Australia is generally seen by foreigners as a pretty good place to live, although some think we, its inhabitants, are a bit brash and far too smug - but, then again, on the whole, we have a fair bit to be smug about.
Except in one area, that is - and it's a big one. Less an area than a stain, really: it is the situation of our contemporary indigenous population. As I've mentioned before, looking at the statistics relating to Australian indigenous health and life expectancy, it would be easy to assume we are all uncaring racists, but things are much more complex than that - few people, in my experience, feel anything but a hopeless, helpless, hand-wringing goodwill toward the original peoples of our island. Vast sums have been spent trying to make things better. The outcomes have rarely been lasting or particularly good.
It would be easy to ignore quite how appalling things remain, but there is one journalist, Nicholas Rothwell, who, writing, (perhaps surprisingly, given the recent criticisms of all things Murdoch), for The Australian, a News Limited paper, reports regularly on the subject, describing with compelling clarity the social disasters in Central Australia and the Top End that most of Australia's population never see.
His latest report tells yet another dreadful story - or perhaps provides yet another dreadful episode in the one long grim story. Once again young Aborigines are ruining themselves through petrol and deodorant sniffing. This is a continuing tragedy. Money has no effect. Good intentions have no effect. What on earth can be done?
23 minutes ago