We've hit capacity! Sorry to anyone who didn't register yet, but this event has now reached full capacity. We will arrange to livestream the discussion via Councillor Sri's Facebook page, and will update this event page if covid restrictions change and we are able to squeeze more people into the venue.
What kind of sustainable, ethical, resilient futures are possible for Australia’s suburban communities? How can cities like Brisbane adapt our social systems and our built environment to confront the many overlapping challenges our society is facing?
Join David Holmgren, one of the driving forces behind the modern permaculture movement, and Jonathan Sri, Brisbane’s first Greens City Councillor, for a conversation to unpack some of the themes and ideas in David’s book RetroSuburbia. (More info about RetroSuburbia is available via https://retrosuburbia.com/ )
As part of the night, we’ll also be screening a 12-minute short film called Mycelium: An Urban Food Uprising, which tells the story of the various grassroots food resilience projects that sprang up around the inner-south side of so-called Brisbane during 2020. (More info via www.myceliumthefilm.com/ )
This is a free event, but we’re capping attendance due to covid-19 restrictions, so we ask that you please register online in advance via the website at www.jonathansri.com/retrosuburbia
Accessibility: the event venue and toilets are fully wheelchair accessible, but there is no dedicated parking available on site (some street parking – including designated disability parking bays – is available on Boundary St and surrounding streets). We recommend and encourage that guests travel by public and active transport where possible.
If you require an Auslan interpreter, please notify our office via [email protected] and we will arrange one for the night.
This event is taking place on the unceded sovereign lands of the Jagera and Turrbal peoples. We pay our respects to their elders, and recognise that the struggle against colonisation and racist oppression must be at the forefront of all our political and social movements. We humbly acknowledge that First Nations peoples have been sustainably managing landscapes and natural resources for thousands of generations, and that many of the seemingly ‘novel’ ideas we’re sharing and exploring are in fact simply new ways of conceptualising and talking about far older forms of knowledge and wisdom.
128 Boundary St
West End, QLD 4101
Google map and directions
Here’s an update on the proposed dog off-leash area (DOLA) for the northern end of Kangaroo Point. We’re now on the verge of locking in the location, which was effectively a choice between the northern end of CT White Park, or the northern end of James Warner Park. The results of our consultation seem to suggest that James Warner Park is the community's preferred location.
Given that the project has been a little more controversial than most minor park upgrades, I thought it would be worthwhile to set out as much info as possible on this one webpage to help residents understand the decision-making process so far, and how we’ve ended up here.
I thought in the interests of transparency I should publish an update about this. As you might know, we’re using our online voting platform more often to guide my decision-making about a range of local issues, from footpath upgrade budget allocations, to the best location for local facilities like dog off-leash areas, to which locations we should support for proposed new footbridges.
Our online voting system has to strike a tricky balance.
Some online surveys and voting systems (including most of the ‘official’ surveys that Brisbane City Council runs) have very little effective protection against duplicate voting, meaning that survey results can easily be stacked and distorted by a few people.
Other systems go too far in the opposite direction, requiring multiple two-step authentication processes and making online voting so inconvenient that you end up with such low participation rates that the results aren’t worth relying on.
We need enough checks and balances to guard against people gaming the system and fraudulently casting multiple votes from duplicate accounts, but we also don’t want to create too many participation barriers. People should be able to jump online and vote without having to provide heaps of personal information and wading through endless forms.
In the past week or so, we noticed someone was trying to create dozens of fake accounts to cast multiple votes (apparently in the St Lucia footbridge poll). The names and email addresses were made up and the phone numbers provided were fake.
We’re now deleting all those accounts on mass (at this stage it seems like roughly 60 accounts all up), including the fraudulent votes those accounts cast, which will lead to a bit of a shift in the running tallies for the bridge polls.
Our process has been:
- System operators use basic pattern recognition to identify a list of accounts that appear suspect
- We send an email to each of those accounts advising that we suspect they are fake and giving the creator a chance to reply to confirm that they are actually a real individual
- We call phone numbers to double-check whether the numbers are real and match the names provided
Once we’ve gone through this process, we suspend the accounts and hide their votes. If any of those accounts eventually get back to us and say “Actually I’m a real person, please don’t delete my vote!” we can restore the account once we’ve asked a few more questions to confirm their identity.
This helps us guard the integrity of our polls and helps us feel more comfortable about relying on the results.
If we see multiple attempts to create fraudulent duplicate accounts going forward, we might look at reintroducing two-step email authentication as an extra protection, but we’re mindful that people who feel they have high stakes in the result of a poll will always try to find new ways to skew the results, so we’re using a wide range of checks to protect integrity.
How much weight do we give to an online vote?
I should add that generally speaking, the more legitimate votes a poll attracts, the more weight we tend to give the result. This is proportionate to the decision in question. For example, if 200 local residents cast a vote on which park a dog off-leash area should be built in, we consider that a reasonably representative sample size for a decision of that magnitude, and will be heavily guided by the result, whereas if only 200 people participate in our online poll about the best location for a $150 million footbridge project, we will pay some attention to the result, but certainly won’t treat it as binding.
There are still a range of legitimate arguments against relying too heavily on online voting, including the fact that poorer people, older people, and those with less education might be significantly less likely to participate. But no form of consultation is perfect, so ultimately our approach is to rely on a wide range of engagement and feedback processes, including face-to-face forums, doorknocking, small group facilitated discussions and the more traditional phone calls and letters (in addition to online engagement) so we can get as balanced a picture as possible of public sentiment, given our very limited resources.
Like all city councillors in Brisbane, our Gabba Ward Office has control over a $34 000/year grants budget for local events and projects (this has been cut drastically by the LNP in recent years - it used to be $75 000/year). Officially, this program is called the Lord Mayor’s Community Fund and you can find the grant rules at this link. If you're thinking of applying for a grant from my office, please give us a call on 3403 2165 first.
