Something to do

Let local kids bust toads       20 June 2006

My ex mother-in-law – and  no jokes necessary because she is one of the many saintly women I have met in my life – shared much of her homespun philosophy with her family and one of her best was:

‘There’s no such thing as a naughty child, just a child with nothing to do.’

Consequently, Jeanette’s skill is to put a challenge in front of children or give them a job which she makes seem like fun. It works more times than not.

NW KIDS CATCHING CANE TOADS

Similarly, with the cane toad invasion of the north west of Western Australia and the inherent problems of Aboriginal people in this state, we have a solution at hand that while only a short term panacea will ‘work more times than not’.

In today’s The West Australian, columnist Paul Murray quoted Sandy Boulter, a board member of the KimberleyToad Busters:

‘We are getting wonderful support from the Aboriginal community and teenage boys are lining up to bust toads every weekend. It’s giving them something really positive to do on their own country’

That’s great. We might not stop the cane toad invasion but by involving the community, especially the unemployed, it gives a chance to do some real good in a number of social problem areas.

Involving Aboriginal communities in doing this has many positive outcomes for society as a whole. Most notably it gives people with nothing to do a purpose – something worth getting up for in the morning.

I have been unemployed. It’s liberating for a while but eventually you end up with too much time on your hands and achieve nothing. You attain a feeling of uselessness and soon nothing seems like fun.

By connecting the fun aspect to stopping the cane toad menace, the Kimberley Toad Busters are uniting their community to help, fostering teamwork between the white and black people of the region. This can only be positive.

For the black people, it further fosters their natural instinct to do positive things for their own country – not Australia the country, but the land where they live.

Paul’s column also identifies funding issues in ‘the celebrity-studded Stop the Toad Foundation, which has been given $500,000 of WA taxpayers’ money to spend.’

I would hope this money gets to the people of the Kimberley to do some work rather than be wasted on media opportunities and catered meetings of latte-sipping bureaucrats and small-time glitterati.

They have a rare opportunity to give people something to do.

Don’t waste it.

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