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Community Legal Centres Fight Back

For the past three years, Community Legal Centres (CLCs) have been subjected to a review by the Federal Government which recommended that the 19 metropolitan generalist legal centres be amalgamated into four.

This review has overloaded workers and reduced service provision in a sector that has had no significant funding increases in ten years. Most centres in Victoria avoided a deficit by cutting staff hours, declassifying staff positions, getting rid of cleaning budgets and reducing the purchase of necessary program resources.

With changes to service provision and funding levels, service users are finding it more difficult to access free legal services.

CLCs provide a basic service to people in the community in need of legal advice. They educate people about their legal rights, do law reform work, advocacy work and monitor the government, the police and big institutions and corporations.

Most CLCs are managed by community organisations allowing any member of the community to become a member and to join the management committee. This participatory democratic model of community organisation is at the forefront of social change and is a crucial ingredient in a truly democratic society. Ordinary people in the community must have the right to contribute to decision-making about what services are to be provided in their communities and how these services should be delivered.

We must support their struggle for their independence from governments, institutions and big corporations. Without this independence, we are in danger of losing any hope for social justice in our society.

CLC workers are calling on their union (the ASU) for a renewal of the social conscience of unionism. We want to use our industrial strength to bring about a more just distribution of society’s resources. We’ve called for an industry-wide mass meeting to get this started. Workers in CLCs are not alone with these problems. All community services have been hit by similar cutbacks and changes to community management structures. The impact of these changes on the oppressed and excluded members of the working class is devastating — with rising rates of addiction, homelessness, unemployment, poverty as the result.

Paula Pope
Front Office Community Worker
Darebin Community Legal Centre

Indonesian Institute Uncovers Truth about 1060s Massacres

The Indonesian Institute for the Study of the 1965/1966 Massacres in Indonesia (Yayasan Penelitian Korban Pembunuhan 1965/1966) aims to restore the truth about the mass killings, when between two and three million innocent people were slaughtered by the military. We are dedicated to breaking the silence about the massacres, a silence imposed and assiduously maintained for more than 30 years by Suharto’s régime.

Since its founding in Jakarta in April 1999, the Institute has conducted an exhumation of a mass grave site near Wonosobo, Java. The President of the Institute, Mrs Sulami, has said that researching the massacres will facilitate a sense of justice among the members of the victims’ families.

The exhumation of the graves proved that in the years of 1965/1966, the Indonesian army wantonly massacred many innocent people. The victims of the massacres were men and women from all walks of life: government officials, teachers, activists and members of trade unions, youth organisations, women’s organisations, peasant unions and student associations.

Dr Handoko, who led the forensic team, determined that the bullets lodged in the skeletons were fired from long and short rifles, which were the type of firearms used by the army at that time.

This exhumation is the first crucial part of our ongoing efforts to provide legal proof that crimes against humanity were perpetrated in 1965/1966 by the Indonesian military. The mass killings in Indonesia were one of the most barbaric acts of the twentieth century, when millions of alleged communists were slaughtered by the army, as well as by certain elements of society which were manipulated by the army.

We aim to restore the historical truth and help correct the official history, which was a carefully constructed set of lies presented by the New Order government of Suharto for decades. The manipulation and flagrant misrepresentation of historical facts was just one of the devious means used by the military régime to maintain its rule.

We in Indonesia are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history. We need international solidarity to continue the vitally important work of the Institute, to help ensure that the events of 1965 are brought to light and prevented from ever happening again.

Yayasan Penelitian Korban Pembunuhan 1965/1966
Jalan Kalibesar Timur no.3,
Jakarta Barat 11110, Indonesia
PO BOX 4923 JKTF 11049, Indonesia
E-mail : korban65_66@hotmail.com

Call Central Aims to Organise!

I work for SALMAT teleservices. At the moment, I’m leased to Pizza Hut. That’s right, they have a leasing agreement over me! I get paid $7.62 an hour, no matter how late I work or which day I work on. I take calls for Pizza Hut continuously for four hours. There’s a lot of pressure on us to sell a lot of products, keep call times under 70 seconds and be polite and effective. So much pressure, in fact, that if you get a horrible customer — for example someone abusive or someone who informs you continuously that he is jerking off — and you are not polite to them, they can fire you. You also get into a lot of trouble if you are one minute late.

Anna
Canterbury, Vic

Editor’s note: Unfortunately, the story sent to the Freedom Socialist Bulletin by Anna, who is a queer activist and call centre worker, is not an aberration. But the union movement now has a focus on organising workers in call centres — the new white collar sweatshops. The ACTU Call Centre Union Group — an initiative of six unions — has launched a campaign to improve conditions in the call centre industry.

The initiative includes a Call Central Web site, an industry discussion paper, a minimum standards code and a Call Centre Charter.

The union movement is urging all call centre workers to join the appropriate union and campaign to implement the minimum standards in their work place.

Call Central is an information and support service designed for call centre staff with a focus on networking. Contact the hotline on 1300 365 205 to get a copy of the Minimum Standards Code for Call Centres, or check out the web page at www.callcentral.com.au

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