Archive for the ‘Global News’ Category

Don’t Stop the Party

Posted: October 10, 2012 by daniellaa91 in Global News

After six tourist deaths this year, Laotian authorities shut down several bars, restaurants and tube rental syndicates in the party town of Vang Vieng.

As a result, the amount of tubers has drastically reduced from an average of 500 people per day to just 100. Reports include accusations of “serving tourists alcoholic drinks laced with opium and hallucinogenic mushrooms”, providing “happy menus” selling drugs to tubers, and endangering tourists with unsafe water equipment.

However, the reports are generally fabricated or false. The area of the river where the tubing takes place is a ten-minute tuk tuk ride out of the town. Having recently visited Laos, and the Nam Song River, I can confirm that there is no means of buying drinks containing any drug other than alcohol where the tubing takes place, therefore they are certainly not handed to you. Additionally, there are no restaurants on that part of the river, and therefore no means of purchasing items off a ‘happy menu’. Furthermore, the water equipment is only unsafe as a result of an individual’s defiance of common sense. Each activity station is manned and controlled to ensure it is used appropriately and safely.

The media appears to have instilled fear in travelers and parents through the hype they have created regarding the tubing. Emotive language such as “disaster magnet” creates false images of Vang vieng for those who have not seen it for themselves.


Image Two


Image One

The above images were used in articles to demonstrate the lack of safety in the tubing. Both are out of date and being used to portray something that does not exist. Image Two is clearly not recent because there are fewer bars on the river than there are now. Further more, two people cannot use the equipment at the same time as the stations are manned, as proved in the video below. Image One depicts a lethal-looking apparatus, however, in reality, this contraption no longer exists in the tubing at all. It is evident the media are using out of date material to represent the activity in a more interesting and scandalous manner.

A bartender in Laos pours his drinks in front of his customer, and is clearly not able or wanting to spike it



It is devastating that young people have died in the tubing, and something so dreadful can obviously not be undone. However, those are in a minute minority and this does not reflect the other 3500 people per week who safely enjoy the activities on the Nam Song. It is disappointing the media need to scandalize and discredit the tubing to create such a hype, but it is completely unnecessary for it to be shut down. It is a shame that so many more will never have the chance to experience Vang Vieng based on the irresponsibility of a few.


This video proves that the activities are manned, and users are made to wait in order to use it safely.


Samantha Dax on Laos




Technology takes Flight

Posted: October 5, 2012 by rebeccaevenden12 in Education, Global News, Melbourne, Social Issues

Technology takes Flight

Society are about to get even more connected as Airlines consider implementing in flight mobile phone useage.  Even being 30,000 feet in the air may no longer be an excuse to escape the tweets, status updates, calls, texts, emails which consume the typical modern day, busy lifestyle.

Despite previous concerns surrounding in flight phone usage, significant advancements in aviation and technology have led airlines to consider this decision.

However, these  concerns are yet to be completely dismissed and Jetstar Flight Attendant, Sam Jamieson explains some of the main safety risks which this decision may cause from a professional perspective.

Jamieson states that “the cabin crew need the passenger’s full attention throughout the flight and if passengers are on their phones during taxi-ing and landing, it’s going to be difficult to get the cabin crew’s att

For many passengers, this potential decision will be seen as a positive advancement in aviation which is long overdue – particularly for those with busy work schedules.

Rrestrictions currently in place against mobile phone useage on flights

Frequent flyers with round the clock deadlines to meet may have been awaiting this decision for a long time but there will be passengers who will no doubt be disappointed with this drastic lifestyle change.


In a confined space where you are fastened into one seat for the majority of the flight, phones buzzing, ringing and conversations all around may be distracting for some.

Jamieson explains “If someone’s sitting next to you on the phone, chatting away, the person next to them is probably going to get pretty annoyed.”

These distractions will ultimately have potential to cause distress for the passengers as well as the cabin crew.

Ex Pilot, Phillip Relf however has a very different opinion to Sam Jamieson.  Phillip is not at all suprised by the current developments and believes that if everything runs smoothly, this is an opportunity which aviation should grasp immediately.

“Customers of airlines have been wanting these advancements for a long time and it just does not surprise me at all.”

In this modern society where communication has become a greater necessity which is becoming more efficient and easy to access, it would seem that if implemented, this decision will certainly provide many short term opportunities for airlines and customers. Whilst it is difficult at this stage to predict just how effective this could be and what difficulties may arise from this, technology has created a society with such high expectations that perhaps it is plausible for their needs to be met, even at 30,000 feet.

