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3 corrections, most recently by InstituteOfAustralianCulture - Show corrections

HELP FOR BUSHMEN.

TO THE EDITOR.

Sir — Having observed by a late paper that at a meeting of the Bush Mission Society it appears to be the desire of many gentlemen in Adelaide to improve the social condition of men employed in

the bush, it has struck me that the means adopted in larger communities in analogous cases is not unworthy of imitation in this, more especially when they have been proved to lead to satisfactory results. Now, as bushmen as a class much resemble sailors, more especially in the characteristic (although it is not a flattering one) of "making their money like horses and spending it like asses," I think it is not unreasonable to expect that by following the example of the late Mr. Richard Green, and other philanthropists, who have so justly won the title of being a friend to the sailor, and establishing in Adelaide a "Bushman's Home", on the same principle as the Sailors' Homes in England, an equally satisfactory result would be arrived at, and would be largely patronised by the class it is intended to benefit. Another point to which I have never seen missionaries' reports refer is the total absence of any provision for the bush man in case of sickness, except such as he is able to obtain at the nearest public-house. Now, I am quite certain that if some plan were initiated for the establishment of Bush Hospitals on a small scale in such localities as might be considered most advisable, that there is not one man in a hundred who gets his living in the bush who would not cheerfully subscribe for such an object; and I do not think that settlers would refuse to guarantee a certain amount, if they will sound their men on the subject, according to the number of hands they employ; and as these institutions would be self- supporting they would not entail the necessity of making heartrending appeals to the public for pecuniary assistance. It would also be found much easier to engage a man's moral sympathies when in the Home or the Hospital than when engaged in the temper-provoking exercise of driving knocked up bullocks or living on beef sinews and skillogolee, as it is much less difficult to convince a man of the value of a knowledge of the art of self-defence by simply knocking him down than by reading him a learned essay on the subject; and he will be apt, too, to form a higher estimate of the soundness of your opinion from having such a striking mode of enforcing it. I would not for a moment wish to damp the ardour of those gentlemen who seem so anxious to improve the moral condition of a large and much neglected class, but merely suggest as to whether a little of that zeal could not be more efficiently, directed, for it is an undoubted fact that a bush man, when "on the wallaby," forms a higher opinion of a passer-by's benevolence if he invites him to jump up and ride in his dray for a spell than if he simply informed him that there was a station 20 miles further on — a fact, perhaps, of which he might have been before aware of. I am, Sir, &c., Far North, August 8, 1865. R. M.

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