issue 2 08 - APS Member Groups - Australian Psychological Society

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issue 2 08 - APS Member Groups - Australian Psychological Society

Remote communities80(usually in cities) and most start off with littleor no understanding of kin-based communities,how they function, and the obligationsassumed even when a stranger relationship isbroached (Dillon & Westbury, 2007). Whilethis is advantageous in so far as it wasmentioned above (i.e., that this means they cantravel to remote areas for extended periodswithout feeling too much distress from beingaway from their own families), it does meanthat problems are likely to accrue because theyusually do not understand how relationships inremote regions are maintained and function.Despite being able to stay away fromfamily longer than for those immersed in kinbasedcommunities, service providers also tendnot to stay for extended periods (years ordecades) so it is common to have highturnover. This is very problematic for mostremote communities around the world. Thefrequent requirement to induct and formrelationships with new service providers isboth stressful and time consuming. Even in thewestern context, high staff turnover is seen asproblematic, though the structures oftenaccommodate such turnover. The importanceof developing relationships in remotecommunities challenges the ease ofsubstituting staff.Service providers often deal with issuesthat require some specialised knowledge andhistory not often included in training programs,and this cannot be taught overnight when oneset of service providers is substituted for theprevious ones. Learning these things is usuallyleft up to the initiative of the new worker, orworse, considered unimportant. Whereas thoseliving in a city can substitute one greengrocerstore for another without much of a problem,high turnover of service providers in remotecommunities can cause multiple relationshipdisruptions and much frustration and stress tothose living there because of the forms ofsocial relationship in addition to any servicedelivery issues.Settlers in Remote RegionsThe other main group in remote Australia,who account for much space even if numbersare smaller, are the settlers, pastoralists, anddescendents of settlers. Settlers form aninteresting mix of the types of relationshipscharacterised in Table 1. Unlike serviceproviders, settlers do not have close family indistant places since after many years in one spotthey usually have most family close by forsupport. This also means, however, that theymust rely on those around them more than thetransitory service providers in the same area,and this changes the relationships settlers makeand how those relationships are sustained.Settlers might form closer ties with each othereven though not kin-based, but the relationshipsmight not be utilised or realised except inemergency situations.Some of these suggestions were outlinedin comments about the early pastoralists of thefar North of Western Australia, and theirrelationships with the local Aboriginal workers(such as the Peet brothers below). Howpastoralists handled and developed relationshipsdepended on the potential reliance ordependence they might have:Their husbands who were out andabout with the workers did notseem to be gripped by the need tokeep themselves separate and, withreal work to do, did not suffer inthe same way. These men, like Mr.Campbell, were even known toinvite the lowly mail driversindoors for a cup of tea when theycalled each week. The Peetbrothers, grateful for anyconsideration shown to them ontheir long hot run, knew wheneversuch an invitation was issued onsuch stations that the missus wasaway. It would never happenotherwise… They also noticed thechange in attitude as soon as theyentered the Gascoyne area furthernorth. There the stations were evenmore remote and consequentlyThe Australian Community Psychologist Volume 20 No 2 December 2008

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