ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
February 3, 1999

PREPARING HEALTH PROFESSIONALS FOR MAYHEM IN THE CENTRE. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

The Centre for Remote Health, which opened its doors in Alice Springs last week, will combat remote Australia's massive health problems by better preparing health professionals to deal with the region's special difficulties.John Wakerman, who heads the centre, says that when a new recruit starts work in a remote area health clinic, whether they are a nurse, a doctor or an allied health professional, chances are they will be confronted with situations they have never had to deal with before.They will be working in an isolated environment, geographically, socially and professionally.Some recruits weather the experience, extend themselves into their new role and become the resourceful, and often innovative practitioners indispensable to effective health service delivery in the Outback.Others, for a variety of reasons, move on and the cycle of high staff turnover starts again.It is in this area that the Centre for Remote Health, the latest university department to establish itself in Alice Springs, counts on having an impact.A collaborative initiative of Flinders University in South Australia and the Northern Territory University, the centre is operating for the present out of two demountables in the grounds of the Alice Springs Hospital. It is a department of Flinders University's School of Medicine, but its focus is multi-disciplinary, providing post-graduate education for remote health professionals, not only doctors, as well as undertaking research and clinical practice.Dr Wakerman is a public health specialist who worked in Australia, Kenya and Malaysia before arriving in Central Australia almost nine years ago. Here he was director of rural health for Territory Health Services for five years, before being seconded to the Menzies School of Health Research to direct a number of research projects on remote area health service delivery.He says that by contributing to improvements in recruitment and retention of health professionals, the centre's ultimate goal is to contribute to improved health status for the people of remote Australia.Dr Wakerman: "If less money were spent in recruiting health staff to these areas, and if staff were to stay longer, significant savings could be redirected into providing better health care."At present, health services spend a lot of time and money also on preparing staff for work in remote environments. While they have a responsibility to orient their staff, they shouldn't really have to be training them."That's the job of an educational and training institution, and that's where we come in. Hopefully, as well-trained and prepared graduates come through, further savings will be invested in the direct provision of care. "We're very aware that there are already a number of institutions in Central Australia that work in these different areas. Indeed, there have been some very good developments over the last five or six years in the whole rural health movement, Australia-wide. That includes a lot of really good work done by Territory Health Services and other service providers. "We want to build on that work. " Our role is not to duplicate what is already here, but to fill some of the gaps."Apart from our own courses, we will work closely with Flinders' medical students doing their clinical training here and with nursing students from both Flinders and NTU. "Over time we should see undergraduates coming through, going on to do post-graduate training as well, who'll be well prepared to work in this environment, and will provide a better service."As someone who has spent a lot of my time here trying to recruit doctors and other health staff, that's an exciting prospect."How it will ultimately effect health status is difficult to quantify, but it will improve it, although, as we all know, health services are only one of a number of factors that effect health status."Dr Wakerman is joined at the centre by Senior Lecturer Sue Lenthall, a nurse with many years' experience in some of the most remote areas of Australia, from the outer islands of the Torres Strait and Cape York communities to Central Australia, and who holds a Master's degree in public health and a Bachelor degree in teaching.Ms Lenthall says her nurse's training didn't even come close to preparing her for work in a remote area.Her Master's in public health was the best post-graduate training she could find at the time but "it wasn't entirely appropriate either, because I had to deal with a lot of things apart from public health.”Ms Lenthall is responsible for designing and coordinating what is in fact the first remote health course in Australia, which she hopes students will find "exciting, relevant and beneficial".She says lack of access to further education in their profession has been highlighted as one of the reasons why health professionals leave remote areas."They need education specific to the way they're working, to be comfortable in their roles," says Ms Lenthall."For example, in most remote areas there's no pharmacist. The health professional has to give out medications, and to do that safely involves some special education."Essentially, the health professional has to be prepared to handle whatever comes through the door, to be the social worker, the ambulance driver, the clinician, the public health clinician, even the undertaker."An important part of the course will be directed to this, what we call the extended role."Cultural awareness, particularly of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, but also of, for instance, the culture of mining towns where some practitioners will work, will also be a focus of the course.A university presence will work the other way as well, giving academic recognition to experienced practitioners who have developed innovative approaches and programs in remote health.Dr Wakerman: "It's the sort of environment where, because of the relative lack of services, resources and appropriate training, people have to be innovative to meet the needs of their clients."We'll be looking at joint appointments where practitioners will combine their work with teaching."Apart from recognition, we'll also be able to help with documentation, so that the invaluable lessons they've learnt aren't all lost when these practitioners leave the region."So far 32 people have enrolled in the Remote Health Practice course, from Christmas Island to Cape York, from every state in Australia, even Tasmania. An early task will be to establish what technologies the enrollees have available, to assist different modes of course delivery.Ms Lenthall hopes to link students into small work teams so that they will be able to network and learn from each other, breaking down the isolation of external learning."We've deliberately made it multi-disciplinary," says Ms Lenthall. "Traditionally doctors and nurses have been educated separately but we hope to break down those barriers. In remote areas people have to be able to work in small teams. If they are educated together, they will be far better equipped to work this way."Dr Wakerman: "We'll be collaborating with other university departments of rural health, especially those in Broken Hill and Mt Isa. That's already a potentially very powerful network to be used to the benefit of remote area practitioners."We've started work in the research area, with a piece of applied research in collaboration with the Menzies School of Health Research. We'll be looking at collaborating with other institutions and services, depending on what their needs are."

