For First Nations people, coronavirus has meant fewer services, separated families and over-policing: new report



MICK TSIKAS/AAP

Lorana Bartels, Australian National University and Thalia Anthony, University of Technology Sydney

Yesterday was National Sorry Day in Australia. It marks the anniversary of the tabling of the Bringing Them Home report, which chronicles decades of removals of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.

Sorry Day also acknowledges the strength of the Stolen Generations survivors and reflects on the role everyone can play in healing our country.

Yesterday was also the third anniversary of the release of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which poignantly notes:

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

And this week is National Reconciliation Week, which represents a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements. The theme this year is “In This Together”.




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Findings of a new report

However, a new report released today makes clear the treatment of First Australians during the COVID-19 outbreak is not the same as for non-Indigenous Australians.

The report by Change the Record, the First Peoples-led justice coalition of peak bodies and allies, highlights numerous ways Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been disproportionately affected by the more punitive and restrictive policy responses to the pandemic.

Among the findings were:

  • First Nations people have experienced an increased use of lockdowns in prisons and have had reduced access to lawyers and visits from families

  • some prisons have required people in prison “to pay exorbitant fees to call loved ones”

  • victim-survivors of family violence have been unable to access police protection and support services due to staffing shortages (a particular concern because there is evidence such violence is increasing)

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services have reported “substantial challenges” in working with their clients and are concerned about a spike in legal demand as soon as restrictions are lifted

  • the closures of residential drug and alcohol facilities have led to people being sent home, leaving some people without alternative and safe living arrangements

  • First Nations parents have had access to their children in out-of-home care restricted, causing “distress and anxiety in a time of heightened stress for everyone”

  • there has been over-policing of First Nations people for offences such as public nuisance, public drunkenness, fare evasion and failure to comply with move on orders. There have been high numbers of fines issued in small towns with high First Nations populations and low levels of COVID-19.

Governments’ COVID-19 prison policies have been inadequate

As we have argued in open letters to governments and elsewhere, the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in prisons has been a concern requiring immediate action across the country.

First Nations people are particularly at risk of infection, due to:

Accordingly, we have called on governments to release some prisoners early, including First Nations people.

The government response to prevent the spread of coronavirus in prisons has included restrictions on visitors (especially family members), enforced isolation and lockdowns of people.

These circumstances have created unrest in prisons and likely contributed to three recent deaths in Queensland prisons.




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The Change the Record report chronicles the despair of First Nations people in prisons and their lack of access to services and support.

An Aboriginal man, Daniel, has been remanded in prison in Tasmania since early 2020. … Daniel is not allowed any visits with his family or his lawyer because of COVID-19 restrictions. He reports feeling lost in the legal proceedings because he cannot have a decent chat with his lawyer about the matters and get advice.

The report makes recommendations for people in prisons, including:

  • the release of First Nations people in prisons who are low-risk, on remand, elderly or at increased risk of COVID-19, as well as children and those with chronic health conditions

  • protecting the human rights of First Nations people in prison, by ensuring access to oversight and monitoring agencies, family, legal services, mental health care, education and programs

The impact of COVID-19 restrictions on children

Some of the invisible victims in the pandemic are the children of prisoners. Imprisonment disrupts family life, especially in cases when a First Nations mother or primary caregiver is incarcerated.

Because physical visits have been suspended, children’s access to their imprisoned parents has been even more constrained.




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This has life-long and intergenerational effects on individuals and communities. It can also lead to the permanent placement of children in state care.

The Change the Record report also notes how First Nations parents are unable to visit with their children in out-of-home care.

Julia had been having multiple face-to-face visits with her child every week. Due to COVID-19, Julia’s contact with her daughter has been reduced to one phone/video call a week. … When children cannot engage in this mode of communication, for some parents contact with their children has stopped all together.

The report makes recommendations for policies affecting children during the pandemic, including:

  • increasing support and access to safe accommodation for First Nations families fleeing family violence to stop further removals of children

  • implement legislative changes to ensure parents of First Nations children in out-of-home care don’t lose their children to permanent care during COVID-19.

The report also calls for:

  • rebuilding our justice system after COVID-19 to focus on investing in community, not prisons, to increase community safety and prevent black deaths in custody.

