Patronising, paternalistic blow-ins: hands off our kids!


I was utterly horrified this week when I read the article by Blair McFarland. What he says constitutes an utter betrayal, a total lack of understanding of the plight of so many children.
I’ve personally spent many years knocking around the bush working with my brothers building houses from one end of the Centre to the other.
I met and worked with many people in many communities,  received good natured assistance pulling cables, digging trenches, mixing concrete, from many happy laughing kids in many different places.
Sadly, over time I also observed the light go out of the eyes of these same children as they grew older and began to realize that the world they had happily participated in with the excitement and expectation, the world they saw before them, the world they watched on their televisions every night, was to be denied to them.
They realized they were to be treated differently with expectations of living some long past life style placed upon them simply to please the romanticised fantasies of a bunch of patronising paternalistic blow-ins who thought the long defunct life style of these children’s ancestors should be continued.
As a result they were not prepared to help these children, show them the way, to assist them achieve their dreams of becoming doctors, policemen, pilots – all the same things other Australian children dream of. I watched the onset of listlessness turning to drug use and alcohol abuse, sliding in many cases into a life of hopelessness and dependency.
Along the way I personally learned the paramount importance of the one thing that can change these children’s lives, the one thing that can give them hope, give them a life through which they can choose their own path: Education!
A compulsory education so parents and gushing paternalists have no choice but to send them to school until they attain a level of education meeting this nation’s expectation for all its children – without exception!
Nearly every child is born into the world with the same set of tools, the same potential to achieve. It is only the environment in which they are raised that creates the differences we call culture. That is why it is completely possible to raise a child from a life of hopelessness in a single generation if we truly set our minds to it.
The mooted allowance by some within academia of non attendance of school in order to allow pursuits of their forebears such as hunting should be seen for what it is, race based child abuse of the worst kind!
A blatant attempt to maintain the welfare dependant plight of many Australians!
We all live in one world, we are all equally part of that world, there is no going back to yesterday, there is only tomorrow. It is the role of every Australian adult of any race to make absolutely certain that our kids are properly prepared to live in the world as it is today!


  1. Steve Brown, who blew into town sixty years ago, attempts to explain why “the light” has gone out of the eyes of Aboriginal children on Central Australian communities.
    He seems to be saying that it’s the fault of “the romanticised fantasies of a bunch of patronising paternalistic blow-ins who thought the long defunct life style of these children’s ancestors should be continued.”
    He “watched the onset of listlessness turning to drug use and alcohol abuse, sliding in many cases into a life of hopelessness and dependency.”
    This is the man who recently declared his support for seven day a week take-away alcohol in the NT.
    He would know that these communities have access to roadhouses who ply the grog seven days a week to parents of the children he is so concerned about.
    As for his statement that it’s a “blatant attempt to maintain the welfare dependant plight of many Australians”, try that one on the alcohol industry.

  2. My take on Blair McFarland’s article is that he is describing the lived reality of bush kids and making the point that they are intelligently making choices within that reality.
    I don’t see that he is bringing any particular value judgements to his description although a lot of assumptions about his value judgements are being made by others.
    How can a description of lived reality be a betrayal or demonstrate lack of understanding? Rather, Blair McFarland is filling a knowledge gap.
    That’s laudable, surely it is important for community programs and the staff delivering them to be informed by a deeper understandings of remote Aboriginal kids.

  3. I totally agree with Steve that education is the key to any child’s advancement.
    This makes it critical that ALL kids have access to quality teaching and schools.
    I’m sure Steve has noticed in his year’s of personally knocking around the bush that often this isn’t the case.
    And under his CLP mates it’s getting worse. Cuts to schools, phasing out access to secondary education in the bush, cutting special programs – it’s all happening Steve.
    As such a strong supporter of education opportunities in the bush I’m interested to hear what you are telling this Government about what they are doing to our schools and bush kids.

  4. @ Ralph Folds: What your comments suggests is that when it gets hard let’s just give way!
    It’s really tough getting these kids to school so why not just teach them how to live a life of dependency and squalor instead.
    We can always dress up living in a community, going on the odd hunting trip between card games and drinking bouts while awaiting the arrival of the next welfare check as a continuance of a wonderful traditional way of life!
    Where’s the failure? Where’s the betrayal in that? And it’s oh so much easier than providing an education especially one that just might provide these children with the tools to fight their way out of dependency! What would some of us do for a job then?
    I stand by my comment, deliberately encouraging children to accept their plight by not standing firm when they try to wangle out of school as just about any child does at some time, is an absolute betrayal especially when it comes from the youth sector.
    @ Melanie: Of course I acknowledge the discrepancies between the education levels provided in the bush and our larger communities.
    However, that will never be resolved by simply throwing funds at the problem, just look backwards Melanie the last 50 years clearly demonstrate the more the funds the greater the failing.
    We have to set our sights on nothing less than equality of life for these children. It’s about good teachers who believe in and strive for with great determination, the outcome.
    The answer does not lie in employing a cast of thousands who as you must be very well aware generally hold us back while we educate them! Only to lose them when we have! The CLP is on the right track we have to be realistic, live within our means! Forget the politics and get behind the drive to equality and full time employment, give our kids something to strive for and the means to attain it, keep pushing for that outcome no matter what government holds power.

  5. As I read “The Esteemed Great White Elder’s” thoughts and wonder what an achievement it would be to attain to such gems as “awaiting the arrival of the next welfare check”. Sacre bleu!


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