On July 11, a 13 year old girl called Molly Lord was killed in a quad bike accident in Kembla Grange. But it was not this freak accident that caused the media storm to follow; in one of the most proactive and controversial campaigns against media intrusion, the Molly’s Law movement has triggered a public outcry in the bid to protect grieving and distressed families against death knocks.

Young Molly Lord was an accomplished equestrienne, tragically killed in a farm accident on July 11, 2012

The Illawarra Mercury, and Channel 7 are the guilty parties that initiated this movement. In the most devastating and emotional time a parent could face, freshly grieving the death of their beloved child, their situation was escalated and privacy violated by media agencies in the defence of ‘public interest’.

Goldspink-Lord was filmed by a channel 7 helicopter besides her dead daughter, and in a separate incident when consoling herself by visiting her daughters horse, had a reporter enter her house, trespassing and snooping for the Illawarra Mercury.

‘I went outside at some point to go to her horse for some comfort when the channel 7 helicopter flew above me … footage of myself sitting with my deceased daughter was put on the channel 7 website for the world to see before I had even told all my family.’
— Channel Seven, News, Facebook page, 21st July, 2012

Goldspink-Lord’s comment on Channel 7’s wall received great support, however was removed by the television station when they removed the offending video.

Lords father was overseas at the time, and was contacted for comment by these agencies. The family implored the press not to publicise the death, declined comment in a bid to have the opportunity to contact those close family and friends who had not known about the accident, but this right was denied when in minutes footage was aired on Channel 7 showing the grieving mother with her child, and a front cover on the Illawarra Mercury describing with text and image the death.

An outraged Goldspink-Lord retaliated, posting with her full name on both agencies articles her plight of intrusion, supported by thousands of comments outraged over the families treatment. A Facebook page, now supported by over 7000 fans, further publicised her plight.

‘I am the mother of the beautiful Molly Lord who was killed on a quad bike last week. I would just like to let everyone know of the pain and harassment we suffered as a result of channel 7…’ Channel Seven News, Facebook page, 21st July, 2012

The Facebook page established to support Molly’s Law, and the efforts of the Lord family in their plight.

Beyond just press coverage, bloggers including Woolly Days, WA TODAY, Crikey, FOI PRIVACY, Mumbrella and many others, have also commented and discussed this incident on many occasions, seeking an interactive medium to give consumer power back to those from media entities.

The power of social media has been clarified, with the medium providing an opportunity for the family to seek the answers they want, and are moving with legal representation to not only seek justice, but demand fairness in grieving for the protection of families in similar circumstances.

Mollys Law from Elia Lom on Vimeo.

Molly’s Law

-Elia Lom


By Mike Tzounis

The tragic economic situation of Greece deeply affects Melbourne as the Victorian capital welcomes growing numbers of Greek migrants and sees its population rise at an impressive rate.

It is estimated that every week, almost 100 Greeks land in Australia’s airports on temporary visas, hoping to secure a better future Down Under, as things in Europe have gone south and do not seem to be any close to improving.

According to unconfirmed data from Immigration, about 3000 Greeks have arrived in Melbourne the past year in order to look for job opportunities with a view to obtaining permanent visas and Australian citizenship.

Some of them are lucky enough to find sponsors who employ them and guarantee them a permanent visa to Australia, but others, not so lucky, are forced to go back home empty-handed after their visas expire.

There are also people who come to Australia on tourist visas but fail to provide enough satisfactory evidence of being genuine tourists and get sent back home.

In many cases, tourists did not have enough funds to pay for their stay in Australia and even had their tickets bought by others, which caused Immigration to send them back to Greece in the next available flight.

Most Greeks get student visas in order to have working rights, even part-time, so as to make some money and help their families back home.

They are lucky enough to be in Australia, where wages are a lot better than European ones, so they can make some money and survive the financial crisis.

It may be surprising, but the reality is that some Greeks get student visas purely to be able to work rather than get a University or TAFE degree from an Australian institution.

Konstantinos Tsigkris is one of the few exceptions. Coming from Athens and with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a vast experience as a salesman for Coca-Cola, he is currently on his way to obtaining his MBA from Victoria University.

He sees coming to Australia as a challenge and wants to broaden his horizons.

The crisis, however, also affects Greeks who already have an Australian passport. Stratos Kotsis, born in Melbourne, spent most of his life in Thessaloniki, Greece, before deciding to come back to Australia in order to enjoy a better standard of living.

