WITADA’s Weekly Top 10 – 21 February 2015

21 Feb 201521 February 2015


WITADA’s Weekly Top 10: News, stories and ideas to make the world a better place. 


Welcome to the Top 10 for this week. In this edition we highlight some new and exciting Indigenous music, celebrate the anniversary of the Freedom Rides, turn our attention to Syria again, check out new initiatives in tea production in India – and much more!


1. We begin this week with three stories on the situation in South Sudan. Firstly, Human Rights Watch have released a report about the mass rape of women in Darfur by the Sudanese army.
Also in Sudan, there is news from Human Rights Watch that the South Sudanese government is actively recruiting young boys to fight in the war. This coincides with the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers which was held last week. And finally, we have the story of Martha, a South Sudanese woman who had to flee her home because of the conflict and despite the fact that she was about to give birth to her baby son, Boat. The UNHCR Tracks publications brings the real life impact of conflicts and displacements such as these into our lives in a real and present form.


2. The Freedom Ride in Australia is being remembered on the 50th anniversary of bus trip that too Charles Perkins and a group of students to protest against the inequaity and sub-standard conditions for Indigenous Australians. Ann Curthoys and Brian Aarons were on that trip and they have reflected on their experiences. A reenactment of the Freedom Ride has left Sydney to retrace some of the route taken by the original group in 1965.


3. Bryan Stevenson has been in Australia to promote his book ‘Just Mercy’. He is a well known US lawyer who has fought for many years to abolish the death penalty. It’s an important issue at the moment in our society and the book is well worth a read.


4. The Australian Academy of Science has published a new paper ’The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Answers paper to “provide an understanding based on our present scientific knowledge, of some key questions about climate change”. There is some really good information here that relates to our everyday lives and also that answers some of those trickier questions.


5. This issue has come up before and many of us were horrified then. Now we have another proposal for the Federal Government to stop providing essential services (water and power) to remote Aboriginal communities. The idea is that the State Governments should now take over this responsibility but the Western Australian State Government says it can’t afford it. Meantime there is serious concern about the impacts of this on the Indigenous people of these areas, particularly the elders.


6. The Ebola epidemic is in the news less frequently now, which is of course a good sign. But it is also important to recognise the huge steps that have been made in tackling this disease. In Liberia, schools have reopened and there has been a massive decline in the number of reported cases. The UNDP is committed to continuing its efforts until all cases in all affected countries have zero cases of Ebola.


7. India is the second largest producer of tea in the world but because of the rising cost of production, especially energy costs, many tea producers were facing closure. The UNDP has released a report about their work with the Manogaran tea co-operative in the Nilgiri Hills.  This is an example of a very effective intervention from UNDP over 4 years where the company was able to turn their business around by significantly reducing energy costs as well as making their business environmentally sustainable.


8. This is a beautiful introduction to a new talent in the Australian music scene. Yirrmal Naruja is a Yolngu young man with a great voice and wonderful stories in his songs. He is joining Black Arm Band in their next performance of Dirtsong in Tasmania in March.


9. The Elders have launched four recommendations to make the United Nations more able to deal with the issues facing the world in the 21st century. One of their main concerns is that although the world has changed a great deal since the UN was first established in 1945, the make up of the UN Security Council still reflects the world in post-World War 2 times. Their recommendations are very sound and well worth a read.


10. Our inspirational story for this week takes us to Syria, the site of much devastation. In amongst the daily bombings is a group called ‘The White Helmets’ or the Syrian Civil Defence who move between areas that are bombed searching for survivors. Nicholas Kristof from the New York Times writes about the more than 2,200 volunteers who are unpaid and unarmed and undoubtably doing the most dangerous jobs in the world. In this video you will see one of the most sensational rescues and an interview with one of the White Helmets.


Thanks for coming along and reading our Top 10 again this week. Keep your eyes out for a new blog coming on Wednesday next week where we will introduce a new series of blogs about inspirational leaders!
See you all next week.