WHAT WE GAINED AND LOST IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS. By KOMLA TSEY, of the Menzies School of Health Research

One of Central Australia's most sensitive and potentially damaging stories concerns the health of Aboriginal people.It is widely perceived that especially rural Aboriginal people live in "third world" conditions and suffer the consequent ill health of many people in the world's poorest countries.A corollary of this perception is that money will fix the problem and if it doesn't, then their health problems must be Aboriginal people's own fault.Five years ago the validity and usefulness of these notions were challenged in these pages by Komla Tsey, then teaching at the Institute of Aboriginal Development, now Head of the Menzies School of Health Research in Alice Springs.In a series of four articles Dr Tsey analysed the "health picture" in his native Ghana compared to the situation for Aboriginal people here. (See News, May 12, 19, 26, Jun 9, 1994). He told us that Aboriginal health status and life expectancy is roughly the same as in Ghana but their average income and access to heath care, while significantly lower than for non-indigenous Australians, is far superior to that of Ghana. While health services are succeeding in keeping more Aboriginal children alive, they are not making inroads on the chronic diseases of adulthood which kill them some 20 years earlier on average than their fellow non-indigenous Australians. (This life expectancy statistic is still quoted five years later.) Ironically the big killers of Aboriginal people are the so-called "diseases of affluence" such as diabetes, kidney and circulatory system problems and cancer, whereas in Ghana infectious diseases, including diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria, are the main cause of death in children and adults. Five years on, we ask Dr Tsey what has changed? The answer in brief is that while there have been many positive developments in the health sector, there is still a long way to go on the fundamental issues of social position and education, in short, issues of power, which critically effect health status.Dr Tsey writes:-The point I tried to make five years ago was that it is simply not true to argue that Aboriginal health is poor because they live in "third world" conditions. And that this type of simplistic reasoning can be dangerous since it tends to mask or draw attention away from the real cause of Aboriginal ill-health: the social class position, including the influence and power of Aboriginal people as a group relative to the rest of Australian society. To understand how Aboriginal health came to be what it is today, one therefore needs to understand the history of settler colonisation as occurred in Australia as distinct from the imposition of an alien colonial regime (without a significant white settlement) as occurred in places like Ghana and most parts of the Third World. However, focussing just on changes over the last five years in the health sector, a lot more effort is now being directed to developing a coordinated approach to Aboriginal health service development, training and advocacy. There is a national public health partnership involving the Commonwealth, States/Territories and Aboriginal community-controlled health services. The establishment of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) tries to give a voice to the indigenous health leadership at the highest level of policy-making. And in Central Australia there is now an Indigenous Health Planning Forum involving the key health care agencies - both in the government and community sectors. Other initiatives worth mentioning are: the establishment of a Central Australian Aboriginal Health Workers Association (the first of its kind in Australia) which means that, like AMSANT, health workers now have a voice; the Central Australian Remote Health Training Unit (CARHTU) jointly run by IAD, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, Anyinginyi Congress in Tennant Creek and Territory Health Services; and, the Flinders University Clinical School at Alice Springs Hospital. Flinders has also joined the NT University to set up a university department called Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs (see front page story, this issue). Then there is the Co-operative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Tropical Health which seeks to bring service providers and researchers together so that service provision can inform research and vice versa. All of these initiatives have one thing in common: to better understand and improve access to health services for Aboriginal people. But as recent reviews of health services in central Australia suggest (John Wakerman and colleagues at Menzies and Ben Bartlett for the Office of Aboriginal Health), there are still communities without access to basic primary medical services which most people take for granted. However, access to effective health care is only one side of the story as far as improving indigenous health is concerned. The real test is the extent to which the position and influence of Aboriginal people change relative to rest of the population. One way of gauging this is to look at the key socio-economic indicators like income, employment and education to determine the extent to which the gap is narrowing. Unfortunately the evidence shows that it is not. In fact, the irony is that some of the positive initiatives alluded to earlier, might even turn out to be part of the problem. For example, the bulk of employment being created by these initiatives goes to non-Aboriginal people who possess the skills and expertise needed to do the jobs. This can only worsen income inequality between the two population groups. Inequality of income, rather than poverty per se, is the more important determinant of health. On a positive note a body of research on "social determinants of health" (see, for example, Wilkinson, R. and Marmot, M. The Solid Facts, WHO Regional Office for Europe, 1998) is now beginning to help politicians, policy-makers and disadvantaged and other oppressed minority groups themselves, not only to understand better the biological pathways in which stress associated with social class position translates into illness, disease and death, but more importantly, to understand what things can be done to change the situation for the better. The interesting thing about this research is that it simply confirms what indigenous Australians have always known: that improvements in their health depend on having greater control over their lives and the things that affect them. This involves a responsibility not only for governments but for the wider society to create an environment for indigenous people to feel part of the wider society and to participate at all levels on their own terms. For example, it would mean representation at all levels of government including State/Territory and national parliaments. A central part of addressing the social inequality is what researchers in the field have called "the mastering factor", that is, the development of a set of abilities, skills, and attitudes that enable people to "problem solve". Particularly pertinent to the situation of Aboriginal people is that education - in the formal sense - is invariably implicated in this process of "mastering one's environment" or taking greater control vis a vis the wider society.

