The West Australian Government has released a comprehensive policy aimed at combatting ice. The policy includes rehabilitation, prevention – focused on education in schools – and interdiction by the police. Drug legalisation and smoking rooms, similar in concept to injecting rooms, have been ruled out.
With encouragement from the Family Council of WA, the Council for the National Interest (CNIWA) hosted a Drugs Forum in Perth on August 14, 2016, featuring three speakers covering different aspects of the epidemic of illicit drugs that is sweeping Australia.
In preparing for this forum, the CNIWA investigated the evidence of the past 40 years and found that the policy of harm minimisation, instead of harm prevention, was the root cause of the increase in demand for illicit drugs.
Drug Free Australia chief executive Jo Baxter prepared an extensive presentation as to why Australia has achieved the status of ice capital of the world and how we can get fix this. Jo provided stark comparisons between Australia’s illicit-drug industry growth and Sweden’s reduction in drug use brought about by implementing a policy of reducing demand.
Statistics from the latest United Nations World Drug Report (2015) bear out the assertion that Australia’s per capita rate of drug use for 15–64 year olds is the world’s highest. Sweden, with 40 per cent of Australia’s population, has 29,500 problematic drug users. Australia has 220,000 dependent cannabis users and over 200,000 ice users.
The mantra of drug legalisers that prohibition does not work is clearly given the lie by the Swedish figures. Australia’s focus on minimising harm by giving priority to treatment instead of prevention and early intervention has resulted in the ice problem reaching pandemic proportions.
West African and Chinese organised crime gangs view Australia as a soft touch, with a lack of political will and leadership creating a demand for a highly profitable illicit drug business. Australians are paying world record prices for illicit drugs so it is no wonder organised crime syndicates are flooding the market. Ice is extremely addictive even when knowing the effects are extremely harmful.
Ice smoking leads to brain damage, increased risk to safety in workplaces, increased danger on roads, increased violence in communities, families and relationships. (Hospital emergency departments are on the front line of this drug scourge.)
To repair the damage of 40 years of harmful promoting of illicit drug use Australia should adopt the Swedish compassionate policing model, with court-enforced rehabilitation as against enforced prison, and with an emphasis on rehabilitation of all problem drug users. Sweden went from having the highest rate of drug use in Europe in 1970 to the lowest by 2000.
Australia can emulate Sweden with a restrictive drug policy while maintaining criminal use of drugs to emphasise the harm of illicit drugs, especially methamphetamines.
The WA Government Methamphetamine Strategy is a good start to combatting the scourge of illicit drugs. However, the emphasis still seems to be focused on rehabilitation rather than primary prevention if funding is any indicator. The Australian anti-smoking campaign is evidence of a successful social modification program that can apply to a concerted effort for combating illicit drug use.
Peter Lyndon-James of Shalom House
A complete contrast to the clinical analysis by Jo Baxter was the presentation by Peter Lyndon-James, founder and director of Shalom House Rehabilitation Centre in Perth. In a very forthright manner Peter described the conditions of addicts and his Christian ethics-based, cold turkey treatment of addicts who voluntarily enter his rehabilitation process.
Demand for his service is overwhelming, encouraging a growth in facilities to accommodate the number of damaged men seeking freedom from illicit drug use. Peter emphasised the importance of the addict asking for help, until which time the addict will not commit to the rehabilitation program that may take 12 months or more to achieve success.
Associate Professor Dr Stuart Reece presented an extensive review of research assembled in association with Professor Gary Hulse of UWA.
Professor Reece’s expose of marijuana and the negative genetic influences needs a full forum of its own to do justice to the material presented. The experience of the generation of the 1960 and ’70s experimentation with drugs that “did me no harm” distorts the reality of the cannabis market of today, with product 80 per cent stronger in cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the two main active ingredients in cannabis.
When combined with a vigorous illicit drug industry peddling brain-destroying methamphetamines, the wrong messages are being conveyed to today’s youth. Professor Reece offered damning research evidence that pregnant women and sexually active males should not be using marijuana. Otherwise, Australia’s next generation will suffer the deadly consequences of genetic defects from the use of cannabinoids.
Professor Reece’s message for Australians, and for the next three to four generations hence, is to ignore the evidence at your peril.
It does make you wonder whether some journalists ever talk to ordinary Australians. Five minutes in any pub in the country will render such polling unnecessary.
By Chris Mitchell The Australian 26 September 2016
How to walk a mile in another’s shoes? That is the question great reporters seek to answer when they interview their subjects.
In a time when there has never been more media but it is light years wide and only atoms deep, there is little reward for doing what great newspapers seek to do: provide their readers with genuine understanding of issues and people’s views and motives.
This is a shouty, shallow and callow media age in which young Lefty tyros are rewarded for sharp opinions and violently executed tweets. Their opponents in the right-wing blogosphere too easily drift into hate and conspiracy over genuine inquiry.
So on a range of issues the Left and Right yell at each other in what psychologists refer to as “different emotional languages”, like a husband who really cannot understand what his wife is saying about why their marriage is going awry.
I got that feeling very strongly last Tuesday morning when I heard Andrew Bolt being interviewed by Fran Kelly about Tuesday night’s very interesting program with Linda Burney on Aboriginal recognition. Kelly was perplexed Bolt seemed not to agree with all the received Radio National wisdoms she was trying to get him to concede.
And yet the thinkers behind recognition, people such as Noel Pearson, have always known Andrew — with his ability to articulate the honestly held and genuine concerns of his readers — was the biggest danger to any potential referendum, even if it was first proposed by Andrew’s confidante Tony Abbott.
Just as with same-sex marriage and Muslim immigration the megaphones of the Left show no understanding of, or even empathy for, the great middle ground of Australian public opinion, which is where these issues will be decided.
Those in the maximalist camp on Recognition give every indication of preferring a loss to a win on slightly less ambitious terms. Wiser heads in the movement know proponents who argue for a treaty now would be smarter to take it one step at a time.
Still, I had real admiration for Bolt, who showed tremendous courage to expose himself to a full tilt ABC ideological crusade with newly elected federal Labor MP Burney. The Twittersphere was a feral sewer about him that night and next day.
Having been into the ABC’s Ultimo fortress in inner Sydney several times lately I can say the pursed-lipped tut-tutting is almost overpowering when a critic of the corporation crosses the threshold. Good on Bolt for doing it I reckon.
It was also gutsy of diminutive Burney to front a couple of conservative, and physical, giants in Bolt and Liberal Party federal MP Cory Bernardi in the latter’s Adelaide electoral office.
