ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
September 10, 1997
JOB SCHEME A DIVERSION IN THE BATTLE AGAINST ALCOHOL
Report by ERWIN CHLANDA
A new employment program for Aborigines is seeking to curb anti-social
behaviour as Alice Springs two major alcohol abuse lobbies are heading
for a showdown over grog sales restrictions.
The Drug and Alcohol Services Association (DASA), with a strong
representation from the liquor industry, is opposed to restrictions and
wants to solve the problems by offering jobs, education and a blanket
enforcement of the two kilometre public drinking law.
The Peoples Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC), on the other hand, wants
to ban bottle shop sales on Thursdays and Sundays, and front bar
trading on Thursdays, and is lobbying the town council to become active
in alcohol control measures.
Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Herron yesterday launched
Employ Alice Springs, which the Liquor Licensees Association (LLA) says
will be seeking to place at least 50 Aboriginal people in jobs.
Senator Herron and several other speakers addressed about 100 local
business people at a breakfast.
Paul Venturin, southern region chairman of the LLA, representing 11
liquor stores including supermarkets, told the Alice News last week he
is "excited" about Employ Alice Springs as a measure far more viable
than sales restrictions.
The initiative has been developed from a DASA proposal, he says.
Mr Venturin, whose company owns the three Foodland stores in Alice
Springs, says local liquor outlets have "really cleaned up their act"
in the past two years.
"There is a moral obligation for us to look past our front door," says
Although licensees have been branded as money grabbers and racists they
have shown growing concern "about people abusing the product".
Most LLA members observe a limit of one wine cask per person per sale,
and some prevent "third party sales".
Mr Venturin says the two lobbies for liquor stores and pubs are now
working closely together, and are both represented on DASA.
"Behind the scenes the licensees play a big part in DASA, on a
consultative basis, always involved in promotions such a Drinksense or
Lighten Up campaigns.
"Barriers that once used to exist between hoteliers and supermarkets
have been knocked down," he says.
"We try and solve the problem as a group rather than pointing the
finger at each-other."
Mr Venturin says his Hearne Place store, across the road from the
notorious Charles Creek public drinking area, is considered one of the
town's two major sources of cask wine bought by Aborigines.
He says the experiment of opening bottle shops at noon instead of 10 am
has "proved fruitless because it just shifted the problem to another
time of the day".
He's adamant that the sales restrictions in Tennant Creek are a
failure, leading to "bulk purchases on Wednesdays".
Mr Venturin says there's no need for the town council to become
involved in the alcohol debate.
"The part that frustrates us, and we're all ratepayers, is that we're
just duplicating processes that have been in place for a long time.
"The council doesn't need to set up another forum of alcohol policy
"We've had lengthy discussions with some 63 people, representing
organisations around town, all involved with the DASA forum.
"We won't rest until we've placed 50 Aboriginal persons, some of whom
are possibly tied up in the grog problem, in some form of employment.
We're confident we are going to achieve that.
"It's really the young we're talking about. There are horrendous
stories out there, 15 year olds who have two kids under their arms
"The opportunities just don't exist for them to get a job."
With education and support for the people likely to be entering the
cycle of alcohol abuse, "we might be able to break that cycle".
He says his three stores employ 70 people: "Our first Aboriginal
employee has just started with us.
"Aborigines don't approach us for a job, and secondly, there's some
kind of barrier that we put up ourselves."
But even with job schemes for non-Aboriginal people "our success rate
is not very great, either," says Mr Venturin.
He estimates the "hard core" drinkers causing most of the anti-social
problems to consists of around 100 people.
Are they beyond redemption? "In my heart I hope not," says Mr Venturin,
"but it seems they may be a lost cause.
"They've probably been in that cycle for the last 10 to 15 years. It's
very hard to break.
"If the town is looking to cleaning up its image, it's got to enforce
the two kilometre law.
"I can't be critical of the police. They have a very difficult job,
based on the numbers in town.
"We don't have the police numbers.
"Every time a police officer walks up to a group and pours out their
drinks, there's some kind of aggression, a dangerous situation," says
"Maybe we need more community police officers, Aboriginal police
officer programs, where they can specifically concentrate [on the two
It prohibits drinking in public within two kilometres of any licensed
premises, including clubs and restaurants.
