This new activity was well attended and very informative. The group looked at the different editions of newspapers, comparing what was important to make page one, page two etc. and each of the newspapers’ different responses to the current news. The group will also look at a particular topic, i.e. Climate Change, NDIS, etc. and discuss it in the second half of the session.
In Semester 2 2018, Carole Marple and Joan Laing from the Politics class piloted four sessions of a unit called 'Hot Topics'
"Do you enjoy discussing current affairs? In today’s world of disasters with half-baked solutions we feel that we all have some of the solutions to these problems and yet we have no outlet for our views. Well, we have now! It is called ‘Hot Topics’ and will cover topics ranging from Reality Television to the Uluru Statement, from Climate Change to Tabloid Journalism, from Euthanasia to the Newstart allowance. Topics discussed will be wide ranging, but there will always be a topic set for a chaired discussion and you will get a chance to prepare your thoughts for the next session. Come along, It will be great to get things ‘off your chest’.
The sessions were provocative and well worth attending. The newsletter reports and resources for the sessions have been retained on this page and demonstrate the potential of such a current affairs based unit.
Unfortunately Carole and Joan decided they were unable to continue, however were always hopeful that others would be able to take up the reins.
In late 2019, Ian Gray and Brian Harker decided to do so, developing the format for 'The News - Fact or Fiction' ready to begin in 2020.
'An adjunct to the Politics and Current Affairs course, ‘The News - Fact or Fiction’ provides a structured round table forum for selected stories and issues which are hitting the headlines which affect our lives and the society in which we live.
Sessions will include an analysis of the contents and letters pages of different media outlets to see how various issues have been reported by different organisations; discussion of one of these topics in more detail; and a pre-alerted topic to be explored.'
The Politics group was stunned and bereft at the loss of Ian, who died suddenly in Paris in November. Brian has decided to continue to offer the unit and many people have expressed interest in attending. In many ways 'The News - Fact or Fiction? course will be dedicated to Ian, who clearly enjoyed wide ranging and well informed discussions.
Hot Topics went local this month with guest speaker Cr. Barbara Alexander outlining the work of Benalla's Community Plan Implementation Steering Committee. The group then discussed what Benalla needs for a future growing rural city from a caravan park to another Bridge.
There will not be another Hot Topic session in November as Carole's grandson is being married that afternoon.
It has been great fun running Hot Topics but we'll leave it to others for 2019. If you are interested in 'hot topics' and willing to take the course (it is only once a month) please contact Terry Case.
Carole Marple and Joan Laing
September - we agreed we all have a role to play in addressing climate change, and 'agreed to disagree' as to whether Australia needs a Charter of Human Rights
The September gathering of the Hot Topics crew discussed the role of older people in addressing climate change. Bev Lee led the discussion working from material provided by John Lloyd, who was unable to be with us. It was generally agreed we all have a role to play.
John Lloyd's Presentation - Older Australians and Climate Change
The second half raised the need or otherwise for a Bill or Charter of Human Rights for Australia. This led with a video of the lecture 'The Case for a Charter of Human Rights in Australia' by Gillian Triggs, former President of the Human Rights Commission. (Dean's Lecture Series,The University of Melbourne, 23 July 2018).
A heated discussion followed with the group agreeing to disagree on the subject.
At our next gathering of Hot Topics we will look at the forward planning for Benalla – what does the future hold and what is our role in that future? Hoping to see you there on Friday October 19th at 1.30pm.
A number of the topics we choose for 'Hot Topics' would come under the category of what are called in the policy literature 'Wicked Problems' and 'Super Wicked Problems'.
The following extracts have been taken by an article by Chris Riedy, Professor of Sustainability Governance at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney, titled 'Climate Change is a Super Wicked Problem' https://chrisriedy.me/climate-change-is-a-super-wicked-problem-b2e2b77d947d
"In Tackling Wicked Problems from the Australian Public Service Commission:
"Climate change as a ‘super wicked’ problem....According to Kelly Levin and co-authors, super wicked problems are a new class of global environmental problem with four key features:
Chris Riedy, Professor of Sustainability Governance at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney
The following video provides a comedic 'way in' to considering the diversity of opinion in relation to climate change while at the same time presenting a graphic presentation of the strength of the weight of scientific opinion.
Our discussion on climate change will be framed in terms of the relevance and impact of climate change on us at our stage of life, and our shared reflections on whether and how our family, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren are responding/coping with the issue of climate change. John Lloyd is unable to attend but has given us a power point to work through.
Our second topic is 'Do we need a Bill (or Charter) of Rights in Australia?' We will be watching a recent lecture by Gillian Triggs.
Dean's Lecture Series - Melbourne University - July 30 2018
Two large topics were discussed at our last gathering. Led by Freida Andrews, the first topic was ‘Should Australia be providing international aid, and if so, who to and how?’. Foreign Aid from Australia has dropped in real terms by one third in our budget over the past three years. One of the major issues explored was whether developing countries are better off receiving government to government aid or would they be better off without it, even if it meant the collapse of the country? Australia is number 16 in the world in percent of our gross National Income given in foreign aid at 0.27%. This is well below the UN agreement with OECD countries of .7% and also well below our best efforts under Holt & Gorton of .48%. Is 0.27% the right amount at $3.22 billion, or should it be less or more?
