A New Documentary Explores What It’s Like to Grow Up with Same-Sex Parents [INTERVIEW]


the-gayby-project-and-growing-up-with-same-sex-parents-body-image-1432598823In the discussion over same-sex families, the voices of kids are often lacking. It’s an issue Australian filmmaker Maya Newell is familiar with. Maya has two moms and was raised in a family by loving same-sex parents.

Because of this, she’s more exposed than most people to the debate surrounding kids growing up in non-heteronormative environments. For her new documentary The Gayby Project she spent four years documenting the lives of children with same-sex parents. VICE spoke to her about the film and how we tend to underestimate what kids can bring to the conversation.

» Read on? «

Australian Universities Aren’t Recognizing Transgender and Intersex Students


australian-universities-are-failing-to-recognise-transgender-and-intersex-students-body-image-1431910753Elliot Downes is a transgender history student at La Trobe University in Melbourne. Growing up in a small rural New South Wales town, Elliot had looked forward to university for the same reasons everyone does. You expect it to be an exciting community, a place where you’re free to express who you are—away from the prejudices of your town, your school, and your family.

“I went to a Catholic high school. The students and teachers—that entire environment—never made me totally comfortable,” Elliot told VICE. “I couldn’t openly identify as transgender there.” So instead, Elliot waited.

» Read on? «

Democratising Art With the Guy Behind the Google Art Project [INTERVIEW]


democratising-art-with-the-inventor-of-the-google-art-project-body-image-1431319428One of the most globally recognised examples that art and technology work together is the Google Art Project. A digitised library that holds seven million interactive objects including over 10,000 ultra-high resolution works of art, Google Art Project features works from 600 venues across 60 different countries. It also utilises Street-View technology to let you virtually walk around museums on the other side of the world.

Amit Sood is the director of Google’s Cultural Institute and owns the brain who first came up with the idea of bringing the world’s art to people who usually wouldn’t have access to it.

» Read on? «

Uranium Minefield: Middle Men Are Bleeding Aboriginal Land Dry


corruption-allegations-and-indigenous-disputes-didnt-stop-australias-latest-uranium-mine-body-image-1431308139Buried in Australia’s soil is a third of Earth’s uranium, the largest reserve in the world. This means there’s big money in mining it. But standing on it are Indigenous Australians with native title rights to that land. The Martu people, only numbering only around 1,000, own around 136,000 square kilometers in Western Australia.

On the other side of the dispute is the world’s largest uranium company Cameco, which in collaboration with Mitsubishi, want to extend the Kintyre mine that was previously owned by Rio Tinto. It bears the name of an area cut out of the Karlamilyi National Park

Noah Taylor’s Strange, Blankly Beautiful Paintings [INTERVIEW]



Noah Taylor is an artist and musician who has been performing in bands and starring in seminal Australian films for decades. If that doesn’t ring any bells but you’re still staring at the picture above wondering if you served him at a coffee shop or something, he’s also the dude who (spoiler!) cuts a certain Lannister’s hand off in Games of Thrones.

But let’s not get too caught up with his maiming of incestuous antiheroes—there’s a lot more to him. For starters, his darkly sad paintings have been picking up attention in recent years. Long-time friend—and fellow brooding, multitalented artist—Nick Cave describes his pal’s portraits as having a “strange blank beauty.”

» Read on? «

I Went to a Cryptoparty to Ask Why People Want to Protect Their Data



In light of Australia’s freshly approved data retention bill, ignorance of our personal digital security is no longer an option. The government can access, and now store, everyone’s metadata regarding telecommunication and online usage. This has got a lot of people asking how they can protect themselves online.

Because of this, cryptoparties—where people get together to learn ways to keep their online information safe—are becoming increasingly popular. Last night a software firm called Thoughtworks held one in Melbourne and I went along to see what it was like.

» Read on? «

Delicious and Nutritious Feral Camels Are Destroying Western Australia



Farmers in Western Australia are facing large numbers of feral camels invading their property and destroying water infrastructure in search of a drink. Patrick Hill, landowner and Shire President of Laverton in WA, told VICE how a 500-strong herd of extremely thirsty animals recently strayed onto his land.

“They smash all the water structures and let all the water out and it doesn’t fill their demand,” he said. “They panic, start climbing over each other in a frenzy for the last drop of water—trampling each other to death.”

