tip off

Macklin’s twists truth on income management

We are the co-authors of a study published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, which shows that the federal government’s income management policy is not making an impact on tobacco and health food sales in remote community shops in the NT. Smoking and poor diet are responsible for much of the health gap between indigenous and other Australians.

We are concerned that indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin has responded to our study by highlighting the results of the government’s evaluation. She has told journalists that the government intends to press ahead with plans to roll out income management more broadly, and has appeared to dismiss our findings.

The evaluation cited by the minister was based on interviews with 76 income management clients in four communities, telephone interviews with 66 store operators as well as interviews with business managers and other stakeholders across several locations.

This is poor use of qualitative research to answer a question that essentially requires quantitative data: are people buying more healthy food as a result of income management?

Our study provides that quantitative data. It used sales data to measure how much was being spent each month across 10 stores in the Northern Territory, 18 months before and 18 months after income management was introduced. In contrast, the government’s evaluation report of income management and spending relied entirely on people’s perceptions in a large number of interviews.

We confirm store managers’ claims that there was no change in people’s spending on tobacco.

However, in contrast to the government report, we found that spending on food and drinks and fruit and vegetables did not change with income management. Soft drinks sales increased.

The one time during income management that spending went up for all store commodities was when people actually had more money: at the time of the government stimulus payment.

Telling people of low income how they can use 50% of their income may make no difference to their spending, but giving a lump of cash does.

100517_health2

(Source: Medical Journal of Australia — click to enlarge)

The government’s evaluation report claims that “the main benefit identified [of income management] was the increase in the amount of money spent on food for community members, especially children”.  This is now questioned by our evidence.

Even its minor claims of improved food choices, more fresh and more healthy food being purchased, are linked to the new licensing of stores in these communities — not income management.

Continued income management in remote NT Aboriginal communities and its extension to all welfare recipients does not seem to fit with the government’s credo of evidence-based policy.

Whilst the government’s defence of income management with only very shaky evidence has been controversial, gaining little support from public health experts, it has received applause for its work on prevention, and smoking in particular.

It has allocated $100 million to indigenous tobacco control, using the limited local indigenous research but extensive international evidence from other contexts.  Its recent decisions to increase the tax on cigarettes and to restrict tobacco companies’ advertising using cigarette packets are also likely to reduce indigenous smoking.

But attempts to tackle indigenous people’s poor diet have not been as coherent and are off to a shaky start.  There is no funding for either the COAG food security initiative or the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition Strategy and Action Plan.  The government is yet to respond to the 33 recommendations of the Senate inquiry into remote community stores.

But store licensing, which is setting minimal standards in remote stores in the NT, and the funding of 100 new indigenous healthy lifestyle workers are welcome and positive steps.

Less welcome is the reluctance to consider food subsidies. Yes, they are expensive and difficult to monitor, but there is increasing international evidence that modifying price and monetary benefits, such as food stamps, help to improve the diet of economically disadvantaged groups.

As Amanda Lee and colleagues have stated, we need rigorous testing of economic solutions to increase access to healthy food in remote communities.

Skirting the real issue of affordability and poverty, while defending and extending income management policies, may delay improvements in indigenous people’s poor diet and the government’s pledge to  “close the gap”.

*Dr Julie Brimblecombe and Associate Professor David Thomas are from the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin

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  • 1
    Jon Hunt
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I become almost furious when the Government deliberately tries to mislead the public regarding the “success” of its programs which purport to help Aboriginal people. Intuitively, even without the evidence shown here, income protection and other paternalistic programs can not work for the simple reason that such things are the cause of many of their problems in the first place. This is further evidence that nothing has changed since the 1700’s, and further evidence that nothing will change. The Government’s catchphrase “Closing the gap” is, putting it bluntly, a lie when it has no intention of doing so.

  • 2
    Jon Altman
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    I have carefully read the Brimblecombe et al. piece in MJA ‘Impact of income management on store sales in the Northern Territory’ and find it the most comprehensive and scholarly quantitative research available to date on the food and tobacco expenditure impacts of income quarantining before and after the Intervention. As Brimblecombe and Thomas point out in Crikey today it is quite inappropriate to compare this research undertaken by academic experts at arms-length from government from research undertaken by federal bureaucrats or their paid consultants; and to compare rigorous quantitative research that addresses a specific question of sales before and after income quarantining with qualitative research that asks general questions about expenditures on broad categories of goods in government-licenced stores post Intervention only. The Australian government is clearly embarrassed by these research findings for three reasons. First, $82.8 million have just been committed in the 2010/11 Budget to create a new scheme for income management, an investment in a process to regulate the behaviour of welfare recipients in the NT. All up $410.5 million will be committed in six years to what might prove an entirely unproductive expenditure. Second, legislation is about to be tabled in the federal parliament predicated on an assumption that income management is good for Indigenous (and other) subjects in the NT, something this research seriously questions. Third, the Rudd government has remained firmly wedded to this intervention measure since its election in November 2007; saying sorry for others ‘historical’ errors is clearly politically easier than saying sorry for your own ‘path dependent’ acquiescence and possible mistakes.

  • 3
    Graeme Lewis
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Ten Stores out of 100 or more - is that a conclusive quantitative study. Which stores and where????

    How about taking in clothing for kids, health products and household items as well. These are just as important as food in the “quality of life” debate.

    One wonders whether these people, including Altman spend much if any time observing the actual issues that are clearly being addressed in these communities, and the income management programme is a vital part of the formula.

    Of course there would be little change in tobacco purchases - the price goes up all the time, so consumption may be falling. Who knows??

  • 4
    Chris Twomey
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    An excellent report (in a great edition of eMJA) and a good article. I agree with Jon’s comments.
    For anyone worried by the NATIONAL income management legislation currently before the Senate, you have 4 weeks to do something about it. We’ve had a reprieve - as the legislation was listed to go through the Senate (with the support of both major parties) last Wednesday but is now likely to come back in the week of 15th June.
    The thing that worries me is that this scheme has been so expensive to administer in the NT so far - rolling it out further in the NT or into other states will pull significant resources out of other social services which actually have a proven track record. Without putting major resources into financial counselling, case management, rehab and referral programs … and with there being no path ‘up and out’ of IM in the legislation it is just a recipe for making peoples lives much more miserable and producing far worse outcomes … particularly for disadvantaged people who are doing the right thing in caring for their kids and looking after their meagre incomes and are indiscriminately impacted by these silly laws.
    There is some more information and an action pack on Senator Rachel Siewert’s website at http://rachelsiewert.org.au/im

  • 5
    SBH
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Graeme, I would have though that the behaviour in ten percent of stores would provide a sizeable sample of overall activity. Are you basing your comments about ‘actual issues’ and IM being a ‘vital part of the formula’ on a larger sample than ten stores?

    If you’ve also done some sound research work can you please share it with us?

    I should also point out the only place ‘conclusive’ appears is in your comments. The point was that the evidence of the study was of a higher quality that put forward by the Government.

  • 6
    Liz45
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    There’s a basic component of this aspect of the Intervention, and that is the Report by two experienced people from the United Nations, which upholds the views of many indigenous people, that the patriarchal and paternalistic attitudes that brought about the Stolen Generations is in force now. It is offensive and demeaning to publicly showing regret and remorse for these crimes, but instigate measures that treat aboriginal people as lesser persons entitled to respect and self determination.

    There’s a booklet available called ‘This Is What We Said’ which has input from elders and other people in many communities. The full transcripts can be found at: http://www.socialpolicyconnections.com.au

    The Little Children Are Sacred report appeared to be leading towards community empowerment, which is a long way from current government thinking. Prominent Australians have spoken out against the Intervention in their call for genuine engagement with Aboriginal people.” (concerned Australians Feb 2010).

    Not one person has been prosecuted since the Intervention was rolled out, clearly revealing what a farce this excuse was.” More to do with removing the Racial Discrimination Act and to have a five year grab of land to support the doubling of applications for mining and other leases. This seems to be the real reason for the present horrific racist attitudes of govts, both Federal and the NT!

