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HELP PAINT THE FUTURE OF A CHILD IN THE
HUNTER. BECOME A FOSTER CARER!
Have you ever thought about becoming a Foster Carer?
Foster Care Week runs from Sept 11- 17, 2011 and this year we're
inviting the Hunter community to learn more about what it means to
be a foster carer and how you can make a difference in a young
person's life by becoming a short or long-term carer.
To fnd out about our information evenings or to be sent a free DVD
and info pack, please give us a call. Our brand new DVD is a great
way for the whole familiy to learn all about foster care in the
comfort of your own home. You can then decide whether or not
you and your family would like to proceed in applying to become
carers and come along to an information evening to ask questions.
Call us today to
receive a free
30minute Foster Care
DVD and information
pack where you can
hear from current
foster carers & their
families, a young
person currently in
foster care and
foster care team.
Russell, Mary, Lyn, and Neil.
Mercy Community Services
(02) 4944 1944 • www.mercyservices.org.au
You can discuss with us how you can also help others by calling or visiting us online
We prepare the meals for the people with disabilities and older
people who come to visit Mercy for lunch. It is rewarding to hear
comments such as "the smells wafting from the kitchen reminds
me of home" and "this is the best meal I've had all week". It's great
that people appreciate what we do but we would do it anyway
because we enjoy each other's company.
greater rate. The trend towards inequality
accelerated on both sides of the Atlantic
from the 1980s, improved slightly under
the early days of Tony Blair but has again
started to widen. Britain's social indicators
and income equality are among the worst
for the European Union.iii Trevor Phillips,
of Britain's Equality and Human Rights
Commission, commented in 2009 that
'Britain is a country where long-standing
inequalities are unresolved and where new
social and economic fault lines are now
emerging.'iv Too true it seems.
Critically, this inequality seems impervious
to individual attempts to escape it.
Generational mobility is at a record
low. 'Gateways to opportunity appear
permanently closed, no matter how hard
they try; while others seem to have been
issued with an 'access all areas' pass at
birth.'v The poor remain poor.
What links inequality to the riots?
Long-term disadvantage incubates
alienation; a deep and abiding sense of
hopelessness. The young in particular
have no stake in the broader society or
in their own futures. Some respond with
a slow burn withdrawal from the world,
descending into a private hell of drugs,
gambling, alcohol or petty crime. Figures
in poor areas of London show these
social ills are well established. Some, as
they did this August, will react with public
violence. It may be inchoate, often without
clear political shape or form, but it will be
spawned from disadvantage. As Tony Judt
comments, 'Inequality is corrosive. It rots
society from within.'
What impact the recent austerity
measures? It's unlikely any single measure
alone could generate the raw emotion
evident in the riots but could the Global
Financial Crisis itself be a cause? The
banking system, too big to fail, was bailed
out by government. Private sector debt
became public debt. Those responsible
walk away, bonuses and lifestyle intact.
Government, left with the burden,
introduces austerity measures that fall
lopsidedly on the poor, lower and middle
classes, chipping away at Britain's already
fragile social cohesion.
Now the scene is set. Local incidents
such as the death of a black father in a
police encounter quickly spark protest.
Mismanaged, trouble escalates. As in
Golding's Lord of the Flies, the psychology
of the mob takes over, pulling in a
sprinkling of the more well to do, just to
confuse things further.
What of Cameron's point? He blames
moral collapse, declaring the riots to
be criminality, pure and simple. To call
the riots a crime or the result of moral
collapse doesn't tell us much. It's just
a restatement of the facts, albeit in a
form more palatable to a law and order
constituency. Riots are criminal acts, they
don't make anything better, and they
should attract a consequence. So we
agree, but what's the next question?
All crime has a context. The social contract
has been breached, but the riots are
not the first rip in the fabric. Failure to
realise this will lead to a poor public policy
response and only worsen the problem.
Improved policing will undoubtedly be part
of the solution, but thickening the thin
blue line without addressing inequality will
surely lead to a more protracted conflict.
Status quo explanations that ignore
inequality as central to current woes will
light a longer fuse.
Christians can support Cameron's call
for a moral revival. But let the clarion
sound at both ends of the street. Let's
ensure that those who benefit from an
ever more unequal society, what author
Phillip Pullman calls Britain's 'feral
élites', are not untouched by our analysis.
An op-ed in The Telegraph no lessvi links
the rioting to a more universal culture
of greed and selfishness; 'It is not just
the feral youth of Tottenham who have
forgotten they have duties as well as
rights. So have the feral rich of Chelsea
Cameron was shocked by the riots. Not an
untypical reaction of the privileged when
first confronted aggressively by the poor.
He had to fly home from Tuscany after all.
But aren't the smash and grab tactics of
the rioters and the pilfering of the public
purse by vested interests much the same
in the end? Top end tactics are perhaps a
little neater, a little less obvious but just
as destructive and still a denial of the
If this sounds a little radical I can't
apologise. So were the politics of the
Nazarene. Let's start paying attention.
Michael Elphick is a freelance writer and
a consultant in education. He welcomes
comments on his writing at
i The New Statesman 'Right-wing commentators pointed the finger at multiculturalism, single parents - anything except austerity and unemployment.' www.newstatesman.com/blogs/laurie-penny/2011/08/social-young-clean-story-
broom. ii Judt, Tony "Ill Fares the Land", New York Review of Books, April 29 2010. iii For a full review of the relevant statistics visit: www.poverty.org.uk/09/index.shtml or the Office for National Statistics at www.statistics.gov.uk/
focuson/socialinequalities/ iv Phillips, Trevor. www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/oct/10/equality-report-britain-divided. v Phillips, Trevor. www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/oct/11/how-fair-is-britain-data vii The Telegraph is
regarded as a conser vative newspaper. viii Read the full opinion piece at http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/peteroborne/100100708/the-moral-decay-of-our-society-is-as-bad-at-the-top-as-the-bottom/
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