Medical dash as COVID spreads among Indigenous people in western NSW

Michelle Grattan, University of CanberraUrgent medical resources are being dispatched to western NSW in a vaccination and support drive after the alarming spread of COVID into Aboriginal communities there.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the first of five Australian Defence Force vaccination teams will arrive on Wednesday.

An initial Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) – which is multidisciplinary health group – will also be sent within a couple of days. AUSMATs can help shore up local hospitals and health services where that might be needed.

COVID has now spread to areas including Bourke, Broken Hill, Brewarrina, Gilgandra, Walgett and Dubbo.

With a large Indigenous population in these areas and a low vaccination rate, COVID presents an especially serious threat. Aboriginal people are vulnerable because they often already have other health conditions.

Most of the about 117 cases in western NSW are among Indigenous people, particularly young people.

The Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, said that nationally 169,000 Indigenous Australians had had their first vaccine (a rate of 30%), and 69,000 (15%) had had two doses.

The rates are much lower than for the general community, where more than a quarter of eligible Australians (26.9%) are now fully vaccinated.

Wyatt said Indigenous leaders were stepping up and “we’re seeing straight talking happening”.

He said some Indigenous people had been fearful of adverse effects of being vaccinated.

“People are now believing that it is time for them to take the proactive action. And the elders and the leaders are ensuring that the straight messages, straight talking is now part of what communities are hearing.”

Dharriwaa Elders Group at Walgett called for more resources and help in a statement last week.

“Many of our Elders and others in Walgett experience health and social issues that make them vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. The impact on our community could be devastating,” they said.

Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), said the shortage of Pfizer and people’s reluctance to have AstraZeneca had been problems in the rollout in western NSW.

“People put their back up against getting AstraZeneca,” she said. They had also thought they were a long way from Sydney, where the NSW outbreak was centred.

With the spread of the virus people were now realising they needed to be vaccinated, Turner said. But she was still “very concerned” about the situation in western NSW.

She said one of the problems Aboriginal health centres had was a shortage of staff due to state border closures, as well as nurses not coming from New Zealand.

She welcomed the dispatch of the defence and AUSMAT teams and that increased supplies of Pfizer had been prioritised as well as more testing capacity and personal protective equipment.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

The COVID-19 crisis in western NSW Aboriginal communities is a nightmare realised

Bhiamie Williamson, Australian National UniversityThe afternoon of August 11 was rather exciting in my community – the tiny, remote Aboriginal township of Goodooga in north-western NSW. After months of waiting, our COVID-19 vaccination clinic was planned for the next day.

Then the news came through of a positive case in Walgett, and the vaccine clinic was cancelled. In the midst of an unrelenting COVID-19 outbreak in NSW, other Aboriginal communities like Goodooga are facing uncertain times ahead.

A clearly defined vulnerable community

From the start of the pandemic, Aboriginal people were identified as “a clearly defined vulnerable community”.

These vulnerabilities stem from both chronic health conditions suffered by Aboriginal people and under-resourced health services in regional and remote areas.

In response, the Commonwealth Department of Health listed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Category 1B:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have been identified as a priority group for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout program.

Yet as far back as June, concerns were raised over low COVID-19 vaccinations.

Western NSW – a Pfizer desert?

Total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vaccination rates are low, but there are also concerns about pockets of poor vaccination coverage in individual communities. As Dr Jason Agostino from the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation shared with the Guardian:

Unless we’re paying attention to those small levels of geography and those individual communities, we might find islands of poor vaccination coverage that leave those communities vulnerable.

Low vaccination rates have been exacerabated by an absence of Pfizer supply to a youthful population. Aboriginal vaccine hesitancy in Western NSW is largely attributable to anxieties around AstraZeneca, something which isn’t specific to Aboriginal communities.

AstraZeneca hesitancy has been heightened by ATAGI’s recommendation that Pfizer is the preferred vaccine for those aged 12–59.

But in Brewarrina, a recent vaccination hub was organised, only for community members to find out it was only administering AstraZeneca. Instances such as this hardly alleviate anxieties, especially when the Aboriginal population is overwhelmingly young — 86% of Aboriginal people in the Brewarrina area are less than 60 years old.