It is unlikely Bolt or Burney will ever persuade each other but viewers may have sensed an increased recognition on the part of each of the participants of the other’s genuine passion.
An Essential Media Poll published in The Guardian on Wednesday highlighted this sort of hyper partisanship and the inability of many in journalism even to understand how their own country feels about issues.
Given what has happened in Europe since German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the nation’s borders to Syrian refugees a year ago it should have been no surprise to The Guardian or the ABC that half the nation wanted a ban on Muslim immigration.
The poll showed 49 per cent supporting a ban and only 40 per cent opposing. John Barron, hosting The Drum on ABC TV, seemed shocked that even large numbers of Greens and Labor voters supported such a ban.
It does make you wonder whether some journalists ever talk to ordinary Australians. Five minutes in any pub in the country will render such polling unnecessary.
The ideological and media divide is just as wide for same-sex marriage. The sheer brutality of the Left’s reaction to any Christian spokesperson either opposing change or supporting the plebiscite promised by the Coalition elected less than three months ago is vile.
This is not just a challenge for journalism. It is also a problem for the body politic.
If journalists don’t understand how their audiences feel and the media and politics become ever more sharply partisan, how will reformers ever bring about social, economic and political change?
This Balkanisation of social attitudes and the subsequent prioritising of opinion over reporting that seeks to explore and understand is making Western countries increasingly difficult to govern. Even something seemingly uncontestable such as repair of the federal budget now elicits sharply partisan divides among journalists and politicians.
I support recognition but would never think a referendum should even be held if a proposition was so ambitious it was guaranteed to fail.
A libertarian on same-sex marriage, I would nevertheless defend to the death the freedom of Christians, let alone Muslims and Jews, to stick to their religious convictions.
I think a ban on Muslim immigration would be the most dangerous thing the country could do if it really is interested in preventing young men from self-radicalising online.
After all, teenagers feeling so alienated from mainstream society today that they seek solace in the websites of Islamic State would only feel more like outsiders were all Muslim immigration banned. But it should sure as hell be obvious to any thinking journalist why in the face of so many attacks on Western targets during the past two years many Australians would be attracted to such a proposition.
If we try to walk a mile in another’s shoes, we might begin to see why Aboriginal kids would think it unfair to suggest they should just be happy to forget about their heritage and history and again accept what is being offered them. But we might also understand why Bolt believes people today should not be atoning to people many generations and multiple ethnicities away from the brutalities of white settlement.
We might understand the complexities of race from the position of the other person, as Stan Grant has so eloquently tried to explain.
Sydney University law professor Patrick Parkinson.
REBECCA URBAN The Australian September 19, 2016
A leading family law and child-protection expert has criticised the teaching of radical gender theory in classrooms across the country, likening the “odd and unscientific” beliefs promoted by groups such as the Safe Schools Coalition to those espoused by Scientology.
Sydney University law professor Patrick Parkinson has called for an extensive overhaul of the Safe Schools program, having taken issue with its promotion of “exaggerated statistics” on the prevalence of transgender and intersex conditions in the community to support its creators’ “belief that gender is fluid and can even be chosen”.
In a research paper to be published today, Professor Parkinson notes that gender ideology, which lies at the heart of Safe Schools, has become a widespread belief system, particularly in Western countries.
With its origins in university philosophy departments rather than science, it has no place in the primary or secondary school curriculum, which is required to be evidence-based, he argues.
“There would be an uproar if the beliefs of Scientologists … were being taught in state schools through state-funded programs,” he says, referring to the controversial religion.
“Yet the belief system that what gender you are is a matter for you to determine without reference to your physical and reproductive attributes might not be dissimilar.”
Professor Parkinson’s damning review comes as the NSW Education Department investigates the inclusion of gender theory in its own official curriculum, including its mandatory sex education program for Years 11 and 12.
Last week state Education Minister Adrian Piccoli asked his departmental secretary, former ABC boss Mark Scott, to look into whether there was a scientific basis for claims made throughout the Crossroads program that gender was “a social construct”, neither fixed nor binary.
A spokesman for the Education Department said Mr Scott would report back to the minister’s office “as soon as possible”.
While originally touted as a program designed to stamp out homophobia in the schoolyard, it has divided parents, politicians, religious groups and even the LGBTI community.
Prominent transgender advocate Catherine McGregor faced a backlash when she recently spoke out against Safe Schools, claiming that it would not have helped her as a young person grappling with gender issues.
Professor Parkinson is also concerned that its teachings may harm some young people.
The former member of the NSW Child Protection Council, who has advised government and other organisations on matters related to child safety, says a school-wide program that normalises transitioning from one gender to another creates a risk that some children will become confused unnecessarily.
“Gender dysphoria in childhood and adolescence is far too complex to be addressed by pop psychology or internet-based self-help materials,” he says.
“While a program of this kind may offer benefits for some young people, there is reason to be concerned that it may cause harm to other young people who experience same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
“This is not good enough for an educational resource.”
Professor Parkinson believes it is unlikely that concerns raised by the community will go away.
He says politicians who have supported it based on its origins as an anti-bullying program would likely face a backlash from their constituencies unless the program was reviewed and significantly reformed.
More than 500 schools across the country have signed up to be Safe Schools members, and the program has attracted federal and state funds.
Juan Cartagena: “The problem of building trust online is not a fad but it is fundamental.”
Traity CEO Juan Cartagena knows how to measure trust
by Rachel Botsman 4 August 2016 AFR
In 2011, Spanish-born Juan Cartagena was scammed buying a computer on Gumtree, the second-hand goods website.
He lost £250 in the fraudulent transaction. Around the same time, he was trying to get in contact with a girl who went to the same school as he did, on Facebook. But at the start, she wasn’t sure about meeting him in person. Cartagena even sent her his résumé to try to convince her he was a decent person in the hope of getting a date. Both experiences pointed to the same problem: building trust and proving that a person is trustworthy online is tricky and taxing.
Cartagena, a 34-year-old entrepreneur with a background in electrical engineering, realised this was a problem worth solving not just for himself but for other people. In 2012, with close friends Jose Fernandez and Borja Martin, he founded Traity, a reputation standard to help people prove their trustworthiness across the web. To date, the Mountain View-based start-up has raised more than $US4.7 million.
In the age of companies such as Airbnb, Uber and eBay that depend on the willingness of strangers to trust one another at a global scale, the idea behind Traity seems big and logical. But as Cartagena has discovered, getting people to value their online reputation is challenging because we still don’t quite get how it works or understand its value.
