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The sorry state of Indigenous afairs in Australia

 
 
dadpad
 
Reply Sun 27 Mar, 2011 08:51 pm
Teens roam Territory streets looking for sex, alcohol and trouble as quick-fix policies fail
Lindsay Murdoch
March 28, 2011
Excerpt.
Quote:
almost four years after the Northern Territory's Little Children Are Sacred report warned that ''rivers of grog'' were devastating Aboriginal communities, leaving children vulnerable and alcohol and drug abuse rampant in Territory towns such as Tennant Creek and Katherine, drinkers still queue in long lines when take-away alcohol outlets open.

In Katherine, 250 kilometres south of Darwin, mayor Anne Shepherd says that between 300 and 500 Aborigines are sleeping rough in the town, and that most of them from remote communities where alcohol is banned.
But Ms Shepherd rejects a call by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for more police to enforce laws in the NT's troubled towns.

''What are we going to do … line them up against the wall?'' she says.

''It's a social issue and more needs to be done to address the fundamental basic problems that these people have, rather than policing.''

http://www.theage.com.au/national/teens-roam-territory-streets-looking-for-sex-alcohol-and-trouble-as-quickfix-policies-fail-20110327-1cbxa.html

It is my perception that there are/have been similar problems with indigenouse communities in Canada and the US.
Is that a correct perception?
Are these types of problems still prevelant in The US and Canada?
How are/have they been addressed?
 
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Mar, 2011 09:14 pm
We in Canada do have big problems with alcohol/drug abuse, homelessness and crime, gangs, child neglect and sexual abuse amongst the native communities and cities with high native populations. We have a reserve system too. We have dry communities. We had racist policies and residential schools that are the stem of the problem.
Things are getting better, there are schools specifically for native students that teach the languages and spiritualism of their forefathers. There are many scholarship programs and social programs, housing set up just for the aboriginal and metis people. Things are getting better but high unemployment and the scars of the past haunt us all. There are now many members of government, senators, professors, doctors and lawyers of aboriginal descent. It will take a few generation before these problems are eradicated.
My city has one of the highest population of Indian people. I see improvement but it's going to be a long, long road before there is true equality.
In areas where residential school didn't exist conditions and lifestyles are much more balanced. We have a lot hope for the future. They are an important part of our society.
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Mar, 2011 07:01 am
@Ceili,
Ceili wrote:

There are now many members of government, senators, professors, doctors and lawyers of aboriginal descent. It will take a few generation before these problems are eradicated.



I wouldn't say there are 'many', Ceili, but there are some. UBC houses a department strictly for Native people - I have no idea what the curriculum is, but it's been around for about 20 years.

There's a native community in the North where apparently everyone, from the Chief on down to toddlers, have FAS - very sad. Kids sniff all kinds of strange things, even two year olds. I know people who've worked there.

And where was I recently? Might have been Quebec... where teenaged white girls are bullied and beaten up by the native girls there on a regular basis. Was it Quebec? I can't remember at the moment but I was quite surprised to hear that. Apparently that's quite a common occurrence, too.

From what I've seen and heard, I would say the great majority of our native peoples are still quite displaced in our society. The situation is improving, but not quickly or comprehensively enough. And throwing money at them doesn't help them integrate or become educated or erase the stigma and treatments they've been subjected to. We still have a very long way to go.
0 Replies
 
dadpad
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Mar, 2011 07:22 pm
Alarm sounds at dysfunction in the desert
Russell Skelton
March 31, 2011
Bad management keeps remote communities in desperate poverty.
WORKING for a huge shire in the Northern Territory can involve unpleasant surprises. Take the case of Barbara Brennan, a highly regarded administrator who has devoted the past three years of her life to the people of Papunya - a remote impoverished community in the Central Desert.
Decisions trouble insiders
one (decision) to hire a call centre in the south Indian city of Chennai to monitor shire services including garbage and rate collection and the supply of power and water. The annual cost of the call centre is $75,000

The decision to create jobs in India rather than in the dirt-poor Central Desert where they are desperately needed has embarrassed and infuriated policymakers in Darwin and Canberra.

As if to further ignore its role as the major provider of employment, the council has also recruited five generously paid New Zealanders to fill the depleted staff ranks. The cost of bringing them to Alice Springs is understood to be $35,000.

It seems the shire has blithely ignored the government's policy to close the gap between mainstream and indigenous Australia by providing meaningful work in welfare-dependent communities.

full article here
http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/alarm-sounds-at-dysfunction-in-the-desert-20110330-1cg7z.html
0 Replies
 
hingehead
 
  2  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2014 08:58 pm
I'm glad Mame mentioned FAS. It's a problem in our remote indigenous communities as well, with a recent story outlining the plight of people with FAS being jailed indefinitely without sentence because their remote communities don't have more suitable facilities for them. I can't imagine this happening to an Australian of European descent.

