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3 February gets busier with indigenous protest piled on.

By johnboy - 13 January 2009 31

We already know about the plans for a carbon-protesting human chain around Parliament House on the first sitting day of 3 February.

Now the SMH reports that indigenous protestors are planning to descend demanding the Government butt out of how they spend their welfare payments.

Apparently they’re trying to drag the ACT Human Rights commissioner into the debate.

Any word on who else is going to shake their tiny fists on Federation Mall for the opening?


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3 February gets busier with indigenous protest piled on.
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I-filed 7:33 pm 14 Jan 09

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy said :

And just how bad are things in these communities? Bloody terrible in some. .

Not just some – most of the remote Top End communities – particularly the ones away from the coast – were sheer hellholes before the intervention. Not liking that reality doesn’t make it go away. And I don’t believe that the level of violence is explained by economic disadvantage. I haven’t seen a cogent argument for that.

Apply it to everyone, I say. White trash wastes resources just as easily…

poptop 4:53 pm 14 Jan 09

Except applying it only to Aboriginals.

chrispy 2:05 pm 14 Jan 09

You know many countries have limits on the length of time you can receive welfare payments regardless of if you find work. 60 months in the US. also many countries stop welfare payments if the recipient is found to be taking drugs. so we’re not doing anything unusual in the global community.

sepi 10:30 am 14 Jan 09

Also the public servants who took up the offers to go and work on the intervention within the communities will come back to canberra with a more realistic idea of what may and may not work – perhaps leading to more realistic policies one day.

I really hope this does lead to better things.

But if the best thing we can say about the intervention is:

‘we’ve spent a bucketload to annoy and patronise black welfare recipients, but this might lead to more money and better ideas in future’

You can see why those who are under income management right now might be a bit annoyed.

If race wasn’t an issue, why was it necessary to suspect the Racial Discrimination Act? Why aren’t white people on income management?

I agree completely. In fact I know a number of whities who should be on income management.

I also think that the way this intervention has been handled is well less than perfect, but surely taking some form of action to drag the problems out and address them is better than dribbling funding into programs that don’t have successful outcomes. At the very least, the issue is now higher profile, which should shake loose some smarter ideas.

la mente torbida 10:18 am 14 Jan 09

I met a mature couple on holidays a few years back that left a huge impression on my views and attitudes to indigenous Australians.

Basically, before retiring, they had worked for over 30 years in remote communities and experienced the pointy end of many federal and state government initiatives.

They were disillusioned with both the government and the communities they worked in.

I asked the question of what needed to be done to resolve the issues….they didn’t know after all this time spent at the coal face. If they had no idea as to solutions, then certainly no politician or bureaucrat would either.

I still am no closer to an answer to the question but am appalled at the conditions that our remote communities live under…it’s just not good enough.

sepi 10:15 am 14 Jan 09

I heard a fascinating interview with a woman who was a specialist in Indigenous communities around the world. (US/Canadian indians, Eskimo inuit, Irish travellers etc). It is interesting that they all seem to have the same issues.

She said our ‘intervention’ is very old fashioned policy approach that has been shown not to work well time and time again around the world.

Her recommendation is to go into communities, find the community leaders (she said even the most disfunctional communities will still have some respected leaders, often the older women). Work with these community leaders to improve conditions and reduce triggers for bad behaviour.

Unfortunately this type of flexible, small scale approach with different treatment for different communities, is exactly what the public service is not good at. It also doesn’t lend itself to big media announcements.

No doubt the intervention will end eventually, and they will try some other stupid idea. People working in Indig areas get burned out, becuase every time something starts to look like it might achieve something, it is abolished and the wheel is reinvented with another stupid idea.

pepper 9:59 am 14 Jan 09

When we say “working with them” what exactly do we mean?

What exactly do we mean, indeed? There is mountainous evidence that Welfare Quarantining and Income Management, for instance, if chosen by the participant, works and brings benefits (many people with problems actually acknowledge they have problems). From what I understand there is a move to extend this into the non-Indigenous community, too.

However, there is also a lot of evidence-based research which shows that imposed, top-down Income Management on everyone, and most of the other elements of the Intervention, are set up to fail to have positive effects.

To me, the money which has been spent on sending bureacrats and the army to the north (as the AMA recently complained, many of which simply re-did studies which already had known answers) is money which could have been injected into facilities which have been openly underfunded for years, yet which have real, hard successes to show for what they have been able to implement – and these are part of the communities themselves, with people from the area involved.

That’s what I mean by “working with them”: utilising the people and facilities of the area, and giving them proper funding, which the Northern Territory government in particular has criminally witheld over decades. But then Canberra bureacrats wouldn’t have so much to do, would they?

We need to remember, too, that the Racial Discrimination Act has been suspended specifically for the government to do this. If it is so good, then let’s allow it to be tested by internationally recognised law, and not go around being slimy and suspending rights at whim.

And finally, for what it’s worth, it seems to me that there has been a convenient slippage about the reasons for the Intervention.It now seems that people justify it by bringing out the argument that all indigenous Australians are alcoholics (once again, look at Grog War by Alexis Wright for an indigenous look at fighting alcohol addiction), and not about the initial reason which was the trumped up claim that the men were all child molesters after the release of the Little Children are Sacred Report.

Woody Mann-Caruso 9:42 am 14 Jan 09

surely some action is better than no action

I’ll remember that next time I try to put out a fire with petrol. Action is warranted so long as the marginal benefits exceed the marginal costs. When the cost is greater than the benefit, perhaps further consideration is required. Or, as my Dad likes to say, maybe somebody should have taken their thumb out of their arse and their brain out of neutral before deciding a decades-old issue was suddenly an ’emergency’.

I think ‘racism’ simply confuses the issue…And there’s people of all colours who (drink on the dole)

If race wasn’t an issue, why was it necessary to suspect the Racial Discrimination Act? Why aren’t white people on income management? Once again, black fellas get to be a grand social experiment.

H1NG0 9:34 am 14 Jan 09

Sounds like a good day to keep clear of the Parliamentary Triange

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