Thursday, February 03, 2022

Fears over Aboriginal child removals as report reveals 'endemic racism' in WA Department of Communities

This is the old "Stolen Generation" myth again. There is one and only one reason why so many Aboriginal children have been relocated: Aboriginal families are very hard on their children. Parents -- particuilarly fathers -- are often neglectful and too often violent to their chidren. Relocating them is a mercy to them

The author of the 2019 report says she does not think any of her 49 recommendations have been acted on by the WA government
The report by Indigenous Psychological Services (IPS), which was commissioned by the department to examine its cultural competency and child protection standards, was finalised in October 2019 but never released publicly.

The recently leaked report painted a damning picture of the department, including evidence of "endemic racism", and found that of the 295 child protection staff who were surveyed, not one felt culturally safe in the department's workplace.

Psychologist and Nyamal woman Tracy Westerman, who headed the report, told the ABC that racism was a driving factor behind the over-representation of Indigenous children in state care.

Despite only 4 per cent of the WA population being Indigenous, the Department of Communities' 2017-2018 annual report showed 55 per cent of the children in state care were Aboriginal.

By 2020-21, the annual report stated that of the 5,344 children in care, 3,056 were Aboriginal — an increase of more than 2 per cent to 57.2 per cent.

Aboriginal Family Legal Service WA chief executive Corina Martin agreed with Dr Westerman, saying she expected rates of Aboriginal children being removed from their families to continue rise.

"[The department is] more in line with assimilation than they are with trying to help families," Ms Martin said.

"I think what they're trying to do is make a black mother become a white mother and it's not going to work."

Family Matters report released

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children entering the child protection system could increase by more than 50 per cent over the next decade without "wholesale change to legislation, policy and practice", a report finds.

Department of Communities assistant director general for Aboriginal outcomes Cheryl Smith said claims that child removal rates would rise, were not backed up by child protection data.

She said in the last reporting year, there was a reduction in the total number of Aboriginal children in care for the first time since 1997.

"Encouragingly, this trend has continued into the new reporting year, with the current number of Aboriginal children in care fewer than 3,000 children for the first time since 2019," Ms Smith said.

However, while the overall number of Indigenous children in state care fell slightly, the proportion of Aboriginal children compared to non-Indigenous children in care increased


Ord Irrigation Scheme to expand into the NT, AAMIG selected as developer

Amazing that this old dream lives on. You can grow almost anything at the Ord but it is remote from possible markets so transport costs make its products uncompetitive in price. Last I heard, the only thing they were successfully selling was Sandalwood -- used as incense in Asia

The long-awaited expansion of the Ord Irrigation Scheme into the Northern Territory is a step closer, with AAM Investment Group chosen as the preferred developer.

Historically known as Ord Stage 3, the Keep Plains Agricultural Development is a 67,500 hectare parcel of land in the Northern Territory adjacent to Western Australia's Ord Irrigation Scheme.

AAM Investment Group (AAMIG) is an Australian-owned investment company that already owns the nearby Legune cattle station.

Its portfolio also includes broadacre mixed farming and livestock operations near Forbes in New South Wales, cattle and sheep operations near Blackall in Queensland and large-scale poultry operations in South Australia.

The company says it is aiming to start with dryland farming on the Keep Plains and to eventually develop irrigated crops like mangoes, bananas, nut trees, maize and other fruit and vegetables.

Opportunities for jobs and innovation
AAMIG and the Northern Territory Land Corporation will now enter into negotiations to finalise a Project Development Agreement.

NT Farmers Association chief executive Paul Burke said the "major agricultural development" would bring "significant long-term economic as well as regional development and investment outcomes".

"The flow-on will create new jobs and training opportunities and grow northern Australia's capacity to lead with new innovation, technology and infrastructure, and environmental stewardship," he said.

The land release is understood to be the biggest of its kind ever seen in the Northern Territory.


Corporates face climate crackdown from big investors

Australia’s biggest polluters face a crackdown from a powerful group of climate investors who have vowed to push for new executive leaders if companies fail to move to net zero emissions or signal enough ambition on green transition plans.

