COVID-19 Series: #1

Author: Millie Spencer

In the first week of semester 1, my Global Media Industries lecturer began his lecture by telling us that 70% of people meet their life partner at university…so if we didn’t want to die alone, we should turn up to class. Looking around the room of first years, I could see from their wide eyes and open mouths that they were experiencing an epiphany: ‘I’m actually going to bother turning up to uni!’ But then we were hit with COVID-19, forcing us to stay home, interact with people via a screen and most likely ruin our chances of ever meeting a life partner.

Victoria’s forced lockdown has evidently destabilised traditional expectations of dating life. How has this societal shift, combined with the general instability of life as a university student during a global pandemic, impacted on the lives and mental health of students?

Jazzy Swedosh, a second year Bachelor of Health Science student, suffers from   depression. She told me that COVID-19 exacerbated her tendencies to overthink, resulting in her becoming introspective to the point where she almost lost grip on reality. Her partner who had never experienced depression before also began to suffer, as a result of social isolation and not being able to attend university on campus.

“He needed me to emotionally support him just as he’d done so often to me, but my struggles with mental illness prevented that,” Swedosh explained. “I’d try to help him, but my lack of self-worth believed that I was the reason he was depressed, and that my selfishness about making it all about me only made him feel worse.”

Swedosh and her partner have been together for over a year and generally see each other daily. “[Pre COVID] My boyfriend and I went from having sex every day to about once a week, I was expecting the opposite and I even invested in some sex toys for us to use together.”

Although Swedosh and her partner continued to see each other, they felt their “connection begin to dwindle. “We both lost our sex drive and began to feel not 100% comfortable around each other. We communicated all of this and talked regularly about how this feeling of emotional distance was affecting us, but it’s still just so hard.”

They are currently still seeing each other, but less frequently, Swedosh told me – in the hope that it will give them some more clarity about how to handle this situation. “We are so in love with each other and this is our first real rough patch, and it’s been so hard realizing that we are not immune to struggling with our relationship (as I know no one else is).” She is holding out hope things will go back to normal and their relationship will be stronger than ever. “I am 100% certain that the amount of love we have for each other will prevail and we will be stronger after getting through it together .”

Like Swedosh and her boyfriend, COVID-19 has affected the mental health of many young people in Australia. A recent ANU study indicated that 10.8 per cent of Australians reported a serious mental illness compared to 8.7 per cent in 2017. With young people aged between 18-34 years being largely responsible for this increase, the impact of the pandemic on our dating lives becomes clearer.

However, the global pandemic didn’t quite spell doom for P’s love life. P, a Swinburne student and academic staff member who wishes to remain anonymous, took to online dating for the first time during the pandemic. It had been a while since she last had a relationship, so she took the opportunity to delve into the world of dating by downloading Bumble.

She swiped right and quickly initiated a connection with someone who worked near her. “We recognised each other from work, so it was already a bit promising,” P told me. They managed to catch up for two dates before Victoria was in a complete lockdown and decided to continue dating by moving their relationship online, where they tried to be inventive with their virtual dates. Because her date worked in the hospitality sector, they organised to cook food for each other and drop it off to their respective houses “without actually interacting”. Video calls asking deep questions, virtual cards against humanity and Netflix watch parties were also common for the pair.

P said they had “great conversations” and got to know each other quickly, which was a welcome contrast to her previous dating experiences, where the physical tends to happen early on. “In this case it was very much like getting to know the person for who they are, which was really lovely.”

However, P said the online dating experience was full of ups and downs. Sometimes she would feel amazing after their dates, while at other times, they would message each other and express how flat they felt because they couldn’t see each other in person. “I think those ups and downs sometimes can impact you a lot harder, especially in isolation. You don’t really have your friends that you can see in person to vent to, or chat about the date with, you can talk to them with video call, but it’s different to when you can just hug a friend.”

With her main focus during the pandemic being to keep her family safe, keep herself safe “and not spread anything”, P set clear boundaries with her date, including “not catching up in person until the health authorities/Government said it was finally safe to do so.”

While they were aware of the fact that partners were allowed to see each other during lockdown, P says they we were not quite at “that stage”, which left the pair in a “weird grey area.” These boundaries proved to reveal their compatibility. “I eventually found out he was not really honouring the lockdown restrictions, whereas I was being a bit more strict with them.”