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s3962171.htm

Quote:
Like at least 30 other Indigenous Australians Rosie Anne Fulton has been languishing in prison without being convicted of a crime because she has been declared unfit to plead.


Not sure if the video will work overseas but the transcript is included.
0 Replies
 
Builder
 
  2  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2014 09:07 pm
Not sure how many "remote" indigenous communities there are, but it is probably around the two hundred mark. While there are certainly many problems in many of these communities, it is quite literally impossible to address all of them in general terms.

I have worked on about two dozen communities, in East Arnhemland, as well as in the west Kimberley region. I've briefly visited three communities in the Tanami region, but only to assess the potential "market" for delivering adult education to them.

I was based in Katherine, NT for several years, and worked on Kalano community, which is directly adjacent the main township, on the opposite bank of the river.

The "Sorry State" of indigenous affairs, for mine, is the fact that they all get tarred with the same brush, and believe me; they resent this deeply.
hingehead
 
  2  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2014 11:18 pm
@Builder,
Mrs Hinge spent 5 years in Nhulunbuy/Yirrkala and for a decade with the remote communities of FNQ - so most of my thoughts come coloured with her experiences .

Absolutely agree that they are wildly different. And sometimes within a 'physical community' there is a kind of class separation. The long grass mob, the yella fellas, and the children of 'wrong' matches are looked down on by the 'pure' Yolgnu. But it's different everywhere.

Aurukuun community has a really bad rep, but other communities like Lockhardt River and Hopevale don't - not that any are totally stuffed or totally brilliant. But there are people and places that don't want Aurukun people (boarding schools, rural employment programmes for example) because they've had a number of bad experiences with people from their that they haven't had working with people from the other communities. Have no idea why, but we aren't talking isolated incidents.

The other thing that strikes you in FNQ is the differences between Torres Strait Islander communities and mainland indigenous communities. Just odd how differently they were affected by and came to grips with the traumas of white colonisation.
Builder
 
  2  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2014 12:24 am
@hingehead,
It's my opinion that, particularly amongst indigenous men, having a life purpose is central to having self-esteem, and being a role model for the younger people.

Again, in trying not to generalise, the Islanders I've had contact with were involved in QLD Rail, having gravitated to these positions from the canefields. Even in Katherine, the TI's I knew there were involved in mechanical work, and truck driving.

Apart from one community on Victoria River Downs, where indigenous stockmen still work the cattle, there wouldn't be many aboriginals who could again turn their hand to stock work. That would leave one of their former popular job choices, of seasonal fruit and vegetable work.

I've spoken with growers who showed me photos of the camps they'd set up for their pickers, and they lament the day that welfare, or sit-down money, became a reality. I've also visited the tin mine at Maranboy, where the indigenous workers went on strike for a fair day's pay. They won that battle. It's a myth that indigenous people won't work. They have a history to prove otherwise.

The nearby community of Barunga (formerly Bamyili) was the women's camp for that mine site, and the other nearby community of Manyallaluk, was the stockmen's camp at the head of the two escarpments that form a huge holding yard for the cattle. It's quite ironic to me that tourist buses head to Manyallaluk several times a week to visit this "dreaming" place, and to watch the dancers perform their tribal custom dance. I've trained several of the younger folk from that community, and they know it's not a "dreaming" place, nor of any cultural significance to the many people who took on stockman's jobs there. But it does turn a profit.

Barunga is likewise of no historical importance, but it has a reliable water supply, and a great abundance of bush tucker. An annual festival was held there, lasting a week, and I believe PM's Hawke, Keating, and Howard attended over the years. Having worked at this community, in a teaching role, I found that the "royalty" in the community are from as far away as Borrolloola, and Gnukkur.

Likewise with the community just kilometres away, Beswick was a kind of "sinners" hideout, for people to go to if they'd broken tribal law back at their own community. There is a palpable air of despair there, even amongst the usually jovial children. Coming from various skin groups, many of these people aren't even permitted to look at eachother, let alone talk.

My point is, there is no actual spiritual connection to these places, and apart from the obvious toursism roles, very little chance of rising above a perceived poverty line. Should someone actually choose to rise above, even by getting a govt position, they often get humbugged for money, or rides in their govt vehicle. It's sad to watch. No tall poppies.

These three communities are all within an hour of Katherine, so alcohol and ghanja are evident, as is the ever-present petrol sniffing.

While I have no formal psychology training, my "take" on the situation with substance abuse, is a deep despair, not just at their predicament, but at the perception generally in that other world, that they are all paedophiles and no-hopers.

Exposure to the three W's, and the associated sick porno that it brings with it, is also claimed to be a major contributor.