Canadian ice hockey great Wayne Gretzky famously said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” It’s a metaphor that resonates with many visionary entrepreneurs. So how does Cartagena think Traity can crack the future of trust?
Why do you want to help solve the difficulties of proving you are trustworthy online?
The problem of building trust online is not a fad but it is fundamental. When people don’t trust each other, there are social and economic limitations to human transactions. And this is a big problem to solve because we now operate in very large communities, open networks, where we don’t know the buyers and sellers. We are transacting with strangers all the time and it requires a new level of understanding and trust between people. Because of my engineering background, I think about economic inefficiencies and how to solve them in ways that generate real economic value. So I figured I could build a trust engine that would help those transactions happen more fluently and eliminate barriers to trade.
What is Traity trying to achieve?
Traditional systems of proving whether people are worth trusting are not particularly effective or empowering. They diminish and devalue people when they go through the automated screening processes to get a credit score. This score then seriously affects how easy or difficult it is for people to make all kinds of transactions, from securing a loan to a rental agreement to getting a job.
I want to build a world where more people can trust one another and where we are not solely judged by traditional systems of assessment. There will always be lack of trust between people, but if we can make a dent into how people can enter into the economic graph, then it would be very significant.
How do Traity reputation standards work?
To help people trust one another online, we give people a reputation passport that consists of different dimensions. The first is to do with identification, which is proving you are who you say you are. Next, it has to do with behaviours, which shows interests you may have common with another person. For example, you both play tennis or love cats. The final dimension is about transaction data, which means analysing people’s ratings, reviews, history and testimonials to see how they have behaved in past. These components create a personal reputation standard you can use across the web that can empower people to achieve things or access opportunities that may not have otherwise been possible.
Traity recently received a patent for a “network of trust”. How will it work?
The patent basically says that we are like a social network. If you trust somebody on the Traity network, you use the “trust” button in the same way on Twitter you have the “follow” button. But if that person misbehaves in some way, that will have implications for you; it will lower your reputation.
Your reputation does not increase if the person you follow behaves well. It is designed this way to create incentives to trust only people you really believe are trustworthy and not have a network of a thousand followers. We expect people to have networks of three to five people who really trust each other and to be able to use the web of trust in different contexts.
You are working on future-oriented products. How were you able to convince investors to trust your vision?
At our first investor meeting, I said, “Look, Minority Report is going to happen. The key question is, who is going to do it? It may be Google, it may be Facebook, or it may be a small start-up from Spain.” They were very impressed by that because I was thinking 15 years ahead. When I talk about Traity, I tell stories to get people to empathise. I usually put people in the framework of a future that’s five to 10 years’ away, full of micro-entrepreneurs and micro-franchises of companies powered by the likes of Etsy, Uber or Airbnb. I tell investors that these companies can make a significant impact on the GDP and they all need better systems of trust.
What makes the founders of Traity a good team?
I met Jose, one of my co-founders, when we were eight years old in school. Jose completed his PhD in machine learning and I went on to get an MBA. I met Borja, a phenomenal programmer, when we were 18. We have complementary skills: Jose brings an academic point of view; Borja is the pragmatic executor who can design and deliver the actual products himself; and I am the hustler and driver of the long-term vision.
What are the challenges of making Traity a successful business?
When we started, we thought that people would want to see each other’s reputation and profiles from Traity, and maybe pay a few cents to see, say, your profile. That was not true. People aren’t used to paying for what they already think they know. That’s why we have shifted our focus on how trust profiles and technology can be leveraged to transform the delivery of products people already buy, like house insurance or income protection.
The insurance industry will fundamentally have to change from basing products on assets to focusing on insuring personal behaviours. Reputation data can help large insurance companies give more efficient pricing to people who deserve it.
What keeps you and your team motivated?
Two weeks ago, I got the team together for a meeting. I asked everyone to complete the sentence “Traity is important because…” When they finished, I said, “Take whatever you have written and write, “And that is important because…” It allowed us to focus on the inner purpose of what we’re trying to do. It was really exciting to see what everyone came up with because most people had written something to do with people deserving a fairer world. Thinking of that refuels me and I was reminded that I’m starting something that could really improve the status quo.
You are asking people to trust a start-up with their data. Why should people trust Traity?
We transparently explain what we do and how we do it, so people have confidence in how we’re using and treating data. As a company, we discuss ethics in terms of giving people full control over their data and giving them the right to eliminate an infraction on a reputation after a certain period of time. Our competitive advantage is not to tightly control data, but to empower people to use it better. There are tangible things we are doing to prove we are the right people to be trusted with sensitive data. For instance, we are fingerprinting everything on the blockchain, the public ledger technology that enables people to verify something actually happened. This means in the unfortunate case that Traity goes bust or a customer decides they don’t want to be a Traity customer any more, they can still have full control over their data and take it with them.
What will Traity never do with people’s data?
Large companies have made us offers such as: “We’ll pay you $50,000 if you can analyse our users in X way.” I’m very happy we’ve said no to those offers even though we don’t have any revenue yet. We don’t want to be a typical data analysis company. Traity is a company that focuses on giving people the proactive ability to decide how they want to use their reputation. To give them the same control as they would over a university [report] card; they decide where, when and who they’ll show their card to.
Dylan Voller had more than 50 criminal offences to his name when he sat in a dock two years ago and was told by a judge “your counsel informed the court you spit at people when you get upset with them’’.
The image of the 18-year-old confined in a “spit hood” and tied to a prison chair has gained world attention this week but it was the end point of anger management issues which first surfaced when Voller was a child.
His bad behaviour emerged during a childhood marred, according to the Northern Territory Department of Children and Families, by intergenerational abuse combined with “family transience, neglect, family violence, physical abuse, parental mental health issues and parental substance abuse’’.
Sister Kirra Voller yesterday said her brother’s behaviour had been reasonably well controlled when he was a student at a Lutheran school in Adelaide but the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder sufferer deteriorated after the family moved to Alice Springs when he was eight.
Government workers provided respite care but Dylan was lavished with weekends spent in hotels, at bowling alleys and at movie theatres. Her brother was being rewarded for his bad behaviour, Ms Voller says.
“He was never a dumb kid, he knew the carers didn’t care and knew they’d give him all this free stuff for being naughty,” she says.
His relationship with his mother deteriorated and Voller was placed under the guardianship of the state when he was 11, but Ms Voller says he would escape curfew in residential care houses, do the wrong thing with friends and then go back to his mother, where police would look for him.
“Mum’s broken because everyone has said she failed and all she’s done is try,’’ Ms Voller says.
