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I'm with you 100% on this one. The feeling of helplessness arising from being unable to do any whatsoever to affect the situation positively, is depressing in the extreme. Belongum may be able to suggest something that those of us so concerned about this can do in some practical way to help. It's a bit akin to the systemic problems in many war torn starving African contries - but so close to home, and so, so tragic and soul destroying to witness first hand. Maaan, Adrian, ya sure know how to cheer people up! But you're so, so right - Belongum - sorry to pressure you - but - gaaaah - help!

Anyone who has been involved in Aboriginal Affairs policy in recent decades has known.
It was known in the NT in the 1980's. In Queensland in the 1990's.
Unfortunately people in Aboriginal affairs policy turn over quickly as Governments play with service delivery organisations and structures. Look at the history of Federal Government policies, initiatives, and agencies. The average live of a policy and delivery system is 5 years.
Like all services to Aboriginal people it is lie that Governments spend a lot of money. How Government's count expenditure should be looked at. For instance if 30% or 30% of people in gaol are Aboriginal then 30 or 70% of the cost of the system is a service to Aboriginal people.
Generally Governments spend less on Aboriginal citizens than the average for the Australian citizen (check health and housing per capita)
Remote area infrastructure collapsed 10 years ago due to reduced funding, population growth and just pressure on insufficient resources.
Means tested public housing dried up in 1993 and the stock of Aboriginal public housing has reduced not grown.
In 1993 the average number of persons per house in NT settlements was 16 and population growth up to 3%.
Ask any knowledgeable police official - they will tell you that crime cannot be controlled in such overcrowded conditions.
"Crime is manageable when everyone has a bed to sleep in."

What can one say?

It's a huge issue, and not one that is going to be solved by pontificating from the cities.

And it's an issue that isn't going to be solved with words. Action has to be taken...quickly and firmly.

I think the most telling comments were with regard to the use of drugs and alcohol within aboriginal communities and the comparison made between the transient aboriginal population on the outskirts of Alice and the shanty towns in South Africa. Of course there is high levels of violent crimes when education levels are so low, health is extremely poor and there are extremely high levels of drug and alcohol abuse. I'm not suggesting that it is right, but that until the standard of living in Aboriginal communities is improved I doubt there is little that can be done.

The situation won't be improved by a government that just throws a little more money at it, rather a holistic solution has to be found, one that allows the aboriginal communities to find a balance between traditional life and western culture. Australia is not the only country in the world where there are problems with indigenous communities finding the best balance, but we do seem to be the best at burying our heads in the sand over it.

Thanks for yet another thoughtful and insightful post. I have my doubts at to the ability of the current government to deal with this in any meaningful, longterm solutions but i really hope to be proven wrong.

A friend of mine owned a shop on the Gold Coast and had trouble with drug addicts buying and selling heroin out the front of her shop, when she called the police to tell them and ask them to do something about it, they were prepared to do so - until she described who it was - a black man... they told her, flat out, that they couldn't do anything as they would get done for discrimination...

Makes you wonder...

My comment was far too big to place here, the situation is far too complex. As such it has now become a new blog entry on my site... my apologies Adrian... I wish I could do a simple reply the justice it deserves, but I've had my ears bashed far to much over this subject of late... please return the favour. Cheers ;-)

(Belongum is part aboriginal and works in indigenous communities. A.)

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