Tyranny of low expectations

School class in Willowra

School class in Willowra

22 May 2015 On ABC Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Indigenous teenagers need support to escape what he calls the ‘tyranny of low expectations’: “We must yearn for the day when success for Indigenous people is so normal it is no longer remarkable”.
Aboriginal community leader Warren Mundine, the chairman of the foundation, said he wanted the scholarships to be offered to more students. “We’re not here about just educating people and providing opportunities, we’re here to change the nation,” he said.
Comment by Wake Up Time: The main reason to write Wake Up Time is the appalling disadvantage kids in remote communities face because of lack of support by their parents and lack of stimulation to achieve in the sense of education. Abbott is spot on: it is a tyranny of low expectancy.

Second edition of Wake Up Time

wake up time inhouse publishing aboriginal book indigenous sociopolitical northern territory

The multi bilion dollar Royalties Maze and legal racism are in the way of finding solutions for the massive problems in remote communities.

15 May 2015 The second edition of Wake Up Time has been printed. The book will from now on also be published with the assistance of InHouse Publishing Brisbane.
Wake Up Time received strong endorsements of our top broadcaster, Alan Jones and of the Australian Prime Minister.
“Your report provides a valuable insight into the operational culture that exists in remote regions across Australia”. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, 16/4/2015. The letter of 1 A4 was written on personal request of Tony Abbott.
Especially for the benefit of the children, no policies should stay untried, not even withdrawing support to unsustainable communities. Tony Abbott has more than almost any other politician visited remote communities, over the years. He knows the appalling situations.
“A brilliant observation. Well done. Great stuff”, Alan Jones, 2GB, 17/3/2015
Jones has strong opinions. He is a very free mind and I am happy with his endorsement.
The goal of Wake Up Time is and was always to support Aboriginal people in solving the major issues in these communities. The kids deserve a real opportunity to live a life as they like, without the huge disadvantage they face nowadays right from their birth.
Wake Up Time is for sale from this website or at InHouse Publishing.

Ranger jobs

8 May 2015 In The Guardian it is stated that “representatives of 15 regions across Australia have written to the federal government to “commit to approaches we know can work and which value traditional owners’ strengths”, by increasing long-term investment in indigenous ranger programs. They ask the government to commit to increase the number of indigenous rangers from fewer than 1,000 to 5,000. “What we’ve got here is the best people to manage it who can bring that incredible traditional knowledge and are showing they’re quite happy to work with what science can bring to deliver landscape management.”
Comment by Wake Up Time: All over the world rangers look after the land they feel strong bonds with. Any sensible policy will include local people to work in environmental protection and visitors education of their own region. That certainly applies to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in remotes part of our continent. But despite many efforts, Kakadu and Uluru are failing dramatically in including local Aboriginal people in the management, mainly for financial and cultural reasons. Idealistically the article scores a point, but the reality is – sadly enough – again pretty disappointing.
And even if 5,000 jobs would be created, then that is only 1% of the total Indigenous population. Ranger-jobs are not THE, or the MAIN solution to Aboriginal unemployment as is often suggested.

Aboriginal art lacks scrutiny

1 May 2015Nicolas Rothwell addresses the reluctance to criticise and evaluate Aboriginal art, in a comprehensive article in The Australian of 2 May 2015. Rothwell states that the silence of critics is the most serious problem Aboriginal art is facing, especially now the sales are extremely low. “Thanks to heavy public funding and the conviction of cultural bureaucrats that indigenous art should be supported, and spun as a viable economic “success story”, there is a huge oversupply of Aboriginal art but no clear basis for grading it.”
Comment by Wake Up Time: In Wake Up Time estimates are presented of the economic size of the Aboriginal arts markets. It is a very small, and declining market. Hardly anyone makes, or can make, a living of that. It is unfair to suggest that Art is THE field in which Aboriginal people can find a future. In the latest sensus 52% of people in remote communities fill out as profession ‘artist’. Rothwell’s article supports the idea that it is time to get real about the economic, and artistic side of Aboriginal art according to the same standards used elsewhere in the cultural world.