This means public drinking is illegal practically anywhere in the town
"I think DASA, the liquor licensees and and most people in general,
really believe that enforcing the two kilometre is a key to cleaning up
"We need to use our powers more forcefully. But the next question is,
where do the drinkers go?"
Mr Venturin says setting up drinking areas around town has been mooted.
"Obviously, these sites would have to be out of the view of the
majority of the tourists who're visiting us.
You've seen the type of drinking around roadhouses. It's rather
He says DASA has also discussed the need for camping areas with
ablution facilities for bush visitors, as well as coining slogans
exhorting them to behave in town.
BLACK JOBS: FACT AND FANTASY
People expecting Employ Alice Springs to solve our anti-social
behaviour problems may well be kidding themselves.
Three major Central Australian bush enterprises - including one that's
tried very hard - have found it all but impossible to employ Aboriginal
people from outside Alice Springs.
The Ayers Rock Resort Company (ARRC), 60 per cent owned by the NT
Government, has 600 employees.
According to ARRC human resources manager Glen Cameron, not a single
one is from the Mutitjulu community, at the base of the Rock, just 20
Mutitjulu community advisor Jim Glover says some 70 per cent of the
community's work force is unemployed.
Yet the ARRC staff is largely recruited from interstate, and many need
to be paid relocation allowances.
The resort opened in 1984 and ARRC took over its management and
part-ownership in 1992.
Mr Glover says the reasons for the locals' lack of interest in working
at Yulara are a lack of skills and the fact that the resort company
exercises "a big control over the work force" and "rules them with a
rod of iron".
He says a new report recommending a training and employment strategy is
due for release this week.
Mr Cameron says there appears to be no interest by people from
Mutitjulu in working at the resort.
ARRC has no difficulty finding workers from the "skill base" available
in the capital cities and some, locally.
The average time non-executive workers stay on the job is around 10
Asked whether at least unskilled jobs, such as porters, gardeners,
kitchen or laundry workers could be filled with local Aboriginal
people, he said all work in a tourist resort has an element of customer
Etiquette and presentation are important.
"They're often the first face a guest sees," says Mr Cameron. "They
need to be well versed in customer service."
Asked whether he considered Aboriginal people to be unsuitable for this
type of work, he said race was "irrelevant".
ARRC has contributed $300,000 to a recently opened college for
Aboriginal people, and provided land for it in the resort's industrial
area for a "peppercorn rent", according to David White, the resort's
He says ARRC sees Aboriginal-owned enterprises such as Anangu Tours as
the "vehicle for Aboriginal employment".
The situation is little different with two of the Centre's gold
producers, the Granites and Tanami mines.
Tanami Mine has an elaborate program of cross cultural workshops and
even literacy and numeracy training on the mine 80 km from the WA
The mine required consent from the traditional owners, and the
agreement with them stipulates that Aboriginal people are employed so
far as it is economic and safe to do so.
Yet only 30 of the 240 workers there are Aboriginal, and most of them
are from Alice Springs. At present, only two workers are from Lajamanu,
230 km to the north.
None are from Yuendumu, 360 km to the east, although the company is
prepared to air lift workers from there for their two weeks on, one
week off shifts, as it does from Alice Springs.
The Alice Springs based Aboriginal workers, especially those with
previous cattle station experience, are said to be excellent
all-rounders and the "best long term workers" on the mine, driving dump
trucks and bulldozers, and working in gold processing, the laboratory
and in administration.
There is a strict screening process for staff, including police checks
and alcohol and drug analyses.
Despite several enquiries the News has been unable to get details about
the Granites gold mine, 260 km from Yuendumu.
We understand that only nine Aborigines are employed there.
Tracker Tilmouth, director of the Central Land Council, says employment
provisions "were written into all mining agreements signed by the CLC
on behalf of traditional owners.
"Some companies have been slower than others to fulfil these clauses.
"Basically the CLC encourages the use of Aboriginal contractors
employing Aboriginal people wherever we can.
"Recent talks with the North Flinders Mining Company, who run the
Granites mine, have been encouraging and we hope to see some positive
developments in the near future," says Mr Tilmouth.
