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Amazon???s Footprint in the Environment and Economy

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on April 1, 2015 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Abstract

 

Environmental issues and employee diversity rates of Amazon.com Inc are of concern to both society and stakeholders. The question is whether or not they are fullfilling society’s expectations on how they should operate. Whilst there are areas in need of improvement, it appears that Amazon.com Inc. are quite the revolutionary leaders in their field, ahead of their competitors due to their active nature of addressing key issues and implementing positive change as soon as it is highlighted.

 

Introduction

 

Founded in 1994, Amazon today has 237 million active users and earned more than 214 million in net sales in the fourth quarter of 2014 (Statista 2014). Their mission is to be the largest online bookshop in the world with the largest catalogue, distribution, access to customers, known brand and at the same time, increasing their profit and minimising their costs (Al-Mashari 2002, 184). As a result, Amazon remains in the spotlight with every action and inaction in the public eye, issues such as the environment, human rights and employee diversity examined in much detail, making them the leader in their field charged with the responsibility of setting examples for both society and stakeholders. This essay attempts to examine their successes and failures in regards to their environmental impact in addition to employee diversity.

 

Environment

 

Through initiatives such as examining the packaging options available to manufacturers, companies and brands, Amazon has certified over 200,000 products and enabled the Amazon Fustration-Free Packaging Certification initiative which has resulted in 100% recyclable packaging and products shipped in their own packages without the need for additional shipping boxes (Amazon 2015). But it isn’t just packaging that is of concern to the stakeholders and consumers of Amazon. A quick search of Google reveals that water conservation, energy savings, renewable energy products and their garden-to-table methods are of equal importance (Nidamarthi 2011). These are further more likely to be reduced with online shopping options over the traditional brick-and-mortal stores (Edwards, McKinnon and Cullinane 2009, 8), particularly with the reliance of having the product delivered to the consumer, which reduces the consumer’s emission factors generated by travelling to shops looking for products (DEFRA 2007).

 

Although Amazon doesn’t release eBook sales statistics, in 2008, it was reported that $112 million worth of eBooks was sold, with Amazon holding a 45% market share (Ritch, 2009: 5). For the environment, buying eBooks over print books prevents “5.3 billion kg of CO2 in 2012 alone” (ibid) due to not having to process paper and ship books. Although it must be stated that The Cleantech’s Report, in regards to the savings of billions of carbon dioxide, may contain bias due to their serious investment in technology such as Kindle (Callicott 2010, 81).

 

Books alone in the United States consumed approximately 30 million trees in 2006, equating to a carbon footprint of 12.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (Green Press Initiative 2011:3). In 2013 alone, sales of hardcopy books increased by 10% (Greenfield 2013) with Amazon earning $11 billion in sales compared to their 2006 figure of $3.5 billion (Rosenthal 2014). Once can imagine the effect this would have on the environment, in particularly the consumption of trees. There is nothing to say on the Amazon Website that their books are made of recyclable materials but this would be difficult to gauge in the first place due to millions of different sellers using a variety of printers who don’t share the same recycle policies and missions.

 

EBook readers are believed to be made out of “lead solder, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium and flame retardants which have been linked to health problems” (Hutsko 2009). Although the European Union limits the use of these materials in the making of these products, they have a policy in place to recycle all electronics but the United States does not have this policy in place and although Amazon offers free recycling of the Kindle product, they have declined revealing how this program works (Callicott 2010, 81). In the making of the Kindle, Amazon utilises the services of an “inefficient coal fired plant” (ibid) and it appears they have made no positive contribution to the environment in the shipping process of the Kindle to their final destination pre-sale. Giant shipping containers use bunker fuel, which can emit “the same amount of cancer- and asthma-causing chemicals as fifty million cars and release as much as 5,000 tons of sulfur oxide into the air annually” (Vidal 2009). There is also nothing on the Amazon website to contest these statements.

 

Amazon is just as responsible as Barnes and Nobles and the New York Times when it comes to utilising huge computer servers to power eBooks, as “1.5% of the entire electricity usage for all of the United States goes to power data servers” (Callicott 2010, 83). This is compounded upon the realisation that about half of this energy emanates from coal fired energy plants which is “dirty and is responsible for huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions” (ibid).

 

On a positive note, Amazon’s initiative titled the Kaizen Program is charged with the mission of working together “to implement environmental and energy initiatives across all parts of the company . . . dive deep into every nook and cranny of a process to identify waste and design alternative solutions that are more energy efficient” (Amazon 2015). Whether or not this will benefit every area such as shipping and the power servers in the near future is just something we will have to wait and see.