With 45 000 residents living in the Gabba Ward, as well as hundreds of community groups and amazing local projects that deserve support, you can imagine that competition for local grant funding is very tight.
So in addition to the grant rules set by BCC (which include the usual criteria like ‘must be a not-for-profit project’ etc.) here are some additional elements that my office looks at when we’re weighing up which applications to support. These are not hard-and-fast rules, but general guidelines that help us decide where we allocate our very limited grants budget, given that we always receive far more eligible and worthy applications than we can afford to support.
1. Prioritise smaller, local, unfunded or poorly-funded groups over bigger, better-funded organisations
One advantage of our Gabba Ward grants program is that it’s quite flexible and quick at turning around money. It can even be accessed by unincorporated community groups that might not have the capacity to chase private sector funding or to apply for and acquit larger grants from other bodies. So as much as possible, we like to prioritise money going towards smaller groups that aren’t receiving any other government or corporate funding.
We very rarely provide grants to larger charities and NGOs because they are better placed to tap into other funding streams.
Opening celebration of the Tongan Language School in Highgate Hill
2. No schools or tertiary education institutions
There are so many primary schools, high schools and higher ed institutions in our electorate that even if we just gave each of them $1000 a year, that would chew up at least a third of our grants budget. We take the view that education should be fully publicly funded, and we don’t want to let the state and federal governments off the hook for their funding shortfalls by cannibalising our local community grants budget.
Generally speaking, unless there’s a very clear and significant benefit to the wider community for a school-based grant application, we simply adopt a consistent refusal to all grant requests from schools. It’s a bit ruthless taking this hard line, but at least it allows us to be consistent rather than picking favourites between different schools around the ward.
We do, however, allocate a small chunk of my office budget (which would otherwise be spent on printing and office supplies) to buying raffle prizes (up to the value of $100) to donate to various school P&C fundraisers. We have also in the past provided grants to help establish new extra-curricular schools, such as buying books and resources to help the Tongan community kickstart a new language school in Highgate Hill.
3. Prioritise participatory events that get more people actively involved
There are so many events and festivals around my ward that we simply can’t afford to financially support them all. There are dozens of gigs and concerts literally every week. So rather than giving money to some gigs and not others, we prioritise events that involve a higher degree of crowd participation, whether that’s dancing or group singing or collaborative art-making.
This aligns with our philosophy that arts and culture should be inclusive and participatory rather than passively consumed. There’s nothing wrong with a concert where a few people perform and a large audience just sits or stands there watching. But we’ve chosen to prioritise our particular local grants budget towards events that blur the distinction between performer and audience member, where everyone becomes part of the event or project. This includes big participatory festivals like Kurilpa Derby where everyone is co-creating the event, as well as smaller communal events that include open mics and jam sessions or community art projects (e.g. where someone is funded to facilitate a community group to paint a mural, as opposed to just directly paying one individual artist to paint a mural).
4. Prioritise skill-sharing and capacity-building
Similar to above, we also prefer to prioritise projects and events where organisers are mentoring others and sharing skills and knowledge with more people. So for example, we’d rather fund an anti-racist poetry workshop where experienced writers are teaching younger people of colour how to write and perform poetry, as opposed to just paying two or three experienced poets to perform their existing work. If people are learning or refining valuable skills as part of the project, we see that as a better use of grant funding than simply paying people to do something they already know how to do without passing that knowledge on to others.
If we’re choosing between two otherwise-similar projects or events, we’ll lean towards the one that can demonstrate that less-experienced volunteers are being mentored to step up into organising roles and getting the opportunity to learn from others in their community.
The same is true in terms of how money is used for events. Rather than covering the costs of renting the same equipment again and again for multiple events, we don't mind providing one-off grants to help organisations buy equipment (as long as it's going to get used regularly). For example, there have been a couple of occasions were a group has asked if we can pay for them to rent a PA system for a particular event. Our first preference is to simply loan them one of the PA systems we have here in the office, that non-profit community groups can borrow for free (contact us on 3403 2165 if you have questions about this), but if the event organiser is putting on multiple events throughout the year, and is open to sharing their gear with other groups, we might offer to give them a slightly larger grant to simply buy a PA system of their own.
This focus on capacity-building also means we tend to avoid giving grant funding to projects that are purely charitable with no real focus on system change. While we definitely recognise the value of providing direct and immediate material aid, we don't think it's the best use of this particular grant budget to simply buy stuff to give to people in crisis.
It would be easy to spend our entire grants budget every year on donations to emergency food programs. But this doesn't actually address the broader systemic failures and injustices that lead to people going without healthy food, nor does it increase the capacity of community organisations to meet people's needs on a sustainable ongoing basis.
Our goal is to empower community collectives to develop networks of mutual aid and support, with resilient funding models that are not overly dependent upon a local grants budget that could be cut further at short notice.
5. Citywide events should seek mayoral funding
Being an inner-city electorate, the Gabba Ward hosts a lot of ‘citywide’ events that don’t necessarily have a strong direct connection to our local community. While we do try to support some of these cultural events with a little bit of funding, we generally encourage them to apply directly to the Lord Mayor’s office for support. While each of BCC’s 26 wards has its own “Lord Mayor’s Community Fund” budget of $34 000, the Lord Mayor himself also has a separate budget of $34 000 (plus access to a bunch of other pots of money), and we think that’s where the money should be coming from for events that happen to be held in the Gabba Ward but aren’t otherwise connected to the Gabba Ward.
So hopefully all that gives you a bit more of an idea of how we like to allocate our very modest grants budget. If you’re thinking of applying for a grant and have further questions, you’re welcome to give us a call on 3403 2165 to get an initial sense of what kinds of projects we’re more interested in supporting, before taking the time to formally submit your application via this online form.
