“Is Melbourne Fair?”
To answer this question, we first need to know the definition of fair. According Oxford Dictionary, fair means “Treating people equally without favouritism or discrimination”. If we follow this definition, I feel Melbourne is quite fair.
For one it has the Independent Third Person system. During Justice week on one of the trails we got to meet one and she explained to us what she did. For those who don’t know who an Independent Third Person (from now on referred to as ITP) is, it is a person who informs young/disabled people of their rights when they are taken into custody. They are called upon if no parent/guardian is contactable. For more information head to: http://www.publicadvocate.vic.gov.au/file/file/Volunteers/ITP%20Program/ITP_Brochure_09.pdf . ITP’s are quite important, because from time to time, the police can be too rough on a suspect/witness or they might rush through the rights and confuse the suspect/witness. Without ITPs, a lot more people would be saying things they shouldn’t have to, or they wouldn’t understand their rights fully.
From the trail, when my group got to speak with a jail guard, we learnt quite a bit about how jails operate. For one, they give prisoners a chance to come out to a life of some sort, because they teach them all sorts of tradie skills while doing their time. They also have a sort of canteen where they can weekly spend “money” for things like cigarettes and other things for entertainment. Having gone to Old Melbourne Gaol I learnt that even though it looks and sounds horrible, it was all in all quite fair. We had also gone to the Magistrate’s courts, where we got to sit in on a couple court cases, in which you could see that the judge had done their research, had looked over previous history and other relevant information, as opposed to things like gender, race and religion.
On a larger scale, Melbourne is quite a diverse city, with all sorts of cultures. According to wikipedia, almost a quarter of Melbourne’s population is born oversees and the city is home to residents from 180 countries, who speak over 233 languages and dialects and follow 116 religious faiths.
But on the other hand Australia has been known to be quite a racist country with it starting back when settlers first landed on Australian shores. Starting with the discrimination against Aboriginals decades ago, and it still continues with some police saying that young African people are a lot more likely to commit a crime, while racism in itself is a crime.
So Melbourne could improve, but there is always room for improvement, no matter the situation.