Frontiers 4: Annual Environmental Law Colloquium

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Frontiers 4: Annual Environmental Law Colloquium

By Dr Philippa England

On Tuesday and Wednesday, 6-7 February 2018, environmental scholars from across Australia and New Zealand came together to share their thinking about the frontiers of environmental law. It was an exhilarating event hosted by the Law Futures Centre of Griffith University and the University of Tasmania, Faculty of Law with the support of the National Environmental Law Association.

The annual Frontiers in Environmental Law Colloquium provides a forum for environmental law teachers and researchers to share and discuss their ideas, research and teaching practices. Through a supportive forum, we aim to: explore innovative ideas across our discipline; contribute to the future of environmental law in our region; foster collaboration amongst like-minded individuals; and help researchers and academics to actively build their careers.

Environmental law is a diverse field that draws on a wide range of legal traditions and techniques as well as inter-disciplinary knowledge. In 2018 we heard and discussed a number of topics relating to – trajectories for sustainable development law; water law and mining; regulatory trends and issues in environmental law; climate change and big picture thinking. The presentations were of an excellent standard prompting much debate and further discussion. It was a great opportunity to hear from newcomers to academia as well as some of our favourite, well established environmental law academics. The comradery and fine food continued with a delicious meal out on Tuesday evening and some of us were lucky enough to follow up the event with a subsequent conference, Imagining a Different Future: Overcoming Barriers to Climate Justice, hosted by the University of Tasmania, later in the week.

In short, we can’t wait to do it all again next year – perhaps we’ll see you there too!


First Annual Law Futures Centre Conference

Dr Fran Humphries
25 November 2017

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First Annual Law Futures Centre Conference

What is your vision for Northern Australia? An innovation hub? A self-governing territory? A world treasure supported by Indigenous-led place based development?

Twenty-two experts on Northern Australia came together in November to explore their visions and reimagine the ‘Future of Northern Ecological Governance and Regulation’ at the first annual conference of the Law Futures Centre (LFC).

This ‘reimagining’ took place across four round tables that analysed the four themes of the LFC’s Northern Australia Law Futures Program – achieving integrated governance; overcoming compartmentalised regulation; embracing diverse values in development; and using a broader knowledge framework for Regulation.

Her Honour Fleur Kingham, President of the Land CourScreen Shot 2017-11-30 at 6.01.42 amt of Queensland opened the conference with an inspiring speech that talked to the gap in northern discourse between aspirations and outcomes and between principles and actual decisions. She shared her insight into how the judiciary fits within the four conference themes and identified some important gaps in research around the Environmental Rule of Law and what this means for the north.

The four round tables produced lively debate, ranging from blue-sky thinking for a ‘Northern State’ and ‘re-framing Ecologically Sustainable Development principles for the North’ – to more grounded thinking around place-based development, a polycentric approach to resource management and supporting interaction between scientific and Indigenous knowledge for research, decision-making, policy and law. Conference outcomes included some key strategic areas for further research and avenues for future collaboration and partnerships.

Our experts came from diverse backgrounds, sharing a range of perspectives. Our moderators for the four round-tables were Professor Allan Dale (Cairns Institute, James Cook University), Ms Clare Martin (Chair, Territory Natural Resource Management), Dr Kate Andrews (Executive Officer, NRM Regions Australia) and Professor Stuart Bunn (Director, Australian Rivers Institute).

We would like to thank our expert panellists for a robust and productive discussion:

Professor Ruth Wallace (Director, Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University), Mr Vin Lange (CEO, Centrefarm Aboriginal Horticulture Ltd), Professor Mick Dodson (Director, National Centre for Indigenous Studies, ANU), Mr Grant Maudsley (President, Agforce), Mr Mark Coffey (Head, Office of Northern Australia), Professor Bill Fogarty (A/C Deputy Director, National Centre for Indigenous Studies ANU), Dr Wendy Craik (Chair Climate Change Authority), Professor Lee Godden (Director, Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law, Melbourne University), Mr Jeremy Fisher (Principal, Kingfisher Law), Dr Christine Lauchlan-Arrowsmith (Group Manager, Water Technology), Associate Professor Sue Jackson (Australian Rivers Institute), Dr Richard Brinkman (Research Program Leader, AIMS), Dr Marcus Barber (Senior Research Scientist, CSIRO), Dr Jane Addison (College of Business, Law and Governance JCU), Dr Philippa England (Law Futures Centre), Ms Heron Loban (Law Futures Centre) and Dr Chris Butler (Law Futures Centre).

