At present we have a new federal government who are apparently developing ideas relating to ‘improving conditions’ for remote indigenous populations- “promising practical methods’- but they will come from the usual non-creative non understanding viewpoint. What is needed is creative intelligence.
· the many indigenous populations in ‘country’ have no hope in terms of parity with mainstream Australian society if they continue to exist in their present extremely remote locations
It is my assertion that the most efficient, humane, intelligent and culturally aware option is to migrate (voluntary and hugely resourced) these types of population into areas which are capable of supporting them.
The continuing indigenous settlements in remote areas of Australia provides for a continuous degradation of aboriginal society and although many programmes have been developed, huge financial resources used, there has been no dramatic increase in health, education, housing and parity statistics. And no solution presented in the past or present will overcome the problem of geography, distance and climate.
How can provision be made for extreme/remote students to access higher education (for example) unless the student travels to and lives nearer to the education center? Do we move universities to remote areas to provide services to just a few students? Spend billions of dollars (in the long run) in locating universities in remote sites for just a few students?
What we have today is an ongoing problem of separation of families in order to survive in modern Australia- children having to move to large functioning population centers to access education. And, at present how is this paid for? Through government grants of one type or another- but surely it would be more efficient, human and socially aware for the entire family to move to the functioning population centre?
Then at the end of the education cycle why would the children or the family want to move back to ‘country’ where there are no opportunities for them, or no parity services for their parents?
The argument in opposition to all this is that ‘country’ forms the basis of aboriginal culture and society- this is a problem which must be dealt with, but not I believe through making indigenous populations languish in poverty at these locations. There has to be a serious conversation about the benefits to aboriginal people, including their culture and cosmological and ‘spiritual’ beliefs, in the continuing presence of these populations in and on ‘country’. Is there some other way to keep the cultural aspects of knowledge alive without making a certain percentage of indigenous people captive to these ‘country’ locations? For example, the most detailed maps can now be be created through the home computer and satellites; huge archives of information including art, audio, text can be stored on a few DVD’s.
Is there is a requirement to actively interact with the actual physical ‘country’ continuously in the aboriginal culture (cosmology, theology etc) or is the requirement discontinuous? If it is continuous can this be performed by specialists such as elders or is a larger population required. What exactly are the requirements. The point is that somehow, for the benefit of all, these questions have to be understood and the understandings quantified so that a realistic holistic solution can be developed. For example if it is a requirement that a certain number of elders, or population, is required in ‘country’ to perform certain activities then these could be paid a million dollars (let’s say) a year for their services to culture. This would be cheaper to the community as a whole in the long run. Other indigenous individuals or groups who for various reasons at different times need to ‘be in country’ or to interact with the ‘on country population’ could simply travel to the site for short durations. Perhaps in the future these sites could become cultural-spiritual-tourist locations for the (then) affluent aboriginal populations of Australia.
For me this outline of possibilities reflects a ‘common sense’ approach – I do understand for others it may, at first, seem radical – but remember that the basis of moving forward has to be in understanding the reality and need for both cultural, social, spiritual and parity solutions.