Tuesday, 5 August 2014

38 people, 33 projects, 9 action areas and more

Classified as: Project update
Updated with minor changes 11 August 2014.

Here are some facts, figures, themes and ideas about where this research project is up to.

How many people?

38 research participants have been involved in this project to date. There were 23 from ISEPICH in stage 1 of the project (12 community members, eleven staff members from ISEPICH member agencies). Fourteen people from ISEPICH are involved in stage 2 (eight community members and six staff), including one person who has replaced someone who had to leave.

There are also eight staff members from Southern Grampians and Glenelg PCP (SGGPCP) and member agencies, and seven staff members from Wimmera PCP and member agencies, involved in stage 2.

About 40 other people have also participated in forums and discussion groups. These people aren't research participants as their discussions haven't been recorded, but notes from the forums and discussion groups will add to the data for the project.

Another 14 people have made 40 comments on this blog - their names won't be used in the project, but the ideas they've shared will help to broaden it.

How many projects?

I've identified 33 projects addressing environmental sustainability/climate change and equity/social justice from the focus groups and interviews.

There's a lot more projects promoting equity/social justice without an environmental component, and they will be discussed in my final thesis, but I'm focusing particularly on the ones addressing both issues.

This is an update from the info I posted in October last year about 21 projects, so there's quite a few more now.

What are they doing?

Here are 9 key themes describing what the projects are addressing:  
  • promote social inclusion (build community, reduce living costs for low income groups, improve access, identify groups vulnerable to climate change) - 28
  • build capacity  (partnerships, policy, community, organisations, government) - 24 
  • save energy (housing 10, transport 5, other buildings 2, communal kitchen 1) - 18  
  • increase access to local fresh food (improve access, produce local fresh) - 8 
  • increase access to nature - 8  
  • increase Indigenous participation/ cultural safety/awareness - 5  
  • reduce waste - 2  
  • focus on early life, young people - 2  
  • save water - 1
These are my classifications, so they have to be checked by the participants (if they have time!) before they're finalised.

What's it all mean?

A really interesting thing I'm doing at present is comparing what's happening in practice (the projects), with the theory (principles and action areas framework) developed by ISEPICH participants back in stage 1.

Overall, the framework is looking pretty good when compared to practice, but in some areas there's a really good fit between theory and practice, and there's others where it doesn't seem so close. Sorting out the how and why of that is going to be a fascinating journey, and I hope to post more on this soon.

The original ISEPICH framework for promoting equity, environmental sustainability and health

Project update

I just realised today although the principles and action areas developed in the first stage of this project are shown on the Project page, I've never put a copy of the framework up. 

I'm fixing that now, because I've been doing some very interesting work on it which I'm planning to summarise in the next project update.

So here it is:


Sunday, 27 July 2014

More online sexism

"Val, darl, ...
Try to be helpful and tell us the carbon footprint differences between men and women on a local/national/global level and become relevant to the topic rather than a distraction.
Your call….."


Classified as: Reflective journal - feminism, climate change

So I was trying to discuss the impact of gender on attitudes to climate change on the ClimatePlus blog, and this (above) is where the discussion ended up.

First I was told by one man who posts there that gender was irrelevant to the discussion, and then I was told by "Jumpy" that I was irrelevant to the discussion.  I'm doing a PhD on health, equity and environmental sustainability. I'm not sure what Jumpy's qualifications are, but obviously in his own mind he knows a lot more than I do.

Brian Bahnisch, the blog owner, is much better than that. I know that he's busy at the moment, and quite likely he will address this when he has time. In the meantime, I seem to be about the only woman who comments there, and I'm not going to do so any further under these circumstances.

What is wrong with these men?

Will definitely do a post on gender and attitudes to climate change very soon.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Plea to the Senate - keep a price on carbon

Classified as: Reflective journal - advocacy

 Updated with links 22 July 2014

What can I say? Like many others, I have watched in shock as the Abbott government tried to undo all the good work of its predecessor. In public health and education in particular, the government's actions seemed to be motivated by ignorance, meanness and petty revenge.

In the budget, those in the most difficult conditions - the chronically ill, the young, Indigenous people, sole parents, low income families and unemployed people - have been targeted for savage cuts, while the wealthy or comfortably off - like myself - pay nothing or a token short lived levy.

Now we come to the major moment - Tony Abbott's plan to 'Axe the Tax'. Such ignorance, such foolishness I have never seen in a government in all my long life. I cannot understand how Australia has elected such a government.

Yes I know people were sick of the infighting of Labor, and I know they had been made to look incompetent, particularly through sexism and exaggeration, but they weren't. The Clean Energy Futures Act, which includes the carbon price, was actually good and far sighted legislation. It is setting us on the road to a lower emissions future already. More needs to be done, but we have started our journey.

Fortunately at least some of the mechanisms associated with the Act, such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Renewable Energy Target, and the Climate Change Authority, look set to be retained due to the Palmer United Party position - for which I am grateful. But they still look set to axe the carbon price and at best go to an emissions scheme which won't have any impact until major trading partners adopt one.

So I make a last plea - don't do it Senators. If you want to switch to an emissions trading scheme, ok. But it has to be meaningful. The message sent by Australia setting a price and then backing off is just terrible. Apart from making us look like idiots - no small thing in itself - it creates doubt and uncertainty in Australia and internationally. Citizens and businesses in Australia deserve better than this.

To dispel a few false ideas, here is some evidence:

  • The carbon price caused only a small amount - about nine or ten percent - of recent electricity price rises. Most were for other causes particularly infrastructure upgrades.
  • People on low to middle incomes were compensated for the cost increases associated with the carbon price under the legislation. Paying the money back to them again is like paying them twice. People on average to high incomes don't need to be repaid as it was only a small amount for us. (I am not sure how long the link in this point will last as it links to the previous government's information, so here is another one, hopefully more permanent.)
  • Electricity prices are set to decline if we continue our investment in renewables. Without a carbon price, this investment will likely slow down. People will end up paying more in a few years. The carbon price is a small pain for a big gain. As long as vulnerable groups are compensated, it is a fair way of helping us move to a sustainable economy.

Yes, the economy will change in some ways. People may fly less and drive cars less - or drive different types of cars - but that is part of the transition of the economy. We have to invest in sustainable industry like renewable energy and public transport, to meet our changing needs and make sure there are jobs for people.

We can't just cling to the past as the Abbott government wants to do. We have to change. So please Senators, let's do it sensibly. Keep a price on carbon. Compensate vulnerable groups, and go further - help them through mechanisms such as community renewable schemes. Invest in alternative sustainable industry to meet our needs and create jobs. Look to the future, look to what we can be and the world we create for our descendants.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

"I am not the problem", plus threats to renewable energy, health cuts ..

Classified as: reflective journal - Indigenous perspectives, discourse, politics

 "I am not the problem"

A wonderful moment from Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, talking on the ABC's Q and A program on Monday 9 June 2014

I am not the problem

I have copied her words below because they are so wonderful, but it is even better to watch her in person (the link above has the video excerpt)

"You know, I have a culture. I am a cultured person. (Speaking Arrernte) I’m talking another language. And my language is alive. I am not something that fell out of the sky for the pleasure of somebody putting another culture into this cultured being. John [Pilger*] shows what is an ongoing denial of me. I am not an Aboriginal or, indeed, Indigenous. I am Arrernte, Alyawarre, First Nations person, a sovereign person from this country. (Speaking Arrernte) This is the country I came out from. I didn’t come from overseas. I came from here. My language, in spite of whiteness trying to penetrate into my brain by assimilationists – I am alive, I am here and now – and I speak my language. I practise my cultural essence of me. Don’t try and suppress me and don’t call me a problem. I am not the problem. I have never left my country nor have I ceded any part of it. Nobody has entered into a treaty or talked to me about who I am. I am Arrernte Alyawarre female elder from this country. Please remember that. I am not the problem."

This is such an important point - the people who experience or suffer from oppression, are not the problem - the problem is the oppression and the people who practise it or benefit from it. All white people in Australia have benefited from this oppression one way or another (as I've noted in a previous post). We need to acknowledge this.


Another thing I saw on the ABC news last night was a piece about the possible impact on Hepburn Wind if the Renewable Energy Target (RET) is removed by the Abbott government. I've discussed in a previous post how Hepburn Wind is a model for community energy projects, and how after years of work it has just come close to breaking even.

There is more information about the RET review and the possible impact on renewable energy and community energy projects from the Coalition for Community Energy.

I looked at some of the submissions on the RET review, including one from my energy provider, Origin. Origin is calling for the RET to be lowered - and I am thinking about whether I should change my energy provider! At least they are not calling for it to be abolished, but even lowering it is a foolish step backwards.

One thing that makes me quite angry about the position of Origin and also that of the Electricity Suppliers Association of Australia, is that they talk a lot about the costs of renewable energy to the general public, through the RET and the carbon price, but there are two things they don't seem to mention:
  • People on low to average incomes in Australia were in general over-compensated for the costs of the carbon price - they received more in payments from the government than the costs that the carbon price was estimated to cause households.
  • Energy companies make a profit from current household solar. Early Feed-in Tarriffs (FITs), which are the price the energy companies pay people for the electricity that they feed in to the main grid from their solar panels, were quite high, to encourage take up of solar panels. However, they have now been reduced,  and electricity companies now sell the electricity for more than they pay for it. For example, Origin pays me 8c per Kilowatt hour (KwH) for energy from my solar panels, and sells it to other people for 22c per KwH.
 It seems to me that they are not being entirely honest.

Final quick point - I'm sure everyone knows, in general terms, about the huge cuts to health that are proposed in the federal budget, plus the co-payments for doctor visits and medications. It is also worth noting that health promotion has particularly been targeted. The Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA) are advocating on these issues. See advocacy information and letters here.

I would like to write more about the impact of the budget on health promotion soon, but in the meantime I urge everyone to support the work of the AHPA.


* John Pilger, maker of the documentary Utopia, which was being discussed.