Indigenous Issues and a Fair Go

Did it all start with Governor Phillip’s Mob?

No. What we see today has much of its origins in the British Government’s  decision to settle in what is now Australia at Botany Bay. “…a colony there would be of great assistance to the British Navy in facilitating attacks on the Spanish possessions in Chile and Peru… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Phillip”

At the time, British and European Society, indeed the World’s Societies, were fragmented – upper/lower classes: brutal and inhumane.  Phillip was a product of his times and culture, more enlightened than most.

“The laws of this country [England] will of course, be introduced in [New] South Wales, and there is one that I would wish to take place from the moment his Majesty’s forces take possession of the country: That there can be no slavery in a free land, and consequently no slaves.”[

Phillip believed in severe discipline; floggings and hangings were a almost daily event, although Philip commuted many death sentences. Phillip ordered that Aboriginal people they must be well treated, and that anyone killing Aboriginal people would be hanged. Despite this and over many years Aboriginal people were driven-off, killed, mistreated. The European population of New South Wales in 1792 was 4,221, of whom 3,099 were convicts. Most of the rest were soldiers.

Not a great start, but almost inevitable because those ruling and administering (and plundering) were uneducated, often sick (scurvy, smallpox) but most significantly, accustomed to being brutalised and incapable of understanding “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” or “Whatever is hurtful to you, do not do to any other person.”

Despite Phillip’s ‘enlightened’ views, subsequent dealings with Indigenous people were seriously and brutally mismanaged. A good deal of the mismanagement continues to this day.

Some key relevant points (see)  https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australian-aboriginal-history-timeline

  1. Federation – The Commonwealth Constitution states “in reckoning the numbers of people… Aboriginal natives shall not be counted”.
  2. White Australia policy – ban all non-Caucasian people from entering the country.
  3. Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 which grants men and women in all states the right to vote in federal elections, but denies it to every ‘aboriginal native’ of Australia, Asia, Africa, or the Islands of the Pacific.
  4. Charles Perkins becomes the first Aboriginal university graduate at University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts. First Aboriginal Australian to graduate from university.
  5.  Charles Perkins leads a freedom ride by Aboriginal people and students  …draw attention to segregation (places of leisure in country towns – swimming pools, picture theatres, hotels and RSL clubs), refusal of service in shops,  and the appalling conditions under which Aboriginal people live.
  6. Causes of a low life expectancy include: poverty poor health and nutrition – Research found that about 80% of the life expectancy difference is due to preventable chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, poor housing, dispossession of their traditional lands, low education level, high unemployment, hidden racism, and inability of politicians to address Aboriginal problems.

 Further observations and some tentative conclusions

  1. Since Australia was settled by the British, essentially as a place to dump the unwanted and to provide a naval base, progress towards a ‘fair go’ was severely and adversely affected by the prevailing cultural, social and political views and cultures of the era along with an under-resourced community – convicts, soldiers, uneducated and sickly.
  2. It took too long to wake up to some aspect of Indigenous disadvantage – it took until 1962 to see Commonwealth Electoral Act provide that all Indigenous Australians should have the right to enrol and vote at federal elections, 2008 to see a bi-partisan Parliament apologise for the Stolen Generations.
  3. Preventable chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, poor housing, low education level, high unemployment, poverty – all of these horrors are evident in both both Indigenous and other  under-privileged Australian Communities.
  4. An inability of politicians to address Aboriginal problems is little different to their failure to deal with unemployment and social problems generally – eg Newstart, Robo-debt Aged Care and NDIS.
  5. Noel Pearson  has said “I believe that there is similar dysfunction in white populations as we witness in my Indigenous communities. I’ve got no doubt the kind of dysfunction that we see is not the result of skin colour, it’s the result of long-term welfare dependency, tied up with the epidemics of substance abuse. So I’ve got no doubt that this is a universal problem”. https://theconversation.com/noel-pearsons-policies-embraced-by-white-australia-but-how-effective-are-they-2226

Recommended

The government should introduce a Job Guarantee that offers a job at a living (minimum) wage to anyone who wants to work but cannot find employment. See:-https://futuretofightfor.org.au/policies/01/ and Associate Professor Pavlina Tcherneva  https://www.pavlina-tcherneva.net/job-guarantee-faq

The Australian government can afford this program because it has has no financial constraint as the issuer of the currency. A currency-issuing government can always choose the unemployment level once the spending and saving decisions of the non-government sector are implemented.