A NEW WAY OF KEEPING THE PUBLIC IN THE DARK. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

The NT government has come up with a nifty new device to keep the public even more in the dark.Already denying its constituents Freedom of Information laws, the government is now using the excuse that contracts with suppliers are confidential.As the Stone administration launches headlong into privatisation of health, electricity supply and other functions, worth hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars each year, it seems Territorians will have even fewer opportunities for learning what's going on.The Alice News obtained leaked information from an ex-employee late last year that the private power station at Brewer Estate, owned by Energy Equity, providing around one-quarter of Alice Springs' electricity needs, is plagued by a series of problems.QUESTIONSWe put a series of questions to PAWA's media spokesman Col Krohn, and got the following answer: "PAWA's position is that your enquiries relate to a contractual relationship between two parties to which there is a binding confidential obligation, and because of the commercial sensitivity of the information, PAWA is not in aposition to divulge the details."The allegations by the ex-PAWA staffer are serious: he says when the contract was first called, turbine engines were specified, but PAWA agreed to reciprocating (piston) motors, far less suitable in hot weather.The source says in one nine-day period, four Brewer Estate engines failed, forcing the government-owned Ron Goodin plant to pick up the slack.What's more, the government plant needs to be continuously on stand-by to cover for the "inevitable" failures of the private plant, alleges the source.We asked Mr Krohn about the number of break-downs at Brewer Estate, the consequences for consumers, and the cost to PAWA for the stand-by service.We would also have liked to ask him whether a PAWA officer (a name was supplied) had been instructed to see if the contract with Energy Equity can be cancelled.Mum's the word is also the motto for Education Minister Peter Adamson.The NSW Education Department provides media with information ranking schools by the number and percentage of their students who achieve HSC merits in English and Mathematics.That information was published in the Sydney Morning Herald of January 9, giving parents preparing to enrol their kids vital clues about the quality of schools.We asked Mr Adamson for corresponding information relating to the NT.We channelled the request through MacDonnell MLA John Elferink, and later approached Mr Adamson's office direct.Mr Adamson told Mr Elferink that the information would not be released, and didn't even bother to get back to us at all.

COMMENT: HAVE AN ASSERTIVE 1999!

