• Crisis in Aboriginal communities

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 • Re: Crisis in Aboriginal communities

Posted by kerrb at 2008-03-22 12:46 AM
Given that the main problem in many remote aboriginal communities is now internal (although wrought by external government policy which developed welfare dependency) then it's best that the permit system be abolished - so that the communities remain open

The Rudd government has partly reversed this decision by the former Howard government:
The Rudd Government has reinstated the permit system so communities will remain closed. The only exception to the new rule is that government workers and journalists would not need permits.
The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance is creating further problems by developing a special code of conduct for journalists in these communities.

AWARD-WINNING journalist Paul Toohey has handed back his prestigious Walkley Award to protest against a push by the journalists' union to make media representatives outline their intentions to authorities before being granted access to Aboriginal communities.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, led by federal secretary Christopher Warren, last week released an additional "code of conduct" for journalists entering and reporting on Aboriginal communities.

It calls for reporters to contact "police and council at the first opportunity and inform them what they intend doing in the community".

Toohey, who was named Australian Journalist of the Year in 2000 for his reporting from northern Australia and won a Walkley Award in 2002 for a magazine article on petrol sniffing in Aboriginal communities, said yesterday that the MEAA "was now actively working against media freedom in favour of what it mistakenly believes are the interests of Aborigines".

"It shows, surprisingly, a profound ignorance of how journalists work. And of how Aboriginal communities work," said Toohey, The Australian's chief Darwin correspondent.

"Would the MEAA suggest to correspondents in China that they should first consult authorities before seeking out Tibetan dissidents? What if the journalist wants to do a story about the local police, or corruption in the local council? Since when does the independent media announce its intentions to the state?"

Central Australian Aboriginal Labor politician Alison Anderson yesterday described the MEAA's proposed "code of conduct" as a sham.

Ms Anderson, who favours the removal of the permit system for Aboriginal communities because she believes it works towards shielding predators and exposes women and children to abuse, said the code was "absurd".

"Communities have to be opened up like every other town. And we have to be treated like equals. Journalists don't ask police in country Victoria for permission to speak to someone in that town," Ms Anderson said.

- Journo fury at aboriginal press curbs

Bill Kerr

 • Re: Crisis in Aboriginal communities

Posted by kerrb at 2008-03-29 04:11 AM
Someone from aurukun left this comment on my blog in response to my post it's beyond bad in aurukun:
This morning 3.30am locals broke into yard and undid all repairs completed on vehicles done on thurs.To date have fitted 54 ignition switches.In five months have had 32 vehicles stolen,6 written off,15 windscreens smashed,workshop broken into three times. Depot broken into and keys for all vehicles stolen.Every night yard broken into.Damage done to property inmeasurable. Politicians dont care and hide. When politicians visit they spend a couple of hours on the ground then fly out without seeing the real aurukun where violence,stealing and social skills have been put on hold for survival.Most aurukun locals are wonderful people fighting to survive. A culture long forgotten by colonial australia and left to make its own rules for survival.Do-gooders come and go.Rip off merchants run rampant intent on lining their pockets with projects that have no hope of long term viability eg Resort never completed cost 2.3mil, comercial fishing cost $ ?,Fishing vessel cost $ ? money being pocketed by outsiders.Grand plans being put to federal minister to help local community just a ruse to line someones pocket.Senior local politician letting family run sly grog in council vehicle.Senior politician son covicted of complicity in rape of 10 yr old.Another son allegedly involved in stealing fuel from council vehicle while driving council vehicle on council time.Trying to pressure senior council staff to allocate precious work to private companies then trying to explain the meetings away by saying he just happened to be passing and sat in on meeting even though he gave represntatives a ride to meeting. Police underresourced and overworked.
Bill Kerr

 • Re: Crisis in Aboriginal communities

Posted by owenss at 2008-03-30 04:54 PM

Bill I think that the person who left that comment on your blog has a good understanding of what is going on at Aurukun. Earlier this year I heard an interview of the Aurukun Councils CEO. He stated that when he first drove into town a rock was thrown at his car breaking his window. He went to the depot to find that every vehicle was unroadworthy due to broken windscreens. He also said that many council staff had resigned due to threats of violence.


So there's my first point, the Council cant hold staff while Noel Pearson is promoting a scheme to attract a team of elite teachers to Aurukun.


I was always skeptical about recruiting elite teachers to Aurukun not just because of its inherent difficulty but also because even if it did happen how could it possibly be replicated at hundreds of other remote communities?


Last night I heard an interview of Ian Ayres by Owen Bennett Jones on the BBC.


Ayres the author of Super Crunchers argued that statistical analysis is a much better predictor of outcome than an intuitive model. He asserted that statistical analysis has shown that under-performing students can be best helped by using a highly scripted Direct Instruction Method.


The beauty of the Direct Instruction method is that it is highly effective and can be delivered by average teachers rather than the band of elite teachers as promoted by Noel Pearson.


I would appreciate your opinion as I know that your expertise lies in teaching and I think statistical analysis where as I just heard an interview or two.