Exploring the Regulatory Dimensions of Animal Protection

Dr Steven White
15 November 2017

Leading national and international researchers, teachers and practitioners in animal law examined a range of vital animal protection issues at the Law Futures Centre’s Animal Law Conference. The Conference focussed on the regulatory dimensions of animal protection, including regulatory norms, informational regulation, regulatory actors, protection standards and governance.

Animal Law Conference Group 1

(a) Regulatory Norms

The first speaker for the day, Professor Werner Scholtz (University of the Western Cape) investigated the emergence of an international animal welfare norm and its

potential consequences for the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling. A reinterpretation of the Convention that takes into account welfare concerns has several consequences for the whaling regime. Werner highlighted the legal consequences of such an interpretation in a critical manner and argued that the recognition of humane killing as an expression of concern for the welfare of animals may ultimately constitute a phase in an incremental process towards the non-lethal utilisation of whales. An evolutionary interpretation of the Convention may support a paradigm shift towards a preservation ethic. This in turn may provide a step along the path where ‘soft’ international law incorporates an ethic of animal welfare.

Dr Sophie Riley (University of Technology Sydney) outlined her research agenda for a new book, which will address the historical foundations of the now ubiquitous norm of ‘animal welfare’. She showed how international veterinary conferences and treaties relating to animal health and quarantine, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, facilitated the commodification of farm animals. During this time, the focus lay on achieving disease-free shipments that treated animals as bulk commodities, leading to the regime developing without meaningful ethical engagement. Instead, it fostered the use of animals along a commodification pathway that provided post-war intensive farming with a ready-made avenue for marketing animals in a commercially-driven manner. This calls into question whether a welfare paradigm was, and indeed is, sufficiently robust to offset commercial biases that have become increasingly ingrained by the economic gains humans make from farm animals.

(b) Informational Regulation and Free Range Labelling

Professor Christine Parker (University of Melbourne) discussed the results of her ARC grant project which included an investigation of the politics of free range labelling. She argued that the popularity of “free range” and higher animal welfare labelling shows a growing recognition by retailers and food producers that the public are concerned about the extreme confinement of sentient creatures in factory farming systems. She summarised the lessons from an extensive empirical socio-legal study of the impacts of free range and other higher welfare labelling claims on state and non-state governance of factory farming, voices and themes in public discourse concerning animal agriculture, and the lives of the animals themselves in egg, pig and meat chicken production in Australia.

(c) Regulatory Actors

Dr Jed Goodfellow (RSPCA Australia & Macquarie University) addressed the role of government in live export, highlighting ongoing animal welfare failures in the live animal supply chain. The roles and responsibilities of live exporters was considered, including the extent to which exporters can be held accountable for the fate of Australian animals exported to destinations around the world.

Separately, Jed highlighted two recent State-based campaigns targeting RSPCA WA and RSPCA Victoria respectively. Organisations hostile to improved animal welfare and an active role for the RSPCA in its promotion and enforcement, including the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and the National Party, led trumped up parliamentary inquiries in the two jurisdictions. Whatever the premise of the inquiries, positives consequences include an affirmation of the important role played by the RSPCA in promoting animal protection, and the suggestion of an independent office of animal welfare in WA. On the other hand, RSPCA Vic has agreed to step back from activist campaigning in favour of more restrained advocacy.

(d) Protection Standards

Katrina Kluss (Queensland Bar & University of Queensland) and Professor Jonathan Crowe (Bond University) separately addressed the legal status of animals and the ideal of legal personhood. Katrina outlined a new theoretical approach, bridging the justice arguments of Robert Garner with the sentience-based, utilitarian arguments of Steven Wise and Peter Singer. Jonathan’s presentation complemented this theory with an account of some of the ways in which Australian courts or legislatures might take such a step, whether relying on strategic litigation or legislating for a concept of guardianship in Australian law. Specifically, he considered whether there is sufficient scope in Australian law to commence animal welfare litigation as a special interest group, under the writ of Habeas Corpus, or under guardianship-type provisions.

Dr Rebekah Eyers (RSPCA SA) provided an overview of her PhD research into the application and enforcement of animal welfare standards at Queensland sale yards. Her empirical, observational study of sale yards was married with a sophisticated regulatory analysis of the prevailing, inadequate compliance monitoring and enforcement processes, and suggestions for how these might be reformed.

Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere (University of Otago) highlighted the Animal Welfare Amendment Act 2015 (NZ) as a major milestone in the development of New Zealand’s animal welfare legal framework. The legislation introduced the power to create regulations that prescribe specific standards of care complementing the general obligations in the parent Act. In 2016, regulations relating to bobby (young, male) calves in the dairy industry and live export were introduced, and in 2017, 46 new regulations are due to be introduced, coming into effect in October 2018. From one perspective, such new regulatory power is to be applauded: it allows greater enforcement, oversight and certainty of the obligations owed by those in charge of animals and their care. However, it remains unclear how existing specific codes of welfare, will work with the new regulations. Marcelo explored the different regulatory structures available for enforcing animal welfare statutes, their advantages and disadvantages, and what Australia can learn from the New Zealand experience so far.

(e) Governance

Katie Woolaston (Griffith University) described a regulatory mechanism that can be of use to animal lawyers: collaborative governance. This ‘new governance’ is of growing importance in environmental and natural resource management, and is based on de-centralising decision making and removing permanent hierarchies. She first described the premise of collaborative governance, its uses, successes and challenges. The benefits of legally integrated collaborative processes for wild animal welfare were then identified, including giving animal lawyers and other advocates a more permanent voice in regulation, as well as the ability to promote internalisation of animal-friendly norms. Finally, she applied the possibilities for collaborative governance to two case studies: kangaroos and motor sports in Bathurst, and lethal management of sharks in Western Australia. These case studies not only demonstrate the need for collaborative governance for wild animal welfare, but also the informal and highly effective community based processes already in place.

Whether internationally or domestically, improving animal protection continues to grow as a significant policy, political and ethical imperative. The Conference provided rich insights into the regulatory challenges and opportunities in constructively responding to this imperative.

The Future of Small and Medium Size Enterprises in Australia

Associate Professor Brett Freudenberg, LFC Risk & Innovation Program Leader
12 November 2017

Griffith University was proud to host, and the Law Futures Centre was delighted to help sponor, the Future of SMEs in Australia Symposium. The symposium explored the future of small and medium enterprises in Australia under four board themes, being: (a) Future of Growth; (b) Future of Disruption; (c) Future of Tax and (d) Future of Advice. With over 80 attendees from industry, government bodies and academician there was great interest in the topics explored.

Future of Growth

The first panel consider what the future of growth could look like for SMEs, this consider export opportunities, entrepreneurial incentives, as well as how the ATO is undertaking a program to assist small business advisors to better equip their clients to manage their cash flow.

The first speaker, Anne Nalder (the founder and CEO of The Small Business Association of Australia) explored the Export Opportunities of the Future. There is opposition to globalisation as some believe they have received few if any benefits from Free Trade Agreements as evidenced by the recent USA election and Brexit existing Europe. Trade is essential to our modern economy as it gives us greater access to a wider range of goods and services, it stimulates competition, and it allows us to focus on areas of competitive advantage. Whilst the future for trade is exciting and rather than slowing down, it will grow with the services and technology sectors, the challenges are enormous for Australian small business owners. If Australia is indeed to remain the Lucky Country, it needs to access a first class and reliable internet service, access to finance, have a reliable and economical energy supply, be supported by a more aggressive international marketing and branding campaign, and, face less constraints through rigid and often draconian compliance rules regulations.

The second speaker Wendy Houghton (BDO) looked at some of the key entrepreneurial tax incentives, including the newly introduced Early Stage Innovation Company reliefs, the Start Up scheme for employee share ownership and other incentives assisting SME’s more generally. She shared her views and insights about whether these incentives are achieving their intended aims, walk through the ‘sister’ UK schemes on which these were moulded and comment on whether the reliefs are properly targeted and sufficiently accessible to the SME audience. Are these incentives bold enough to achieve their intended aims?

