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EDITORIAL

Government inaction over foot and mouth a growing concern

Foot and mouth disease, the most feared disease in the agricultural world, has the potential to cripple an entire livestock industry.
Such is the disease’s impact that it can result in the killing of millions of livestock, as was the case in the United Kingdom during its 2001 outbreak.
The threat of the disease arriving in Australia is the greatest it has ever been, with foot and mouth detected in Bali last month.
The Indonesian holiday spot is a popular overseas destination for Australians, heightening the risk of bringing the disease back to Australia.
Parliamentarians across the North West are united in calling for swift action to reduce the risk of an Australian outbreak.
And rightly so. Estimates put a potential Australian outbreak at an enormous cost to the economy – some $80 billion.
The disease would be as equally as crippling for our North West farmers who have enjoyed recent favourable seasons following the devastating drought.
Continuing cost issues are problem enough for farmers, let alone the potential financial heartbreak they would suffer if foot and mouth arrived.
The federal government to date has announced measures, including financial support for Indonesia to manage the disease, as well as biosecurity officers at airports.
The federal government says it has also ramped up messaging to incoming passengers.
Suggestions regarding the use of disinfectants and the sanitisation of footwear, or even the destruction of footwear of incoming passengers, so far have fallen on deaf ears.
Concerns voiced by some parliamentarians have also drawn silence from the government, sparking concern about possible inaction and lack of preparation for the looming threat of the disease.
Similar to Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the early days of the virus, the nation has one opportunity to eliminate the threat of foot and mouth arriving in Australia.
The livestock industry and related businesses need every protection possible from this devastating disease. The longer Australia goes without having adequate protection measures in place, the greater the risk of foot and mouth arriving.

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Your Say

Difficult conversations around racism in schools

The difficult yet important conversations around racism in schools.
I came to Australia in 2012 as a rebellious 17-year-old ready to take on the world.
The city I stepped into did not fall short by any means in helping me feel included in a foreign land and supporting my beliefs that I could be anything. Irrespective of the colour of my skin and the audible accent in my voice.
Fast forward to 10 years, I could not have imagined having a conversation around faking accents/subtle racism with a 13-year-old at a high school.
Last year, I took up a teaching position at a high school in a quiet, sleepy yet stunningly beautiful town called Narrabri.
Narrabri is 521 kilometres north west of Sydney, and it takes eight hours by train from Strathfield Station to get here.
The first time I walked into the town centre, I was surprised by how people would look up and acknowledge me with a shy smile or a warm “hi” if I simply happened to walk past.
Not only is it rare in Sydney but would ring alarm bells in your head if someone was to do this.
However, walking into a regional school as a person of colour was a different ballgame altogether.
During the first two terms at school, my heart would beat faster when I heard students mock my accent. Don’t show them your weakness, I would tell myself.
But as you can imagine, telling yourself to calm down only makes the growing anxiety explode.
One time, a furious young girl yelled at me, “go back to your country” after she was asked to come for detention.
I wasn’t expecting a bunch of roses and a “best teacher in the world” cup from her in retaliation, but the degree of racism from a 13-year-old left me speechless.
I stood there, too shocked to even show any emotion.
Subtle racism at my school continues to this day.
But something has changed. I don’t accept it anymore.
I don’t walk away, but I walk straight into it.
Sometimes I would forget that the kids are hurting as well, and they want to do the best they can to get to me.
So I would say, “It will take you six years of education and hard work to come even an inch close to be able to speak like me”.
But I have learned with time that kids need love as much as I do.
So, I have changed my approach.
I start by isolating the child from his or her social group so that their actions are not influenced or decanted by friends’ presence.
And I would ask in a calm and composed tone, “do you think what you did was wrong?”.
“Yes, I shouldn’t have mocked you.”
And voila.
Where they were expecting hatred or yelling, they received some love and understanding.
The whole situation changes, where the mask of indifference put on due to social pressure is replaced by remorse and acknowledgment of wrongdoing.
Supriya Bansal, Narrabri

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