Climate Action 100+, a global investor group which controls $65tn in assets, plans to boost its focus on how big business and emitters are responding to the threat of climate change amid concern a flurry of net zero announcements may not be followed through with significant action in the short and medium term.

Integrating climate risk into financial accounts will be among the focus areas in 2022 annual general meetings, according to Climate Action 100+ which includes Australia’s biggest superannuation funds including AusSuper, Cbus and UniSuper.

“In 2022, investor signatories expect more climate-focused shareholder resolutions and higher votes, including a laser focus on how company net zero goals are being met with short, medium and long-term emissions reduction targets aligned with the Paris Agreement,” the group said in its 2021 progress update.

“An increasingly critical and hot topic, they also anticipate more resolutions on integrating climate risk into financial accounts and oversight of such risks by audit committees and auditors.”

Australian corporates are increasingly under pressure on climate change as institutional investors such as Climate Action 100+, backed by domestic superannuation funds, use their power to hold companies to account.

Companies in the spotlight in Australia include AGL Energy, BHP, Rio Tinto and Origin Energy while globally 111 of the 165 focus companies have now set 2050 net zero targets.

The group last year started probing the credentials of non-executive directors serving on Australian energy companies, questioning whether stacking boards with oil and gas veterans was appropriate given escalating climate pressures. It’s indicated it will step up that focus into 2022.

Investors “have made it clear that if companies aren’t willing or able to respond to the challenge of moving towards a net zero transition, they will look for new leadership. Where signatories don’t see required progress from companies, the next step is to ask board directors to respond to these challenges and bring about required change.”

Some 70 new investors joined the Climate Action 100+ group in 2021, marking 170 per cent growth since 2017.

One of the world’s biggest money managers, State Street Global Advisers, put Australian companies on notice earlier in January that they need to come clean on how they intend to hit net zero targets, arguing that climate change represents a “systemic risk” that has the potential to destroy value.


Home schooling hit hip pockets as education costs soar

Home schooling cost many families $10,000 extra as working parents were forced to take unpaid leave during pandemic lockdowns last year, analysis reveals.

Educating a child at home during the Covid-19 pandemic cost parents an extra $1856 in direct expenses, on average, the Futurity Investment Group calculated for its annual Planning for Education index.

The cost included $400 for electronic devices, $201 on extra software, apps and textbooks, $293 to set up a home classroom and $433 in extra food and electricity costs for children at home all day.

One in three parents who took holidays or unpaid leave to help home-school a child reported earning “substantially less’’ – with half losing at least $10,000 in wages.

The report estimates that for a child starting school this year, the average cost of a private school education across Australia will soar to $349,404 over the next 13 years of schooling once tuition fees, textbooks, technology, uniforms and tutoring are taken into account.

For students in “free” public schooling, costs will total $83,869 – about $6450 a year – including uniforms, excursions, contributions, textbooks, stationery, technology and external tutoring.

A Catholic school education will cost $143,944 on average over 13 years of schooling.

Sydney has the nation’s most expensive schooling, the analysis compiled from the federal government’s MySchool website data and a survey of 1800 Futurity ­Investment members, shows.

A private education in Sydney will average $459,236 compared with $404,373 in Melbourne and $273,280 in Brisbane.

Private schooling costs far less in regional and remote areas, ­averaging $143,701 over 13 years because of the high number of low-fee independent schools.

In Adelaide, a private school education will cost $284,690, on average, compared with $215,554 in Perth.

Brisbane has the costliest Catholic school education, averaging $158,199 – well above the ­national average or Sydney’s ­average of $132,048.

In Sydney, where academically selective public schools are concentrated in wealthy suburbs, parents will spend the most for state schooling – $92,375 compared with the lowest cost of $59,162 in regional Victoria.

Public school levies will average $442 this year in Sydney, but parents will pay a further $1891 on outside tuition, $735 on school camps and sporting equipment, $525 on electronic devices and $473 on uniforms and textbooks.

Futurity Group chief executive Kate Hill said the cost of education had risen at more than double the rate of inflation over the past decade.

“Education costs, including school fees, outside tuition, software and electronic devices are demanding a far greater share of the family budget than in the past,’’ she said. “We know many Australians are struggling with the cost of living.

