive, harmful systems. Once, not so long ago, slaveholders believed the status quo was right. Lawmakers wouldn’t allow women or people of colour to vote. Different sexual and gender identities were, and largely still are, marginalised. All of these systems were created as ideas and they can, and have been, dismantled.

Many of us hear “abolish the police” and seem to think this is a new idea. The truth is, this is not a new concept. People have been researching and theorising alternatives to these current systems for a long time.

What it could look like:

“Abolition means not just the closing of prisons but the presence, instead, of vital systems of support that many communities lack.” —Ruth Wilson Gilmore. / via @mpd_150

View this post on Instagram

Here's something a little different for Friday. I've been studying, writing about, and practicing transformative justice for years. After a year of writing weekly photo essays, almost a third of them are about accountability. The idea of writing another one during this encouraging and overwhelming month was really challenging to me. So, to help keep my morale up, I decided to write about police and prisons in past tense, as if they had already been abolished. Political non fiction is a heavy practice, so It was refreshing to lean into the imagination that abolition requires. I'm still studying, learning from other abolitionists, and researching other community strategies to help me understand what comes next. More writings on abolition are coming next month. Until then, hopefully this piece gives you a morale boost as you navigate this flexible and changing moment. I have a special announcement coming later today! 💫💖💫💙💫💜💫 [ID in alt text] #SpeculativePolitics #PrisonAbolition #PoliceAbolition #TransformativeJustice #RestorativeJustice #DisabilityJustice #BlackTransLivesMatter #AfroFuturism #Anarchism #Interdependence #HarmonizersNotLeaders #CollectiveCare #EstelleEllison #AbolishTime

A post shared by Estelle Ellison 🏴💫 (@abolish_time) on

View this post on Instagram

I'm not asking you to agree with me. I just want to walk you through my thinking. Like you, I was hearing a ton about #defundthepolice and #abolishthepolice over the last two weeks, and I got curious so I started reading. . I knew our police system had serious problems. I believed people when they told me about their awful encounters with law enforcement. I was fully in favor of major reforms. But it had never occured to me to question whether or not we need policing at all. I thought it was just a given; I never considered questioning that assumption. . I feel dumb about that, because once I started looking into the thinking behind those hashtags, I realized that community safety and crime prevention can come in MUCH healthier and more effective forms than we currently have. Why would I simply assume, for all these years, that having traumatic encounters with the police was just the way it is; just a part of life? . Anyway, I wrote a Twitter thread talking about this and shared it in my Stories (I also saved it in a highlight called Defund+Abolish), but several people asked me to put it in an IG post too, so that they could share it to their own stories. So that’s what this is. Swipe left to read it. . If you'd rather read the thread on Twitter (it includes lots of helpful reference links), you can find the thread link via my profile, or you can also see the thread as a blog post on #DesignMom. So, lots of options! Have you done any reading about what it could look like to defund the police and use those funds for things like housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, and funding education? Have you gone on a bit of a journey like I have? Or do you favor smaller reforms?

A post shared by Gabrielle Blair (@designmom) on

I don’t think we should dismiss something because we don’t understand it, if we haven’t actually engaged with it on a deeper level.

We should be asking questions – not in search of disingenuous gotchas, but due to a genuine willingness to engage with, think about, and consider other possibilities.

Charlene Carruthers, in conversation with Kimberly Foster, talks about how important conversations are for those who are genuinely curious and interested, rather than asking questions to just be adversarial. She says, “we have a duty to come at it in a way that’s not condescending.”

In the same conversation, Derecka Purnell acknowledges the huge shift many of us will need to make. She says recognising and affirming people’s entry points to this conversation is essential – that a lot of what we believe about what is ‘natural’ has been socialised into us. “Everything we’ve been sold on, being interwoven into this American project, we have to start calling into question.” She recognises the need to push ourselves to think differently, pointing to her own experience of feeling overwhelmed by the politics around climate change, until she did the research. “When people hear police abolition and they think ‘oh my god it’s so overwhelming’, I have felt like that about climate change. Until I read a book.