Welcome to our first edition for 1999, our sixth year of publication. It's going to be a great year for The Alice - if we all have the will to make it so.A long time acquaintance of mine, who's played a major role in local commerce and community life, has just decided to move to a Queensland beach resort to run a coffee shop: "Thirty years in Alice is enough," he told me. It sounded like the end of a prison sentence.Alice Springs, my home for more than a quarter of a century now, half my life, where two of my children grew up and another two were born, is still regarded by too many as a place where one can make a few bucks, be "transferred" for a couple of years, write a doctorate, get experience with Aboriginal people or strike a blow for them, before moving on to more agreeable environs, where the stint in The Centre will make for lively dinner conversation and look good on the CV.No single force can change that but the governments - all three tiers - can and must strive to make a difference: so, here's some food for thought for present and would-be politicians, including those who're talking about new political parties in The Centre.The town's future lies in international tourism: our attractions - space, good weather (yes, in the hot season, too; where else do you get such great summer nights?), no pollution, little traffic - that's what we can and should promote.Our prices are low: for most Europeans, the Aussie dollar is now worth less than one-quarter when compared to 30 years ago.Our superb landscapes and the world's most ancient living culture are enormously saleable commodities. Yet the NT Tourist Commission, spending $26m a year, around 10 times the per-capita spend in other states, is consistently failing to capitalise on these assets.The Alice Town Council or CATIA - or both - ought to demand half that budget from the NT Government, and begin to invest the money to the advantage of the region.A good start would be to enlarge and develop the Western MacDonnells national park, rather than pushing man-made attractions. The Desert Park, for example, can play a role but no-one would travel half way across the world to see a zoo, a surrogate outback, while they sure would to see the real thing. We need to review the value to the community of the pastoral industry, occupying half of our land mass. The productivity of cattle station leases, per square kilometre, is around $150 a year, given its carrying capacity of just one beast. Joint or exclusive use by tourism of some of this land - especially in our magnificent mountain ranges - could boost that income by a factor of hundreds. Let's create the biggest and greatest national park in the world! A similar consideration applies to the other half our our land, occupied under inalienable Aboriginal freehold. Policies of bitter antagonism over the past two decades have turned these vast regions into hostile exclusion zones, yet they're home to the greatest potential drawcard for Central Australia.Ancient Aboriginal culture, through the art treasures it is now producing, is celebrated world wide, while right here, its descendants are broadly despised. History will never forgive the NT governments to date, nor their opponents in some Aboriginal pressure groups, for having twisted one of the world's most exciting opportunities into social and political conflict that is tearing our community apart. Our future leaders will be judged by their skills in turning around that disastrous process.A good start would be to give Aboriginal people a good reason for getting out of bed in the morning. As partners in our quest to boost tourism they could be enormously effective. As second-rate citizens, currently providing the bulk of the "anti-social" element in town, they're a major impediment. As the nation reverberates to the reconciliation waffle, we in the Territory have a great opportunity for showing the way, with 30 per cent of our citizens being black. Yet after 20 years plus of continuous Country Liberal Party rule, we're looking at third and fourth generation welfare recipients, and an angry and increasingly dangerous black youth seeking relief in booze and petrol sniffing, or just fighting for a feed and a roof over their heads, while in far too many cases, their parents and supposed carers focus their energies on obtaining and consuming alcohol.Leadership is overdue in the so far absurdly futile attempts to control alcohol abuse. Drastic supply restrictions (from which tourists can be exempted, of course) are clearly needed: Liquor Commission boss Peter Allen has made it plain he would act whichever way the community instructs him to. The people who can speak for the community include the elected town council aldermen and Members of Parliament. Where is their voice, their decisive action?CLP land policies have created a situation where, in this desert town, we're paying national near-record prices for homes. Of course, the NT Government blamed native title applications for this absurd cost blow-out. Yet, as the Alice News pointed out years ago (see our web site), the government owns hundreds of hectares of prime real estate in the Ilparpa Valley, freehold, not affected by native title claims, yet currently wasted for one of the nation's most disgraceful sewage treatment plants: smelly, mosquito ridden, a serious health hazard, and wasting billions of litres of water in the driest part of this driest continent.Here was a great opportunity of providing for the people of The Alice an acceptable essential service - a state-of-the-art waste processing and recycling plant - while at the same time keeping the soaring land costs in check.The NT government brazenly displayed its contempt for its irksome constituents south of the Berrimah Line when OUR Ayers Rock Resort was sold to "southern" interests for a fraction of its replacement value, Chief Minister Shane Stone's earlier pledge - that Yulara would become a town like any other in the NT - notwithstanding .And when the Alice town council demanded the re-routing of the pipe dream Darwin railway, we got the big raspberry from the Holy City up north. Kilometre long trains running through the heart of the town will daily disrupt its life, should the project ever come to fruition.In that event, Darwin will benefit while Centralian taxpayers will contribute to the $300m cost, and their vibrant trucking industry will suffer. The emergence of assertive and clever leaders, willing to stand up for the town against our Darwin masters, will determine how great a year 1999 will be.

NEW POLICE SPEED CAMERAS A NICE EARNER. Report by CHRIS HALLETT.

