Thursday, April 05, 2007

Personal Reflections - 5 April 2007

One of my irregular end week reflections, musings to myself, this time perhaps more important because tomorrow is Good Friday. Whether one is a Christian or not, Easter marks a major event in world history.

Like so many musings, this one is a mixture of the important and the trivial, the serious and the frivolous.

During the week Neil (Ninglun) kindly nominated me for the Thinking Blogger meme. In doing so, Neil said: "Jim and I do not see eye to eye on everything, but we certainly share a lot of values and attitudes. His work is always thought-provoking and far more conscientiously researched than most blogs." Needless to say, I was flattered.

Like all these memes it requires me to nominate five blogs meeting the criteria. I will do so because I think that this meme is not a bad idea, but there are some things that I need to think through first.

Tonight I listened to an interview with Tony Koch, the Australian's chief political reporter in Queensland who has just won the Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year award - the nation's most prestigious journalism prize - for his coverage of the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island. Mr Koch was talking about his experiences in years of reporting on Australia's Aborigines. It reminded me how little I know.

One point that I do know, and its one that Mr Koch made, is the need to balance reporting on problems with reports of successes. This is a point I made some time ago and I have heard the same point repeated a dozen times over the last two weeks.

In all this, I was thinking about the role that this blog should play in reporting on indigenous issues. I musn't take myself too seriously, but for my own personal satisfaction I need to feel that I am adding something if I am going to write on a topic.

There are many things I cannot do. I cannot, for example, write on things from an indigenous perspective because I am not indigenous nor do I have the direct contacts with indigenous people required. For similar reasons, I cannot write sensibly on the detail of many specific matters because, unlike Mr Koch, I have never visited the places referred to, nor do I have twenty year's experience to draw from.

In all this, I have been slowly working my way through to three things that I think that I can do within the limits set by the blog format and my own time.

First, I can continue to use my own skills as a policy analyst to scrutinise policy towards or affecting our indigenous peoples. I remain of the view that this area is not well covered.

Secondly, coverage on indigenous issues is, or so it seems to me, remarkably patchy. This blog is not and cannot be a newspaper. But I can at least pick up issues that might otherwise slip between the cracks.

Finally, I can do something about consolidating information and information sources to make material more accessible. The present traffic stats on my blogs do not allow me to look at the detail of referrals over extended periods, but when I look at apparent patterns people search on quite a varied range of Aboriginal topics. Here I know from my own experience in preparing material that it can be quite hard to find what you want.

The first fourteen day meal challenge finishes tomorrow. I fear that while I did meet the rules, -with the exception of roast chook on Sunday, this required a different meal every night - time pressures kind of destroyed the real intent.

Last year I wrote a fair bit on matters connected with the NSW Higher School Certificate. This year I have not had the heart. It has not been a good HSC year from our viewpoint. I really don't like the system, although I am not sure how to fix it. Perhaps reintroducing the concept of education might not be a bad start.

Federal education minister Julie Bishop might also take this to heart. At the moment she seems to be the minister for education system "productivity" and "standards".

Just to check that I was not being unfair, I did a quick scan of her media releases over the March quarter (here). Have a look for yourself. At the risk of sounding tart, every time I meet someone who wants to abolish our Federal system, I respond Julie Bishop.

This links to an interesting discussion during the week on strategy vs policy. Strategy and associated action plans remain big in all Australian governments. So I asked what was the difference between policy and strategy.

When you really boil it down, high level policy is really concerned with the what and why, what should we do, why should we do it? Inevitably, this involves values. These policy deliberations then flows into the objectives that form the starting point for strategy and action.

They have finally finalised the election count for the NSW Legislative Assembly. I will put a post up on this. While the final seat uncertainties did not affect the overall results, I found the way the results kept swinging as counting proceeded quite fascinating. But then, strange things do interest me.

I hope that the weekend is fine, although the forecasts are not encouraging. I was looking at the garden yesterday, feeling that I must do something. Still, I can report that I am now picking salad vegetables from my last burst of spasmodic gardening.

Time to move.

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