Friday, May 27, 2016

The remote community problem

Just to further confound matters regarding the sad state of aboriginal affairs (particularly regarding Aurukun, which seems to have been on a long term descent into increasing dysfunction, despite much government attention), I was just listening to Warren Entsch - the straight talking Liberal with outback "cred" -  putting a lot of the blame on the education system that Noel Pearson has been championing.

Here I thought Pearson was a bit of a hero to the right side of politics, and his idea that kids finish their education at boarding schools sounds intuitively a good idea to us white folk down south.

Yet Entsch says that the kids don't have the educational and social skills to cope with the boarding school when they arrive, frequently run away and end up back in Aurukun in a more hopeless position than before.

Here's a summary of his take on the matter, from yesterday's news.

Pearson seems to be blaming other things, although I'm not sure what he expects.   Teachers up there to live in isolated camps with barbed wire around them?

But then I see today that his idea is to get many, many more kids out of Aurukun into work experience elsewhere, presumably with the (not so clearly stated) intention that they don't go back there to live:
The high-profile indigenous leader confirmed last night that in-community schooling was halted at Year 7 two years ago after his Cape York Academy was brought in to pilot welfare reform.
But Mr Pearson said there should be no going back to offering high school to Year 10, as was formerly the case in Aurukun, as this had been “extended child-minding” that had no value to stud­ents who didn’t want to be in class.
Instead, a scheme that has put eight Aurukun young people to work fruit-picking and in a South Australian abattoir should be widened to cover the “shadow group” of youths at the centre of a security scare that forced the evacuation of local primary school teachers for the second time in a month and the school to close.
“We just need to scale it up by 10,” Mr Pearson told The Australian. “Instead of eight, we need 80. And after six months of fruit-picking or on a harvest trail or in an abattoir … you will then have the basis for entry-level labourers to go on to work in a mine or in a fulltime job.
“Our problem and challenge is we have to scale up the number of youth who are taken out of an ­environment that is pretty toxic to them.”
Well, I guess this makes sense:  really,hasn't it always seemed logical that remote aboriginal communities that do not have any connection to economic activity are always likely to be full of social problems.   Put a bunch of unemployed white people in the same situation, and you wouldn't expect much different.

And even when there is just one economic activity near a remote community, such as one mine, or luxury resort, I get the impression that only a handful of the locals usually have the skill set and discipline to get a good living out of working for it. 

But Pearson's suggestion is a hell of an expensive way to try to encourage people away from living in such places.  And if they get the work experience, but end up back at Aurukun to be near kin, and just go back on welfare because there is no economic activity there, it would have been for nothing...

1 comment:

John said...

The concept of remote communities is ludicrous. Of course people living in such isolated circumstances without access to socialisation opportunities, employment, and services, are going to experience a range of problems. I have always had deep misgivings about raising children in such environments.

Unfortunately many activists perceive any attempt to dismantle aboriginal communities as another example of assimilation. I don't even know why they have a problem with assimilation, it happens to nearly everyone living in cities and is not an intrinsically bad thing.

I'm tired of aboriginal tragedy and I'm tired of the way the issue is approached. Some common sense about the realities of being human might help ... .