Reading through the comments on this video, there’s a fair amount of “…they’re not answering the questions!”; “I still don’t see what the alternative is supposed to be!”; “There’s no clear steps to what we have to do!” But I think they are all missing the point. I think this conversation is an example of these women talking through their ideas. They are demonstrating that there are no easy solutions, that this is an ongoing discovery of new ideas.

In another video in this series, Dr Brittney Cooper demonstrates that she is still working her way towards understanding abolition, and explicitly says, “I don’t like claiming positions that I haven’t worked my way through yet.”

As Kimberly identifies, the question of whether any of this is possible, is a big road block for many. Derecka points out that there are risks that will need to be taken and that it will take imagination and will.

I believe that if you’re looking for a simple answer, you’re not engaging effectively. People are talking about a complete change of a system here – there are no simple answers. We’re trying to shift entire mindsets as to how our whole world functions. This takes openness, and a willingness to work towards a different way of being – one that is unfamiliar for many of us.

The whole point of this conversation is to recognise there IS a problem and to be open to imagining alternatives. We’re so used to expecting a quick fix. A sound bite. An easy to digest idea. But these are not easy concepts. These are century old issues. They are complex and nuanced. We need to seek out the people who have been having these conversations, put our ego to the side and listen for a while.

If you’re not willing to go out and do the work of researching and deep learning? You probably aren’t ready to have this conversation.

We need to be willing to actively do the work.

Bookmark these links and resources.

Today, maybe start by checking out these introductions. Seek out and follow some of these people on social media. Listen. Read.

When you want to learn more, check out some of the longer articles and video resources.

If you still have more questions? Great! Check out the some of the books listed in these resources.

Changing the world is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself.

I want to reiterate that it is vital to be centering Black voices (especially Black women), within my research on these topics. Most of the work and resources I’ve collected here reflect that.

If this is something that you believe is important, if you really do believe that Black lives matter, the very least we can do is read, watch and listen to what has been put out into the world for us already. Many people have put in the work to create these resources, but we can’t expect to be spoon-fed everything.


Kimberly Foster (whose voice on a whole range of concepts and ideas are worth listening to) has been doing an excellent series of videos where she is exploring a range of these ideas. Within these videos, she brings in a range of people who have been doing the work around this area for a long time – some more than 35 years!)


Writers, activists, academics who featured in the videos I quoted:

Dr. Brittney Cooper

Derecka Purnell 

Charlene Carruthers 

Professor Alex Vitale (his book is currently available for free download)

Mariame Kaba

Towards the horizon of abolition: A conversation with Mariame Kaba

Professor Angela Davis

Angela Davis breaks down what “defund the police” means (video)

9 Essential Angela Davis Books to Add to Your Shelf

Professor Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Is Prison Necessary?

Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California

Further reading and resources:

Reformist reforms vs. abolitionist steps in policing

MPD150 Resource Page

Reading Towards Abolition: A Reading List on Policing, Rebellion, and the Criminalization of Blackness

