Elder left for dead 'shows loss of values'

The sad tale of Aunty Delmae Barton, a prominent indigenous elder left for dead after suffering a stroke, illustrates a modern Australia disconnected with the values of morality and mutual obligation, according to community leaders.

They believe the Western mindset, once based on morality and mutual obligation, has morphed into a dark ethos of greed and individualism as Australians are too busy and do not take the time to care.

Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane John Bathersby said the pace of modern life made it difficult for people to remember "they have a relationship with all humans".

"I would like to think every person would stop but it does not happen that way, everyone is rushing everywhere and they do not want the inconvenience," Archbishop Bathersby said.

"Society was once a bit slower and people were more prepared to help. Now there is a greater selfishness and a greater emphasis on individualism," he said.

Aunty Delmae is an Indigenous Elder in Residence at Griffith University's Gumurrii Centre and yesterday Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O'Connor said the news of her experience was deeply distressing and a sad indictment on modern society.

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said the case reflected a "de-sensitising or conditioning of everyday Australians to seeing and accepting people sleeping rough or being passed out in public spaces".

"Aunty Delmae's experience is a wake-up call that things today are not always as they seem," he said.

"As human beings, we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to help preserve and save lives, Aunty Delmae's experience is profoundly disturbing," he said.

Major Debbie Hindle of the Salvation Army said: "We (people) hear stories about people being sued for helping so we tend to stand back when we could help."

"And as technology has changed it has also hindered us in our relationships, a lot of people don't even know who their neighbours are, it is having an effect on the way we interact, people have an obsession with privacy."

Queensland University of Technology French and geoscience student Jessica Lea, 18, saw Auntie Delmae at the bus stop last Tuesday but did not help because "I thought she was drunk."

Sim Kaur, an Indian in Australia completing a Masters in Teaching at Griffith University, said: "What could be worse? There are so many people here all the time. I am very surprised no one called an ambulance. It is shocking, why would no one help."

Ordeal 'shows loss of values' (The Courier Mail 9/3/06)

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9 Mar 2006