Her brother was offered counselling each time he came out, but she said he dealt with his problems, including his early years of abuse, by going out and trying to get his hands on alcohol and later drugs.
His criminal career began at 11. By 16 he had graduated to terrifying attacks, the worst of which was attempting to run down a policeman in Alice Springs who feared he would be “killed or paralysed for life” and who suffered “unpleasant intrusive thoughts and even violent dreams”.
When police arrested Voller, who was high on methamphetamines at the time of the offence on February 8, 2014, he abused them.
The officer has since moved to Darwin. Some of Voller’s victims have considered leaving Alice Springs out of fear of him and other violent teenagers roaming the streets late at night. Earlier on the night the officer was targeted, Voller was in a car with two others when they picked a random victim walking along Todd St.
“You took off your shirt and ran with your co-offenders towards the victim,” Justice Peter Barr told Voller at his sentencing hearing two years ago.
“When you got to the victim, you confronted the victim and yelled out at him, and I quote, ‘You fat, white racist dog, you fat prick, you yelled out at us.’ The victim replied, ‘I didn’t say anything’.
“You and your co-offenders then surrounded the victim on the footpath near Rocky’s Pizza and backed him into the building, The victim feared for his wellbeing.
“You then called out to the victim, ‘I’m going to smash you, you f. king dog! The victim replied, ‘What for? I haven’t done anything to you. I’m just wanting to walk’.’’
Voller then demanded his wallet while his co-accused punched the victim and while he lay in pain on the footpath Voller and the others kicked him in the ribs.
Ms Voller says her brother has lived a tough life and struggled to overcome horrific abuse suffered in the first two years of his life and the family battled to find people who could adequately deal with his ADHD or try and help him improve his behaviour.
“He has always had behaviour issues, (which) probably started when people didn’t know how to deal with his ADHD,” Ms Voller says.
He often failed to attend school, when at school he had “a history of inappropriate, aggressive and disruptive behaviour”, according to court documents.
He would refuse to take his ADHD medication and his mother, Joanne, would sometimes crush up the tablets and put them in his drink before calling the school to tell them he was OK to attend that day, only for Voller to get upset with her and accuse her of tricking him. Joanne Voller was regularly called to pick him up and take him home.
Voller was the subject of a care and protection order, issued by a magistrate, from November 2009 until 2013.
He needed a father figure, his sister says, someone who could give him guidance other than the revolving door of paid carers who could not prevent him from leaving residential care at night.
Many shop owners and residents in Alice Springs all said Voller was no angel, and he had been known on the streets as aggressive and verbally abusive.
Well-known Alice Springs councillor Steve Brown says youths should not be locked up, but they should be held accountable for their crimes. “I’m appalled by (the assaults) but I also understand that some of these kids are vile and they’re in there for a very good reason,” Mr Brownsays.
“You can’t have these centres destroying people’s lives either, they should be put in a facility like a Bush Mob, where they given direction.”
When not in juvenile detention — where his court records show he spent at least three periods of up to nine months between 2011 and 2014 — Kirra Voller said her brother was regularly on the streets roaming in small gangs, often with youths he befriended while inside.
A youth advocacy group asked to provide a report to the Supreme Court two years ago said Voller was “not capable of monitoring” his own behaviour which had, at times, “spiralled out of control while in detention’’.
The report referred to anger management problems and a “propensity to spitting.”
Before finally sending him to detention, where his case would become one of the drivers for the royal commission called this week, Justice Barr told Voller his type of criminal offending had made Alice Springs residents fearful.
“That kind of crime is disturbing. It unsettles the community,’’ Justice Barr said. “It makes the residents of Alice Springs afraid to leave their homes at night. They do not feel free to enjoy the amenities of their town. Community morale and community spirit are at risk. The affected residents are left wondering if they should look elsewhere for a safer place to live.”
Original article here
Northern Territory government counter-suing Don Dale youths
The Northern Territory government says two boys from Darwin’s Don Dale juvenile detention centre caused $89,000 damage in an escape attempt.
12:50PM July 29, 2016
The Northern Territory government is counter-suing two boys who appeared in footage shown on an ABC program about abuse at Darwin’s Don Dale juvenile detention centre.
The ABC says the CLP government is suing two former inmates for $160,000 worth of damage after they escaped from juvenile detention in June last year, allegedly stole a car and then rammed it back through the front roller door of the centre.
The pair were part of the group of six boys being held in the behaviour management unit at the Don Dale facility who were tear-gassed when another boy managed to get out of his cell. The footage was shown on the Four Corners program on Monday night.
Darwin lawyer Peter O’Brien earlier this week announced he would sue the NT government on behalf of Dylan Voller, now 18, and a 16-year-old boy.
Guards were show stripping, tear gassing, hog-tying and assaulting Mr Voller.
The other boy was also tear gassed.
However, the ABC says the boys in this case, whose names have been suppressed by the NT Supreme Court, filed papers in June seeking damages for alleged mistreatment by Don Dale staff.
In its response, filed on July 4, the government is seeking damages with interest and legal costs following the boys’ May 31, 2015 escape attempt.
The government says the pair caused $89,000 in damage during their escape, and caused another $74,025.60 in damage when they rammed the prison roller door upon their return two days later. AAP
This morning as I was getting ready for work, I took my phone into the bathroom to play music as I showered. I put the phone on shuffle and the first song up was Justin Timberlake’s Spaceship Coupe off of his latest, 20/20 Experience. I’ve been playing the 20/20 Experience a lot. I don’t think there’s a track on there that I don’t like. My favorite songs are Pusher Love Girl and Mirrors. His album is a breath of fresh air as far as R&B is concerned. Singers like Usher and Chris Brown seem to be moving more towards R&B/techno mashups.
No sooner did Spaceship Coupe finish playing, the next song started, which was I Luve Dem Strippers by 2Chainz ft Nikki Minaj. To say there was a glaring difference in the two songs would be an understatement. Not to say that I don’t enjoy ratchet songs because it was in fact on my phone but I started to think, “Why don’t rappers rap more about love?”
In my opinion (and I’m assuming the opinion of many others), it seems that the topic that rappers rap most about are sleeping with lots of women and not caring about them, how much money they make and freely dispense, and their propensity towards violence. What rappers are selling are fantasies. Rappers like T.I., 2Chainz, Jeezy and Pusha T are all above 30 years of age. I’m pretty sure they have either wives or long time girlfriends (I’ve considered the possibility that they may or may not cheat with reckless abandon). Rappers also don’t stay rich by spending their money thoughtlessly. Those bottles they’re popping in the club? I guarantee the owner provided them free of charge for making an appearance to draw customers to their establishment. Most likely they have an accountant and/or a financial advisor.
