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    R. Ambrose Raven

    Policies need to have a strong emphasis on design and implementation that reinforces the positives that Aboriginal society either has or needs. Doing what is needed would probably cost less while achieving much more than now because it would be focussed on actual needs, realistic plans, and Aboriginal-community-oriented decision-making.

    Yet government agencies – and politicians – appear utterly disinterested in real improvement of Aboriginal lives. Naturally there is the eternal commitment to KPIs, TQI, CQI, etc., but never at the cost of putting Aboriginal people first.

    Several massive external barriers exist to any serious improvement of marginalised Aboriginal society – politics, the denialists, the media, transnational economic ideology, and the bureaucracy moulded by such pressures. Add one extra issue rarely discussed and usually ignored despite its importance – the extra costs of living in rural and remote areas. Far from being merely annoyances, they are greater barriers to fundamental betterment of Aborigines as a group than the disadvantage of Aboriginals themselves.

    Abbott’s own script is the customary Hard Right aim of turning Aborigines into aspirationals with utter disinterest in what Aborigines themselves might want – or, can realistically achieve. Such as he (and Mundine) thus expect blackfellas living ten to a house to buy their own home on a mortgage when the median whitefella mainstream family that they are supposed to copy, can’t.

    Time after time we have this or that programmes for improvement put forward, but without even a hint of mention of just how they propose to overcome those basic issues like neglect, despair, dreadful housing, unemployment, etc., even though said basic issues are a massive internal barrier to [insert programme here] being effective.

    After all, saying a failure to properly educate children ‘one of the worst forms of neglect’ not only dismisses the difficulties in doing so faced by families of our most marginalised social group, but also was an important justification for the Stolen Generation.

    Despite the white noise of racism and historical dispossession which is a constant drone in the background of their lives, many Aboriginal people do try, inevitably against the odds. But far too much responsibility/blame is cast onto the individual or extended family. It is extremely difficult for any marginalised group to seriously better itself. Aborigines are no different.

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