No return to status quo

We endorse these recommendations, especially the final call to rebuild our justice system. As we emerge from the immediate threat of the pandemic, it is vital that we not return to the status quo.

More than two years ago, the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Pathways to Justice report was tabled in parliament. It outlined a comprehensive blueprint for reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over-incarceration.

The Australian government is yet to respond.

If Reconciliation Week is to be meaningful, governments must take action to heal, rather than jail, First Nations people. In the current circumstances, this includes acting on Change the Record’s recommendations.The Conversation

Lorana Bartels, Professor and Program Leader of Criminology, Australian National University and Thalia Anthony, Professor of Law, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Coronavirus shutdowns: what makes hairdressing ‘essential’? Even the hairdressers want to close


Hannah McCann, University of Melbourne

As part of sweeping social-distancing measures, on March 24 Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced nail salons, tanning, waxing and most other beauty services would be closed – but hair salons could remain open with a 30-minute per client time restriction.

There was much criticism this limit was both unfeasible and highly gendered, and it was reversed. Salons can operate if they maintain one person per four square metres.

While many hairdressing businesses have voluntarily closed their doors, others remain open. The issue has become a flashpoint in Australia for debate about what is an “essential” service.

Touch and talk

My previous research on the emotional aspects of salon work has shown hairdressers and beauty workers act like makeshift counsellors for many clients.

The salon is not just about makeovers: it is a space of touch and talk. For some, the salon might be one of the only places they encounter regular verbal and physical contact. Increasingly, salon workers are being recognised as an important channel between members of the community and services such as family violence shelters.




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In ordinary circumstances, hair and beauty services might be considered essential due to the social and community welfare aspects of the job. However, in the context of a pandemic the close proximity required for hairdressing is a problem.

Fearing for the well-being of those in the industry, the Australian Hairdressing Council has petitioned the government for hairdressers and barbers to be shut down. The initial mixed messages about rules for salons appear to have created confusion for salons and customers alike. This includes uncertainty about what subsidies are available for salons that have already closed voluntarily.

It is not yet clear why the government continues to deem hair services “essential”. Given the original 30-minute ruling, it is unlikely the decision is based on concern for the maintenance of the social work aspects of hairdressing.

The 67,000 people employed as hairdressers may be a more significant factor in the decision at a time when so many others have lost their jobs. Of course, the shutdown has already affected the 36,100 beauty therapists employed across Australia, but there may be an impression much beauty work (such as maintaining nails and body hair) can be done at home.

There may also be a gendered element to this: these beauty services are more frequented by women and therefore may be more culturally coded as “inessential” or frivolous.

It seems likely we would follow the lead of other countries that have already closed hair salons if further physical distancing measures are required.

Digital salons

In times of severe economic downturn, hair and beauty services remain popular.

Even during the Great Depression people continued to pay for salon visits, forgoing other essentials.

However, the length of time between salon visits appears to expand in times of downturn. Dubbed the “haircut index”, consumer confidence is thought to be signalled by more frequent trips. On the flip side, some argue consumers tend to buy more small luxury beauty items such as lipstick during recession (the so-called “lipstick index”).

Even in difficult economic periods, people still care about keeping up appearances.

In the context of COVID-19, however, social distancing complicates the situation for the beauty industry.

With many shopfronts closed already, businesses have shifted to online services, finding creative ways to maintain connections with existing clients.

Many salons have begun selling “lockdown” product packs online, producing short “home maintenance” videos, and some are even offering one-on-one live digital consultations.

Then there are some who are simply taking matters into their own hands.

Google Trends reveal an exponential increase in searches for “how to cut your own hair” since March 8. Buzzcuts are also gaining popularity as a no-fuss way to maintain short hair at home. People appear to be using the lack of salon guidance as an opportunity to get inventive with their appearance, or to try things at home they might be too scared to ask for from a professional.

Limited social contact and the availability of online filters mean people might feel they can get more creative with their style. #hairtutorials continues to trend on TikTok. #QuarantineHair is being used on Twitter to document some of the highs and lows people are having experimenting with their looks in lockdown.

Zoom beauty

While it may seem ludicrous to some that people still care about makeup and hair products during a public health crisis, there are multiple reasons why this may be the case. Though sociality is reduced, many entrenched beauty norms will persist. People may feel the need to keep up some sense of appearance while still seeing colleagues, clients and friends on screen.

There is also an important ritual element to maintaining one’s appearance. In Western culture, one’s outer presentation is seen as intimately connected to one’s sense of identity and well-being. Maintaining a daily routine, including skin care, putting on makeup and styling one’s hair, might give some people a sense they are looking after themselves – especially when other things around them are much harder to control.

At the very least, sharing mishaps and humorous experiences with self-styling in this digital beauty world offers people a new way to gain a sense of social connection.The Conversation

Hannah McCann, Lecturer in Cultural Studies, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

What actually are ‘essential services’ and who decides?


Gary Mortimer, Queensland University of Technology

The Morrison government keeps using the word “essential” to describe employees, public gatherings, services and businesses that are still allowed and not restricted as it tries to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

But what is essential, and who gets to decide?

By its very definition, essential means “something necessary, indispensable, or unavoidable”.




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When it comes to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no recent precedents for governments. There is no pre-determined list in place on what is an essential service. Instead, “essential” appears a moving beast that is constantly evolving and that can be confusing.

Confused messages

On March 22 the Victorian premier Daniel Andrews called for “a shutdown of all non-essential activity” within 48 hours. Supermarkets, banks and pharmacies were some of the things he said were essential but he did not provide an exhaustive list of what was considered an essential service.

Naturally confusion reigned. For example, in the rural Victorian town of Ballan, some stores closed while others remained open.

We’ve now seen a number of retailers decide to voluntarily shutter stores for the safety of their workers and the public, considering their businesses “non-essential”.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a meeting of the national cabinet had agreed to a raft of new restrictions, such as limiting “shopping for what you need, food and other essential supplies”.

But he also described his wife’s recent purchase of a number of jigsaw puzzles for the family as “absolutely essential”. While toy and hobby retailers may find comfort in this statement, in reality such businesses may not be considered “essential”.

Guns and pastries, essential?

There are differences too overseas in what people consider essential as part of any COVID-19 restrictions.

Is the United States, it’s recommended employees of gun stores and gun manufacturers should be seen as “essential” workers, according to a memo from the Department of Homeland Security.

While in Europe, “necessities” are said to include Belgian Fries, French Baguettes and Dutch Cannabis. In France, it’s also shops specialising in pastries, wine and cheese reportedly declared essential businesses.

In Ireland, reports say the government there has issued a detailed list of what it considers “essential workers”. As for essential retailers, they include pharmacies, fuel stations and pet stores, but not opticians, motor repair and bicycle repair outlets.

The essential essentials

Here in Australia there is broad agreement supermarkets, service stations, allied health (pharmacy, chiropractic, physiotherapy, psychology, dental) and banks are essential business and services.

Similarly freight, logistics and home delivery are also considered essential. Australia Post says posties and delivery drivers continue but some posts offices are temporarily closed.

Some bottle shops can stay open but many are now imposing restrictions on how much people can buy.

The government has moved to progressively add more business, services and activities to its “non-essential services” list.

This includes cafés, food courts, pubs, licensed clubs (sports clubs), bars, beauty and personal care services, entertainment venues, leisure and recreation (gyms, theme parks), galleries, museums and libraries.

Some of these entities do have exceptions. A café can remain open for take-away only. A hairdresser or barber can trade if they comply with the one person per four square-metre rule.

Others remain convoluted, such as outdoor and indoor markets (farmers markets), which are a decision for each state and territory.

In and out of work

In reality, no worker should ever be considered, or consider themselves, as “non-essential”.

But due to how the restrictions have been broadly applied, some workers in one industry may now find themselves out of a job, while others in that same industry remain fully employed.




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Take for example chefs. Due to bans on restaurants and licensed clubs, chefs there are being stood down, but chefs inside hotels can continue to cook and provide room service meals.

A barista in a café can still be gainfully employed, as long as they only make take-away coffee, but a barista inside a licensed sports club, is unfortunately stood down.