When I asked my timeline why the majority of rappers discussed the subject matter that they did, I was told that it was because talking about committing to one woman and financial responsibility isn’t cool. I thought that most rappers took pride in being trendsetters and setting themselves apart from the crowd. Rapping about jewelry and liquor accomplishes neither. You want to really win my respect? Rap about something more powerful and uplifting and don’t fall for the trap of discussing subject matter that do nothing but sell false dreams and false bravado.
So why don’t rappers talk about love? Hypermasculinity and need for approval from other men. Have you ever heard that women don’t get dressed up when they go out to attract men, but to compete with other women? This is the same theory when it comes to rappers. Rappers do their best to one up each other to prove who can be the most virile and macho. The longing for acceptance by other males makes the act of loving a woman not acceptable. It’s seen as a weak emotion that only weak people fall victim to. Love isn’t for the weak. Love is for the strong. It’s not an easy emotion to deal with.
What about what hip-hop consumers want want? Arguments could be made that rappers are just giving listeners what they want. Outside of rap music, our society has a fascination with violence, easy money and sex so I can’t realistically put this all on hip-hop but that is a different conversation for a different day.
Have you noticed that monotony that is rap music? Why do you think rappers don’t rap about more diverse topics?
Michelangelo and Picasso, so often celebrated for their contributions to art history, now have something else in common. Kanye West likened himself to both artists in a circuitous two-hour interview that saw the Chicago rapper and fashion designer speak candidly about social class, race, misogyny in rap and the pressures of fame.
“All of my aspirations are things that currently only 60-year-old white people do,” West said, in the video interview live-streamed by fashion site Showstudio. When asked why he referred to himself as a creative genius and visionary, West said: “Because otherwise I’m called celebrity. I’m called nigger. I’m called rapper. And when they use the word celebrity, nigger or rapper, it’s not in a positive way. So I have to define who I am.”
During a conversation with journalist Lou Stoppard that veered from personal anecdotes about struggling to break into fashion – “me sitting here, trying my hardest, and everyone laughing at me” – to family memories, West outlined his positive vision of a society that overcame class hierarchy.
“I want everyone to win. I don’t even want to be in competition with everyone,” he said. “I just want people to be the best thems and live the happiest lives possible. If you keep information and opportunity away from a certain group of people, then it’s destiny that they’ll stay part of a lower class.” West’s comments on class echoed views he’d shared during an interview in March, when he’d talked about class holding people back from success more than race.
West’s optimistic outlook didn’t keep him from frankly addressing questions about racial politics in America. He spoke about the legacy of slavery contributing to African American people’s reluctance to speak with confidence and carve out their own space in public life. “Blacks, especially in America, have been raised with a slave mentality – they don’t feel that they have the right to speak as loud as possible,” he said. “And every time you hear a black person speaking as loud as possible, somebody’s going to say: ‘Look at those niggers over there’.”
Over the course of the inteview, Stoppard asked West questions submitted by his friends, peers and fans. Most focused on race, fame and when West’s forthcoming album would be released – still unconfirmed, for those wanting to know. “You want to deliver genius, you want to prove people wrong and prove people right that are fighting for you,” West said, before likening the pressure of expectation around the album to being pulled apart by horses in all directions.
Lighter moments arrived elsewhere. London mayor Boris Johnson asked what West would do to make London better – “widen the streets” – while West’s wife Kim Kardashian West asked what he would choose for his last meal. He opted, diplomatically, for some of her home-cooked fried chicken. But a fan-submitted question about the portrayal of black women in rap lyrics saw West offer one of his more hesitant and convoluted responses. “I definitely think generally rap is misogynistic,” he said, after a pause. “Not that that’s justifying the culture.”
West spoke about rap music responding to trends, and communicating the current zeitgeist at the time that its lyrics are written. “There was a time when we had Afrocentric rap, and everybody was more like how Common is – ‘my queen’ and all that,” he said. He described misogynistic lyrics as an outlet for men who’ve found themselves belittled, turning towards the women in their lives and lashing out at them in order to feel validated.
“So let’s take that to the idea of a black male in America, not getting a job, or getting f*ed with at his job, or getting f*ed with by the cops or being looked down upon by this lady at Starbucks. And he goes home to his girl … and this guy is like … you just scream at the person that’s the closest to you.” West linked the use of misogynistic and violent language in rap to a “lack of opportunities” before switching tack and discussing hatred and racism.
Between sharing his pride about his wife’s former stepfather Caitlyn Jenner’s gender transition and labelling himself a humanist rather than feminist, West maintained that he understands his privilege as a celebrity. “Do I worry about being in the public eye and raising kids? Yeah. Any situation you’re in you’re gonna worry about raising kids. But it’s champagne problems, too. There are people who can’t feed their kids. I’m not gonna sit here and complain about these issues.”
London riots: Is rap music to blame for encouraging this culture of violence?
UPDATED 24 FEB 2012
BY PAUL ROUTLEDGE
A teenager standing near a burning car in Hackney
WATCHING London’s Self-Blitz on live television was a horrifying experience. I’ve lived in these riot-hit places and know them well.
The mayhem erupted overnight, but it has been building for years. And putting more police on the streets – while vital to end the threat to life and property – will not solve the crisis.
I blame the pernicious culture of hatred around rap music, which glorifies violence and loathing of authority (especially the police but including parents), exalts trashy materialism and raves about drugs.
The important things in life are the latest smart phone, fashionable trainers and jeans and idiot computer games. No wonder stores selling them were priority looting targets.
Stir into this lethal mixture the fostering of irrational anger against the world and disrespect for others and the end result is self-absorbed young people living at boiling point.
Tension is always there. You see it in their eyes, hear it in their voices and it can break out over the most trivial issues. I’ve been on the receiving end, threatened on a Number 12 bus to Peckham for no apparent reason.
In the short run, the civil authorities have to restore order on the streets, using whatever means are available. Society cannot function if marauding gangs of young men are free to terrorise neighbourhoods.
I don’t care how “angry” these kids are. It’s simply not on for ordinary people to be cowering in their homes, too scared to go to work or out to the shops. Or, even worse, petrified of the petrol bomb that could take their lives.
For the medium term, Cameron’s government must rethink their security, employment and education policies. And fast. It is too glib to blame all this violence on ConDem policies, but they have undoubtedly contributed to it.
Cutting police numbers by 2,000 in the capital is unwise. Ending education maintenance allowances that prepare thousands of young people for work was a mistake. And half-hearted measures to bring down the appalling toll of youth unemployment are not enough.
