I think about fixing it - given we've done such a good job with the poorer people in the cities let alone the rural and remote areas, is that we need to keep trying and we shouldn't automatically trash ideas that they come up with in remote areas that work for them.

Eg the kids and swimming pools thing. I think it was in some areas of WA - they put in swimming pools - and the kids were healthier because they were cleaner or the pools were disinfecting them or something - I'm fuzzy on the details and then the local people decided to link getting to swim in the pool which the local kids loved - with going to school, ie you can't go in the pool until you've been to school. Which upped the attendence rates at school - then they didn't have enough teachers but that's another story... they also started feeding the kids breakfast at school which helped the nutrition problem too.

And there was something about petrol and parents too. Anyway I think one community wanted to link the social security payouts to school attendence - I think if the community makes that decision - it should be ok with the rest of us to let them try it, and we could help out by finding some more teachers for them.

I think we're also organising scholarships for the local people to come to the cities to get skills they need back home but I think that bit is going v e r y s l o w l y. But I think this is an excellent idea, especially if we insist those that have their education funded for the benefit of their local community are required to work in that community for a set number of years, and if they decide to nick off to the city for what ever reason - they should pay some or all or pro-rata of their scholarship costs back over time.

Australian of the Year Awards - Tania Major

Tania Major won "Young Australian of the Year" in 2007 and she has some great ideas on how to "fix" things or at least get started.

The main thing is to try for stuff that is community driven - if they're not interested in the help being offered, it's not going to work. We have to listen to what they need and find ways to make it easier for them to find a way that works for them and us both.

Throwing money at the problem has never worked. Throwing houses or 4WD at the problem without throwing maintenance, support, and education - wont work either. I keep wondering if we could teach how to tame the camels and use them for food and transport... at least nobody could nick the spare parts from each other's transport then. There's plenty of camels.

So no one solution for all, we need to listen as much as we talk, and we need to keep trying no matter how frustrating it gets - because there will be times of frustration for everybody involved.