In terms of the overall working of a national economy ( macroeconomics), a Job Guarantee would be an automatic stabiliser that ensures that the Government isp doing necessary amount of spending where it is needed in the right places and right time to achieve full employment with stable prices.

When the private sector is recovering, federal government spending would automatically fall as people leave the Job Guarantee for higher paid jobs elsewhere. When the private sector experienced a downturn, federal government spending would automatically increase as people lose their private sector jobs and enter the Job Guarantee.

Unemployment is a major loss of valuable productive resources, depressing the economic economic growth and lowering our standard of living of the whole community.

Offsetting the cost of a Job Guarantee would include lesser demand for Centrelink services, enhanced tax revenue and receipts, including those on superannuation and investments.
The costs associated with substance abuse, including health care costs and police interventions would lessen. Unemployment and its adverse social effects adds very substantially to on-going and escalating Government spending. Local economies, particularly those in Rural and Remote areas would see an enhanced economy and small businesses would have better prospects.

Training must be included, to ensure that the unemployed are equipped with skills that will be needed when the private economy starts again to employ more people.

Not a “work for the dole” proposal. This is voluntary, full time employment, guaranteed and managed by the government.  It is not intended to be compulsory: it’s there for people who want to work. How to deal sensibly and humanely with those who are able to work and refuse to do so should examined and addressed – it is beyond the ambit of this paper. Those who cannot work because of drug or alcohol dependencies should be offered health care, training counselling and more to equip them for meaningful work.

Job Guarantee Programs should be managed at local area or even neighbourhood levels. Each area’s Program must be managed and supervised  by appropriately qualified people – a well paid, sought-after job. (eg – maybe Centrelink staff, fewer of which would be now needed).

Some  relevant Job Guarantee examples

  • Noxious Weed eradication – pests: graffiti
  • Road Maintenance at low levels – small truck/4 or so workers- potholes, rubbish.
  • Climate change responses – tree planting and care
  • Enhanced care of National Parks, recreation areas, sporting facilities, school premises and streets and neighbourhoods generally
  • Indigenous health, nutrition, social and other problem areas  – Care for Country.
  • Gardens for fresh produce in remote areas, particularly Aboriginal and Islander Communities.

The points made above are only a very broad outline – see here  and  generally  online and elsewhere for much more information. See also another Post on this Blog

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NDIS – Well intended: wrongly based: seriously flawed

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is required by law to provide “reasonable and necessary supports” to help eligible people with a disability live more independently.

The Agency administering  NDIS is governed by the NDIS Act, (191 pages!) the Rules and the Operational Guidelines.

Not supposed to have  predetermined criteria for ‘reasonable and necessary supports’. Different people with the same type and severity of disability may  require different kinds of help.  NDIS only funds a support if it is considered ‘reasonable and necessary’ and is directly related to a person’s disability. What’s covered varies from person to person.

Determining what supports are reasonable and necessary involves subjective assessments by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), which administers the scheme, or its contractors. 

Planners are employed or contracted by the agency to help each applicant identify their goals and draft a plan. The plan sets out the supports needed to achieve their goals. Participants are then allocated funds for these supports, which, the Agency suggests ‘must represent value for money’. Funds can only be used to achieve the goals in the NDIS plan.

NDIS offers ‘three main ways to manage your plan and its budgets (and you can change how you do this at any time, you just need to ask the NDIS) or you can choose a combination of options. Plan managed and Self managed and Agency managed  How to choose which one is challenging even for someone with tertiary education and no disability!

