Pamela Nathan responded to the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott’s, recent comments about ‘lifestyle choice’ in relation to the forcible closure of communities in Western Australia with the following Letter to the Editor, which was published in ‘The Age‘ on Monday 17 March 2015. Links to some of the many articles related to the PM’s comments follow.
Place to call home is central to wellbeing
If people are forcibly removed from homelands or starved of resources until they leave, they will be condemned to die or become mentally ill. In 1964, 50% per cent of Pintupi people in Central Australia died in four months when they were moved from their ancestral lands to the centralised community of Papunya. With Tony Abbot’s proposed forcible removals, trauma, violence, suicide, addictions and depression will be the norm again as they became then. Health costs will explode. A plethora of clinical and forensic services will be required and if they aren’t, then psychological crises will build with the destructive force of a cyclone. Surely avoiding such potential misery is not a “lifestyle choice”. And, just as surely, such misery will cost our whole community very dearly! Home, a place of belonging, of family and kin, is essential for all of us to maintain our mental health and emotional well-being.
Pamela Nathan – Director, CASSE Aboriginal Australian Relations Program
The Lowitja Institue: