Elvie Saltner, 6, sits on the steps outside her home in Cherbourg. Picture: Lachie Millard
Elvie Saltner, 6, sits on the steps outside her home in Cherbourg. Picture: Lachie Millard

Beautiful smile hides heartbreaking future

YOU wouldn't know it from her beaming smile, but the odds are already stacked against six-year-old Elvie Saltner in a town where there is little work.

It's a sad fact her grandmother Patricia Douglas, who grew up in Cherbourg, knows all too well.

It's a tight-knit community where family holds people together, but the 61-year-old says it's tough for the young ones - her children and grandchildren.

Mrs Douglas said Elvie's mum, her daughter Lorelle, is looking for a good job but work is hard to find.

"She really wants to work at the school," Mrs Douglas said.

Elder, community justice group chairman and primary school teacher Bevan Costello says the town's best hope is restoring pride in their indigenous heritage.

Patricia Douglas with grandchildren Joey, 10, Ian 11, Elvie, 6, Racheal, 13 and Nelliarnah 9, in their backyard at Cherbourg. Picture: Lachie Millard
Patricia Douglas with grandchildren Joey, 10, Ian 11, Elvie, 6, Racheal, 13 and Nelliarnah 9, in their backyard at Cherbourg. Picture: Lachie Millard

Mr Costello, who Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath described as an "inspirational figure and teacher within the Cherbourg community" when she appointed him to the state sentencing advisory council in June, said the town's residents were tired of being told what to do by government experts but forgotten the moment they leave.

"A lot of government people are like fly-in fly-out people," he said.

"They come in with lots of bright ideas. That's fine while they are here doing it.

"A lot of the government departments refuse to have input from the grassroots people.

"They are refusing to have input from us.

"It takes a whole community to educate a child. Not just your teacher at school. Not just your parents at home. Everybody. We worked as a group.

"It's not law, it's lore."

Mr Costello gave the example of the uncles in family groups being responsible for disciplining children.

"I'm sending you up to uncle. When you hear those words, you know you're in big strife," he said.

"The people at the top level making the decisions, they wouldn't know that. That's cultural stuff.

"It's getting back and talking to the community."

 

Cherbourg elder Bevan Costello at home with his grandchildren. Picture: Lachie Millard
Cherbourg elder Bevan Costello at home with his grandchildren. Picture: Lachie Millard


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