Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Time to re-think Aboriginal welfare?

I have discovered that if you want to silence a noisy, packed room in under ten seconds, then just casually ask your host why there are so many drunk Aboriginals around.

No one in 'polite company' seems to want to discuss anything Aboriginal. It's like they don't exist. Fortunately, the newspapers do report on Aboriginal issues.

There appears to be something of a generational sea-change of thinking going on right now with even the Labour Party now calling for a radical rethink. Labour's indigenous affairs Minister, Chris Evans, has branded the efforts of the Hawke and Keating governments as abject failures in delivering better health and economic progress for Australia's Aboriginal communities.

A new scheme is to be trialled in Cape York, Queensland, whereby Aboriginal parents who do not send their children to school will be punished, reports The Australian. The proposal, put forward by an indigenous leader called Noel Pearson, is designed to cut truancy rates and get Aborigines off the dole. Under the scheme, young people who fail to look for work or study will also face reduced dole payments.

James Bartholomew and others have been writing at length about the damage welfare has done to working class communities in the U.K (his blog is here). It would seem that welfare thinking is more advanced in Australia.

The picture above shows aboriginals at Tjapukai dancing the story of the kanagaroo hunt.

note to self - arrange to meet Noel Pearson