A few Alice Springs drivers will receive a memento of this first week of the school year in the post. There will be a laser printed photo of their vehicle caught in the cross hairs of a speed camera as they race through a 40 kph zone outside a school.Speeding fines range from $55 for being 10 km or more over the speed limit, $155 for being 30 km over the limit. Once you are caught 45 km over the limit you receive a summons to court and if convicted get fined and lose your license.Traffic accident investigator Senior Constable Michael Potts of the Alice Springs Police is well aware of the physics of crashes and the extra damage and horror caused the faster a vehicle travels. He rejects the public perception that the speed camera is a revenue raising mechanism, saying it is just so much more efficient than the old radar system and more accurate. "When you look at the reality of the police officer using a radar, either hand held radar or a mobile radar on the side of a police car, the process of actually detecting and apprehending a motorist exceeding the speed limit might take four to five minutes. "During that time in a city the size of Alice Springs there might be five or six cars going past that location that are exceeding the speed limit and we can't apprehend them or even draw it to their attention that they have been over the limit. "The speed camera has that ability, to remain in the one spot and every single motorist that is travelling on the road who is over the limit will be detected and obviously receive a notice."The camera is more accurate because the operator targets vehicles with cross hairs across the lens so they know exactly which vehicle in a bunch is being checked and photographed. With radars, if say there is a motorbike in front of a truck, the operator can have difficulty judging which vehicle's speed the radar is reading. The camera is more cost efficient due to its higher pick up rate and one police auxiliary can operate, whereas the radar requires a police officer.The camera images are permanently stored on a CD. The auxiliary then down loads these onto a computer back at the station and E-mails them to Darwin where a panel checks that the vehicle is clearly identified in the photo. Within a couple of days the appropriate fine or summons is then posted with the photo to the vehicle's owner who has 28 days to pay or dispute the ticket. An unexpected bonus of the new system in Alice Springs is picking up the four or five speeding drivers each week who are found to be driving unregistered or uninsured vehicles. Instead of a notice in the mail they get a visit from a police officer and a summons. S/C Potts says: "What we are hoping to do is reeducate or change driver behaviour to such an extent that their speed comes down to a safer level. Our primary concern is if or when mistakes are made by motorists and they get themselves involved in accidents, the speed is kept at a level where, taking into account reaction times and any braking before impact, injuries will be minimised. "Every ten ‘k's an hour that somebody goes over the speed limit has an enormous effect on the amount of energy involved in an accident. "The majority of accidents that happen are due to a period of inattention and what motorists have to appreciate is that when they go over the speed limit it requires more concentration.""The only problem that we are getting with the speed camera at the moment is that there are a lot of cars driving around without front or rear number plates. Now that may be a case of number plates shaking off on gravel roads but I am starting to suspect that a lot of motorists have taken their number plates off to avoid detection by the speed camera. "As of this week we are going to be blitzing that quite heavily, along with school zones. Any motorist who is found to be driving without a number plate front or rear will be cited $40 for every number plate off the vehicle. That's an on-the-spot ticket."Also as a consequence of not having both number plates affixed they could find the vehicle defected until they have another set of plates reissued to the vehicle. "If it is defected the car will be off the road and it will cost them, I think, $22.50 for an inspection and the inconvenience of having to take it to the motor vehicle registry."Motorbike riders who only need a rear number plate don't escape the speed camera. The operator can swivel the camera around and check the speed of a bike as it travels away. If the plate is obscured, which attracts a $30 fine, there may still be enough distinguishing features on a vehicle for police to track it down from the photo. So far in Alice Springs there hasn't been a problem with special sprays which are supposed stop number plates registering on the photo.Last Friday afternoon between 3.30 pm and 5 pm the camera was set up on Larapinta Drive outside Larapinta Lodge checking vehicles coming from the lights on the Stuart Highway. Over the one and a half hours 828 vehicles were checked and 12 were speeding, roughly one in 70 cars. At the minimum that's $660 in fines for the session or more depending on how many cars earned higher fines for doing more than 30 km over the limit.The afternoon's record went to a black Commodore doing 98 kph in the 60 k zone earning a summons and possible loss of license. As the Commodore passed the camera its brake lights were on but too late. Since November the highest speeds detected by the camera in Alice Springs have been a car doing 117 kph in an 80 zone and a motorcyclist clocking 103 kph in a 60 zone.Of the number of tickets issued as a result of the speed camera S/C Potts says: "It fluctuates. Sometimes we get 40 or 50 a day. "There was one day going through a school zone we got in excess of 120 cars. A large percentage of those were in excess of 10 kph over the speed limit. It was a bit of an eye opener for us, we were very, very concerned."In school zones, there is very little latitude on speed going through there. If you are 45 k's or over you will get yourself a notice. On every other street if you happen to be nine k's plus over the stated speed limit you will get yourself a ticket. "There is a little bit of expected lee way there, people may have a little bit of fluctuation with the throttle, a bit of speedo error in the car. That's all taken into account."