As restrictions started to ease, P arranged an in-person date. But the week before the date was due to happen, her date became very “flaky and distant.” Eventually, he called P and told her “considering you’re so worried about the health side of things, you know, I’m still going to be going out, catching up with friends. I’m still going to be doing all this stuff and I’m not sure how comfortable you’re going to feel around me. So maybe it’s best we wrap this up.”

“It threw me off quite a bit, because his personality on the phone was completely different to how he had been this entire time,” P said.

P said this experience was a “massive learning curve”, with her date’s refusal to adhere to lockdown restrictions “being an indicator of [us] not being on the same page in general”. “If someone can’t take the situation seriously and do the right thing, it makes you question how seriously they’ll take any situation.”

She advised that for anyone struggling with dating or relationships, setting boundaries that allow you to uphold your personal values is vital ,“especially during something like a pandemic when you have kind of no choice but to uphold those values, you can really kind of filter out the ones who are really not meant for you.”

Essentially, this experience has allowed P to learn more about herself and unpack what she wants in a relationship. Though online dating can be flaky and end quickly as a result, “either way [it’s an] insane learning experience and, definitely something that you reflect on when you’re like 80 years old and you’d be like, yeah, during the COVID-19 pandemic I dated someone.”

“I think it’s given me a really good insight into dating, for when it becomes a bit more normal again. Honing more into that beginning phase of really getting to know the person and testing those boundaries and seeing where you both lie,” she said.

“Pandemic virtual dating [is] actually quite a heavy thing to deal with and what would typically be a casual dating experience could end up [feeling] just as serious as a monogamous dating experience,” she added.

“For anyone who’s not done long distance before, you know you can do it if you can do it in a pandemic.”

P is now more open and confident about the idea of online dating. Mid-pandemic or otherwise, explaining that she “definitely wouldn’t deny the experience in the future.” With that said, online dating can foster a “keyboard warrior mentality” that may leave couples less connected to each other. “Sometimes I think you make promises and, you know, you kind of create all these ideas because you feel less, I guess, attached to the situation because it is more virtual.”

In order to succeed, P believes that online dating requires a mutual agreement between both people from the beginning, to ensure that clear boundaries are set and open communication is established.

“I think it takes a cliché; it takes two to tango.”

She added that both people should disclose what they are willing to do or not do, understand each other’s preferences and engage in consistent, open communication.

“And you know, the minute you feel like you can’t do it anymore, just say it because the worst thing is not getting messages back for a week.”

Though COVID-19 has simultaneously impacted the relationships and mental health of students, it has allowed some young couples to forge stronger bonds. Pippa Criss-Chisholm, a fourth-year part time student studying Games and Interactivity, has been living with her partner Austin throughout the pandemic. Criss-Chisholm has had to take on the “home maker role rather than working partner role” after losing her job.

“I somehow feel as if I have let down my feminist predecessors by losing my job,” she said.

Criss-Chisholm explains that her mental health has suffered as a result, presenting a challenge for the couple.

“[Austin] is endlessly supportive but when I’m spending 9 hours of my day by myself, a lot of those hours after dark, there is only so much he can help.”

Despite these difficulties, Austin has been a great source of support for Criss-Chisholm. “He held me through my tears of anger and grief, my panic and not being able to get what we needed from the shops,” she said.

“He has been my rock. He even nursed me when I became sick and had to isolate after testing and made sure I was warm and cared for.”

Criss-Chisholm has noticed a change in her relationship dynamic due to the stress of losing her job and being isolated from family and friends. Being alone for most of the days, Criss-Chisholm now treasures the evenings and weekends when Austin is home from work.

Evidently, dating during COVID -19 is complex and multifaceted in nature – and doesn’t come without its low-points. Many of us have had to adapt by moving beyond conventional ways of initiating and maintaining relationships.

2020 has been life-changing for many of us, but the stories of Jazzy, Pippa and P have shown that when we think creatively, support our partners and set clear boundaries, our relationships can serve as a great source of comfort when the world feels like it has been flipped on its head.

About Millie Spencer 

Millie is a first year Media and Communications student majoring in Journalism and Media Industries. She has written for the Swine, The Standard and is the editor of Boroondara Youth’s online publication SPACE Reviews. Millie has a background in Arts and Events and one day hopes to work as a Producer or Media Advisor for a media outlet or arts organisation. In her spare time Millie enjoys walking, baking sourdough, playing with her puppy Bonnie and shopping for earrings made by local designers, adding to her growing collection!