A volunteer crew at one of our verge garden planting days
First Nations peoples have been sustainably nurturing and farming this country for tens of thousands of years. Prior to invasion and the arrival of British ships, there was no food crisis on this continent. Food sovereignty, including control over food production and distribution systems, is a crucial element of resisting and counteracting colonial imperialism and racist exploitation.
The Gabba Ward office works within a settler government on occupied lands of the Jagera, Yugara, Yugarapul, and Turrbal Peoples. We pay our respects to the rightful custodians of these lands, and we acknowledge that many past wrongs and continuing injustices are yet to be rectified. Sovereignty was never ceded. This always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.
Background to the Project
We were inspired by the spontaneous surge in local residents wanting to grow their own food as the COVID crisis emerged. At the same time we were contacted by local residents with a similar vision to our own, wanting to empower the community to grow healthy locally-grown food in public spaces that is not reliant on big corporations. So, at short notice our office swung into action committing some office resources and local grant budget to support a range of local community-led initiatives that we called the ‘Food Resilient Neighbourhoods’ project.
As part of this project we were able to support the creation of edible verge gardens, seedling hubs, urban farms and community orchards. These community-led projects were not just a response to the COVID crisis but also a positive protest against the power imbalances, inequities and the resulting crisis (like climate change), that undermine secure access to nutritious food. Consequently our project was not only focused on producing food, but it was driven by a larger vision to participate in a reconstruction of our whole food system, based on principles of food resilience, food justice and mutual aid. Many of the projects also utilised principles of guerilla gardening, including the reclaiming of unused land and not waiting for ‘official’ permission, which often never comes.
How secure is our food system?
As the pandemic emptied shelves and supermarkets became bare, people became more aware of the inadequacy of our food supply systems and the corporate supermarkets’ inability to provide food security. It is not just overseas supply chains that are vulnerable to disruption, but also food that is grown in the northern parts of Queensland and then trucked down the east coast. As a result, and to prepare for future moments of crises, more and more people began to grow their own food, which meant that food seedlings were hard to come by for some months.
What is food resilience & food justice?
Resilience implies more participatory food systems, where communities can cope with the shocks and uncertainty facing food systems today. Food resilience ensures all people at all times have access to sufﬁcient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.
With a really large network of verge gardens, backyard gardens, community gardens and urban farms, we could potentially grow a lot of produce within the city core and make our communities less reliant on commodified sources of food production. Our project also embraces the philosophy of food justice. Food Justice envisions a food system that is inclusive, community-led and participatory, without the exploitation of people, land, or the environment. To achieve this means removing the structural inequities that exist within our food and economic systems.
One of the first projects that got off the ground was a collective of 3 seedling hubs in West End and Highgate Hill. The seedling hubs are a space where residents can swap locally-germinated seedlings and seeds without having to go through big commercial plant suppliers.
Germinating and swapping heirloom plant varieties helps preserve genetic diversity and prevents the homogenisation and monopolisation of seed stock by big companies that patent seed species for profit. Seedling hubs provide a perfect tool for networking with our neighbours and also fostering a connection to plants and growing our own food, which effectively creates more resilient and self-sustaining communities.
This project has been set up by the residents themselves and our office has provided funds for the initial purchase of soil and seeds.
We have three hubs so far:
- Corner of Crowther & Victoria St, West End
- Gertrude St, Highgate Hill
- Rosebery St, Highgate Hill
How to Participate
- Participating in the seedling exchange is free and everyone is encouraged to bring their excess to share or swap with their neighbours.
- Label any plants you bring along and please return pots and labels so the team can minimise costs and keep putting plants out.
Give the Facebook Page a like and keep up to date with the project.
We are keen to make the Gabba Ward notorious for having vibrant and lush gardens along the footpaths rather than just concrete or bare lawns; that’s why we are big fans of verge gardening. Planting up your verge is not just a great way to green your street, but it will also help create more shade which can improve walkability and reduce city temperatures.
Verge space can be used to grow more fresh food locally helping to reduce food mileage, positively impact mental health and develop community resilience during times of crisis, such as the one we have been experiencing during COVID.
Projects like this, that essentially reclaim or repurpose public space, are about reminding people that they can have control over their immediate neighborhood and that they do have a collective right to curate, and regenerate spaces.
Brisbane City Council allows residents to plant out their verges and take care of this public space, as long as you garden with care for your neighbors, don't block pedestrian flows or parked cars and don’t intervene with underground pipelines. My office is happy to support a more creative use of this public space including the planting of fruit trees if residents plan out the planting and upkeep of the plants responsibly.
As part of the planting project, we sponsored three rounds of verge planting days where residents planted out their verges.
Crowther St Planting - March 14th 2020
Our first round centered on Crowther Street with 8 households planting over 120 seedlings in their verges. One of our visions was for this street to act as an inspiration to other local streets on how verge planting can transform the streetscape. We closed off the street for half a day and put on an unofficial planting party with BBQ, music and scooter races. The verge gardens have been blooming on Crowther street and we recommend you go there for a wander one Saturday morning and get inspired by the collective spirit of the residents to beautify their quiet West End street. One of the beautiful parts of this project was that the compost was supplied from the local community garden, it was compost created by the community for the collective benefit of the ward’s residents.
Here is a great little video of the day, produced by Christine Schindler (on a voluntary basis). You can see more of her work here.
Photos from Crowther St Planting Day
Gabba Ward Wide (COVID safe) Verge Planting - May 30th & 27th June 2020
50 households across the Gabba Ward planted out their verges with free fruit trees, under-story perennial greens and herbs on two sunny Saturday mornings. We partnered with Jane St Community Garden who helped design and coordinate the project. Our office supplied Verge Garden Starter packs to each household of 2 fruit trees, 8 under-story seedlings, approx 150 litres of mulch and 200-300 litres of high grade organic soil.
Jane Street Garden Coordinator Melissa Smrecnik, Gardening activist Morgyn Quin and the Gabba Ward staff created a template verge garden which could be easily adapted to any verge. The simple design was two focal fruit trees with 4 easy growing perennial greens and herbs around each of the trees.
