Saturday, November 24, 2012

the betrayal of Papunya by Russell Skelton

The betrayal was the major lapse in oversight that occurred at Papunya - and a host of other communities - like a ghastly genetic flaw. Until the emergency intervention, self management, as Elliot McAdam has so pertinently noted, came down to leaving a bag of money at the front gate with the disclaimer attached: your community, your problem; you fix it
King Brown Country: The Betrayal of Papunya
Sit down money (welfare) plus drugs plus the kinship system together is a recipe for disaster. This has been well documented by other authors: Noel Pearson: Up From the Mission, Peter Sutton: The Politics of Suffering

Russell Skelton's book does present a compelling case for the failure of the so called "self determination" policies initiated by Gough Whitlam.

If any young or old idealist was thinking of going remote to work in indigenous communities to "make a difference" then, after reading this book, they would think again. There is no point going there to make a difference if all the cards are stacked in such a way that you won't make a difference. If it's too hard to make a difference then most will decide not to take the first step. That is why a clear analysis of the problems developed into a comprehensive plan is important.

That is why Noel Pearson is so important. He has thought through all the issues comprehensively and has gone a long way to putting in place a range of policies which do have a fighting chance of making a difference.

Some reviewers regard this book as unbalanced. See this review by Dr Lawrence Bamblett. Yet no one is seriously challenging the amazing information within it. It's a matter of interpretation. Should we try to remain positive or optimistic rather than face some awful facts? Or the real question is: How do we remain positive and optimistic once we become aware of these awful facts? This is why you should read this book.

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