Taking responsibility for our own ‘mess’

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

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Taking responsibility for our own ‘mess’

The federal government’s decision to repatriate Australian women and their children from camps in north-east Syria (The Age, 3/10) is long overdue on simple humanitarian grounds. However, there is another dimension to the matter that is routinely overlooked.

The Morrison government was content to dump the problem on people who lack the resources to deal with it and who are still under armed attack from Turkey. This was shockingly cynical and ungrateful. Without the sacrifice of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, the monstrous Islamic State “caliphate” could not have been defeated.

Following suit from Donald Trump, the previous Australian government walked away and left the Kurds to deal with the aftermath of a devastating war. Unlike the Kurds, Australia has the legal, medical and other resources to rehabilitate and, where necessary, punish its citizens who are in the camps. We should not expect others to clean up our mess and the Albanese government is to be congratulated for the new approach.
John Tully, Dover, Tas

Encouraging IS families to love, trust and forgive

Your correspondent says “Australia should think carefully” about bringing them back from Syria” (Letters, 4/10). In fact, it is far better for us to do this. Then they can learn about compassion, forgiveness and love. If we leave them in Syria, they will learn about anger, revenge and hate. If I were one of those children, and I was left in Syria, my anger would definitely be aimed at Australia. Is that what your correspondent wants?
Diane Tew, Vermont

How sure can we be that they will integrate?

The “rescue” of the IS families, although a decent action, is nevertheless a risky experiment of mercy and faith. There can be no reassurance or guarantee that the families will be successfully repatriated and reintegrated into Australian society. There can be no reassurance or guarantee that this humanitarian exercise will not eventuate as a regrettable and tragic venture in naivety and foolish well-meaning.
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East

The desire of families to bring loved ones home

The current view seems to be that those Australian women and their children who are ’imprisoned” in Syria should rot. And if they were members of your family, would your line be the same?
Bruce Dudon, Woodend

Clarifying how we will ‘deradicalise’ them

What is the difference between the mooted “deradicalisation” of the Australians and their children who are stranded in the Middle East and the Uyghurs who are being “re-educated” in Chinese camps?
Kent Hansen, St Kilda

One step forward but so many more to go

With the very welcome news that the federal government will repatriate the Australian women and their children from their awful situation in Syria, can we now also hope for a change in attitude to genuine refugees regardless of how they arrived in Australia?

Caroline Schelle’s article about Farhad Bandesh – “Refugee to fight forced resettlement” (The Age, 4/10) – exposes the cruel and inhumane manner in which we continue to treat people who deserve far better after years of detention and ongoing uncertainty about what their future holds.
David Brophy, Beaumaris

A new government, the same old Home Affairs

After more than seven years of detention, refugee artist and musician Farhad Bandesh has found a partner and made a life for himself in Australia, contributing through work, taxes and culture. We would not let him study though and now tell him he has to leave at a time when we desperately need people like him. How inhumane, cruel and stupid. Where are the improved policies and common sense at Home Affairs?
Anne Sgro, Coburg North


No one else’s business …

So Andrew Thorburn has resigned from his new job as chief executive at Essendon Football Club due to his involvement with a church that teaches traditional Christian ethics. How was his link to the church of any relevance? I am no Bombers fan (it’s the Tigers for me), but surely what should have mattered was how he steered the club. Good luck to him.
Andrew Laird, Malvern

… or a need to resign?

Andrew Thorburn, your faith might be personal but other people’s gender and sexuality is surely also personal. You belong to an organisation that condemns people it does not like. I am pleased that you have resigned.
David Baylis, Drouin East

Open books to taxpayers

The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria is seeking more funds (The Age, 4/10). As we, the taxpayers, are indirectly being asked for this funding could the commission please provide us with details of its finances? This may explain where the current funds received from governments and parents are being spent.
Patrick Hennessy, St Kilda

Ask the church for help

The Fair Catholic Funding Push is pointing the finger in the wrong direction. Instead of railing against the funding that government schools receive, it should examine the government funding of affluent independent schools. At the same time, it should check the coffers of the Catholic Church itself and see what it will do for its schools.
Irene Morley, Seaford

A woman to emulate

So unassuming yet accomplished is Fiona Wood (Good Weekend, 1/10). For a woman who is my age, I can only marvel at her amazing and life-altering achievements in relation to burn victims and their treatment. Raising six children in the midst of this career is phenomenal. Many of us baulk at the challenges of one or two children and whinge about our career choices and lives.

