I’d rather be anywhere but here..

Something like that was the reported ‘slogan’ of the ‘Kelly Gang’ of the Glenqarie Estate in Macquarie Fields, in Sydney’s south-west. Two of the members of that hell-raising group of family and friends died in a high-speed car chase, setting off several days of riots. It’s all reminiscent of the Redfern riots, except that this time it’s Anglo kids, not Aboriginal ones, at the centre of the violence. And the same old things are being said, minus the racial element. Police brutality on one side; bored thugs on the other. Hand-wringing articles about the desperation felt by people in such places are offset by furious letters denouncing wimpish approaches to keeping law and order.
It’s something that seems to me to be not just confined to Sydney or to Palm Island or to Armidale, by the way–which has had at least two difficult-to-control riots in very recent times too. This is why I think it’s happening.

First of all, the ghettoisation of people in places like the Estate is a major problem, importing the kinds of hideous situations and no-go zones one has seen for years in cities like London and Paris. It’s hopeless for the Housing Commission to build estates of this kind. Every single estate of this sort I’ve seen(including in Armidale), is just a breeding-ground for disaffection, boredom and uncaringness. The people who want to give it a go are intimidated by the thugs and deadshits who constantly make their lives a misery. But there is another way to do it.
In Toongabbie, the western Sydney suburb my brother lives in (between Blacktown and Parramatta), housing commission flats and houses are sprinkled in between privately-owned houses. Toongabbie’s a modest place, with rather down at heel shops and so on, and a loud pub, and there’s few amenities–no cinema, not much for kids to do, but it’s not a dangerous place, and at least you can get out easily to Parramatta and so on.
Then I think there’s a real problem with a whole lot of people who would once have got work doing physical jobs of all kinds and now either can’t get them, or won’t. It’s too damn easy for a kid to get a ‘gummint’ payment–when your kids turn 16, they get sent a personal note saying they could now apply for a Youth Allowance! Our kids didn’t–on our very strong advice–but how many kids in Glenqarie and places like that would be told not to by their parents, who are themselves on welfare?
There are actually quite a lot of unskilled jobs in the building industry and so on but they are usually on building sites further into the city. It means kids having to have the initiative to actually get the job, and go there every day, ignoring the blandishments of their friends, who might prefer more thrilling activities, such as stealing cars and playing chicken with the police.
Then there’s the huge, huge problem of drugs and drink. It’s a cross-generational thing; the older ones are powerless to stop it; the middle generation is wiped out on it, and has neglected and/or abused its children; and the younger ones are mad with it, live only to ingest enormous quantities of it. This is so especially in Aboriginal society, and other underclass situations (because I think in many ways Aboriginal problems are very much underclass problems).
There’s a few reasons why stimulants and stupefiants have become such a problem: a permissive general culture; drugs and drink freely available; a loss of authority and meaning; and probably the most important, the fact that the nannification of our young in a risk-averse culture like ours means that few legitimate opportunities for risk and aventure exist. Boredom is the flip side of ultra-safety. Boredom infects the young of all classes and situations; the earnest analysis and endless parrot talk that pours out of our talky babyboomer-dominated culture every day, washing over young people like a great grey tide. Unfortunately, instead of having the nous to get up and change their lives, of going to see the world or whatever, of getting off their bums in short and not waiting for the roast duck to fly into the mouth–they take the easy, commercial option, the option typical of a consumerist society–sucking on the Jim Beam or the dope or the coke or what have you.

The articles on the riots were rabbitting on about the fact few of the kids in that area did their HSC. Well, big deal. The extra two years only means two years of childcare for most kids, anyway, who are itching to get out. Postponing problems for two years is not much use. And besides, given the crap HSC curriculum, especially in the only compulsory subject, English, just what kind of help is it going to be to a ‘Kelly Gang’ type, anyway? Those kids need much more than more dull routine and earnest gabbling about feminism, post-colonialism, deconstruction et al. Especially when you see many of the schools out there, where the teachers are dead scared of the kids and basically just work on crowd control.

Those kids need work, most especially. They need to get off the welfare mentality. And they need to get out of the ghetto.

