Does Australia have a problem with selfishness? 290



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This month, I was lucky enough to travel to Southeast Asia with my work as a clinical nurse with some of my university students. It was an amazing experience, something I have done for several years now but this time there was a big difference – and it has made me rethink everything in the world.

While we visit a few countries, we conduct community health programs, educating and teaching the local people the basic things about health. When I say basic, I really mean basic. It’s the things like washing your hands, cleaning your teeth and basic hygiene behaviours that we’re teaching. So many of the people have never been told any of these things let alone showed them. The thousands of bars of soap and small toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes we took over were completely foreign items to these beautiful people.

I’ve lived in a few third would countries before after spending years living in Africa so I’m somewhat acclimatised to the different culture when it comes to health. However, there was something this time that completely blew me away, to be honest, it gobsmacked me.

These children and these families who had never seen a bar of soap or been told to use water to clean their hands after going to the bathroom, coughing or sneezing were so immersed in technology.

The children running around had mobile phones, iPhones, Nokias and any other phone brand. There was wireless internet everywhere we went and I could jump on to Facebook anytime. The young people in the villages even asked my students to add them on Facebook.

It blew my mind to think that these poor, uneducated people are so removed from our western cultured world and lack so much knowledge that the average Australian takes for granted but in their hands they hold the devices, with the connections that are all they need to make a change.

If somehow we could provide online learning through smartphones through government initiatives or humanity outreach organisations, these people would have the ability to learn. They would have the access to the knowledge that could save a life and change so many lives.

Across the world in the UK, USA, Australia and others we are creating self-driving cars, flying robots with cameras, people are trying to electronically send scents and so many other bizarre things that don’t have the capacity to make a dramatic change to the lives of others. Sure self-driving cars give vision impaired and physically impaired people transport, robots could be used to prevent crime or to help monitor people and I’m sure there is some obscure benefit to sending smells online, but nothing has the capacity to make mass change.

Why do we make the choice to focus on the “fun” things, the things that could possibly make our lives easier instead of the things that could make someone’s life better?

Is it the money? Is there no profit in this? I fail to understand how we can provide military intervention in countries continents away, we can provide disaster relief to countries when they need it in a hurry but we can’t use the brainpower, good will and technology we already have to do this. Right now, the only thing I can fully see is that we’re selfish. Not each individual, but as a nation. While we squander over the pension amount and whether or not we can buy the premium mince or the cheap mince this week, there is someone – a pregnant woman or a child perhaps, who is falling fatally ill because they didn’t know to wash their hands.

I wish I better understood how to leverage the technology we have to make a change in these countries for the better. I wish I could do it myself! But for now, I’ll continue to do my small part every year and pray that the difference is significant enough.


Do you think that as a nation we have a problem with selfishness? Have you had a similar experience to me? Share your thoughts in the comments below….

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  1. how can they afford mobiles?

    2 REPLY
    • You can buy a mobile phone for $19 – don’t be disingenuous. Poverty is about a lot more than a $30 recharge every now and then. How is a person expected to get a job without a phone these days?

    • Gillian Georgina I expect was referring to the Asians referred to in the original article and 19 dollars for them is a huge amount of money I expect

  2. Don’t worry they all have them and get them one way or another.They also insist on the best models too

  3. I don’t know the answer – wish I did. Each of us can make a tiny difference and should work at influencing our leaders so that as a country perhaps the bigger WE can doing something.

  4. We have no say in where our own government spends our money. We certainly have no say where another country’s government spends their money.

  5. no it has a problem of being too generous ,our country can only sustain a certain amount of people , they cost to much there is no jobs for them and there are young people here that can’t get work, do gooders don’t think of that ,they think with their hearts which makes them blind!.

    4 REPLY
    • The Australian government is projected to spend $2.9bn this year to maintain its system of offshore processing.
      By contrast, the UNHCR is expected to spend $3.5bn to house 11 million refugees worldwide in the SAME period.
      The fact is we are WASTING money on these xenophobic policies. Money that SHOULD be going to raise pensions and staff hospitals.

      1 REPLY
      • I agree these mothers continue to give birth to children they know they cannot feed so no matter how much money is given they will continue to just give birth to more children. Charity begins at home and the elderly are living in poverty in Australia and New Zealand as their lives were spent educating and rearing their children with no handouts from the Governments and Paying Taxes for their old age pension. Now they have reached pension age they are given a pittance and are living in poverty. NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

    • So true Gordon! Look after our own first! I think we would be the most generous and compassionate countries in the world. Still not enough for the do gooders apparently.

    • See Gillian’s comments- the voice of reason, not prejudice. Calling people with a social conscience ‘do-gooders’ is offensive. They care about their fellow man. We don’t have to sell off the family silver or bankrupt the country to assist those in need, we just have to provide education, resources and reasonable monetary assistance. We have enough to share

      1 REPLY
  6. Why is it always up to us to fix other countries problems? What is wrong with their Governments to greedy lining own pockets. Sorry I donate here to a number of Charities. They can afford technology they can afford soap.

  7. Teach them google on their up todate phones. Make an App on washing hands it’s obvious they understand technology.

  8. I think we should help others but not at the disadvantage of our own citizens, make sure all Australian’s, including our homeless are cared for first. Pensioners have worked many since 15 years old in this country and have paid taxes here. They should be looked after in their old age. I don’t know anyone who squabbles about buying mince, the reality is many pensioners can only afford Devon or baked beans and why should they suffer after years of contributing to Australia.

    4 REPLY
    • I absolutely agree pensions should be raised, old aged pensioners in Australia are currently living below the poverty line by First World standards. But we are a wealthy country, one of the wealthiest in the world (despite the propaganda spewed out by the biased media) and we can afford to be generous to all those in need.

    • Why Bronwyn does charity start at home? Btw that saying was about teaching your children about charity, not giving to your own kind first.

  9. Even some of the poorest have iphones etc, Asia is given millions in aid by australia. Bali have had 2 state of the art hospitals built by aussies . Si No we are not selfish ask the governments of these countries where the money goes and let’s not talk about the tourist dollar!!!!

    1 REPLY
    • Yes true Glenda And I am wondering why they are so hard set on executing two Australians for carrying drugs when we have clearly seen our spoiled kids going to Bali for schoolis and freely able to buy drugs from their nationals on the street .

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