If the sound from your TV stops one day, you logical first step is to check a couple of other stations to see if the TV station is having a problem. When they are all showing silent pictures as well, you’ll probably turn the TV off, go to the computer and check prices of a replacement TV. Once you have sufficiently recovered your breath from the price of a new TV with all the bells, whistles and acronyms that are apparently essential in 2023, you’ll probably go and turn on your existing one again and voila – the sound works … for about half an hour or so. By this point most of us will have decided that the TV is past it’s use by date and reluctantly make time to visit the local electrical stores to get bamboozled by ‘must have’ pseudo-technical features you’ll probably never use. The alternative is to turn the TV on, watch it until the sound goes off, turn it off, then go back to it after a while when the sound goes back on.
Repetitively turning the TV on and off is treating the symptom, buying a new TV is addressing the root cause of the problem. Sadly, addressing the root cause in this case costs you more but is certainly less frustrating in the long run (and you can be confident you can see the unveiling of the criminal in Midsomer Murders while wondering who on earth would deliberately move to a small town where murder appeared to be a regular occurrence).
If you use your favourite search engine to give you references to ‘root cause analysis’, you’ll find page after page of results. The Wikipedia entry suggests:
RCA can be decomposed into four steps:
- Identify and describe the problem clearly
- Establish a timeline from the normal situation until the problem occurs
- Distinguish between the root cause and other causal factors (e.g., using event correlation)
- Establish a causal graph between the root cause and the problem.
RCA generally serves as input to a remediation process whereby corrective actions are taken to prevent the problem from recurring. The name of this process varies from one application domain to another. According to ISO/IEC 31010, RCA may include the techniques Five whys, Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), Fault tree analysis, Ishikawa diagram, and Pareto analysis.
A number of restrictions on members of the Alice Springs community have been re-introduced as a result of an apparent crime wave in the six months since alcohol and movement bans were removed. In reality it demonstrates that no one correctly thought through the reasons the bans were required in the first place – or correctly implemented real and genuine improvement in people’s lives in the fifteen years since the Howard Coalition Government mounted its ‘intervention’ operation. In other words, even though the claim is the bans worked they really treated the symptom rather than the root cause of the problem.
Various states, including Queensland, have announced a ‘get tough on crime’ approach in recent times and it’s true that those that commit the crimes need to be identified and convinced there is a ‘better way’. However, it’s unlikely that throwing them in jail is a successful solution. The ‘get tough on crime’ approach is red meat to those that want to see results now – and that’s it. It is treating the symptom rather than the root cause. Putting more people in jail seems to only increase the need for jail cells and corrections officers.
The root cause analysis would have to consider why do people commit crime. Anecdotal commentary seems to suggest that a lot of crime is due to people feeling socially excluded and possibly unemployed, making it hard to find the money to ‘make ends meet’. They are sent to the fringes of our society, both physically and mentally with conservatives inflicting systems such as ‘income management’ and making ridiculous statements about ‘lifters and leaners’ or ‘dole bludgers’ because ‘they can’t look after themselves’, further isolating the victims from society. Some understandably do purchase legal and illegal drugs to temporarily forget the real problem, a lot of people don’t. All these actions are society demonstrating again the failure to address the root cause of the problem.
Addressing the root cause doesn’t necessarily produce the instant result such as the TV news tonight showing people being taken away to ‘assist Police with their enquiries’. It does over time reduce the demand for jail cells and the associated infrastructure. A recent study on transport provision, reported in The Guardian demonstrates that reasonably cheap and easy to implement solutions can make a large difference to employment and social inclusion. The study supports running buses at higher frequencies in ‘underprivileged’ suburbs:
Transport planners have long considered the connection between mobility and social inclusion. They rely on a formula that calculates the monetary value to society of public transit trips based on an individual’s household income, employment status, social support, participation in community such as library or sports events and political activity.
The new research bolsters that formula by adding a measure for neighbourhoods – and how at-risk residents are of social exclusion – based on data including: the proportion of residents aged 15 or older without a university or school education or English skills; one-parent families; households without a car; and the number of people employed as labourers, machinery operators or service workers.
People who are socially excluded commonly have a higher risk of being unemployed, having poorer mental and physical health, being less socially connected and some will be more likely to engage in crime and substance abuse – which has consequential costs for the wider economy, the paper said.
The study suggests that in large metro areas, if the bus transports 8 people a hour it is worth the cost and the bus only needs to transport 6 people per hour in smaller regional communities for the same benefits.
Pity our conservative governments will look at the seemingly empty buses running around and claim it’s a waste of money. Apparently a ‘Police Task Force’ or a newer, bigger jail isn’t.
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