Sunday, April 03, 2005

Meanwhile, in Australia, in 2005

"(Australian Prime Minister) John Howard may be shocked by what he sees in Wadeye next week during a rare visit to a remote Aboriginal community.

The town with the biggest Aboriginal population in the Northern Territory, 270 kilometres south-west of Darwin, looks like a refugee camp in a Third World country.

An average 17 people are cramped into each sweltering, graffiti-covered house. Almost half the population is under 15; most of the children have had no formal education and cannot speak English; many grow up not knowing their fathers who are dead or in jail; infant mortality is four times the national average; life expectancy is 20 years less than that of non-indigenous Australians; and only 4 per cent of people of working age have mainstream jobs.

Unlike southern towns of comparable size - Picton, Bellingen or Bourke, for example - Wadeye has no mobile phone coverage and its landline phone service is outdated and unreliable, making a mockery of Telstra's claims that its services in the bush are "world class".

The town, which is cut off by road for five months each year during the wet season, is still waiting for a doctor, funding for which was promised last month.

The town, built at the edge of mangroves, has no commercial businesses such as banks, cafes, restaurants, hotels or motels. And a new study of the community, which will have implications for other Aboriginal communities, finds that governments are spending far less on its residents than on an average Territorian child.

The report finds that for every dollar spent educating the average child in the territory, only 26 cents is spent on an Aboriginal child in Wadeye."
Lindsay Murdoch: The Sydney Morning Herald, 4/2/2005

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