How One Inner Sydney Night Market is Building Bridges With Food

By Tam Allenby 

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For a moment I’m transported somewhere else, though I’m not sure where. With the smell of grilling meat and ground spices carried by the cooking smoke and steam wafting through the air, it could be India or Sri Lanka; Cambodia or Vietnam; Lebanon or Iran.

Really I’m in the Inner West of Sydney- Marrickville to be precise. But at the night Street Food Markets, held at the Addison Road Community Centre each month, it feels like you’re in all these places at once.

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Crowds enjoying the second Street Food Markets at the Addison Road Community Centre, Marrickville. [Photo: Tam Allenby]

You’d be hard pressed to find a more diverse selection of foods in such a small area anywhere in the world. Walking through the crowd, stomach rumbling, I face a tough decision. Should I try the arepas from Colombia, grab a Sri Lankan ulundu vada, or tuck into a plate of Cambodian lod cha?

I decide to make peace with my inner glutton and settle with all three.

Besides, any regret I might experience half an hour into a self-induced food coma would be easily offset by the fact that at these markets, you really are stuffing yourself for a good cause.

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Vietnamese rice paper rolls being prepared by the team at Mama Made Caterers. [Photo: Tam Allenby]
How so, you ask? Well, the event is a joint project between the Addison Road Community Centre Organisation (ARCCO) and the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS). In a nutshell, the aim of the market is to “bring cultures together and support the small businesses of recent migrants and refugees”.

Judging by the good vibes and large crowd that turned out on a cool Saturday night for the second edition of the markets, it was certainly a success. Feedback on the Facebook page was similarly positive.

Having missed the first event held the previous month, I contacted Alex McInnis from ARCCO to ask her a few questions about the aim, history and future of the markets.

She told me that while the last edition hadn’t run so smoothly due to some “teething issues”, with long lines and the stallholders selling out of food, this was more a result of the huge level of support that the community had provided.

“It was just an overwhelming level of support, and stallholders just simply couldn’t cater to so many people… but that’s a good thing. Everyone was really understanding, for a lot of the stallholders it was their first time time trading”.

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Stallholders from the Lakemba Community Market. [Photo: Tam Allenby]
She also pointed to the real value that an event like this brings to the community and to the stallholders themselves.

“They’re just so excited to do something that they’re passionate about. Employment opportunities aren’t always ample and they don’t want to just sit around, they want to do this: earn a living, and be part of something.”

“Beyond the financial aspect of earning a real income, they’re sharing their food, sharing their culture, getting to know other stallholders, getting to know the visitors…”

With the 2016 federal election now less than a month away, and asylum seekers and refugees one of the issues that will define the campaign of the major parties, events like this one can help with the often negative portrayal of refugees in the media.

A 2013 study by the University of Queensland found that asylum seekers and refugees are portrayed in a visually dehumanising manner by mainstream news sources, usually as large crowds or groups rather than individuals or families.

They argue that this “reinforces a politics of fear that explains why refugees are publicly framed as people plight, dire as it is, nevertheless does not generate a compassionate political response”.

Alex from ARCCO would certainly agree with this sentiment.

“Refugees are talked about so much, it’s such a big topic… they’re being talked about all the time but do people really think about who they’re talking about? Someone’s grandfather, someone’s son, someone’s daughter.”

I spoke to Alex only days after Immigration Minister Peter Dutton hit the headlines for his controversial remarks concerning the “illiteracy and innumeracy” of potential asylum seekers, who he argued would “take Australian jobs” or “languish” on the dole.

When asked about this, Alex’s response was insightful: focussing on the qualifications or education level of asylum seekers is missing the point, and can even be considered classist.

“These are people – some of them educated, some not so much – but they’re still contributing and sharing in such an amazing way, and employment is not always the measure of that”.

The third edition of the markets will be held on Saturday the 18th of June, the evening before Refugee Week kicks off for 2016. With more food vendors, craft stalls and a live band all in the pipeline, Alex is firmly positive about the future of the event.

“I think it’s just growing every time”.

