Well we agree that housing needs do remain dire. There …

Comment on Carrots for jobs, sticks for education and grog by Hilary.

Well we agree that housing needs do remain dire. There is a huge backlog from decades of neglect, but it is not only the designated “hub towns” that need them. And it will continue to be expensive, but there needs to be a commitment to improving housing, service provision and infrastructure to all communities, as called for by people in the Wellbeing report recently released.
The other aspects of the NTER such as compulsory income management, compulsory land acquisition, and legislation relating to customary law; federal government policy shutting down CDEP; together with NT government policies dismantling community councils, and essentially shutting down bilingual education are all coercive policies removing autonomy from communities and individuals.
It is highly likely that this disempowerment is contributing to the lack of effect that one might have otherwise seen from increased service provision.
The SEAM “experiment” may not work because of its coercive component, and further “nudges” or rather use or threat of “big sticks” is likely to further disempower people, again negating the effect of increased service provision, as the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association predicted in their Health Impact Assessment of the Intervention in 2010. However the introduction of intensive case management is welcomed.
As far as your comments that withholding welfare from parents whose children aren’t attending school have been called for by Aboriginal leaders, there are many Aboriginal leaders who find such policies abhorrent who have made their sentiments public, as well as education leaders such as Chris Sarra as we have already mentioned. Furthermore, at the 5 Stronger Futures consultations that I attended there was unanimous disagreement for such a policy.
As far as the USA studies, the conclusion was that it was the case management that made the difference, rather than the sanctions. The WA “experiments” have been critiqued by WACOSS. Perhaps you think that a human rights perspective is irrelevant, but I think it is essential. It is possible to provide services, structure, and pragmatic nurturing in a way that does not infringe human rights, which should be regarded as a bottom line.
The long history of dispossession in this country will take at least decades to overcome, and your frustration that progress is not occurring as fast as you might like is no reason to deny people their autonomy. Further losses of autonomy are likely to continue to worsen outcomes. There is an evidence base to the positive effects of human rights, and your deridement of this is without basis.

Hilary Also Commented

Carrots for jobs, sticks for education and grog
Chris Sarra on linking welfare to school attendance in the past week:
Nov 14 on ABC: CHRIS SARRA, SMARTER STRONGER INSTITUTE: “There’s all this talk about evidence-based approaches to policy reform and there are some serious questions about the extent of evidence that enables this to be considered for expansion.”
KATRINA BOLTON: Dr Chris Sarra questions whether the big stick approach is the right one.
CHRIS SARRA: “This is an approach that delivers minimal return for exorbitant investments.”
Nov 11: The approach of quarantining welfare payments if children didn’t attend school was “profoundly ineffective”. http://tracker.org.au/2011/11/new-approach-needed-on-attendance-sarra/
Nov 15: Indigenous education expert Chris Sarra said “with this approach everybody loses”. http://tracker.org.au/2011/11/crackdown-on-truancy-a-tick-the-box-program/


Carrots for jobs, sticks for education and grog
@Bob. Lots of exclamation marks.
I look at the great results Chris Sarra and the Stronger Smarter Institute are getting in Queensland. He is an expert in education, and highly regarded.
You might be aware of the studies from USA looking at welfare sanctions linked to school attendance. They found that it was the intensive case management that made a difference. The SEAM results are not yet available. The Halls Creek trial didn’t work.
It’s not a question of carrots or sticks, it’s a question of what works, and if it doesn’t work, and it’s punitive, and people don’t want it, then why do you? None of those ideas I mentioned are new, but many communities don’t have access to them.
And it’s perfectly possible to pursue an education that can lead to professional qualifications and at the same time have cultural practice supported.
None of the above attempts to deny the issues, but punitive policies are not the way to go.


Carrots for jobs, sticks for education and grog
The stick approach doesn’t work. Communities are calling out for better ways to get their children to school; a school bus, more locals in the school, a curriculum that includes cultural practice. And of course proper support of bilingual education in communities that want it. The reasons that children don’t get to school are many but include overcrowded housing, poverty, as well as cultural obligations. Cutting off welfare to a parent struggling to make ends meet will only make things worse.
I understand that neither ceremonial cultural business nor funeral attendance are accepted reasons for missing school. This is appalling. As a Pintupi friend says, “the government has to recognise that we need to grow our children up with tjukurrpa” (the dreaming).
And lastly, housing needs remain dire. These are what communities which have been terribly under-resourced for decades are calling out for – more housing, more services, more activities for young people – the services that Australians everywhere else take for granted. These, and increased community control are some of the things that healthy robust communities need, and will translate to more children at school, more employment, less alcohol, and all those other measures that the government can seemingly only think of punitive measures to address.


Recent Comments by Hilary

Caterpillars as big as a mountain are starving
Thanks Fiona! Evocative and reflective. xx


Dylan Voller will give evidence in person, not by video link
Proper process for dealing with people in custody who are spitting is for the guards to wear a mask and goggles. Not to put a spit hood on the person in custody. Humiliating processes are never acceptable.
Similarly stripping children who are at risk of self harm, being held down by 3 guards, is also unacceptable and brutalising.
This is true for anyone in custody, but that this is being done to children is horrific.


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