The NDIS uses tight definitions when  allocating individual support packages. It doesn’t duplicate other formal supports such as health and education. It does not pay  day-to-day living costs or the kind of help able to be given readily by family and friends.

Guidelines say the NDIA will fund daily living activities, social activities, aids and equipment and home modification that are necessary.  At a practical level the NDIA assessor decides what is reasonable and necessary and  if someone gets an individual support package or misses out.

NDIS delivery – more problems than you can poke a stick at, including:-

    • Baffling –  complex,  complicated, too bureaucratic and too hard to navigate
    • People are waiting too long – for entry, for support, for equipment, for reviews
    • Carers, particularly those caring for children, have often to be on hand and work 24/7 – no access to respite and help with a singularly challenging role
    • People need more help at every stage of the process – with applying, with planning, and with getting their plan into action
    • Staff lack basic skills, are not experienced in different kinds of disability and lack resources to call on when they need help.
    • Some employees and contractors stay briefly with  NDIS  – quit ASAP – too stressful and confused
    • Some people have to  go into significant debt paying for assessments to try and gain access to the scheme (if they can borrow at all)
    • People on Newstart, Disability Support Pension, the homeless and others who don’t present well to NDIS contractors and staff often see their applications rejected. Assessors have no life experience or professional understanding of these people and their needs.

In 2018, the Commonwealth Ombudsman investigated the NDIS’s handling of reviews on the basis that around one-third of all complaints it received about the scheme related to this issue. This system was judged “unapproachable” and “lacking in fairness and transparency” and leading to delays of up to nine months to receive an outcome.

The NDIA received significant criticism for spending over A$600 million in 2017-18 on consultants, contractors and outsourced staff.

NDIS is NOT an insurer or corporation – it is about people and society, not an economy

NDIS is set up as a ‘pretend’ insurer or corporation/business – it is not about $$$$ and taxes and budgets and bureaucratic crap designed to scare and belittle those in need. The disabled, aged, sick, and disadvantaged are people. We  live in a society, not an economy.

NDIS should be scrapped and what it is intended to do should be done by the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services, which includes Centrelink and Medicare and Child Support.

 Centrelink is, already,  ‘….responsible for the development of service delivery policy and provide access to social, health and other payments and service. This includes seniors, job seekers students and trainees, families, carers, parents, people with disability,Indigenous Australians , and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Medicare funds access to health care. This covers some of a disabled person’s  needs. The  Medical Benefits Scheme, provides benefits including:-

    • out-of-hospital medical services, including general practitioner (GP) and specialist services
    • selected diagnostic imaging and pathology services
    • allied health services in limited circumstances
    • medical services for private patients in public and private hospitals (excluding accommodation, theatre fees and medicines).

Suggested  ways to effectively deliver “reasonable and necessary supports” to help eligible people with a disability live more independently.

    1. If someone is unable to hold a job because of disability or the needs of a disabled person for whom they are a carer, they  should get a pension, equal to the Australian Minimum Wage, presently about $741 per week. In addition, a supplementary payment aimed at mitigating the financial pressures inherent to disability and common to most disable persons  and carers – travel to health professionals, costs with maintaining houses and equipment and similar things.
    2. Those who work despite disability  should receive supplementary payments to mitigate the additional cost inherent in travel and being in a workplace whilst suffering from a disability.
    3. These supplementary payments should be ‘generic’: those relative few who need more should get more on application – the  bonus for the relative few who need less is offset against the admin. cost of case by case application.
    4. Medicare, which already funds access to health care, should be ‘tweaked’ to cover as many needs common to people with a disability as possible. The special needs of a relative few  should be case-managed promptly competently and with empathy.