Though its easy to let your tastebuds get carried away when confronted with so many delicious treats, a recent update on the ARCCO Facebook page cements the underlying importance of the markets in the current political climate.

The theme for Refugee Week is “with courage let us all combine”- and that’s exactly what we do! In the face of an election campaign targeting asylum seekers and refugees, we believe coming together and supporting new Sydney-siders is one of the most powerful things we can do as a community to break the racism and classism being displayed.’

Coming together through food. It may be a cliché, but in the case of the Addison Road Street Food Markets at least, it’s also a reality.

Gallery: Street Food Market #2 (May 21, 2016)

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Reliving trauma: Sexual harassment and assault reporting system at The University of Sydney

by Patricia Vera [ID: 450422030]

Nina Funnell, former University of Sydney student and tutor, was brutally assaulted on the day of her honours presentation. After going to the media, other students learnt about her and reached out to her with their own stories of rape, gang rape and sexual harassment. Are Australian universities doing enough to support victims of sexual harassment and assault?

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The University of Sydney has been heavily scrutinised and criticised by the media lately, due to recent sexual harassment and sexual assault cases. [Photo: Patricia Vera]
It is already dark at The University of Sydney (USYD) when the screening of The Hunting Ground is about to begin. There are several female students filling half of the seats, as the moderator introduces the event. The students seem to be avidly interested in the documentary and the panel discussion that will follow it.

A group of experts is sitting in the front row too. Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Sydney, is one of them.

The screening is a USYD’s Women’s Collective initiative, in cooperation with The Hunting Ground Australia Project (THGAP).

Promotional picture and Facebook post for The Hunting Ground screening and panel discussion and The University of Sydney. [Post and photo: The Hunting Ground – Australia on Facebook]

When the lights go up again, the audience is silent. Some people seem to be in shock, some angry, but most of them seem to be resigned, as if the experiences shared in the documentary are part of a reality that they know well.

That is probably the case.

The moderator, Allison Henry, THGAP’s Campaign Director, breaks the silence by inviting the panellists to the stage. They talk about the documentary, about similarities to the Australian context, about definitions of sexual assault and consent, and positive attitudes that help victims of sexual assault to recover.

All panellists have already intervened when Ms Henry asks a simple, but important question to Nina Funnell, former University of Sydney student and tutor:

Can you tell us a little bit about your experience here at Sydney Uni?”

Nina Funnell, former University of Sydney student and tutor, telling stories sexual harassment and assault that happened at USYD, and also her own experience with violent assault.

When Ms Funnell finishes, she is shaking and her voice is trembling. The auditorium is silent once again.

Being sexually harassed or sexually assaulted is something that thousands of students around Australia have and are going through, and it is the reality of some USYD students as well.

Sexual harassment and assault surveys

The National Union of Students (NUS) women’s department 2015 study, Talk About It, says that more than 27% of respondents have experienced some form of sexual harassment while enrolled at their university, while 14% of respondents have experienced sexual assault.

On the other hand, USYD’s 2016 sexual harassment and assault survey, Safer Community for All, says that 24.7% of respondents have experienced sexual harassment, and 2.6% of respondents indicated that they have been sexually assaulted. 25% of them said that their assault happened on campus.

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Comparison of sexual assault and harassment percentages in the NUS and USYD surveys. [Graphic: Patricia Vera]

While the USYD numbers are lower than the ones in the NUS survey, Anna Hush, the Women’s Officer at the University of Sydney’s Students’ Representative Council (SRC), thinks that the reason behind this is that victims of sexual assault do not want to share their experience with the university.

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Comparison between results of the NUS and USYD surveys regarding reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment to an official instance. [Graphic: Patricia Vera]
“Less than 2% of even the most serious cases are reported, which I think says that, if you have experienced sexual harassment or assault, it’s likely that you’re not going to do the survey because you don’t want to talk to the university about it,” Ms Hush said.

The survey, in fact, indicated that only 1.4% of the respondents reported their harassment or assault to the university.