 • Re: Crisis in Aboriginal communities

Posted by kerrb at 2008-03-30 08:20 PM
hi steve,

1) Pearson is not promoting quality teachers (I prefer that term to elite) in the absence of other measures - his education proposal are just one part of a smorgasboard of measures

so, yes, you need some sort of community stability before education is going to work

2) One idea behind the Teach for Australia scheme (which is partly modelled on Teach for America) is to tap into the pool of  highly qualified graduates who have the sentiment of "making a difference" - this is a group of people who previously have not entered the teaching profession

It does seem to be making a difference in America. I would just say this. Staffing disadvantaged schools with quality teachers  is always difficult. Teach for America addresses this problem directly and has had some success so it's worth a try.

3) I haven't researched the teaching method you mention directly but would agree there is some evidence that "highly scripted Direct Instruction Method(s)" do work for disadvantaged groups.

Also note that the methods promoted by Pearson and MacQuarie Uni and for aboriginal eduction in general tend to be on the scripted direct instruction side of education methodology - literacy methods such as AL (Accelerated Literacy) and MULTILIT (making up lost time ...)

However, these methods do not provide the whole answer but are more catch up for the basics. The part of your argument that I think is wrong is that average teachers can deliver just as well as quality teachers. The current thinking and research shows that finding ways to get quality teachers into disadvantaged schools would make more difference than anything else. Let me know if you want more detail.

Bill Kerr

 • Re: Crisis in Aboriginal communities

Posted by kerrb at 2008-04-02 05:44 AM
Tracker Tilmouth, aboriginal leader, a member of the Stolen Generations, an adviser to the Northern Territory mining company Compass Resources supports boarding schools for remote indigenous students as one solution to the crisis.

As do indigenous leaders Galarrwuy Yunupingu and Noel Pearson

Mr Tilmouth said the problems in indigenous education ran deeper than the chronic lack of resources. He condemned cultural approaches to education that sought to fetishise Aboriginal culture.

"We've got to move away from these socialist policies that 'Through your poverty you remain pure' ... this idea that this Aboriginal group is some strange lot of people from the Kalahari or somewhere like that," Mr Tilmouth said.

"We've got to get away from the idea that the best place you can see Aboriginal people is on a postage stamp, to be amazed and wondered at, licked and then stuck on an envelope, which is what the case is at the moment.

"If a child does not have access to education and is unable to go to school in a comfortable, reasonable manner and be trained accordingly, then you are sentencing that child to a life of unemployment, of dysfunction, of alcoholism, of drug abuse and substance abuse."
- Aborigines 'locked out of real economy'
Bill Kerr

 • Re: Crisis in Aboriginal communities

Posted by dalek at 2008-04-02 09:27 PM

Bill, In PNG the parents can send their older kids to boarding schools in the local district; from my observation it seems to work well. If it is going to be a case of army jackboots forcing children to school in the cities against their parents wishes, it will not. In PNG the local primary school is the centre of the remote communities, it often the only place that has power and communications and lights at night for the adults to do things by. From there the children can go to boarding school for secondary education. It appears to me that the Aboriginal leaders could do well to study this model. I guess it might be a little too socialistic for your endorsement.

Interestingly, the young people seem to retain strong links to the village and "country" even though they may work in the city at often very high levels. I gather the plan to send the best and brightest white guys to teach at the communities has lost favour? You really should make up your mind.




 • Re: Crisis in Aboriginal communities

Posted by owenss at 2008-04-05 05:12 AM

Bill The sentance missing from Mr Tilmouths article in the Australian is that "Aboriginal people would support the move to boarding schools for their children"

My suspicion is that aboriginal people would resist the sending of their children to boarding schools.



 • Re: Crisis in Aboriginal communities

Posted by kerrb at 2008-04-14 07:53 AM
My suspicion is that aboriginal people would resist the sending of their children to boarding schools
It's already happening steve, but needs to be extended further:

ALL rural and remote Aboriginal children would be entitled to a bed in full-time hostels built by the federal Government beside new schools, under a radical proposal to be put to the 2020 Summit.

West Australian Aboriginal activist and chair of the Northern Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance Peter Yu - a participant in the 2020 indigenous panel - said if the Rudd Government was serious about social change, it would invest millions into school-based infrastructure.

- call for remote student hostels

Bill Kerr

 • Re: BiBCrisis in Aboriginal communities

Posted by owenss at 2008-04-15 04:01 AM
Bill I think the evidence that you produced, to show that aboriginal boarding schools have unmet demand, is indicative that aboriginal parents do support such schemes and means that my suspicion to the contrary is misplaced.

 • Re: Crisis in Aboriginal communities

Posted by owenss at 2008-06-16 07:20 PM

Bill you have argued that justice is denied in remote aboriginal communities because of white guilt and a lenient attitude taken by the judicial authorities.


As its now been revealed that court cases in Cape York are being processed at the rate of one every 8.5 minutes a situation described as sausage factory justice do you still expect us to believe that the situation is one of special treatment for aboriginal people rather than one of indifference and judicial neglect?