LUTHERAN PASTOR TRANSLATES BIBLE INTO ARRARNTA
A new Arrarnta translation of the Bible, including for the first time
not only the New Testament but extensive portions of the Old Testament,
is soon to be launched by the Finke River Mission Board.
It comes at the end of a long line of translation effort by the
Lutheran Church in Central Australia.
Their first publication appeared in 1891, just 14 years after the first
missionaries arrived in Hermannsburg (Ntharia).
The book was a collection of stories from the Old and New Testaments,
psalms, hymns, occasional prayers and Luther's Small Catechism.
Difficulty in translating concepts like "holy" and "Lord" was met with
the use of Latin equivalents.
This first translation was expanded on by the Rev Carl Strehlow who
also translated the entire New Testament.
Parts of this were published in the mid to late 1920s.
"It is clear that these men were still struggling to learn the grammar
of the language," says Pastor Paul Albrecht, who has headed the current
"While the translations as such left a great deal to be desired, one
can but admire their effort and tenacity".
Renowned linguist TGH Strehlow, son of Carl and who grew up speaking
Arrarnta, provided the next translation of the New Testament, which was
published in 1956.
It was marked by the use of diacritics - symbols such as dots and
dashes under letters to indicate their correct pronunciation.
He incorporated many words and synonyms that were known only to the old
people, in the hope that his translation would help preserve the
richness of the Arrarnta language.
However, many of these words are now not known and haven't been for
As well, Ted Strehlow, working at a time when translations of the
Scriptures had to be word equivalent, forced the Arrarnta language into
a Greek-English mould.
He invented Arrarnta equivalents for Greek concepts and reproduced long
Greek-style sentences, with many relative clauses.
These last two features of his work ultimately created the need for the
Today, translation theory and practice has changed dramatically.
A translator now looks for a functional equivalent that is
Pastor Albrecht gives the example of translating "a land flowing with
milk and honey".
The word equivalent method might well convey something the Hebrew text
never intended to say: "In Arrarnta," he says, "the words for milk and
breast are identical,.
"So you can work out for yourself the pictures a land flowing with milk
and honey would conjure up in the minds of Arrarnta readers and
Another difficulty was encountered with Isaiah's vision in the temple:
"Holy, holy, holy! / The Lord Almighty is holy! His glory fills the
Not the least of the problem was that Arrarnta has no word for "glory".
Finally, Dr John Kleinig, from Luther Seminary, suggested turning
Isaiah's thought around, by saying that the whole earth is God's taboo
place, a place of significance because of God's presence: "Alha
ntjapara makamaka ekura nama."
"I must admit," says Pastor Albrecht, "that the Arrarnta translation
convey's Isaiah's meaning to me more meaningfully than the English."
Pastor Albrecht acknowledges the contribution of others to the
translation project, among them the Arrarnta pastors, the late Nahassen
Ung-kwanaka, Eli Rubuntja and Davey Ingkamala.
The Western Arrarnta Bible is published by The Bible Society in
TOWN COUNCIL TO GIVE BLACK WORKERS A GO
Aboriginal people, mostly from Alice Springs, with a history of
unemployment will be employed by the town council to construct concrete
footpaths in suburban areas of Alice.
However, a man who ran a similar scheme 15 years ago has expressed
reservations about the project's usefulness.
Steve Strike, now a professional photographer, says very few of the
trainees went on to steady jobs.
The new employment and training project, instigated by Alderman Geoff
Harris, will be funded from the existing budget of $308,000 for
construction of cycle tracks, footpaths and driveways throughout the
In the past this work has been carried out by a mixture of day
labourers and contractors.
Under the new scheme $120,000 will be allocated to contractors, $88,000
to day labour and $100,000 to the Aboriginal Project.
"The idea is to provide not just employment in construction, a major
industry in this town, but training as well," says Ald Harris.
"We want the training to be accredited by the Northern Territory
Employment and Training Authority (NTETA), so it's not just ad hoc.
The trainees will actually go away with a certificate and a skill they
can use in the future."
In the first year four people will be recruited.