The third speaker, Karen Anstis (the Assistant Commissioner Small Business– Small Business Education – ATO) discussed how the ATO data indicates that there are approximately 62,000 new businesses registrations each month. These new business owners start out with a high degree of enthusiasm and are optimistic about their future. However, ATO research shows that within 12 months, 50% of businesses are under financial pressure. More than 60% cease operating in less than 3 years. Gaps in financial and business management acumen contribute significantly to financial distress. At the present time two thirds of the $21 billion ATO collectable debt is owed by small business (ATO 30 September 2017). The ATO is committed to helping SMEs to be successful and viable. The ATO have done significant research and analysis to understand how we can go about supporting SMEs to thrive. The ATO understand that working with SMEs and their business and accounting advisors is very important. By assisting and engaging early with SMEs, the ATO is aiming to prevent problems from arising and supporting businesses to be successful. Research shows accountants have an important role in helping business owners understand what they need to know to meet their obligations. The ATO is working with accountants, bookkeepers and business advisors to co-design and develop education, coaching and support services that they can deliver to their clients. One successful example of this is the Cash Flow Coaching Kit.

Future of Disruption

In the second panel session speakers address the issue of environmental regulations will disrupt SME business practices, as well as how the sharing economy has added tension to the distinguishing between employees and contractors.

Dr Anna Mortimore (Griffith University) spoke about how the Ministerial Forum, appointed by the Australian Government, is about to announce the preferred fuel efficiency standards for new light vehicles, which are expected to reduce CO2 emissions in Australia’s new light vehicles. The standard to be phased in from 2020, will require an improvement in the national average CO2 emissions of 6% per annum. This will be challenging when improvements to the average CO2 emissions stalled at 1% in 2016. All buyers of new vehicles will be required to support importers of new cars to meet such standards by choosing fuel efficient light vehicles. Future disruption maybe in the form of additional charges for choosing a high CO2 emitting vehicles rather than choosing vehicles that are “best in the class.”

Judy White (Associate Director in the Tax division of BDO) discussed how we currently have a tax system in Australia that requires SMEs to review the terms of every person engaged, to determine if they are obligated to employment taxes. That is, SMEs need to determine whether persons being engaged are genuine contractors, or in fact employees that are subject to employment taxes such as PAYG withholding, Superannuation Guarantee and Fringe Benefits Tax. This can be a time-consuming and expensive exercise, but it also is a complex system that creates uncertainties for SMEs. Do we need a new definition of employee in Australia?

Future of Tax

The third panel discussed what the future of tax reform could mean for Australian SMEs, both in terms of the issues they face as they expand, but also whether the taxation of trusts is likely to dramatically change, and how self-managed superannuation is critical for SMEs to starting planning now for.

Paul Banister (Grant Thornton) described how in 2015 Joe Hockey asked, “How do we design tax laws where money is more mobile, goods are able to be delivered by drone from Google and there are disruptive technologies developed every day?” Since then, not only have we seen the business impact of technology continue to heighten, tax has emerged as what one may describe as one of the “great moral issues of our time”. Politicians and lobbyists readily grab front pages with demands that companies pay their “fair share” and legislators keep raising the bar under the guise of transparency. While BEPS initiatives are largely considered as “big end of town”, the challenges to tax culture posed by events like #LuxLeaks and #PanamaPapers highlights an underlying societal shift has occurred. SMEs are doing their best to cope with this and better technology means their activities have never been subject to greater scrutiny. And while legislative reform and greater transparency constantly increases the burden of tax compliance, proposals from at least one major political party suggest that all that SMEs and their advisers do is think about minimising tax! Viewed through the lens of greater societal expectations and the forever changing world of technology, this session will examine selected legislative and administrative reforms of recent decades and consider what future tax reforms are needed so that SMEs can focus what they are renowned for, to stimulate entrepreneurship and innovation.

Tom Tulley (EY) discussed how the future taxation of trusts is one of the great unknowns. There have been many reform processes tried and failed in the past 20 years whilst new proposals create more uncertainty. This session will recap on these while discussing the impact of related tax measures on the suitability of trusts as a business vehicle, including reinvestment of profits and repayment of debt.

Peter Vilaysack (EY) detailed how many SME owners often have no retirement plan in place beyond the sale of their own business at which time SME owners generally look to make contributions into superannuation to fund their retirement. It is estimated that one third of surveyed SME owners are not contributing to their superannuation let alone regularly and over half of Australian SME owners under 50 years have not planned at all for retirement. With the Government continuing to place greater emphasis on retirees to take control of their own funding for retirement instead of relying on the Government’s aged pension, the future for SME owners to take control of their retirement plans cannot be ignored. One way SME owners can plan for their retirement and take control is through the use of self-managed super funds (SMSFs). However, with the recent super changes limiting contributions into super including the transfer balance cap of $1.6m to commence a pension coupled with the uncertainty surrounding any future changes to the Australian superannuation system, the potential future for SME owners to fund their retirement via SMSFs has never been more important. This session will consider the potential future of SMEs using SMSFs as part of their retirement planning.

