Thursday, May 05, 2022

Youth crime out of control in the Northwest of Western Australia

I am old enough to know the background of this problem. The "youth" concerned are Aboriginal youths and they are a problem nationwide. Ever since the missionaries were eased out of running Aboriginal settlements, civility in those settlements has steadily declined.

I remember elderly Aborigines who grew up under missionary supervision. People who know only the present crop of young Aborigines would be amazed at how Westernized they were. They behaved in a way that was remarkably similar to white expectations. So Aborigines can be adaptively socialized, given good examples of how to behave.

And nobody has come up with a management strategy which is remotely as fruitful as what the missionaries offered. The strategy mentioned nowadays is basically a strategy of desperation. They hope to get aboriginal youth away from the cities and back into the countryside within existing Aboriginal communities. Getting the problem out of sight is the proposed solution.

Accommodation in Aboriginal communities is normally these days provided by some government body and providing more of that in the "bush" communities is proposed. How you are going to incentivize the youth to return to their communities is not explained. A lot more than housing is needed to socialize problem youth. A whole-of-life management programme is needed to civilize them.

But such treatment would be "paternalistic" so cannot now be contemplated. Dysfunction among Aboriginal youth will continue

The WA Government has announced a $40 million package to address youth crime. Community leaders are divided about whether it will deliver tangible change. There are calls for more than one on-country residential facility as an alternative to detention

"It was a beautiful town when I came here, everyone got on well with each other, but over the last two years, the crime rate has just grown and grown, it seems to be out of control," he said.

"The last one [break in] was pretty serious, they actually damaged a whole door…we had to close for a whole day so we lost a day's takings…the overall cost will be major."

He said there was an urgent need to find an answer. "It seems the youth are running the streets," he said. "Everyone in town is scared."

Mr Moore's business is one of a growing number of businesses in the Kimberley caught up in a spate of property damage and crime being blamed on young people.

The WA Government announced a $40 million package on Tuesday aimed at addressing escalating youth crime in the region.

The announcement included increased funds to expand the Target 120 program – which supports young people who are at risk of becoming lost to the criminal justice system – to nine more locations across the state.

The package also includes $15 million for a new dedicated residential facility to house at-risk youth on-country, a measure that community leaders have lobbied for over many years.

It's a move that's been welcomed by Social Reinvestment WA — an Aboriginal-led coalition of 25 not-for-profit organisations.

Coordinator Sophie Stewart said the package was a start in addressing underlying root causes of the offending and more effective interventions.

"We do need an alternative to incarceration for young people in the Kimberley and for that matter also in the Pilbara," she said.

"With the reports of the alarming conditions and human rights abuses at Banksia Hill, we're really glad to see the state government prioritising initiatives that will keep children out of prison."

Ms Stewart said keeping children close to country, community and culture would be a key part of the solution.

She said close consultation at the grassroots level would be key to the success of the new measures. "What we know is that whatever the facility ends up looking like it needs to be a therapeutic space that provides opportunities to build pathways for their future," she said.

She said there needed to be an opportunity for a job, further schooling and training as well as a therapeutic and rehabilitative space for young people living with trauma.

"For these initiatives to be successful the state government has to work in partnership with local communities and lived experience people in the design and the delivery," she said.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan has flagged Myroodah Station as a possible site for the new residential facility.

Pandanus Park resident Patricia Riley said basing the new facility in a remote area was "a great approach". Ms Riley said getting children out of major towns such as Broome and Kununurra would ease some of the challenges being faced on the ground.

"These parents go out into town and they end up staying there and then dragging their family into town, the kids get bored and get up to mischief…these poor kids they just want attention," she said. "They've got no choice but to be in town because of their parents, so it's a good idea to take these children out back onto country.

She said communities needed programs and employment delivered properly to address what people needed.

Wyndham-East Kimberley shire president David Menzel said the government should consider developing more than one on-country residential facility in the region.

"I'm not sure whether that's singular or plural at the moment but it needs to be plural," he said. "There needs to be several options to get people out of some of the chaos that is their normal life.

"Give them somewhere where there's a bit of a breather so they can get a bit of time out, have some support systems around them to work through some of the issues."

While the package has been welcomed by some in the community as a step in the right direction, others were concerned it wouldn't be enough to address the region's complex and deep-rooted juvenile crime problem.