But people have also got to stop excusing the criminals. You can understand what leads to a situation without excusing it. I know people who have been through hideous experiences–here and in other countries–who have nevertheless not allowed themselves to turn nto professional victims let alone criminals.
The first victims of crime anyway are usually the criminal’s neighbours–the poor and helpless who are trapped in housing estates and who have to face the threat of the thug or the vandal or the drug-dealer or the standover man as well as ugly housing and lack of opportunity.
These kids stole a car–not some rich person’s car, I’m sure(and even if it was, so what?) It’s not a victimless crime. We had our car stolen once–it was a little old Toyota Corolla, uninsured(except for third-party), down-at-heel, and clearly belonging to people who weren’t well off. The mongrels who took it could see that clearly, I’m sure–but what did they care? They were just jungle predators, and we were their prey. (It was taken and stripped for its engine and spare parts.To add insult to injury, when it was finally found, we had to pay for its towing to the wreckers’ yard!). Yet it was surprising to hear how many people told US off, for not having had our car insured–which we couldn’t afford to, anyway. It wasn’t worth the premium. But it was our only car. And we were 800 kms from home, with two small kids, when it was taken. Very little sympathy was expressed for us, though!
Now of course the kids in Macquarie Fields who took that car were ‘joy-riders’ –but they still took something that didn’t belong to them (wonder how they would have felt if someone had done that to them, probably bashed them up!). They didn’t deserve to die, but it was their fault, and that of their dumb mate who took off. The rioters know that full well, but it’s an opportunity too good to miss, to inject some drama and meaning into their lives., fuelled by plenty of drugs and drink. Now the Kelly Gang have got starring roles on TV, radio and newspapers, just like their mythologised namesake. Hey, that means something, in our celebrity culture. It means so much more than actually working out that if you’d really rather be ‘anywhere but here’, you should piss off out of there and get a bloody life!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
31 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“It means so much more than actually working out that if you’d really rather be ‘anywhere but here’, you should piss off out of there and get a bloody life!”

Which ignores the fact that to get one of these jobs on a building site, it’s a distinct disadvantage to have your residence as Macquarie Ponds on your cv. Not to mention factors such as the waiting list for affordable housing, and the enormous cost of housing in Sydney generally. In Brisbane, existing public housing tenants are very reluctant to move even when promised upgraded accommodation because they’re afraid that it won’t be delivered, and at least at the moment they’ve got a house over their heads.

I don’t know that your focus on “welfare dependency” helps much, Sophie. It’s an individual solution to a social and collective problem. We’re quick to stigmatise people on welfare for drinking and taking drugs but the same level of stigma is rarely directed at society women guzzling champers all day or fabulous new economy twenty-somethings who spend most of their pay packet (or vastly extended credit card) on cocktails in funky inner city bars.

In principle, I think public housing ought to be interspersed in areas of private tenancy – it’s a good thing for instance in Brisbane that collective housing at low cost is being built in gentrifying inner city areas. But moving people holus bolus from an existing community only creates more problems, and if against their will, is hardly a liberatarian policy, as has been pointed out. I suspect that’s what happened when people were shifted out of Surry Hills or wherever in the first place – you take an existing community and send them out to some shithole suburb with no services and no jobs and no infrastructure and you destroy social norms and values. Some might know what I’m talking about when I refer to the impact of the bulldozing of South Brisbane for the world expo site in the 80s.

I don’t condone illegal actions but using language such as “jungle predators” is dehumanising and unhelpful, Sophie. And it’s remarkable that postmodernism and deconstruction are again to blame. The big problem in schools in socio-economically disadvantaged areas relates not to the English curriculum, but to the extra resources needed to manage behavioural problems and literacy and numeracy issues which are rarely provided. There’s also numerous studies which show that kids who think that they have no future can’t see the point in taking education seriously. That’s actually a reasonably rational choice.

I also object to your inconsistent dismissal of the value of senior education for the so-called underclass (an extremely sociologically loaded term). It sounds like you want some panacea of literary reflection for the upper classes and you’d rather the rest went off and worked at Macjobs.

I think your post is overly emotive, unnecessarily dismissive of the lives and situations of people in this area, and generally therefore unhelpful in terms of understanding rather than condemning what’s gone on.

There are some very sweeping generalisations in your post as well. You argue that it’s all about welfare “dependency” but if the youth unemployment rate is 17% as has been stated, then the rest must be in employment, education or training. Not everyone can work on a building site and the more common option of badly paid retail or sales work hardly gives most people a sense of an inspirational future lying ahead of them.