In her stellar and selfless career, Fiona Wood is still passionate and active and constantly looking for ways to heal her patients holistically. I am in awe of her and can only challenge myself daily to be the best version of myself.
Monika Ercoli, Manifold Heights

Only Putin wants war

I am British by birth and Australian by naturalisation. I happen to be, also, Polish. My family’s history is from south of Tarnopol, in what is now Ukraine. It is no longer Polish territory. I, a Pole, recognise Ukrainian sovereignty. The Ukrainian people, the Polish people and the Russian people do not want war.

Vladimir Putin, the young people of the Russian Federation are out on your streets. Your police are killing them. Please stop this. They have lives and futures. You are a multi-billionaire. A few districts over the border in a foreign country are not vital to your wealth. Please stop the war.
Stefan Wozowczyk, Oakleigh South

Pollies, show us the proof

It is election time again and we are being regaled with promises of billions of dollars of expenditure. What we should have are practical timelines with progressive measures of success so we can see the effective results of the expenditure (and the ability to correct any variations or shortfalls). Spending money on building hospitals is not the same as achieving health outcomes.
Bernie Chandler, Donvale

Focus on special needs

Matthew Guy has promised to “make Victorian children the best readers” by mandating “evidence-based”, synthetic phonic programs in schools (The Age, 4/10). Does he not realise that according to the NAPLAN tests over a number of years, Victorian children are already the best? Resources promised would be better spent on supporting children with special needs rather than one-size-fits-all reading programs.
Susan Mahar, Fitzroy North

Integration at long last

Re Labor’s proposed new hospital for west Gippsland residents (The Age, 4/10). Finally there will be an integration of public acute health care and public aged care. All is not lost.
Carol Williams, Forest Hill

Better apprenticeships

Problematic apprenticeships are very real, particularly in small businesses. For one “trial” apprenticeship, my then 17-year-old son was told to dig trenches all day for 10 hours during the height of summer. After the week’s “trial”, he was told he was not needed. He was never paid.

After further trials, one employer never signed my son up despite his working for six months, while the other signed him up but said he was too busy to release him for his TAFE studies. He was yelled at and verbally abused.
Two years into that apprenticeship, he quit. Now 20, he is so badly traumatised he does not want to work in plumbing again.

Apprenticeships should be professionalised and shortened to three years. TAFE should be full-time and offer practical placements that are closely supervised, not tied to an employer. Also, the Victorian government could engage more apprentices directly and then hire them out as part of its government contracts. All this would result in greater support for apprentices, improved oversight and increased completions.
Thera Storie, Knoxfield

Natural justice

Jeff Kennett’s attempt to get some balance in the allegations against Hawthorn’s officials is grounded in law. The central core of cases in administrative law is the principle of natural justice.

At the very least, Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan were entitled to have the allegations put to them and the right to provide their side of the facts before any findings were presented.

At law, once natural justice has been denied, the decision has to be stuck down and declared void. The problem here is that it is too late. The allegations have been canvassed in the press without the decision maker affording those accused the right to put their side of the story.
Robert Dean, lawyer and former Liberal MP, Hawthorn East

When power isn’t equal

Jeff Kennett lamenting that young players went public with their allegations against management highlights his lack of understanding of the power imbalance between young (in this case Indigenous) players and senior power brokers (usually white men) within the Hawthorn Football Club.
Stuart James, Leneva

The pandemic is not over

Re Monique Ryan’s article (Comment, 4/10). With the relaxation of COVID-19 mandates, our elderly folk, people on chemotherapy and others who are immunocompromised are increasingly at risk of illness and death. Why isn’t our government concerned about this and listening to our health officers?