“Covid-19 has only exacerbated the financial challenge, with parents forking out hundreds of extra dollars on unplanned ­education-related expenses at the height of the pandemic.’’

The Futurity Group has launched a “tuition loan’’ so cash-strapped families can spread the annual cost of schooling into weekly or monthly payments.

Brisbane banker Livian Lian is spending $20,000 a year educating her six-year-old Year 2 student Claire – including $10,000 in private school fees and $10,000 in extra-curricular activities. “We decided a private school gives a better environment and facilities but we find the school’s education is not quite enough so she also learns piano, ballet and ice skating; she’s also learning Chinese and drama as well as tuition.’’


A straw man defence of "Dark Emu"

Peter O'Brien points out the lies in a Leftist fantasy:

Recently in a comment thread, a Spectator Australia reader took me to task for claiming in the promotion for my book Bitter Harvest – the illusion of Aboriginal Agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu, that:

Pascoe postulates that rather than being a nomadic hunter-gatherer society, Australian Aborigines were actually sedentary agriculturalists with ‘skills superior to those of the white colonists who took their land and despoiled it’.

My interlocutor claimed that I had constructed a straw man argument and that Pascoe had not made this claim but had merely highlighted that Aboriginal culture was more sophisticated than mainstream Australians had given it credit for.

I could not let that go unchallenged because this is a defence of Pascoe that has been deployed by a number of his cheer squad, notably in the aftermath of the release of Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers – the Dark Emu debate by anthropologist Dr Peter Sutton and archaeologist Dr Kerryn Walshe.

It is a straw man defence that has allowed incurious cheerleaders to gloss over the fact that Drs Sutton and Walshe described Dark Emu as ‘not a scholarly work’ or the fact that I have methodically checked almost all of his sources and proved that he has deliberately misquoted or misrepresented them.

Despite taking what should have been massive hull damage below the waterline, the good ship Bruce Pascoe sails serenely on, kept afloat by the strenuous bailing activity of, inter alia, the ABC, and Wikipedia.

So let me put the evidence that Pascoe did make extravagant claims about Aboriginal culture. The back cover blurb for Dark Emu tells us:

Pascoe puts forward a compelling argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer label for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag.

In other words, Pascoe was rejecting the notion that Aborigines were predominantly hunter-gatherers. In fact, as I show in my book, the evidence Pascoe is able to amass does not support that conclusion. He provides plenty of evidence that Aborigines harvested native grasses and tubers such as murnong. But that is just as true of hunter-gatherer societies.

What would distinguish hunter-gatherers from agriculturalists would be sowing of seed. Pascoe provides only three instances of Aboriginal people being observed sowing seed. They all occur in the twentieth century and they are all small scale broadcast by hand. Sutton and Walshe describe this as spiritual propagation. In other words, it is a ceremony designed to petition the spirit ancestors to send them a plentiful supply of food.

The ABC, one of Pascoe’s staunchest defenders, also thinks he was claiming that Aborigines were agriculturalists. From the ABC Education website:

In 2014, Bruce Pascoe wrote a book called Dark Emu that challenged the belief that the First Australians were hunter-gatherers. In researching his book, Bruce examined the journals of the early explorers and found evidence of a complex civilisation that was using sophisticated technologies to live, farm and manage the land.

And Pascoe himself said in a 2018 talk:

In 2014 I wrote a book, Dark Emu, which exploded the myth that Aboriginal people were mere hunters and gatherers and did nothing with the land. I wrote the book because I found it hard to convince Australians that Aboriginal people were farming. Using colonial journals, the sources Australians hold to be true, I was able to form a radically different view of Australian history. Aboriginal people were farming. There’s no other conclusion to draw.

Well, there’s no other conclusion to draw if you accept unquestioningly Pascoe’s grotesque distortion of his sources. Even if you believe that Pascoe was claiming no more than that Aborigines were, on the whole, hunter-gatherers but significantly (in a statistical sense) also employed agricultural techniques, he fails to prove his case, not by sloppy scholarship but by blatant deception.

If you would like to see the full extent of this deception you will have to read Bitter Harvest. There are still a few copies left.




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