Further restrictions and essentials

While we have seen many businesses reduce their operations and several retailers voluntarily close their doors, many are standing by waiting for further announcements to potentially close all “non-essential” services.

What should the government consider before deciding what is and isn’t regarded as essential?




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Some decisions are easy: we need health workers, police, fire fighters and other emergency services workers, and we need those who maintain services to the public such as food supply, clean water, sewerage and so on.

But we also need those services required to keep these people functioning. The military describe this as tooth to tail ratio: the number of people required to keep any soldier on the battlefield (estimated up to three for every soldier).

In the civilian context this includes those responsible for the supply of consumables, personal protection equipment, transport, power, fuel, computer systems, and someone to look after their families while they do the heavy lifting.The Conversation

Gary Mortimer, Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour, Queensland University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Can Australian streaming survive a fresh onslaught from overseas?



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Marc C-Scott, Victoria University

Australia’s already punch-drunk streaming sector is set for even more upheaval, as CBS will launch its streaming service in Australia as early as October.

Disney is also set to launch its streaming service in 2019. Based on recent history, Australia will likely be first up when it goes global.

The question is whether Australian streamers can compete locally with the global mammoths. Doing so might require coordination the likes of which we haven’t seen before.

This will impact not just what media Australians have access to, but more than 31,000 people employed by Australian media.




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We have already seen huge upheavals in Australian streaming.

Stan is the last remaining Australian streaming service from 2015, when I wrote about the official launch of Netflix in Australia. At that time there were two Australian-based subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) services, Presto and Stan.

Presto, a joint venture between Seven and Foxtel, was shut down in early 2017.

Foxtel then launched FoxtelNow in June 2017. It is already set for an overhaul later this year, to include 4K streaming, along with sports and entertainment streaming packages.

Aussie streaming services, more than just subscription

In addition to Stan, there are also transactional video-on-demand (TVoD) services in Australia, although these are discussed far less. A TVoD service is based upon a single payment being made to view singular content for a limited time, e.g. you have streaming access to the latest release for 48 hours.

One such Australian service is Quickflix, which launched in 2014. It went into receivership in 2016, before being saved and later relaunched.

Quickflix is still a streaming company, but retains the older disc mail-out service. This mail-out service could help Quickflix survive against global streaming services.

With the closure of video stores and retail stores removing discs from their shelves, a mail-out service still has value for Australians with poor internet speed and access.

The other Australian TVoD service is OzFlix, which some Australians may not be aware of.

Its differentiation is plans to source “Every Aussie Movie. Ever.”. A big task, but its specific niche may help it survive the onslaught of global media streaming services, while also giving local content a dedicated home.

Global media giants set their sights on Australia

Australia has been the first country that many media companies expand to when moving outside their own region. Netflix and YouTube Red (now YouTube Premium) are two examples.

More recently we have seen Amazon Prime Video launch in late 2016, although it is yet to have a major uptake locally.

The arrival of CBS All Access will impact Stan particularly. Stan features a number of CBS programs, so future programming will need to be from other distributors or through greater investment in original content.

Disney is also set to acquire 21st Century Fox. This will expand its catalogue on the new streaming service beyond its already huge catalogue. The Marvel movies look set to remain on current services, for now.

Australians and streaming…. what next?

A recent Roy Morgan report found over 9.8 million Australians had access to Netflix, with Stan at over 2 million. While Stan is clearly behind, it has had a 39.2% increase in the last 12 months.

YouTube premium has over 1 million subscribers, FetchTV 710,000 and Amazon Prime Video last at 273,000 (an 87% increase year on year).

The arrival of CBS All Access and Disney will make an already crowded market only more so. But is more choice a good thing?

A 2014 Nielsen report showed the average channels receivable by US households grew from 129 in 2008 to 189 in 2013. But the average channels tuned in remained at 17.

On top of larger content libraries, the global players also have deeper pockets. Disney looks set to spend US$100 million on a new Star Wars series for its streaming service. Netflix will spend more than US$8 billion on content in 2018 alone, and Amazon last year spent US$4 billion on content.




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Australian services will need to have a point of difference. Quickflix and OzFlix have their points of difference, but what about a larger service like Stan?

