Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Questions in the outback...

I've just spent my school holidays with the family travelling to the Northern Territory for the first time. It was a great trip and the landscape was amazing.

During the trip I met all sorts of people and came across some interesting attitudes. One in particular struck me and I have continued to think about the implications. I was speaking to some people who spend a number of months a year in Alice Springs, semi locals and they were able to suggest some attractions and gave us some local advice. When talking about the town of Alice Springs this particular lady referred to "the aboriginal problem". I believe she was talking about some of the social issues that they have in Alice Springs but the label she used implied a number of other things about problems in Alice Springs and other communities. Why do people think in these stereotypes. Isn't the problem a human problem, a community problem, a social problem? Why do people assume that it is someone else's problem, and that that 'someone else' has brought these issues on themselves?

What I saw in Alice Springs I have seen in the streets of my hometown, at the local shopping centre and it has little to do with the ethnicity. Instead the broader issues should be considered before making judgements. History, isolated areas, high unemployment, low level education, low level health care... these are people problems.

A question linked to this was raised. How do you show that you do not judge people by how they look or what their background is? Do you ignore everyone, like you probably do when you're down the street at home? Do you acknowledge people to show that you're 'bigger than that' or is this in itself an insult?

Anyway enough serious business. I had a great time. Our country is amazingly diverse in both its environment and its people. And I think that this is what makes Australia such a great place to live.

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