Charity Begins At Home
By Niyati Agrawal
“People.. were poor not because they were stupid or lazy. They worked all day long, doing complex physical tasks. They were poor because the financial institution in the country did not help them widen their economic base.” ― Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty
Australia is said to be one of the top four donors of the Millennium Development Goals Declaration of the United Nations. However in a bid to help the least developed countries’ progress, it is ignoring the development of its own indigenous people.
As of 2009, over half a million people of Australia were living below the poverty line. These people comprise of the Aboriginal Australians and the Torres Strait Islanders who are the natives of the islands which are the part of the state of Queensland in Australia and are genetically linked to the locals of Papua New Guinea.
Low income and poverty often leads to lack of health facilities, mortality rate, education, and may lead to violence and social crimes. In the year 2006 the unemployment rate of indigenous people reduced to 16% from that of 20% in the year 2001; however the unemployment rate of the non-indigenous people also reduced from 7% to 5%.
Unemployment in the non-conventional occupations is also a result of lack of education. The reasons for this as stated by Australian Institute of Health and Welfare are chronic health problems faced by the people, lack of access to educational institutes, financial constraints and social barriers. According to the Council of Australian Governments Reform Council Report on 2010, only 45.5% of indigenous population held a certificate of Year 12 of school education as opposed to 85% of the non indigenous population.
The state of the indigenous women is even worse. There has been an increase of 25% of imprisonment rate of indigenous women from 2000 to 2004. And around 45 women from every 1000 are subjected to family violence. There has also been an increase of suicide rate from 7 in 100 000 to 17 as opposed to 5 per 100 000 in the non indigenous women. 
While Australia has helped in improving the infant mortality rate of other countries, it still lags behind in finding a solution for this problem in its own home. The mortality rate of an indigenous infant is 2 to 4 times higher than a non indigenous infant. And these native children are more exposed to child abuse in terms of being abused emotionally. Child sexual abuse is not seen in indigenous families across the country.
The native Australians and Islanders are more exposed to diseases and chronic health problems caused due to smoking, obesity and alcohol consumption. The common illnesses found are kidney diseases and asthma. 65% of the indigenous people are reported to have at least one long term disease as per the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey Report of 2004-2005. They also suffer from low life expectancy rate, the average being 67 years.
To add to the problems faced by the natives, there are environmental and land issues. Majority of the mines in Australia are located in these native regions. The people of these areas are hence subjected to loss of housing, violence and assault.
Thulsi Narayanasamy who is the campaign co-ordinator for the AID/WATCH a watchdog company which looks over the aiding done by the Australian governments has said that it is the private interests of businesses that provide aid to government organisations which work towards fulfilling the international developmental goals. These big companies benefit from global exposure and get recognition in the market.
The government is also at fault to be ignoring the problems of its own people and allowing aid to other countries. Unless support from the top level is rendered, the condition of the indigenous people is difficult to be improved. It is very crucial to protect the natives in order to carry forward the traditional history of the country. While Australia maybe looked upon as a “developed” country, it needs to first improve the situation at home then proceed to developing the others.