We produced an instructional video for our verge planters, which we hope will help other residents with their independent planting in the future.
And some photos from the Gabba-wide verge plantings
Three new urban farming projects have been established by a group of local gardening activists, with the support of our office. The gardeners are working collectively under the umbrella of Growing Forward Brisbane (Meanjin), a social movement which is about trying to reclaim government land that has been misused or abandoned. The collective has engaged a lot of local residents in learning about growing food, learning about community and learning about how to be more resilient in the face of pandemics and climate induced natural disasters. Growing Forward is about connecting to each other, and to the land that surround us, and also challenging systems that aren't serving us.
The farms have been set up at the following locations. Message the Growing Forward Facebook page if you live nearby and would like to help caring for the veggies.
- 250 Boundary St, southern riverside end (on abandoned State Government land).
- Dutton Park hilltop, near the basketball court (on Brisbane City Council parkland)
- Raymond Park, cnr Wellington Rd & Baines St (Brisbane City Council parkland)
End of Boundary St
Dutton Park Hilltop
Another part of the project has been supporting initiatives to create community orchards of fruit trees planted in parks and other public spaces. In many places the earth is really diluted and dry and needs to be cared for in a genuine way. There's nothing that can do that as well as the roots of trees and the relationships between the microbiology of the soil. Trees have so many benefits for the environment and when they provide us with fresh produce it gets even better.
Highgate Hill Park
For sometime a small community orchard has been growing in Highgate Hill Park, looked after by a few volunteers. With our support this has now been upgraded with another 25 fruit trees added to the boundary of the park and sloping areas that are not used as open green space. We have about 35 trees there now. If you would like to help watering or nurturing this orchard please contact our office.
We held a community planting day of over 20 local residents who planted approx 30 fruit trees, including avocado, mulberry and a few citrus varieties at Raymond Park, Kangaroo Point. The plantings are in coordination but also separate to the Raymond park urban farm. They are being cared for by a group of local residents. if you would like to get involved please contact our office or the Growing Forward FB page.
We are doing what we can to support local composting to divert more waste from landfill. We are supporting residents to set up new household communal compost hubs to share with their neighbours. The best way to do this is through the ShareWaste system (see below). Composting is a great way to build an understanding of where our food comes from and reminds us our valuable our kitchen scraps can be in the composting and growing cycle.
Home-based Composting Hubs / ShareWaste
We already have about 16 households in the Gabba Ward open to receiving food scraps. We have surveyed the composters and they are really happy with using the ShareWaste system, but they need more people delivering their food scraps to their home composters.
To contribute food scraps to one of these hubs, it’s simple:
- Get on the ShareWaste website, register yourself, then
- Find the closest home composter on their mapping system. Once you have found someone nearby
- Send them a message to let them know you will be dropping off food scraps from time to time so they can manage the loads.
- The composter will then send you their exact address details.
To set up your own compost hub:
- Once your compost system is set up in the front yard (easily accessible for drop offs), you can register with ShareWaste.
- Your address is only given out by you individually to neighbours who message you directly through the site - so you can control how many people are delivering food scraps.
- We may be able to support you with vouchers for free compost bins. Email our office on [email protected]
Community Composting Hubs
Brisbane City Council has partnered with a number of community gardens around Brisbane to help residents turn kitchen scraps into nutrients for soil. We currently only have one official BCC composting hub in the Gabba Ward
- Jane St Community Garden, West End.
It's a lot of work for the volunteer gardeners and as this is the only Community Composting Hub in our ward it gets a lot of food scraps delivered.
Free Compost Caddies
BCC are also providing free kitchen compost caddies to collect your food scraps at home and then take them to your nearest community composting hub. We have them available in The Gabba Ward office for collection. Just jump online and register for one via this link.
The council registration system is only set up for larger composting hubs and we only have one in our Ward at Jane St Community Garden - so when you register via the website, just indicate that Jane St is where you will be dropping off your scraps. It's fine to use it as part of the ShareWaste program instead.
BCC Home Compost Vouchers
Brisbane City Council have recently set up a new compost rebate program. The program provides eligible Brisbane residents a rebate of up to $70 off the purchase of eligible composting equipment. Make sure you register first to get your voucher number before buying your compost bin, worm farm or bokashi, otherwise they won't refund you.
Food Justice Resources: www.communitycentredknowledge.org/food-justice/food-justice-resources/
What is Food Sovereignty? (a Graphic): https://www.instagram.com/p/CHtppkzFuhx/
Sovereign Soil Farm in so called Adelaide: https://www.instagram.com/sovereign_soil_farm/
Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe: https://avidreader.com.au/products/dark-emu-1
Ron Finley: Urban Gangsta Gardener in South Central LA | Game Changers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7t-NbF77ceM&t=3s&ab_channel=UPROXX
Foodshare - Get Building & Growing (Helpful Resources from a Project in Toronto): https://foodshare.net/resources/printable/
Mutual Aid (Big Door Brigade by Dean Spade): https://bigdoorbrigade.com/mutual-aid-toolbox/
Pod Mapping for Mutual Aid (by Rebel Sidney Black): Here
Care Work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha: https://www.akpress.org/carework.html
Expressions of interest for various mural locations in the Gabba Ward close on Monday, 12 October, 2020
Instead of spending it all on concrete and bitumen, we’re allocating a chunk of my local public space upgrades budget towards paying artists to paint murals on toilet blocks and other walls.
We’re looking at paying somewhere in the range of $5000 per mural depending on the size (this figure includes the cost of supplying your own paint and other materials). As part of the contract, artists will also be expected to take responsibility for applying water-proof and tag-proof coatings that are appropriate to the surface.
