IMPROVING OUR COMMUNITY

Here are a variety of ways we can improve the quality of both our personal and communal lives in Australia.

 

Marriage Equality

The Arts Party supports marriage equality. When two people commit to supporting each other and building a life together, it’s completely irrelevant what gender they are. This commitment is at the core of creating a stable and happy community. We frankly cannot believe this has still not already been fully legislated. 

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Healthcare

Affordable quality public health care is a right of every Australian wherever they are in the country. We must find the most cost-effective ways to achieve this aim, particularly for the state’s most unwell, isolated and disadvantaged.

Participation in the arts with health care has clear, practical, demonstrable positive outcomes. From patients to practitioners, the benefits are clear. Engagement in the Arts also has a recognised preventative effect, keeping people out of hospital in the first place. Preventative health measures

Artistic activity must be embraced as a core part of medical treatments and improves both mental or physical health problems. Musical engagement, creating visual art, movement/dance and writing have been found to be most effective. For more information, - look at this review

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Disability Support

People with disability, their families and carers, should be able to actively participate in a fulfilling cultural life alongside every other Australian. We also believe that;

  • People with a disability make significant contributions to arts and culture in Australia

  • People with a disability should be able to live creative lives and their artistic aspirations and achievements should be a valued and visible part of our culture

  • Participation in arts and cultural activities by people with a disability helps to expand creative and social networks and to create more socially inclusive and equitable communities;

  • People with a disability have a valued role in the workplace.

NDIS is an excellent start in addressing the disparity in opportunity and access for disabled Australians, but we want to see continued progress, particularly in employment opportunity. Employment of people with disabilities in the Australian Public Service (APS) has steadily declined from 5% in 1999 to 2.9% in 2012, despite over 18% of Australians living with disability. We call on a federal APS commitment to return to a 5% threshold. We would also support creating a grants system designed to improve employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities across the country.

There also needs to be greater commitment in Australia for making the arts accessible to people with a disability. Around the world governments have legislated for accessibility in the arts, including film, television, theatre, festivals and galleries. Australia has fallen  behind in some areas. For example, the US, UK, New Zealand and much of Europe have audio described television for their blind and vision impaired communities. New Zealand has had audio described free-to-air television since 2011. Australia has had two  audio description trials - one on free-to-air in 2012 and another running for 15 months from April 2012 on iView. Of all the other channels in Australia, free-to-air, pay and internet-based,  only Netflix provides any audio description at all.

All TV channels in Australia should be obliged to provide audio description and captioning of their programming on either or both of their free-to-air or internet platforms. Theatres, festivals and galleries should be required to provided captioned and audio described options of their programming. Informational or educational internet videos should be audio described and captioned. Costs for audio description at least can be offset by selling audio description files online, eg, iTunes. As many shows and movies have been audio described for DVD and film release, there is a considerable back catalogue available for most stations. Like captioning, audio description is not only useful for people with a vision impairment but also the wider community.

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Climate Change

Unquestionably, climate change is occurring. Human induced climate change is a certainty and poses a direct threat to our future economy and way of life, and should be one of the government’s highest priorities.

The disruption of human societies through sea level rise, extreme weather events, desertification and other related effects has already begun, and will only continue to get worse until we take decisive action. 

We support reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases and CO2 equivalents to below 350 parts per million - whether that is by implementing price on carbon within Australia[1][2], or supporting other governments in their attempts to reduce carbon emissions.

We fully support investing in, developing and implementing technologies that will actively clean the atmosphere of pollutants and additional research into clean energy solutions, such as photovoltaics.

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Refugees

Nauru and Manus Island are wrong. They have failed.

People seeking asylum who are subjected to prolonged immigration detention are significantly more likely to suffer severe mental health problems than people seeking asylum who are not detained. Furthermore, incidence of mental health problems increases with duration of incarceration.

Prolonged detention without trial is unlawful under international law. As such, Australia's immigration detention policy clearly fulfils the key elements of the UN definition.

