During the past 46 years, the length of time I have been in the Northern Territory, there has been ongoing downturn in the level of respect paid to our social institutions and those who are responsible for leading and maintaining their functions.
The time has long since passed, when the general public as a whole extended courtesy to those responsible for delivering essential services. Members of the police force, paramedics, bus and taxi drivers and emergency services personnel are far too often made the butt of community discord and anger. School teachers and support staff, health department personnel and those administering housing and community services also have to endure the spite of vindictive and disgruntled ‘clients’. In more recent times, service station operators and shop assistants have suffered abuse.
Key community organisations and those employed to keep them functional are increasingly at the mercy of verbal, physical and often violent assaults at the hands of the public.
When matters are reported, follow up action rarely occurs. Sadly, victims are often told to put up with abusive behaviour in order to avoid ‘inflaming’ situations. This supplication simply serves to make aggressors even more antagonistic. They go the harder with aberrant conduct because of the blind eye turned on their previous actions.
The degeneration of community respect for service providers is patently obvious. I can only wonder at the general level of law, order and attitudes that will be shown toward key institutions and personnel in another 40 years