Stan can’t compete with the global companies on quantity of content, so it must, like others, have a point of difference.

Stan could become a premium platform for content of which some is broadcast on Nine later. That would be a similar approach to when Australian FTA broadcasters would buy US content months after it was broadcast in the US – to save on costs.

For an Australian service to compete, a better solution would be a combined approach, an all-Australian streaming service that combines the strengths and finances of the Australian media industry.

The Freeview app is an example of how Australian television has tried to work collaboratively but failed. The users can view all the catch-up content from Australian broadcasters, but to view it they are taken from the app to the specific broadcasters’ own catch-up apps.

This requires six apps in total to be installed to view all catch-up content.

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But is the Australian media industry willing to come together to fight against global streaming media companies, or will they continue to battle each other? Failure here could result in a further decline in Australian media.

Marc C-Scott, Lecturer in Screen Media, Victoria University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Farmers and services industry the winners under the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal


Giovanni Di Lieto, Monash University

The revived trade agreement, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), has finally made it across the line. It’s a considerable win for Australian farmers and service providers, in a trading area worth about A$90 billion.

The 11 remaining countries from the initial Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement finally agreed to go ahead with the deal without the US, at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The deal reduces the scope for controversial investor-state dispute settlements, where foreign investors can bypass national courts and sue governments for compensation for harming their investments. It introduces stronger safeguards to protect the governments’ right to regulate in the public interest and prevent unwarranted claims.




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Despite earlier union fears of the impact for Australian workers, the CPTPP does not regulate the movement of workers. It only has minor changes to domestic labour rights and practices.

The new agreement is more of an umbrella framework for separate yet coordinated bilateral deals. In fact, Australia’s Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said:

The agreement will deliver 18 new free trade agreements between the CPTPP parties. For Australia that means new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico and greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

It means a speedier process for reducing import barriers on key Australian products, such as beef, lamb, seafood, cheese, wine and cotton wool.

It also promises less competition for Australian services exports, encouraging other governments to look to use Australian services and reducing the regulations of state-owned enterprises.




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Australia now also has new bilateral trade deals with Canada and Mexico as part and parcel of the new agreement. This could be worth a lot to the Australian economy if it were to fill commercial gaps created by potential trade battles within North America and between the US and China.

What’s in and out of the new agreement

The new CPTPP rose from the ashes of the old agreement because of the inclusion of a list of 20 suspended provisions on matters that were of interest for the US. These would be revived in the event of a US comeback.

These suspended provisions involved substantial changes in areas like investment, public procurement, intellectual property rights and transparency. With the freezing of further copyright restrictions and the provisions on investor-state dispute settlements, these suspensions appear to re-balance the agreement in favour of Australian governments and consumers.

In fact, the scope of investor-state dispute settlements are narrower in the CPTPP, because foreign private companies who enter into an investment contract with the Australian government will not be able to use it if there is a dispute about that contract. The broader safeguards in the agreement make sure that the Australian government cannot be sued for measures related to public education, health and other social services.




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The one part of the agreement relating to the temporary entry for business people is rather limited in scope and does not have the potential to impact on low-skilled or struggling categories of Australian workers. In fact, it only commits Australia to providing temporary entry (from three months, up to two years) of only five generic categories of CPTPP workers. These include occupations like installers and servicers, intra-corporate transferees, independent executives, and contractual service suppliers.

The above categories squarely match the shortages in the Australian labour market, according to the Lists of Eligible Skilled Occupation of the Home Affairs Department.

Bits of the original agreement are still included in the CPTPP such as tariffs schedules that slash custom duties on 95% of trade in goods. But this was the easy part of the deal.

Before the deal is signed

The new agreement will be formally signed in Chile on March 8 2018, and will enter into force as soon as at least six members ratify it. This will probably happen later in the year or in early 2019.

The geopolitical symbolism of this timing is poignant. The CPTPP is coming out just as Donald Trump raises the temperature in the China trade battle by introducing new tariffs. It also runs alongside China’s attempts to finalise a much bigger regional trade agreement, the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Even though substantially the CPTPP is only a TPP-lite at best, it still puts considerable pressure on the US to come out of Trump’s protectionist corner.