Although Aboriginal people are in priority categories for access to the vaccination, in Western NSW we haven’t been given access to supplies of the Pfizer vaccine ahead of lower priority groups in Sydney. The cancellation of vaccine clinics such as Goodooga and others (Bourke also had their vaccine clinic cancelled), add to these issues.

Indigenous organisations have long identified the need to deliver culturally appropriate public health messaging, especially around vaccinations, with some developing their own communications, such as NITV’s “Keep the Mob safe from COVID-19” campaign. But this messaging has made limited headway given the mixed messaging about AstraZeneca and lack of access to Pfizer.

Lax COVID testing results in community infections

The state government was put on notice by Aboriginal justice advocates who had highlighted the vulnerabilities of Aboriginal people in custody and in prison. Factors such as over-crowded conditions which make physical distancing impossible, and incarcerated people have much higher rates of chronic health conditions.

Research from the USA has highlighted that the rates of COVID-19 infection in custodial settings are far higher than in the general population (about five times higher). Those prisoners are also more likely than the general population to die from COVID-19.

Justice advocates continue to call for more urgent and rapid testing in NSW prisons.

Brett Collins, coordinator for Justice Action stated:

The moment that the infection gets inside any of the prisons it’s really a bomb going off.

Read more:
First Nations people urgently need to get vaccinated, but are not being consulted on the rollout strategy

A nightmare realised

Then, in the first week of August, a young man in Western NSW was taken into custody over a weekend, tested for COVID-19 upon entering the prison, and then released on bail a few days later. This young man’s test was not considered urgent because he had not been to a location of concern nor a close contact of a known case.

By the time the young man’s positive test was returned, he was in his hometown of Walgett. The town was plunged into a snap lockdown, with emergency testing facilities established and urgent pleas for vaccines.

While this was happening, an outbreak was spreading in Dubbo, a large regional centre that services much of the north-west. The adjacent local government areas of Bogan, Brewarrina, Bourke, Warren, Coonamble, Gilgandra and Narromine were also placed in a snap seven-day lockdown.

According to our estimates, Aboriginal people make up 25% of the general population in the nine areas of most concern in western NSW. Of this population, 26.5% are under the age of 11, meaning they are currently unable to be vaccinated.

A further 62.4% are aged 12–59, the age group for which Pfizer is ATAGI’s preferred vaccine. Until adequate supplies of Pfizer are provided, our community is unlikely to be protected against the virus.

Fears in western-NSW continue to rise with the increased rate of positive tests in Aboriginal families with particular concern over the rate of COVID-19 infections in children.

It is also important to understand these remote townships rarely have the services and goods to sustain themselves. For example, my hometown of Goodooga is located in the Brewarrina Shire, and yet our closest store is Lightning Ridge, located in the Walgett local government area. According to the restrictions first announced by the state government, our community were initially not permitted to travel there for basic supplies.

Read more:
COVID-19 restrictions have left many Stolen Generations survivors more isolated without adequate support

Communities being left behind

As COVID-19 has spread, so has fear and anxiety. Uncle Victor Beale, a Walgett Elder speaking to ABCs Nakari Thorpe, said, “I thought Walgett was one of the safest places on earth [but now] there’s a lot of anxious people”. Another Elder, Aunty Marie Denis Kennedy, meanwhile shared her concern and anger, “There’s no sort of protection for us”.

Scott McLachlan, the chief executive of the Western NSW Local Health District, shared his concerns around these recent outbreaks:

The large proportion of the new cases, and our total cases, are Aboriginal people both in Dubbo and Walgett and many of those are children.

Meanwhile, the NSW Health Minister admitted the medical services in Walgett were not prepared for an outbreak.

There has also been anger at the confusion caused by uncoordinated and confusing messaging from the NSW government about infections and exposure sites.

Multiple, successive, and cascading policy failures

The COVID-19 response in Sydney, where the Delta outbreak originated, was late, inadequate and ineffective.

Now what we see unfolding is the result of multiple, successive and cascading policy failures:

  • failure to vaccinate Aboriginal communities, one of the highest priority groups
  • failure to safely transition inmates and detainees from correctional facilities to their home communities
  • failure to plan for and create a surge capacity within local medical services
  • failure to plan for a COVID outbreak in regional and remote areas, where Sydney’s rules (such as not leaving your local government area) are ineffective in a vast landscape with interwoven communities that depend on one another.

