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article imageOp-Ed: Kids’ misery in Australian drought – Tragic UNICEF report

By Paul Wallis     Feb 18, 2019 in World
Sydney - UNICEF Australia has released one of the most hideous indictments of Australia’s response to a truly deadly drought. Kids are basically losing their childhood in the personal and economic grief, and they’re angry about it.
The UNICEF report pulls no punches. Children have to kill sick animals before going to school. They have to miss classes work for 12 hours on the land, and then do their homework. They also miss the colour green, which many of them haven’t seen for ages. Everything is dusty brown, and they’re more than tired of it.
This generational disaster area is going largely ignored. The UNICEF report has also, apparently unintentionally, highlighted an arguably more serious issue even than the current catastrophe. It’s the fact that the huge hits on people, their lives, and their sanity are barely even recognized as factors in major events like this drought.
Australia can be a very tough place to live, and in the bush, it’s always tough, around the clock. Add a drought, cyclone, flood, bushfire, and it generally goes from tough to life and death. These events are regular, and the human collateral damage, financial and personal is unquantifiable. Farmer suicides are at epidemic proportions, and have been for a while now.
The stupefied silence from our social “leaders” is inexcusable. What with millions of dead fish in multiple fish kills and a river half the size of the Mississippi falling to bits due to incompetent management, who cares about kids? Isn’t it more important that our beloved camera-addicted politicians need understanding and love?
No it damn well isn’t. Comments from kids up to year 11 indicate that this generation of bush kids are getting more life experience per day than many of our well-oiled talking bludgers (shirkers) in Canberra have ever had. There is no even theoretical initiative to try to help them deal with what their parents are finding an intolerable level of stress and grief.
There’s a non-literal way of listening to the lyrics of the famous Australian song Waltzing Matilda that most people don’t know which is pretty much in context with this drought:
1. After walking through miles of heat and solid flies and dust, most of the swagmen (people looking for work in the bush) weren’t so “jolly”.
2. You can get more shade under an anorexic than some bush trees.
3. Your chances of drowning in a billabong (water hole) during summer or a drought are about the same as drowning in the Sahara.
4. Dying for a sheep isn’t necessarily everyone’s idea of a great move.
So the theory that these kids and their parents should be suffering daily, getting no shade at all on any sort of financial or personal basis, and drowning in debt while dying for a small return fits the case pretty well.
(For the record, the only “official” version of Waltzing Matilda is the one written by Banjo Patterson. All other claims to authorship can be ignored enthusiastically.)
To some up the general mood regarding this drought at the moment – What are you miserable bastards going to do about it, and when? These kids deserve an answer, NOW.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Australia drought 2019, Waltzing matilda, kids in drought 2019, unicef Australia report children in drought
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