Critical Question #3: Is Melbourne Fair?

Is Melbourne fair?

It states within the Australian Values Statement (that must be signed by every individual aged 18 or over) that ‘Australian society values respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual, freedom of religion . . . equality of men and women and a spirit of egalitarianism that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, fair play and compassion for those in need and pursuit of the public good.’ While there is legal documentation to state this, there are always people who break said values. Within workplaces and communities, it is often difficult to avoid discrimination, whether you are the person being discriminated against or you are witness to events. No place is completely fair.

Fairness is subjective though, so in order to pinpoint exactly what we define as fair, the Oxford English Dictionary definition will suffice: ‘treating people equally without favoritism or discrimination.’ From this definition, Melbourne is indeed fair. In Melbourne we are allowed to practice whichever religion we choose to, we also have a large diversity of different cultures, which also helps us expand our understanding of different cultures meaning racism is not as prevalent an issue as it may have been several years ago. For Melbourne and all Australian citizens, we are lucky to have a fair justice system, meaning those who commit crimes are punished accordingly and those who are innocent are not charged simply because of previously held bias. To say we have all these things does not mean discrimination or other issues do not occur but Melbourne is fairer in comparison to several different countries worldwide and even the rest of Australia.

‘Australia does not have an official or state religion. The law does not enforce any religious doctrine, however, religious practices must conform to the law. We are free to follow any religion we choose. We are also free not to have a religion.’ – Australian Government. According to the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection, we have five fundamental freedoms. These are freedom of speech, association, assembly, religion and movement. All of which contribute to the fairness of our country. Without such things our state and overall country would definitely be unfair. Religion is a large part of some people’s lives and not being able to believe in what you want is unfair. Freedom of religion may not sound like such a large freedom but there are several places within the Middle East (a well known one is Saudi Arabia) that do not permit this freedom.

As mentioned above, we are also fortunate enough to have a fair justice system. During Justice Week, everyone got the chance to visit the Magistrates Court and we were allowed to sit in and observe. My group sat in on a case that included a repeat offender with alcohol dependency, and DUI (driving under the influence.) We found that he was given the opportunity to compensate for his actions but also given the consequence that if he were to drive again in the next 18 months, that he would face two years in jail. During this time at the Magistrates court we saw that within our justice system, fair punishments were given and circumstances were also taken into consideration.

While for citizens, Melbourne and Australia as a whole may seem fair there are those who may simply not agree. The Asylum Refugee population may be a large contributor to this disagreement. During the Asylum Seekers trail, we learnt that Australia only hosts 0.3% of the world’s refugees. According to Jane Normans article on Asylum seekers and where our political parties stand, both the labor and coalition parties are in agreement to refuse the Asylum Seekers refuge. Thus making it more difficult for Australian citizens to vote for a better option. While the Greens made a significantly better claim in concerns to the Asylum seekers problem (to provide refuge), they still did not get sufficient votes.

According to an article written by Gabriella Coslovich, ‘Australians are largely tolerant people who are accepting and welcoming of other cultures.’ She analyzed the University of Western Sydney’s findings on racism and found that while there are definitely racists within Australia’s population a large majority of Australians have little to no problems with the racial diversity in our country at all. ‘One in 10 Australians have very problematic views on diversity and on ethnic differences.’ The only other country to have a greater acceptance of different ethnicities was Canada. She also mentioned that 89.5% of Victorians agreed that their society should be made up of people from different cultures and 81.4% of Victorians also said they felt secure with people of different ethnic backgrounds. Gabriella Coslovich also mentioned that in parts of Western Europe, three in 10 people were racists, in comparison to Australia’s one in 10. Thus again proving the ethnic fairness within our country, and Melbourne in particular.

While we have freedom of religion, several citizens in China are being prosecuted because they believe in something different. Whilst our justice system is also fair, in North Korea, they publicly execute citizens for something as simple as petty theft. Countries like the United States of America, still struggle largely with racism while Australia as a nation struggle less so. In conclusion, Australia but Melbourne in particular remain significantly fairer places, especially for citizens that currently reside here.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Oxford English Dictionary
Accessed: 1 March 2014

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/fair?q=fair

The Sunday Morning Herald
In A Tolerant Society, Racists Hear This: Your Race Is Run
By: Gabriella Coslovich
Accessed 1 March 2014

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/in-a-tolerant-society-racists-hear-this-your-race-is-run-20110225-1b8hz.html

ABC NET – Federal Election 2013
Asylulm Seekers: Where The Parties Stand
By: Jane Norman
Accessed: 1 March 2014
http://www.abc.net.au/news/federal-election-2013/policy/asylum-seekers/

Australian Government: Department of Immigration and Border Protection
Five Fundamental Freedoms
Accessed: 1 March 2014

http://www.immi.gov.au/living-in-australia/choose-australia/about-australia/five-freedoms.htm#d

Religion News Service
Report: 8 Countries On UN Human Rights Council Restrict Religious Freedom
By: Brian Pellot
Accessed: 1 March 2014

http://www.religionnews.com/2013/12/31/report-8-countries-un-human-rights-council-restrict-religious-freedom/

Liberty In North Korea
The People’s Challenges
Accessed: 1 March 2014

http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/learn-nk-challenges/

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One thought on “Critical Question #3: Is Melbourne Fair?

  1. Week 4 – Critical Question Assessment

    Justice Week

    Hi Zoe,

    You have written a well researched and far reaching response to the critical question. Your definitions are topical, especially as the Australian Values Statement provides an effective barometer for your response – does Melbourne actually live up to this pledge? [To be honest - I have no memory of signing a pledge, though I do try to live by those aspirations...] You have built up a strong case for Melbourne’s fairness as a community, drawing on both trails effectively.

    I would like to start seeing you be more critical in your approach – while Australia is intended to have a separation between church and state – the country as a whole is still dominated by Anglo-Christian values, which can make it difficult for those practicing other religions to feel like they have a valid place in the community – the recent Islamaphobia is a case in point – as is the vexed issue of religious instruction in schools [currently in the media].

    In terms of effectively considering opposing views – allow yourself to examine the ways in which systems of government, social welfare, education or justice fail to meet the standards proposed in the pledge – you would only need 1 or 2 examples – but use the context as your framework.

    Well done :)

    Tamar

    Coherence of argument: level 2 of 2
    Use of evidence: level 2 of 2
    Further Research: level 1 of 1
    Multiple Perspectives: level 1 of 2
    Critical Thinking: level 0 of 1
    Expression & language use: 1 level of 1

    These levels refer to the

    Assessment Rubric.

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