Sensible strategies with achievable milestones that have long been advocated for – such as securing temporary accommodation for inmates and detainees transitioning from correctional facilities – could have protected our communities.

Now, the responsibility to make our communities safe is falling on our own organisations. Often under-resourced and under-staffed despite calls for extra support from the government, these community organisations work tirelessly, often without due recognition or appropriate pay.

Though this work may seem invisible to outsiders and government alike, we see it and we thank you.

Back in Goodooga, families hide in their homes, hoping to ride out this outbreak. But there is a feeling also of being forgotten. In this extraordinary and scary time, all we seem to have is each other, and our families in the city who worry for us.The Conversation

Bhiamie Williamson, Research Associate & PhD Candidate, Australian National University

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

Brad Hazzard is wrong about multicultural western Sydney: new research shows refugees do trust institutions

Tadgh McMahon, Flinders University and Shanthi Robertson, Western Sydney UniversityWith COVID numbers surging in Sydney’s multicultural western suburbs, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard speculated that migrant and refugee communities in the region “haven’t built up trust in government”, which might make them reluctant to engage with health authorities.

And yesterday, Hazzard made another oblique reference to residents in western Sydney by saying,

There are other communities and people from other backgrounds who don’t seem to think that it is necessary to comply with the law and who don’t really give great consideration to what they do in terms of its impact on the rest of the community.

Concerns about a lack of trust among migrants and refugees in institutions in Sydney’s west — or their alleged disregard for rules — mirror similar commentary by authorities in Melbourne during COVID outbreaks last year.

Our recent research among refugees in NSW shows these concerns about trust in government are unfounded, particularly among recently arrived refugees.

Our 2019 and 2020 surveys reveal these people, in fact, have very high levels of trust in Australian institutions and a high level of commitment to fulfil their social and civic responsibilities.

Read more:
Multilingual Australia is missing out on vital COVID-19 information. No wonder local councils and businesses are stepping in

What our research reveals

The study, led by Settlement Services International (SSI) and researchers at Western Sydney University, explored refugees’ sense of participation and belonging in Australian society.

We surveyed 418 refugees in their preferred languages, reaching a diversity of backgrounds. All refugees had permanent residency, and those in our 2020 survey had lived in Australia for an average of 24 months.

In the 2020 survey, we found our respondents had very high levels of trust in the government (86% responding “a lot”) and the police (84% “a lot”), with no noticeable difference between women and men.

Trust in the media, however, was considerably lower (39% trusting the media “a lot” and 41% “some”), but still comparable to the general Australian population.

The lowest trust was expressed for people in the wider Australian community, with just 24% saying they trusted these people “a lot”, 45% saying “some” and 10% saying “not at all”. This was comparable to findings from a long-term study of refugees in Australia.

One typical resident in Sydney’s west

Muneera, who came to Australia from Iraq, lives in Sydney’s west with her family and is typical of the refugees we surveyed. Muneera was supported by SSI when she arrived in March 2019 through the Australian government’s humanitarian settlement program.

While she was not part of the research, she was happy to share her story of dealing with COVID-19 during the current lockdown.

With limited English, Muneera gets COVID-19 information from Arabic community social media groups and mainstream TV news. She also relies on her sister, who speaks English very well, for regular updates on public health restrictions.

Like many other families in lockdown, some of her children have lost work and her son struggles with high school from home without a laptop. Yet, Muneera and her family are committed to staying home and understand the need to stay informed and comply with restrictions.

Read more:
We need to collect ethnicity data during COVID testing if we’re to get on top of Sydney’s outbreak

Why community support is so vital

In our survey, we found refugees in New South Wales were strongly motivated to fulfil their social and civic responsibilities, including obeying the law, being self-sufficient, treating others with respect and helping others. In fact, these sentiments were shared nearly universally among our respondents.

They also reported knowing how to get help and access essential services, including how to find out about government services (69% “know very well/fairly well”) and, importantly, what to do in an emergency (77% “know very well/fairly well”). They also knew how to get help from the police (78% “know very well/fairly well”).

When it came to helping others in the community, rates of volunteering among refugees in our survey dipped in 2020 (48%) compared to 2019 (60%), but were still on par with rates of volunteering (49%) in the wider Australian community during the pandemic.