Towards the horizon of abolition: A conversation with Mariame Kaba

View this post on Instagram

I'm sure you've seen a ton of these floating around at this point, but I wanted to specifically speak to some of the literature that's available to us from writers, thinkers, and scholars of color! #abolition ⁣ ⁣ 𝘏𝘦𝘭𝘱 𝘮𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘶𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘦𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦!⁣ Venmo: @𝐀𝐥𝐞𝐱-𝗪𝐞𝐛𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫⁣⁣ Cashapp: $𝐥𝐞𝐱𝐢𝐜𝐨𝐧𝟗𝟏⁣ ⁣⁣ Image description: Slide 1:⁣⁣⁣ Abolition 101: A POC guide for beginners⁣ ⁣ Here's a non-exhaustive list of entry-level works by abolitionist writers and thinkers of color. Enjoy!⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 2:⁣⁣⁣ #1 Are Prisons Obsolete? Chapter 2 (by Angela Davis)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ In chapter 2 of Dr. Davis's seminal literature on prison abolition, she challenges us to stretch our political imagination and conceive of a world without cages.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here:⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 3:⁣⁣⁣ #2 The Police Can’t Solve the Problem. They Are the Problem. (by Derecka Purnell and Marbre Stahly-Butts)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ In this opinion piece for the NY Times, movement lawyers Purnell and Stahly-Butts raise the alarm about reformist solutions to an innately violent system.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here:⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 4:⁣⁣⁣ #3 Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police (by Mariame Kaba)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Amidst global Black liberation uprisings, renowned abolitionist activist Mariame Kaba pens this piece to demystify the abolitionist roots of calls to defund the police.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here:⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 5:⁣⁣⁣ #4 Ruth Wilson Gilmore Makes the Case for Abolition (Intercepted)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ In this episode of the Intercepted podcast, abolition scholar Ruth Wilson Gilmore delivers a master class on the expansive tendrils of the carceral state.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here:⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 6:⁣⁣⁣ #5 Beyond Bars: Prison Abolition Should Be the American Dream (by Reina Sultan)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ #8toAbolition co-author Reina Sultan urges us to "dream bigger than criminalization and bondage" in this piece that synthesizes voices from abolitionist thought leaders.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here:⁣⁣⁣

A post shared by alex webster (@lexicalentry) on

View this post on Instagram

WE DO NOT NEED THEM @MPD_150 @urdoingreat

A post shared by Sky (@femmmeow) on

A comprehensive collection of local resources: 

aus blm allies resource sharing doc

Path to Equality

The header image for this article was photographed by our regular contributor Rachel Lloyd-Owens, and taken at Melbourne’s June Black Lives Matter rally. 



university fee reforms will prevent students from realising their potential and succeeding in the workforce – here’s why

Author: Tina Tsironis

Recently, the federal government announced their plans to significantly increase the student contribution for numerous tertiary courses. To unpack the impact these reforms may have on the quality of life and career prospects of Australian students, I have drawn on the perspectives of a Year 12 student, an Arts student, and somebody situated somewhere in between: me; a postgraduate student currently working in my chosen field.

K, who wishes to remain anonymous, is concerned about what these reforms will mean for her when she transitions from Year 12 to university next year. “I am worried that the prices are being increased as a way of discouraging students from entering certain fields,” K, who is hoping to study Arts and Education, said. “This makes me feel nervous about whether an arts degree will help me in my career or if I will have to end up switching into a field with strong job prospects despite not being interested in it.”

While the student contribution for Arts degrees will go up, future students studying ‘job-ready’ courses, many of those in  STEM, will supposedly enjoy a reduction in their fees. But the government is not planning to make up for this reduction, nor for the 39,000 new places they have announced for these courses, with extra funding. Swinburne Senior Lecturer Dan Golding breaks this down on Twitter here.

While STEM degrees may be cheaper under these reforms, how can universities provide high quality education with less funding, and thousands upon thousands of new students? Students will inevitably experience a drop in their overall course quality. Academic who are already stretched thin will have to deliver their learning with less support, and significantly less resources. These job-ready graduates will be thrust into the ‘real world’ completely ill-equipped to succeed.

As students, we have experienced a drastically destabilised education following Swinburne’s shift to online class delivery over the last several months. In the wake of COVID-19, our usual classes have been thrust out of their usual contexts and wedged, often uncomfortably, into the online sphere. Without access to the physical resources or face-to-face learning environments that many courses demand, learning hasn’t been the same. Imagine having to experience this diminished quality of education for your entire degree? Unless we fight these reforms, our future peers and colleagues will have to live this reality for three to four years – or even more.