I don’t want to argue this at length but I also reject your contention that Indigenous problems are the same as or generally the same as “underclass”.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

I’ve posted this link before, but I still reckon Stephen Sondheim had it all sorted almost 40 years ago. http://www.westsidestory.com/site/level2/lyrics/krupke.html

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

There is no such thing as unskilled work anywhere these days. Labourers on building sites these days are highly skilled compared to “the good old days”

I can remember gangs of juvenile deliquents in the 50’s using bike chains and wrecking nice peoples fences to grab fence pickets to bash each other and the cops and whole country towns and suburbs would feel beseiged when chosen for these battles.

Then there was battles between Jazzers and Rockers and later on at least in Melbourne between Sharpies and almost anyone. All fueled by alcohol and whatever drug of the moment. The longevity of alcohol and speed as drugs of choice is a worthy topic of research in itself. Most doped up hippies and heroin users tend not to go the knuckle much, if at all.

My late departed father told tales of gangs of soldiers during the war in huge street battles in Melbourne where cops and MPs feared to tread for days. He also reckoned as far as he could see each succeeeding generation was less violent and less abusive of alcohol than the previous – and that society in general was less tolerant of violence – despite media and politician panic.

James Lane
James Lane
2022 years ago

“I don’t know that your focus on “welfare dependency” helps much, Sophie. It’s an individual solution to a social and collective problem. We’re quick to stigmatise people on welfare for drinking and taking drugs but the same level of stigma is rarely directed at society women guzzling champers all day or fabulous new economy twenty-somethings who spend most of their pay packet (or vastly extended credit card) on cocktails in funky inner city bars.”

I didn’t see Sophie stigmatizing people on welfare. I saw her criticising deadshits committing crimes, frequently against their neighbours.

I couldn’t care less about society women or yuppies in bars (stereotypes, anyone?) while they aren’t stealing cars or DVD players.

Further, Sophie has every right to compare the problems of wefare dependency and “victim” status in blighted white communities to those in indiginous communities, because they are very much the same problems.

sophie
sophie
2022 years ago

Mark, I don’t think you’ve read my post right through. When I talked about drink and drugs I said it was a problem for ALL classes, and that it’s got to do principally with the risk factor, and boredom.
I’m sorry but I don’t think any building site foreman is going to give a toss about where you live. If you front up every day and work, that’s good enough. And I certainly do NOT think that kids should go into MacJobs–but for God’s sake, there are other sorts of jobs aroubd! Western Sydney in general has a 4 percent unemployment rate; that estate a 25 percent unemployment rate. Why?
I’m not being dismissive, as you put it, of their lives–I have actually lived in places which are very much socially disadvantaged and I know lots of people work damn hard there–what you are missing out in my post is I’m talking about a minority, the troublemakers who make life hard for everyone.
And I’m sorry if ‘jungle predator’ offends you, but that’s the reality–it’s not about ‘illegal actions’, it’s about bloody selfish creeps who just take,take, take and don’t give a toss for anyone else, and who have no respect for anyone, and who’d bash you as soon as look at you. Lucky for you if you’ve never come across them. But we have–not only the car thieves, but cowardly thugs, too, who bashed up our younger son for no damn reason at all, and others who have bashed up young friends of ours. I have zero sympathy for these dickheads. Why shouldn’t I be emotive? That’s one of the results of crime, you know.
And please, I think you are really stretching a long bow to suggest I’m blaming it on po-mo and deconstruction! I just said that most kids don’t identify with that–and that goes for whatever situation they’re in. It’s just even more ridiculous when you’ve got a situation like this, to try and keep kids in school and giving them stuff like that.
I also happen to live in a town where 10 percent of the population is Aboriginal; my kids go to school with Aboriginal kids, and we know quite a few Aboriginal people socially. It’s from talking with them and observing what actually goes on that I’ve drawn my observations re the ‘underclass’ comparisons. I totally agree with Noel Pearson, by the way.
I agree ‘underclass’ isn’t the greatest term in the world, but what exactly are you going to call it? They aren’t middle class or working class, are they? Would you prefer ‘welfare class’? Or can’t we use any terms at all? How can we describe such phenomena? You’re the socilogist, Mark. Tell us.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