What becomes clear from sexual violence statistics is that sexual assault is a real and severe issue that students have to deal with. While not ever case happens on campus (only 38.53% respondents reported that), universities need to be prepared to offer support, resources and appropriate reporting processes that will help students to deal with their trauma.

Sadly, this is where most universities fail.

The University of Sydney’s reporting process and victim support system

To report an incident of “unacceptable behaviour” at USYD, students need to fill an online complaints form that asks them to give personal details such as full name, student ID, phone number and email address.

Ms Funnel said that she does not know survivors who would feel comfortable using a complaint form like that because the university does not specify how it is going to use that information.

The lack of an appropriate reporting system is something that came up in the panel several times.

This issue is, in fact, something the survey recommends to “review”:

It is recommended that there be a further review of the incident and complaint handling mechanisms to clarify and simplify points of contact and procedures for incident reporting.

The USYD survey is part of a larger campaign, Safer Communities, which that encourages people to “speak out about unacceptable behaviour on campus.”

In its website, the university explains the process to follow in case of an emergency, which consists on dialling triple zero (and contacting the NSW police), calling campus security and contacting counselling services.

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The Safer Communities portal on the USYD website, which is located under Campus Life > Emergencies and personal safety. This is all the information available regarding sexual assault besides the Counselling services page. [Screenshots: Patricia Vera]

“The Counselling and Psychological Services team are able to assist students who wish to talk confidentially about an issue. This, occasionally, includes sexual harassment, assault or uncertainty about behaviours in relationships,” said Jordi Austin, Director of Student Support Services.

Dr Spence pointed out that campus security is being trained on how to manage sexual assault cases. Ms Austin added that “campus security teams are all undertaking first responder training, as well as ALLY and Pride in Diversity LGBTQI training.”

Student Support Services is also collaborating to increase awareness of the issue. “Sexual assault services posters have been in all bathrooms on campus, and we will continue to promote sources of assistance to students at orientation, through the student news and on the Safer Communities website,” Ms Austin said.

While the university is trying to improve its initial response team and the problem’s awareness, the main problem lies on the reporting process itself.

The implementation of the survey’s recommendations is, apparently, on its way, according to Ms Austin.

However, there is more that could be done, and USYD students seem to have a few ideas of what could be done to improve the system.

Ms Hush would like the university to do some kind of research on best practices to handle sexual assault cases. For the reporting process, she also suggested: “knowing that the information that you provide is kept confidential, knowing that the person who handles your complain is specially trained in responding to sexual harassment and assault, [and] providing a really clear time frame in which it’d be resolved.”

A student in the audience also criticised that victims do not get information about the outcome of their cases. Dr Spence explained that there are “legal restrictions” on what they are able to tell students, but he still thinks that “knowing what happens is a very important part of helping people.”

Karen Willis, Executive Director of Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, agrees, but she also said “the process is just as important in many instances as the outcome.” She believes that when survivors are included in the process, when they are listened to, informed and supported, they have a better chance at recovery.

***

The University of Sydney has started taking baby steps towards the improvement of its reporting and support systems now, but it is not enough.

Going through a sexual harassment or assault experience can be devastating for the victim. People who have gone through it have already been failed by the system. The crime should have not happened, but sadly, the reality is that sexual harassment and assault are part of the everyday lives of some students.

Universities cannot and should not allow being part of the system that has failed them.

Survivors will have to live with their trauma, and the least that a university can do is to ensure they do not worsen the victim’s trauma through the reporting process, and to support them with appropriate resources.

It is time that the university does more and works harder for survivors because if it is not now, then when?

If you have experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault or domestic violence, and you are seeking for support, please call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or NSW Rape Crisis (1800 424 017). These services provide 24/7 professional counselling over the phone. If you are feeling unsafe right now, call 000.

To contact the author of this story, email Patricia Vera [veram.patricia@gmail.com].

Deregistration aborted: religious clubs resurrected

by Winmas Yu (SID: 450536382)

Reflecting on the recent potential deregistration from the University of Sydney Union, the President of the Catholic Society has cited misunderstanding as the major reason that caused the incident.