All respondents in this survey had Australian permanent residency, a key factor in enabling their settlement and their access to services.

Read more:
Understanding how African-Australians think about COVID can help tailor public health messaging

Refugees in our study also felt welcome in Australia, part of the Australian community and supported by range of networks, including their ethnic and religious communities and other groups. At this early stage of settlement, they found it relatively easy to make friends in Australia, talk to their neighbours and maintain mixed friendships networks.

In western Sydney and other parts of Australia with high cultural diversity, there are multiple challenges in containing COVID-19, including rapidly changing public health advice and the need for accurate information in community languages.

However, the premise that refugees have low levels of trust in institutions or are disinclined to follow rules is not supported by our research.

Rather than labelling diverse communities as lacking in trust, their existing social capital and breadth of their community relationships and networks can be a critical resource in the battle to contain COVID-19, as Muneera’s example shows.

Starting from a position of trust, the challenge becomes how to activate and effectively resource the span of organisations and networks that refugees and migrants engage with in their daily lives.

This should be coupled with clear and consistent messaging in community languages delivered through a variety of channels (including digital) and formats (including video). Peer-to-peer engagement from community members and trusted organisations can be incredibly effective to support behaviour change and maintain health and safety.

Targeted mental health promotion and financial assistance are also key to ensuring families like Muneera’s have the support they need during the pandemic.

The authors’ research on newly arrived refugees will be discussed in a moderated online panel discussion to be held on September 9 from 12:30-2pm (AEST). Registration is free, but essential.The Conversation

Tadgh McMahon, Adjunct Lecturer, College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University and Shanthi Robertson, Associate Professor, Institute for Culture and Society & School of Humanities and Communication Arts, Western Sydney University

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

Lies, ‘fake news’ and cover-ups: how has it come to this in Western democracies?

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Malcolm Turnbull has blamed the conservative faction in the Liberal Party for the ‘insurgency’ that led to his resignation as prime minister.
Lukas Coch/AAP

Joseph Camilleri, La Trobe University

The Liberal leadership spill and Malcolm Turnbull’s downfall is but the latest instalment in a game of musical chairs that has dominated Australian politics for the best part of a decade.

For many, it has been enough to portray Tony Abbott as the villain of the story. Others have pointed to Peter Dutton and his allies as willing, though not-so-clever, accomplices. There’s also been a highlighting of the herd instinct: once self-serving mutiny gathers steam, others will want to follow.

But this barely scratches the surface. And the trend is not confined to Australia.

Read more:
Dutton v Turnbull is the latest manifestation of the splintering of the centre-right in Australian politics

We need only think of Donald Trump’s America, Britain’s Brexit saga or the rise of far-right populist movements in Europe. Politics in the West seem uneasily suspended between farce and tragedy, as deception, accusations of “fake news” and infighting have become commonplace.

In Australia, the revolving prime ministerial door has had much to do with deep tensions surrounding climate change and energy policy more generally.

In Britain, a longstanding ambivalence towards European integration has deeply divided mainstream parties and plunged the country into “Brexit chaos”, a protracted crisis greatly exacerbated by government incompetence and political expediency.

In Italy, the steady erosion of support for the establishment parties has paved the way for a governing coalition that includes a far-right party committed to cracking down on “illegal”, specifically Muslim, immigration.

Yet, beyond these differences are certain common, cross-cultural threads which help explain the present Western malaise.

Simply put, we now have a glaring and widening gap between the enormity of the challenges facing Western societies and the capacity of their political institutions to address them.

Neoliberalism at work

The political class in Australia, as in Europe and North America, is operating within an institutional framework that is compromised by two powerful forces: the dominance of the neoliberal order and relentless globalisation.

The interplay of these two forces goes a long way towards explaining the failure of political elites. They offer neither a compelling national narrative nor a coherent program for the future. Instead, the public is treated to a series of sideshows and constant rivalries over the spoils of office.

Read more:
Partially right: rejecting neoliberalism shouldn’t mean giving up on social liberalism

How does the neoliberal creed underpin the state of current political discourse and practice? The shorthand answer is by setting economic growth as the overriding national objective . Such growth, we are told, requires the public sector to be squeezed and the private sector to be given free reign.