 

“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

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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

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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.

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🙂 #defundthepolice

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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).

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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

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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.

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**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

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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

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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.

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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]]

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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

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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

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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? https://twitter.com/designmom/status/1270038204754919424?s=20

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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.

People: 

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

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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: bit.ly/prisons-obsolete⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ 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: bit.ly/police-problem⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ 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: bit.ly/literally-abolish⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ 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: bit.ly/gilmore-intercepted⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ 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: bit.ly/abolition-dream⁣⁣⁣

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WE DO NOT NEED THEM @MPD_150 @urdoingreat

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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.

 

burning home

Author: Girish Gupta 

Featured image by Jen Theodore, courtesy of Unsplash

CW: this poem includes references to self-harm and suicide. 

I see these walls burn,

as the heat scorches through my skin

and I wonder to myself,

is this the hottest it could have been?

 

A flame catches in my sleeve

as I scream and scream and scream

A glass shatters on the floor,

all the pain turns me green

 

I can feel the loss of breath

as I starve to survive

I remember all my laughter

but pain has been my life

 

I remember the days I’d fly

high above the ground

They’d look at me and wonder,

who is that so proud?

 

And I feel me lose myself

as I dwell on fears and worries

But what really slows me down

are all these worldly hurries

 

I ponder and decide

to put the fire out

despite the scars it’s given me

Indeed, my scars are loud

 

And I inhale and gulp the heat

as I stand here, just me

Without bells or whistles or glitter

this is the prettiest I can be

 

I know just in this moment

why I gave up the chance to fly

And I know how to just walk past

all the times I’m asked ‘why?’

 

I’ve just got to be me,

that is my deepest desire

Yet the lack of this is why

I have lit my house on fire.

stains

 Author: Andrew Dopper

Featured image by anja, courtesy of Unsplash.

           The first of them arrived in 1963, soon after I came to be. They were so proud. They were a young couple who drove me from Sydney to Melbourne. He worked as a butcher and she had just finished school and wanted to become a nurse. Their names were Patrick and Heather. He worked for her father. They were so in love and so free. They were already fighting by the time they got to Wollongong.

            She wanted to drive down the coast, but he wanted to go see the capital. They arrived in Canberra early on a Sunday morning and everything was closed, and the fog was thick. They found a fish and chip shop that opened early and parked under a willow tree near the local football oval. They sat on my bonnet and she showed him how to make bracelets out of the willow vines and they talked about what they were going to name their children. She spilt Coca Cola on the seat laughing at fangs he had fashioned from two hot chips. They burnt his gums but he didn’t care, and the Coca Cola stain was the first of many stains.

          An old man walking a dog wandered by. Nice car mate, he said, that the new Holden? Heather patted the old man’s dog and Patrick answered, yeah, she’s a beauty, drivin’ down to Melbourne actually.

       The dog didn’t seem to like being petted and the old man said they should visit the National Museum. They said they would, but instead they drove to Batemans Bay. They bought some cannabis from a guy outside a pub and drove outside of town, down into a little picnic spot by the sea. They got high and listened to The Beach Boys on the radio and slept in the back seat. They were the first to sleep in the back seat. They drove from town to town until they got to Melbourne, where they lived in a rental atop of a milk bar. Patrick worked in a deli and Heather studied to become a nurse, but Patrick couldn’t get enough hours and Heather decided she hated sick people. One night they were driving home from the picture theatre and Heather said she wanted to hit the coast again and she wanted to travel, and the world was changing.Patrick said they had to start their careers and buy a house and have children.

            That was the first breakup.

            Patrick got an apprenticeship as a mechanic and met a girl named Sally. She was a hairdresser and loved when they played disco on my radio. She also liked new things. One day after work, Patrick sat on my bonnet making a bracelet from a willow vine and drinking beer and a co-worker said his little brother was looking to buy a car and Patrick said he was selling.

            That’s how Rodney got me.

            He worked at a hardware store in Collingwood and he liked when the radio played rock n’ roll. He drove fast and never changed the tires and spilt rum on the back seat when he was making out with a girl named Sandra. One night his mate went away to Adelaide to see family, and Rodney drove into the backyard and they sat around a fire and listened to Led Zeppelin and drank beer, and on the way home Rodney drove me into a post office box.

            He wasn’t allowed to drive me anymore.