What’s wrong with a McJob anyway? McDonalds have an excellent training program, and they DO offer a career path for kids who want it (rather than just a part-time job while studying). Remember that until recently the worldwide CEO of Maccas was an Australian bloke who’d started at the bottom flipping burgers and risen to the pinnacle of this huge multinational corporation. He might even have started work in the Macquarie Ponds branch of Maccas for all I know. Mind you he died of cancer a couple of months ago, probably brought on partly by the stress and hard work. Would he have done better to stay on the dole and anesthetise himself with drugs and alcohol, and blue with the cops to stave off the boredom? He might have lived longer, but then again he might not. Neil Young had it right too: it’s better to burn out than it is to rust.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

BTW Sophie

I don’t personally have any problems with your observations. They’re necessarily incomplete, because there are no doubt lots of factors that impact these sorts of social/criminality problems. You’ve identified some of them, Mark others, but none of us actually knows unless we’re very closely acquainted with the area and the social networks involved. I suspect none of us actually is, so we’re probably better swapping insights and suggestions calmly than arguing heatedly from entrenched ideological positions. The reality is that there are both social and individual responsibility aspects to the problem (and your post identifies some of both of them), but then that’s my centrist instincts speaking. Mark seems to take exception to your emphasis on individual responsibility. I think he’s wrong there, but he’s no doubt right that there is indeed a whole range of social factors that need to be taken into account. But feel free to ignore me and argue away anyhow. It’s more entertaining than droning on about post-modernism or Leo Straus.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Sophie, underclass is actually quite similar in derivation to Marx’ concept of the lumpenproletariat – and his theorisation was similar as well – prone to violence, irresponsible etc. You can of course use any term you choose, but I merely point out that “underclass” as it’s been used since it was coined in the 70s has derogatory overtones.

Ken – yeah, but most people who work at MacDonalds are either uni students or school students with other career paths in mind, or strangely get fewer shifts when they have to be paid adult wages at age 21. This is the point – individual class mobility is an option for some but very few. As Francis points out, work in the building trades is largely skilled work these days. There just are very few well paid jobs around for the unskilled. So, contrary to Sophie, the option usually is poorly paid service work or nothing.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

I’d kinda agree with Holden FX. History is littered with mobs of young men getting into rumbles.

And not just because they were from deprived backgrounds either. Look at the “gentlemen’s clubs” of 18th century London, well-born young blokes forming gangs like the Mohawks who used to go out “Tipping The Lion” ie: breaking noses and gouging eyes.

Or the English soccer hooligan crews of the last few decades, many of who had solid daytime jobs and wives and girlfriends, but would get together for a good ruck at away matches.

Or the post college and NBA match riots in the States, where nice college boys burn cars and bottle the cops.

The most common denominators in most of this behaviour, historically and geographically, seem to be testosterone, alcohol and boredom.

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

In the 80s I worked over the road from a huge cluster of housing commission high rise units. I forget the number of tenants but it was bigger than most country towns of 4,000 or so all on a few blocks. There was a rash of problems on the grounds, break and enter, drug overdoses, drug dealing, syringes, violence, rape, small rumbles with the cops, vandalism plus the usual defecating in the lifts and harrassing old ladies etc.

The local papers and councillors and politicians and outraged worthy citizens called for a crackdown and evicting of the large number of bad eggs. Increased police patrols etc etc.

We worked with the police and the housing commission itself. The police were easy. We looked at the crimes and addresses of the perps. Guess what. Around 98% of all crimes were committed by people who did NOT LIVE ON THE ESTATE.

Did this fact make much difference to the media and poliies? Whats your guess.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Sophie, I may have indeed read your post too quickly as I did so in an internet cafe on the way home from the office, and therefore I apologise if I’ve drawn any unwarranted inferences. However, this whole “welfare dependency” discourse really gets up my goat. For the record, I disagree with Noel Pearson’s approach as well. The most obvious distinction between Indigenous and non-Indigenous deprivation is that the former is reinforced by cultural and political dispossession. All these matters are most complex, including the issue of communitarianism and the varying types of community which are often at the ground of the “welfare dependency” argument, as well as its ideological biases with regard to the causes of social mobility or social reproduction. I simply lack the time at the moment to argue this at the length and with the clarity that it deserves.

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

I agree, “welfare dependency” is a problem, but it’s an overrated one in Australia, especially amongst youth. Most youth – even yobbos from Macquarie Fields – are working or studying or (too often) both.

A lot of this discourse is imported from continental Europe, the UK or the US. If you study the question carefully, it soon strikes you that each of these system’s problems are quite different from each other’s, and each in turn are quite different from Australia’s.