BLACK BAND GETS FAME ABROAD, IGNORED IN AUSTRALIA

If there were Top Ten charts out of bush community stores, Lajamanu Teenage Band would be in Number One position.Their second album, Vision, released last year by CAAMA Music on cassette and CD, moved a thousand units in its first five weeks, not bad at all by any independent label standard.But, one day the Teenage Band want to "rock America". The January 26 Survival Concert in Sydney took them another step towards their goal as they shared the stage with the big names of Australian black music - the Warumpi Band, Archie Roach, Christine Anu.Now, they're considering some national touring offers as support band to major acts.It's so far a success story for them and for CAAMA Music, and just the tip of the iceberg, according to CAAMA.For the first time, the Alice Springs-based music studio and label is headed up by an experienced Aboriginal entrepreneur and musician, Carol Karpany.Last year, he and former manager Richard Micaleff, a passionate promoter of Aboriginal music since he toured No Fixed Address in the UK IN 1984, represented CAAMA at the Pacific Circle conference, the southern hemisphere's biggest music industry get-together."We asked the key question, ‘What is the Australian sound?', and the answer was ‘Dunno'. "It is still up for grabs!" says Mr Karpany."We argue that Aboriginal culture can make a huge contribution to the ‘Australian-ness' of the music industry," says Mr Micaleff.A distinctive Australian sound is what some sections of the industry, particularly overseas, are after.CAAMA's biggest sales are in the bush, but they are followed by sales to Europe. Sales in the Australian seaboard cities come a long way behind.Videos of Aboriginal dancing and music are in constant demand by Qantas International, yet CAAMA has had no success in selling them to Qantas Domestic.At Pacific Circle, CAAMA's presentation on indigenous music was largely ignored by the local industry, but was attended by the managing director of MCA publishing, then in the throes of buying Polygram Music Publishing to become Universal, the world's biggest music publishing company."He came!," says Mr Micaleff."So did some key Canadian musicians who are well aware of the issues in promoting indigenous music in their country."They were absolutely committed and focussed on what we wanted to say and bored with all the music industry talk."The owner of four Los Angeles nightclubs also attended. CAAMA's catalogue set right her misconception that Aboriginal music was confined to traditional forms. CAAMA does indeed record traditional music but the bigger part of their catalogue is now devoted to what Mr Karpany calls "modified music"."It has traditional roots fused with contemporary music, such as reggae, country, hard rock, and out of this fusion comes a lot of interesting original music."Contact with the nightclub owner, which CAAMA has maintained via the Net, may lead to some of the bush bands playing an American network."She knows her market and says there's room for us there, and she isn't alone," says Mr Micaleff.But is this what the bush bands want? Mr Micaleff: "Some artists do not want to leave their country. That's why we make cassettes and we're the biggest cassette label in the country, with an average three to five thousand units sold per artist, and 500 plus in export sales. "Touring has to be driven by the artist and if they want it, we prepare them for it with our Bush Tour training program."A Bush Tour takes a band through Aboriginal communities coast to coast, from the Top End to South Australia, providing entertainment for bush people and training for the bands at the same time. It's what got Blakbela Music ready for their European tour and Lajamanu Teenage Band also "passed" the program with "flying colours", says Mr Karpany.CAAMA urges potential hirers to use a trained band."If you don't go through the cultural protocols, the band might not be able to make it," says Mr Micaleff. "Unfortunately, that brings the entire Aboriginal music industry into disrepute. It's an attitude thing. If a white band doesn't turn up to a gig, the white band's got a problem. If a black band doesn't turn up to a gig, ‘All bloody Aborigines are hopeless!'"CAAMA insists that a Bush Tour requires the same application as a national tour: the band has to rehearse their repertoire, manage their time, prepare themselves for being on stage, to move with their music, think about their image, their name.The Teenage Band, for instance, no longer the teenagers who started out jamming in their desert community, might have to think about a name change."Our training direction is as subtle as it can be, but the reality is that for the world out there, you have to know these important points," says Mr Karpany.Indigenous visual arts are considered world class and are a multi-million dollar industry for Australia. "We think the same potential exists for music," says Mr Micaleff, "and it deserves similar levels of support."When he left CAAMA Music at the end of last year, after four and a half years at the helm, he made the strong recommendation that the organisation not become self-supporting. While parts such as the CD label could become self-supporting, the focus should not be entirely on commercial activities, argues Mr Micaleff.If it is, he says the developmental work, like bush touring - the seeding ground for future talent and, maybe one day, a hit to rival Yothu Yindi's "Treaty" - will suffer. That's what arts money is for," says Mr Micaleff, "and we should get more of it."But money alone won't do the trick. Consumers need educating.Mr Micaleff: "A lot of Europeans ask ‘Why do Aborigines play rock music?' Well, why do Anglo-Saxon people play the Spanish guitar?"I've had people from radio stations saying to me ‘Don't tell anyone but the problem is, if we play Aboriginal music we have people ringing up and complaining.'"These are the hurdles. We're down to attitudes. So, we have to lobby, to do what the music industry does, be in your face!"