» Read on? «

New Zealand’s Sex Workers Are Fighting for Public Toilets in Christchurch



The 2011 earthquake in Christchurch effected everyone in the city’s limits, but one group who are still peculiarly disadvantaged are sex workers. The issue is their access to public toilets. Much of the city’s basic infrastructure was destroyed in the powerful 6.3 magnitude quake. And despite the disaster occurring over four years ago—many public toilets have yet to be rebuilt. As a result, many street sex workers now venture to far-off petrol stations or relieve themselves in bushes and abandoned open spaces.

“Christchurch is porter-loo city at the moment,” Christchurch sex worker Anna Reed told VICE. “We’ve been asking city council to build new toilets for years. Even pre-earthquake we were talking about the need for more—not just for sex workers, but for the general public”.

» Read on? «

Indigenous Groups Warn Changes to Adoption Legislation Could Lead to Cultural Genocide



Current South Australian law directs child protection services to place children removed from their parents in out-of-home care. Wherever possible, the removed child is placed in the care of relatives. But if this isn’t possible, children are placed into either foster or residential care. Presently the option to adopt in this process doesn’t exist in SA.

But this week, a proposal to allow the adoption of children removed by child protection was given in-principle support by the South Australian government. The reform was one of 21 recommendations put forward by state coroner Mark Johns, who conducted a formal inquest following the death four-year-old Chloe Valentine at her parent’s negligence.

» Read on? «

The Challenge of Identifying The Dead In a Disaster


HeaderLast month’s Germanwings Airbus A320 crash killed all 150 passengers on board. When a disaster of this scale this occurs, one of the immediate priorities is to retrieve the dead. If the bodies are intact, the job is somewhat more straightforward. But when an event is so catastrophic that bodies are fragmented, it’s someone’s unenviable responsibility to collect and identify the parts.

That job falls to a disaster victim identification (DVI) expert. These specialist volunteers are sent to “closed” disasters, such as plane crashes where the number of victims is known; and “open” disasters, where the dead are innumerable after a large-scale natural events.

Dr. Richard Bassed has been a DVI expert for 13 years. As a forensic odontologist (teeth specialist) for the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, he’s used his expertise to identify the dead in the 2002 Bali bombings, the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, and the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. VICE spoke to him about the realities of such a confronting line of work.

» Read on? «

Fifty-Five Dead Greyhounds Were Found in a Mass Grave in Queensland


maxresdefaultOn Tuesday, the decomposing carcasses of 55 greyhounds were found dumped in remote bushland in Queensland, Australia. The surrounding area was littered with .22 caliber bullet cartridges. The Queensland Police and the RSPCA Greyhound Taskforce are currently investigating the grim discovery and looking for evidence of inhumane treatment.

Detective Superintendent Mark Ainsworth described the find as “nothing short of abhorrent,” while Queensland’s Police Minister Jo-Anne Miller called the perpetrators “oxygen thieves.” However, animal rights groups claim the discovery isn’t surprising at all—they’ve been lobbying against mass greyhound executions for years.

» Read on? «

Why Are Indigenous Australian Kids Doing Time in Adult Prisons?



This week a Freedom of Information Report obtained by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) revealed children as young as 12 are being held in adult prison cells in Western Australia. The report showed that in the past three years, 197 children in Kimberley had spent up to two nights in regional prisons cells.

The children were detained in Broome and Kununurra while awaiting transfer to the Banksia Hill Detention Center in Perth. Banksia Hill is the only juvenile center statewide for offenders aged ten to 17, but immediate transfers can be difficult to arrange. This and the lack of housing facilities for offenders means the only option police have is to detain the children temporarily in holding cells.

» Read on? «

A Prison Sentence for a Facebook Image Shows How Restrictive Burma’s Anti-Free-Speech Laws Have Become


Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 10.20.57 amLast week, a Burmese court sentenced New Zealander Philip Blackwood to two and a half years in prison for a Facebook image. The picture was a depiction of Buddha wearing headphones that Blackwood used to advertise a bar he managed in Yangon called VGastro.