And when economic performance falls short of the mark, pressing social and environmental needs are unmet, or a global financial crisis exposes large-scale financial crimes and shoddy lending practices, these are simply dismissed as inconvenient truths.

Compounding the impact of this highly restrictive economic agenda is globalisation or, to be more accurate, the phenomenal growth of cross-border flows of goods and services, capital, money, carbon emissions, technical know-how, arms, information, images and people. The sheer scale, speed and intensity of these flows make them impervious to national control.

Read more:
It’s not just the economy, stupid; it’s whether the economy is fair

But governments and political parties want to maintain the pretence they can stem the tide. To admit they cannot is to run the risk of appearing incompetent or irrelevant. Importantly, they risk losing the financial or political support of powerful interests that benefit from globalisation, such as the coal lobby.

And so, deception and self-deception become the only viable option. So it is that several US presidents, including Trump, and large segments of the US Congress have flagrantly contradicted climate science or downplayed its implications.

Much the same can be said of Australia. When confronted with climate sceptics in the Liberal ranks, the Turnbull government chose to prioritise lowering electricity prices while minimising its commitment to carbon emission reductions.

The erosion of truth and trust

In the face of such evasion and disinformation, large segments of the population, especially those who are experiencing hard times or feel alienated, provide fertile ground for populist slogans and the personalities willing to mouth them.

Each country has its distinctive history and political culture. But everywhere we see the same refusal to face up to harsh realities. Some will deny the science of climate change. Others will want to roll back the unprecedented movements of people seeking refuge from war, discrimination or abject poverty.

Others still will pretend the state can regulate the accelerating use of information technology, even though the technology is already being used to threaten people’s privacy and reduce control over personal data. Both the state and corporate sector are subjecting citizens to unprecedented levels of surveillance.

Read more:
The Turnbull government is all but finished, and the Liberals will now need to work out who they are

Lies, “fake news” and cover-ups are not, of course, the preserve of politicians. They have become commonplace in so many of our institutions.

The extraordinary revelations from the Banking Royal Commission make clear that Australia’s largest banks and other financial enterprises have massively defrauded customers, given short shrift to both the law and regulators and consistently disregarded the truth.

And now, as a result of another Royal Commission, we have a belated appreciation of the rampant sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church, which has been consistently covered up by religious officials.

These various public and private arenas, where truth is regularly concealed, denied or obscured, have had a profoundly corrosive effect on the fabric of society, and inevitably on the public sphere. They have severely diminished the social trust on which the viability of democratic processes vitally depends.

There is no simple remedy to the current political disarray. The powerful forces driving financial flows and production and communication technologies are reshaping culture, the global economy and policy-making processes in deeply troubling ways.

Truth and trust are now in short supply. Yet, they are indispensable to democratic processes and institutions.

A sustained national and international conversation on ways to redeem truth and trust has become one of the defining imperatives of our time.

Joseph Camilleri will speak more on this topic in three interactive public lectures entitled Brave New World at St Michael’s on Collins in Melbourne on Sept. 11, 18 and 25.The Conversation

Joseph Camilleri, Emeritus Professor of International Relations, La Trobe University

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

Blaming migrants won’t solve Western Sydney’s growing pains

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Many people in culturally diverse populations in Western Sydney have lived in Australia for many years, if not several generations.

Shanthi Robertson, Western Sydney University and Kristine Aquino, University of Technology Sydney

Population growth has profound impacts on Australian life, and sorting myths from facts can be difficult. This article is part of our series, Is Australia Full?, which aims to help inform a wide-ranging and often emotive debate.

Western Sydney is one of the fastest-growing regions in Australia. It’s also one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse, as a key arrival point for refugees and new migrants when they first settle in Australia.

Various public figures and media outlets have connected asylum-seeker intake and immigration to traffic congestion and queues at hospitals in Western Sydney.

However, this kind of reaction can pin the blame for infrastructure and affordability problems on culturally diverse populations who may have already lived in Australia for many years, if not several generations.

Growth from international and domestic migration

Greater Western Sydney includes Blacktown, the Blue Mountains, Camden,
Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield
Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith, the Hills Shire and Wollondilly.

We examined census data compiled by WESTIR Ltd, a non-profit research organisation based in Western Sydney, partly funded by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services. These data show that Greater Western Sydney’s population increased by 9.8% between 2011 and 2016. Over the decade from 2006 to 2016, it grew by 16%.

