AQ: Australian Quarterly

A WORD

- Grant Mills Editor-at-large

Despite it being an arbitrary point on the long arrow of time, there is still a certain relief in turning the page on 2020. The cynical among us no doubt foresee even larger upheavals in store within the next decade, but for a moment I hope we can enjoy the passing of what has been one of the most unpredicta­ble, distressin­g, destructiv­e, and remarkable periods of modern history. Protest has been forefront in 2020: George Floyd and BLM; anti-lockdowner­s and Qanon believers. This edition has a strong flavour of protest – looking both at the past and the potential future of resistance.

We kick it off with a compelling pair of companion pieces looking at the history of protest in Australia as well as what the blurring of the lines between the police and military mean for society – and those who choose to rebel against the status quo.

In a similar vein, we look at the state of human rights law across Australia, another issue with a strong legacy of protest. But what has all the lobbying, legal work and public pressure amounted to? Australia remains one of only three countries in the world without a national Charter of Human Rights…

The most dramatic and sudden impact of COVID-19 was the carnage it caused to employment – swiftly opening up the many cracks in the system that had been spidering through our economy for decades. So we look to explore some of the major trends shaping the future of work, not only in Australia, but around the world.

And in a year in which science has been thrust into the spotlight, we’re proud to announce some of the future leaders in science and communicat­ion across Australia – the winners of the 2020 Young Tall Poppy Awards.

Remember that the status quo always appears to be immutable – until suddenly it isn’t, whether that’s due to a pandemic or a huge groundswel­l of opposition. And while many of Australia’s leaps forward have been due to sustained protest, COVID has also provided an important break to business-as-usual, through which a different future might yet be glimpsed.

Stay strong Australia and hold tight to the changes you would wish for.

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