1999 A GREAT YEAR FOR LOCAL SPORTS

In 1999 the options have never been greater for Central Australians to embrace the sport of their choice.Summer sports are resuming after their traditional Christmas break, headed up by cricket and rugby union.• For cricket the 1998/99 season has been made a landmark by the opening of Albrecht Oval, developed to cater specifically for the traditions of the game. The turf pitch has proven to be ideal, creating the chance for runs to be made and yet giving some assistance to the bowlers.At A Grade level the One day Championships have concluded with Rovers taking the Premiership from West, by the narrowest of margins. These sides spearheaded the Super Eight Series at Traeger Park last weekend when players from all grades were given the opportunity to make the best of rapid fire 14 over cricket. This time Rovers comprehensively accounted for the Bloods in the final. Most importantly, the innovation of Super Eights has proven to be popular with players and supporters, with games played under lights during the best part of our January weather.This week the two day matches resume with West, Rovers and Federal each rating themselves well in the three match run into the finals. RSL Works seem to have set themselves a challenge over this period, having not made the most of point scoring chances prior to the festive break.This week RSL Works take on the Rovers outfit, with the Blue boys full of confidence, led by top batsman Craig Footman and the current "in form" bowler of the association, Richard Laidler. Considering early season form it would seem Rovers would start heavy favourites to take the points at Traeger Park.Federal face West in the other two day fixture, with West quietly confident of this being the beginning of another Premiership winning run. Over the January period West battled for numbers in the One Day competition, yet still remained in the hunt. The Bloods expect no less than six quality A Graders to return to the fold including the much revered David Vadiveloo, and Scott Pearce.This being the case they should have too many guns for Federal who are consolidating after the departure of Scott Saunderson, and the intermittent absenteeism of other key players.• In rugby union the Premiership competition resumed last Saturday. As with cricket the CARU now has a venue with lights and more accommodating facilities at Anzac Oval, on which to build. Already proposals are afoot to extend the Anzac facilities in order to woo the crowds to the rectangular football codes. The CARU are dedicated to planning their future with the NTRU under Bill Davies, probably showing the way for all sporting codes in the development of regional NT sport. Davies is a regular to the Centre, and has local NTRU rep Vince Kelly "on the road" promoting the game at both senior and junior levels. Seniors competing in the local competition have the chance to play Katherine on February 13. From there they can qualify for the NT Country side. In 1998 this side successfully toured southern Australia, in particular Tasmania, and in 1999 they will focus on participation in Darwin's Arafura Games. After Arafura, places will be available in the NT side which will tour the sub continent, Sri Lanka and India.At Junior level Darryl Preston has put in the hard yards to see competition and skills coaching ensuring the code's future in town. So too the likes of George Frank and Morgan Flint keep the dream alive with the Dingoes Golden Oldies club.• Basketball, played at the three court stadium at Traeger Park, is one of the giants of Alice Springs sport in terms of participation rates. On Monday night the 1999 season got under way with all courts booked each night of the week. Last year, in the early season, it was Rockets who prevailed over the Rebels in Men's League, while the Rebels Women's team were premiers. Numbers for this year match those of 1998 and development officer Michael Trainer has been justly rewarded for his success at Traeger Park by being named NT Coach for the Under 18s. • Arafura will also be the focus for the Alice Springs Swimming Club, coached by stalwart Max O'Callaghan. The Alice club has nurtured potential Olympian Luke van Haaren as the star of the current crop of swimmers. Luke took all before him in 1998 at the NT and Queensland titles, gaining admission to the NT Institute of Sport. Throughout the season the Alice club associates well with regional swimmers in Tennant Creek and Katherine making for a competitive NT country group to challenge Darwin in the NT Championships.• The growth of Triathlon competition was demonstrated last weekend when some 70 athletes competed in the first of the Greg Revel Centralian Sports Mini Tri Series. The Men's Event was won by Ryan Coppola, in a race which was not without its worrying moments. Setting off on the cycling leg, fellow national competitor Duane Heywood's foot slipped from the pedal. He ploughed into a stationery vehicle, but fortunately did not sustain major injury. Also in the event was recently crowned National 45-49 Year Champion Loie Sharp who sought the Men's competition to extend her capabilities. The Women's event went to Wendy Heywood who broke the 17 minute barrier, indicating a bright future for her in 1999.• From the bows of the Sports Bar at the Oasis, the Alice Springs Yacht Club under Commodore Paul Herrick, plot and plan their future. In 1998 they steered the Spirit of Alice from Sydney to Hobart in the quest of back to back Class honours. 1999 however will present the "salties" with their ultimate challenge. They plan to participate at the Cowes Regatta in Britain, probably the most revered event in world yachting. Following the Mariner's Dinner late last year a squad has been named and are in training. Fund raising is at fever pitch, with encouraging results as already the Ayers Rock Corporation have been lured as major sponsors. Formative planning has been entrusted to Jeff Rose, an international yachtsman now residing in town. What a sight it would be to see the Territorian spinnaker in full bloom coming through the mist at Cowes!