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The University of Sydney Union retracted after calling religious clubs to remove “discriminatory clauses” in constitutions. Image: Winmas Yu

Continue reading

Are Chinese students paying too much to study in Australia?

 

 

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The cost of studying in Australia is higher than in any other country. Photo source: http://www.enaindia.in

 

 

“I just worked for five hours, so I am a little tired.” Said Lily, who is an international student studying in the University of Sydney and has been in Sydney for five months.

About three months ago, she fund a part-time job to sell box lunch in the train station, and she could get 10 dollar every hour. “Though the salary is very low, it can reduce the pressure of my life.”

Actually, the salary of this kind of part-time job is below the average, which is about 14.5 dollar per hour. But most of the international students choose to find a part-time to reduce the pressure of their life just like Lily.

“I can use this money to buy an apartment about 100 Square meters with three bedrooms!”

“I am not the second generation of the rich, and I just come from an ordinary family. My tuition fee is AU$40,000 per year and the cost of living every year is about AU$15,000, which exchanged to Chinese Yuan is about 280,000 Yuan.

So, when I finish my two years’ study, I have to cost about 560,000 Yuan. In my hometown, which is a small city in China, I can use this money to buy an apartment about 100 Square meters with three bedrooms!”

According to a recent report, the cost of study in Australia is higher than in any other country such as the US and UK. The total cost for international student study in Australia, including annual fees and the cost of living, is calculated at USD 42,000 a year.

 

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Chinese students have a large proportion in USYD

 

Also, Australia has the most proportion of international students—about 20 percent of the country’s higher education enrolments are international, compared to the global average of about 7 percent. Whenever you walk around your campus, there are always people of different nationalities speaking different languages. Among those, Chinese students have a large proportion.

“My parents pay my tuition fee and the cost of living. Actually, they pay the fee by their saving. So I choose to earn some money during my spare time to reduce the pressure of my family.” Lily said with the phone in her hand.

” I often pay attention to the rate and exchange some money”

“I just exchanged my Chinese Yuan to 5ooo Australian Dollar using the app in my phone. The exchange rate of the Australian Dollar to Chinese Yuan is changing in recent months, so I often pay attention to the rate and exchange some money for my study and life when the rate is appropriate to me. Actually, this can help me save some money.”

 

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A screenshot of Lily’s phone when she was exchanging Chinese Yuan to Australian dollar

 

 

According to Australian dollar rate, there is a bad news for Chinese students, which means that Chinese students are now likely to get less Australian dollar in exchange for their money currency.

The international student fee t is 140 per cent higher than the domestic fee

The universities in Australia publish both the domestic and International students’ fee on the school website, including the University of Sydney. In the website, take the Master of Commence as an example, which has a large proportion of Chinese students, we can see the study fee for International students is AU$40,000 per year, compared to the domestic student fee which is AU$29,500 per year.

This means that the international student fee in this subject is 140 per cent higher than the domestic fee. Actually, all the subjects have the same phenomenon—international students have to pay more than domestic students.

Simply put, international students are big business for universities and for the economy. Even so, the university increases the international tuition fee every year.

The number of progressed application for the fellowship is limited

The Australia Awards are international scholarships and fellowships funded by the Australian government, which are available to nationals and citizens from eligible countries, which is Asia, the Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

 The Australia Awards Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships are funded by the Australian Government, and aims to support the internationalization of the Australian higher education especially the postgraduate-level study and research.

There are also eligible countries, which are in the round of Americas, Asia, Europe and Middle East. The application for the scholarship and fellowship of 2017 is now open and will be closed on 30 June 2016, and it must be submitted using the Endeavour Online application system.

Though there are different kinds of scholarships and fellowships for international students to apply, the number of progressed application is limited. So it is not a good way for international students especially Chinese students to reduce the pressure of studying in Australia.

 “The universities see us as cash cows!”

About two decades ago, there weren’t too many Chinese students, while in recent years, we can see a marked difference. More and more Chinese students come to Australia to have a higher degree.

