The deplorable situation of aboriginal people in the Kimberley region of Western Australia was described by that state's coroner yesterday. He was reporting on the deaths of 22 men and women - including the suicide of an 11 year old boy. Billions of dollars are being spent by Commonwealth and State governments but the situation for aboriginals is deteriorating.
21 aboriginals in the Kimberley committed suicide in 2006 a 100% jump over the previous year. Half the deaths occurred after drinking at a pub supposed established for the benefit of aboriginal people. Many of the suicides followed earlier childhood sexual abuse.
Suicide deaths are the ultimate indicator of desparation and hopelessness in any community. There can be no debate here.
The coroner recommends alcohol bans, enhanced child protection, teaching basic home-making skills and limits on spending social security benefits on alcohol and pornography by introducing a 'stamps' program. He also wants a more coordinated policy response.
This sounds to me very much like the package introduced federally by Mal Brough. I hope the Labor Party are listening though, with Jenny Macklin in charge of aboriginal affairs, I suspect that at the federal level we will continue with failed policies that emphasise symbolic gestures and victimhood rather than practical measures.
Time for a policy rethink that emphasises dealing with the issues that are destroying lives not for symbolic gestures that give white people a warm inner glow but don't help abused children or bashed wives.