 

Employment and equality

 

Two months after the famed civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson called on Amazon to disclose the makeup up for their employees, Amazon bowed to the pressure and released their figures (Cook 2014). Out of the entire global workforce, 63% are male whilst in the United States, 15% are black, 13% Asian and in terms of Manager positions, 4% are black (Sopher 2014). To increase the Black employee rates, Amazon have introduced a scheme called the Black Employee Network, which aims to “help recruit and contribute to a community for employees of colour” (Amazon 2015b). Employees and interns are paired up with mentors in addition to providing career and personal development workshops throughout the year.

 

For women, there is the Amazon Women in Engineering scheme which aims to provide a workplace environment for women who are technical minded and trained. It appears to be a success, particularly due to the Women Engineering Magazine naming Amazon as the third most wanted company “for whom they would most like to work or that they believe would provide a positive working environment for women” (Equal Opportunity Publications 2014:1).

 

Amazon reflected on these statistics and blamed the disparity of minority and women employees on the “lack of science, technology, engineering and mathematics encouragements for these groups in schools” (Mac 2014). As a result of that statement, they have pledged contributions to increase both computer and science learning among children and teens, the next potential generation of Amazonian employees in hope of a more positive employment rate for women and minorities. This is unlikely to make a difference, particularly as it appears that these classes opt of this education pathway by choice, in particularly technology and engineering.

 

Further criticism has emerged from the lack of detail on employee structure in different levels of the company, so one could only guess that they represent a far worse reflection of these classes as you move higher up the corporate ladder (de Looper 2014).

 

On a positive note, Amazon’s diverse statistics are quite good when compared to Facebook and Microsoft who employ 31% female, 2% black, and 30% female, 2% black respectively (Cook 2014). It appears that even if Amazon’s employee diversity was stronger for the black community and females, they would still attract criticism particularly as they could not be perfectly equal but this could be difficult as employees are usually recruited for their education, experience and talent and not their colour of their skin or gender. In addition, the fact that they are addressing these issues with relevant in-house programs and school funding show that they are committed to representing the American people.

 

Conclusion

 

Amazon is fulfilling society’s expectations by making headway with both their environmental and employee diversity policies. Although these things take time, research already shows that they are a leader in their feed and actively seek out improvements to address areas of concern. Some areas of transport for instance, are difficult to improve, and this includes the giant shipping containers utilising bunker fuel which could be regarded as something out of their hands. It can be seen that Amazon are making a positive environmental effort with a range of implementations such as reducing packaging by offering companies a free examination of their products, being environmentally green and reducing tree resources through the sales of ebooks, which is sure to please both society and stakeholders alike.

 

Employment diversity is also a difficult issue to tackle due to education, experience and talent on one side of the scale and both gender and skin colour on the other. Whether a company should risk the quality input over hiring unskilled or untalented people who cannot perform the job adequately to ease the concerns of society and stakeholders is an issue of concern. This is being addressed the best way Amazon knows how, by implementing innovative schemes and education funding but already, they are ahead of their competitors in relation to diversity and gender which should satisfy us.

 

It appears Amazon’s contributions to society is revolutionary, particularly due to their active role in meeting societal and stakeholder standards, addressing environmental issues that arise and implementing innovative schemes, which could be barely said for their competitors. They are a remarkable company with profits in mind, just like any other operation business but they give back almost as much as they take.

 

Delphine Jamet

 

Director of Streetkid Industries – http://www.streetkidindustries.com

 

Author of Deep Into Dark – download the first chapter free at http://www.deepintodark.com/documents/Pages%20from%20DID%20FInal%20Edited.pdf 

Director of Streetkid Industries – http://www.streetkidindustries.com ;

LinkedIn: au.linkedin.com/in/youthworkauthordelphinejamet

Twitter: @deepintodark

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeepIntoDark?fref=ts


 

References

 

Al-Mashari, Majed. 2002. “Electronic commerce: A comparative study of organizational experiences.” Benchmarking: An international journal 9(2): 182-189.

 

Amazon.com Inc. 2015. “Amazon’s innovations for our planet.” Amazon.com Inc. Accessed March 27. http://www.amazon.com/b/ref=gw_m_b_corpres? ie=UTF8 &node=13786321

 

Amazon.com Inc. 2015b. “Diversity at Amazon.” Amazon.com Inc. Accessed March 27. http://www.amazon.com/b/ref=tb_surl_diversity/?node=10080092011#

 

Callicott, Burton. B. 2010. “EVT: A comparison of the relative environmental impact of electronic and traditional methods of publication.” Against The Grain 22(3): 81-83.

