a recipe for a dysfunctional society. Using “positive psychology” to encourage people to believe that these things have no effect on them and that they have full power over their own lives is an unrealistic solution to these effects. Human psychology is more complex than simply believing you are not a victim without addressing the scars. It is equally as unrealistic to demand that people be prepared to leave country or take up a more typical Western lifestyle in order to be considered “successful” in Australian society. I feel it is important to identify these impacts of colonisation and this loss of a values system as the narrative underpinning the disadvantage and dysfunction in many communities. Mrs Price should be aware that many of these effects are seen in communities outside the Northern Territory and Cape York, including many places that have mixed populations of Indigenous and nonIndigenous people. They are seen in many places where my family and extended family live, like West Tamworth, Glen Innes, Moree, Boggabilla and Toomelah. They are seen in urban communities, like Logan and Mount Druitt. They are seen in regional communities, like Cherbourg and Woorabinda. They are not unique to places she describes as “traditional”, but they are common to places where Indigenous people have shared experiences of colonisation, and where both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people live in entrenched poverty and unemployment. What then is the solution? I believe a few key principles must underpin the development of local solutions to rebuild communities and address these issues. As space is limited here, I will write in more detail about ideas and strategies based on each of these
principles in later articles. Firstly, healing and restoration of traditional values: we must support and stand alongside our brothers and sisters to help them find spiritual healing and wholeness. We must keep alive positive traditional cultural values. We must encourage cultural connectedness and reconnection. Secondly, an end to welfare dependency: this is the only way to end the endemic poverty many communities experience. I have long believed welfare dependency is one of the biggest blights on our communities, and radical structural change in the welfare system is required to eliminate it. Welfare contributes to boredom, drug and alcohol use, abuse and violence, and ending dependence on it is a must if we are to address issues in remote communities. Thirdly, and closely linked to both of the above, enabling people to take power in their own lives. Local communities must have genuine input into the delivery of services and the making of decisions that affect them. Finally, local communities must be supported to genuinely address issues related to substance abuse. Local strategies that may include complete alcohol
bans, restricted trading hours, night patrols, increased local security, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation are required to address the devastating effects of alcohol and drug abuse. I again welcome the renewed concern that Australians are taking in the issues facing many Indigenous communities. My dream is for all of our communities, urban, regional and remote, to be able to have the best of both worlds. To maintain traditional values systems and cultural practices and to keep strong connection to country, while also having access to education that supports them to set and achieve their own goals, a safe and healthy living environment within a functional and supportive community, and the ability to provide the basics for themselves and their families in life. We must support our communities to achieve these things in a way that does not require acquiescing to Western ideals of success or values systems and does not compromise our cultural integrity and unique identity. I look forward to exploring some ideas and strategies that would help achieve this objective in more detail in later articles.
Published on Jun 23, 2013
We must focus on identifying the underlying causes of the disadvantage confronted by our communities and empowering them to develop solution...