About 55% of those living there were born in Australia, and about 39% where born elsewhere (the remainder did not state their place of birth). Most put English or Australian as their first response when asked about their ancestry.

New births are slightly down in the region, meaning growth is coming from other sources. This includes new international migration arrivals, but also incoming residents from other parts of New South Wales and interstate.

Greater Western Sydney has long-established cultural and linguistic diversity. The percentage of residents born overseas has increased from 34.1% in 2006 to 38.7% in 2016. Overall, the west accounts for 50.2% of the overseas-born population for the whole of metropolitan Sydney.

Reasoned debates on sustainable migration intake levels are a crucial part of discussions of urban and regional growth. There are valid criticisms of “Big Australia” policies, based on resource and environmental sustainability.

But while the number of new arrivals settling in Western Sydney has increased steadily since the second world war, with a significant jump over the last decade reflecting accelerated skilled migration policies to fill labour shortages, the majority of overseas-born living in the region are long-term settlers who have been in Australia for ten years or more.

Increasing diversity does not always mean more new migrant settlers

The data show that 64% of Western Sydney residents have at least one parent born overseas. This is greater than the number of those born overseas. This correlates with national data indicating that Australian-born second-generation migrant residents outnumber those born outside of Australia.

So while critics may look at non-white Western Sydney residents and assume they are recent migrants, what they’re often really seeing is multiple generations of multiculturalism. Most of these people are long-term local residents, not necessarily a sudden influx of new arrivals.

In addition, not all overseas-born residents are permanent settlers. Australia takes far larger numbers of temporary entrants than it has in the past. Most of these temporary visa holders, such as international students and temporary skilled workers, live in major metropolitan areas and their surrounds, like Western Sydney.

While some portion of these populations do stay on longer-term, they are not all permanent settlers who will add to long-term population growth. Net migration figures, which take into account people who depart Australia every year as well as arrive, and exclude short-term visitors, have generally been decreasing over the past six years.

Who do we define as ‘migrants’?

New Zealand citizens moving under Trans-Tasman agreements and migrants from the United Kingdom are still among the largest migrant groups in Greater Western Sydney.

In many local government areas in Western Sydney – such as Wollondilly, the Hills Shire, Penrith, Hawkesbury and Campbelltown – England and/or New Zealand feature in the top five countries of birth of overseas-born residents.

If anxieties about migration and population in Western Sydney are based on genuine sustainability concerns and not xenophobia, why target mostly refugees and non-white migrants? Why focus only on areas with large non-white and non-English-speaking background populations?

Migrants do use infrastructure, but also drive economic and jobs growth

It’s never as simple as one new arrival “using up” an allocation of limited resources, whether jobs, housing, or seats on trains. In fact, new arrivals fill the gaps of an ageing workforce, and current migration policies are targeted to favour younger migrants and specific skills shortages.

Western Sydney, like many regions in Australia, has an ageing population. Residents aged 65-74 years increased from 6.2% in 2011 to 7.2% in 2016.

Large-scale infrastructure – whether the slated new airport or the Westmead hospital – requires young and often skilled workers.

Nationally, recently arrived overseas-born residents have a lower median age and a higher level of education than Australian-born residents.

Infrastructure problems are also problems of policy, planning and funding, rather than just population numbers. Problems in transport and health infrastructure in Western Sydney cannot be easily solved by reactive anti-immigration attitudes or policies.

Cuts to programs like the humanitarian program or skilled temporary work visas, where the intake numbers remain relatively small as a proportion of the overall population, will not solve those infrastructure problems.

Western Sydney is growing, and with growth comes growing pains. But equating the region’s rich cultural diversity with a population crisis is the wrong message to send.

The ConversationYou can read other articles in the Is Australia Full? series here.

Shanthi Robertson, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University and Kristine Aquino, Lecturer in Global Studies, University of Technology Sydney

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

United Kingdom: Persecution News Update

The link below is to an article that takes a look at a form of persecution that many western Christians may face into the future.

For more visit:

Iraq: Stoning of Western Dressed Girls

The following article reports on the stoning of many girls in Iraq for dressing in western clothes. Over 90 girls have been stoned to death in a month in this disgraceful display of Islamic extremism.