Friday, March 27, 2009

The social and emotional impacts of the systematic dislocation of Broome’s community.

The Proposed establishment of Mtpa 25 Gas Hub is already having distressing, social and overwhelming emotional ramifications on your community and on your country.

Hands Off Country has been sitting back for a few weeks, in order to try and understand what was actually happening to your community.

Although Red Hand’s observations are not surprising they are well concerning. The industrial forces’ manoeuvring tactics and so called consultations’ techniques are having a tsunami effect over the Broome community. People are already in distress, families and family groups are being divided; there is intimidation, disengagement of key stakeholders, lots of misinformation, lack of correct information and even aggression.

Social and emotional impacts will never be quantified by social impact studies; you can never measure the ramifications that puts father against son, brother against brother or people working against each other’s wishes within a once harmonious community.

The current social impact assessment study is being undertaken by people who have no connection to your community, who have no understanding of your true community values, your heritage, your history or insight into the fears you hold for country, community and your families. Nor will they delight in your hopes you hold for your future. These studies cannot be undertaken effectively or efficiently when you do not know what door to knock, whose door to knock and what is the right door to knock. Information will never be given freely to strangers. What will be the starting point of such a study, do you start from the homeless, the level of street violence, lack of affordable housing and the mental anguish and substance abuse that is happening across your community, within all walks of life?

Elderly Traditional Owners (known as TO’S) are under enormous pressure with the mirror and bead games, they are forced into playing. Their health and spiritual wellbeing are being compromised as people play political games with the last years of their lives. Heritage and cultural custodians’ concerns are whitewashed, whilst key stakeholders are being excluded from the know.

Currently, there are people morally and ethically challenged over the conflict between their personal and employment interests. Now more than ever in history you can’t afford to have this excuse I was just doing my job any longer.

These dilemmas are accumulating because people are understanding that this is not just about protecting country, this is about saving the planet (one very small corner of it) and the strong survival instinct you all hold as humans beings to ensure you do leave some places in the world free of industrial crap.

Yes the battle lines are drawn straight through the heart of this community. Rich are pushing for more riches and the poor are still trying to seek basic services. You have people who are deeply affected by this proposal, you have young visionaries who are articulate and have the concept of the bigger picture being cut down like tall poppies. You have groups not sharing information with each other because of legal ramifications or personal ego trips.

Nookanbah was about people protecting country and cultural heritage with their lives. Land Councils grew out of this type of non-violent direct action, people’s actions. They are now acting like real-estate agents willing to sell land, the most precious thing that binds Indigenous people together, culture, heritage, language and their only true sense of belonging, country.

We have got a young population within the township who have not been given equal access to training and education, like those in other parts of Australia. When provided, this would ensure they will participate in the existing hospitality, eco-tourism, pearling, fishing, supermarkets and other industries. What makes you think they can participate now in this new industry? The youth are angry and this will bubble to the surface, displacement, detachment and alienation that your youth are already feeling in your community will intensify. The community’s children will never be able to afford their own home and this gas hub will not be the answer to their prayers or meet any of their basic needs.

The processes currently being employed to ensure that this proposed gas hub goes ahead has been nothing short of thuggery, people are being bribed, bullied, back-stabbed, sidelined, violated, compromised and are left with little or no capacity to defend. Meanwhile, Woodside and the State Government are sitting back. Rest assured that the divide and conquer rule lives on.

The community is beginning to feel like it’s been deliberately kept in the dark, lied to and manipulated, with half truths and blatant lies. The community has been led to believe that James Price Point will be the focus of this precinct and would operate within a 3,000 hectare operational site. According to some recent maps, Woodside’s plans are to base the Mtpa 25 Gas plant directly on Quondong Point and the precinct will sit within 6,000 – 8,000 hectares.

The Broome Shire Council resolved to organise a Broome community forum to inform the community of all the pros and cons that this proposal would have on the Broome community. It has been deferred. Reasons being that major players were unable to attend and so the forum would not have achieved the outcomes the Shire sought, the full picture. If this project is as beneficial as you are being led to believe then surely this forum and the opportunity it presented for all stakeholders would have been an unique opportunity to present the case. This forum is greatly needed now, not in the future when you will not have the same opportunities to make an informed decision before a green light is given by external parties.

In true Broome style, your special community has the ability to pull together the fragile strings that bind its residents, past families and children of the future, together. You will see this at Walmadany Concert for Heritage, Male (Town) Oval in Broome on Friday night 27 March, 2009

The real social ramifications can never be studied. One thing is for sure, you will not have access to beautiful country, resourceful fishing grounds, fresh-air, clean water and nor will you feel the joy of sharing country.

Hands Off Country, Stand Up for the Planet,
(Sorry no pretty pictures with this blog)

1 comment:

  1. this is real,this is going down,faith in the bigger planetary picture amidst the chaos that these powers create.