Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

There's more to social welfare and community than economic advantage

By John Ernst - posted Tuesday, 15 August 2000

Having just read your article and the other article to which you refer I have to point out several realities with regard to Social Circumstance and the development of so called "good community".

As a practioner in the area of community development since 1984 I have come to realise several realities with regard to community.

The first of these realities is:

  • That good or bad communities have no relation to the economic status of their members. Three-meter fences around quarter-acre blocks in the affluent "burbs" are now the norm, whereas they don’t exist in most rural communities.

The second of these realities:

  • That the broader community, particularly those with a so-called social consensus, don’t know this, and as such they need to justify their own community circumstance (one in which the pursuit of wealth is of primary importance) by ensuring that resources whether through the direct giving of welfare or through a mutual obligation scheme continues to happen.

The third of these realities:

  • That it is the values held by the individuals in a community that direct its ability to form a cohesive or conversely a fragmented community.

The current debate about how the social welfare cake will be divided to large extent is window dressing and ignores the above realities of our Western value systems and what makes for good stable meaningful community life.


The question we should continue to pose is what sort of "ideal" society would we want our children to grow up in?

Already surveys of children in schools show that children place the pursuit of material wealth above all other areas of importance including mutual respect and love. They are buying the argument that wealth equates to happiness and therefore if you don’t have wealth ergo you can’t be happy.

In current Liberal philosophy and third-way philosophy this has taken a more sinister and disturbing route, that being that of the notion that you must contribute (economically) to society to be of value as human. For the past five years I have worked with people with a mental illness and have seen their suffering as a result of the treatment they receive and the anguish this notion of having contribute to the economic well-being of the country. How shallow are we to think that people with metal illness can’t be afforded respect and dignity without bringing into question their humanity based on their earning capacity.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

John Ernst is director of the Gippsland Wilderness Enhanced Program.

Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy