Australia: highest Indigenous youth suicide rates in the world.

Australia’s Aboriginal communities are plagued with concern for their young people after it was revealed that the Kimberley’s experience the highest Indigenous youth suicide rates not only in Australia, but in the world.

Forty young people committed suicide in the Kimberley region last year – six from one community that has a population of under 300. The Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC) is calling for State and Federal governments to focus on Indigenous youth suicide Australia wide. Aboriginal youths are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than non-indigenous young people – a figure that is alarming and devastating. Between 2001-2010, the highest number of fatalities from suicide was from the 15-30 year old age bracket. These disturbing results also demonstrated that Indigenous males aged 15-19 were almost five times more likely to commit suicide than non-indigenous males of the same age. With despair and hopelessness spreading between the small towns due to high unemployment rates, lack of housing infrastructure and displacement of children from their homes, despondency and dejection are felt across Indigenous communities: “children are feeling hopeless because they think they have no future, and adults are feeling hopeless because they feel like they can’t help to provide that future” said Toby Finlayson, co-founder of Desert Pea media – a music and arts program that works with disadvantaged Indigenous youths in remote communities.

This revelation is indicative of a much bigger social problem. Health care centers, prevention measures and postvention measures have been introduced in Aboriginal communities but Indigenous people are still apprehensive about utilising them. Maureen Bates-McKay an Aboriginal lawyer in the Central West believes that health care and government services needs to be more culturally appropriate “the Headspace service does the best that it can, but this is not exactly appropriate for young Aboriginal people. Look at Bathurst, there is no Aboriginal person at the front desk let alone a worker specialising in this field!” Bates-McKay believes that in order for these services to be of use to young Indigenous people, government’s need to fix the infrastructure that is already funded rather than throwing more money at the problem and expecting it to go away. “We need good young Aboriginal workers on the ground in communities working closely with Aboriginal young people with mental health issues. This should be done through quality traineeships with good mentors and support throughout their training. There is an abundance of mental health workers and high-paid professionals at the top of bureaucracies, all very top level. We need to ask, what are they delivering in relation to mental health care, realistic outcomes and a hands on approach in the delivery of mental health to Indigenous young people?”

A new strategy to combat Indigenous youth suicide is expected to be released in February 2014. In the mean time, local and state governments need to work cohesively to implement community involvement and projects to help combat mental-illness in Indigenous communities. 

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Mirror Mirror on the Wall – Reflection Time

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BCM111 has helped me to cultivate my understanding of news media on a global level. It has allowed me to understand the complex network of television industries, media capitals and news conglomerates as well as the importance of journalistic integrity and balance.
The group presentations throughout the course were engaging and acted as a way for us to interact on a deeper level with the content. Class discussions gave me an opportunity to foster my opinions into words.

The three weeks that particularly grabbed my attention were week 4, 7 and 9.

I’ve always had a great love for hip hop music in particular Australian hip hop. I now understand hip hop on a global level and how a product or genre can become glocalised.
Week 7 allowed me explore how part of the global entertainment industry works and the key elements of successful global television shows.

Climate change is always something i’ve been seriously concerned about for the last 4 or 5 years and writing this post invited me to put some of my strong opinions into writing.
This assessment task has forced me to research ideas and subject matter that i was previously interested in and write about it succinctly and concisely. It has allowed me to delve into further into academia and better articulate and express my opinions.

International media and communications has invited me to understand how globalisation works on a new and different level. Previously, I was under the impression that the term globalisation mainly focused on our economic and trade markets. I now recognise globalisation and a much wider and complex term and have more of an understanding of what it means for media and social industries.

Breaking News: Climate change a positive for Mother Earth, she’s better off without us

Climate change is a very real and very present part of our everyday life now. It’s of great concern to my parents generation, my generation and future generations. Sydney has seen some of the hottest days of the year already with temperatures climbing to the low 30s and expecting to reach up to 40 degrees… in October – the second month of spring. Not to mention Sydney is predicted to have the hottest summer on record since 1910.

95% of scientists agree that climate change is and will continue to greatly effect the lifestyles that we and our future generations live. There are very few things that scientists agree on (their job description is to test and prove theories) but climate change is nearly a unanimous and resounding IT EXISTS. Yet 50% of Australia’s general population believes that climate change is not real.

Why?

