Mandy Vanstone got up in the Senate yesterday and spoke of a concept adopted by rural indigenous communities, 'chuck in, chuck in'. Which basically means shared responsibility and mutual obligation between community and government.
They have coined the term to reflect the regional partnerships Federal and State Governments are forging with those communities keen to defeat some chronic problems. Can there be anything sadder then the scourge of petrol sniffing. Vandstone reported on initiatives by one community,
In petrol sniffing it is interesting to see what has happened in the Warburton area. In the eighties and nineties there was a very big petrol-sniffing problem in this area. The community leaders have worked very hard to do what they can about it. They introduced their own by-laws in this area, I am told, in 1992 to provide penalties for trafficking and sniffing. They ensured that the by-laws were enforced. They introduced diversionary programs. They converted to avgas in 1996. And now the petrol sniffing problem has dramatically improved from what it was.
When I was told about this over the weekend—because this information came, obviously, from my staff who were at this function —I asked, ‘How many people? Do they put one or two in jail?’ I was told that one week they put 30 people in jail. They do not back away from it as a community. They say, ‘We’ve got to do something about this.’
Whilst it's laudable applying proactive policies to help rural indigenous communities, in the end one wonders how these communities survive. Will their kids gain the education necessary to escape the welfare trap ? Or is it a given these kids are destined for a life of welfare in rural communities ? Hopefully regional partnerships also cover this important aspect.