Media and Communications graduate and former SWINE editor Imogen Bailey told me that if she were heading to university now, the proposed fee reforms would likely impact her choice of degree. “If I’m honest, when I was starting my degree, I didn’t consider the cost of my course as I knew I would be taking out a HECS/HELP debt,” Bailey, who is now working as a journalist, explained. “Being asked this question though, it prompted me to look at how much I owe on my HECS/HELP debt and it’s more than I would’ve liked – about $21,000 following three years of indexation,” she added.

“If I were in the same position that I am now, living out of home, working full-time and paying for expenses and was looking to undertake a degree, the increased fees and associated debt would definitely make me second guess whether or not doing the degree would be worth it.”

While K said the Government’s plans will not impact her decision to study Arts/Education, as she has “been interested in this course for a long time,” she is now rethinking her other preferences. “I was also considering courses in social sciences, but due to the [proposed] fee increases, I have now started researching courses in health sciences.” she said.

“As I am really interested in social sciences and humanities, I think studying these areas will strongly add to my quality of life as it will allow me to work in a field that I am very passionate about, but I am fairly unsure about the job prospects in such fields.”

K’s uncertainty regarding her employability is not uncommon. After graduating from my BA/Honours in Media and Communications, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t worried about being stuck in a retail job that I didn’t enjoy for the rest of my life. How could I not be worried, when well-meaning but ridiculously irritating relatives tried to convince me that my degree was worth nothing in the real world, while the federal government itself, continued (continues, really) to display a blatant disregard for the creative arts and journalism sectors?

But my passion for writing and media; for curating stories that make people think or spur them to purchasing something or get out and vote or see some sort of niche issue in a new light, has provided me with nearly all the motivation I need to proceed throughout my Honours and Masters. Yet it is thanks to my wonderful tutors and lecturers, thorough course material, hugely relevant extracurricular activities and my incredibly rewarding and challenging tenure as SWINE editor, that I have been able to shape my creative skills and succeed this early on in my career.

COVID-19 has been tough, and often incredibly demotivating, for many of us – students and workers alike. But without the support, experience and insight that I have been exposed to throughout my tertiary education, I would have crumbled under the pressure in my work life. Instead, I have been able to do some of the best work I’ve ever done. I have been able to reshape content in a way that heightened the engagement levels of my clients, and develop fruitful and likely long-lasting creative relationships with SWINE contributors and department heads here at Swinburne.

Bailey, who graduated in 2017, echoes my sentiments. “As a journalist it’s imperative to have knowledge on media law, editing and sub-editing, research and interviewing, story structure, and, punctuation and grammar skills. While I undoubtedly learned new skills on the job, I wouldn’t have been able to improve on my skillset without a strong foundation. Having the degree is the theory and then getting the job is putting it into practice.”

Beyond these technical skills, the array of perspectives Bailey was exposed to as an Arts student proved invaluable in fleshing out her skillset – and her life. “I was also exposed to different ideas at university, which challenged my beliefs and helped me to gain a wider perspective on issues – sometimes reinforcing my ideas and other times helping me to change my mind,” she explained. 

“Encountering people of different races, religions, political opinions, physical abilities, experiences, sexualities and socio-economic status equipped me with the skills to communicate to people with empathy, openness and compassion – a vital skill in journalism and life.”

While Bailey acknowledged the importance of extra-curricular activities in strengthening one’s overall skillset, she finds it disappointing that Arts is often perceived as a “throwaway” degree. “I don’t see how anyone can lose out by being able to think critically about politics and ideas; being able to dissect media and detect persuasive language and messages, or knowing about cultural movements and thinking throughout history,” she said.

To all students reading this, current or otherwise: it is imperative that our peers have access to affordable, quality education – education that will deepen their thinking, advance their theoretical and practical knowledge of their chosen fields, and sharpen their ability to adapt in a business setting. Without this access, Australia will suffer. Let’s ensure that all students have the opportunity to realise their potential. Join us in calling on Minister for Education Dan Tehan to stop these reactionary, unnecessary fee reforms, by signing  the National Union of Students’ petition here.

Header image by Karen Martinez, courtesy of Unsplash.