Other necessary measures suggested

A Job Guarantee Program, which Australia and much of the World needs desperately, would be particularly useful, cost effective and inclusive resource for the disabled . See this Blog September 2019 Unemployment – A Job Guarantee Solution

A Job Guarantee Program would complement programs aiding people with disability.  A Community Garden is already acknowledged to be an outstanding resource.

Those with mobility issues and many other problems find enormous difficulty  in finding work. Employers don’t appreciate that a disability need  not preclude employment. It needs to be demonstrated by a Government Agency  that the disabled are a valuable resource  too.

There is substantial evidence to suggest that obesity and being overweight along with substance abuse are significant causes or contributing factors in  many disabilities – Type 2 Diabetes, Dementia, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Alzheimer’s – many more.

National action to drawn attention to the dire consequences for both health and disability and to deter or curtail the use of junk food and ‘soda’ and promote health eating and lifestyles would be both efficacious and cost effective.

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Health and Education – School Gardens

As an Old Fart …. Elderly Gentleman, working with others at the Portarlington School’s Community Garden, I want to help with offering a food garden and its produce to provide better tucker and an understanding of the health and educational benefits of gardening, cooking and eating good food rather than the junk food and sugar-laden drinks promoted by intensive advertising.

This Blog acknowledges that Portarlington and much of the Bellerine is by no means as socially and economically challenged as the less fortunate neighbourhoods around which junk-food outlets cluster see Science Direct. However, the Portarlington School’s Community Garden and the support given to it by Portarlington Primary School’s Principal, Teachers and Staff may assist other School Gardens and Blogs and provide assistance to the community generally.

The economic burden of treating obesity-related diseases is estimated to rise from A$12 billion in 2014 to A$21 billion in 2025. We spend far, far less on measure to deal with obesity and its origins.

Back in the Herb Section of the Portarlington School’s Community Garden, I am working out how best to add – this week, Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) French Tarragon

 

French tarragon requires full sun to partial shade, rich, well-drained soil and regular watering. Soil should not be too wet. OK in large pots.

New plants must be produced from rooted cuttings or purchased as potted stock from a nursery, I am uncertain as at mid September if I can divide a container plant from home or buy some potted Tarragon from The Diggers Club https://www.diggers.com.au/– I am a member and will pass on members’ discount if pots are needed.

Portarlington School Community Garden

The herb garden section will include- Pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis) –

  • Annuals
  • Sow in spring or summer – after becoming established they will self-sow around the garden.
  • All of the plant is edible.
  • Leaves and flowers are a bit sweet and slightly salty.
  • Pull off the petals and chuck some in salads or sandwich fillings or stir into some rice – fried rice, maybe.
  • Tastes and looks good!

Pot marigold

On 26th September I planted 4 seeds in biodegradable mini pots. Intend to plant in School’s garden when mature

I did this because it is difficult to ensure seeds planted directly into the garden will be watered regularly, particularly during school holidays. Direct planting is said to be the best method.

Parsley Soup

  • Take a bunch of parsley and wash it. I reckon the curly leaf tastes best but use flat leaf variety if you wish.
  • Roughly chop the parsley stems and separate stems and leaves. Keep the leaves aside at this stage.
  • Chop up a couple of large onions and a couple of garlic cloves fairly finely.
  • Cut a two or so large potatoes into dice.
  • Heat a good lot – around 3-4 tablespoons – of ideally, good locally produced olive oil in a large saucepan (with a lid) over a medium heat.
  • Chuck in the onions , garlic and chopped parsley stems. Stir-fry gently for 10-15 minutes or so. Add the potatoes.
  • Cover the pan, reduce the heat, and leave the potatoes to soften. Add some vegetable or chicken stock,(or even water with a stock cube or two) bring to the boil and simmer for until everything is tender.
  • Finely chop the parsley leaves that you kept and chuck them in the soup: cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add around 200 ml of natural yoghurt, cream or milk.
  • Use a stick blender (carefully!) until smooth 
  • Add a twist or so of black pepper and a little salt.
  • Don’t let the soup boil – this can curdle it.

About Parsley

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