We’re calling for expressions of interest/concept proposals to paint murals on toilet blocks in the following parks:
- Raymond Park, Kangaroo Point
- Musgrave Park, South Brisbane
- Davies Park, West End (new, larger toilet block)
- Orleigh Park, West End (large toilet block near children’s playground)
- Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park (bunker-style toilet block on Lower River Terrace)
Check out the recent works painted onto the Bunyapa Park toilet block in West End if you want some inspiration.
We’re also seeking proposals/EOIs for undercover walls on:
- Thornton St pedestrian underpass, Kangaroo Point
- Vulture St underpass, South Brisbane (between Stephens Rd and South Bank train station)
Only artists who can show proof of completing previous outdoor mural projects are eligible to apply. Artists will require a current ABN.
We are particularly interested in mural concept proposals which are thought-provoking and address topical issues, and/or specifically respond to the surrounding local context of the proposed location. Murals will of course have to be appropriate for display in a public space (e.g. vulgar language or extremely violent imagery is unlikely to be supported). Innovative proposals to paint surfaces on the insides of the toilet cubicles are also welcome.
To submit an EOI, please email [email protected] with ‘Mural Artist EOI’ in the subject line and provide the following:
- name, phone number, address and email address
- 2 to 4 photos of previous murals you’ve worked on
- Contact details for a previous client who is willing to provide a reference (if you’ve never done paid mural work before, you could also provide a reference from an arts festival, arts organisation or lecturer/teacher/mentor who can vouch for your work)
- 50 to 200 words describing the concept you have in mind for a toilet block or underpass – this can be specific to one particular location or a general proposal (you can write more and propose multiple concepts for multiple locations if you wish)
- Nominate which site you are most interested in painting (we will assume that you are generally interested in paid work at any of the locations unless you specify otherwise)
- (Optional) Further web links demonstrating your style and previous work
Expressions of interest close on Monday, 12 October at 5pm. The final decision-making process for selecting artists will depend on the number of EOIs received.
Once we have a clear idea of how much funding we can allocate, and what styles of artwork the council administration is willing to support, we will contact artists to put you in direct contact with council’s contracting team and go through the formal process of being listed as an approved supplier.
Women, non-binary folk, people of colour and First Nations people are particularly encouraged to submit an EOI. Any questions, feel free to email [email protected] or call 3403 2165.
This mural was painted in Bunyapa Park, West End by Neta-Rie Mabo under a previous round of this project funding. You can see more of Neta-Rie's work at http://instagram.com/mabolous
Right now, many of us are forced to lead lives that are economically precarious and environmentally and socially unsustainable. We work long hours to pay the bills, while not having enough time to volunteer on meaningful community projects or enjoy the company of friends and family. Care labour is distributed unfairly and unevenly, and the reproductive work necessary to keep our communities strong is overlooked and undervalued.
Many of us feel overworked, while more and more of us are unemployed or under-employed.
This is a strange contradiction for our society to grapple with. Thousands of people are craving paid work opportunities, while many of those who are fortunate enough to have paid jobs are constantly stressed and dream of having more free time. It suggests there is something more fundamentally flawed with our dominant culture and way of life.
As Australia enters recession, we need to consider a broader range of options for reimagining work and how we structure our lives.
Many workplaces here on Brisbane’s inner-south side, both small and large, are shifting away from a 40-hour week. A 4-day ‘standard’ work week is becoming increasingly common. Depending on the field of work, this might mean going home earlier and only working from 9am to 3pm, 5 days per week. Or it could simply mean working from Monday to Thursday with a 3-day weekend. Or both!
As a local councillor, I am allocated two full-time ward office staff to assist me in my work. We’ve split these two full-time roles into multiple part-time roles (some staff work 2 or 3 days per week while others work 4 days per week). This means my staff are better rested and less stressed, and have more time for care labour, recreation, study and even volunteering on various community projects.
Many full-time employees find they prefer a slightly shorter work week, and experience a wide range of flow-on benefits (as long as they retain long-term job security). When large organisations shift away from a 5-day work week, this can also free up more job opportunities for unemployed residents.
If we have well-supported and affordable housing, healthcare and education systems that meet everyone’s basic needs, it becomes possible to imagine a society where working 5 days/week in paid roles is no longer necessary. This in turn would free up so much time among residents that a lot of other community projects would be more viable.
Not so long ago, it was considered normal for most people to work very long hours 6 days/week, with Sunday being the only day off. Strong advocacy, particularly from trade unions, led to the introduction of a standardised 8-hour work day and 5-day work week (at least in most wealthier nations). As we adapt to a new world beyond the shutdown, we need to go further and talk seriously about whether it’s time to shift towards a standardised 4-day work week.
But to get to that point, all of us who currently have paid work need to be more diligent and disciplined about finishing on time each day, and not working overtime for free.
Lately I’ve spoken to quite a few people who were working from home during the shutdown, and found that outside their traditional office workplace, they felt less pressure to work past 5pm. Of course, others (myself included) found that without a clear ‘home time’ we lapsed into working later into the evenings.
I think as the shutdown eases, and many of us return to office environments, workers need to insist on finishing for the day at the time their contracts say they should, and resist the pressure to work overtime on a regular basis. We won’t be able to initiate a shift towards a 4-day work week if we can’t even maintain the current 5-day work week.
Many Brisbane workplaces valorise and aspire towards a culture of working too long and too hard, which might serve to maximise profits for mega-wealthy rent-seekers, but isn’t necessarily in society’s broader long-term interests. So let’s start some in-depth conversations in our community and with our coworkers about workplace culture, workplace hours, and what would need to happen to shift our city towards a 4-day work week.
Is it better for everyone to have the same three days of the week off? Or should the working week be staggered to spread around transport impacts and other demands on infrastructure?
What kinds of government services and private services would still need to remain open and available at least 5 days per week, and what services could feasibly drop down to 4 days per week?
If big employers like Brisbane City Council were to shift towards a 4-day work week (with a 3-day weekend from Friday to Sunday), would this prompt other private workplaces to also make the shift?
