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The Forum > Article Comments > Urban outcasts > Comments

Urban outcasts : Comments

By Stephen Hagan, published 8/5/2007

The Australian Government would not be brave enough to tell non-Indigenous people what they can or can not drink.

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Mr Hagan is anguished because Peter Beatty has introduced Alcohol Management Plans (AMPs) into some Indigenous communities. He claims these Plans demonstrate 'discriminatory policies which have caused, and will continue to cause, anguish for members of Indigenous communities.' He correctly claims that the Qld Government is itself partly responsible for the development of the social problems which the AMPs are aimed at addressing. However he departs from reality when he claims 'they canít think of alternative strategies to address social problems they helped create.'

Governments have been trying alternative strategies for many years, to no avail. Part of their culpability lies with their failure to admit earlier that there is clear evidence that their alternative strategies were not working. The problems of violence and alcohol related diseases have continued to escalate despite all the alternative strategies - de-colonisation, self-management, welfare support, education, CDEP, have been implemented to degrees, but have almost always failed to turn around the plummet of most remote communities into alcoholic oblivion. The reason for this is fairly straightforward, but difficult for us to grasp because we have been in denial about alcohol, and this prevents our brains from functioning properly: we think that alcohol addictions can be overcome without admitting that the addiction is the key part of the problem. It is as though we allow people to superglue themselves to the floor and then expect them to get up and go to work/school/counselling without first having to undo the glueing. At last Beatty, for all his sins, has clicked that the actual glue has to be dealt with before the oppressed victims are able to pick themselves up off the floor and take advantage of all the alternative strategies.
This might cause anguish to people such as Hagan, caught up in their one dimensional models of equality and discrimination, but it actually causes joy and relief to many people who have lived with their own or their fellow community members' addictions and abberrant behaviour for too many years.
You may not like it, but it's a fact.
Dan
Posted by Dan Fitzpatrick, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 10:26:34 AM
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Don't worry Hages, it's coming. Haven't you heard the wowsers sniffing out a new target? Smoking was it but next is drinking.

If you enjoy a drink, do it while you still can mate.

You really don't get it with indigenous people do you Hages? They don't want alcohol on their communities. Have you ever been to one? Have you any idea what it does to a community where there is no work and nothing to do, except drink and play cards? Men drink, women play cards.

If you had actually researched this issue you should know that these communities eject any drinker where and when they can. Look at Alice Springs. The people in the river bed and in the town camps are those evicted from both communities and white society. Neither lot enjoys drunks. Do you? I was one but gave up out of necessity otherwise I'd still be visiting the wards of depression they call pubs and clubs in this country.
Posted by pegasus, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 10:54:33 AM
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The aboriginal population is constantly crying out that it be helped out of the mess it has sunk into from the abuse of alcohol, illicit drugs and petrol/glue sniffing. Yet as soon as someone comes up with a potential solution, it is decried as an outrage. I am far from suggesting that the proposed approaches are ideal, but they represent a wider communities attempts to extend help and assistance, and to limit access to substances that are a root cause of inability and despair. Ideally these should only be targeted at those communities that recognise that they have a problem - ie you cant help those that dont want to be helped.

As far as public housing goes, why the hell cant aboriginal people line up for public housing along with everyone else that qualifies?! Its this sort of reverse discrimination that I find appalling. I have no problem with providing public housing to those that need it, but dont want it to go to any particular group in preference to others.

The same goes for dole payments. Work for the dole is a limited program which once the initial skill-training is complete, does not serve to help people (of any kind) get jobs. There is no reason why aboriginal welfare receipients cant seek out jobs like anyone else. If they need extra training, then fine. Exactly like anyone else.

I just dont get the whole preferential treatment thing!
Posted by Country Gal, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 11:20:23 AM
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QUOTE: Alice Springs should have rules of conduct for visitors and those offending against them should be forcibly moved back to their communities.
This was claimed by MLA for MacDonnell Alison Anderson (ALP), a prominent Indigenous leader, at a meeting of of 70 "community leaders" last Friday.

Read the entire April 26, 2007 Alice Springs News article http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/1412.html

Indeed the whole issue seems about related problems
Posted by polpak, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 11:50:04 AM
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Drinking is no more a "basic human right" than shooting up heroin. Its all very well to get up in arms about proposals like this, but can Hagan suggest some other course of action will which a) not be discriminatory or paternalistic, and b) will actually have some effect on the extreme rates of alcohol abuse (and therefore all the attendant social issues such as domestic violence which accompany alcohol abuse) in indigenous communities?

Australia's entire contact history is littered with cautionary tales of "well-meaning" interventions (and in some cases non-interventions due to not wanting to be seen as racist or discriminatory) that have at best been fruitless and at worst made the situation for Indigenous Australians even worse.

The disadvantages faced by Aborigianl people in Asutralia should be a cause of shame - why do we have a subsection of our population living in third-world conditions, with life expectancies 20 years less than the rest of the nation, high infant mortality, rampant drug and alcohol abuse etc? I don't claim to have any answers to this, it is a situation which does not inspire any optimism for a successful resolution. Mud-slinging and the blame-game is not going to be the answer, but i don't know what will be.
Posted by 1340, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 1:20:58 PM
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Alcohol should not be outlawed.

All Aboriginal women and children who wish to escape violent poverty stricken communities should be given the resources to do so.

This means finding and/or building secure housing for them in urban areas and assisting them in their move.
Posted by strayan, Tuesday, 8 May 2007 7:36:07 PM
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