 

Cook, John. 2014. “Rev. Jesse Jackson to Amazon: Please, release your diversity numbers.” Geek Wire. Accessed March 27. http://www.geekwire.com/2014/rev-jesse-jackson-amazon-please-release-diversity-numbers/#disqus_thread

 

Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). 2008. “Passenger transport emissions factors.” Methodology Paper. June 2007. Retrieved 27 March. http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/uk/ukccp/pdf/greengas-policyevaluation.pdf

 

De Looper, Christian. 2014. “Diversity not in stock at Amazon as white males dominate company.” Tech Times. Accessed 27 March. http://www.techtimes.com/ articles/ 19390/20141103/diversity-stock-amazon-white-male-dominated-company.htm

 

Edwards, J. B., McKinnon, A.C., & Cullinane, S.L. 2009. “Carbon auditing the ‘last mile’: modelling the environmental impacts of conventional and online non-food shopping.” Logistics Research Centre. Edinburgh Scotland: Heriot-Watt University,

 

Equal Opportunity Publications. 2014. “Readers’ Choice Awards.” http://www.eop.com/awards-WE.php

 

Greenfield, Jeremy. 2013. “Hardcover sales growth outpacing ebooks in 2013.”

 

Forbes. Accessed 27 March. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeremygreenfield /2013/11/19/ hardcover-sales-growth-outpacing-ebooks-in-2013/

 

Green Press Initiative. 2011. “Environmental impacts of e-books.” Green Press Intiative. Accessed 27 March. http://www.greenpressinitiative.org/documents/ebooks.pdf

 

Hutsko, Joe. 2009. “Are e-readers greener than books?” The New York Times. Assessed 27 March. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/31/are-e-readers-greener-than-books/

 

Mac, Ryan. 2014. “Amazon releases diversity numbers for the first time and surprise, it’s mostly white and male.” Forbes. Assessed 27 March. http://www.forbes.com/sites/ ryanmac/2014/10/31/amazon-releases-diversity-numbers-for-first-time-and surprise-its-mostly-male-and-white/

 

Nidamarthi, Lakshmi. 2011. “Amazon’s purchasing data finds US consumers going green.” GreenBiz. Assessed 27 March. http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/ 2011/04/19/amazons-purchasing-data-finds-us-consumers-going-green?page= 0%2C1

 

Ritch, Emma. 2009. “The environmental impact of Amazon’s Kindle.” San Francisco, California: The Cleantech Group.

 

Rosenthal, Morris. 2014. “Book Sales Statistics.” Foner Books. Assessed 27 March. http://www.fonerbooks.com/booksale.htm

 

Sopher, Taylor. 2014. “Amazon releases diversity numbers: 75% of managers male, 60% of US employees white.” Geek Wire. Accessed 27 March. http://www.geekwire.com/ 2014/amazon-releases-diversity-numbers/

 

Statista. 2014. “Amazon’s net income as of 4th quarter 2014.” Statista. Accessed 27 March. http://www.statista.com/statistics/276418/amazons-quarterly-net income/

 

Vidal, John. 2009. “Health risks of shipping pollution have been ‘underestimated’.” Guardian. Accessed 27 March. http://www.guardian.co.uk/ environment /2009/apr/09/ shipping-pollution

Goal 68 - Kayak the Swan River

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on January 15, 2015 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I’ve never been a fan of water, especially lakes, rivers and the ocean. Who knows what’s just below the surface but I just had to try kayaking and wow . . . what a ball !!!

 

Turns out it was so much fun and I wasn’t even worried once about falling in, although the kayaks were made hard to capsize. The water was so warm, it was like sitting in a bath . . . albeit on a floatie. The weather was so warm, the sky was bright blue and a nice cool breeze hung around pleasantly. What more could you want?

 

And I realised that I hadn’t had this much fun for such a long time. Doing my bucket list is a blessing in disguise. Sure I don’t have the funds to do cool stuff like trek through Nepal or visit Egypt but just doing little fun stuff around my city is such a buzz. I am challenging myself . . . challenging myself with new things I have never done before and oneday I will be able to step it up. It’s about breaking the boring day-today routine and it’s even more of a thrill when you do it with mates, like I did kayaking with my buddy Craig.

 

So try something new and write a list of cool things to do! It’s about having fun!!!

