Robert Tickner has written an article for the SMH today. He decries Aboriginal malnourishment as a national disgrace. One of the proposed solutions is a return to traditional horticultural practices, whatever that is (and why does it cost $300,000 to get people to return to doing something that they've supposedly done for generations?)
I have a few hippy friends from my uni days - most have gone the ex-hippy way, and are now staunch conservatives. I guess they are neo-cons, since they are hippies who have had their eyes opened to the world.
I was having a beer with one of these neo-cons a few years ago, and he told me the story of one of his hippy friends, and their desire to do good in a remote aboriginal community.
This hippy identified malnourishment at least 15 years before the current government discovered that it is a problem, and he decided the solution was to grow vegetables locally. So he packed up his car with seeds and tools and things, and headed north.
He settled in a community, and set about clearing and planting and weeding and watering a plot with all the usual vegetables that you or I could grow in their backyard (and I've tried growing most of these) - carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, tomato, capsicum. beans and peas.
His plot was coming along nicely, until some locals, who got trashed most nights, decided to have a party in his garden. They destroyed it, ripping up the plants and wrecking the simple irrigation system that he'd built.
So he started again, but he put a fence up this time. And then a drunk took umbrage at that, and drove a Landcruiser through the fence and drove around and around the plot until it was destroyed.
He tried a third time, and after that effort was also wrecked, he gave up - broken hearted, and returned to Perth a changed man. Nine months of effort, sweat and his money had all been ruined by people that were intent not only on destroying themselves, but destroying everything around them, and taking their neighbours and families with them.
1735099 left a comment at kev gillett regarding the miserable conditions on Palm Island, and the high turnover and burnout rate for teachers, police and nurses.
I don't know what the solution is, but there is not a bottomless pit of people and money that can be thrown at this problem. Eventually, people are going to say, "Bugger this, I'm not going there - they can sort their own mess out". Whenever I hear calls for more money or more programs to do this, that or someone else, I think, "how will money fix broken social values, and who will they actually find to go up there and run the program?" The media loves to report on how funds are unspent, but that to me simply displays a clear lack of understanding as to how government agencies function. They don't just put cheques in envelopes and mail them out. Someone, such as a project manager, has to get in a car or plane and go out there and do all the administrative and management stuff necessary to get a program up and running. If people don't want to go, the money can't be spent.
I will blog more on this later - gotta go to work. I've got a bucket of money that needs spending on a project, and it won't get spent by me sitting here blogging.