Journalists are practicing false balance. In Bud Ward’s article ‘Journalism Ethics and Climate Change Reporting in a Period of Intense media Uncertainty,’ he describes false balance as …providing space disproportionate to its scientific credibility to perspectives running counter to what is now widely accepted as the ‘established’ scientific judgment.’ Mainstream media has made a number of mistakes when it came to discussing climate change to its audiences. One of the biggest in my opinion, was calling climate change a ‘debate’ – there is no argument nor should there have been any argument, it exists and humans are part of the reason for its existence.

A way to combat false balance is to start reporting on the real human effects of climate change. Some of the smallest islands with lowest carbon emissions output are suffering at the hands of the rest of the world, these people are being displaced from their homes and communities in the South Pacific due to rising sea levels. Already they are seeing the effects of water contamination, flooding erosion and there is serious concern for the loss of culture and tradition (Khorana 2013.)

Journalists need to start explaining that the process of climate change isn’t something that’s on its way, it’s here, it’s very real and real suffering is beginning to occur. 

Rinse & Repeat: The Global Television Entertainment Industry

Television shows have always been one of the media industries biggest exports with many programs shown in hundreds of different countries (e.g. The Simpsons.) Now as media capitals rise and the flows of television change entire series formats are sold to other countries so they can be remade to suit cultural contexts. Comedy series are the most popular to re adapt with some more successful (the American and British versions of The Office) than others (American version of the Inbetweeners.) Andy Medhurst offers a reason for this:comedy plays an absolutely pivotal role in the construction of national identity because it invites us to belong by sharing the joke.’ Sue Turnbull’s article Television Comedy in Translation highlights that comedy and humour is something that does not always culturally translate well. Specifically she uses the example of the American Kath & Kim and explains that the reasons for its failure lie in the missing element of irony.

‘I would suggest that what has ‘seriously been lost in translation’ is the role and place of irony: in this case, the gap between how a character imagines him/herself to be and how they appear to the audience. While Riley’s Kim might imagine herself as a horn-bag, the actor’s embodied performance works to undercut her character’s belief and to reveal Kim as foolish and self-deluded… Blair’s Kim, however, is young enough, attractive enough… and trashy enough to be a tabloid queen.’

Humor is not the only element that might not be translated well, sometimes the entire format of a show will need to be altered in order for it to be culturally identifiable. An example of this is Ugly Betty– originally Betty la Fea, the 1998 Columbian production sold the show’s telenovela format to over 70 different countries. Certain countries made their own version of Betty la Fea for cultural authenticity such as India, Turkey, Germany, Russia – whilst other countries ‘dubbed’ or ‘canned’ the original program.

It was the American version of Ugly Betty that is probably the most interesting, airing in 130 countries once a week with a 40 minute time slot + adds, the American version followed a similar story but couldn’t be more different from a telenovela production.

Ugly Betty Goes Global by Jade Miller describes a telenovela as ‘dramatic narratives, frequently imbued with humour and even more consistently full of romantic liaisons, improbable story-lines and melodrama.’ Telenovelas generally have a half an hour time slot every night, run for 6 months and are cheap to produce with a whole series run totalling around $8 million. (Miller, 2010) ABC studios realised the traditional telenovela format or genre wouldn’t work for American television audiences as the South American version of the show was too simple and too cost effective. We now live in an age where television production is big business and people expect more from TV studios. Game of Thrones costs $6 million per EPISODE. A far cry from the $8 million of the entire series of Betty la Fae.

In an effort to localise the show, Ugly Betty was made into a sitcom. This however failed because they over localised it and stripped it of its universally appealing elements, this meant that it lost its heart. 

The success of a television show depends on how well culture and humour translate. 

Tom you old devil

In 1979 Tom Waits made his first trip to Australia to perform a string of shows and complete a bunch of interviews following the success of his first album ‘Closing Time’ in 1973. Don Lane the hotshot talk show host of the hour in Australia decided to take on Tom and wound up with an 11 minute interview that ended up being somewhere between bizarre, hilarious and awkward.