            The next was another couple. Their names were Davo and Cass and they were from Geelong. They were musicians and sold plants at markets. One night after a Rod Stewart concert, they slept in the back seat. Nine months later Davo decided he had to get a job while Cass stayed home with their new baby. Davo got a job as a roadie and toured with The Angels and went to New Zealand with the band. They didn’t take me. One afternoon driving to the supermarket, Davo said he fell in love with the South Island and so they decided to move there. The baby vomited on the passenger seat right next to the Coca Cola stain and they laughed because the baby laughed.

            The next was Julie.

            Dunno, she said to her friend Amanda, I think they just wanted to get rid of it cos they were movin’ to New Zealand or something. That morning they drove to the beach and went for a swim. It was summer in Geelong and Amanda spilt sauce from her hamburger on the driver’s side seat, trying to turn up the new Guns N’ Roses song. They swam and swam and talked and swam and got into me while wet and drove with the window down. They were young and free. They drove around Geelong until dark and talked and got fish and chips for dinner.

          They didn’t want to go home. Their parents were both Catholic, they said, they wouldn’t understand. That night they slept in the back seat. One night they drove to Julie’s for dinner and they were nervous. They didn’t talk much. The dinner was short and Julie drove fast and Amanda cried. That was the last break up, though it didn’t last long. A week later they put all of their stuff in my back seat and drove and drove and drove. They found a unit in Echuca and Julie got a job as a waitress and Amanda became a kindergarten teacher. They went to the mechanic’s one day and changed my tires and my radio. They played Nirvana on cassette over and over. Their dinners with their parents became less upsetting.

            Then they sold me to Julie’s cousin Nick, from Wangaratta, for $800.

            He called me an “old bomb” and played punk music really loud and brushed ash from his cigarettes to my floor. He met a girl named Lisa at a Killing Heidi concert and she was a painter who played guitar. She spilt a strawberry Big M on the back seat next to the rum stain. They moved to Brisbane and swore they would, like, totally just surf and skate forever and chill out and it would be awesome. One night they slept in the back seat and nine months later Nick got a job as a landscaper. I sat in the garage for six years until they moved to Melbourne. When they got me back out Nick owned his own landscaping business and Lisa was a tattoo artist in Carlton.

         We should, like, do the car up, said Lisa one night, sitting on my bonnet smoking a cigarette while their daughter Ella rode up and down the driveway on her bike. They got me to an okay condition before they ran out of money when Ella started going to school.

            A widowed Italian man named Sam bought me next, but never got around to fixing me up like I used to be. He sold car parts on eBay. He tried to rub the stains out of my seat but gave up. One day when he was tinkering around in his garage, he sat on my bonnet to answer a phone call.

         Yeah, right, he said, you used to have one just like it, huh.

          Sam chatted to the other man for a while. Yeah, he said, I’m lookin to sell it, was gunna fix her up but you know how it is, she runs alright, yeah, she runs alright. Sam and the man on the phone chatted and Sam agreed to sell me to the man. The man arrived the next day at Sam’s door in a full suit and tie. He was an older man and said he’d gotten an Uber there and he’d take the car right away because he had to get to Sydney for a funeral.

            That was the first funeral I went to, but not the last.

            He got a coffee the morning of the funeral and decided it was too hot to wear a jacket, so he put it in the passenger seat and spilt his coffee right next to the Coca Cola stain. He drove to the church and waited under a willow tree. He made small talk with the funeral director in the car park.

            I worked for the man when I was a young bloke, he said. As a butcher. The funeral ended and he left. He noticed a woman admiring me even though I was rusted and worn and didn’t quite run right anymore. She had made a bracelet from a willow vine. He said he should have driven to the coast. She said they still can, and they would drive around the coast and that they wouldn’t stop this time because the world was changingShe had cancer, she said.

That night they slept in the back seat. They were the first to sleep in the back seat and also the last. They were already fighting by the time they got to Wollongong.


the rant: edition 2

Author: Grace Ashford

Artwork: Rachel Lloyd-Owens

Having spent more time than ever before in the comfort of our own homes (who knows what day it is anymore?), it’s safe to say that things are starting to get grizzly – if they haven’t already. 

Maybe it’s the fact that you’re at your wits end with your siblings, or the internet is trying its hardest to keep everyone in the household sane, or your S/O’s breathing is simply becoming more and more irritating. Overall, we’ve been in isolation for long haul, and more than a few pet peeves are rearing their annoying heads.