And I think FX Holden is spot on – street violence and alcohol abuse have fallen quite markedly over the past century or so. Where I grew up, alcohol-fuelled street affrays (often either initiated by or directed at coppers) were common near pubs on a Saturday night – and the country town I grew up in was not at all unusual in that respect.

Richard O
Richard O
2022 years ago

Mark,

Personnally I think Sophie is spot on and you are way off the mark. It all comes down to peer group pressure or the distinct lack of it. Stick a group of people together and the group will develop a dynamic of its own (at least than is what I have found in 20 years of management) I you stick generations of “underclass” people in one spot is asking for trouble. There is a fairly strong chance that they will not be out there looking for a job when their parents and grandparents don’t give a rats about being unemployed. Here in Perth, Homes West (WA housing commission) places a housing commission houses on every seventh housing block in most suburbs. It spreads the “housies” out and subjects them to a different crowd dynamic – to a different, more positive peer group pressure, and guess what, it generally works. Humans are social animals, they go with the herd (or the culture). Put someone in a shit environment and only the strongest willed will climb out of it. That is why Sophie is correct is asserting that this mob in Sydney (and many other places) need a little “social engineering” to get them back into the workforce, out of the ghetto, and off the dole.

Richard O
Richard O
2022 years ago

Everyone,

Sorry about the typos and syntax – goes to show one should type in Word and cut and paste into the Comments Box.

Still think Mark is way off the beam on this one though.

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

“We are all familiar with the idea that the bulk of the welfare burden, child abuse cases, single teenage mums and prison population in Tasmania can be traced back to just 30 families.”

I’ve expanded on this and identified an extended melbourne family over at my blog.

Donna P
Donna P
2022 years ago

The Mayor of Campbelltown, Brenton Banfield today said that “Anyone in Macquarie Fields who had any get up and go has got up and gone” He is spot on. Sophie is spot on, whether people like it or not.
I grew up in Macquarie Fields, graduated High School at Macquarie Fields High School in fact. I did my HSC, and I got out.
I knew some of the Kelly Boys. I haven’t seen them for many years, and I don’t miss them much, but I’m not very surprised at the behaviour they’ve displayed lately either. I’m not far from Macquarie Fields now, in fact you can hear the police choppers nightly from my house, but I’m glad my Mum brought us up to believe in ourselves and to get out.

Robert
2022 years ago

Richard is right. Perth is notable for the fact that its riots occur in relatively well-to-do areas — Kalamunda and Trigg — and are related to drunkenness after parties rather than social deprivation or genuine tension with the police.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“That is why Sophie is correct is asserting that this mob in Sydney (and many other places) need a little “social engineering” to get them back into the workforce, out of the ghetto, and off the dole.”

I wouldn’t disagree if I believed that social engineering as you put it, Richard, was going to offer real chances. The reality of most “training” for people on the dole now is that people are given inexpensive and often fruitless computer courses etc., or put into work for the dole which the evaluations demonstrates makes almost no difference in terms of propensity to find work, or churned into low paying casual jobs through the job network. The Keating government’s labour market programmes by contrast, showed results, but were expensive. The actual solution to these sorts of issues on a larger scale is to be found in a willingness on our part generally to spend more on education, training and job creation. Of course some individuals will benefit from programmes, and some will find work or leave depressed areas on their own initiative, but individualising the issues doesn’t address the structural barriers (including those at the intersection of tax and welfare policy). We can either decide as a society to invest in people or invest in cops and prisons. We’ve chosen the latter. It’s probably a more expensive choice, let alone the human cost.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

“I wouldn’t disagree if I believed that social engineering as you put it, Richard, was going to offer real chances.”

Mark, what is so “unreal” about a dead end job in the service sector? Hundreds of thousands of Australians work in these jobs, and many of them will do so for their whole working lives. But somebody has to do these jobs. I suspect there are many in such jobs who are happy to have a job with little responsibility, not too much thinking required, go home at the end of the day and forget about it.

As to the main thrust of Sophie’s post. The problem seems to be that some people (eg the Kellys and their mates) think that any honest work is beneath them. I don’t see why they should be offered any greater incentives than are already in place to join the civil society and earn a living. If they want to indulge in criminal behaviour, they should be treated as criminals. However, I agree with her that gettoization is one of the factors leading to such social problems. Lack of decent facilities for youth entertainment (non drug & alcohol related, that is) is another factor. Although I suspect the Kellys would consider this beneath them too.