Goal 17 - Visit the Perth Zoo

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on January 12, 2015 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)



Like a child, I excitedly envisioned the animals on my mental list as preferable to see, as I paid my dues to enter the Perth Zoo. I had wanted to visit for so many years but hadn’t made the effort and now I waited with abated breath and hope that this experience would be as fun as when I was a mere child.

 

I was surprised that there were hardly any patrons in the zoo, considering it was the middle of the school holidays. Had technology and gaming taken away the child privileges of experiencing the world and nature? I had expected it to be as busy as a normal day at Adventure World but no, I more or less had run of the place, no queues to see the unexpected. This could be defined as sleepy animals who most of the time managed to abstain from public view!

 

I enjoyed walking around the trails that lead to hidden enclosures emersed in beautifully designed environments, drowned in greenery and kept cool with tall trees of a hundred years. I remembered the vibrant sounds of the animals more clearly as being loud and theatrical that last time I came, not the silence that embedded the closures of sleepy animals, Voices of excited children filled the air from time to time, also nowhere near as dramatic as I could remember. Still, it was fun playing Where’s Wally amid camouflaged environments in hope to spot a little bit of life and playfullness among the withdrawn creatures.

 

Much had changed but then much hadn’t, a bit of both intertwined in the locations I had wandered as a child a mere few decades ago, lost in innocence and wonder as I had held the hands of a parent to experience what little I knew about the real world . . . limited to enclosures at the zoo. It was a pleasant experience, particularly spacing myself away from technology for the day, which tends to limit my sense of self. But as I think back, perhaps it isn’t a place to go without friends or a nicely packed picnic basket. Sometimes it’s not the same visiting the fountain of youth that enables us to revert to the past. My joyful memories in this case are quite suited to being left alone. But it was a nice day nethertheless.

Goal 11 - Swim 50 laps regularly of the local pool - Never give up!

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on January 9, 2015 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Swimming is like a chore, something you just don’t want to get around to doing and easy to procastinate about. Sure, there are some who enjoy it but it’s like running, something that’s hard to fathom how people can enjoy it. I just can’t seem to get my head around that one. But after smashing back my pre-workout shake, setting out on foot and indulging myself in my latest obsession with the “I’m An Albatraoz song”, I was ready to smash it out.

 

It’s always hard at first. Getting in the cold water. They call that heated? It used to take me hours as a kid to get into a pool. Now I just jump in, have a mini heart attack and then shove myself into the freestyle routine. The body cains, instantly asking me what the hell I am doing! It’s the head numbing reminder that I can quit. I don’t have to do it. I can get out of the pool and GO! FLEE!!!

 

But I keep going. It gets easier, especially when I start to daydream. Goals mainly. I really want it . . . everything! Fitness, BMX milestones and top placings. I start counting to 10 laps, then 20 and then 30. So it’s time to hit the breakstroke, something I haven’t done in so many years that I’m surprised my body can remember how to do it.

 

It’s a slooooow swim which started out fast. But I kinda like the relaxing quiet of breaking through the water, gliding like an effortless water bird. Just like freestyle, I focus on every movement, perfecting every stroke to the point it counts. Might as well do it the best I can, just like everything in life.

 

Finally I have reached 18 laps of breastroke, by now my body is caining, the muscles are heavy like lead, telling me it’s time to give up. But I feel elated, some form of energy surging through me as I smash the last 2 freestyle laps. I haven’t done more than 30 laps in some 10 or so years. At least I can’t remember anyway, it’s a fossilised memory I can’t seem to retrieve.

 

And it’s done. Nah, it wasn’t that hard but wow it feels fantastic. January 10 – an achievement. So far every day this year I have been able to achieve something great, today being something on my bucket list. Now the hard part, to keep doing it regularly. I realise that if I could achieve all my other goals like this swim, life would be brilliant. I just have to do it, don’t give up and reach the end!

 

Amen!

Make 2015 the year of living!

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on January 7, 2015 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Although The Ankara Project began in 2011, little amount of effort or passion was interweaved into the goals and idealisations but it is now time to start afresh in this fantastic year of 2015 and we want you to come on board.

 

After years of undeveloped goals and aspirations, little has amounted in terms of quality memories, adventures and challenges, resulting in a life so bare it amounts to nothing more than a common life which we have come to dread.

 

This is the time to take astride a passion for new goals, adventures, skills, fun and excitement. Whether it’s returning to something you loved as a kid, baring your bravest thoughts against your fears or attempting to amount to something greater than your imagination, come on aboard and join us in this fantastic journey as we ourselves, attempt to challenge our imagination. Or lack of.

