Thursday, 1 November 2007


It’s interesting to read the nonsense on many of the redneck blogs about “unfair” support for minorities.

One minority often neglected are people who live in remote and rural communities. For years, the schools in these communities have been supported by PECAP (Priority Educational Country Area Program). Years ago in Mount Isa, I was responsible (in the Social Justice portfolio in the North West Region) for this program. School communities wrote submissions which were approved by local PECAP committees. I remember being amazed at the efficient and innovative ways in which the money was used to support bush kids.

The parents of these kids pay the same taxes as everyone else, but out here they rarely receive anywhere near the same services.

One common strategy is the leasing or purchase of small buses used to conquer the vast distances. These buses are often shared by a cluster of small schools. In this case, the bus illustrated was used to carry a whole school (15 kids) into a neighbouring larger centre to spend a week at a swimming camp. Because there’s nowhere to swim in their isolated township, these kids would otherwise miss out on the “Learn-to- Swim” program available to others.

This way they concentrate a semester’s swimming into one week. Given that temperatures are already into the 40s out here, it’s a pleasant way to spend a week.

And it’s also Social Justice in action.

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