This led us on to the second topic, Drought Aid. Many questions arose, not least should our international aid go to our farmers or can we do both? There was a good deal of discussion on how we and farmers deal with drought. Questions on how we prepare for drought came up with Brian Vial giving us a great run down on how farmers manage drought and that as with all areas of work some take up new ideas better than others.
Our next Hot Topics are from the top of the list of topics chosen by participants - ’Climate Change - is it relevant for us at our age?’ and ‘Do we need a Bill of Rights?’ This will be held on September 21st at 1:30pm and all are welcome.
Is the handing out of aid/money the right thing to do for developing economies?
Is the handing out of aid/money the right thing to do for farmers?
Is it the right thing to do to stop funding overseas aid and divert the money to farmers?
Joan Laing - 'Foreign Aid Spending - Fact Check'
"Facts (?) of Australian Foreign Aid Spending, including
How has Australia's foreign aid spending changed over time?
Foreign Aid as a % of Gross National Income (GNI)
Foreign Aid Contributions to UN total by donor nations
Freida Andrews - 'Should Australia be providing international aid, and if so, who to and how'
Freida drew on a lecture she heard on Big Ideas - 'Re-engineering the aid industry - a priority for the 21st Century'. The 2018 Mitchell Oration, it was delivered by Professor Sir Richard Feachem, Director of the Global Health Group at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Institute for Global Health Sciences and Professor of Global Health at both UCSF and the University of California, Berkeley.
Early in his lecture, Professor Feacham discusses the origins of aid policies, with particular reference to the Marshall Plan; Colonies and the Cold War.
Freida's Handouts -
Freida's Handout including Discussion Questions
Frieda's Summary of the Lecture:
Hot Topic - Social Media 'Trending Topic' - 'this vs that' binary - overseas aid v farm aid
'Australia's foreign aid budget called into question when farmers face drought' Alexandra Beech's article, ABC August 10 2018 - provides a perspective on at the current 'trending topic' on social media....for example...
Quiz - to get our minds back on track!
Carole Marple - 'Is the handing out of aid money the right thing to do for farmers'
Resource: Irvine J & Hannam P (2018) 'Holding our breath - Another drought bites & questions grow over the future of Australia's arable land' The Age, Sat August 4 2018
Questions for discussion arising from the article:
Follow up reading/watching:
Coming up in September: From the top of our list of preferences:
1. Is climate change relevant to us at our age?
2. Do we need a Bill of Rights?
'Hot Topics' started on the third Friday in July at 1:30 pm with an enthusiastic group of participants ready to discuss our first topic "Where to now for our War Memorial in Canberra". We looked at the issue of whether it should be a place of contemplation or an entertainment museum and who should pay for the extensions, requested by the powers to be who run the AWM, at a cost of 500 million. It has been suggested that producers of war products could be such sponsors.
One of our next topics will be Funding of Foreign Aid. Why do we give aid? Why has it been cut? This topic will be led by Freida Andrews with lots of information to start us off and keep us on track. All welcome to join us on Friday 17th August at the usual place at 1:30 pm.
Key Resources on this topic:
The Medical Association for the Prevention of War launched their “Commemorate Don’t Commercialise” campaign to get those with vested interests in warfare out of the Australian War Memorial on the 18th June. There is an informative segment on the Drum covering this 'Hot Topic'. - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-22/the-drum-tuesday-may-22/9788900 Commences 20.46 mins in
“Commemorate Don’t Commercialise” is a part of MAPW’s campaigning to raise awareness of the intrusion of weapons companies into many aspects of Australian life. There is an online petition on their website, together with the letter accompanying the petition: You can read it here - http://www.mapw.org.au/news/australian-war-memorial
Dr Sue Wareham, from the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, is interviewed in this podcast from Canberra's 2CC - http://2cc.net.au/podcasts/10592-should-the-australian-war-memorial-reconsider-accepting-sponsorship-from-weapons-manufacturers.html2cc.net.au/podcasts/10592-should-the-australian-war-memorial-reconsider-accepting-sponsorship-from-weapons-manufacturers.html
About 'The News - Fact or Fiction?
An adjunct to the Politics and Current Affairs course, ‘The News - Fact or Fiction’ provides a structured round table forum for selected stories and issues which are hitting the headlines which affect our lives and the society in which we live.
Sessions will include an analysis of the contents and letters pages of different media outlets to see how various issues have been reported by different organisations; discussion of one of these topics in more detail; and a pre-alerted topic to be explored.
Third Tuesday of the month 10 am to 12 noon
U3A Meeting Room
Brian Harker 5762 8464
Developed and maintained by members, this website showcases U3A Benalla & District.
Photographs - acknowledgment to U3A members; Benalla Art Gallery website;
Weebly 'Free' images;Travel Victoria and
State Library of Victoria