    Jimmy’ a man who’s worked his whole life in communities around Ti Tree spoke about disaster of the “bush orders” system instigated under the intervention:
    “We are getting food delivered which has been packed with detergent so can’t be eaten. The meat has often gone green. People are actually going hungry there now because they’ve had their rights taken away from them. They want to do their own shopping”.

    Due to the fact that aboriginal people can only purchase groceries etc at designated stores, they must travel long distances to get there. Many of the smaller community ‘stores’ have been closed. Some people pool money to pay for taxis - this costs hundreds of dollars each fortnight? There’s also no money left for community activities or essentials, such as funerals. The higher incidence of suicides and premature deaths results in too many funerals - the govt obviously didn’t factor in this reality.

    The overall feelings of too many aboriginal people have been ignored; their knowledge and expertise has been deliberately avoided, and too many lies are coming out of Macklin’s office!

    There’s lots more information; visit:http://stoptheintervention.org/ or http://www.antar.org.au/

    antar’ stands for Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation.

  • 7
    Jim Reiher
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    The Rudd govt has been unbelievably disappointing when it comes to Indigenous issues and policies. To mirror much of the Howard govt on this (and so many other issues) is deeply distressing. The current Rudd govt is almost as bad as its predecessor. The tragedy is that if the opposition under Abbott got in next election, they would be worse still.

    I hold very little hope that any thing will seriously be done to genuinely assist indigenous Australians. Our two party system offers us just two big alternatives that are just way too similar. It is a stacked deck. Two oranges to choose from when you really want an apple….. Two mirror images on so many issues, when a real alternative is needed.

    More people have to start voting for smaller parties and independents who offer something progressive and compassionate in this, and so many other areas.

  • 8
    Liz45
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    @JIM REIHER - For several elections now, I’ve given The Greens or another person whose policies I like before the ALP - I always put the coalition last. It is indeed a sad situation re indigenous issues, particularly when even I thought that Rudd would be different - on many things. I feel madder than hell now, but still wouldn’t give a vote to the coalition - my arm would drop off I think?

    A few weeks ago I was privileged to hear Richard Downs from the Ampilatwatja(pronounded um-bludder-watch) community, who walked off in protest of the continuing policy of racist discrimination. This was after raw sewerage was allowed to run through their community without any intervention of Jenny Macklin. Richard has travelled around the country informing people of the farce of the intervention. There are now many unions who are supporting their intention to be self sufficient and separate to the federal or NT govts. In a few short months, and with community support, their first house has been completed. (in almost 3 yrs, and well over $600 million, the federal govt has managed to complete 3 houses - more for the ‘community managers installed by the Rudd govt?)

    99% of all Aboriginal communities in the NT have no substance abuse service, and 99% have no dental service. Only 54% have state funded primary care services, and 47% have an Aboriginal primary health care service more than 50kn away!
    The AMA has estimated, that $700 million is needed to bring up to minimum standard the basic infrastructure needed to maintain health, such as water and sewerage. These stats have not improved under the intervention. Communities have the strength and will to administer themselves, but have long required the funds to impove their situation.”
    (some fact about the NT Intervention - authorized by the Sth Coast May Day committee(NSW)).

    Children who are lucky enough to have a school are not allowed to speak their own languages any more - at school. The teaching of reading is in English only, even though experts believe, that it’s best to teach children to read in their own language first, and then in English. It’s clear, that the intention is to remove their affinity and love for their own culture and language. Out of over 200 languages, only a relatively small number have survived. The practice now is just a little more humane than what happened to kids of the stolen generations - they were caned and bashed if they spoke in their own language, or cried for their mothers? Tell me why Howard/Brough/Rudd/Macklin shouldn’t also be charged with racism and child abuse? As a non indigenous person, I feel very ashamed - again? still? I wonder if our federal politicians watched First Australians on SBS(which is being repeated). I thought I was pretty well informed re this issue, but I was amazed and appalled by the history of white settlement!

    We’ve already had insight into Abbott’s views of indigenous language, history and culture, when he aserted, that acknowledging aboriginal ownership and history at official functions is ‘tokenism’? How insulting was that? Apparently, it doesn’t apply to non-indigenous people who are frequently acknowledged in similar circumstances - from the GG to the local mayor or???. I expressed my disgust to my now LIBERAL federal member Johanna Gash, only to receive a glib response. When I angrily responded to that, I was ignored? Fancy that? I find it most depressing, and if I feel like this, I can only imagine how soul destroying it must be for indigenous people!

  • 9
    Eva Cox
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Through Jumbunna (UTS) we have prepared a paper that looks at the evidence all the reports that have been named by Macklin. FAHCSIA and others, including a scan of the 90 plus submissions, including from many welfare agencies that do not support the program. It shows that the claims by Macklin that they have evidence is not validated in their reports in any serious way. There are individuals and groups that have personally asked Macklin etc to continue the program because it suits a limited number of communities in the NT. This can be managed in other ways that do not change the nature of the welfare system A major deficit is that none of the official reports have included any measures of negative effects, so harms were not assessed. Copies of the paper are available if anyone emails me on eva.cox@uts.edu.au

  • 10
    Scott
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I agree a bit with Graeme on this one. There are a couple of flaws in the methodology

    1. Where are the turnover figures for tobacco? They have turnover listed for fruit and veg (in kg) and for Soft drink (in L). Why are the tobacco figures not listed?

    2. Without those figures, it is impossible to account for inflation. To not use “real” (or inflation adjusted) figures in this sort of analysis is unforgivable when you are comparing data over different time periods.

    3. The last issue is the transition between the AlphaFood card and the BASICS card. This occurred between December 2008 and January 2009. During this time, no restrictions were on purchases, so this will skew the figures during the “Government stimulation” period. Even the report itself says this probably resulted in the increase in sales of soft drink during that period.

  • 11
    SBH
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Scott, except that Graeme makes some strange statements like ‘Which stores and where????’ indicating he has yet to properly read the report. Nor has he responded with other or better data which he may have access to.

    But like Graeme isn’t the point that this study is superior to any assessment provided by the Government particularly as it is now seeking to expand IM across the populations?

    I can’t find tobacco turnover either but you would expect that as inflation was modest over the period of the report that if IM was working the drop in tobacco sales would have continued rather than spiking at around month 28?

    Like most Indigenous issues there has been very little analysis of whether or not Government initiatives work. Perfect or not, this report is a very valuable contribution to the debate.

  • 12
    Elan
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    To the authors of the study of the efficacy of income management strategies in the NT indigenous communities: don’t be surprised or disappointed by the dismissal of your report by the Minister.

    What’s new?

    This is a bog standard political response. Unless a report-even commissioned by a Government-endorses the actions of that Government;- then that report is routinely dismissed.

    Lab/Lib will continue to do precisely what they set out to do, irrespective of success or not. To acknowledge failure of any system is to acknowledge their failure.

    I have never seen such acknowledgment made unless there is some political gain to be made.

    Labor has a master plan of income management for all welfare recipients. They will allow nothing to impede that.

    And this is a Labor initiative. Can you even imagine an Abbott conservative initiative?

    I wish to God that we could do something about these bloody untouchables.

  • 13
    Scott
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    The only thing worse than no research is dodgy research.

    Tobacco inflation is usually a lot more volatile than other forms of inflation. Check out the CPI stats from the ABS. On a year to year basis, from March 2008 to today, Tobacco inflation in Darwin is running at around an average of 5.4% a year. Not insignificant

    With the turnover figues, we could adjust the prices to produce good, meaningful, real tobacco sales figures, instead of the meaningless nominal figure served up here.

  • 14
    Liz45
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    @ELAN - ” I wish to God that we could do something about these bloody untouchables.”

    So do I!

  • 15
    Rush Limbugh
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    @Liz45

    You a butt-hurt lefty? You mad your only going to see one term of a failed Labor government?

