“Is Melbourne fair?”
If we are to justify whether or not Melbourne is fair, it is necessary to have an understanding of what ‘fair’ actually is. According to the Oxford English dictionary, fair is ‘treating people equally without favouritism or discrimination. For example, ‘the group has achieved fair and equal representation for all its members’. In my opinion, to be ‘fair’, is to portray equality and an absence of bias.
In my opinion, a fair society or community would display the following qualities: the absence of prejudice (whether it concerns gender, race or beliefs), a fair justice system and government, as well as respectful and fair treatment of residents, both young and old.
First of all, the absence of prejudice is necessary in a fair society. However, you may be wondering, what actually is prejudice? According to ‘The Free Dictionary’, prejudice is a ‘forejudgment, leaning toward one side of a cause for some reason other than a conviction of its justice.’ An example of prejudice would be if a man with Asian backgrounds were to be treated differently because of his race or religion than a man with Australian backgrounds.
In previous Australian prisons of the 1800-1900’s, women were treated differently to men and were the subject of different punishment. I can confidently state that the strong sense of prejudice which was clearly present in past prisons has faded and in prisons of today, there is an absence of prejudice. During the ‘Prisons’ trail, this idea of having no preconceptions was supported by Nick, who was a previously a prison guard and is now a prison manager. He explains to us something along the lines of: ‘You could have a murderer in the prison and a man who received a parking fine. Despite this, you still have to try treat them the same.’
The same sort of attitude should be taken into court. Any preconceptions must not affect the way someone is treated. As Liz, a woman who tells young people their rights before an interview, explained, in past times those who had committed a crime or wrongdoing were generally grouped. For example, a teenage child may walk in and they would’ve thought ‘Oh, another one of those kids who live in residential places’, and they would begin the interview with assumptions. Over the years this idea has faded leaving us with a more just city of Melbourne.
Furthermore, having a strong and fair justice system requires the absence of prejudice. It simply wouldn’t be fair to make assumptions on someone because of their gender, race, or religious beliefs.
Additionally, a debatable issue faced in the justice system, or rather, punishment system, is capital punishment. Many argue it is only fair to try and rehabilitate these criminals, and that by killing them we wind up just as bad as they were. However, isn’t it possible that these criminals have no intention of taking the opportunity rehabilitation offers, and that they will only return as a threat to the community? Yes, and this is partly the reason why some American states still permit capital punishment.
Despite the idea of capital punishment being an easy way out, we must understand that the police and court aren’t always correct. As explained by our guide at the Old Melbourne Gaol, there was an issue where the police were certain a particular man was responsible for the crime. He pleaded innocent until the last minute. They hanged him, and about 40 years later, when DNA testing became possible, the man was proven to be innocent. This portrays the dangers of capital punishment. In addition to the, the last man to be hanged in Victoria was Ronald Ryan in 1967 for killing a policeman during a prison escape. He was later found innocent; it was another friend who had killed the policeman. 8 years later in 1975, capital punishment was abolished in Victoria. The possibility of a making mistake during the process, and the idea of killing another human being in general seems unfair in itself. That, of course, is only my opinion. Having abolished this punishment in Victoria, as well as all of Australia has, in my opinion, made Melbourne a better and fairer place.
Having a fair government system is ideal, but of course the system has flaws. Having a democracy itself in Australia gives people the right to share their opinion and help make the choice for who should be leading their country. This, of course, promotes the idea of fairness.
However, the youth of the population seem to have been forgotten. It is understandable that 8 year olds may still be immature and irresponsible, but teenagers like us still have opinions. The government funds our schools, and we are the ones in the schools. It can be argued that we deserve a vote, because the only voices we are hearing are the older voices. We will some day work in this country, so I believe it is only fair that people can have their opinion heard. All in all, it seems slightly ignorant to disregard the opinions of approximately 15% of the nation (as of 2010). Nonetheless, I believe we should be grateful for the democracy in our country today, despite what was just said.
Another aspect of the government system is the treatment of asylum. Fleeing from a desperate situation, these people are being denied entrance into the country. I believe that is unfair treatment. I acknowledge that if boats were to keep arriving we would have to deal with the population increase and the issue of sheltering these people. Even so, this ethical dilemma needed to be consulted and a decision was made. However, this didn’t mean we made the right choice or the fair choice. Many people argue that this is unfair treatment, and I agree with them. This, in my opinion, makes Australia appear as a less fair country.
A fair society has the following qualities: the absence of prejudice, a fair justice and government system, as well as respectful and equal treatment towards all. Melbourne itself has altered over time to become a fairer city, but Australia as a whole still has flaws. However, overall I believe Melbourne is a fair place.
‘What is fair?’ presentation