Nirrumbook Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Joe Grande aid the government was 'following chicken feed' instead of working with the community to tackle core issues.

His Aboriginal-run capacity building organisation mainly derives its membership from the Dampier Peninsula region, north of Broome.

"What about the money they've already spent?" he said. "The reality is that until we all collaborate, real collaboration, true collaboration with government, then we're all going to be working in isolation from one another."

Broome Shire Deputy President Desiree Male said it remained to be seen if the programs would be enough. "Having this not work is not an option," she said.


Rose de Freycinet stowed away on her husband's ship 200 years ago. Her remarkable journey still matters

More than 200 years ago, a 22-year-old French woman cut off her hair, disguised herself as a man, stowed away on a ship, and became the first woman to document a circumnavigation of the world. But her story was almost lost to the world, thanks to male editors and censorship.

And it might have stayed hidden forever, were it not for a modern push to bring women's perspectives to the fore.

It was 1817 when Rose de Freycinet, disguised as a man, boarded her French naval husband's ship, the Uranie, and hid in a special cabin he had prepared for her.

Her husband, Louis de Freycinet — the namesake of the picturesque Freycinet Peninsula on the east coast of Tasmania — had become the first person to map Australia's coastline as a sub-lieutenant of French naturalist Nicolas Baudin.

His was a small wooden ship with 120 men on board and having a woman embark was strictly illegal. So he pretended he needed an extra officer's cabin and made a few refurbishments.

"Rose had to stay hidden until they were out of territorial waters, and then there was some danger that when they landed in French territory, the officials there would arrest her," Ms Falkiner, the author of Rose: The extraordinary journey of Rose de Freycinet, says.

But rumours about her presence aboard the ship spread through France, and even reached the Royal Court. "The King said something like 'well, perhaps the less said, the better'", Ms Falkiner says.

Ms Falkiner says the officer's reactions were mixed but that some weren't happy. Women were thought to bring bad luck to ships, and the Uranie's navigator Gabriel Lafond, who wrote about the voyage more than two decades later, says she was an "apple of discord" among the crew and officers.

So, while she spent two and a half years onboard the Uranie, Rose rarely appeared on deck. Instead, she kept to her cabin, teaching herself to play guitar, learning English and doing needlework.

She was also an intellectual companion for Louis and supported him by researching the places they were destined to visit.

Rose's presence was largely unacknowledged by those onboard. "Everybody had to pretend that Rose wasn't there — because officially she wasn't there," Ms Falkiner says.

This included the ship's artists Jacques Arago and Alphonse Pellion, who were tasked with visually documenting the expedition.

"Quite often they did two versions of paintings, a private version where Rose was visible and then another one, which was censored.

"There are actual drafts where there's a line drawn through the figure of Rose, so the engraver could leave her out."

Although she was cut from the official records of the expedition, Rose kept a journal documenting the voyage.

The journals were addressed to her friend Caroline de Nanteuil back in France. Ms Falkiner says there's a lightheartedness in many of Rose's observations. They included banter about foreign fashion, social norms and the various dignitaries she encountered along the way.

In early 1820, after rounding Cape Horn, the southernmost headland of Chile's Tierra del Fuego archipelago, the Uranie was damaged in a storm.

Louis decided to make for the Falkland Islands where the boat could be repaired, and their supplies restocked from the wild cattle and pigs on the island.

Though they reached the Falklands and navigated into French Bay as planned, the Uranie would never make it back to France.

"There was a subterranean rock that wasn't marked on their charts, and they ran straight into it," Ms Falkiner says.

Louis managed to run the ship aground on the beach. Rose's journal details how he instructed everyone to remain on board to save essential items, despite enormous waves lifting the vessel up and dropping it onto the sand.

He managed to salvage many of the scientific papers and natural history specimens onboard, as well as the guns and barrels of brandy.

He also ensured no lives were lost, though the struggle to survive on the island had only just begun. Everyone had to live in makeshift tents, made of old boat sails, and endure freezing temperatures, living off the land and rationing their dwindling supplies.

Fortunately Louis survived. And after two long months, the castaways were rescued by the crew of an American whaling boat.


Seaweed farm proposal for Eden aims for Australian-first commercial kelp crop

Those behind a plan to build Australia's first commercial ocean seaweed farm off the NSW south coast say it would create a "brand new industry" and feed a growing appetite for the product.