Lane had obviously been prepped before the interview – maybe something along the lines of “he’s a real odd-ball” and it shows in the first 5 minutes with Lane pointing out Waits’ strange nuances like lowering his head when he talks or putting a burnt out match in his top pocket from his never ending chain of cigarettes. Lane clearly not knowing what to expect comes across condescending or patronising at times but let’s be honest – Tom Wait’s is not going to be the easiest person in the world to interview. Getting a legitimate answer from Waits’ is like drawing blood from a stone especially when his responses are given in a jittery but slow American drawl that drifts off mid sentence. Lane’s uneasiness is pointed out by Waits in the 6th minute of the interview and Lane tries to save himself by making jokes about him not having a job next week. The back and forth between the two continues, and Waits’ is obviously entertained by Lane’s uncomfortableness and bored by his questions. Lane, obviously running out of time in the 9th minute humorously announces that Waits’ can just answer the questions he wants to and with that Tom Wait’s has single handedly turned the interview completely in his favour by saying as few words as possible and making Don Lane squirm like a worm. He also ends the interview with one of his best quotes :

“I don’t worry about achievement, i worry about if there are night clubs in heaven.”

The Twisting Times of Television and New Media Capitals

Previously, the media landscape has been localized to America and dominated by American content due to the United States being one of the only countries with the technology and media infrastructure to produce, promote and distribute content.

Now, with an ever globalizing economy media flows aren’t as straight forward as a product produced and sold by one country to another, instead media flows transcend geographical borders and nation states. In Michael Curtin’s essay ‘Media Capital’ he discusses how multi directional flows of media are beginning to rise out of cities that have become hubs for finance, production and distribution of television programs. Curtin refers to cities such as Hong Kong, Mumbai, Cairo, Singapore and Malaysia as new media capitals. Mumbai for example, produces 1200 films a year and are distributed all over the world. Curtin also suggests that we should view media capitals as bound up in a web of relations that exist at the local, regional national and global level.

Unfortunately, neo-orientalism is a problematic product of globalized media and is one that’s hard to stamp out. Unfortunately westerners can often be parochial in their approach to different cultures, this is often then perpetuated by the media which breeds ignorance and ethnocentrism. An example of neo-orientalism is how the media have portrayed Muslims post 9/11. Instead of the accurately depicting the multifaceted religion, images of horror, war, bloodshed and oppression are consistently shown to an audience that are pushed further into their xenophobia.

What is hip will hop borders

Hip hop is now a global product that has been produced and distributed all over the world since the 1980s. With its roots considered to be in the ghettos of downtown L.A and the backstreets of New York, hip hop reached the world stage through globalization. From there the formula of hip hop has spread around the world, allowing other cultures to create and develop their own forms and understanding of hip hop culture as a vehicle for cultural identification.

 Example of British hip hop – The Streets : the irony of it all.

Elements of hip hop

The hip hop formula is made up of four main elements, MCing (rap), DJing (music), breaking (dancing), graffiti (visual) and sometimes beat boxing – these elements allow different interpretations and representations of hip hop to be formed. For example, Australian hip hop culture places less emphasis on breaking and more emphasis on the spoken word and the music in order to be considered authentic. In contrast the Samoan hip hop culture places great importance on breaking as seen in Henderson’s article Dancing Between the Islands: Hip hop and the Samoan Diaspora.

There is one element of hip hop culture that transcends all others and is a crucial foundation for hip hop culture: the notion of authenticity. Being authentic is about ‘representing,’ whether its geographical location, race, group, religion – the authenticity of a hip hop artist is determined by how well they represent a community’s social and cultural context

Hip hop as a product of hybridity.

In 1984 Malcolm McLaren released what is considered to be the first Australian hip hop song – Buffalo Gals.

Although it was initially a hit, McLaren’s song and film clip was an imitation of American hip hop culture with shots featuring city skylines, graffiti and scratching that weren’t specific to Australian culture but typical of American hip hop videos. The lyrics of the song had no identifiable voice, that could be related to – I don’t believe that it was authentically hip hop.

Interestingly, a number of years on and taking many elements of American hip hop culture, the Australian hip hop scene has developed with Australian MC’s making names for themselves by creating a completely separate sub-genre with its own distinctive voice and sound. The Australian accent features heavily and themes surrounding middle class day to day life are prevalent – this was highlighted in Week 4’s group presentation.

Seth Sentry’s song Room for Rent highlights some of the struggles young people face trying to make ends meet in Sydney. His modest and joking tone and his culturally identifiable lyrics helped to make this song a success in Australia.

Hip hop is now a product of glocalisation – the global formula for the hip hop has been applied by artists on local levels thus making the music culturally identifiable to the audience.