Showing posts from June, 2016

Too little skin in the Indigenous development game

This week's Four Corners revealed Aboriginal communities being ripped off by "weasels" – middlemen who disappear after cashing in on highly-lucrative government contracts meant to benefit disadvantaged people.

The program put a spotlight on 'whitefella charlatans'; obvious targets of public outrage. Yet on television their victims weren't particularly angry, just sad that once again their trust had been betrayed.

They ought to be angry at successive governments of all levels that have set aside money for them but not done the work needed to make sure it reached them. Governments must know that capacity constraints in communities make members vulnerable to people who work corruptly.

In my time working in Indigenous development, I heard of bureaucrats who "throw money over the fence and expect communities to put together the puzzle". Communities are set up to fail in part because departments working with them operate from a paradigm of service delive…

Let's dig in for public schools - for the common good

Six-year old Josie (not her real name) was enrolled in a prestigious private elementary school and progressing well, so well that her reading was well above average. Her parents asked the principal if she could be moved up a class or have her classes more personally tailored.

They were politely refused. All the talk about child-centred programs and extra resources was "just talk," her father Rick says.

"We tried other elite schools who also claimed they had resources to burn for individual care, but in the end they wouldn't budge," he says.

"That's not the way we do it here" was the typical response.

Then Rick and his wife tried their local public school.

The school assessed her, let her sit in on some lessons, and went into overdrive. Josie was put into different groups for different subjects as part of a specially-designed program. They kept an eye on her. They were "just all round brilliant".

That year Rick and Josie's mum got th…