7 March 2024

What makes a happy family? It may all be relative, but still deserves an inquiry

| Sally Hopman
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1950s family at swimming pool. Photo: National Archives

How to raise your children. Back in the 1950s they seemed to manage it okay, after all, those children are today’s parents and grandparents. Photo: National Archives of Australia.

Some interesting chatter on the radio this week about Inquiries – so interesting it’s worthy of upper case attention (but we don’t want you to read too much into it, so it’s just the once).

The broadcaster was asking his listeners about the number of inquiries we have in Canberra, their worthiness, their relevance – and whether we were the only place in the country that had inquiries into inquiries. We probably are but have yet to have an inquiry into it.

But the main point of interest was a plan by the ACT Government for an inquiry into raising children. Some may think it’s a little late for this sort of thing when the people proposing it were once children themselves and now many of whom already have had them. Children, that it is. But it’s all relative.

The inquiry will look at challenges facing ACT residents who want to have kids, looking at everything from the accessibility of fertility treatments to adoption, cost of living to environmental concerns and the availability of specialists.

READ ALSO If a tree is ripped out in the suburbs should anyone care? Yes, the urban forest is everybody’s business

All very worthy stuff, especially when you consider that the ACT has the lowest fertility rate in the country. It’s also the perfect place to embark on such an inquiry – people don’t scratch their bits in this town without consulting someone. Anyone. Doesn’t matter if the issue doesn’t actually affect them, what matters is ticks in boxes. And something called KPIs. (Translation: Keep Pushing It.)

But why stop there? Seriously, there are so many more things, almost as important, we need to raise. What about an inquiry into raising pets? Most of us have already propelled (rather than raised) our animals to the greatest of heights, even the great danes, but are we doing it right?

Why is it then that so many animals – domestic ones because ideally they’re house-trained and should be allowed to sleep inside on something comfy – are still ending up at the pound? Why did so many raise their animals during COVID only to no longer have time for them when real life started up again. They’re nothing short of mongrels. (The humans, rarely the dogs).

READ ALSO Dog-gone-it! After 328 days in the pound, Rocky’s riding high – on his new owner’s bed

Raising rates? Tick. Raising hell? Tick. Raising Cain? Only if you’re able. Raising flour? Only if it’s for your self.

On the other hand, if we’re going to have an inquiry, Canberra is the place for it. Things happen here. People seem to quite like each other – except when they’re driving, in the rain, on a roundabout, on Mondays – or Tuesdays, Wednesdays ….

Just don’t carp on about trees, (your) verge (it’s not actually yours so get the truck off it), self-government, Yass water (if you like refreshments when you go for a drive out of town) or Marion v Walter. They’re all just about to be the subject of Inquiries.

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Can we have an enquiry into why governments are so utterly useless. The findings should then be implemented so we can achieve sustainable outcomes. Honestly what garbage.

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