Daily Archives: October 11, 2005

"Inside the Circle"

Last night’s Four Corners

…circle sentencing, an innovative process aimed at preventing crime – and reducing the scandalous over-representation of indigenous people in the courts and in jails. In NSW, indigenous people represent just two per cent of the general population – but 20 per cent of adult male prison inmates, and even higher percentages of female and juvenile inmates, are Aboriginal.

In a normal court, a defendant who pleads guilty need not say a word. He or she might not comprehend what is going on. The arguments and the pleadings are the business of mostly white lawyers and white magistrates. Not so with circle sentencing…

The scheme has been running for three years in Nowra – and one-time sceptics like police prosecutor Craig Veness are now ardent converts. “Nobody really knew what was going to happen… however what I’ve found in this process is that it makes a difference, it actually does,” he says. “(Offenders) really don’t seem to come back.”

Circle sentencing has also been running for two years in Dubbo, on the NSW western plains, where re-offending rates for circle “graduates” are way below the average. Now it’s being started in other NSW centres.

Variations exist in some other states – though none that devolve so much responsibility to Aboriginal elders. Could this be the circuit-breaker that provides a more effective deterrent to Aboriginal offenders than prison, and eventually cuts the rates of indigenous imprisonment?

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Posted by on October 11, 2005 in Australia and Australian, Crime and/or crime fiction, culture wars, Indigenous Australians, Political, TV


Lines from a Floating Life: Post-everything generation

I posted the above on June 11, 2005, citing a story in The Australian: “…US commentator Brian C. Anderson …, after interviewing 50 students in a population of millions, hailed a right-wing insurgency sweeping American colleges in his book South Park Conservatives. Anderson argues that the Left’s stranglehold on universities is weakening, even at Berkeley, that Californian crucible of ’60s ferment. ‘Never has the Right flourished among college kids as it does today,’ he writes.”

I was reminded of that post, which someone else visited today and which I then reread, when I dropped in on Another Blog just now to see what was happening. R comments there on a fashionably Hansonite story on tonight’s Today Tonight, R’s entry itself being well enough written, and a fair enough expression of opinion of course.

Except that it really took me back to a time when “Why don’t the bastards speak English?” was usually thought to be a bit, well, ignorant. I mean, there are old Italians in Leichhardt even to this day to whom English is very much a second language, sometimes very basic indeed, even if their grandchildren speak hardly any Italian. Mind you, I think such language loss is also sad, for all sorts of reasons, personal as well as economic.

But the fact one speaks very little English and does one’s driving test in a language other than English, an example cited in the entry, does not mean you can’t master road signs. There is quite a difference between being able to respond to a road sign and being able to compose a sonnet in English, or even being able to compose a shopping list in English, or so I would have thought. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 11, 2005 in Australia and Australian, culture wars, education, generational change, human rights, immigration, Multicultural, personal, Pomo, racism, reminiscing, right wing politics, Salt Mine