    You spent a whole paragraph (the final one) having a go at a person who has nothing to do with the study at hand? Don’t get emotional, the green’s wouldn’t do any better that Labor and its because as long as you measure Aboriginal well being in terms of Welfare provided they lose and taxpayers lose.

    Noel Pearson has the best ideas on Aboriginal welfare, as does Andrew “twiggy” forrest. A hand up, not a hand out.

    The AMA has estimated, that $700 million is needed to bring up to minimum standard the basic infrastructure needed to maintain health, such as water and sewerage.

    How about giving them training or jobs so they can work and provide this for themselves, subsidise it all, but they have to work for it.

    God the left is stupid. You bash Abbott for whatever reason, yet the man is not in government and dosnt control social policy for the Labor party.

    If he did though he would tell you that welfare is cyclical, the worst thing you can do is hand out more money. Social engineering is the worst kind of government programme.

  • 16
    SBH
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Scott, have you read the report and are you sure that the authors haven’t atken inflation into account?

    I’ve read the report and although we don’t know each other I’m inclined to favour Jon Altman’s view over yours.

  • 17
    jenifferhomes
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    But like Graeme isn’t the point that this study is superior to any assessment provided by the Government particularly as it is now seeking to expand IM across the populations?

    I can’t find tobacco turnover either but you would expect that as inflation was modest over the period of the report that if IM was working the drop in tobacco sales would have continued rather than spiking at around month 28?

    Like most Indigenous issues there has been very little analysis of whether or not Government initiatives work. Perfect or not, this report is a very valuable contribution to the debate.Download the wire episodes online

  • 18
    jungarrayi
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Comment from the Front:
    What seems like ages ago, the Government commissioned the NTER Review Board (Peter Yu, Marcia Ella Duncan & Bill Gray) at the cost of a few million dollars to report on the Intervention on its anniversary. It was an excellent report. I keep a copy of its 129 pages handy, and every now and then I peruse it to remind me of what might have been if Macklin & Co. had seized the opportunity to show some political courage and wisdom by taking notice of it and implementing its recommendations.
    On Income Management the Review Report recommended that :
    “The current blanket application of compulsory income management in the Northern Territory cease.”
    English isn’t my first language, but I have no problem in understanding exactly what that means. There is absolutely no way this can be misinterpreted: …cease… full stop.
    The final paragraph of the report states:
    “Developing the capacity to engage-genuinely and respectfully, mindful of Aboriginal culture-and to invite the active participation of Aboriginal communities in the determination of their own future. That is the challenge for government.”
    Well folks, you can argue and discuss the statistics till the cows come home. Here in Yuendumu, one of the 73 “Prescribed Areas”, it isn’t happening. The army of bureaucrats and public servants sent here to “Close the Gap” are either unwilling or incapable of rising to this challenge (“…in the determination of their own future.”). They’re langa pati (In Warlpiri langa= ears, pati= hard inpenetrable soil) they don’t listen.

  • 19
    jungarrayi
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    A hand up, not a hand out.” ……
    How about a “hands off”?

  • 20
    Elan
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Nah!! You can’t say ‘hands off’ Jungarrayi.

    ……………………………the white man knows what’s best for you……………………

  • 21
    Chris Graham
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Just wanted to mention Rita Markwell (the Minister’s adviser) and Mike Dillon (the minister’s other adviser). Would hate to think they didn’t the credit for this disgusting assault on the nation’s most disadvantaged people.

  • 22
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rush post your picture.

  • 23
    Scott
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read the article in the Medical Journal of Australia and I don’t see any references to inflation (other than a comment that total sales increased at a rate similar to inflation) . I’m happy to be proved wrong if you have the raw data (or a reference that the sales data is inflation adjusted)
    As for the Jon Altman comment, hey I don’t blame you. But if this report really is “the most comprehensive and scholarly quantitative research available to date on the food and tobacco expenditure impacts of income quarantining before and after the Intervention”, all I can say is there mustn’t be much out there.

  • 24
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Reminder that Rush Limbugh feels confident enough to call women “bush pigs” through the safety of an internet pseudonym but is not confident enough to post a picture of himself. Although it’s understandable if he looks like a fat, pill-addict like the real Rush Limbaugh.

  • 25
    Liz45
    Posted Monday, 17 May 2010 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    @RUSH - “How about giving them training or jobs so they can work and provide this for themselves, subsidise it all, but they have to work for it.” They had CDEP jobs which were benefiting many indigenous people, but Howard stopped it so he could quarantine 50% of their income - couldn’t do it to those on CDEP. Some of these jobs were in communities and provided some essential goods and services such as the vegetable gardens etc. How many aboriginal people have received job training and/or skills in almost 3 yrs of the intervention?

    I have every right to criticise Abbott or anyone else in the now opposition, as they had almost 12 yrs in office, many inquiries(13 I think altogether) etc and they did zilch! In fact, they had talk fests and got impatient with aboriginal women who were rightly concerned with domestic violence among other things. Not much interest shown by Howard until the applications started to roll in for mining leases etc? Funny how things got moving after that, including resuming land????Added to this is the fact, that the federal govt wants a nuclear waste dump on aboriginal land! Just coincidence, I suppose?

    Why should aboriginal people have to work for the goods and services the rest of the country have provided for them, and who quite rightly take them for granted? What guarantee did you have to give to get water and sewerage in your neighbourhood, and a state school nearby? Why do indigenous people have to jump through hoops to have schools, houses and health care?

    If you bothered to find out some facts about monies going to aboriginal people, you’d find via the ABS(Australian Bureau of Statistics)that in every city, region, and remote areas, aboriginal people receive less than non-aboriginal people. There’s only about 500,000 aboriginal people in the country, and successive govts have ignored their plight for a couple of centuries now. The $700 million is just to CATCH UP with the facilities non-aboriginal people have as an automatic right!

    If you were fair dinkum you’d protest at middle class welfare; you’d point to the family benefit payments going to millionaires; you’d raise the fact, that private schools with millions in the bank will get even more millions this yr via the federal govt; you’d object to people with assets of a million dollars and more receiving the aged pension - shall I go on? You don’t mind that $10 Billion goes to the fossil fuel industries; that about $20 billion goes to the superannuation industry, and nor do you mention the subsidies big mining companies receive, eg, the mining company(BHP?) got its water from the SA govt free of charge for its uranium mine at Olympic Dam?

    No, you’d rather show your bias against the basic needs and basic human rights of aboriginal people. The Billions$$$ derived from rich assets on aboriginal land hasn’t gone to the people - why is that?

  • 26
    Graeme Lewis
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I say only to all of you as you pontificate on this critical subject - who of you, including the authors who started this - how many of you have spent ANY time amongst disadvantaged folk in the communities. There is clearly a problem with the diversion of welfare payments from the needy to gambling porn and alcohol, and the issue must be addressed somehow.

    Spruiking nonsense about rights etc misses the whole point about the needy and the helpless - kids, mums, grandparents etc etc.

  • 27
    jungarrayi
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Graeme, you might ask the same (“who has spent ANY time…?) of the politicians, bureaucrats and public servants that have imposed this Intervention on remote Aboriginal communities.

    I for one have lived here over three decades and can tell you that the stereotype (the paedophyle rings, “barons of pornography” as Tony Abbott called them, the “rivers of grog” and dysfunctional communities) propagated by propaganda is far from the truth.
    The Intervention (renamed “Closing the Gap”) is the latest ethnocentric xenophobic assimilationist attack on the few remaining societies that retain their own languages and world views. Rights are not nonsense. They are fundamental if justice is ever to prevail.

    Others have said it better than I:

    In Australia, our ways have mostly produced disaster for the Aboriginal people. I suspect that only when their right to be distinctive is accepted, will policy become creative”… Kim Beazley Sr.

    From Quadrant magazine (April 2010 p 67).
    “Indigenous Australians have suffered mightily form the coercive benevolence of the state…
    As C.S. Lewis noted: “those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences”….