"If we're successful we hope to continue and employ more," says Ald
Harris, "with more organisations following suit. "The council is
welcoming submissions from anyone interested in managing similar
"Youth employment is one of the biggest problems in town, and this is a
positive move to tackle it.
It is a start for the council to address bigger issues."
The project has been advertised as a complete tender, as the council
wants a contractor who can provide the training and get the work done.
"If no-one tenders for it we'll know it's not a good idea," says Ald
Among those already interested is Rod Alcock, of Construction Industry
Skills Foundation Limited.
He has been involved in lobbying for this project, and is passionate
about improving training within the construction industry.
"For too long there has been a lot of ïMickey Mouse' training in
this town, not just for Aborigines but for our youth in general," says
"I have a lot of problems trying to get first year apprentices into the
The kids just don't have the skills. "There is a lot of employment
available here but it doesn't work if the training is not effective.
"There are too many different bodies working against each other, too
"More quality training is needed, but this is hard due to the limited
"A lot of organisations are probably guilty of not giving enough
support for programs such as these in the construction industry.
"A lot sit on the fence."
Mr Alcock believes that more public commitment on such projects would
vastly improve the situation.
"It's all very well for the councils and governments to say
ïtrain, train, train,' but they have to put their hands in their
pockets and invest.
Private companies would be able to afford the time if Shane Stone said:
ïWe want a group of apprentices to build these two houses, here's
"Hopefully this project will set the precedent by combining accredited
training with a strong emphasis on its relevance to future employment.
"There are too many people running around with certificates, which are
of no use to employers. Hands-on experience is what counts.
"This project should concentrate on building self-esteem, which is the
root of good training.
"There is a sense of pride when a trainee worker says to his mate: Hey
I built that.' "He's learning and bringing in a wage at the same time,"
says Mr Alcock.
Mr Alcock believes that a properly run traineeship would have at least
a 60 per cent employment rate at the end.
However, the idea of hands-on construction training for Aboriginal
people isn't new and the last time it was tried the employment rate
fell way below that expectation.
Some 15 years ago the Federal Government funded work specifically to
give Aborigines skills.
Mr Strike managed these crews.
"Out of 200 or so who went through on the scheme - 30 at any given time
- I know of only three or four who are employed now," says Mr Strike.
"I wouldn't say it wasn't worth the effort, there were some good fellas
and it wasn't skill that caused problems. None of them had any trouble
"But many were not motivated because they were having to conform to a
European work ethic when they would have preferred to follow a
"Some would disappear and you'd never see them again. "It's difficult
getting a contractor to train people who may very well bolt on you
after two or three weeks."
Mr Strike believes the council's intentions are good, but there is a
huge gap between trying to help and what many Aboriginal people
"It appears there are some people on council who want to be seen to be
doing the right thing by Aboriginal people because they are politically
motivated and wear their heart on their sleeve.
"But, they are only taking on four trainees, which is really tokenism,
and have any of these aldermen asked the Aborigines if they want to
work for the council?"
Mr Alcock also says that, according to the NTETA records, only three
Aborigines from remote communities in the NT have succeeded in becoming
tradesmen in the last 10 years.
Yet millions are still being spent on the same training schemes.
"Not many of them make it through," says Mr Alcock. "They have the work
skills, but not the conflict resolution skills.
"In a real work environment there are always going to be disagreements,
but often an Aboriginal employee will mistake criticism for racism.
When there is conflict they don't usually come back the next day," Mr
Alcock says. Despite past failures, there are high hopes that this
project will instigate change and become, as Ald Harris says, "a
relatively cheap and effective way for council to begin tackling
underlying social and economic problems of the town."
ALICE SPRINGS IS GREAT, SAY PATRONS OF THE GARDEN
Why do Alice's gardeners love living in this town? Alice News reporter
GRETTA SCADDING spoke to people at Sunday's TALC Garden Fair and found
that, overwhelmingly, they want to stay in Alice long-term and many
love the idea of retiring here.
"I was struck by the vibrant atmosphere at the fair," says Gretta.
"People young and old, grasping balloons and hot dogs, smiles
everywhere radiating behind shiny green foliage...happiness abounded.
"What a stark contrast to the rather critical comments I had previously
heard from backpackers and some of the young offenders in town."
