So very sorry

June 24th, 2007

Am I reading this and this right?

“Part of the Government’s approach is to reduce people’s discretionary income by quarantining half of all income support and family assistance payments for up to 12 months. The changes will apply to both indigenous and non-indigenous people living in as many as 60 remote communities. People living outside the communities will be assessed case by case. Further measures will see the payments linked to school attendance. Where children are identified as at risk, Centrelink could intervene to ensure essentials such as rent, food and medical expenses are paid before assistance payments are made.” – Source.

Is the government proposing that a person or a couple or someone in a kinship group, who is on a Centrelink payment and lives in one of 60 remote communities, where the payment is made for the care of children, possibly in the form of Family Tax Benefit A, will need to adhere to less than 3 unexplained school absences for one (or all) of their children, if they expect to keep that payment autonomous from some sort of financial case management regime?

How does the government plan to monitor this? If resources are available, why not utilise them to educate, rather than investigate? Is the message here that children need to have maximum time away from the adults in their communities (other than schoolteachers) to be safe? How is that then not a stolen generation by another name? What services will be put in place to act as a change agent, so that a caregiver can work towards self-determination and independence.

What will be the punitive measure if these parents are not on a Centrelink payments, or is that so unlikely, as to be ridiculous? If that is the case, what will be done to fight poverty and the lack of employment opportunities in remote communities?

I was moved by, and understood the urgency of, Noel Pearson’s speech given to Fran Kelly’s Breakfast, on 20/06/07, on ABC’s Radio National.

I was equally moved by, and understood the cynicism inherent in what Mick Dodson had to say in response to HoWARd’s National Emergency rhetoric. Mick spoke of the past two decades of this ‘urgency’ in Aboriginal societies. He calls for a National plan to tackle addiction, housing, education, employment, physical and mental health in Indigenous communities.

I’m uneasy about a PM who can’t say sorry, and horrified at what I read in the Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle
“Little Children are Sacred”

On balance, I have to come down on the side of safety. Having said that, this measure needs to be monitored for the safety outcomes it hopes to achieve. I want to see every non-indigenous person take on a mentoring role for an indigenous person, so that every one of them can work themselves out of a job in the 5 years allocated to this national emergency.


Not walking by

June 19th, 2007

My day to day work is interspersed with assisting victims of intimate violence to rebuild their lives.

By and large these (mainly) women rely on the generosity of neighbours and other more loosely connected supports to assist them to stay safe, until friends, family or the police arrive.

Recent events in Melbourne, where what seems to be the death of a caring man, who came to the aid of a woman, who was being assaulted, will only serve to alienate those who are vulnerable to domestic and family violence further. I say this because I predict that as a society we will pull back from helping strangers in need, even more than we did before this man’s unfathomable and confusing death.  If you don’t feel safe to help, you can always call the Police.  Use 000- it is an emrgency.

Ironically, my day to day work could also see me offering support to the partner and the three children who will be burying their brave partner and father, respectively.  My work may also require me to work with perpetrators.  It’s challenging , but they also have the opportunity to change, repair and redeem.

I will continue to work very hard to reduce violence in our community- and will not walk by.

I know I am not the only one and I hope it never costs me my life.


Image from here

Why the Liberal party is just SO last season

June 6th, 2007

The good Doctor Washer, a Liberal party backbencher and 50 of his colleagues, is reminding the Minister for Foreign Affairs- Alexander Downer, why he, and his party, cease to remain relevant, by highlighting how out-of-touch this government is in relation to its foreign aid policy. Currently, Australian foreign aid money comes with a condition which prevents it from being spent on abortion advice.

“It’s repugnant, it’s an insult to women. I think that is just absolutely an insult. What is even more ridiculous or more repugnant is that we’re saying in these guidelines that if you go and have an illegal abortion where there is a 13 per cent chance of death on average and you happen to survive, we’re happy to give you counselling. Well, that’s good for those who didn’t die but for the 13 per cent, I think counselling dead people is pretty difficult. I haven’t found much success in it as a doctor, so that’s absolute lunacy.”-Dr Mal Washer.

It is clear how Australians feel about safe abortion services. And yet, with this data, this government remains influenced by Senator Brian Harradine, who retired some 3 years ago.

Now is the time to ensure that this aspect of the Harradine legacy is removed from influencing Australia’s foreign aid money. Moreover, it should never have been exported overseas to people who clearly require assistance, not moralising.