BTW, I agree with you on the difficulties caused by the interaction of the tax and social security systems. But doing anything worthwhile about it would be extremely costly. I don’t agree that cops and prisons are the more expensive choice.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“Mark, what is so “unreal” about a dead end job in the service sector? Hundreds of thousands of Australians work in these jobs, and many of them will do so for their whole working lives. But somebody has to do these jobs. I suspect there are many in such jobs who are happy to have a job with little responsibility, not too much thinking required, go home at the end of the day and forget about it.”

There’s research on call centres, for instance, Alex that shows around 60% of people have that sort of attitude, and it wasn’t uncommon when I was a public service clerk. I’m not knocking it, but saying two things – people need to have the conditions present for achieving the sort of life they want, and secondly that one of the nice things about routine jobs used to be that they were relatively well paid and secure. Most are not anymore. Hence I said “casual” and “low paying”.

As to the relative costs of policing/corrections and tax/welfare reform, I don’t know the answer, but anyone could do a bit of research. California now spends more on prisons than education, and they’ve gone from having an excellent state education system that sparked off Silicon Valley to a shithouse one. What I would argue though is building a more just society with more opportunity for all would pay off *in the medium to longer term* with a much lower crime rate, not to mention the welfare/surveillance bureaucracy which is enormously costly, and thus benefit everyone. Similarly, with investment in skills and education.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“If they want to indulge in criminal behaviour, they should be treated as criminals.”

Nor do I disagree with this. But I think that’s what important is crime reduction. Surely it’s better if these situations never occur in the first place.

jen
jen
2022 years ago

Sophie I agree,

Kids are looking for thrills in a bid (that becomes desperate) to stave off boredom.
Boredom born of pessimism. The kids I know from the fuck-up end of town have little access to optimism. It is a foreign country and success? well unless you are a star on the footy field forget that too.

I have found that when kids experience success that is widespread and fully acknowledged. They change. The world becomes one of possibility. it matters what they choose. They know that risk and effort can lead to chest swelling reward and acknowledgement.

I was amazed at the way a solid performance program can motivate kids embedded in a culture of the bored and socially suspect.

There is a qualification here. I worked my guts out for 4 years in a high school environment to create that program and I know that the kids that worked in it over those years
learned something about effort and job satisfaction from the performance process.

They learned what the comfy middle class kids I’m teaching now already know.

Oh and by the way, there is no To Sir with Love. They’ll kill you with their fucked upness if you give them half a chance.

Paul Watson
2022 years ago

I seem to have been the only one whose jaw dropped upon reading a Macquarie Fields woman quoted in yesterday’s Oz. She emphasised that the younger of the boys killed was a *good* kid, who did not smoke or drink, but only stole cars.

Not sure of it was it was from the same woman, but there was also an interesting quote to the effect that “Why didn’t the police do what they usually did when dealing with a stolen car being driven round the suburb: block off all its road exits (of which there are only three)?”

Ron
Ron
2022 years ago

the typical Macquarie Fields resident/inmate is institutionalised almost totally’

That thought has crossed my mind more than once over the last few days.

Comments from adults in their 20’s to much older people (particularly women), seem to say much the same as the teenagers. Much of it being along the lines of ‘everybody is blame except us’. One phrase I heard used was ‘these kids need blood revenge and they’re gonna get it’ with speaker giving the impression of supporting the idea.

One of those teenagers killed had 42 convictions and the other more than 20. And we are supposed to think of them as ‘good kids’? Perhaps in the eye’s of many adults in the area, they were.

observa
observa
2022 years ago

I was discussing some of the polarity of views with Rob Corr at http://robert.redrag.net/ on his post of Mon 28th regarding the Sydney riots. I had some suggestions to put to Rob’s followers there. I would be particularly interested in your views about them Donna.

wbb
wbb
2022 years ago

It’s curious that when confronted by a sub-culture with such profound defects we are reduced to feeble condemnation of the individual miscreants and to appealing to the nobler of the savages to pull their socks up and leave.

Imagine that your child was born into such a social setting. How do you think they would grow up? Would they be one of the ones who fail to escape? Or are your genes of sturdier stuff? Either way would you be happy to let them take their chances and sit back and see which way the chips fall.

The C20 myth of the individual blinds us to the reality that we are responsible for this community whether we like it or not. We have created this suburban sinkhole and now get upset when its stench wafts by on a passing breeze.