Future of Advice

The fourth session reflected on what the future may hold for professional advisory firms such as lawyers and accountants. This insight is critical as the advisory profession is itself under pressure with artificial intelligence and the greater access to information via the internet.

John Ioannou (McCullough Robertson) revealed how the advent of technology is a perceived threat to professional service firms as the information gatekeeper role continues to be eroded and time based billing practices become archaic, if not redundant. The complexity of our laws and regulations however continue to grow as do the client circumstances to which they are required to be applied, so professional advice continues to be required. How then should professional advisers establish their practices to ensure there is an environment where junior practitioners are inspired, senior practitioners are inspiring, the practice is enjoyable, competitive and profitable and the client experience stellar. It is possible to achieve all of it.

Steve Healey (Grant Thornton) noted that there is no doubt we find ourselves in a period of historic change and it is not so much change that is impacting us but the rate of change. Advances in technology are impacting many facets of our lives and creating new opportunities as well as disrupting many traditional paradigms. The tax profession is not isolated from this change. His session explored the changes confronting the profession and discuss a potential new model for those operating in a professional services environment. Steve explored why it is critical to challenge the status quo and to actively seek opportunities for reinvention both of ourselves and our businesses.

The Matrix Ahead

To conclude the symposium, Associate Professor Brett Freudenberg (Grifftih University) discussed how in working out what the future of SMEs may hold it is important to reflect on what research tells us about SMEs, and consider how these characteristics could influence the sector going forward. For SMEs there can be a great reliance on the principal individual(s), this includes not only for finance, but also for operational decisions and compliance issues – some of which can be self-inflicted due to a desire to retain control. Data demonstrates that the use of discretionary trusts can lead to higher compliance cost, and be acknowledged as too complex for the operations. The use of trusts in Australia has appeared to stunt reforms to introduce alternative structures such as S Corporations. Compliance with GST and employment related taxes can account for a large portion of tax compliance cost for SMEs, and can be particularly regressive for smaller operations. In seeking advice, small businesses can have a high reliance on informal networks (such as from family and the internet), and if professional advice is to be sought it is likely to be initially from an accountant (even if the issue is a legal one). While the tax literacy of small businesses appears higher than the general population, there is concern whether it is sufficient for the complicated nature of running a business, and to what extent it remains up-to-date. There appears to be little realisation of managerial benefits from tax records, which may be attributable to low financial statement literacy and/or the delayed nature of tax reporting. The timing of tax payments can adversely impact on the cash flow of small businesses, especially for those non-retail businesses using the accrual method, and with large employee numbers.

Overall, Brett concluded that apps won’t change the fundamentals of what is needed to conduct a business, and that knowledge is critical. There will continue the need to have greater access to ‘good’ advice, as well as greater ability to ‘use’ information; and there should be greater alignment with ‘regulatory’ information into ‘business’ (management) information. Also, advice is central – this includes advice between professionals and their clients, but also between different advisors themselves: as this human interface (and logic) is critical to the future of SMEs in Australia.

‘Ici vous êtes en sécurité’ – You are safe here

Lesvos (Greece) July 2017
Jovana Mastilovic

Over one million people, mostly originating from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan arrived in Europe in 2015 to seek asylum. The majority of these people crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece with over half a million people arriving on the Greek island, Lesvos. In response, the European Commission published an European Agenda on Migration, which enforced ‘hotspot’ facilities at the external borders of the EU; there are five in Greece—on the islands of Chios, Kos, Leros, Lesvos and Samos, and four in Italy in Lampedusa, Pozzallo, Taranto and Trapani. These centers are reserved spaces where the initial reception, identification and registration of all asylum seekers now arriving to Europe occur.

In July 2017, I visited the Moria Identification and Reception Center on Lesvos, which is the largest ‘hotspot’ facility on Lesvos, where according to the Head of the Regional Asylum Office, approximately 3000 of the 3800 asylum seekers on the island resided at the time. Moria does not appear to be a welcoming place. Despite the sign at the entrance of the center, which reads “[i]ci vous êtes en sécurité” (you are safe here), the security of refugees within the center is disputable.Picture 1

Moria is a former military base surrounded by barbed wire fences, security personnel and gated spaces. Refugees inside the center have compared it to a jail, and various organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, have reported on the deteriorating mental health of those inside through incidents of self-harm, including attempted suicide, and rising anxiety, depression and aggression. Deaths inside the center have made headlines since its establishment as Greece’s first ‘hotspot’ center in 2015. There are certain sections in Moria where people are placed depending on whether they are being considered for international protection, deportation (Section B), or other procedures. While I was on Lesvos, asylum seekers set fires inside the center in protest to deportation to Turkey and riot police quickly arrived to regain control within the center.