• April is the prime time of the year for horse racing in the Centre with the conduct of the Alice Springs Turf Club Carnival. Last year locally owned galloper Royal Consort won the Cup, paving the way for Centralians at the Darwin Cup Carnival, where Alice connections dominated. Peter Moody's Bellile won the Darwin Cup and went on to be named Horse of the Year. In 1999 the ASTC under the direction of John Fitzgerald has another top Carnival planned with greater incentives for owners and trainers, and improved facilities for the punter. • Easter will see winter sports take to the playing fields of Central Australia.In Australian Rules football, the CAFL directors have already released a fixture for 1999. They have a full time Football Manager in Ron Thompson, who with the FDF will oversee the operations of senior and junior competitions. The five clubs are fervent in their desire to end the season with a Premiership, and this week sees the formal commencement of training for most . West Club has opted for past SANFL and NTFL champion Robin Kidney to coach. Kidney played with the Bloods last year, still has the drive to influence the game as a player, and has the flair of a leader. Federal have appointed Ian Taylor to the prime position. Having served with Danny Measures as co Coach in recent times he now has the chance to prove himself in his own right. Like Kidney, Taylor has playing experience with the club, is respected and is young enough to play top football. Last year was one that Rovers would rather forget. To this end a radical change has taken place in the coaching staff. Each appointed coach for 1999 comes from outside the Double Blues sanctum. Greg McAdam has accepted the role of senior coach, and comes, as an original Roo, with SANFL, VFL and then NTFL credentials which speak for themselves. Barry Freeman, a legend in Pioneer circles, has accepted responsibility for B Grade. Sid Maloney slips into the breech with the juniors, after a distinguished era with South. As with Federals over the past twelve months, it is expected that this new Blues coaching line up will prove attractive to many players in Alice Springs, looking for a new start.Pioneers, the side which has been the flagship of CAFL premierships since 1947, has again stayed with tradition. In 1999 two of their favourite sons, Lance White and Roy Arbon, will again be expected to combine in the coaching box to bring home the bacon. The Eagles are yet to hold their AGM and formalise their committee, but with family strength permeating through each level, there is no doubt Pioneers will again be a force in CAFL.The bridesmaids of the 1998 grand final were South. Again in 1999 the Roos can look at their juniors, and the return of stalwarts, to field a most competitive outfit. Their ranks at this stage are tight lipped about 1999 but the word has slipped out that they could well appoint Gilbert McAdam to the coaching position. This being the case, with Adrian McAdam being able to focus on playing and the return of Kelvin Maher from WA, the Roos will be there again.• Last year the Central Australian Rugby Football League catered for players from Tennant Creek to Yulara in what must have been a world record in terms of district area for regular sporting competition. In addition the League itself consolidated well after being battered by the effects of Super League, and Central Memo were able to claim back to back Premierships.1999 has, it seems, more adventure in store for the "greatest game of all". It has been widely tipped that a fourth side will take to the paddock this year under the Vikings banner. The new club is expected to draw from the Police, Fire Brigade and Emergency Services for player numbers. While it may be a noble endeavour, and history shows the town has catered for up to six clubs, the short lives of the Knights, Southern Districts, and the recent Heavy Tree Gap Rock Wallabies, would surely make one wary of the ability to sustain a fourth club.Development Officer Colin Elks has done well to develop the junior ranks and of a Saturday morning Anzac Oval is a blaze of colour with youngsters in action. So too, Elks has been of immeasurable assistance in seeing to the day to day running of the league.• Although it is on its own in Alice Springs, the Redbacks Grid Iron side has achieved well in terms of national competition. Last year the Redbacks travelled interstate with distinction and then had Don Brown and Paul Duffy as key players in the Australian team's defeat of New Zealand. Grid Iron is far from the least expensive sport in town but through professional publicity the Redbacks have contributed to the town's image as a sporting mecca. In 1999 the Redbacks will again be "on the road" and hosting games at Anzac Oval.• At Ross Park courts, netball competition caters for more players of a Saturday than any other sport. From A Grade through to the juniors, all eight courts are occupied each week. The AGM of the Alice Springs Netball Association will be held next Tuesday at the club rooms at 8 pm. At club level, "sign on" days are being organised, with Federal holding theirs tonight at Undoolya Road. From the first round of competition all eyes will be on last year's giant killers, the Neata Glass Giants. • Motor sport dominates Territory life in two wheel and four wheel forms, both on the track at Arunga Park, and off road at Mt Ooraminna. The premier event in 1999 will be the Finke Desert Race, held over the Queen's Birthday weekend and attracting competitors from the ilk of Peter Brock to the local battlers. Even though the race attracts stars from interstate and overseas, it has been our home grown front runners who have regularly taken line honours. Currently Steven Greenfield reigns supreme, having won in 1997 and 1998, and still outpacing the buggies. This year's Finke will take on a new dimension as Paul Catermole melds the Touring Car Championship event at Hidden Valley in Darwin with Finke, to present two consecutive weekends of top motor sport. Not only will this swell the numbers to Finke, but television and sponsorship rights will no doubt be sought and so enhance the status of the event. In all Centralians can participate in some 56 organised forms of sport. Again in 1999 the Alice Springs News will provide easy reading previews and reviews of major events and local competitions.

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