Friday, October 8, 2010

Bribes of money will not silence the people, or buy our sense of place

The impoverishing effects of affluence and its ability to over-emphasise on development, corporations profit and personal consumption is removing our human identities. It strips communal from community and alienates us from the environment. The siren song of newer, better, and more is an illusion that is making us psychologically and morally ill-at-ease, if not ill.

Woodside’s current reality is desperate and ambiguous when it comes to the Browse project. The fact that Woodside is now forced into the dastardly strategies of community enticement under the guise of Community sponsored grants is a clear indication that the Company is really concerned that the Broome community and the outlying Indigenous communities are not just going to roll over.

Our cash-strapped community groups, like our child care centres, women’s groups, youth centres, community festivals and even wildlife rescue groups are desperate to locate funds and they will accept Woodside’s grubby crumbs, begrudgingly. The unspoken proviso and the presumption of obligation that comes with these crumbs will not however silence the people. It just confirms how much Woodside does not understand our community’s true values, the ones we all hold for our cultural, social and environmental health.

Does Woodside Chief Executive Don Voelte understand how Woodside are currently perceived by both the Broome and Dampier Peninsula communities as the Company attempts to engage and procure support? Woodside maybe trying to give off an air of confidence about the extent of their community engagement skills but the talk on the street and on the Peninsula is very different. Often the smiling faces of our community members accepting these financial windfalls is really only masking a very serious lack of respect for Woodside, creating additional mistrust and reinforcing the well founded suspicions of Woodside’s destructive social and environmental intentions for our community. Everyone understands that nothing is for free.

These up-front financial enticements are unlikely to lead to any kind of genuine engagement with or a continuous commitment to our communities. Yes, money inducements will lead to an engagement of sorts‚ but it will be more along the lines of a superficial and hypocritical relationship.

Increased industrialisation often accompanies economic globalization which in turn leads to environmental contamination. Environmental damage is also inextricably linked to widening gaps that go hand-in-hand: the gap between rich and poor and the gap between cultural and lifestyle values.

1 comment:

  1. You have made some good points here.

    Your right I don't think they quite understand, nor do they endeavor to