But in the end only a change of culture, and the way these kids see the world about them, will work. I would ban the broadcasting of poisonous rap, and urge – require, even – schools to teach that the world is a much better place without pointless rage.
“I ain’t gonna change nothing I do, cause I aint doin’ nothing wrong,” rap legend Ice Cube said when asked whether he would cut “F*k Tha Police” from his future sets in light of the recent Dallas shootings.
The protest song, originally released on N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton in 1988, echoes the anger and frustration expressed by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, but its perceived call to violence has many critics clamoring to censor the song for fear that it will incite listeners to act out in kind. Conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly said it was “very disturbing” that the song was still being distributed, and Bernard McGuirk called Ice Cube’s refusal to stop performing the song “beyond disgusting.”
But James M. Jasper, Ph.D., a CUNY sociologist specializing in the emotions of protest, stands by Ice Cube’s refusal to self-censor. “Anger is a totally appropriate emotion for protesters,” he tells Inverse. “You want people to go out in the streets and shout. You want people to go out protesting.”
Music has played such a large part in protests throughout history because it creates a sense of solidarity by inciting strong emotion. “It makes you feel like you’re part of a bigger whole, or larger cause,” Jasper says. The emotional bond shared by people exposed to the same song — whether on the streets or online — can spur collective activities — dancing, marching, and chanting — all of which create a feeling of cohesion. In the Black Lives Matter movement, which has fought to gain recognition on the national level, this sort of mobilization is crucial. And using anger to fuel it is “totally appropriate,” Jasper says.
“You go to a protest to feel angry. You’re already angry. In some way you go to a protest to know you’re going to feel even angrier,” he explains. “F*k Tha Police” is not a trigger; it’s an echo chamber. But what’s most crucial to realize is that it’s not, in itself, a call to violence.
What critics fail to understand is that the strong emotions aroused during a social movement or protest don’t necessarily translate into shootings, Jasper says. While MC Ren’s line on the original N.W.A. track — “I’m a sniper with a hell of a scope/Taking out a cop or two, they can’t cope with me” — is pointedly aggressive and especially uncomfortable to hear in light of recent events, it remains a vehicle for anger, not violence. “Music is neither necessary or sufficient for violence,” he says.
He does concede that music can make it easier for people with violent intent to actually act, explaining that putting on loud music could get the adrenaline flowing and make it easier to actually do something. But there is no evidence to says that violent music directly begets violence in a social movement. “It’s a powerful song,” he says. “But 99.999 percent of people who listen to it will not get a gun and start shooting at cops.”
It’s funny that the people who have their foot on our neck are telling us, ‘Get up. What’s wrong with you?’
One thing to keep in mind, he points out, is that the lyrics of a song are much less important than its musical elements — its beat, tempo, and melody — and shouldn’t be given too much weight. Even a song like “F*k Tha Police”, in which Ice Cube declares there’ll be a “bloodbath of cops/Dying in L.A.”? “I wouldn’t worry about the lyrics so much as people do, especially for outsiders,” he says. “All they learn, all they see are the lyrics. They don’t experience the music. They aren’t there feeling the feelings of the music.”
That’s the point that Ice Cube’s critics are so blatantly missing. Yes, “F*k Tha Police” is a shocking title for a song. Yes, its lyrics depict and defend alarming acts of violence. But focusing on what the song says is less important than asking why people want to listen to it. And perhaps understanding why is impossible to grasp unless you know how it feels to be compelled to do so. N.W.A.’s classic anthem is a song of protest, indignation, and outrage, feelings that are entirely appropriate given the frustration experienced by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement — and feelings that are largely, consistently misunderstood by those watching from the outside.
During a recent march commemorating the brutal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile one sweltering evening in New York city, protestors marched on Times Square, tirelessly chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “Whose streets? Our streets.” But the crowd’s tone changed sharply as police forces started lining the sidewalks. Cries of “F*k the police” began to surface above the din, echoing in waves throughout the crowd. Were people violent? Not at all. Were people angry? Of course they were. But they had every right to be. [not]
Rap Music, Brainwashed Youth, and the Power of Hip Hop Culture
As a Hip Hop purist, I’ve always hated the fact that most commercial rap music promotes negative images and messages.
Having used Hip Hop culture as a medium to empower youth for the last 15 years, I’ve seen first hand how mainstream rap impacts young impressionable minds. It is disturbing. Having also worked with incarcerated youth, I’ve seen how rap that glorifies irresponsible and criminal behavior has become the soundtrack to their daily lives.
The music industry’s role in promoting negative music has been a hot topic for many years. I’ve personally written about it extensively. What is too often under reported is how young people, including incarcerated youth, are directly impacted by the music. Although the overall effect is easy to imagine, specific details are extremely revealing. Here are some of my personal observations gathered from years of work with teens in traditional schools and juvenile detention centers.
When asked to explain what Hip Hop consists of, the majority of kids list violence and gangs as being elements of Hip Hop.
When asked to list what their favorite artists rap about, the overwhelming majority list guns, sex, violence, cars, thugs, jewelry, and money as popular topics.
When asked to name rappers with positive lyrics, most kids name Drake, Tupac, and Kendrick Lamar (within the last year) but seem unaware of any others.
When asked to name female rappers, the overwhelming majority can only think of Nicki Minaj.
When asked if rap music influences them, the majority say yes.
When asked if they know anyone who tries to emulate what rappers do, 99% say they know one or more people who do.
The majority of girls say that most boys seem to learn how to treat girls from their favorite rappers.
The majority of boys say that rap music has taught them that girls cannot be trusted.
Over half of kids use slang they picked up from the newest songs in their everyday conversations.
99% of kids get all of their music for free. Most have never even owned a CD.
The majority of kids only know commercial rappers and aren’t very familiar with the underground scene.
Most kids don’t realize that they can use the internet to discover new artists and end up only acknowledging rappers who top the charts.
Half of all youth state that they’ve never heard rappers use big words.
The overwhelming majority of incarcerated youth say they listen to “gangsta shit” to pump them up to get high or commit a crime.
Over half of incarcerated youth refer to rappers who glorify negativity (ex: Chief Keef, Gucci Mane, Lil’ Boosie, 2 Chainz, etc) as “real shit” while rappers whose content is more progressive are labeled “weak” or “corny”.
Over half of incarcerated youth dream of becoming rap stars when they get out of jail.
During rap writing sessions, most kids write about the same topics commercial artists rap about. 99% of incarcerated youth have an extremely difficult time writing about anything else besides the streets.
