The USS Quad Damage

Violence in Australian outback

I wish to bring your attention to an elightening letter to the editor published in The Australian recently.

I live in and work for a remote Aboriginal community. In considering the debate about social dysfunction in communities such as mine, I ask you to consider how you would cope living like the people here have to live.

Take at least 10 people from your extended family -- children, the frail ederly, relations with addictions or mental health problems -- and then imagine them living with you and your family in a small, three-bedroom house. Imagine that maybe only one, or two, if you are extremely lucky, has some sort of part-time paid work. Imagine that there is no cinema, no restaurant, no shopping centre -- no form of family entertainment to allow you to get out of your crowded house. It is 150km of dangerous, car-destroying dirt road to the sealed road, and another 300km to a town with such facilities. Fuel costs $1.70 per litre.

Imagine this for a year, two years, for your lifetime. Imagine the impact on your children: how can they do any school homework, get a good night's sleep or get your undivided attention, even for a moment? How would you personally cope with the noise, the mess, the unending chaos of such a household?

We need to tackle the fundamental problems that cause social dysfunction in remote communites, and in this town, we need to start with housing and community infrastructure. I was angry to hear Mal Brough say that this isn't the issue and I challenge him to try living like the brave people here do and see for himself how it feels.

Kerry Shegog
Ernabella, SA

Although it would be hard to draw a link between lack of infrastructure and the horrible accusations of things like the raping of children etc., nonetheless, I thought it was very important to highlight an example of government neglect of small rural communities, and the plights of Australian citizens in our own country.

We've all seen on television the violence that occurs overseas; even the thought of evacuating Australian citizens from East timor does not really raise an eyebrow for the Australian public. But I have to ask why people aren't more concerned when they hear about the idea of "evacuating" citizens out of an Australian town because of violence. See these links; 1 - 2. Are people just used to it now, and expect this kind've thing? Or is it some sort of denial; "This only happens in places like Africa."?

I want to know why there aren't more people asking about the moral responsibilities of government, and questioning the socio-economic effects of discriminatory government policy. I think this is where the Australian 'laid-back' attitude should be put to shame.