Like a whirlwind or willy-willy
Jo Chandler has written a thoughtful article in today’s Age newspaper about the Australian Prime Minister’s plan to send in the troops to Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory because of years of abuse of alcohol and family breakdown.
It is another ‘clean-up’ campaign from the top/experts/outsiders, just like Ramsi in the Solomons, just like the Interim Government in Fiji with its FICAC investigations, not using local knowledge and expertise, but bounding in to ‘fix-up’ a problem.
In the end such problems will not be fixed unless the manner of re-ordering the society/community is ‘owned’ by the locals. In Fiji this perhaps means ‘owning-up’ to a culture where some people are grossly selfish, tell lies, and steal what is not theirs. Instead of just being caught at nepotism and corruption, the local people come to realize that an orderly society means consideration for the rights of other people.
Here is the beginning of Jo Chandler’s article.
A fragile truce
Jo Chandler in Mutitjulu
June 30, 2007
IT RISES from the dust without warning, a vortex of earth and dried leaves and litter, three strides wide and spinning high into the air. It travels across the meeting place at Mutitjulu, scattering the skinny dogs, and makes straight for the last huddle of still-talking women.
They turn their backs and squeeze shut their eyes and let the willy-willy lash the air around them. They watch it move up the track towards Uluru, the great rock by now painted red and black for the tourists' evening show. Then in a puff, the dervish collapses and is gone, and the women look at each other and laugh, loud and dark. "Well, there's the message," one tosses over her shoulder as she waves goodbye.
So what is the message?
Dorothea Randall, the manager of the Mutitjulu community office — itself at the vortex of a national political storm, with Prime Minister John Howard's emergency taskforce having arrived on Wednesday — gives a very Aboriginal answer. One that wanders, uncaptured, around the question in the way that drives white officialdom nuts. "Sometimes it means trouble," Randall says of the willy-willy. "Sometimes it means there is just a lot going on."
In the Aboriginal way, the complex reality of a community such as Mutitjulu is nuanced, headspinning and even destructive — at least it can seem so to outsiders who want quick fixes for the welfare crisis afflicting many Aboriginal communities and for the widespread sexual abuse of children, new testimony about which galvanised this week's emergency intervention into 60 remote Northern Territory communities.
The problems are depressingly well documented, apparent in countless court cases and reports over 20 years. It's the answers that remain lost in the whirlwind.
Etc. etc. article in today’s Age newspaper.