Some of them want to have a high quality of education, some want to become the permanent residence in Australia, and others may want to avoid the intense competition. No matter what reasons, more and more Chinese students choose to study in Australia.

 

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Image source: http://www.linkedin.com

 

The average international students pay is around AU$42,000 annually, about 2 times as much as domestic students. International students contributed about AU$15 billion to the Australian every year, which makes the higher education the third biggest export.

 

For the universities in Australia, it is a good way to raise their revenue. So we will not surprised to here the Chinese students saying “the universities see us as cash cows!”

 

Congying Li

SID: 450487970

Word Count: 950 words

USYD Freedom of Association at Stake

by Winmas Yu (SID: 450536382)

The University of Sydney Union (USU) recently requested various student religious societies to amend their membership requirements and to ensure all university students (a.k.a. USU members) would have equal rights and accessibilities in joining a club and being executive members, otherwise they could face “deregistraion”, and, consequently, further funding and campus facilities would not be granted for club events.

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University of Sydney quad” by Andrea Schaffer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The request has drawn public and media attention in late-March this year, and was reported extensively by local and national papers, with most of the attention focused on the Evangelical Union (EU) and the Catholic Society.

EU would have to abolish its requirement for prospective members to declare that “Jesus is my Lord”, while the latter was asked to open their executive positions to non-Catholics.

The USU president, Alisha Aitken-Radburn, said to News Corp, “We don’t understand why they need to force their members to say this or sign that.” Continue reading

Cultural Healing: How one suburban market is building bridges with food

It’s become somewhat of a cliché to say that food brings people together. But for many of Australia’s recent migrants, food really can provide a way of sharing their culture and maintaining an emotional link to the homeland.

This Saturday, the Addison Road community centre in Marrickville will host a night market showing off the food, craft and music of some of these people. Food from a wide variety of countries including Liberia, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Colombia and Iran will be dished up to hungry diners.

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According to the event organisers – a joint project between the Addison Road Community Centre Organisation (ARCCO), and the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Surviors (STARTTS) – their aim is to ‘bring cultures together and support the small businesses of recent migrants and refugees’.

I’m planning to frame my piece against the ongoing refugee issue, a topic regularly covered in the Australian media. Just this week the PNG Supreme Court ruled the Manus Island detention centre as unconstitutional, making it a likely political battleground in the upcoming election and increasing the newsworthiness and relevance of my feature.

As various commentators and academics have noted, coverage of refugees in Australia is so often dehumanising (Bleiker et. al. 2013). We’re so used to reading about faceless boat people, crowded detention centres and the huge numbers fleeing war and conflict that it’s easy to lose track of the human side of the refugee issue. I also think its worthwhile to sometimes focus on more positive stories that cut through the doom and gloom.

My story will hopefully act as a success story that instills hope and optimism rather than fear in the reader.

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On location, I plan to do a few quick interviews with various stallholders. I expect they’ll be quite busy, so I’d also like to exchange mobile numbers and emails to organise a face-to-face or phone interview with one of the interested parties further down the track. This will allow me to hear their story as a recent migrant or refugee, to trace what they’ve put on the plate back to its origin, and to ask them about the connection between food, culture, and their new home in Australia.

I’d also like to organise an interview with the organiser of the market for a wider perspective, that looks towards the future of the event. My questions for this interviewee will provide valuable quotes for framing it in the wider refugee issue.

With more than 3,000 people attending and another 14,000 ‘interested’, the event is likely to draw a big crowd. Combined with the naturally photogenic nature of a food market, this story will be perfect for the online medium. As the iPhone camera is almost useless at night (the event goes from 4-9pm), I’ll bring along a digital SLR camera to take some good quality, high-resolution photos, which I plan to embed as a gallery.

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This feature would be ideal for websites such as the Guardian, Vice, or ABC Online who target a more ‘progressive’ and often younger, more politically engaged audience.

References: 

Bleiker, R., Campbell, D., Hutchison, E., & Nicholson, X. (2013). The visual dehumanisation of refugees. Australian Journal of Political Science, 48(4), 398-416.

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