There has been a lack of media attention on the ‘European migration crisis’, since the implementation of the EU–Turkey deal in March 2016, which drastically decreased the number of people arriving from Turkey to Europe. The reason is that Turkey has been encouraged to ‘take any necessary measures to prevent new sea or land routes for illegal migration opening from Turkey to the EU’. Despite this, boats continue to arrive daily on the Greek islands from Turkey, full of men, women and children seeking international protection in Europe.

Although Turkey is a signatory to the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, it maintains the geographical limitation of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. This means that Turkey does not grant full refugee status to non-Europeans. In 2014, the UNHCR recorded 1.7 million Syrians residing in Turkey. There was no sign of the conflict in Syria ending, and the number of people arriving to seek international protection continued to increase, so Turkey implemented a ‘temporary protection’ regime for Syrians and Stateless Palestinians from Syria. According to the most recent figures, Turkey now hosts over 3.4 million refugees. Beneficiaries of ‘temporary protection’ continue to live their lives in uncertainty, waiting to be considered for resettlement in another country, or waiting for the violence in Syria to end, as they are not accepted as permanent residents in Turkey. Many people put their lives in the hands of people smugglers and risk everything on unworthy sea vessels just to reach European soil to lodge their asylum claim. Once they arrive in Greece, however, they wait in uncertainty once again in the overcrowded ‘hotspot’ facilities, along with the other 60,000 people in the country waiting for their asylum outcome, sometimes in prison-like conditions.Picture 2Child’s drawing describing the Moria Identification and Reception Center. Photograph taken at Mosaik Support Center on Lesvos.

Also in July this year, most of the European funding provided directly for NGOs ended. The European Commission now supports the Greek government in managing all aspects of asylum through designated asylum, migration and integration funds (AMIF) and internal security funds (ISF). There are many organizations whose functioning has been severely impacted by this shift. A few organizations and individuals who provide around-the-clock emergency support to refugees and were of great help to me and my research while I was on Lesvos, are Lighthouse Relief (, Lesvos Solidarity ( and the Kempson family (

South Korean “comfort women” still waiting for justice


Seoul, 26 September 2017

By Dr Olivera Simic

From 1930 to 1945, the Japanese military systematically set up ‘comfort stations’ as it conscripted women and girls as young as 13 from occupied and colonized countries, forcing them to serve as sexual slaves. The Japanese military called them “comfort women”, but their life was anything but comfort: it was a painful experience which had been silenced after the WWII.  The comfort stations were run, organised and supervised by the Japanese military. After defeat of Japan, many women victims of the systemic abuse were killed by the retreating Japanese army (or had died during the final air raid bombings). Some could not return back to their home countries. Only in the 1990s did women survivors start telling their stories, which were widely reported for the first time. Women started to step forward, tell their stories and demand acknowledgment and justice.

The Korean Council for Women Drafted in the Military Sexual Slavery based in Seoul is the non-governmental organisation that gathers women survivors and provides counselling services at the survivor’s home, organises human rights cams and offers medial service to survivors. It also runs a shelter called “Our Home” for lonely survivors, which is a shared living space for survivors to take music, arts, and horticultural classes.

Last night I had the priviledge to attend a special ceremony to honour one of the woman survivors, Kim Bok-dong who is 91 and who spent last 20 years fighting for justice for ‘comfort women’ (Picture below). Kim Bok-dong is well-known to South Koreans for her courage to speak up publically about her experience of sexual slavery. She received a special recognition by the Soul City Mayor for her commitment to justice and peace. The living witnesses of the history, victim-survivors of the sexual slavery, are advanced in age, ranging from 80s to 90s. Currently there are only 33 halmonies* still living out of 234 halmonis who are registered in the official record of the Korean government.

(*Halmoni : Refering elder woman in Korean, meaning ‘grandmother’. The Korean Council activists and citizens call the survivors ‘halmoni’ as a way of showing our respect and affection.)