 

Welcome to The Ankara Project and stay tuned for more to come.

Arrests, anger at island camp

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on January 28, 2014 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The Noongar population of Perth have been protesting against the Government’s $1 billion offer to settle native title claims. “Freedom of assembly and expression on matters of concern to citizens is necessary for the existence of an open, participatory democracy” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006: 103). The issue of protesting is legitimate but this is exacerbated by what the police may regard as anti-social behaviour such as disobeying orders not to camp or light fires, therefore perhaps labelling this demonstration as a form of civil disobedience requiring confrontational police tactics (Smith, 2012).  It is interesting to think that despite this change of terminology, “law enforcement officials are protectors and enforcers of human rights” (p.13).

 

Protest enables minority groups and issues to present themselves to the public for recognition and perhaps assistance in finding a solution to the problem. It appears that the Government was unwilling to listen to the concerns of the Noongar community, despite their active protesting under the umbrella of the Noongar Tent Embassy and perhaps this is a sign of embedded institutional racism in addition to the treatment by police and the City of Perth council to evict them from the location. The Noongars had been previously warned  a number of times that their camping and behaviour was not allowed and they would be evicted if they continued.  Despite enforced evictions, the Noongar community persisted with their return.

 

It is likely that there would have been similar treatment if a portion of the mainstream society had acted like this in respect to camping, lighting camp fires and other similar behaviours but it is unlikely they would have protested in this manner when they have more resources and opportunities to utilise, like communicating directly with influential members of government. The action of the police could compare to that of Smith’s P.L.A.N. acronym: proportionality, legality, accountability and necessity (2012). It is important to remember that the police represent the government and act on orders that they may not necessary agree with but their job description dictates that they are required to obey all orders.

 

Shortly after this eviction from Heirissen Island leading to the arrest of four people, despite a minority continuing their protest, the media lost interest in the issue and the public forgot.

Police lockup staffing 'risky'

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on January 21, 2014 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Police are being forced to station country lockups singlely, putting themselves and the prisoners at risk. A prisoner has the right to be provided with adequate food, water, medical services, exercise and items of personal hygiene, which may place additional burdens on a sole police officer charged with the tasks of supervising prisoners. Not only can it affect the prisoner themselves but also the officer, particularly if they require urgent assistance. Indigenous, young people, the aged and mentally ill people may require more supervision or care whilst in police custody. This could be exacerbated when there is no protocol to deal with intoxicated people and the observation of detainees is irregular and infrequent (Indigenous deaths in custody, 2013). Interestingly enough, there appears to be very literature on the rights of the police themeselves, whilst carrying out their duty.

 

A large amount of people have died in custody, with 1997 having the highest statistic of 105 (Deaths in custody, 2008). In particularly in 2008, which saw a total of 86 die in custody, 32 of those were in police cells. This calls for alarm, police cannot be expected to do the job of two or more officers, particularly in country locations where medical and prisoner resources may be tight. Shortage of police in lockups is not only limited to country stations. Perth’s new police station lockup facility has had to stop accepting offenders several times in recent weeks due to the lack of staff to supervise them (Hickey, 2013).

 

A detained person has the right to seek the services of a lawyer or legal representation (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2010: 55) although there appears to be no reason why prisoners in police detention should only have these services minutes before their court representation.

 

This appears to be an issue that is not isolated to country regions or particular Australian states. If this is not a problem that needs to be addressed, there will be another issue to take its place.

Police use technology to target drug users

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on January 14, 2014 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (1)

Police are using the latest scanning technology to target drivers with past drug convictions in addition to the regular scanning attributes such as licence checks and arrest warrants. The additional drug and conviction screening, although may deter some from offending, appears to be of a discriminatory nature. A portion of society has already been punished for their crimes but may for a long time, be a target of the police service in a bid to target active users and criminals.

 

Article 2 of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials states that police should “respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons”. Targeting previous offenders is also a breach of their privacy, despite the actions of officers covered by legislation. On the other hand, those who abide by the law and road rules, have no fears that they will be pulled over. Although citizens are expected to respect the law, they expect to receive respect for the dignity of a human being and protection of their human rights.

 

Perhaps a positive side is that traffic police officers have been criticised for racial profiling but now they have the technology and concrete reasons to pull someone over. In June this year, a Victorian magistrate ruled that police “did not have an unfettered right to pull over motorists to check licences and registrations and for outstanding warrants” (Chadwick, 2013: n.p). This came after police were under fire for targeting African drivers.

