March 13th 2004


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Has Canberra gone bananas? Has Biosecurity Australia dropped its quarantine standards?

EDITORIAL: The law and the status of marriage

QUEENSLAND: Westons biscuits now in Australian hands

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Band-aids won't solve Australia's ageing problem

STRAWS IN THE WIND : Drawing the line / The smile on the face of the tiger / Pecking order

FAMILY: Social engineering in education system

DRUGS: ACT pulls back from legalised heroin injecting room

Taiwan's necessary referendum (letter)

Islamic societies (letter)

Privatisation and WA's power shortages (letter)

The Latham paradox (letter)

Prevention is better than cure (letter)

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: The culture of life and the United Nations

FAILED SCHOOLS: Is there a way out of the crisis in education?

CHINA: Did Beijing assist nuclear proliferation?

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FAMILY:
Social engineering in education system


by Paul Russell

News Weekly, March 13, 2004
The Prime Minister's comments earlier this year about values systems in public schooling have been the catalyst for a long-running debate on private versus public education. As he spoke in general terms, it is not surprising to read comments and examples from individual schools around the country alleging errors in the PM's thinking.

It must be said that the most telling comment came from the Education Union itself. Its claim that public schools were about "equity and diversity" rather proves Mr Howard's point.

School funding has again become an issue. No matter what one thinks of the current funding formulas, the fact is a growing proportion of parents are opting for independent school education for their children - at significant expense. This says as much about values in education as it does academic standards.

This trend will continue to put pressure on the public system and will, hopefully, trigger a reality check before too long.

In a related issue, the same acid tests of funding and values should be applied to the so-called 'educational' activities of the Family Planning Associations Australia-wide.

News Weekly has reported in recent months about the activities of SHine, the Sexual Health Information Networking and Education SA (formerly Family Planning SA) and its SHARE sex education program currently under trial in South Australian public schools. Our attention was only recently drawn to another example of SHine's social engineering craft as applied to aboriginal health.

Out of the mouths of babes

My 15-year-old daughter came to me with a copy of a SHine SA poster saying, "Dad, this is genocide - they [SHine] don't want aboriginal people to have babies!" She was referring to SHine's aboriginal health initiative and she wasn't far off the mark.

The poster, entitled Which wheels do you want? - It's up to you, shows two distinctly different aboriginal couples. The happy and relaxed couple is leaning across the bonnet of a flash car. The other couple, looking decidedly washed out and frustrated, are pushing a pram holding a screaming baby.

They appear to be looking enviously at the other couple and their car. The contented young woman is wearing a tank top displaying the aboriginal flag; the young mother wears no such motif and is clearly half-caste.

The SHine SA promotional blurb says that the poster "encourages young people to make informed choices about contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancy", because unplanned pregnancy is "strongly linked to disadvantage in later life." But what are the real messages in this poster - the messages that young people are likely to see?

  • Babies are bad for your health.

  • Babies deprive you of the important things in life.

  • All parents are deprived of a successful life.

  • Children get in the way of what you really want.

  • Aboriginal cultural identity is more about affluence than family values.


While it should be recognised that neglect of children is a major issue for aboriginal communities and, perhaps, particularly amongst young aboriginal parents, it is quite another thing again to suggest that children are burdensome. Surely the effect of this poster could be to entrench such neglect.

SHine says (of the poster) that "The significant message is choice ...". But is it? If it is, as SHine tells us, a choice between contented affluence and worn-out and envious parenthood, then there's really no choice at all.

Sexual Health Awareness Week

February 14-21 was Sexual Health Awareness Week in South Australia. This year SHine conducted a poster competition around the issues of safety, pleasure and respect in sexual expression. The winning entry, Whatever your Flavour...uses three different coloured, flavoured icy poles to get the message across that "It's about having the freedom to chose your own flavour of sexuality and feeling good about yourself."

The designer of the poster is working with SHine to develop a "range of merchandise that incorporate the elements of the poster design". The mind boggles.

SHine receives funding from both the Federal and State governments. Much of it is tied to defined outcomes for specific projects. A great deal of the emphasis is on targeting youth through regional youth initiatives and school-based programs.

If the rising teen pregnancy and STD rates are anything to go by, then we must seriously question whether SHine and its philosophy are part of the problem rather than the solution.

It is said that "Men are from Mars - Women are from Venus". Then, can anyone tell me what planet SHine is on?

  • Paul Russell




























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