It spells out the geopolitical consequences of the US trade policy switch, namely that the Asia Pacific countries are willing to either form a more independent bloc or align more closely with Chinese interests.

The ConversationWill this be enough to convince the Trump administration to reverse its course on global trade? At present, this seems highly unlikely. To bet on the second marriage of the US with transpacific multilateral trade would be a triumph of hope over experience.

Giovanni Di Lieto, Lecturer, Bachelor of International Business, Monash Business School, Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Like it or not, you’re getting the NBN, so what are your rights when buying internet services?


Jeannie Marie Paterson, University of Melbourne

Complaints about the national broadband network (NBN), involving connection delays, unusable internet or landlines and slow internet speed are on the rise.


Read more: When it comes to the NBN, we keep having the same conversations over and over


Most Australians will be forced to move onto the NBN within 18 months of it being switched on in their area, and that means navigating what can be confusing new contracts.

So, what are your rights regarding landline and internet connections?

Landlines

Many consumers can and do manage without a landline. But particularly for those without a reliable mobile service, a landline can be essential. It is included in many phone and internet “bundles” offered by internet service providers.

Standard telephone services (primarily landline services) are subject to a Customer Service Guarantee enshrined in law under the Telecommunications Act 1997.

This means that standards apply to common services such as connection of a phone line, repairs of that line and attending appointments on time. The provider will have to pay compensation to the customer if the Customer Service Guarantee standards are not met.

Despite this, some providers suggest a customer waive his or her customer service guarantee rights. There are safeguards for this waiver to be effective, primarily in that the provider must explain the nature of the rights to the customer before asking for the waiver.

The idea behind allowing providers to request a waiver of the Customer Service Guarantee is that it will allow customers to obtain cheaper services than would otherwise be the case. However, we might question the integrity of the consent typically given to such waivers, given consumers generally don’t read contracts and may have little understanding of the value of the Customer Service Guarantee or the likelihood of having to claim under it.

In any event, providers cannot ask for a waiver for Universal Service Obligations, which ensure accessible services for all customers, including those with a disability and those who live in remote areas.

Internet

The Customer Service Guarantee does not apply to internet connections – although the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network has argued that it should.

So there are no statutory obligations for internet providers, or NBN Co, to connect customers within a particular time frame or respond promptly to complaints.

The main safeguard for customers for internet services is in the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

If an internet service provider promises a particular broadband speed and does not provide that speed, the provider may have engaged in misleading conduct contrary to the ACL. Damages and even penalty payments could be awarded against it. And fine print qualifications to the headline statement about internet speeds will not necessary protect the provider.

In addition, the Consumer Guarantees under the ACL (not to be confused with the Customer Service Guarantee under the Telecommunications Act) ensure that any equipment provided with an internet service must be of acceptable quality, and services be provided with due care and skill.

If these standards are not met, the consumer has a right to certain remedies under the ACL and damages for losses that result from the failure. These rights should go some way to protecting telecommunications consumers, although of course they do not directly guarantee that the provider will arrive on time for a scheduled appointment.

The ConversationSo while you may wish to charge your internet service provider for not turning up to an installation appointment, you wouldn’t get far under current Australian law.

Jeannie Marie Paterson, Associate Professor, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

A Disgraceful ‘Disneyfication’ of Baptism


The link below is to an article reporting on the baptismal services and practices of Elevation Church in the USA.

For more visit:
http://www.wcnc.com/news/iteam/How-Elevation-Church-Pastor-Furtick-produce-spontaneous-baptism-246072001.html

Bible Apps in the Pew


The link below is to an article that reports on the increasing use of tablets, smartphones and other gadgets in the pew during church services as modern technology impacts at the local level.

Do you use a digital version of the Bible during church services? If so, what do you use? Please share in the comments.

For more visit:
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/27/the-bible-gets-an-upgrade/

Indonesia: Latest Persecution News


The link below is to an article reporting on the latest persecution news out of Indonesia, where a Christian church has been unable to hold worship services.

For more visit:
http://www.persecution.org/2012/10/07/still-unable-to-worship-indonesian-church-laments-government-inaction/