 

It appears that this technological initiative will be successful, apart from breaching the rights of a small minority of the community who have or are breaking the law. There are more incentives for Australian police to utilise this in a bid to stem rising drug and crime, which often go hand in hand and appears to be very challenging to target. Whether or not this breaches international conventions is another thing but the benefits outweigh this for the common good of society.

Police called to major disturbance on Nauru

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on January 7, 2014 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Asylum seekers at the immigration detention centre located in Nauru have initiated a protest as a result of slow-claim processing. Although the Commonwealth Secretariat define asylum seekers as “someone yet to be considered for refugee status under immigration laws” (2006: 138), it is clear that the asylum seekers have no chance of being settled in Australia as a result of a deal announced by Kevin Rudd.

 

Refugees have the right to seek asylum in another country where they are free from persecution, enjoy all basic human rights and be given favourable treatment equal to nationals such as “free association, religion, elementary education, public relief, access to courts, property and housing” (p.141). It appears that the asylum seekers are justified in protesting because they are not being considered refugee status in a case-by-case status and are instead, lumped together and being transferred under the new government deal to another place where someone else can deal with their refugee status.

 

The Refugee Convention states that “people will not be penalised for trying to seek the protection of a country” (Lambert & Pickering, 2001: 220). Again, the asylum in this news article are clearly being penalised by being institutionalised until they are relocated to present themselves as an issue to someone else’s government. It has been said that 80% of those consequently detained, meet the strict definition of the refuge criteria (p. 222).

 

Human rights can be defined as “generally accepted principles of fairness and justice inherent in every individual by virtue of their humanity” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006: 13), which paints a clear picture of a breach of human rights by the Australian Government. According to the UN Refugee Convention and Australian Migrant Act 1958, “it is a human right to seek asylum by boat to Australia” (Amnesty International Australia, 2013: n.p) with the majority found to be fleeing from persecution, torture and violence.

 

Australia has the obligation to protect the human rights of all asylum seekers and refugees who arrive in Australia under a number of international treaties such as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Asylum seekers and refugees, 2013). Although it may appear that the refugees feel that they don’t achieve anything in relation to the protest, they have achieved media coverage which may assist to have their case re-examined individually by government agencies or community organisations.

Aboriginals face police racism

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on December 31, 2013 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The police appear to be extremely racist towards the Indigenous populations, resulting in high levels of arrest for minor offences such as ‘swearing at a police officer’ in addition to a large number of Prohibited Behaviour Orders being issued. These in particular seem to affect those who are homeless and affected by alcohol and mental health issues. This means that those receiving those orders are banned from the locality in question for a period of two years, which may be impossible to obey due to limitations on where they can seek accommodation or find a safe place to sleep.

 

“Violations of human rights by police officers can only make the already difficult task of law enforcement even more difficult” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006: 199). What the article does not mention is the quandary that is placed on police officers by council workers and senior officers to clean up the streets and make it look more presentable and trouble-free whilst on the other hand, respecting the issues of the Indigenous populations and assisting them where possible to address the issues of concern rather than making the situation even more difficult by limiting the facilities and localities they can access.

 

In Western Australia “Indigenous women comprise nearly 70% of women received into prison in a given year, compared to Indigenous men comprising around 45% of the male population” (Cuneen, 2001: 29). Again, minor offences have been cited as the cause of these rates of imprisonment, including fine defaulting and public order offences.

 

Alternatives to policing in the way of Aboriginal Community Patrols appear to be a successful initiative, maintaining a relationship with the police at the same time as reducing levels of arrest and intervention. One such example is of the Mirriwong Patrol in the remote East Kimberley region of Western Australia finding “a dramatic reduction in detentions in police lock-ups from 1336 arrests in 1995 to 188 in 1996” (Blagg & Valuri, 2004: 209). It could be the case that police are more focused on ‘lockup em’ approach with little time, patience or resources to address the issues behind the public offences, whilst community patrols are on the opposite end of the scale.

 

Nethertheless, this does not address the breaches of human rights the homeless community face, in addition to the discrimination allegedly experienced in the hands of police officers. Every human has the right to secure accommodation in addition to “an adequate standard of living, the right to education, the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to privacy . . . the right to freedom from discrimination” (Housing, homelessness and human rights, 2013, n.p.). These rights can be found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

 

It is difficult to see how the situation of the Indigenous street populations can be improved as it appears that nothing has changed in the past 30 years with the homeless community and the lack of resources and interest presented to this section of society.


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