But like you said, there is a certain classism within some of these communities, and maybe, given time, and opportunity, more role models will appear in the media they are exposed to. Here's hoping it helps.

hingehead
 
  2  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2014 02:40 am
@Builder,
I despair because kids grow up in an environment when precious few of the adults have (or have ever had) a job, substance abuse is rife (NT tried substituting kava, for other illicit drugs - but it turned out just as bad) as is child abuse. It's hard to see how kids can ever acquire the skills, confidence and optimism to strive for anything better.

On the plus side there are some fantastic employment programs training young indigenous men in stock handling in FNQ. The visible change in these guys outlook amazes Mrs Hinge - the joy in 'showing off' their skills brings joy to her after the sad, sullen, and beaten demeanours she sees in some communities.

The TI communities are visibly different to the aboriginal communities. There's obvious care, the kids clothes are clean - something not so obvious in many remote indigenous communities. Theories abound from the missionary influence to longer exposure to westerners to 'culture'. I'm too ignorant to even back a theory.
0 Replies
 
Builder
 
  2  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2014 04:02 pm
There are more than quite a few success stories out there. It's just such a travesty that our politicians and crappy news services prefer to focus upon the worst of the worst.

Towns like Tom Price, where I would struggle to work in the heat, indigenous employment levels are on par with non-indigenous, and it's across the board; not just in the mining sector. That points to an acceptance amongst employers, which I think is what is missing in many regions.

Whether that stems from personal attitudes of employers, or a belief in the govt porkbarrelling over the intervention fiasco, tarring all indigenes as child-molesting substance abusers, I really can't say.

But, just like in mainstream "culture", there will always be people who, by choice, are unemployable. And this whole "my country" thing, really needs to be capitalised upon. If you're that enamoured of your birthplace, you'll find a market in the tourism industry, because visiting tourists sure are interested to know why you're enamoured of the place.

If it's just somewhere to hang, in the knowledge that you won't have to look for work, then just like those non-indigenes who hang on welfare, you'll be expected to take any job that's offered, including fruit picking.

0 Replies
 
hingehead
 
  3  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2014 05:26 pm
Mrs Hinge tells a great story of softly berating some miners in the Arnhem Club in Nhulunbhy because they were having a gentle go at her for working for ATSIC - effectively saying the the local indigenous were a waste of space (basing it on the behaviours of the local long grass mob) - she pointed out that if you dropped a Yolgnu into Hyde Park at midnight amidst the sleeping drunks he would be just as entitled to think all whites were homeless, jobless no-hopers who slept in their own vomit.

One of the men she has most respected in her life was Gatjil Djerrkura
Builder
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2014 07:58 pm
@hingehead,
I've been to the Arnhem club in Gove/Nhulunbuy a few times myself. I'll note that I was there on a sporting trip, and billeted to stay with a local family. I inquired about needing a key, because I wasn't sure what time I'd be returning, and I was told that nobody bothers to lock up at all. Very nice, and very tidy town, I must say.

On the issue of ATSIC, there were some quite serious corruption issues, particularly come election time, but I'm also quick to point out that our elections are all about buying votes, and lying effectively, aren't they?

Likewise with local councils, in their dealings with (for example) land developers. Coming from an education background in most of my dealings with indigenous people, I can attest that they learn best by imitation. Says a lot for the westminster system, in my book.



0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2014 08:03 pm
@hingehead,
long grass mob = the drinkers?
hingehead
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2014 02:08 am
@dlowan,
Indigent drinkers/substance abusers. Actually a broad spectrum of issues from being outcasts, to mental illness, to addicts. I never like hearing stories of indigenous women offering their bodies to a miner for a six pack - but me not liking hearing it doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
Builder
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2014 04:18 am
@hingehead,
Lots of whitefellas in there with the long grassers as well. It doesn't rain for seven or eight months of the year in the north.
Builder
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Apr, 2014 12:35 am
@Builder,
I guess what I'm trying to say is; there's a sorry state of affairs generally in (not just) Australia, but in all of the western nations.

We idolise the greedy and corrupt, while victimising the poor and bereft.

We point out the foibles of the few, while obfuscating the machinations of the many.

It doesn't take a degree in rocket science to be aware of our hypocrisy, and I'm sure there's many of our indigenous bretheren who are seething inside at what we are saying about them and theirs, while ignoring the frailties of our own existence.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Apr, 2014 01:41 am
@Builder,
Quote:
We idolise the greedy and corrupt, while victimising the poor and bereft.


Hear hear . . .
0 Replies
 
hingehead
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Apr, 2014 02:35 am
@Builder,
No argument from me builder.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Apr, 2014 03:55 am
@Builder,
Sigh.
0 Replies
 
Builder
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Apr, 2014 03:59 am
@hingehead,
I'm not looking for arguments, Hingehead.

Poking fun at people is a recognised trait. We all do it.

Grandstanding it, and politicising it, and making it into a classist issue, while feeling the tremulous nature of the stance upon which we are casting aspersions on others, is what I'm looking at.
0 Replies
 
 

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