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The Forum > Article Comments > Race baiters don't deserve the high ground on Indigenous policy > Comments

Race baiters don't deserve the high ground on Indigenous policy : Comments

By John Slater, published 20/4/2015

Any hope that Abbott's critics would offer a reasoned reply to the substance of his argument that remote living places serious constraints on remedying indigenous disadvantage were soon dashed.

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Don't send your teachers, doctors and social-workers to remote communities, but to be fair, don't send your policemen and other law enforcers there either, also don't limit this lifestyle to those of aboriginal descent.

No bribes - no chains!
Posted by Yuyutsu, Monday, 20 April 2015 8:24:48 AM
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My limited understanding of WA 'communities' is that the smallest 173 officially contain a population of 1300, or about seven per 'community'. A house. Maybe.

If you check out the tracks leading away from major 'communities' on Google Earth, and follow them for 50 km or so, you come to a 'community' of one or two houses - and if you look closely, you will notice that many of them are deserted: no cars, no activity whatsoever.

I'm told that solar-powered, but vacant, houses have their lights on all night, nobody is there to turn them off.

A bore, satellite phone-box, solar-power on the roof, a 50-km track, constantly maintained. For one or two vacant houses.

I lived for some years in an SA 'community' and went back there a couple of years ago, to check out what I thought was an outrageous claim. The claim was correct: only one family now lives there. A 300-acre plantation is all dead. A major project is overgrown. Millions of dollars down the drain.

One 'community' of twenty people was in the paper recently. Some of its services were about to be cut. It is five kilometres from a well-known town.

How often are small 'communities' completely vacant ? How many people have their choice of two or three houses, in two or three 'communities' ?

Each one-house 'community' would cost what ? A couple of million dollars ? No worries: easy come, easy go.

Yes, there are huge problems out there - violence, abuse, addiction, lifelong unemployment - but two questions:

* what are the people themselves doing about it ?

and

* what are the 'leaders' doing about it, apart from their preoccupation with constitutional change and committees and conferences and ever-more positions ?

Once bitten, twice shy :)

Joe
Posted by Loudmouth, Monday, 20 April 2015 9:06:29 AM
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My solution is an internet list of all public servants wages and benefits. When the average punter saw how much money is wasted on lousy, useless "Executives" there would be something done.
That list would also include all politicians of course. On the net and updated monthly.
Posted by JBowyer, Monday, 20 April 2015 9:40:19 AM
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Excellent article, John, that should be widely read by all those people who profess sympathy and support for Aboriginal people and the need to close the gap but who almost universally oppose any initiative that actually has a chance of closing the gap.
Posted by Bernie Masters, Monday, 20 April 2015 10:06:17 AM
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If aboriginals want to go back to communities to live their traditional life, rather than just a tree change, lifestyle thing, surely they would not need any support.

Either they live by tradition, including bark humpies, & hunting, or it is a holiday camp, they soon tire of.
Posted by Hasbeen, Monday, 20 April 2015 10:57:48 AM
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For many years some communities have been creating out stations, because they could, due to government support.

And as long as we pay sit down money to folks to sit down, that's what they'll do?

However, if that sit down money was connected to certain obligations, like say having the kids attend school, or an earn or learn concept, then most of those out stations, created in many cases to remove children and others from alleged harm, (drugs, alcohol and or "abuse") just wouldn't be sustainable!

Truancy is massive in some communities!

With this or that community trapped in a generation poverty cycle as the first visible consequence.

Secondly, we must get away from an absolutist black or white way, and just refocus on the right way.

And that right way shouldn't include funding addictive habits of any kind, but particularly when their are less addictive choices of native narcotics to chose from!

Albeit, seasonal, and therefore not habit forming or available 24/7 like packaged tobacco and alcohol?

Nor can I understand why a metal frame 4 B 2 B'th house, which may cost as little to build as $150,000.00 in town or country, costs at lest three times as much inside an aboriginal community?

Perhaps if we simply bypassed the controlling councils and the nepotistic elders, we might be able to build three times as many houses for the same basket of PUBLIC money.

I'm afraid I simply have to agree with the PM's statement, as being calling a spade a spade!

And that this is the 21st century and Australia's no place for (self imposed or reverse) apartheid; or too precious sensitivity looking for a reason to feel offended!?

That said, nobody who wants to exit a community is prevented from following the harvests/shearing etc and a nomadic lifestyle; except perhaps, an extremely diverse curriculum and problematic people, for whatever reason, seeing education as a personal fiefdom rather than the universal service provision and the basic right it should be! Ditto basic affordable health care!
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Monday, 20 April 2015 11:40:17 AM
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