The OnEarth weekend away was a reminder of some of the challenging issues that we are faced with at a local level. While Australia is the 'lucky country' in so many ways, it doesn't take too much digging to find some serious issues in our society. Here are three things that I was reminded of and challenged about while we were away.
1. You don't have to leave the country to see third world conditions. In fact you don't even have to leave the state and you probably don't even have to leave your home town. Images of small children wandering aimlessly in a filthy and potentially dangerous environment or homes built on a rubbish dump is not just something that you might see on a World Vision advertisement about Africa.
2. Throwing money at a problem doesn't solve it. The government and other organisations can spend millions of dollars trying to improve a situation without it making a significant difference. Without participation, empowerment, education, understanding and a change in attitudes money is next to useless.
3. We need to listen. We need to really listen, to individuals and to communities if we want to see change. How can the challenges be addressed if we are too busy 'doing' things to 'help' without actually hearing what is needed.
On the bright side , if we listen, understand and are willing to act, we can make a difference.