Bert Sutton, 78 and his wife Lil, 77 lived on Railway Terrace for 40
They retired to Adelaide but now want to come back.
"I wasn't born here", says Lil, "but I will always call Alice my home
wherever I am.
"I remember coming here in 1942, on the train.
There were no sleepers and I was in a carriage with nine men.
I was a very naive, shy little girl then but I wasn't when I'd been
here a while!"
Lil also prefers the kinder climate in Alice and finds the people much
"It's a pleasure to come here because there's no graffiti, which ruins
"And, of course we miss the oranges here, have you tasted them? They're
the best grown oranges in the world, and of course fantastic
This couple only left Alice twice, out of necessity rather than choice.
"The first time," says Bert, "was because the army sent me down to
Adelaide and the second, was because Lil had to see specialists due to
There was no-one who could help her here."
"The hospital was great, don't get me wrong", Lil added, "and the
doctors were nice but they just didn't have the equipment."
Mary Morgan, 68 and Wal, 71 also adore Alice. They've been living here
for 10 years, in the Gillen area.
"To be truthful I wouldn't have liked to have lived up here in my
We lived near the beach and the mountains in Wollongong, and had a good
life... hubby had a good job.
"We moved here to be near our daughter who loved it after visiting and
falling for a local lad."
Mary loves Alice for its lifestyle.: "There's so much going for it. We
like the lack of traffic, the air, there's not much smog, the people,
so friendly and helpful.
"The kids here are better behaved. We've lived opposite a school in
both places. We got a lot more abuse in Wollongong.
"The charities here are a pleasure to work for, you get to meet all the
We work at Adelaide House and the positive feed-back we get from
visitors is so fulfilling.
"They do so much for old people like us in Alice. There's the lovely
retirement home out there, Old Timers'.
"We feel that if we need help and support, we just have to get in touch
with the right people here and we'll be right."
Ron Hunter, 39, and his family have lived in Alice for 20 years.
Ron emphasised the closeness of the community here:
"I don't see Alice as isolated or boring at all. It has the benefits of
developing from a small to a large town but you go to events here and
you're bound to see plenty of people you know.
"Alice's geographical isolation only brings people closer together. It
is hard for anyone to feel isolated with the way people are here.
"There wouldn't be a town of the same size anywhere which can match the
incredible social infrastructure in Alice."
Ron wasn't sure about retiring here: "However, I will say that a lot of
people we know have thought it would be greener on the other side. They
always end up wanting to come back. I do think it's natural to retire
where your friends are."
People thought recreation and entertainment are more than adequate.
Lil can't understand why the children here are bored: "They've got a
lovely youth centre, there's plenty to do, if only they had the
motivation to entertain themselves."
"Living standards have changed", says Bert. "I mean when I was at
school, I was lucky to get myself a push-bike. Now they're all driving
motor cars and they're still bored.
"It's not the town that's at fault. These kids would be bored
Mary agrees: "Of course there's stuff to do for everyone here.
Lifestyles are just different.
In our day we'd just pack our lunch, and go across the paddocks black
berrying and rabbiting. Kids aren't motivated to do that now. "A lot of
the kids now, unless you're spending money on them, they're not happy.
"Their imaginations have gone to be replaced by material wants which
are only a superficial stimulus.
"There are a lot more pressures on kids now though, with drugs
We're happy the age we are.
"On the other hand we know a lot of kids who were born here and
wouldn't live anywhere else."
I spoke to Luke Gardiner, 13 who has lived in Alice all his life and
only wants to leave when he's older out of necessity: "You can't make
it big here.
I want to join the legal profession but once I've made it down south
I'll be back.
"There's plenty to do. There's a lot of good hills to go
mountain-biking on, and there's cinemas and Imparja."
Mary and Wal have too much recreational choice for their own good:
"Look," said Mary.
"Sometimes we've got three or four things to go to at week-ends and we
don't know which way to go.
"The Country Music Club, barbecues which are an all year round novelty
here because of the spectacular weather. I don't mind the heat.
"I prefer air-conditioned air to cold air!"
Sonya Oldfield, 35 and Paul Donahue, 26 moved from Yulara six months
ago because they needed to send their children to school.