What are the main barriers preventing smaller businesses from making this kind of shift?
There are lots of questions to think through, so please talk about them with your friends and family!
If you’re interested in further reading on this topic, this discussion paper is a good place to start.
We’ve produced a compilation album of songs recorded during the shutdown by bands and solo artists with strong connections to the Gabba Ward on Brisbane's inner-south side (i.e. the suburbs of West End, South Brisbane, Dutton Park, Highgate Hill, Kangaroo Point and Woolloongabba).
As of Monday, 28 September, the album is available for download at this link.
The album is called The Art of Hibernation and features 12 tracks by: Kurilpa Reach, Bad Sext, Wheat Paste, Bricklayers, Kairos Twin, Machiniska, A Country Practice, Saateen, Sanfeliu, Cigany Weaver, Amy Jane and Lileth.
50% of sales revenue will go back to the participating acts (split evenly) and the other 50% will be set aside to pay bands to play at community concerts and non-profit events after the shutdown is over. Each soloist/band retains copyright and full ownership of their songs, and will be free to release the recorded tracks again in other formats/albums.
This project was funded using $10 000 of our local grants budget, which was redirected from festivals and community events that couldn't go ahead due to the pandemic. We're extremely grateful to the crew at Chaos Magick Studios for putting so much time and energy into this project, and to all the artists who've been part of it.
Original callout and further details of project:
How to Apply
AS OF MONDAY, 8 JUNE, APPLICATIONS HAVE NOW CLOSED
1. A 100-word bio (please mention a few genres/styles that you align most closely with
2. Up to 150 words about the song you’re recording, why you’d like to be part of this project, and why your act is an important part of the local music ecosystem on Brisbane’s inner-south side (no need to write a full 150 words if you don’t want to)
3. Two or three sentences or dot points touching on your connection to the Gabba Ward (e.g. “Two of our members live in Woolloongabba and one lives in West End. We perform regularly at local venues like The Bearded Lady and the Milk Factory.”)
4. Any relevant links to social media pages, websites or music videos (don’t overdo it)
5. If you have it, a link to a rough demo of the song you’d like to record (not mandatory) or at least a copy of the lyrics
6. Any suggestions you have for an album title (optional)
7. Email and a phone number that you will answer during business hours
Applications must be received by 9am on Monday, 8 June. If you have any issues with the online form, send questions or email your application to [email protected] with 'Gabba Ward Shutdown Album' in the subject line.
What the selection panel is looking for...
Rather than picking ‘the ten best local bands,’ this project is about amalgamating a collection of tracks that reflect and represent the current state of local music in the Gabba Ward, and speak to the uncertain period we’re living through.
We will be curating an album that features and celebrates a wide range of genres and musical subcultures, with the hope of representing the breadth and depth (and talent) of the amazingly varied musical ecosystem on Brisbane’s inner-south side. This means, for example, that we are unlikely to include three or four bands that all fit within the same narrow genre/scene.
We're hoping to mostly feature songs that have been written recently or finished off during the shutdown, but we definitely aren't aiming for an entire album of songs that are necessarily directly about the pandemic.
We’ll be trying to strike a balance between very new/young acts and slightly more established local bands. The album will hopefully serve as a snapshot of our music scene at the time of the COVID-19 shutdown, and help to celebrate and promote all the amazing music and performing arts projects that are bubbling out of Brisbane’s inner-south side.
Diversity Targets for the Album as a Whole (similar to 4ZZZ Community Radio's Targets)
- At least 50% of acts on the album should include at least one member who identifies as a woman or non-binary
- At least 5% of the acts on the album should include at least one member who identifies as First Nations
- At least 20% of the acts on the album should include at least one member who identifies as a person of colour/not white
Eligibility Criteria for Participating Groups
- Majority (more than half) of members currently live or have mostly lived in the Gabba Ward suburbs of West End, Highgate Hill, South Brisbane, Kangaroo Point, Dutton Park, Woolloongabba; and/or
- Group/soloist can demonstrate a strong local connection to the Gabba Ward
Recording and mixing will be handled by the Tanuki Lounge at 207 Boundary St, West End. We’re aiming to record in late June/early July so bands will need to make themselves available during this period.
This project has a limited budget and time-frame, which means each group will only have a couple of hours in the studio for recording. Bands are expected to have a finalised, well-rehearsed track that’s ready to record, as we won’t have time for lots of experimentation and chopping and changing once inside the studio.
Other Important Conditions
The selection panel reserves the right to leave out a track from the final published album if the recording doesn’t match the standard of the other songs, but the act will still be paid $400 for their time in the studio and will still receive a copy of their recorded track to use as they wish.
Acts can withdraw from the project at any time, and will be given an opportunity to hear all the other songs on the album before it is published and released.
50% of any profits from sales will be split among artists. The other 50% will be set aside to pay local performers at future community events and concerts, and will be allocated at the discretion of the Gabba Ward Office and the Tanuki Lounge. All acts included on the album will receive an equal share of any future proceeds from album sales, regardless of track length or complexity of the work.
Tracks will be released online on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis, which means some residents will download them for free. Councillor Sri and the Tanuki Lounge will consult with all participating acts about the best online platforms for distributing the music, and before making any decisions to release the album in a physical format (e.g. CD).
Selection panel members (all volunteering their time)
- Nell Forster
- Shannon Logan
- Trina Massey
- Morgyn Quinn
- Jonathan Sri
Other questions and answers
I can record myself and don’t want to get paid. Can you squeeze me onto the album?
We don’t want this project to become a random grab-bag of dozens of local acts. It’s intended as a curated compilation of high-quality musicians who will fit well together in a cohesive product.
If we receive some really strong applications who just miss out on making the cut for the final 10, we reserve the right to offer them an unfunded place on the album at the selection panel’s discretion. Please just submit a standard application and make the case for why you want to be part of the project like everyone else.