Recognition revived

24 April 2015 Is Indigenous constitutional recognition salvageable? We have to hope so, writes Kirstie Parker in The Guardian. “Two years ago, 90% of Indigenous National Congress members supported recognition”, but currently ‘there are many who are becoming increasingly disillusioned and cynical about the way things are headed generally in Indigenous affairs.’ The Congress continues to support the recommendations with advising on a model and process, pairing “removal of existing discriminatory clauses within the constitution with meaningful recognition, preservation of the Australian government’s ability to pass laws for the benefit of Indigenous Australians, and a prohibition on racial discrimination by governments”.
Noel Pearson stepped back from the recommendations of the expert panel, of which he was a member. He now supports symbolic recognition outside the constitution and what he sees as practical recognition within the Constitution, through the enshrinement of an Indigenous advisory and consultative body to the Parliament. Pearson says he has moved to his current position after venturing into the realm of constitutional conservatives.
Comment by Wake Up Time: Removing any form of discrimination and racism from the Australian constitution is good and valuable. But Wake Up Time considers that goal to be in contradiction with the proposed allowance to make laws or measures for preferential treatment of any racial group.

Leave Traditional Land to avoid to work

17 April 2015 The Central Desert Regional Council has warned that new work for the dole rules announced by the Government have the potential to inundate Alice Springs and other regional centres with remote community job seekers and their families. “If you live out bush you have to work for the dole for 25 hours a week for 52 weeks a year. But if you live in an urban address your obligation to work for the dole is 15 hours per week and only 26 weeks a year. People will move into town to avoid the unfair rules and harsher penalties”, the Mayor of the Central Desert council, Mr. Dixon, said. Council Chief Executive Officer Cathryn Hutton added that “the future of vibrant, developing communities depends on our people staying on community, adults participating in the economy and kids going to school.” The Alice Springs News headed: “Leaving their tribal lands to avoid more work for dole”. Erwin Chlanda put to Mr Dixon that being on their traditional lands is commonly assumed to be of paramount importance to Aboriginal people. Would they leave because of the extra work, and take their families with them? Mr Dixon said they would.
Comment by Wake Up Time: If being ‘on the traditional land’ is as important as often is suggested, why could one then leave to avoid working 10 hours a week extra to receive otherwise unconditional welfare? Chlanda’s question, and Dixon’s answer tell the whole story.

An endemic of addictions

10 April 2015 – Billy Goat Hill, in downtown Alice Springs is empty, since a 12-year-old boy died here a little more than a month earlier of sniffing deodorant. The Guardian article continues with the remark that the funding cuts by the Northern territory government, resulting in the closure of the “Congress youth drop-in centre” lead to this tragic event. A new, popular drug, crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as ice, is currently the preferred choice of addiction. It is on its way to the remote communities.
The story continues with the question whether not only the current funding cuts, but even the 2007 Intervention is the cause of all this, but also states that “these young people are out walking the streets because it’s not safe to be at the town camp or it’s not safe to be at home”. The article essentially mentions three possible solutions: intervene in the supply, help the victims and punish the perpetrators. All of that to be done by governments, police and social workers.
Comment by Wake Up Time: As usual we don’t touch the real questions: why not keep parents responsible? If town camps and remote communities create unliveable circumstances for young people, why not abolish them and protect the children from opportunities for a future? It is up to the people in the camps and communities to take co-responsibility for these problems. Wake Up!