    There is no evidence that this punitive approach works anywhere and, in fact, the evidence from many sources is it may make things worse as people are infantilised and become less responsible for their own well being…”
    Eva Cox in a blog article on the proposed continuation and extension of Income quarantining.

    And finally:
    “Cultural survival is not about preservation, sequestering indigenous peoples in enclaves like some sort of zoological specimens. Change itself does not destroy a culture. All societies are constantly evolving. Indeed a culture survives when it has enough confidence in its past and enough say in its future to maintain its spirit and essence through all the changes it will inevitably undergo. It is not change that will destroy culture but power.’
    — Wade Davis; Radio National, Big Ideas program; The Massey Lectures, ‘Century of the Wind’, 25-2-2010

    Income management is a bizarre, counterproductive waste of money. It is being run by Centrelink, probably the most inefficient of government agencies. To call it “management” is a joke in bad taste.

  • 28
    Liz45
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    GRAEME LEWIS - I’ve already stated that I went to hear Rickard Downs(from one of the aboriginal communities, who, disgusted with the Rudd govt’s continued racist policies, walked off), I read a lot; I’m involved with a Women’s Health Centre in my area, I’m involved with the Union movement and I read a lot and listen ‘a lot’ too! I didn’t live in Germany during WW2, but I know that Hitler was an evil monster? I’m also on an aged pension, with no other income, so I have some idea of what stuggle is, but I hasten to add, that it’s nothing by comparison to the racism and horrors reaped on aboriginal people every day! I’m far from being a “pontificate” only person!

    When you start asking about how many of our tax billions that go to the fossil fuel industries, to big business and wealthy private schools etc, and how much of the money is spent of lunches and dinners at fancy places, golf playing and overseas trips and trips to resorts, then you can start questioning how aboriginal people and others on low incomes spend their money. I’ve listened to the elders and community leaders who are saying, that living under this patriarchal system is causing more stress and poverty than before. All indicators, such as domestic violence have increased due to more stress. Ask how many communities have social workers or refuges or even funding for the women to protect other women and kids - there’s next to zilch. The fact is, that this was not organised to help aboriginal people, it was a farce, organised to remove aboriginal people from their lands, and bring back the harsh protectionism of the past - with horrific results. Why? For the minerals etc under and above the ground, and a nuclear waste dump!

    The first step by Howard/Brough with the help of the media, including Lateline, was to paint a picture of horrific abuse of kids - after almost 3 yrs, not one person has been prosecuted. Doesn’t this raise questions of credibility in your mind? Why haven’t the recommendations of the Little Children Are Sacred report been activated? What is happening now is the opposite of the recommendations in the report! In fact, there were a large number of children with bad ear problems, but I bet hardly any have seen an ear specialist, let alone had their medical problems attended to! What about dental treatment?

  • 29
    Liz45
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    For more information re the walk off in the NT and Richard Downs actions, support etc. There’s also information on the National Indigenous Times newspaper’s website. All informative!

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/northern/tag/richard-downs/

  • 30
    SBH
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Greame Lewis, Liz’s point about the Little Children are Sacred report is pertinent. This report seeks to determine any causal link between the intervention and improvements to those things you care about. It can’t find any which raises real questions about just what good it is actually delivering for Aboriginal children, women and communities.

    Rather than adopting an idealogical tone I’d have thought you’ld want to know if the intervention was actually working. By the way, I’d be grateful if you didn’t make generalising assumptions about my work or background.

    Scott, Two things. Firstly you are dead right. The amount of research done on Indigenous issues is small. Doing a literature review on just about any indigenous issue you choose is much easier than the issue for the dominant culture. The amount of research is just puny.

    Second, I think you may have a point that inflation should have been included but I can’t tell if the authors did take it into account from the MJA piece. I’ve had a look at Tobacco and alcohol inflation in Darwin for the year to September 2009 ABS (6401.0) and it ran at about 5.5% with alcholol apparently making bigger gains than tobacco. This seems to have been an increase on 2007 rates (around 3.6%) but I don’t think it accounts for the large increase in tobacco reciepts. Thanks for pointing this out.

  • 31
    jimmyjojo
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    There are a number of conclusions and extrapolations to be made from this report: [1] the nutrition patterns in place are disastrous (8L softdrink/month = $34 vs 3 or 4 kg of fruit/veg.month =$16-$25 month) [2] quarantining income does not shift these patterns however more money (stimulus) just multiplies the spend [3] tobacco sales are suppressed until the stimulus package produces a very prominent spike. In this sense, more funds will always reap more tobacco harm. [4] Why this terrible pattern of consumption is in place and is maintained against income constraints is only speculation.
    [5] If constraint of 50% of income yields the same pattern it follows that 50% was only ever spent sustaining these patterns anyway. [6] constraining income further may not shift the ratios until some items are banned e.g. softdrinks [7] That is, if i only have $1 instead of $2 I just buy a smaller bottle of coke. But if i still have the $2 i always spent on the coke, then my pattern will continue. It’s only when coke is not available that my pattern will be disturbed. Given the move by school canteens to do the same, proposals for a fat tax etc then this may not sound absurd. If we continue the great rights argument without responsibilities a la America then the rights of children are swamped by the vacuum of responsibility by adults. I’m sure these children will thank the UN for it’s war crimes trial for restricting grocery choice especially when said children are having limbs amputated from diabetes etc. Noel Pearson finally confronted the bleeding hearts supporting abusive parents against the rights of children and others to a decent chance in life- even if the parents have lost theirs. Please go to royal DArwin Hospital AKA slaughterhouse five. Also, look at the violence african immigrants now face because unlike our indigenous people, their genocide and the gun to their head happened yesterday. Yet they pack shelves in Darwin, are clean and kids go to school and have a go (in a second language). Our Indigenous people see themselves running out of excuses. Compare that with the Philippinos i saw on Tiwi building houses while the new occupants sat around. The Philippinos were slave 457 visa labour for a profit shark and had amazing skills- 2 arms and hands and could almost speak english. We’re all running out of excuses.

  • 32
    Liz45
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    SBH - I don’t think there should be a need for research into aboriginal issues any more than for non-aboriginal women born during or after the war for example? The real point should be, that if indigenous people(meaning Torres Strait Islander people as well as aboriginal people) were afforded the same rights and privileges as the rest of us; if providing vital services to all peoples in the country as a natural right, and this included medical, housing and education needs, there’d be no need for too much ‘research’? This is the whole point. Sadly, on too many occasions, when there’s been research and recommendations such as Black Deaths In Custody, Bringing them Home(stolen generations) and the one that applies here, the recommendations aren’t even attempted to be enacted.

    One of the main recommendations of the Little Children are Sacred report stressed, that aboriginal people should be INVOLVED in all decision making. This clearly has not taken place, nor was it ever the intention of either the Howard govt and now the Rudd govt. Macklin just blatantly lies her head off! It’s just awful how insulting and disempowering these behaviours have been. Large amounts of money are being spent to house the ‘managers’ and others from Centrelink etc; there’s brand new 4 wheel drives, none of whom belong to indigenous people or for their use and protection - refugee workers etc. The only thing that’s changed in many areas, is we don’t poison the water or shoot them or drag them in chains - everything else is alive and well!

