In the last couple of weeks I have attended conferences on ageing, on Australians throughout the community who are originally from different cultures and the problems they often face, and finally a celebration of the work of our local community nurses and midwives. This was a fascinating mix of different aspects of life. It made me realise how the budget, which will be revealed shortly, affects so many very different people yet all the discussion is about money, not the backbone of our country, the rich variety of people who work for and in it and contribute so much, not merely in financial terms. Yet it is only the monetary aspect we look at. By sheer coincidence I heard an expert on corruption on the radio talking about that when the UN was established it tended to split into the monetary aspects of life (through a separate agreement) and human rights so that corruption fell into no-man’s land in between. Given that our politicians, the financial decision makers, are so prone to it this is a scary position to be in.
We can never have a successful country unless all aspects of life are taken into consideration. The voices of the battlers, at the lowest end of the societal scale, are rarely heard. I suspect that the fact that our real success as a country depends on the opportunities we give these people doesn’t occur to the battlers themselves, nor does it occur to the wealthy lobbyists who have access to our politicians and can influence their decisions. Probably no-one knows the extent to which this occurs.
Those who have migrated here can often find strength in their numbers as they may be able to find common ground and needs and many groups are able to have their voices heard.
What struck me was the apparent lack of confidence that those who cross the barriers, particularly the community nurses who look after those with fewer opportunities, have in themselves. I have never been to any gathering before where those attending crowded themselves into the back of the hall, even moving seats from the front. Because nursing has always been a largely female employer it has always had second class status on the job hierarchy but now that more and more nurses are university graduates it is time we changed this, empowered them and listened to stories and the needs of the rich tapestry of life they tend to.
I once came across a study of the wealth and status of a country, particularly the gap between the incomes and wealth of the top 10% compared with the bottom 10%. My recollection is that the greater the gap the less well off the country in many different areas. In the ‘me, me, me’ philosophy many people have today this will only get worse.
If we want to be a prosperous and wealthy country we need to aim for equality of opportunity for everyone, not just the rich and powerful. I like the definition of rich people as merely being money addicts. Few of them seem to be happiness and contentment addicts.
When we stop fighting for the rights of those who are already fully endowed with these but start fighting for those in need, regardless of age and ethnicity and those who work with them, then we can look forward to a contented life for all.