The IK economy, trust, and integrating institutions designed for community safety

The 7:30 report conveyed a story (found here) about incorporating traditional methods of dispute resolution for the purpose of mediating a dispute between residents of a community and Police.  I participated in a similiar program some years back (designed for leadership/youth purposes) and was struck by its potential.  It led me to consider the importance of the IK economy and the nature of social capital.

It appears that the program reported in the story has been successful in building the stocks of trust between residents and the Police force.  More research/analysis would be needed to prove this point, but there is little doubt that this particular program was an option leading to this aim in circumstances where alternative options are limited.

More over the fold.

The aim of building stocks of trust as part of such programs is important not only because it demonstrates a bridging of social capital across societies, but of merging the usefullness of institutions across markedly different societies.  Australia has established institutions relating to community safety that are a slightly modified form of those inherited from England.  Indigenous peoples have established institutions for the same purposes.  The forced merge of the two has produced the catalystic effect of disrupting the observance of social norms incorporating issues of community safety (amongst others).  Put another way, Traditional law has been disrupted substantially and Western law is applied in a confused and ad hoc basis.

The dominant political discourse relating to matters of community safety assumes the solution of an expanded police presence.  This direction is important, particularly in large settlement areas where there is no police presence, but it is a more compelling argument to consider the levels of trust shared by residents and institutions.  Some areas have a high police presence (on a per capita basis) but share low levels of trust between people, services and institutions.

The argument of empowering customary law as a seperatist system is redundant, both in practical policy and real politik terms.  The opposing argument, of dismantling customary law, ignores the influence of bonding social capital and the continuation of identity shared by distinct cultures (for want of a better term). 

An alternative paradigm is to support a strategic approach to the indigenous knowledge economy.  In this context the term ‘economy’ does not refer to a financial transaction but a consideration of how bonding social capital operates.  If positions of influence and power are deposit in certain relationships then those influences must take agency to the solutions adverse to community safety.  They must be properly resourced and integrated in the institutions and services of criminal law and policing.   

The Mawul Rom project as reported in the 7:30 report is an example of this direction.


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