Half of incarcerated youth say that slow and bass heavy instrumentals (trap music) inspire them to do negative things. They say “something” in the beat has an effect on them.
The previous data is usually gathered within the first few days of working with youth. After I’ve had enough time to teach kids about Hip Hop culture, the music industry, and the “Commercial Rap to Prison Pipeline”, I expose them to pioneers and iconic Hip Hop artists as well as new underground and independent rappers, of whom most of them have never heard before. Some of these artists include:
The overwhelming majority of kids say that the artists I’ve introduced them to sound better than commercial rappers.
Most kids wonder why radio doesn’t play these artists in heavy rotation.
Most say that they didn’t know rappers could speak intelligently and still sound good.
About half of the kids state that mainstream rappers sound stupid in comparison to these newly discovered artists.
Many of the kids who are aspiring rappers ask me what they can do to become better lyricist.
The majority of them are mad at the mainstream music industry once they’re exposed to alternatives and conclude that the industry is intentionally promoting music to “brainwash” them.
These findings are both disturbing and hopeful. As I’ve stated in previous articles, mainstream rap music can’t be blamed for all of today’s social ills as unemployment, poverty, gangs, drugs, failing school system, and institutionalized racism are the real culprits.
However, mainstream rap’s impact on youth cannot be ignored and has undoubtedly contributed to an already troubled society. Still, when seeking solutions and innovative ways to effectively reach our youth, it’s good to know that Hip Hop culture, in the right hands, can have the kind of impact on young people that may help to save their lives.
The Gayby Baby documentary’s screening at schools caused a stir.
The Daily Telegraph
By Kevin Donnelly
July 21, 2016
WHAT parents have to realise is there is nothing new or unusual about the controversy surrounding the allegation that Cheltenham Girls’ High has banned gender specific terms such as girls and boys in favour of gender-neutral language.
A second example of adopting a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) agenda is Newtown High School of the Performing Arts allowing students to wear either girls or boys uniforms regardless of gender. Add the furore surrounding the lesbian-inspired Gayby Baby film being shown in schools and the Safe Schools Coalition program and it’s clear that there is a concerted campaign by LGBTI advocates to force their radical agenda on schools.
And those enforcing a cultural left agenda on students, like La Trobe University’s Roz Ward, responsible for the Safe Schools program, make no secret of the ideology underpinning their long march through the education system. In a speech at the 2015 Marxism Conference, Ward argues, “LGBTI oppression and heteronormativity are woven into the fabric of capitalism” and “it will only be through a revitalised class struggle and revolutionary change that we can hope for the liberation of LGBTI people”.
In the same speech, titled The Role Of The Left For LGBTI Rights, Ward goes on to argue “Marxism offers both the hope and the strategy needed to create a world where human sexuality, gender and how we relate to our bodies can blossom in extraordinary new and amazing ways that we can only try to imagine today”.
Welcome to the world of gender theory. A world, as argued by the Gender Fairy story, where primary-school children can choose the gender they want to be as “only you know whether you are a boy or a girl. No one can tell you”.
A world where students are asked to sing: “You don’t have to be a certain way just because you have a penis, you don’t have to be a certain way just because you have a vagina”.
And it’s been happening for years. As detailed in my 2004 book Why Our Schools Are Failing, cultural-left academics, the Australian Education Union and the Australian Association for the Teachers of English are long-term advocates of the LGBTI agenda.
The 1995 AATE journal is dedicated to promoting a cultural-left view of gender and sexuality.
One paper calls on English teachers to explore “alternative versions of masculinity”, while another warns against “the various ways in which gender categories are tied to an oppressive binary structure for organising the social and cultural practices of adolescent boys and girls.”
The AEU’s 2001 policy argues that either/or categories like male and female are not natural or normal and that “all curriculum must be written in non-heterosexist language”.
The AEU’s policy goes on to argue that any discussion about LGBTI issues must “be positive in its approach” and “homosexuality and bisexuality need to normalised”.
Ignored is that according to one of the largest national surveys of Australians, about 98 per cent self-identify as heterosexual and babies, with the odd exception, are born with either male or female chromosomes.
Fast forward to the NSW’s Teachers Federation’s LGBTI policies and it’s clear little has changed. The Federation supports the Safe Schools program and anyone arguing for the primacy of male/female relationships is guilty of “heterosexism”.
Anyone committed to the belief there are two genders is guilty of promoting “fear and hatred of lesbians and gay men” and the belief “other types of sexualities or gender identities are unhealthy, unnatural and a threat to society”.
Ignored, compared to many other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, India (where gay sex illegal) and African nations such as Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe, is that Australia is a tolerant and open society. Football clubs have gay pride matches, many of our elite sports men and women have no problem ‘‘outing’’ themselves and the Gay/Lesbian mardi gras is widely accepted.
What LGBTI advocates have to accept is parents are their children’s primary teachers and caregivers and imposing a politically correct, radical LGBTI agenda on schools is more about indoctrination than education.
Dr Kevin Donnelly was co-chair of the National Curriculum Review and is a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University.
Envy demands that there is always a winner and a loser
July 09, 2014 Tim Challies challies.com
I have written about envy before and have referred to it as “the lost sin.”
Envy is a sin I am prone to, though I feel like it is one of those sins I have battled hard against and, as I’ve battled, experienced a lot of God’s grace.
It is not nearly as prevalent in my life as it once was.
Recently, though, I felt it threatening to rear its ugly head again and spent a bit of time reflecting on it.
Here are three brief observations about envy.
ENVY IS COMPETITIVE
I am a competitive person and I believe it is this competitive streak that allows envy to make its presence felt in my life. Envy is a sin that makes me feel resentment or anger or sadness because another person has something or another person is something that I want for myself. Envy makes me aware that another person has some advantage, some good thing, that I want for myself. And there’s more: Envy makes me want that other person not to have it. This means that there are at least three evil components to envy: the deep discontent that comes when I see that another person has what I want; the desire to have it for myself; and the desire for it to be taken from him.
Do you see it? Envy always competes. Envy demands that there is always a winner and a loser. And envy almost always suggests that I, the envious person, am the loser.
ENVY ALWAYS WINS
Envy always wins, and if envy wins, I lose. Here’s the thing about envy: If I get that thing I want, I lose, because it will only generate pride and idolatry within me. I will win that competition I have created, and become proud of myself. Envy promises that if I only get that thing I want, I will finally be satisfied, I will finally be content. But that is a lie. If I get that thing, I will only grow proud. I lose.