For some frustration relief, join us for the second edition of The Rant: Iso Peeves. First up, we have…

Now? We’re out here wearing the same clothes day after day (to tactfully reduce the amount of washing we have to do, duh), eating lunch at 10pm, and bathing in our natural scents. The only part of our bodies we’re regularly washing are our hands. I’m talking about the utter needlessness to shower if no one’s seeing us, aside from the people we’re sharing our space with. It’s a fool-proof, masterful plan, right? Wrong. Pretty soon, whenever you bump into your housemate in the kitchen during yet another escapade to retrieve more snacks, you realise that you’re not the only one forgoing a shower unless you really need to – and that said shower is probably feeling as neglected and untouched as a middle-aged woman in a failing marriage. 

THE STANKY HOUSEMATE

We’re all on the same page here (please tell me we are) when it comes to showering. First week in, isolation was a ‘stick to routine, stay on track!!’ vibe, which we love and stan. Second week became a ‘I deserve to relax, this is an opportunity for me time!’ moment, which we also respect. 

Invest in a household promise: an expectation of 2 days between bodily cleanses, max. That way, the place you’re sharing doesn’t slowly but surely start to mould and develop an odour worse than that of your collective armpit juices. <3 

THE INTERNET HOG

The TV show you’ve dedicated your day to is at its final episode of the season. You’re on the couch hooked; completely negligent to the hours flicking over and to your muscles twisting in the same curled position for the last six hours. Everything is coming to a climax in this final episode: the killer is almost revealed, the main character is about to have a breakthrough, that toxic boyfriend is about to get dumped – but all of a sudden, the scene freezes, and that little loading sign of death pops up. 10%, 55%, 99%… 99%… still 99%…yep. It’s that time again. Time to run downstairs and yell to your family: ‘WHO’S DOWNLOADING SOMETHING!!!’.

Poor internet, having to bear the god-awful weight of keeping its household harmony intact. Maybe go easy on it every now and then by cracking open a book. Honestly, there’s nothing like a technological detox every once in a while. 

THE ‘LETS DO ____!’ PARENT

Thank you so much, Father, not only for waking me up every single day at 10AM, but for reiterating how vital exercise is for maintaining energy and a good mood throughout isolation! I had no idea, regardless of the fact that you tell me on a daily basis! Again, despite how delightful the thought of working out sounds, no, I will not go on a casual jog with you around the block! <3 Love you though! 

And unfortunately no, Mother Dearest, as much as it may surprise you, I do not possess a desire to take up meditation OR yoga! Please, persistent parental figures, allow me to remain nestled in my bedroom, conducting my carefully constructed and well-rehearsed rotation of watching Netflix, listening to the same four albums on Spotify, and learning how to twerk. Thank you kindly. 

THE FRIDGE

I see you over there. How dare you. How dare you look so sexy and so mysterious in the corner of the kitchen, all day and all night. You’re tempting me. Tall, dark and handsome stranger, you are the very manifestation of the idea that those you love will hurt you the most. I’m sick of eating because I’m bored, but I can’t stop. You have such an allure. I’m not excited to roll out of quarantine like Violet from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory after she turns into a blueberry, but I understand that it’s a reality that can’t be fought. Acceptance will be the only road to moving forward from this matter. 

HELLO, SOCIAL MEDIA!

As you scroll mindlessly for the thirty-third time this morning, you’ll probably be inundated, again, by countless updates from multiple middle-aged/elderly Facebook users who have, all of a sudden, developed a KEEN determination for posting/sharing everything that comes up in their minds and on their feeds. 

But it’s not just the Gen X’s and Boomers…everybody’s guilty in their own way. You’re becoming very exposed to the fact that every scroll feels like hacking your way through a forest of SHARE A PHOTO OF YOUR GAME FACE followed by 6 unflattering photos of someone playing sport, and THERE WERE 4 PEOPLE IN A ROOM, HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE LEFT IF YOU ENTERED THE ROOM, 5 OUT OF 5 PEOPLE WILL GET THIS WRONG! Opening Instagram is its own anxiety-inducing venture, with minute-by-minute attempts to avoid a tag in a SEE 5 DO 5 push-up challenge. NO I WON’T FUCKING DO IT GEORGIA. 

With all that being said, aside from these ‘minor’ pet peeves, our patience and diligence in keeping isolated is slowly starting to pay off. We have to hand it to ourselves – saving the world by staying the fuck at home has never been so easy for most of us.