Auskelp have submitted a proposal to build a 200-hectare lease at Disaster Bay, south of Eden, which would grow kelp for food, cattle feed, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Kelp are large brown algae seaweeds which grow naturally in the colder waters off the coastline.

High in protein, it can be cooked like other greens or used in supplements.

The leases will harvest two main species found in southern NSW, golden kelp (Ecklonia radiata) and Durvillaea, commonly known as southern bull kelp.

Auskelp CEO Christopher Ride said the development would tap into a massive market for both human consumption and agriculture.

"It's never been done in New South Wales waters before. In fact, has never been done in an ocean farming setting in Australia at all," Mr Ride said. "It's a brand new industry."

The company has received an aquaculture permit from the Department of Primary Industries for the ocean lease but the project is contingent on seeking approval from the Department of Planning and Environment as a State Significant Development.

"We've got at least 12 months to go before we can start to put test beds in Disaster Bay for production expected to be in the beginning of 2025," Mr Ride said.

Emerging industry with big plans

Agrifutures published an Australian Seaweed Industry Blueprint which estimated the industry could be worth $1.5 billion by 2040, employing 9,000 people.

But lead author Jo Kelly, from the Australian Seafood Institute, highlighted the industry was currently "small, fragmented, and disparate".

The report estimated in 2020 the gross value profit of the entire Australian industry was less than $3 million and the workforce less than 40 full-time equivalents.

AusKelp's Christopher Ride said the industry was held back by regulations and risks of investing in an emerging market.

"I think the reason it hasn't been done before is because we've got quite a lot of regulation to overcome, and rightly so to protect our ocean environments," Mr Ride said. "There's a high level of risk associated with going through the regulatory process, which takes many years to then really work out whether this is viable at scale."

It is estimated seaweed populations have reduced by 40 per cent across the world over more than two decades.

The company predicts a 200-hectare seaweed array could sequester 3,600 tonnes of carbon every year. "It has a whole lot of extraordinary benefits, and the beauty of kelp is that kelp is the most environmentally form of aquaculture and agriculture," Mr Ride said.


Queensland authorities warn about 'life-threatening' risk of catching both COVID-19 and the flu

After getting her flu jab, Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said she was concerned about the "life-threatening" risk of Queenslanders being struck down with both viruses at once this winter. "We're expecting a big flu season this year," she said.

"We are already seeing more flu cases this year than we had for the whole of 2021. Some people will end up getting COVID and influenza and this is of great risk.

"I know a lot of people who went out last year and got the flu shot simply because they were concerned that they may get COVID and flu. That risk is even greater now."

Eight more people died in the state with COVID-19 in the latest reporting period and 7,668 new cases were recorded. There are 504 people being treated in hospital with the virus, including 21 in intensive care.

'COVID-19 and influenza seems to be particularly severe'
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said more than 800 flu cases had already been confirmed in Queensland this year – up from the 296 cases recorded for the entirety of 2021.

"As we had suspected, as our pandemic measures have relaxed, we are seeing increasing numbers of cases of influenza and we are likely to see a significant wave of influenza on top of COVID-19 this winter," Dr Gerrard said. "The combination of COVID-19 and influenza seems to be particularly severe."

Dr Gerrard urged Queenslanders to get a flu shot and to be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.

"Influenza … can be a severe disease," he said. "I'm particularly concerned because all of our immunity will have waned over the last two years. Our general immunity is low and the virus is here and it's beginning to spread. "If we get it, it's likely to be more severe."

Dr Gerrard said Queensland's hospitals were preparing for "a difficult winter". "We always knew this was going to happen," he said.

"Queensland had to open up at some point and when it opened up, new viruses will be introduced. "The last two years have been very aberrant. We've had very little influenza, a very low death rate over the winter … because we've been protected from the virus. "But that couldn't last forever."

Ms D'Ath said 120 new paramedics were due to start this month in Queensland to help the state deal "with the winter surge" of infections.

"We are embarking and working on a broader workforce strategy to attract and retain doctors and nurses and other health professionals across the state," she said.

"We are constantly recruiting. Every state is struggling with workforce shortages."

Flu shots are free for children aged from six months to less than five years and for people aged 65 and over.

They are also free for pregnant women, Indigenous Australians aged six months and older and people with chronic health conditions.




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