    I read somewhere, that 85% of aboriginal people don’t drink alcohol at all. Unlike the 85% of the rest of the community. The NT has the highest alcohol consumption in the country, but this includes non aboriginal people too! It’s also well recognised, that those on a lower income are more likely to be cigarette smokers - indigenous and non indigenous. It’s not rocket science, and what’s the emphasis on the ‘tobacco component’? Isn’t it more important to wonder how many women’s refuges there are for women and kids; programs for people with drug dependancy and alcohol dependancy problems; schools with adequate equipment and resources for kids, and transport and other measures put in place so that children can travel to school. Why do people on kidney dialysis forced to travel long distances, and how long do people have to wait to see specialists? Ear, nose and throat, heart specialists etc. Why are aboriginal people, mainly kids, still suffering from horrible ear problems that must be so painful; rheumatic fever(eleiminated in the broader community after ww2, due to improved sanitation and housing) and eye diseases that cause premature blindness? If the govt and non-aboriginal people are keen to fix the problems, let us start by telling the truth, and stop blaming aboriginal people for problems caused by successive racist govts, federal and local!Above all, let’s have wide rangeing educational programs via TV to overcome the racism that is evident in the community. It’s there. I’m often disgusted by some comments on YouTube for example - it’s most distressing, and all based on damned lies, peddled by our racist media!
    To deny this is non-helpful to aboriginal people. I can only imagine what it must be like as a parent, to continue to encourage your child at school, when they’re continually subjected to racism by students, parents and sadly, some teachers. When we honestly acknowledge this reality, and then show the will to remove it, we might get somewhere, and hopefully, aboriginal people will be able to live with the dignity they deserve. RAcism kills people; it destroys their spirit - no wonder their life expectancy is so much lower than non-indigenous people - it’s a national shame.
    We could also ask aboriginal people for advice - on climate change, bushfires, survival skills, bush tucker and lots of other things - instead of our air of superiority that permeates everything that is done ‘for them’? AAAAAAAAArrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhh!!

  • 33
    SBH
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure about the 85% Liz but you’re right the stats for drinking and teetotal are inverse for the Aboriginal and non-aboriginal populations with the large majority of Aborigines being non-drinkers.

  • 34
    jimmyjojo
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    The elephant in the room is that remote Indig communities are a political convenience that is unsustainable on any conventional model. Liz45 talks about long travel distances for renal dialysis. So you want to put in 100K/unit machines in the scrub? (as they did in kintore- despite the water supply being problematic) Why not an MRI? ON the left there is a complete vacuum of understanding that money matters and the provision of high level services in remote areas- black or white- is just not sustainable or affordable. I have worked in communities where the cop, teacher, town clerk, nurse, sports/rec bloke, CDEP fella all didn’t know each other. It’s a 5 minute revolving door of service delivery. Oh and yes empowerment will transfer Indigenous people into those jobs and lead to LT sustainability. I double up larfing. Not this generation. Face it, **everyone** out of the capitals faces service and quality loss. I had to get a colonoscopy in brisbane because darwin (even private) was 8 weeks. Darwin saying- “have pain catch plane”. Oh but it’s only a matter of money and RIGHTS!!!! Just demand it and it will be so. While it is probably true that there has been a vast underspend of health and housing monies in remote, the 2nd truth is that no govt can be committed to providing mainstream levels of housing, health,, education and infrstructure in remote. It just isn’t possible without bankrupting us all. This is especially Indigenous places with no attraction for anyone (not even Indig people who rotate wherever they want to go- try rocking up to many communities/outstations as i have to find every house empty). My god if the average tour of duty in Darwin (with a symphony orchestra no less, restaurants and video shops) is 3 years (Charles Darwin Uni was burning thru a vice chancellor a year for a while there) then what chance having any real continuity of service delivery in the western desert? Missionaries, misfits, mercenaries and the mad are the only ones and they burn out in a minute. Remote communities are a semipermeable bin for dysfunctionality which meets the political purpose of semi removal from my front lawn (votes you know) as well as the illusion of progress via an industry of saviours who address the peculiarities of a population smaller than a melbourne suburb who are scattered continentally across areas no-one wants to live- and increasingly not even them. Through this eventual migration the problem will no longer be remote, nor resolved, just
    less reliant on Toyota’s and lacking the bush adventure that compensated the latest bunch of blow through saviours.

  • 35
    Liz45
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    @JIMMYJOJO- “ON the left there is a complete vacuum of understanding that money matters and the provision of high level services in remote areas- black or white- is just not sustainable or affordable.”

    I’ve just read an article that states, that the US spent over 7 TRILLION on the GFC - combatting the damage etc. How much did our Federal govt spend? Billions? Funny how the money can be found to socialize capital’s mistakes/losses, but finding money for health, education and housing for indigenous people is just not feasible or practical or affordable - I say bull shit! Govts have had over 200 yrs to organise it. Nobody says that it should be done in one budget or 3, but there’s been plenty of time and money to at least provide PREVENTATIVE health care measures in remote areas. Regular check ups by GP’s; why is the health of kid’s ears allowed to get to an acute disease stage, or eyes? Why isn’t Rheumatic Fever a thing of the past? Imagine if kids in Sydney or Melbourne were still contracting this disease! Do you know why it happens? (my non doctor explanation)It happens due to chronic chest or other infections, and the immune system goes into over drive to fight this off and ends up putting strain on the heart which manifests itself as RF! It’s completely preventable, but can shorten a child’s life and requires treatment, usually for life!

    Funny how farmers kids in remote areas have access to school of the air; to the /Flying Doctor(who have outdated and small planes, so aboriginal kids have to spend time in hospital without their mum or dad, because there’s no room on the plane for them). Even when there are schools, they’re often of a lesser quality re resources and teachers - perhaps in shacks(tin) that are as hot as hell! Not conducive to learning?

    While it is probably true that there has been a vast underspend of health and housing monies in remote, the 2nd truth is that no govt can be committed to providing mainstream levels of housing, health,, education and infrstructure in remote. “
    This is a nonsense for reasons I’ve outlined. If they’re not going to supply decent housing, education and health, then govts should stop ‘belting up’ aboriginal people for non educational experience when they just don’t have access!
    The ABC’s The World Today covered the story of a report of several yrs inquiries into aboriginal housing. The report clearly showed, that the houses were at best of an inferior quality and lacking essentials, such as running water in the kitchen in which to prepare food; no locks on bedrooms; light fittings and switches on architraves, but no wiring from point to point????Who built them and why did they get paid? After nearly 3 yrs only 3 homes have been built! Why is that?

    It is a nonsense for Rudd to say that his govt is serious about ‘closing the gap’; how we should all be ashamed blah blah blah, and then do nothing of any substance, except pile money into beaurecracies and beaurecrats??The money has not provided any substance abuse specialists or provided assistance with helping people give up smoking or alcohol. In fact, to remove alcohol from an alcoholic without medical backup can lead to their death from a Vitamin B deficiency - that’s why people who were drunk used to die in police cells? The first thing a medical person does in a supervised environment is to give injections of Vitamin B.(a friend of mine worked in one as a qualified nursing sister).

    Funny how mining companies can set up facilities if they want to mine the resources on aboriginal land. Look at Nabalco(1970’s NT) - who stated they’d employ aboriginal people but in fact deliberately excluded aboriginals in their workforce. I bet that if the nuclear waste dump is built, there’ll be sufficient essentials in the area to support those who are building it or whatever. It’s all to do with ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’? With the monies govts have been getting via the billions and billions of dollars of resources, why hasn’t some of it even, gone back to the people?

    The fact is, that there are lots of aboriginal people in the NT who aren’t living in really remote areas, but their basic needs(not wants) have been ignored for at least decades. Even people in remote areas should have access to a general medical practitioner, and sick kids should have treatment with at least one parent with them, as kids at Westmead do as an automatic right in a civilized country as wealthy as this one. I watched a documentary a few yrs ago, and the heart specialist with his portable ECG machine only goes to some places once in 6 months - not good enough! Have to wait 6 wks to see a GP and pregnant women must leave their families for the last 4-6 weeks(or longer) of their pregnancies. In other countries like Canada, where the indigenous people live in remote areas, there’s travelling midwives who care for most women during their pregnancies - only dangerous or complex cases need to leave the area - the women can stay at home with their families like they should. There’s lots of alternatives to what’s happening at present - with the will and SENSIBLE spending of monies.

    This is a very wealthy country. Billions of dollars are spent each yr helping already wealthy people acquire more wealth. If all the subsidies and tax lerks and perks, plus cheap water and/or electricity; the monies to the superannuation industry etc was given in cash - we’d all be able to see just how unjust and inhumane it is. Look at how the mining companies are bellyaching over the miserly 40% tax? Greedy bastards!Every politician in Canberra costs us $1 million per year! Look at how Abbott whined when he was forced to go back onto a backbenchers salary after the election? Greedy bastards too!

