Closing the gap

Keith Thomas wrote: Re. “Not closing the gap: indigenous lifespans remain too short” (Friday). If indigenous leaders could help in delivering programs, where are they? Why aren’t there hundreds of them demanding involvement, devising their own strategies and suggesting practicable improvements to existing programs?

There is plenty of criticism of the existing strategies, but there appears to be a profound absence of serious engagement from among indigenous people. There are thousands of indigenous people with experience in middle and senior levels of program design and delivery. Are there structural impediments to their involvement as initiators?

Noel Pearson set a fine leadership example in the field of education. Regardless of what people think about the thrust of his proposals, the most important thing is that he was right in there arguing persuasively, constructively and consistently for years. Aren’t there hundreds of other Noel Pearsons prepared to lead in “closing the gap”?

Assange

Dylan Taylor writes: Re. “Rundle: Khan shuns Assange, joining other celeb turncoats” (Friday). Jemima Khan is not the only person in London losing patience with Assange.

On a recent visit, I noted that many Brits — some who had been fairly sympathetic — are irritated by his assumption of a rockstar persona and his “demands” that various world leaders do exactly as he asks.

The absolute height of the ludicrous was reached when he appeared on a small balcony at the Ecuadorian embassy and yelled in to the street — “Obama must immediately withdraw the case…” — shades of “We warn the Tsar!”.

Alcohol

Brett Krieger writes: Re. “Bottoms up: the non-crisis of Australia’s alcohol consumption” (Friday). Bernard Keane, it’s just as well the alcohol industry has you to bring balance. I must have missed the other side in your argument detailing the negative effects of alcohol including liver damage, impaired cognitive function, non-death road trauma, alcohol-fuelled violence, teenage binge drinking, chronic alcoholism and the cause of 13% of the deaths of 14 to 17-year-old Australians.

In researching the impact of alcohol on Australians, I found this more balanced than what I have read in Fairfax or your own column.

Do you not know anyone touched by alcohol abuse at some stage in their life? Don’t we have a problem when many kids still associate getting blind drunk as part of their rite of passage? Has it occurred to you that the modest trend improvements you quote may be due in part to the efforts of some advocates you deride?

I don’t mind a beer and I can understand health advocates going a bit far trying to balance the relentless promotion of the alcohol industry. What I don’t get is why you feel the need to go out of your way to defend them. If it’s just on the principle of pointing out the wowsers’ lack of balance then the least you could do is to provide some balance of your own.

Peter Fray

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