Letters from Alice

“Acceptable Practice” – 7 September 2013

In Letters from Alice // 2013.09.10 //

 Hi Judy  (See Introduction)

Well you will be pleased to see I have finally listened and decided to let you know how things really work out here in the Central Desert….it is a tough gig for any professional but particularly if you take a Code of Ethics and Practice Standards seriously….

 Since first coming out here in the early 70’s – visiting, travelling, living at Angatja (an outstation in near SA/ NT/ WA border on APY Lands) and now working here full time for 6 years (based in Alice but working in dozens of remote communities) I have come to the sad realisation that too many professionals in health, psychology, social work and  teaching are part of the problem not part of the solution…..while politicians and bureaucrats have played a part in the mess out here it is the insidious collusion between many managers and professionals that really stops things changing…..

 To give you an idea of how distorted what “acceptable practice” is out here…..

 I was at a conference on responding to sexual assault in Alice recently (we often have very interesting PD here run by Centre for Remote Health – Flinders University with lots of visiting mainstream academics talking on their thing – although our “unusual circumstances” mean that I suspect they learn as much from us as we do from them…)

 In a general panel discussion with local SARC staff it emerged that if you are a sexual assault victim, of any age, needing to be forensically examined then you will have to fly to Darwin on a commercial flight……they reassured me that people were allowed to change their clothes (from the assault)…..although they could not wash…..and although no-one accompanied them on the flight “someone” would take them to the airport and “someone” would meet them in Darwin…..when I expressed my shock that a traumatised victim was to be treated like a piece of evidence to be sent for testing, the response was a calm “ we realise the situation is less than ideal”……

 No–one could tell me if leaving people contaminated with “evidence” for up to 72 hrs increased their risk of infection from STI’s , hepatitis or AIDS ?????

 When I persisted with questioning to find out why this appalling situation existed I eventually discovered this was not as first suggested that no suitable trained people were available, but because of some bureaucratic dispute and game playing…..

 Just writing about  this now is really upsetting….will leave this now   ….

Comments are closed.