I happened to be in London at the time of …

Comment on Pilger’s polemic fails Australia and Aborigines by Laurencia Grant.

I happened to be in London at the time of the early screenings of John Pilger’s film Utopia  back in November. As the only Australian in this London cinema, I felt a strong desire to take the audience aside and scream, “Nooooooo!!! this is not the full story!!! You are being conned by a man who does not like Australia and does not want you or anyone else to know the richer, more complicated story. He cannot tell you this story because it involves much more sophisticated journalism”. I couldn’t sit through the film and I might have been kicked out of the cinema if I didn’t leave of my own accord. I love a good story and I’m not afraid of awkward truths, but I’d learnt a lot from my experience in Alice Springs and my politically correct Melbourne suburbs stance on the issues affecting Aboriginal people had altered. The Pilger position is a tiresome one. It saddened me to watch this in the darkened London cinema on my overseas journey of reflection about my rich and complex experience in the Central Desert. I hoped for more critical reviews of his film from people who knew better. 

Recent Comments by Laurencia Grant

Vinnies add new service
A great initiative of St Vinnies. This will go some way to address the challenges that people without permanent places to live have to face.
A concerted effort to address the need for affordable housing and supported accommodation for people with disabilities is surely the next step.


Thoughts on war and peace from a cyclist in Alice
There is still an event for World Suicide Prevention Day each year. It’s on or near September 10 and last year was held on the Council lawns.
The Council are supportive of a new public memorial to remember those who have died in this region to suicide.


Changing school holidays? It’s a hard one.
The NT school holiday calendar affects the entire NT community and everyone deserves a say on any changes and everyone’s view, if they live in the NT, is equally valid.
I was pleased that this survey was circulated and was available to be completed by people who were “community members” which could include people without children or grandchildren.
The weather in Central Australia, according to the Arrente seasons, is warming up in October, getting hotter in November, still very hot in December, hot winds in January and still hot in February and still warm in March.
If your work requires travel to remote indigneous communities, men’s business excludes entry over the late part of the year.
This leaves a six month period where travel conditions and weather are ideal.
The four week break in June and July is disruptive. A large majority of the working population and their children leave town.
Out of office replies are frequent, Government offices are understaffed, no festivals, sporting opportunities are diminished and some businesses close.
The four week break in the middle of the year has never made sense to me.


NGOs, who needs them?
Steve Brown, the picture you have painted of the NGO sector tells me that you have not properly considered the function of NGOs in Australia and overseas.
If Governments and private enterprise could adequately address the magnitude of social, political and environmental issues impacting on all our lands and oceans, NGOs might never have happened.
The Christian missions led the movement in most colonised countries, followed by small and larger organisations led by a range of identified needs.
Issues include the lack of clean water supplies, poverty, discrimination, pollution, no independent media, destruction of wetlands, rain forests, old growth forests, ocean reefs, disease, slavery, abuse of women and children, asylum seekers, the destructive influence of alcohol and other drugs, food security, marginalised and stigmatised groups, environmentally and socially irresponsible business practices, secretive and unjust Governments, support after natural disasters, homelessness, war trauma, slavery, lack of freedom to vote or demonstrate, refugees, neglected children, abuse of homosexuals, lack of affordable housing, threatened and endangered species, cruelty to animals etc. 
NGOs can provide a cost effective channel for consulation on anything from the construction of roads to the aged pension, they promote a richer public debate by providing information and opinions that would otherwise not be heard, they help keep government and businesses accountable. NGOs advocate for systemic change from a position of expertise. They also are accountable to a board of management and their consumers and funding sources, often transparent to a much greater degree than Governments or private corporations. 
To conclude, many who work in this sector are earning average wages or are volunteers unless you head up World Vision. The sector can attract those who are passionate about the cause. Just as is the case in Government and private enterprise, the organisations can implode at times through poor work practices, incompetent leadership and corruption.
In Central Australia, those in all sectors of work need to respect the efforts of each other and put energy into successful collaborations and shared visions to address the social, environmental and political issues impacting on our lives here. 


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