Home- grown so­lu­tions

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

ONE child abused is one child too many.

Un­for­tu­nately it is im­pos­si­ble to erad­i­cate all harm done to chil­dren, as much as we would like that.

But that must not stop all of us do­ing what we can to strive for that unattain­able goal.

And it is up to all of us, not just the Gov­ern­ment or po­lice.

We will never have enough gov­ern­ment work­ers or po­lice to con­quer this scourge. They need ev­ery cit­i­zen also com­mit­ted to the cause of help­ing our de­fence­less kids.

That’s one of the mes­sages that will be shared when the city hosts the North Queens­land Child Pro­tec­tion Sym­po­sium next month.

In any case, the num­ber of chil­dren in the re­gion who are sub­ject to on­go­ing child pro­tec­tion in­ter­ven­tion is both heart­break­ing and in­fu­ri­at­ing.

It is now more than four years since Queens­land Child Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sion of In­quiry com­mis­sioner Tim Car­mody, QC, de­liv­ered his ground­break­ing fi­nal re­port.

Yet as we learn in to­day’s there are still nearly 1400 chil­dren re­quir­ing pro­tec­tion.

How many of those chil­dren would be safer if the Car­mody In­quiry’s rec­om­men­da­tions had al­ready been fully im­ple­mented?

The fig­ures also re­mind us there is no quick fix to child abuse.

One pos­i­tive is the up­com­ing North Queens­land Child Pro­tec­tion Sym­po­sium, which aims to shine the spot­light on what Car­mody rec­om­men­da­tions have been im­ple­mented and how ef­fec­tive they have been.

Yet while the Gov­ern­ment has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to put child pro­tec­tion struc­tures in place to pro­tect our vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren, that does not ab­solve any mem­ber of our com­mu­nity to ac­cept we all have a role to en­sure any sus­pected cases of child safety breaches are re­ported.

We must also con­tinue to im­ple­ment, and build on, the 10- year road map rec­om­mended by the Car­mody In­quiry by re­spond­ing to what re­search tells us about what works and what we can do bet­ter.

One child saved would make that worth­while. WFTAG is not just lob­by­ing for new hi- tech wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture. We are very con­scious of the need to im­prove the city’s wa­ter- wise strate­gies. Most peo­ple ( es­pe­cially gar­den lovers, plant sup­pli­ers, land­scap­ers, turf grow­ers etc) are do­ing their best to com­ply with on­go­ing Level 3 re­stric­tions.

Townsville City Coun­cil is re­view­ing “de­mand man­age­ment” and re­cently re­it­er­ated the Fe­bru­ary 28 ad­vice that out­side celebrity ad­vice will guide the process through the Pure Projects Plan.

This has trig­gered mixed re­sponses in our large group. How much less wa­ter will we be ex­pected to use, with no im­proved sup­ply in the near fu­ture, and no guar­an­tee the next wet sea­son will see good rain? No amount of re­spon­si­ble con­ser­va­tion can achieve the wa­ter se­cu­rity that is our right.

By re­search­ing and doc­u­ment­ing the his­tory of Townsville’s wa­ter in­se­cu­rity, we found a re­port by McIn­tyre & As­so­ciates, com­mis­sioned by coun­cil, back in 1977.

It pre­dicted by 2000, the city would re­quire a re­li­able sup­ply of 150ML and 200ML a day by 2020. For the last 12 months on harsh Level 3 re­stric­tions, we have av­er­aged un­der 100ML a day. The look and feel of Brownsville lives on.

Ahead of a meet­ing with the mayor this week, we’ve sub­mit­ted 20 fo­cus ques­tions. Some re­late di­rectly to de­mand, sup­ply, re­stric­tions and con­ser­va­tion. WFTAG’s def­i­ni­tion of wa­ter se­cu­rity ( once new su­pe­rior in­fra­struc­ture is op­er­a­tional) means never hav­ing to go to Level 3 re­stric­tions again.

Here are some of the ques­tions. Coun­cil re­sponses will be avail­able on our site in due course.

What are coun­cil’s cur­rent def­i­ni­tions for both “wa­ter se­cu­rity” and “de­mand man­age­ment” and will th­ese change once new in­fra­struc­ture is in­stalled?

What will be the trig­ger points for pump­ing and re­stric­tions in fu­ture, and what de­scrip­tors will be at­tached to each level?

Will coun­cil’s own wa­ter use be re­viewed to im­prove con­ser­va­tion prac­tices? eg. types of grass and tree species planted, time frame for fix­ing re­ported er­rant sprin­klers and leak­ing pipes.

Will coun­cil review covenants and re­quire build­ing plans that re­sult in bet­ter wa­ter con­ser­va­tion in new sub­di­vi­sions? Ex­am­ples:

en­cour­age de­vel­op­ers to al­low/ in­stall front fences so any wa­tered grass ar­eas are en­closed and used for gar­dens, leisure, safe play ar­eas for chil­dren and pets; not just of­froad park­ing?

in­cen­tives for rain and/ or grey wa­ter tanks;

in­cen­tives for in­stalling drought- tol­er­ant gar­dens;

in­dus­try and larger con­sumers ex­pected to phase in re­cy­cling of all grey wa­ter;

pub­lic swim­ming pools to re­cy­cle all back­wash and in­cen­tives for pri­vate pool own­ers to add the tech­nol­ogy.

Will coun­cil con­tinue with the cur­rent “dob in a neigh­bour” tac­tic and fines?

Is coun­cil con­sid­er­ing in­stalling smart me­ters?

Will coun­cil be re­con­sid­er­ing user pays?

Will pri­vate bores be mon­i­tored to gauge ground­wa­ter lev­els?

Will coun­cil de­velop a ded­i­cated web­site for the com­mu­nity to learn about and share wa­ter ed­u­ca­tion/ con­ser­va­tion ideas?

What does coun­cil have planned if the city en­dures another failed wet sea­son and/ or the cur­rent in­fra­struc­ture ( which has no backup) suf­fers an ex­tended or cat­a­strophic fail­ure?

Many be­lieve lo­cal tur­fies, busi­ness own­ers and fran­chisees who spe­cialise in landscaping and gar­den­ing should be the first to be called on for con­ser­va­tion ad­vice.

There is an abun­dance of com­mu­nity knowl­edge about drought­tol­er­ant plants, lo­cal soils, weather pat­terns and gar­den sup­pli­ers.

Coun­cil can also strive for best­prac­tice eg ed­u­ca­tion re­sources for the com­mu­nity, schools and early learn­ing con­texts, in­creased re­cy­cling for parks, bet­ter re­sponse times for leaks, re­view­ing sprin­klers and noz­zles for windy ar­eas like The Strand.

If our sit­u­a­tion de­te­ri­o­rates fur­ther, the fi­nan­cial fall­out will be as­tro­nom­i­cal. Rates are paid for wa­ter al­lo­ca­tion and now re­plac­ing pri­vate gar­den losses and dead plants and es­tab­lished trees in pub­lic parks and spa­ces.

If Level 4 re­stric­tions are trig­gered, de­spite the de­mo­graphic pre­dic­tions and our prox­im­ity to a vast catch­ment, the prob­lem is clearly not just a lack of in­fra­struc­ture fund­ing. This prob­lem is not dif­fi­cult to fix. Join our group to have your views heard.

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