Where will refugees live?
Dear editor, In the SRN on Nov. 1, 2017 it was reported the council was asked to investigate and advocate the resettlement of refugees in this region.
The shire director of corporate services, Mr Hansen said council should consult the “Refugee settlement in rural areas” document prepared by the state government and also seek help from refugee consultant, Ms Margaret Piper. It would provide considerable help and information, Mr Hansen said.
I don’t believe they should consult either that document or Ms Piper, or the body she does or did represent. Instead the council should consult the shire residents.
Ms Piper is not only a refugee consultant but also a passionate refugee advocate.
What would these refugees work at here? I rarely see a job advertised let alone a farm job as spoken about.
With the exception of the orange industry there is neither fruit nor vegetables in this shire requiring hand care or harvest.
Where will they live? Housing has become scarce in Finley with the demolition of houses built with asbestos, and there are not a great number in the other three towns.
Would new immigrants like to live in otherwise empty farm houses? No, they would find them isolated.
I know in some other towns they are accommodated in motels. Will that be their future housing?
Yes, they would contribute to the local economy but I feel it will be in the form of welfare. And almost without exception it is welfare and no work that degrades people and society.
There has been recent publicity on government wanting to move refugees to rural areas for a minimum of five years upon their arrival in Australia. It’s clear they don’t want bigger foreign enclaves building in the major cities.
I wonder if there are confidential talks going on between government and the shire on this issue.
I ask council to open this subject up to public discussion. Yours etc. Gary Mexted Tocumwal Dear editor, It’s about time Berrigan Shire Council listened to the experts and families devastated by illicit drug use before they discuss the economic benefits of the Strawberry Fields Music Festival.
It is very difficult reading the articles that focus on the monetary spin off from this festival — ‘Valuable event’ (SRN 21/11/18 p1) — yet knowing first hand of the devastation caused by the drugs that are brought into our community. Whilst the headline reads ‘Police stats drop’ (SRN 21/11/18 p3), we read in the same article that between the NSW and VIC police roadside operation for this event, there were still 105 drivers detected with drugs. This weekend could be the most dangerous weekend of the year to be driving a vehicle on a road in this area.
It would be prudent to therefore discourage ‘all others’ from being on these roads for the duration of the festival. Maybe they need to be reminded of the potentially devastating link between illicit drug use and driving a motor vehicle. Whilst the ‘harm minimisation strategy’ of roadside testing is set up for selected periods of time over this weekend, not all drivers passing through are tested nor does it test drivers passing through outside these periods.
As one of the emergency workers who presented as a guest at the ICE Community forums 2015, that the council oversaw, I am feeling quite confused that they granted approval for this festival. It seems quite a contradiction. This series of forums held in Barooga, Tocumwal, Berrigan and Finley were “…aimed at informing the broader community about the effects of ICE on users and their families’’ (BSC Business Paper 20/05/2015 6.8).
Attendees of the Berrigan event heard from a local mother about the devastating effects of ice on families and former council member Brian Hill reaffirmed this from his experience as a drug and alcohol worker (SRN 22/04/2015). At the Finley event Dr Alam Yousef talked about how the community must “. . . avert drug use” (SRN 20/05/2015). The council oversaw these drug forums but now has given this festival a five year DA approval (Deniliquin Pastoral Times 28/08/2018). This does not make sense.
As a paramedic, every year that I have been rostered on to look after the local area for this weekend, I have had to attend this festival to treat patients suffering the ill effects of drugs or transport them for further intervention to Shepparton. This is despite the impressive onsite medical set up.
Judging by the reports from police, local hospital staff and other paramedics who have worked in this area during the last 10 years, it would therefore seem a reasonable conclusion that the two are inseparable. So for a council which has a duty of care to the residents of this shire, why would you approve a festival that may bring more illicit drugs to your ‘home turf’ and add to our existing levels?
Imagine if the council no longer gave approval for this festival? Yes the organisers would seek approval elsewhere, but what if that next shire council also disapproved, and so forth?
Yes, as a shire, we would miss out on thousands of dollars it brings and no it won’t solve the ‘drug problem’, but at least the council could hold their heads up knowing they had done their bit to discourage illicit drugs from our area. For our local kids not yet committed to that culture who are filled with curiosity, it might just be them who are saved from experimenting with these substances.
Yes, they might try them elsewhere, but if there is no elsewhere nearby, maybe they won’t? As a paramedic on the front line of our battle with illicit drugs, I believe this is a better example of a harm minimisation approach to illicit drug use. Yours etc. Mick Wane Finley