How and when will the album be released?
We’re hoping to release the album online by late July/August, but we won’t rush the process. If there’s enough interest, we’ll also look at producing a physical album on CD or another medium.
How are you guarding against favouritism?
The volunteer selection panel has been chosen by democratically elected City Councillor Jonathan Sri.
We’ve pulled together a pretty broad and diverse selection panel from within the local music scene. Inevitably, panel members will know and have worked with many of the bands who apply to be part of the project, but the whole group will have to agree on a final list of acts for the album. Just as with any festival or event lineup, we have to trust the people on the panel to make good decisions.
Panellists won’t be entitled to any share of revenue from the album.
Where’s the money coming from?
This project has a total budget of $10 000, which is coming from the Gabba Ward local grants budget. Roughly half of that will go towards production costs including recording, mixing, mastering and studio hire, and the rest will go towards paying participating groups. This is money that would otherwise be spent supporting community events and festivals (most of which have been cancelled due to the shutdown).
Why didn’t you just put the choice of bands to a vote?
Because it’s not a popularity contest. Nor is it a talent contest. The goal is to produce a cohesive but diverse album that encapsulates the varied subcultures of our local community and the mood of our times.
Isn’t the suburb eligibility criteria unfairly exclusionary of bands from other parts of Brisbane?
Nope. The money for this project is coming out of the local Gabba Ward grants budget. Any of the other 25 city councillors around Brissie have their own grants budget and could run a similar project for their electorate. So if bands from other suburbs feel left out, they are strongly encouraged to approach their own Brisbane City Councillor for similar grant funding.
Will there be other similar projects in the future?
Yes, hopefully. Depending on how popular this is, we might take the idea further and record more bands in future if we have enough funding.
More generally, non-profit community groups are always welcome to apply for grant funding through the Gabba Ward Community Fund so if you have an idea for a project with a broad community benefit that you’d like to run, don’t be afraid to reach out.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a few people have taken issue with my suggestion that Labor Senator Kristina Keneally’s opinion piece about immigration was advancing racist arguments.
I shouldn’t need to start with this disclaimer, but: No, just because I’m accusing someone of advocating racist ideas or arguments doesn’t mean I’m saying that person is racist and horrible and ought to be ‘cancelled.’ All I’m saying is that in this case, the arguments Kristina is advancing are based on racist premises, tend towards racist outcomes, and will have the effect of legitimising and emboldening racism in Australian public discourse.
The article is a good example of dog-whistling. When you drill into the detail, Keneally’s main points are more subtle than those of someone like Pauline Hanson. To suggest that the two politicians are advancing identical arguments would be disingenuous and intellectually lazy. But I do think she’s using language which is calculated to resemble Hanson’s rhetoric and win back One Nation voters.
Kristina Keneally is not necessarily saying all migration is bad. And unlike Hanson, she doesn’t explicitly draw distinctions between people of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
She is correctly suggesting that our current immigration and employment policy settings sometimes encourage employers to pay temporary migrant workers less than they would pay Australian citizens to do the same job.
Depending on how you frame the issue, I also don’t think there’s anything wrong, in and of itself, with saying that offering migrants residency pathways and greater long-term stability is preferable to relying on such high numbers of temporary migrant workers.
So why is it dog-whistling?
In politics, how you frame and talk about a controversial issue matters just as much as the technical details of the policy position you’re actually advocating.
Politicians often use vocabulary that’s layered with hidden meanings depending on the context (e.g. using ‘expat’ to refer to settlers from Anglosphere countries and ‘immigrant’ to refer to settlers from other parts of the world). Or they over-simplify complex concepts so their statements are vague enough to mean completely different things to different people.
Dog-whistling is where you focus on a certain issue or use a particular phrase, knowing that some in your audience will infer a very different meaning.
What you don’t make room to say matters too. Failing to acknowledge our recent history of invasion, attempted genocide of First Nations peoples, and White Australia immigration policies also obliterates relevant context that shapes contemporary migration policy debates whether we admit it or not.
When Senator Keneally published an article with the heading “Do we want migrants to return in the same numbers? The answer is no” she knew a lot of people weren’t going to remember anything about the article beyond the headline. Such a phrase is clearly calculated to draw the attention and sympathy of xenophobes who are opposed to all migration.
Similarly, writing that we “need a migration program that puts Australian workers first” carries a lot of hidden meaning for racists, and for new migrants. Many people of colour and First Nations peoples have learned the hard way that the term ‘Australian workers’ is frequently used as coded language for ‘white Australian workers.’
When Keneally calls for cuts to specific migration programs while saying Aussie workers need ‘a fair go,’ she knows many people will interpret her comments as suggesting that migrants themselves are a major factor behind the mistreatment and exploitation of Australian workers.
This language deliberately taps into the racist and divisive strategies of certain labour movements in Australian history, where instead of arguing for better pay and conditions for all workers, some campaigns simply called for stronger restrictions to cap non-white workforces in order to benefit white Australians.
Her choices of phrase invoke the same clichéd xenophobic mythologies that erroneously blame immigration for car-centric transport planning or unsustainable suburban sprawl. (Remember: cities with similar populations to Australian ones have smaller geographic footprints, more public green space and less intense traffic congestion, so blaming population growth is just letting the real culprits off the hook)
It was possible for Kristina Keneally to write a very different kind of article while still making similar points. She could have written a piece titled “Let’s give temporary migrants permanent residency” or "Fair go for migrants" or “Start welcoming permanent migrants from Africa, Asia and South America - stop exploiting temporary ones” (ok so that third title is a probably a tad too long and cumbersome).
She could have talked about the real factors behind why so many Australian workers are struggling – privatisation and outsourcing, neoliberalism, the financialisation of housing as a speculative commodity, Bob Hawke’s ‘Prices and Incomes Accord’ (which smashed the power of organised labour) etc. She could have highlighted that migrants and citizens all have a common interest in strengthening rules to protect temporary workers’ rights and prevent exploitation.
