‘Comment’: responding to social issues

Comment is a publication initiated by Dulwich Centre Publications to provide a forum for responses to topical social issues using  written and sung word. It is produced on an irregular basis, as need arises. Everyone is welcome to offer suggestions, topics, thoughts, plans, etc., and to actively join small groups to work together to produce it. We also encourage people to photocopy it and distribute it widely if they find it useful.

The thinking behind Comment is described in a chapter by Cheryl White and David Denborough entitled ‘The written word in times of crisis.’  Here is an extract from this chapter:

‘Created collectively, these informal news-sheets have been written at various times over the last ten years in response to current social events. These have been times in which we have felt considerably worried about developments that have been taking place in Australia – for instance, the rise in racism in Australia in the late 1990s. Certain events that have occurred overseas, such as those that took place on September 11 in the USA, and the bombing in Bali, have brought further grief and concern. At all these times, we have felt a wish to respond in some way, not to remain passive in the face of broader issues. We have also known that many others have had similar feelings and have wanted to try to find ways to respond. As our primary work is in publishing, the question became: what sort of writing, what sort of publication could be most useful?

At all the times mentioned above, the social issues were being talked about everywhere. Not only were the issues dominating the national news but also conversations in coffee shops, in family homes, and in workplaces. Many of these conversations were divisive and difficult. There were often marked differences of opinion within families and between friends and workmates. What is the role of the written word at these times? While there were avenues available to publicly protest or express sorrow about government actions and policies, and there were alternative newspapers and internet discussion sites that were publishing informative material, we decided that as part of our response perhaps we could contribute a different sort of publication. Could we create publications that would not simply state a line of argument, and therefore only appeal to those who already agree with this line of argument, but instead offer an engagement with the issues in ways that may enable different conversations?’

Written and sung responses to social issues 
The Australian Government's formal apology to Indigenous Australia: written response
To read the full text of the Prime Minister's apology, click here
Feb 2008
Current conversations in Australia about sexual abuse in Indigenous communities: written response by Tileah Drahm-ButlerNov 2007
Race Riots in Sydney: song and written response Feb 2006
Violent conflict between Police and Aboriginal youth: written responseFeb 2004
Imminent invasion of Iraq: written responseNov 2002
Bali bombing: song as responseOct 2002
Australia's treatment of asylum seekers: written responseFeb 2002
Afghan histories in Australia: written responseSept 2001
Recent events in the USA: How can we talk with each other about this?: written responseSept 2001
'Still searching': a story by Amir, an Iraqi refugee in Australia2001
National Sorry Day: Coming to terms with the past and present: written responseMay 1998
Racism: How can white Australians respond?: written responseMay 1997