Either ignore this incident as the inevitable occasional burp from a festering swamp or seek to drain it. But don’t set up mythological anti-heroes whose evil souls we must divine. They are us. We are them. We are two sides of the same coin. We sink and rise together.

Self-congratulations that we are made of sterner moral stuff are vainglorious and untrue. We owe our own success to our own communities & families. To pretend otherwise is an empty conceit.

Adopt your child out as an experiment if you don’t believe it.

Trevor Cook
2022 years ago

Excellent post, sophie.

An aboriginal colleague of mine made the point to me a couple of years ago about the corrosive affects of intergenerational welfare dependency. You can’t have people living on handouts for generation after generation after generation and expect that their kids will somehow acquire focus, discipline, ambition, aspiration etc

And can I say your points about the victims of crime are absolutely right. I grew up adjacent to a housing commission estate in a suburb that looked bad on the cv (so much so that the residents got the name changed!). My experience was that the serious crime was the work of a minority and that they would steal from (and bash) anyone who got in their way, had something they wanted or just looked at them the wrong way. They stole from and bashed each other repeatedly.

I got bashed one night when I got mixed up with one of these fratricidal conflicts – it was ugly, very ugly and very scary I can tell you. (BTW, that night was my ‘anywhere but here’ epiphany)

These guys are not working off some political program and calling for redistributive justice. Though the loyalty can sometimes be touching. One guy actually returned my Hendrix Band of Gypsy album that he stole from a party because he ‘liked me’ (because I helped him get home one night when he was too pissed to walk!) and another told me he wouldn’t have stolen a car if he’d known it had belonged to a friend of mine (but he said it was urgent because he had to drive a friend of his who was in trouble with the cops to Qld – from memory I think they only got as far as Gosford)

That being said, most of the people I grew up with and around were hard-working average people who just wanted to stay out of trouble and get on with their lives.

I think we do these people a great disservice when we ‘celebrate’ or apologise for the crims in their midst who make them afraid for their homes, cars and personal safety.

sophie
sophie
2022 years ago

Absolutely agree, Trevor. A lot of this stuff is intimate, fratricidal, emotional, aggro bullshit and just as they can bash you soon as look at you, if you do something they think is cool, somehow, then you can be protected. It’s kind of like the ‘protection racket’ thing–you have to put up with their rules and whims or you’re in trouble. There’s no reason why anyone should have to put up with this kind of rubbish.
Good to see your post too, Donna–to hear from someone from the area.
I don’t know what you think, but I got the strong impression from reading what the ‘Kelly Gang’ people had to say–esp the dominant adult, the mother, Debbie Kelly–almost of some kind of identification with their mythologised namesake, the Kelly Gang led by Ned and Dan and co. They’re trying to clothe their miserable and predatory lives with the kind of braggadaccio and sweeping statements that old Ned and co made. There’s much in common. They had a street-fightin’, strident, tough nut of a mother; they started off stealing horses, the equivalent of cars now; they blamed everything on other people, got stuck into futile stoushes with the police, screamed for bloody revenge, etc (Debbie Kelly said her sons ‘wanted to give their lives to this, to revenge’ Heavens’ sake!). And their intimate little revenge tragedies/farces get taken up by people who try to make them into either victims or political heroes/symbols of some sort when truth is, they’re neither. Interesting, from a distance(modernised film version of Ned Kelly, anyone?) but annoying and frightening up close. And not something you want to live next door to. Bystanders find it hard not to be forcibly involved.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Trevor, who’s celebrating or apologising? I don’t see any going on…

Tammy
Tammy
2022 years ago

Wow. I’ve never seen a site like this. I was actually looking for some ‘references’ for my first year Sociology assignment. I grew up in a Housing Commission estate in Seven Hills but have since moved to the Gold Coast. I always wanted to get out and saw education as a ‘tool’ to do so. My first assignment in my education degree “who am I as a learner’ will be based on my experience in Seven Hills and how it inspired me to educate myself and get out. No offense to anyone who lives there – but I wanted a different life for myself and future family. Anyone know of any good reference books I can get my hands on about the culture of Sydney’s Western Suburbs?
Interesting and thought provoking reading by the way.

trackback
2022 years ago

I’d rather be anywhere but here..

Link: Troppo Armadillo: I’d rather be anywhere but here… The first victims of crime anyway are usually the criminal’s neighbours–the poor and helpless who are trapped in housing estates and who have to face the threat of the thug or