I would like to amend the statement “The only certainties in life are death and taxes” to read “The only certainties in life are change, death and taxes” and add the suggestion that a short cut to a peaceful life is through acceptance of difference.
The whole world is currently in chaos.
Some of the chaos is, of course, due to the latest pandemic, and disputes over how best to deal with it, based on differences in ideology.
Another significant factor is a desire for global power by major figures on the world scene.
There are no easy answers in life, but better education does provide an avenue to improvement. However, to ensure universal improvement requires access by all – which in turn demands that governments cover the cost for those who cannot afford it.
There will always be those whose wealth and status drives them to access elite facilities for which they are prepared to pay. There is no reason why the state should support them further, whatever view of equality might be misguidedly called into play.
If a long-standing, well-endowed private school can afford its own swimming pool, stables, playing fields and other facilities, all well out of the aspirations of any public schools, it should not receive further support from government – unless it also offers a significant number of scholarships, available to students who could never dream of attending anything other than a local public school.
If the elite, in this context, have no contact, while going through their education, with those from widely different backgrounds, and then go on to senior decision-making positions, how can they possibly design policies for people from backgrounds so different that those policies evolve in total ignorance of how they might work out for those affected by them?
The Gonski Report has only ever received lip-service support – the government has totally failed to ensure that extra funding goes to the locations of greatest need for help.
Whether for better diagnosis or some other factor, we seem to have a growing cohort of children who are on the Autism Spectrum Disorder , who definitely need specialist support, at school and at home, and who should be prioritised for assistance.
The ABC series ‘Employable Me‘ demonstrated clearly that many of this group have extraordinary talents in specific areas, which can be effectively matched to particular employment areas.
Are we doing all we can to help this disadvantaged group?
All children, whose education does not allow them to reach their full potential, have been short-changed by governments! And another critical aspect of education highlighted here is acceptance of difference. Not just tolerance, but embracing the difference.
Many children with disabilities suffer discrimination in subtle – and less subtle – ways, which discourages them from remaining in education.
We have had numerous cases revealed where failure to recognise that a child suffers from dyslexia has resulted in their being classified as stupid, where, once the problem has been revealed and action taken to deal with it, the child has blossomed. Sadly, for too many, the discovery came too late.
As report after report comes out, detailing the failures of the NDIS system – largely it seems, with problems arising by using inadequately trained advisers with insufficient oversight – how long does it take for governments to recognise that out-sourcing does not guarantee an appropriate level of expertise?
And I am sure I am far from being alone in finding that when I wish to discuss a problem with an organisation like, say, Telstra, having to do so with someone for whom English is clearly not a first language, and whose training does not appear to have provided them with knowledge of my particular problem, does little to make me heap praise on Telstra as a service provider.
I know – you get what you pay for – and the telephone service is cheaper, to offset the frustration of a help service which doesn’t!
In the past, Australia has prided itself on being the Lucky Country, giving everyone a Fair Go, but it has buried the facts.
Terra nullius is now dismissed as a fantasy. The talents of our First Peoples, in their role as guardians of the land, has been ignored, while the invaders rape and pillage those nations and their lands, and desecrate their sacred places. This is ongoing!
We regard ourselves as superior because we have invented the steam train, the bullet train, the car, the airplane, the great ships which traverse the seas for recreation or commerce, the ability to communicate across the globe through the ether and to land a man on the moon.
But are those really matters for pride?
In the process we are destroying our ecosystem, causing a massive loss of biodiversity, polluting the global atmosphere and creating greater divisions between groups of people.
The British were the first migrants, imposing their rules and systems on people whose simpler life was, in reality, incredibly complex.
Each further wave of migrants, from the Chinese, to work in the gold mines, the Wogs from southern Europe, to help build the Snowy Mountain scheme – although in truth, anyone with less than white skin, like an Egyptian, is called a Wog – through the Vietnamese, on a guilt trip for our involvement is the USA’s war to keep communism out of Asia – that went well, didn’t it? – and now refugees of all colours and countries, some of whom are accepted, while others are so cruelly treated that, along with many others of my fellow Australians, it leaves me to hang my head in shame that I cannot force a change in policy.
What do we actually have to be so proud of?
Most of our endeavours have resulted in significantly increased wealth for a small group, while the numbers of homeless on the streets has equally significantly increased.
We have politicians who seldom come from a background of engagement in trade, commerce or a profession – apart from lawyers, maybe – but who largely joined a political group at university, worked for whichever party in the backrooms, sought and won – not always in straightforward or honourable ways – eh, Mr Morrison? – preselection, and were eventually elected.
Many of them, as they moved up the ranks, courted support from influential people outside politics and – lo and behold! – when they eventually resign or lose their seat at an election, they not only walk away with a tidy superannuation income but also fall into a well-paid sinecure.
Is it any wonder that politicians are on the nose?
It sticks in my craw that they are addressed as the Honourable Member/Senator, when integrity, transparency, honesty have been displaced by untruthfulness, concealment and outright dishonesty.
Are they all like that?
Not quite all, but far too many for comfort.
John Howard fought for small government, sold off assets, spied on and defrauded Timor Leste, privatised a chunk of health care, and the CBA, for starters, while his successors have demonised refugees, privatised services under the Human services umbrella (which has now become the dehumanised services department, responsible for Robo-Debt and the Indue card) and worked overtime to reduce the value of the ABC by merciless funding cuts. Given the value of the ABC in disasters – few of which can be accurately forecast – this is dangerously shortsighted.
And Labor is a long, long way from blameless, but it is currently not in a position to determine policy!
So where from here?
Priority number One must be climate change.
The temporary lowering of atmospheric pollution, as an unexpected side-benefit of the COVID-19 crisis, must be built on.
Putin is losing popularity, Trump might not be re-elected – and anyway, many USA states are doing their bit for the climate – India is in a pickle and might see the light, and we can only influence China by taking a lead over them and challenging them to come up to the mark.
Many countries smaller in population than ours are doing a hell of a lot more than we are.
Climate change demands we change our behaviour, or we will destroy the future for our children’s children.
We also need to embrace inclusiveness, accepting that difference carries more advantages than disadvantages, if we approach it in the right frame of mind. In fact it is a source of enrichment, in non-monetary terms!
Hell’s teeth! The lack of understanding between males and females from the same ethnic background is surely enough, that we do not need to compound it by expanding it to take into account different colours, creeds and languages?
We are all of one race – Homo Sapiens – although it is sometimes hard to believe that the wisdom implied in that term is even skin deep!
We not only live in interesting times. We also live on the edge of a volcano.
If we kick a stone into the heart of it, we will be engulfed in the consequent explosion.
Please can we tiptoe back from the edge, work our butts off to develop clear policies to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, use the existing knowledge of our First Nations to reduce likely future damage from fire and drought, stop worshipping wealth and look after our disadvantaged, embrace change and difference, and look to the pleasure that comes from gratitude expressed by those whom we have helped!
I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:
“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”
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