  • 36
    jimmyjojo
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just read an article that states, that the US spent over 7 TRILLION on the GFC - combatting the damage etc. How much did our Federal govt spend? Billions?”

    I agree that we can’t — and in fact won’t afford this either. We are now in the final stages of a ponzi scheme much larger than the great depression. Partly because the scale of derivatives is 40 times world GDP and partly because governments learned years ago that they could not finance a welfare state (needed to stay in office) on taxes alone- hence deficit spending. The money you state does not in fact exist as we shall soon learn. So yes we could afford anything with a printing press right up to the moment it collapses.This is not an argument for an even bigger deficit for services to tiny populations.

    Re your rant on prevention RHD, eye diseases etc. Facts: these are direct consequences of high density housing, high loss of housing stock due to damage and overcrowding. However, nowhere are Indigenous people required to help build the house they will own- a reasonable expectation. This alone would lower costs and alleviate overcrowding. Instead houses are twice the price, half are built, profits are made and disease is rampant. Instead of a reasonable mutual obligation we import Filippinos to be labourers on tiwi. brilliant.

    More facts: The standard of care in most communities is more accessible and higher
    quality than a cattle station or mine. Ring the clinic bell my dear and a flying doc is on the strip just like the rich farmers. On the phone is a specialist talking to the local doc or nurse and all are using the same treatment manuals. The medications are all shipped out and individually labeled and distributed. Have a look at the bin of uncollected medications. I showed them to a group from asia once and they wept at the waste. They couldn’t believe the new clinics, staff, medivacs and the rest. It’s not the north shore of sydney but it’s pretty good for 300 people in the desert.

    Funny how farmers kids in remote areas have access to school of the air; to the /Flying Doctor(who have outdated and small planes, so aboriginal kids have to spend time in hospital without their mum or dad, because there’s no room on the plane for them). Even when there are schools, they’re often of a lesser quality re resources and teachers - perhaps in shacks(tin) that are as hot as hell! Not conducive to learning?”

    Have you EVER worked out bush?? Most people are evacced with a rellie. The schools are all air con and the teachers are the same graduates that teach in the city.

    This is a nonsense for reasons I’ve outlined. If they’re not going to supply decent housing, education and health, then govts should stop ‘belting up’ aboriginal people for non educational experience when they just don’t have access!”

    The nonIndigenous kids of the nurse, teacher, clerk, sports bloke or whatever all go to the same “crap” local school. Oddly enough they attend actually and also have the same educational outcomes as NonIndig kids in town. Don’t ask how i know.

    The report clearly showed, that the houses were at best of an inferior quality”.

    Then get Indig people to build to quality THEY want. Hand out hand out.

    Funny how mining companies can set up facilities if they want to mine the resources on aboriginal land.”

    Funny how you don’t sell your house to buy a pool in Ramingining. Odd how money matters.

    Look at Nabalco(1970’s NT) - who stated they’d employ aboriginal people but in fact deliberately excluded aboriginals in their workforce.”

    Or look at Borroloola where no-one turns up to work or half the Indig council employees who mostly play computer cards. Most CDEP is a disaster.

    In other countries like Canada, where the indigenous people live in remote areas, there’s travelling midwives who care for most women during their pregnancies”

    In the NT pregnant women travel in a while before delivery. This had a massive impact on infant deaths. But no, they couldn’t fly the obstetrician to the Bora ring for that one mother to have her spiritual experience of birth. It is usually about survival.

    The fact is, that there are lots of aboriginal people in the NT who aren’t living in really remote areas, but their basic needs(not wants) have been ignored for at least decades”

    You mean like the Indigenous only clinics in Darwin/Katherine like Danila Dilba and Wurli?

    I watched a documentary a few yrs ago, and the heart specialist with his portable ECG machine only goes to some places once in 6 months”

    You mean like ALL people in Darwin have to travel to adelaide for a heart stent and until a year ago all cancer patients went there too.

    This is a very wealthy country”

    True but even rupert murdoch cannot buy NASA nor can we afford 100K renal
    patients and treatment in places with 5 empty houses .

    Lefty philosophy: because there are rorts we must be infinitely rich. Fact: the HUGE
    proportion of tax receipts come from PAYE slobs like me. Not BHP et al.

    I suggest you have never been near a remote community, believe INdigenous people
    are superhuman saints unlike the rest of us and think that we have enough money to gold plate all toilets in northern australia as well as put a birthing suite in all outstations. The facts are that most communities have faster access to medical expertise- at least at the RN level than i have waiting 4 hours at royal darwin hospital. That community RN is a phone call away from expertise and an evac. The nurse will also do call outs because she’s on overime. I however will be told that if I want faster treatment
    than A&E then i should see a GP but at 11pm there really aren’t any and even if they
    were then it would cost me $70 cos no-one in Darwin bulk bills.

    Shocking isn’t it. What about my rights? Why hasn’t a mining company helped out?
    Ye gods.

  • 37
    Elan
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Fascinating stuff JJojo. Bit long drawn out, but fascinating nontheless.

    You think I jest? No. You have put up some interesting opinions, ( except for the usual crap about ‘rants’. Surely you don’t need to resort to that. God knows you aren’t short of a word or two. Don’t resort to that..).

    What is your solution kiddo?

    (I would chat further but it’s tucker time, and I would just HATE to miss ACA, and TT).

  • 38
    jimmyjojo
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    SBH wrote: Scott, Two things. Firstly you are dead right. The amount of research done on Indigenous issues is small. Doing a literature review on just about any indigenous issue you choose is much easier than the issue for the dominant culture. The amount of research is just puny.

    You must be on something. Compared to % of the Oz population made up by Indig people, Indig research is unbelievably disproportionately large- mostly about non-issues of course. The worst is epidemiology which uses “You thought that was bad” arguments. i.e. “You thought renal disease was bad on Groote, man it’s X times worse on Y”.

    Somehow Indig people are not the same species and treatments for them should be different. Why else would we be doing all this research? We know it’s catastrophic,
    so do we have to know to 2 decimal points how catastrophic it really is? We don’t need more research we just need ACTION without cultural excuses.

    Indeed there are online clearing houses on Indig research on everything from “how
    women from woop woop teach young women birthing” to “stress and burnout from the holocaust that is Port Keats” or “flagon sales outlets between darwin hospital and the casino: from hospital discharge to financial flogging”.

    It’s a circus that just continues to produce dross and more importantly provides jobs
    that just examine rather than fix- because fixes require that someone’s priorities get
    dropped.

    Here’s a ripper. Menzies did some research some years ago on kidney development
    in foetuses and found mother’s malnutrition and grog was causing kidney damage
    in the womb. Great so now we know that malnutrition is more than bad, man it’s
    from day 1. Also the number of ultrasounds exceeded the clinical recommendation but then ethics is really more about making sure that john in woo woop
    can’t have his income identified as low- since he could be harmed by the shame- but
    his missus who is starving because of his grog abuse and gambling can have her
    health and baby’s life threatened because that’s covered by clinical protocol.

    Of course nothing useful was learned that we didn’t know already i.e. feeding
    mothers is really important and gambling and grog abuse have massive indirect effects. We can do 4 more PhDs on that but we wouldn’t get rid of the take away
    and provide 2 good meals a day through a paid community kitchen. That would
    breach someone’s rights (not the baby’s) and deny the abused mother and abusing
    father their responsibility.

    And we could have a research project on how Indig people perceive parental
    responsibility as well. Hell there’s a career in that.

  • 39
    jimmyjojo
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Elan you request a solution? There are none, only better arrangements with less downside.

    Some principles:

    1. Communities are not towns. They are accidents of history (mine, water hole, sacred rock, missionaries) without any economic base. They will never be towns like the mainstream. Notions we could make them so are ridiculous- unless we believe that 20 houses near a barely potable water supply are a long term prospect. Oddly enough
    even mainstream small communities die.

