Media-related issues

Dec 15, 2010

Media and trauma professionals urge Gillard Government to stick up for Assange

The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma is an international network that brings together media professionals, clinicians,

Melissa Sweet — Health journalist and <a href=Croakey co-ordinator" class="author__portrait">

Melissa Sweet

Health journalist and Croakey co-ordinator

The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma is an international network that brings together media professionals, clinicians, researchers and others with an interest in the impact of media coverage of violence and trauma.

The Australasian arm of the Centre has just issued this statement below, calling on the Australian Government to stick up for Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. (Declaration: Melissa Sweet is part of the Dart network and a signatory to the statement).

Statement from Dart Centre Australasia

Journalists, health professionals, academics and others associated with the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma-Australasia have called upon the Australian Government to provide all appropriate support to Mr Julian Assange. He is entitled to all of the usual protection and rights afforded to Australian citizens and journalists, whether in this country or overseas.

As an organisation concerned with the safety and wellbeing of media professionals, we are concerned by the incitations to violence against Mr Assange. We urge the Australian Government to condemn such comments in strong and unequivocal terms, and to take all possible steps to protect Mr Assange’s safety.

We call upon the Australian Government to stand up for the democratic principles of the presumption of innocence and freedom of information.

The Dart Centre Australasia is part of an international network dedicated to improving media coverage and community understanding of violence and trauma-related issues.


Cait McMahon

Gary Tippet

Lisa Millar

Kimina Lyall

Jon Stephenson

Matthew Ricketson

Rowan McLean

Melissa Sweet


Meanwhile, the executive director of the Dart Center in the US, Bruce Shapiro (who will be well known to regular listeners of Radio National’s LateNightLive program) is one of the signatories of this letter sent by 20 faculty members and others from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to President Obama and Attorney General Holder.

The signatories, who hold varying opinions on Wikileaks’ sources and methods, express concern that “prosecution of Wikileaks’ staff for receiving, possessing or publishing classified materials will set a dangerous precedent for reporters in any publication or medium, potentially chilling investigative journalism and other First Amendment-protected activity”.


PostScript from Croakey:

Other members of the Dart network who would like to add their signatures to the Australasian Centre’s statement can do so below. Also interested to hear from others in the health sphere…
Update, 16 Dec: here is a related article from the Columbia Journalism Review re the Walkley Foundation’s letter of support for Assange and Wikileaks

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5 thoughts on “Media and trauma professionals urge Gillard Government to stick up for Assange

  1. Bowman

    The Government may not want to “Stick up for Assange”, but they should condemn calls for his assassination, they should demand a retraction of these comments by American politicians and they should not claim Assange is a criminal where there is no evidence he has broken any laws. This has been a very poor performance by the Gillard Government.

  2. whoknows

    I am a supporter of disclosure by WL’s and the work of Julian Assange. I also see the need for diplomatic communiqués’ that allow confidential dialogue to occur.

    What we have seen so far is this veil of secrecy allows straight out lies to be used for politically economic gain to occur by big corporations and rationales provided by governments that justify going to war, based on lies. Decisions that have killed men and women, not for the advancement of freedom, but strategic economic gain.

    When one’s “duty” is to continue to cover up these blatant and obvious scams and lies, the traitor is not the one who exposes it, but the one who works from such a foundation in the first place.

  3. Tweets that mention Media and trauma professionals urge Gillard Government to stick up for Assange – Croakey --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Melissa Sweet, Melissa Sweet. Melissa Sweet said: Media & trauma professionals from Dart Centre, Australasia, urge Australian Govt to stick up for #Assange #Wikileaks […]

  4. theSlopingBeast

    one of the things that “only work if they are allowed to work behind closed doors” might be illegal wars, collusive activities between governments and corporations, corruption etc etc. it depends on which end of the freedom of information spectrum you regard as collateral damage.

  5. Dacq

    OK, I’ll fess up: I am an educated, thoughtful health professional and I don’t support Assange. Am I the only person in Australia who thinks this guy and his collaborators got it wrong?

    To be frank: I don’t believe that everybody has the right to know everything, and to splash certain information all over the media can actually be contrary to the public interest. ‘Government in the sunshine’ is an important general principle, but to argue that it applies to the delicate area of international relations is to take a dangerously simple-minded view.

    My views are coloured by something more than a BA in Politics and long career in the public sector –something that has given me an appreciation for how international relations works: uni courses in diplomatic history. The vast majority of responses to the Wikileaks sage provides depressing evidence of complete lack of understanding of diplomacy, international relations, and the lessons of history.

    While it is of course the case that the international hostilities that we face today are of a different nature than those which characterised 20th century wars, the underlying principle hasn’t changed: some things only work if they are allowed to work behind closed doors. Putting everything out in the open can actually have the effect of impeding progress and lengthening hostilities, putting more lives at risk.

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