Yes, I know the percentage of infections that result in serious illness and death is less with vaccinations and the latest variants. However, case numbers are still high, which means the number of deaths are correspondingly still too high. One can only think it is considered more important for younger, fitter people to be able to go about their lives than for the whole community to care about protecting each other.
Eileen Rule, Glen Waverley

The bigger data issues

Nick Bonyhady (The Age, 1/10) provides a good analysis of Optus’ data leak but we have heard little from its owner. Singaporean company Singtel operates in one of the world’s most technologically sophisticated countries, yet seems to have allowed Optus to operate with a inferior approach to basic data safeguards.

Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission has explicit guidelines on data security, and directives on data retention when it comes to customers leaving the business. Yet the same standard of conduct has not trickled down to Optus.

Also, how comfortable are we having our data managed by the subsidiary of an offshore business with a foreign government as the majority shareholder? Singtel is 55per cent owned by Temasek, which is wholly owned by the Singaporean government. All questions that need to be asked in any government review of online security and privacy.
Charles Reis, Flinders

Does my bank even care?

Like David Stratton (Letters, 30/9), I received a phone call from NAB’s fraud department asking for personal information in relation to a transaction.

I did not believe this was a genuine phone call, so I rang NAB on the number on its website. After over an hour being directed from department to department and waiting on hold, I visited a branch.

A teller came out and we sat for another hour or longer while she also rang the official NAB numbers and was redirected and placed on hold for long periods. Eventually she found the fraud office and they confirmed that the original phone call was genuine.

It is bizarre that NAB is making these cold calls asking for private information when we are bombarded daily with fraudulent phone calls from organised crime. At least I had the luxury of being able to visit a branch where they could sort it out. Unfortunately this branch, Ferntree Gully, is closing in a few weeks.
Di Cousens, Upwey

For some, it’s fun but …

Re “Banal and very rude” (Letters, 4/10). Some Geelong Cats, having been labelled ’too old” and being the oldest team to win an AFL premiership, dressed up as old people. This white-haired octogenarian found it very amusing. Do those who were offended suggest the prep grade children should not dress up as oldies after their first 100 days at school? (My grandchildren did.)
Helen Chappell, Barwon Heads

… for others, it’s offensive

I, too, was offended by the childish behaviour of Geelong players dressing as seniors. It belittles we elders and smacks of paternalism and thoughtlessness. Old age is not that funny and I say that even as a fit and active 80-year-old.
Lesley Almond, Hamlyn Heights


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


Re COVID-19. Monique Ryan (4/10) is on the money, as usual. Politics and business, yet again, trump reality.
Stephen Rodgers-Wilson, Southbank

Let’s fix our homeless problem in Australia before we bring these IS families back here.
Chris James, Mount Martha

Another 100,000 care workers will be required by 2027-28 (ABC). There’ll be no one left to care for.
Tim Habben, Hawthorn

With talk of a “Danslide” at the election, Guy must occasionally wonder why he stays in politics.
Hugh McCaig, Blackburn

So, belatedly, British PM Liz Truss has realised that “Kwasi” economics doesn’t pay (4/10).
Ivan Glynn, Vermont


I’m glad WorkSafe Victoria is investigating Hawthorn. Who would trust an AFL investigation to be impartial?
Ross Ogilvie, Woodend

Jeff Kennett says nothing to see here at Hawthorn. Move along, please. Well that’s it then.
Ross Hosking, Blackwood, SA

Re “Banal and very rude” (4/10). I thought it was funny that the Geelong footballers dressed as old people. And I am 80.
Merilyn Tabor, Point Lonsdale


Since Julian Assange is rotting away in an English jail, surely King Charles could have him sent back to “the colony”.
Tris Raouf, Hadfield

Cameron Woodhead (Arts, 3/10), what is a “phone book”?
Sam Bando, St Kilda East

The end of printed comics (3/10)? It is to be hoped that The Age continues to publish its excellent comic strips. I love Zits.
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East

The word “multiple’. Overused on multiple occasions.
John Edwards, Mount Waverley

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