Offshore processing has been a disaster. It is expensive, destructive and potentially illegal under international law. We are currently spending over $1bn each year on Manus Island and Nauru to house less than 2000 people. The average processing time has gone beyond 450 days. In total, Australia spends over $5bn a year on Immigration control.

Australia’s intake of people on humanitarian grounds should be raised to 30,000 people per year.  

We recommend initial detainment of unauthorised boat arrivals, until their documentation has been verified, which should take no more than one month. After verification they would be released into the community pending refugee status. An interim visa would then be issued with a number of crucial conditions, pending status determination:

  • They have to check in weekly with the Department of Immigration

  • They are allowed to work

  • They are allowed access to Medicare, housing and Centrelink benefits

  • They have to live in specified regional towns, communities or cities, those most in need of workers and economic help.

Onshore processing must commit to completing 90% of all applications within 90 days. Those that do not qualify as refugees will be deported within 30 days of the decision being made.

The Arts Party are persuaded by the argument that the biggest factor in people deciding to risk travelling by boat as refugees to Australia is a "push" factor, not a "pull" factor. That is to say, the main reason why people "get in a boat" is that they are running away from something. They will generally not be convinced to stay in their current location by stories of boats being "turned back" when the conditions they are fleeing from are so desperate. They will try anyway.

Given that Indonesia is the most popular starting point for boat arrivals, we would also support establishing a processing centre in that country to minimise the likelihood of refuge seekers travelling by boat, and the dangers of associated with it. Given the claimed success of recent attempts to "turn back boats" over the recent past - we propose that similar person-power and technology is put towards monitoring the Australian coastal waters - and making sure that any boats in trouble at sea are brought safely to the Australian coast, in order to minimise casualties at sea.

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

All Australians should feel, as a nation, connected to the tens of thousands of years of human occupation of the Australian continent and surrounding Islands. The Reconciliation process must transcend Australian political theatre and promote a sense of national unity.

The Arts Party believe that the Australian constitution should recognise the occupation and sovereignty of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; historically, current and future.

We also wish to explore options for developing an official treaty with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - in consultation and negotiation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders and community representatives.

An authentic part of reconciliation is acknowledging true history and telling 'the story’… both the trauma and the triumph.

The Arts Party wish to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders and community representatives to develop the best and most appropriate ways to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artistic product; to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples tell their stories and maintain / grow their culture.

Included in this support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artistic output, we would like to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders and community representatives to develop the best and most appropriate ways for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to retain, and benefit financially from, the cultural and intellectual property and heritage rights of their people.

The Arts Party wishes to develop, in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders and community representatives, a program of touring theatre and musical shows, exhibitions and film/tv productions, specifically designed to share and spread Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories and culture through film, theatre, dance, paint; the full breadth of mediums available. To that end we wish to give an extra $100 million a year to the Australia Council, for the purpose of developing such programs.

The Arts party believe that it should be a priority for the government to "close the gap" in terms of average life-span, numeracy, literacy and all other measures of wealth and quality of life, between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. All people are equal and the government should do all it can to make sure its members have equal opportunity.

We want to make it a goal of the government to reach parity on all these measures, within 10 years. While we recognise that such an aim is difficult to attain, we believe that true progress is only made on such issues when you aim high and set clear and measurable goals.

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Vaccination

The Arts Party believe that the weight of evidence is in favour of universal Vaccinations; that universal Vaccination does more good than harm and that it has been shown to be of overall medical benefit to everyone in society.

As such we encourage all Australians to continue with vaccination and to have their children vaccinated as per the standard schedule.

However, we understand that this issue is highly emotive and contains a deeply important element of personal choice and individual liberty.

With respect to the controversial “no jab no pay” policy, in particular, we believe that this is an overbearing and improper way in which to coerce individuals to vaccinate their children. We believe that we should, instead, embark on a community education program, to assure those who are worried about vaccinating their children that it is generally safe and beneficial to do so; and that they should choose to do so, for their own good, their children's good, and for the good of the society at large.

The state should put away the stick and focus on the carrot when it comes to health policy. The Arts Party would welcome a return to financial incentives to encourage parents to vaccinate their children.

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