Stratos has been a chef for about four years but lack of employment and opportunities forced him to leave Greece, which he loves, and migrate permanently to Australia.

The Australian government has stated its intention to help and is currently in discussions with the Greek government for a working tourist visa agreement.

Last October, the Department of Immigration in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Embassy in Greece organised a seminar in Athens, where employers from Australia had the opportunity to speak with Greeks interested in coming Down Under to work and informed them of all the details of living and working in Australia.

Many Greeks attended the seminar held at the Australian Embassy in Athens last October (Photo: Google)

It is worth noting that in 2005, the Australian government took the initiative and offered Greece the opportunity to sign the agreement, only to be rejected by then Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis.

It is the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria that brought the subject back to Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s agenda last year and talks between the two governments have been progressing well during the past weeks.

The GOCMV also tries to help Greeks arriving in Melbourne by providing assistance with visa applications, job opportunities and guidance.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, shaking hands with the President of the GOCMV, Bill Papastergiadis during the meeting with the GOCMV board (Photo:

For more information, please visit

“ look familiar. Add me 😉

How old are you? 

 I’d really love to meet you.”

Sound familiar? Of course, it sounds like what may seem to be a genuine conversation starter. But if this is being said to a 12 year old school girl, we should be worried. This is exactly what many young girls AND boys are facing in the deceiving yet attractive world of technology. Online child grooming is a serious issue and is being looked into by the Australian Institute of Criminology.It’s called child grooming and it’s becoming a frightening issue arising in contemporary society. A child groomer is generally known to lure a child or children into a trustworthy relationship by usually faking an identity which appeals to the victim. Facebook, MSN/Windows Live and even websites such as Neopets (an online virtual pet world, where individuals create an online pet and integrate them into the community with other Neopets) are tools for child groomers to find their victims.

The most recent case of child grooming was by a Melbournian who used Facebook to groom minors for sex. The 22-year-old is in jail for 15 months for posing as a 14 year-old boy and using the social network site as a service to seduce young girls. Then after presenting several images, videos and graphics to the child and normalising the idea of sexual activity, a child groomer tries to make the child accept this sort of behaviour.

The video below explains the actual process of child grooming and how serious it actually is. 

Similar to child grooming, recently in New South Wales there was the case of the ‘facebook killer’. An 18 year old girl was lured into bushland and murdered after a 22-year old man faked his identity as a team leader from the NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service. He found out she was an animal lover after researching into her hobbies and lifestyle using that to gain her trust. Child groomers also use hobbies and interests of children to communicate freely and attract them.

Parents need to monitor their children when on the internet. China has gone as far as banning Facebook, but all that’s really needed is parental supervision.

In this day and age, the internet has become a playground for predators. Whether you monitor your child or not determine’s how vulnerable they are to predators.

By Kate O’Hara

Pop quiz: what did the 2010 federal election and Seinfeld have in common?

You could draw any number of similarities between short-statured men, annoying laughs, close talkers and oddball characters who show up unannounced in your loungeroom each evening, but for OurSay founder and Chief Operating Officer Matthew Gordon, it really comes down to not much at all.

“For us it was clearly a Seinfeld election – a show about nothing,” he says.

“Political and media engagement was in the order of the lowest common denominator. It’s not surprising that the Australian community didn’t choose a government in the end, and just left Gillard and the others to work it out.”

Spurred into action even before the campaigning machine cranked into gear, Gordon and a group of keen young entrepreneurs established OurSay, an organisation intent on improving political engagement and community interaction through social media.

With just two years under its belt, OurSay has already carved a small but significant niche as a player on Australia’s political scene, hosting around 25 forums including the first ever Hangout with the Prime Minister.

In its latest partnership effort with the University of Melbourne and Fairfax Media, OurSay recently launched the Citizens’ Agenda, a collaborative crowd-sourcing project which aims to connect with voting communities around Australia and analyse the impact of that engagement. Gordon says it will sort out what issues really matter.

“We thought rather than just having a leaders’ debate like Gillard and Abbott did during the last election, why don’t all candidates have a debate?” he says.

“Using the OurSay methodology, people will post and vote for questions. Those top rating questions will be debated in the community forum, down at the local RSL or town hall. We want to see whether the terms are debated on issues the community has raised compared to the issues the political parties raise through polling and focus groups.”

Researchers and academics from the University’s Centre for Public Policy and Centre for Advanced Journalism will analyse the Citizens’ Agenda as it gets underway in the coming months.