    2. Hence Town concepts don’t apply. Think more of temporary residences like mining camps. Indig people are ALWAYS moving between communities and town relying on rellies anyway. The notion of a fixed dwelling to be always inhabited by the same people is nonsensical.
    Of course for some people this is not true (and so this would be raised as an incredible objection).

    A. NUTRITION and HYGIENE

    If you want better nourished people- feed them don’t rely on BS market forces. Use a mass communal kitchen, breakfast and dinner at least. Sandwich material for lunch. Everyone showers before each meal. No shower, no meal. Every person has a spare change of clothes and these are washed each night in a mass laundry for collection at breakfast.

    Fruit, milk and drinks constantly available between meals.

    Stores limited to provisions like milk, tea and coffee etc. Take aways are shut down.

    THIS IS BASICALLY HOW A MINING COMPANY WOULD EFFICIENTLY PROVIDE HEALTHY NUTRITION TO SMALL NUMBERS OF PEOPLE IN REMOTE AREAS

    OUTCOMES

    Less scabies hence less kidney disease from chronic skins infections. Less malnourished
    old people, pregnant women. and children unable to grow or learn, Less head lice, less eye disease, less otitis media, less RHD, less obesity, less diabetes, less amputations, less heart disease. Massive generational benefits in health, education, employment and for peanuts compared to the long term health costs and human suffering.

    These benefits will only last while people are in the community. In town they have
    access to the same poor choices. But it’s a start. Also people can’t stay in town forever
    since they wear out their welcome and have to return.

    OBJECTIONS

    Take away joints, stores and clubs make profits. These get in the hands of people who matter (locally). People who matter will fight the imposition of a single source of food and drink that makes them money.

    Recreating MISSIONS! Shock horror. Strangely the generation that grew up on
    missions are largely healthier. This is not a religious mission. It’s a way of feeding communities, reliably, cheaply to a high standard.

    B. SLEEPING (don’t call it housing- the concept does not apply)

    Large number of cheap, open sided sheds with water tanks for drinking water. Insulated ceilings. Heated by gas fires in the desert, cooled by fans in the north. Concrete floors, dividable with partitions into private areas for families.

    Community/families works out who sleeps where. There are a surplus of sheds so people have choice and kids will rotate amongst rellies anyway.

    Basic power supply just for TV/radio/fan or aircon. EVERYTHING is made from the
    Bismark. Windows are unbreakable or absent.

    Note that communities will always have fights. That’s because they’re human beings.

    C. DOGs

    Shot on sight. It’s a kindness to most of them without skin let alone hair. They Drag around rubbish and have killed and eaten drunk people in Alice.

    D. Alcohol, violence, education, employment

    Too hard without an airborne assault from the UN and a war crimes charge in response. Effective controls would require identification and monitoring and intrusion to a level that would burst a blood vessel in every lefty in this life and the next.

  • 40
    Elan
    Posted Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Shut up about Lefties, there’s a good boy.

    This bullshit about designating New Liberal supporters as Lefties, and the Conservatives as Righties have about as much credibility as a eunuch’s testicles.

    Right. OK. Calling Jungarrayi!!!!!

    If you (Jungarrayi) are genuine (we can be anything we want online), then you do know something of these folk.

    What do you think of JJo’s final solution? I really would like to know. Truly.

    (Even if it is nothing more than your opinion of the white man ((eh JJ?)) always believing he knows what is best for the original inhabitants of this land).

  • 41
    jungarrayi
    Posted Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Elan, I’ve lived here for over three decades with my family. Many of “these folk” are my friends, aquaintances, neighbours, colleages and even relatives. Some I don’t like and they don’t like me.

    Journalist/writer Martin Flanagan once wrote: “Visiting Yuendumu is to have the glass tower of your pre-conceptions shattered into countless brilliant fragments”.
    JoJo sees only broken glass.

    What do I think of his”final solution”?
    I’ve heard it all before. Why do so many people think they have the right to decide how other people’s lives should be run.
    I think its called fascism.

  • 42
    SBH
    Posted Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Jimmy jojo yes I’m on something, whatever I can get my hands on. I’m not sure what your overall point is but if your saying there should be action well…….der. If research blows the cover of current government ‘action’ as ineffective then that research is valuable in my view.

    In general I agree with your somewhat longwinded sprays but research has its place and is a valuable tool.

    Reading over the last few posts leaves me with that old sick feeling. We always end up yelling at each other rather than attacking the real problem in this issue which at the moment is Macklin.

    For all those who want to do something useful a bit more focus and bit less ranting would go a long way

  • 43
    jimmyjojo
    Posted Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Elan wrote:

    (Even if it is nothing more than your opinion of the white man ((eh JJ?)) always believing he knows what is best for the original inhabitants of this land).

    Just a point, if we start distinguishing treatment of people based on when they arrived
    rather than just whether they had ownership of the land (which they did) then we’re all in trouble. I fear for the latest citizens who deserve presumably different treatment
    from the rest of us.

    I thought the whole claim of the left was equality of citizenship and not whether
    your chronometer went back 40,000 years.

  • 44
    jimmyjojo
    Posted Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    jungarrayi wrote:

    What do I think of his”final solution”?
    I’ve heard it all before. Why do so many people think they have the right to decide how other people’s lives should be run.
    I think its called fascism.

    Err basically we live in a society where your actions affect me and i pay for other’s stupidity and lack of responsibility. Sometimes this is genuine cultural mismatch but often just human nature/slackness mistaken as a deficit to be cared for. Therefore as a collective we have the right to decide the rewards for those playing the game and punishments for those who not just can’t= that’s fine- but for those who actually refuse to. There is no excuse for 3 generations of unemployed families in adelaide while we import labourers elsewhere. In past generations people moved to the work. Now the tax payer pays for the choice not to. I don’t think my grandfather lived in a fascist state.

    Don’t worry, we’re coming to a position where we can afford no more welfarism and will happily accept the “fascist” alternative. With the baby boomers never retiring (if they can keep a job), health costs soaring as we age, a single trick economy called mining, europe disintegrating, the US printing money, china building bridges to nowhere in stimulus and the nightmare of debt still out there, then there will be limited
    choice on who works where when and how and the notion of welfare dependency will have much stricter obligations or may not exist at all.

    And if you think this is chicken little stuff, please remember our govt had to guarantee OUR banks the best in the world not long ago and hundred year old US investment banks died, including major automakers while the US took on and is losing money on FannyMAe and FreddyMac. The idea that the world could tip on the edge of the abyss with no-one seeing it coming (!!!) and then print some money to make it all go away is ludicrous. Hence Europe. Don’t rely on allegedly smart people to protect you when they have a vested interest in exploiting the system right up to the point of collapse- just as we have done with ecosystems, forests and fisheries (despite all that “husbanding” by people deriving a livelihood from it).

    So in short, (yeah I type fast) the fascism you fear will soon be inflicted anyway. When your local health service can no longer afford the number of oncologists it needs because of national budget constraints (i.e, china stopped booming) then i doubt you will allow a boost in dole spending. Indeed, if remote communitie exist at all should welfarism be cut in extreme budgetary constraints from another dose of GFC, then i doubt the boomers in town will be sacrificing their oncologist for another RFD.

    In that context, a communal kitchen looks positively benevolent.

  • 45
    jimmyjojo
    Posted Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    SBH Wrote:

    Reading over the last few posts leaves me with that old sick feeling. We always end up yelling at each other rather than attacking the real problem in this issue which at the moment is Macklin.”

    This is v superficial. Indeed the IM thing is a tokenistic manipulation meant to eventually rope in welfare spending across the mainstream by enforcing some degree of responsibility amongst the welfare class- some of whom are not economic participants by dint of cultural mismatch, history and genuine disability- while others are simply not playing the game because the rules don’t force them to.

    Democratic Governments cannot enforce the real rules required and simultaneously remain in power. IM is nowhere near the level if intervention needed to bring about real behavioural change and long term health, social and human gains as well as financial ones.