They are much happier here where there is far more to do.
"It's a great place for kids to scramble around in the bush", says
Sonya. "There's plenty of space here for them , you know where they
are, it's safe compared to a city, for sure."
"It's like any place," said Paul, "it's what you make it. You make a
good band of friends and you can have a good time anywhere."
However, Paul and Sonya don't think they'll retire here.
"We'd retire somewhere that's greener, where you can go fishing, just
more water around in general.
"This is a great rough and ready place if you are young, but we'd want
a bit more comfort and luxury in our old age."
I asked what they would wish for if a fairy offered to make Alice
perfect with a wave of her magic wand.
The main thing missed was fishing. It was thrown at me by every man I
Said Bert: "I like to do a bit of fishing you know, and you can't fish
in the Todd, the water's not there long enough. You have to go on a bit
of a trek to do it."
Lil was disappointed by her first return to Alice after leaving: "All
the lovely old buildings are gone and Todd street has changed. The
heritage hasn't been fully protected."
"They should have left it as it was," said Bert, "and built a huge
concrete jungle through the Gap somewhere rather than the modern sprawl
ruining the Centre.
"Everything was rough and ready before but we enjoyed it that way. When
I first came here we had to go into town every day to pick up our meat
because there were no refrigerators in those days.
"It took you all day to do your shopping because you knew everybody in
town, you'd stop every five minutes for a natter.
"The atmosphere has changed in that respect, but it's still more
intimate than any other town I've been to."
Mary said she is sick of hearing people knocking Alice.
She wishes Alice wasn't so undervalued in the tourism market for the
sake of visitors and locals.
"We have so many people coming into Adelaide House and they get so
They've got to fix this up. Quite a few of the tour operators down
South are not selling Alice enough. "They spend four or five days at
the Rock and a day in Alice.
The visitors get so angry when they find out there's so much to see in
Alice.They miss out on everything. "A lady came in who had been booked
in at Yulara for 5 days.
Two days later she was bored to death and came to Alice independently.
She couldn't believe she had to leave the next day when there was so
much to see.
"The Government should stop concentrating on filling the beds at Ayers
Sonya and Paul said Alice would be better if they weren't constantly
asked for money and cigarettes when walking down the mall.
"There's lots of drunken and abusive people all the time", said Sonya.
"The two kilomete drink ban law that is already in place should be
enforced to eradicate the drinking problem in the streets and make it a
more pleasant town," added Paul.
Ron said the best present the town could get was a resolution to the
alcohol-related social issues and employment.
Paul also said that a dam would bring the population age down a bit ,
because such sports as water-skiing would be available.
"Of course we miss the coast", said Paul, "but if you live in the
Centre you can have great coastal holidays. If you live on the coast
you've got nowhere to go on holiday!"
Luke thought Alice would be better with extended building of the mall,
particularly more shopping centres. It seems that there are locals out
there who can't get enough of Alice.
5000 GO TO RACES AT BIRDSVILLE, NORMAL POPULATION 100
Centralians keen to take a walk on the wild side wing their way to
Birdsville for the nation's best-known bush racing event on the first
Saturday each September.
After a two hour flight across the Simpson Desert the drought comes to
a rapid end as they head for the famous pub - conveniently right
alongside the air strip - or the race track bar: on race week-end, a
semi trailer load or two of beer is consumed.
You can't blame the locals for that, all 100 of them, including kids:
they're flat out looking after some 5000 visitors, and raising around
$50,000 for the local hospital and the Flying Doctor.
About 1000 people come by light to medium size aircraft, making the
uncontrolled strip busier than Tullamarine and Kingsford Smith put
The planes double as accommodation, with the pub booked out on race
days for the next 100 years, according to locals.
Although the races started in 1882 and have been run annually, except
for war years, for many they're just an excuse for having one too many,
sleeping in the swag, taking the four wheel drives into the outback.
RUDE T-SHIRTS Over the past years the patrons have slipped into higher
age brackets, as if they've resolved to go to Birdsville, buy a rude
T-shirt and fight their way through the dust to the bookies as
something they've got to do before meeting their maker.