On the other hand, if I do not get what I want, if I lose that competition, I am prone to sink into depression or despair. Envy promises that if I do not get that thing I want, my life is not worth living because I am a failure. Again, I lose.
In both cases, I lose and envy wins. Envy always wins, unless I put that sin to death.
Envy divides people who ought to be allies. Envy drives people apart who ought to be able to work closely together. Envy is clever in that it will cause me to compare myself to people who are a lot like me, not people who are unlike me. I am unlikely to envy the sports superstar or the famous musician because the distance between them and me is too great. Instead, I am likely to envy the pastor who is right down the street from me but who has a bigger congregation or nicer building; I am likely to envy the writer whose books or blog are more popular than mine. Where I should be able to work with these people based on similar interests and similar desires, envy will instead drive me away from them. Envy will make them my competitors and my enemies rather than my allies and co-laborers.
What’s the cure for envy? I can’t say it better than Charles Spurgeon: “The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the divine presence, worshiping God and communing with Him all the day long, however long the day may seem. True religion lifts the soul into a higher region, where the judgment becomes more clear and the desires are more elevated. The more of heaven there is in our lives, the less of earth we shall covet. The fear of God casts out envy of men.”
Cory Bernardi says the gap is widening between the political class and ordinary voters.
By Philip Coorey 6 July 2016 Australian Financial Review
Disaffected Liberal senator Cory Bernardi is redoubling efforts to unite conservative voices, saying a cross-party lobby group is needed to bolster the Liberal Party’s support base and counter third-party outfit GetUp, which played a pivotal role in targeting right-wing Liberal MPs in the election.
The outspoken South Australian conservative has been the government’s harshest internal critic of its performance on Saturday. He lashed out again on Wednesday, labelling it as a “disaster”.
Senator Bernardi has been warning for two years that the disconnect between the political class and voters has been widening and he has previously threatened to leave the Liberal Party and form a breakaway conservative movement.
On Wednesday, he said the election showed “it’s more important than ever that we unite Australian conservatives, who share many views, regardless of their party affiliation.”
“It’s the next step in making sure our voice is never taken for granted again,” he said
Senator Bernardi told The Australian Financial Review he was not leaving the Liberal Party but wanted to develop a forum to harness support.
Conservative politics lacked an equivalent of Left-wing activist group GetUp, he said.
“I want the party to be as strong as possible under Malcolm Turnbull so we don’t lose the next election,” he said. “If we don’t harness the base we’ve lost we will lose it for good.”
During the campaign, GetUp focused its resources on MPs it labelled as representing “the right-wing of the Coalition who block action on global warming, renewable energy, and funding for schools and hospitals”.
Lost their seats
Four of those targeted lost their seats. They were Jamie Briggs in Mayo, Andrew Nikolic in Bass, Russell Matheson in Macarthur and Louise Markus in Macquarie.
Two others, Peter Dutton and George Christensen survived swings against them.
After losing his seat, an angry Mr Nikolic cited GetUp as a factor.
“This is what dishonesty looks like – GetUp spent $500,000 and imported 90 activists into Bass,” he wrote. “It’s sad to think that this sort of dishonest campaigning approach works in our country!”
Senator Bernardi said a similar umbrella group was needed to promote conservative views. He believes that Mr Turnbull alienated the conservative base with the proposed superannuation changes in the budget, by allowing same-sex marriage to become an election topic, and by publicly disparaging Pauline Hanson during the campaign.
Senator Bernardi said this drove conservatives towards parties such as One Nation.
Fellow conservative Andrew Hastie, who boosted his margin in the Western Australian seat of Canning, was scathing of the Coalition’s campaign, saying it was of little relevance to his constituents.
He told hs local newspaper that he doubted whether lead Coalition pollster Mark Textor had “ever been to Canning and spoken to one of my electors”.
Mr Hastie said he threw away the campaign-supplied talking points when a man “asked me directly why our plan would benefit the future of his five children”.
“I struggled to answer,” Mr Hastie said. “It was at that point I realised that a lot of what we were campaigning on nationally just wasn’t resonating with everyday Australians.
“He couldn’t understand the reason for company tax cuts, he wasn’t earning enough to benefit from the increased tax thresholds and he wasn’t an innovator, he was just an everyday Australian who was trying to pay down his mortgage and look after his children and ensure they had a brighter future.”
Poker machine use in the South Australian town of Ceduna has fallen by a third due to a cashless welfare card trial.
By Sarah Martin The Australian 21 June 2016
Poker machine use in the South Australian town of Ceduna has plunged by a third in the past three months as a result of the federal government’s cashless welfare card, new figures show.
Based on average poker-machine turnover in the area, this translates to as much as $7500 a week, or almost $400,000 a year of welfare benefits diverted from spending on gambling in the town.
The dramatic reduction since the card was introduced in April, and reported by the South Australian Liquor and Gambling Commissioner, has been accompanied by reports of a rise in food consumption and a reduction in anti-social behaviour.
Results from the 12-month card trial in Ceduna will be used to determine whether the government rolls out the plan more broadly for welfare recipients in other communities, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said.
“It is early days but these results are very encouraging and if these results continue then we may well have found a model which breaks the serious dysfunction which characterises so many remote locations,” he said.
“If the trials are successful then of course we will explore whether other regions are interested in adopting the model.”
He said the trial results suggested that the card was dramatically reducing the negative social effects of excessive drinking and was directly helping local families.
“A key part of the success has been the community leaders who have worked hand-in-glove with me and the government in co-designing and overseeing the implementation of this, and without their local leadership we would not be in the position that we are in today,” Mr Tudge said.
The trial in Ceduna, 790km northwest of Adelaide, covers about 800 people, with another 1200 covered by the program in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia.
About $800,000 a fortnight is being allocated to the so-called Healthy Welfare card across the two locations, money that cannot be used on alcohol or gambling products and cannot be converted to cash. It represents 80 per cent of welfare payments, with the remaining 20 per cent accessible as cash.
Since the card’s introduction, local businesses have reported an increase in trade, including more spending on food at the local supermarket, while the remote community of Oak Valley now receives two food truck deliveries a week instead of one.
The Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Corporation told Mr Tudge that the rollout of the card had resulted in more children with “cleaner, newer clothes” and a significant decline in the number of people requesting basic supplies such as milk and sugar from the community office.
Ceduna district mayor Allan Suter reported that police matters “appear to be substantially lower” and the local drug trade had been “severely affected” because of a lack of cash, with at least one suspected dealer leaving town.
“The very strong consensus … is that this is easily the best our town and community behaviour has ever been and this is being credited to the debit card initiative coupled with the various other measures we have taken,” he said.