BRIGHT SMILE BUT A HARD ROAD AHEAD

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - DAN KNOWLES

YOU wouldn’t know it from her beam­ing smile, but the odds are al­ready stacked against six-year-old Elvie Salt­ner in a town where there is lit­tle work.

It’s a sad fact her grand­mother Pa­tri­cia Dou­glas, who grew up in Cher­bourg, knows all too well. It’s a tightknit com­mu­nity where fam­ily holds peo­ple to­gether, but the 61-year-old says it’s tough for the young ones – her chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.

Mrs Dou­glas said Elvie’s mum, her daugh­ter Lorelle, is look­ing for a good job but work is hard to find.

“She re­ally wants to work at the school,” Mrs Dou­glas said.

El­der, com­mu­nity jus­tice group chair­man, and teacher Be­van Costello says the town’s best hope is restor­ing pride in their in­dige­nous her­itage.

Mr Costello, who At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Yvette D’Ath de­scribed as an “in­spi­ra­tional fig­ure and teacher within the Cher­bourg com­mu­nity” when she ap­pointed him to the state sen­tenc­ing ad­vi­sory coun­cil in June, said res­i­dents were tired of be­ing told what to do by gov­ern­ment ex­perts but for­got­ten about the mo­ment they leave.

“A lot of gov­ern­ment peo­ple are like fly-in fly-out peo­ple,” he said.

“A lot of the gov­ern­ment de­part­ments refuse to have in­put from the grass­roots peo­ple. They are re­fus­ing to have in­put from us. It takes a whole com­mu­nity to ed­u­cate a child.”

Mr Costello gave the ex­am­ple of the un­cles in fam­ily groups be­ing re­spon­si­ble for dis­ci­plin­ing chil­dren.

“I’m send­ing you up to un­cle. When you hear those words, you know you’re in big strife,” he said. “The peo­ple at the top level mak­ing the de­ci­sions, they wouldn’t know that.

That’s cul­tural stuff.”

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