    However, at some point, financial realities will impose constraints upon the majority of tax payers and they will protect themselves by restricting the privileges of the welfare class. Hence political survival will dictate which voters get what and our ability to afford a welfare system will largely decline.

    It is no accident that we now consider boosts to compulsory super, massive reform of
    health spending, a thumping tax on mining all at the same time. We are in deep shit in terms of the system meeting all the demands placed on it in 10-20 years- just assuming a normal economy. Macklin’s IM is merely nibbling at the edges at a time when normal politics applies. If we have GFC II in a year or two then the rules of political survival, budget spending and who gets what will be dramatically rewritten. There are no prizes for guessing who will win in that stoush but i suggest it won’t be remote communities.

    So basically, research about Macklin’s latest tokenistic reform is not worth worrying about. The fact that it changed nothing because it really manipulated nothing of significance is not surprising. Whether it’s revoked or expanded is inconsequential. But ultimately there will be real reform- quickly, harshly and with the majority of voters to benefit.

  • 46
    Elan
    Posted Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Jungarrayi,

    I’m happy that you picked up on the ‘final solution’ terminology.

    Not so happy that you picked up on ‘these folk’.

    I re-did that line three times in an effort not to offend. I have a Pakistani mother and a British father. I know only too well about condescending put downs. My brothers are dark; they really copped it. I have never forgotten that.

    JJ has been ..er, fairly forthcoming in his opinions of those who do not agree with him, designating them to the Left basket ( God! when does it end!). I assume this is at the very least tacit support of the blundering policies of RuddGov/Macklin. So I asked him what he would do.

    Well! At least he didn’t shy away from it!!!!

    I have been here 33 years. It still stuns me that such an affluent country tolerates (doesn’t care) about the disparity of the original inhabitants of this land, with it’s White settlers.

    ALL solutions for decades are suggested or implemented from a White perspective, ( we have just read the latest!). I am not interested in the views of the ‘token White’ that JJ mentions.

    I have tried damned hard not to dismiss the views of JJ out of hand. He has a point, we DO do that. But how can one agree with the extraordinary patronizing ‘organization’ of indigenous peoples- as if they were children?

    Do Aboriginals want White Australia to completely leave them alone? Do some/most/or all want that?
    Does White Australia (Isn’t that vile? ‘Aboriginal Australia’/’White Australia’ ), then remove all funding/benefits to Indigenous Australians…because make no mistake, there are a mass of White Australians who will be saying: ‘you want us to leave you alone? Then we don’t give you money’. (See the ‘we’/ ‘you’ ? I hate that!)

    It is so graphically evident that a White Australian dominated country,- if dispensing funds, will want some say in how those funds are used. I’m playing Devil’s Advocate here. The Government controls benefits to those who are unemployed etc.,

    I could ramble on and on-;this crap really troubles me. (It’s interesting to have those in support of it referring to Lefties and their criticism of it, — -and yet it is a Government of the so-called Left that implemented it!)

    I hope it is a cold day in hell before they foist this on the rest of those who struggle to makes ends meet.

    It will be much harder. The White Australian will protest loudly;-a lot more loudly than its deafening silence when it was foisted on Indigenous Australians.

  • 47
    jimmyjojo
    Posted Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    SBH wrote:

    Jimmy jojo yes I’m on something, whatever I can get my hands on. I’m not sure what your overall point is but if your saying there should be action well…….der. If research blows the cover of current government ‘action’ as ineffective then that research is valuable in my view.”

    My points are that more than enough research has been conducted on INdigenous issues in the last 30 years to ACT on. The reason we don’t is because of politics and money. That’s all. Amongst many indigenous industries research is just one more where white fellas get to solve cross word puzzles and politicians get to pretend they;re doing something. The status quo exists for a reason i.e. someone is winning and you have to admit that apart from shipping, housing, govt admin, building etc, researchers also get to pay off their mortgages on never ending Indigenous disadvantage that persists because somehow we don’t know enough about nutrition in the human species- amongst other deep mysteries.

    Your own research is only interesting in the micro context of Indigenous policy at the edges. i.e. you presumably think IM is a major imposition that yielded no change and are surprised by that. I see it as a marginal intrusion that had no hope of changing dietary patterns given other income streams that exist and the mobility of indigenous people anyway and their reliance on others better integrated into the mainsream. You presumably want to see IM revoked because it didn’t work and insults freedoms. I say it doesn’t matter. If we really wanted to make the welfare class more like the rest of us then the level of intrusion and control required would not be electorally possible in the current climate anyway. However, if the international financial scene continues into slow meltdown and our one trick pony called China disengages, then welfarism as we know it will be morphed into something we can’t even recognise. The politicians will do this because the majority of taxpayers will be unable to afford their current benevolence- lest they too suffer substantial cuts in services.

    My suggestion for mass kitchens and showers is orthogonal to all of this. It’s something practical that could be done now with little cost and massive benefits- heck if i went to work in a mine it would be the norm and i would be urine tested as well.
    We don’t do this because we still have the luxury of benevolent choice that is reflected in our politics.

    That may change.

  • 48
    Elan
    Posted Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Now you’re getting tedious JJJ. Will you quit it with the categorizing,- IF you are doing the same thing, and you are!

    Sheer force of posts are NOT going to sway others to your point of view. It is a methodology that has never succeeded.

    Just a point, if we start distinguishing treatment of people……”

    That’s all the quote that is needed. You fall at the first fence.

    We have ‘distinguished’ the Indigenous Australian from the White. WE HAVE. Work from that point, and stop alluding to the ‘poor White’ thing. It is such a pathetic defence.

  • 49
    jimmyjojo
    Posted Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Elan wrote:

    I have been here 33 years. It still stuns me that such an affluent country tolerates (doesn’t care) about the disparity of the original inhabitants of this land, with it’s White settlers.”

    On the contrary, we have armies of public servants, researchers, builders, service delivery orgs CARING about the Indigenous problematique. It’s just that we don’t solve it because it’s politically unpalatable. Rights of adults would have to be curbed for the rights of children and the unborn. So we research and tinker at the edges a la IM

    Elan also wrote:

    ALL solutions for decades are suggested or implemented from a White perspective, ( we have just read the latest!). I am not interested in the views of the ‘token White’ that JJ mentions.”

    Au contraire, the very reason for the existence of the INdigenous industries is endless
    consultation- hell you have consult where you put rubbish bins, if we keep dogs etc. It’s an endless round of talking under trees with every second person claiming they’re the “cultural person” to talk to.

    You have no idea of the crap that we have to go to do the simplest thing and of course the greatest excuse is always invoked “didn’t work because the community didn’t want it or it was culturally inappropriate”. Truth is, they couldn’t give a stuff because they have the same lethargy, indifference, ill-health and substance dependency that exists in most low SES areas. But we cover it up with culture and do the endless negotiations while nothing happens and whitefellas at least get to pay off mortgages, run airlines and trucking companies doing deliveries and the latest blow through saviour gets enough for a deposit on a house or a holiday in Bali. Oh and the community mechanics regularly steal the tools on exit while the town clerk did creative accounting (before shires appeared) to a community council that was illiterate in english let alone spreadsheets.

    There are no innocents in any of this- including indigenous people though we will differ on who has the greater accountbility and where.

    But certainly regardless of culture, all parents have a primary responsibility to their children. The fact i see africans from that recent holocaust playing the game well in Darwin
    and our own INdig people see their kids swinging off a can of unleaded petrol is amazing. How long can they blame it on a holocaust 200 years ago? Truth is, like all welfare classes, any excuse will do- even though there are many valid ones out there at some point we all have to get up and get moving.

  • 50
    jimmyjojo
    Posted Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Elan wrote:

    We have ‘distinguished’ the Indigenous Australian from the White. WE HAVE. Work from that point, and stop alluding to the ‘poor White’ thing. It is such a pathetic defence.

    I never said whites were poor. Just that if it comes to the mainstream’s benefit’s versus the welfare class due to budget constraints then they won’t win.

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