$ 1.3 billion buy out

3 April 2015 – Noongar people surrendered native title rights in a large area spanning from Jurien, north of Perth, to Ravensthorpe, in the Goldfields-Esperance region, in exchange for $1.3bn in land, finance and benefits over 12 years. Annual payments of $50 million (in dexed to inflation) will be made into a Noongar Future Fund over 12 years, as well as $ 10 million/year for a special trust. 320,000 hectares of land will also be handed over to Noongar ownership. More in The Australian, the ABC and The Guardian
Comment by Wake Up Time: This time the land rights have not be converted to money by mining companies, but by the State government. It seems a reasonable way out of a lot of problems caused by the land rights in this part of Australia. A rather cheap deal for the State; it makes one wonder what the ‘real’ value of land rights is, though.

Widespread abuse

27 March 2015 Child abuse and domestic violence in Indigenous communities “will remain chronically undisclosed and under-reported,” an Australian Crime Commission (ACC) investigation of eight years, has found. In some communities every person had reported being affected by child sexual abuse, either as a victim, perpetrator or relative.
Suicide, self-harm, neglect, nepotism, exploitation by both community leaders and people with links to organised crime, targeting mining royalties and government funds meant for Indigenous programs. Neglect remained the most common form and was worse in remote communities, where it “appears to be tolerated at levels that would not be accepted in metropolitan and most regional areas”. Sexual favours and prostitution to obtain alcohol and drugs, including among underage boys and girls, are common.
Violence in Indigenous communities was found be be extreme, normalised and often involving weapons. Domestic violence was the most significant form affecting Indigenous communities, and “often … continues for 20 to 30 years”.
There was a “tacit acceptance” of both violence and child abuse in some communities, and children were often actively discouraged by their own family from disclosing or reporting.
Indigenous communities and 58 regional towns were visited with more than 2,000 stakeholder meetings.
More in The Guardian, 30 March 2015

Comment by Wake Up Time: if even the Guardian publishes this information, then there really is something wrong. The Guardian normally acts like an ostrich, as many Australians do, by refusing to see the reality. Remote communities are highly dysfunctional, agressive, unsustainable and a major threat to the resident children.
My concern for these children was the main reason to write Wake Up Time. As Wake Up Time reveals. Mining and government funding is one of the major drivers… a claim now supported by this research.
Australia should wake up and take action. These communities are subhuman and children should be protected. And locals should look after themselves as we all do in our own lives.

Political game playing

24-3-15 The very serious Indigenous issues in remote Australia seem to be used more and more as a playing field for journo’s, miners and politicians alike.
Larissa Behrendt foresees in The Guardian disasters because of the new Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) announced by the federal government. As an example she mentions the Institute for Aboriginal Development (IAD) in Alice Springs which received only 7% of the funds it bid for. According to letters in the Alice Springs News the IAD does not really have a good track record. Or actually, cannot provide outcomes of its work in any shape or form. Quotes from the letters:
“Google the IAD annual report 2013-14. Module completion of educational courses is only 36%.”
“It is time the Aboriginal councils started funding and looking after their people, and not putting their money in the banks. Look after the average person in the street.”
“I used to drive past IAD every day for three to four months and not once did I see any activity on campus.”
Has Behrendt looked into every detail of IAD before expressing her opinions?
Regarding political spin, the government seems to be very eager to introduce yet another card limiting welfare spending by Indigenous people, as proposed by Forrest.
Despite strong doubts about the effectiveness and fairness of the BasicsCard, the government will re-introduce another one: the “healthy welfare card” with limited cash-out options. The new card “would operate alongside the BasicsCard”, an existing income-management scheme which he described as more restrictive in its spending rules and the outlets where it could be used.
Comment by Wake Up Time: Journo’s should inform themselves much better about the ins and outs of new policies regarding very complex Indigenous issues. Before mentioning AID as an example, it would be good to know the ‘hard outcomes’ of this organisation.
Forrest’s proposal is patronising and rather confusing. Is this card a method wanted by Indigenous people, or a method WE think is good for Aboriginal people? The BasicsCard is very controversial, see Wake Up Time, and now we will introduce another one???? Another icon of racial policy… do we ever learn?