Considering the hundreds of thousands of cans consumed, there is very
Late on Saturday a streaker darted across the main street to the pub
where a lively two-up game was in progress, and several hundred patrons
sat on the footpath under the oft-photographed verandah. Half a dozen
Queensland coppers looked on impassively.
Fighting is positively encouraged with Fred Brophy's famous travelling
boxing troupe, taking on all-comers.
Fred, who modestly describes himself as the fairest boxing umpire in
Australia (if not the world), has developed skills well beyond those of
a referee: he combines the qualifications of a promoter, alcohol
counsellor and mediator with those of an unerring crowd controller.
Fred's troupe is the last travelling boxing show in Australia, popular
in the Outback but banned in NSW and Victoria.
Pensami won the Cup won by half a head, and the honour couldn't have
gone to a more deserving owner: David Brook, the local - well -
everything, including businessman, pastoralist and pilot, has been the
secretary of the racing club for nearly a quarter of a century.
In his and Nell's sprawling home, dozens of guests from all corners of
the nation congregate for the weekend, while David looks after most
chores related to the meeting, including running the Calcutta and
providing neckties for mates wanting to go to the ball.
Pensami's trainer is George Dawson, from Strathalbyn near Adelaide, who
had six winners in 17 years and was unplaced only once in that time.
David's explanation for Pensami's win: "He likes Birdsville."
So do most who go there on race weekend - whether just once in their
lifetime, or every year.
RED-HAIRED, BLUE-EYED - AND ABORIGINAL: TWO WOMEN IN
Review by KIERAN FINNANE
A blue-eyed redhead talks about being Aboriginal.
She describes the disbelief of black and white alike when she asserts
herself as an Aborigine.
A light-skinned but clearly Aboriginal woman talks from a great well of
sadness about returning to her mother's country.
These are the first images of Apekathe (Fair skinned), a half-hour
television documentary produced by the Central Australian Aboriginal
Media Association, one of a series of five programs for the National
Indigenous Documentary Fund.
The first images introduce the two story tellers, Priscilla (Cilla)
Collins and Maureen McGregor.
It is not obvious how Maureen fits into the theme declared so clearly
by Cilla and by the title, until we meet her children.
The offspring of Maureen and her husband Steven, also an Aborigine of
mixed descent and who directed and wrote this moving, entertaining and
beautifully shot documentary, are two fair-skinned little girls with
great mops of red hair.
Their appearance ("Their hair must have come from the McGregor side!")
is a source of amazement to Maureen but, like Cilla, she believes that
being Aboriginal is ultimately all about a sense of who your family is,
not about skin colour.
However neither woman sweeps colour under the carpet, as it so often
is, albeit with the best of intentions, by anti-racist sentiment.
Apekathe is disarmingly frank in talking about colour as important in
people's perception of themselves and of others.
The end result on the screen is an uplifting assertion of identity but
perhaps for fair-skinned Aborigines this is more possible in Central
Australia, where so many Aboriginal people of full descent have
survived, compared to other areas of Australia and in particular
Cilla's family on her mother's side are descended from the union of an
Arltunga miner, William Smith, and an Arabana woman born in Oodnadatta,
Cilla's father, who appears at the family reunion in the film, is a
white Australian. Cilla grew up in Alice Springs, among a large
extended family presided over by her grandmother.
She says she has never met her father's family and that her strong
sense of Aboriginality is derived from the family that "stuck by me".
One can safely say that Cilla is an extrovert: she has strong screen
presence and her "gift of the gab", particularly the commentary she
provides on her marriage to Allan Collins (incidentally the
cinematographer for Apekathe), supplies many of the humorous moments in
Maureen has a quieter personality but, in a case of "still waters run
deep", endows the film with an almost haunting sadness and great
She was born in the Daly River area, lost her mother at a young age and
spent some years on a mission before being fostered by the McTaggart
She speaks of them with great fondness, and her foster father appears
with her in one scene of the film.
Yet this fortunate happy experience does not mean that she doesn't feel
and express a great sense of loss in relation to her family of origin.
The beauty of the riverine landscape and the powerful emotions of
Maureen, Steven and their children as they are reunited with her
Aboriginal family make the Daly River sequences the most striking of
Apekathe goes to air on ABC television on October 2 at 8.30pm.
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