The NT and the Feds have directed “an assessment of boarding school options and capacity for First Nations students in Central Australia” – likely to be the usual convoluted process seeking public money.
This is “consistent with the approach we are taking in our plan for A Better, Safer Future,” Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney is quoted as saying, and Federal member for Lingiari, Marion Scrymgour: “It’s really important we work through the boarding needs and views from the local community.”
But Alice Springs identity TREVOR SHIELL is proposing a shortcut to writing submissions for a government handout. Retired in the Alice Springs farm area, he is the writer of 243 comments pieces in the Alice Springs News – so far.
In a distant part of Fiji – once my world – a relative of my wife came into town proclaiming that in his region of four Fijian villages and three Indian communities there was a need for a secondary school. The nearest secondary government school was 120km away.
The community already had a primary school for Fijians [#2 on the photo above] and one for Indian kids . The community approached the government and got a negative response because the government had no money.
Dreketi was a subsistence area of the country, so they decided to build a junior secondary school themselves.
The women sold roadside produce and the men cut and milled their own timber.
I recall the men mixing 20 tonnes of concrete BY HAND for the septic system (design taken from the UNESCO handbook) and digging two km of drain by hand to get water.
Within a year they had a junior secondary school for 320 kids. No help from government, thank you, and they took pride and ownership of it.
Within a year they also built a dormitory as some of the kids were walking six km through the rainforest to get to school.
Again it was theirs and they took ownership. My wife and I had the privilege of starting the school over four years with books donated from Australia and in retrospect that was the most rewarding period of my life.
I live for the day when the Indigenous communities in Central Australia would follow the same model and accept responsibility for their own welfare rather then wait for government to do everything for them and then ignore the responsibility of owning and maintaining them.
The same applies to housing and accepting some responsibility for their own welfare.
That school is now a regional education centre, originally called as the Dreketi inter racial school. It served that purpose well.
Now renamed, it has produced some great people – a diplomat, a magistrate, a deputy police commissioner and several high level government administrators from a humble beginning.
It troubles me that the large financial reserves here in Australia are not channeled into an Indigenous development bank like the Asian Development bank which spawns many business ventures in the Pacific or the Fiji Development bank which services Indigenous Fijian enterprises.
It seems to me that the rest of the world will not pause while our Indigenous entrepreneurs catch up. And all for the lack of money.
The money is there in trust but there is little incentive to use it for self development.
Google Earth IMAGE at top:  the secondary school built by the village;  where the women sold produce to raise money and  the principal’s residence. On its western side is a pine wood plantation [photo above] started when the secondary school was built and that now assists to guarantee the financial independence of school.