Instead, she used a divisive framing to grab attention and appeal to the hard-right, thus creating political pressure for the LNP to adopt even stronger and harsher anti-immigrant rhetoric. When leaders dog-whistle like that, they normalise and embolden racism (and by the way, following this path still doesn’t help Labor win elections).
Keneally was smart enough to know what she was doing. Anyone who defends her strategy and choice of framing is actually making it a lot harder to have the evidence-based discussions we really need to have about systemic racism, unfair employment conditions, temporary worker exploitation and migration settlement strategies.
No matter how you say it, ripping off colonised regions is still racist
Putting aside the dog-whistling, even the underlying substance of Kristina Keneally’s argument is based upon a racist and imperialist philosophical worldview.
Australia has benefited from 250+ years of colonisation, British imperialism, American imperialism, and globalisation. We bully and rip off near neighbours like East Timor and Papua New Guinea to profit from stolen natural resources. We benefit from unjust global trade deals and military interventions (how many wars for oil have there been in the Middle East now?), and from the overcharging of international students who study here.
We’ve exploited Aboriginal land and labour here on this continent, as well as workers from overseas. Our economy has grown thanks in large part to outsourcing and exploitation of overseas workforces and consumers.
On top of all that, both the fossil fuels we burn and export, and the political pressure we apply internationally against stronger action to address climate change, are huge contributors to global warming and economic instability, which of course pushes more people to seek employment far from home.
So in that context, for Keneally to argue that we don’t want young, unskilled workers from other countries, but we do want the richer, better-educated ones, is also extremely unjust and selfish.
She wants the benefits of globalisation in terms of wealthy tourists, free-flowing capital, cheap manufactured products and lucrative resource markets.
She wants the doctors and engineers that other nations have spent time and money rearing and educating.
But she doesn’t want any of the lower-skilled migrant workers who are struggling to find work at home due to the same unjust global economic system that we are benefitting from. And she supports harsher, militarised border policing to keep them out.
De facto White Australia?
In practical terms, a range of factors including visa criteria, high application fees, sponsorship requirements, English language tests and embassy locations mean that on average, it’s (generally) much easier for white immigrants to enter Australia on pathways to permanent residency. Some experts have suggested that our humanitarian intakes also discriminate based on race, culture and religion.
In that context, it’s problematic to argue for reprioritisation away from migration pathways that currently allow more people of colour into the country, while neglecting to also advocate for restructuring the systemic barriers that exclude non-whites from permanent migration pathways.
Keneally’s motivations aren’t necessarily racist. I’m not suggesting she’s intentionally proposing to discriminate against people of non-European ancestry.
But when we ask whether a certain policy or system is racist, it’s important we don’t get caught up focusing narrowly on whether individual decision-makers and advocates actually have racist motives. We must consider whether the overall system they’re supporting tends to yield differing results depending on a person’s culture or ethnic background.
The policy changes Keneally is advocating for will have racially discriminatory outcomes unless they are accompanied by other changes that she has chosen not to advocate for.
That doesn’t mean she’s racist. But the practical results of what she is calling for certainly would be.
The difficult challenge of talking about migration policy in Australia is that it can’t be conveniently separated from discussions about colonisation, extractivism and imperialist globalisation.
A lot of well-meaning Australians get frustrated when any attempt to start a conversation about migration immediately attracts accusations of racism. This is particularly so for many Greens, whose white fragility prevents them from recognising how sustainability arguments for limiting immigration can be inherently racist.
The hard truth is that in settler-colonial countries like Australia, you simply can’t talk sensibly about migration without talking about racism. The two topics are inextricably linked, and leaving race out of the conversation – like you’re some kind of ‘objective’ scientist neutrally discussing populations and carrying capacities without acknowledging past and ongoing systemic racism – just tacitly reinforces racist norms.
Yes, we do need to build alliances between Australians and migrant workers. We do need to reinforce common interests and fight against the corporate bosses who benefit by dividing and exploiting us.
And if a Labor senator writes a shallow, divisive, harmful article that normalises and reinforces racism, we do have to call it out.
This article has also been published on Green Agenda, an independent online publishing project that promotes discussion and debate of critical and contemporary green politics and philosophy...
More and more residents have been asking for the stretch of Riverside Drive Parkland north of Jane St to become car-free. Riverside Drive is designated as public parkland, and it's unusual for so much space in a public park to be used for free car parking.
Based on previous consultation, we have already asked council to remove all street parking to the north of the boat ramp, and are now exploring whether to remove the rest of the parking between Jane St and the boat ramp. Further consultation about the long-term future of the boat-ramp is also required, as the need for vehicles to access the boat ramp is in direct conflict with pedestrian safety.
For now, we're asking whether residents support removing all parking (including boat ramp parking) or if you only support removing street parking on Riverside Drive but would like the boat ramp parking retained for now.
If parking on Riverside Drive itself is removed, residents with limited mobility would still be able park at the end of Jane St or Hockings St in order to access the park. We can explore converting some of the parking on Jane and Hockings Streets into priority parking for people with a disability if necessary. If boat ramp parking is retained, this could also remain available for people with impaired mobility.
The results of this survey will be published via Councillor Sri's website, email list and social media accounts. This survey is not a binding community vote, but will be heavily influential to the decision-making of the Gabba Ward Office (the more people who respond, the more weight the survey results will carry).
For more info on our broader vision and strategy for transport in the inner-south side, check out this page.
Data Use: We are collecting your name and contact details to help guard against duplicate responses and to inform you of the results of the survey. Collecting address details also helps us understand trends regarding whether people living in different neighbourhoods have different views about the survey question. Your data is stored in the dedicated database of Greens Councillor for the Gabba Ward, Jonathan Sri. Your name and contact details will not be shared with Brisbane City Council directly or with other third parties without your express permission.