“The advantage of this sort of project is that you’ve got six brilliant minds looking at your product and testing whether it’s going to make a difference or not,” Gordon says.

“Have we changed or increased the level of political engagement in the election? Who’s included and not included? What’s the content analysis of media? Did the headlines change based on what we were able to achieve? The last election was a farce, let’s make this one about something.”

Gordon’s not the only one disenchanted with the direction of political activity and media reporting in Australia. Dr Margaret Simons, founding director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism and industry expert has high hopes for the Citizens’ Agenda and its impact on the country’s “dull political reporting”.

She says politicians are becoming so managed by public relations teams that we barely see any real policy debates these days.

Dr Margaret Simons. Image: supplied

“Instead, we’re seeing a lot of personality-based politics, a sort of presidential system where it seems to be more about the leader than the policies. It’s a shame – it leads to a less informed electorate.

“For a long time I’ve been following the ideas of people like Jay Rosen and Jeff Jarvis and key scholars on journalism futures which I find very compelling – optimistic – but very compelling. Rosen had the idea that part of the role of media is not only to highlight problems but also to be an engaged citizen in helping a community find answers to problems.

“That idea was over-taken by the internet and his modern iteration was what he calls the Citizens’ Agenda, and that once the agenda has been determined, media should pursue it regardless of what the politicians want to talk about.”

Politics and social media have certainly strengthened ties in the past few years – take Barak Obama’s online savvy and his 19 million Twitter followers for example – but the impact of such engagement has yet to be captured and measured.

Dr Simons, a canny Twitter user and observer of social media happenings herself, is optimistic about the project and its positive impact on political engagement in Australia. She hopes the research findings will inform political media reporting well beyond next year’s federal election.

“I often say that we’re living through an era of innovation, equivalent to that which was caused by the printing press, which led people being able to identify with a nation rather than just their clan or village. It made modern democratic forms possible,” she says.

“Now if I’m right, and we’re living through the equivalent innovation now, we have to expect democracy to change, because democracy has always been, to some extent, technologically determined.

“In both journalism and political science there is a lot of hope that social media can serve to improve civic engagement, perhaps improve politics and perhaps lead to a more connected journalism; we might actually get some coverage of politics as though it matters rather than as spectator sport.”

By Rosalina Menton

Vivid Light festival is back! Sydney’s favourite winter carnival of light, colour, music and spectacular illumination of the Harbour foreshore has just opened. Bigger than ever before, the festival has one aim this year, and that is to be the most exciting and interactive event on the Sydney calendar.

The Vivid Light festival is in its fourth year and has proven to be very popular amongst Sydney residents and tourists. Events New South Wales claims the program will feature 100 events over the 18-days of the festival. Events include performances by YEAH YEAH YEAH’s front-woman Karen O and many special performances at the Sydney Opera House to coincide with the event. Also on the line up are more than 60 interactive and immersive light installations, creative idea industry forum talks and key note speakers from the publishing, design, fashion and architecture industries.

Kristen Ellis from Art & Australia Magazine, describes the approach to create an interactive art installation environment as “sensational”. “It is wonderful for the public who wouldn’t normally consider art as part of their daily lives to experience creativeness in such a fantastic way.” Ellis is fully supports the idea of making art accessible saying “Art is more than just a painting on a wall in a gallery. All art is based on the foundations of sharing creativeness and expanding on quirky ideas. That is what is so special about the festival, it makes art fun and easy to participate in and it is becoming increasingly popular with every year.”

The Museum of Contemorary Art is transformed

The Museum of Contemorary Art is transformed

Its not just those who live and breath the art world who enjoy roaming the foreshore during the festival. Tegan Bartho 31, is glad the festival has finally arrived, “Its great to be able to finish work when it is already dark and take the long way to the train station via the pretty lights. Who doesn’t love to see colourful images on our iconic buildings and landmarks?” She will be making frequent trips to the event sites as she has planned a girl’s night out during the event. “My girlfriends and I have booked a great restaurant near the Opera House, we will be going out afterwards but we will absolutely be making a stop to play some light up hopscotch on our way to the club.”

The Vivid festival runs from 25 May until 11 June 2012. Light installation sights are spread across Circular Quay, The Rocks and The International Passenger Terminal.

Please enjoy the multimedia presentation below featuring some of the sights and sounds on display at this year’s event.

Australian for Syria rally aims to draw attention to the unstable situation in Syria recently.