Burma is 90 percent Buddhist, so it’s certainly possible to see how that image might piss people off, but Blackwood’s action was also apparently illegal. Under Section 295(a) ofBurma’s Penal Code, it is a criminal offense to undertake “Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.” Blackwood maintains that he never deliberately sought to offend Buddhism, and the incident has ignited an international discussion over the charge and the motives behind it.

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What It’s Like Growing Up on an Organ-Transplant Waitlist


growing-up-on-an-organ-waiting-list-body-image-1425946031When I was a kid my eyes were yellow, my skin was jaundiced, my teeth were gross, and I always, always, had a bloated stomach. I could see my body was different from the other kids’ at school. I couldn’t run around; I was always too weak or tired. I would just sit and watch them play.

I was born with biliary atresia. Basically the small ducts in my liver that are supposed to ship out the corrosive bile didn’t work. It just stayed in there, slowly destroying me from within. When I was eight months old doctors gave me a few months to survive. Then I was put on the organ waiting list.

» Read on? «

New Zealand Gangs Are Making Peace and Mowing Lawns



Members of New Zealand’s notorious Mongrel Mob and Black Power gangs are looking to trade their switchblades for shears. In July the council of Dunedin City, located on the South Island’s east coast, will begin trialling a system where the two gangs can apply for basic community work – such as mowing lawns, trimming hedges, and cutting back foliage.

Since forming in the 60s and 70s, both Mongrel Mob and Black Power share a violent rivalry spanning decades. They’ve been a focal point for drug trafficking, alleged murder, and robbery, but last year the gangs surprised the community by suddenly making peace. The men then joined forces in a submission to the Dunedin City Council, asking for help in acquiring paid work to support their families.

» Read on? «

Melbourne Tried to Have a Tomato Festival and It Was a Violent Mess


IMG_8856La Tomatina is a Spanish festival where tourists throw tomatoes at each other and seemingly have a great time. It looks fun and somehow culturally significant, which explains why Melbourne tried to recreate it at the Flemington Racecourse on Saturday. But somehow Melbourne’s version became a tomato bloodbath featuring injuries and people mistaking it for Stereosonic with food waste.

When I arrived the tomatoes were in a huge rotting pile and people hadn’t started flinging them yet. The crowd, dressed in brightly-colored costumes that had nothing to do with anything, ground against each other while a DJ played club bangers. At first I thought the heavy house soundtrack was out of place for a food event, but the advertising girls in tight shorts assured me everything was fine.

» Read on? «

Australia in the 80s was Downbeat and Colour-Drenched


Pickle St - 1987

A couple of weeks ago Peter Milne showed us his memories of Melbourne in the 70s. A decade later, it a very different city. Frankston-born photographer Michael Williams shot most of his Chromophobia series in the 80s, when tourists didn’t choke city laneways and suburban outskirts were virtually forgotten about.

With colour as a connecting element, Michael’s photos of red-walled Prahran cafés and twilight skies over St Kilda show there was something transfixing about the city in this period. Ahead of his show at Melbourne’s Colour Factory, we chatted to him about assisting Rennie Ellis and why it’s worth spending time in the outer suburbs.

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Indigenous Australians Are Excluded From Managing Water on Their Own Land



The Murray Darling Basin (MDB) spans a million square kilometres and crosses several state borders. It’s by far Australia’s largest water source, and its footprint contains 40 percent of the nation’s farms as well as 70 percent of its irrigated agriculture.

But for the many Indigenous communities dotting its sprawl, the basin also carries deep cultural significance. However, a series of legislation changes has lead to the locking out of indigenous leaders from decisions relating to the basin’s use and future. As a result, they’re claiming huge areas of their land has become uninhabitable.

» Read on? «

The Surprisingly Sensitive World of Men who Own Sex Dolls



Whether your Valentine’s Day was good or bad probably had something to do with whether your partner lived up to expectations. Every relationship has that issue to some degree, but there is a group of men who have taken unpredictability out of the picture. They’re the guys who date sex dolls.

Sex dolls are generally held to be dead-eyed female mockeries, and the men who use them are assumed to be lonely perverts pounding away at plastic orifices. But The Doll Forum, an online community home to over 18,000 members, presents a different view of doll owners—or “Doll Lovers” as they preferred to be called. For them it’s less about sex and more about companionship. They’re people who prefer the dolls for reasons ranging from social anxieties to simply feeling they’re a partner they can really rely on. » Read on? «