ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
May 3, 2000

RUSTLING PROBE FIZZES: 'SUSPECTS'TO HIT BACK. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

Police dropped cattle "duffing" (stealing) enquiries against prominent Central Australian pastoral industry figures last week and say they will not be laying charges.This follows a Keystone Cops style operation in two states, involving an estimated two dozen officers: they "impounded" 200 cattle, raided an office and a butcher's shop in Alice Springs, as well as a pastoral property in Queensland, but turned up no incriminating evidence.Now the cattlemen previously under investigation say they are considering legal action against the Central Land Council (CLC), whom they allege were behind the complaint, and against others who they claim have damaged their reputations, caused loss of earnings and good will in the beef trade.The furore started when Henry Bloomfield, manager of Love's Creek Station and a traditional owner of the land it occupies, early this year sold 336 head of cattle to Central Australian Meat Processors (CAMP), owned by Brett Heaslip, member of a well-known pastoral family, and Troy Coe.CAMP had provided a variety of services to Love's Creek, including stock transport, aerial surveys and chopper mustering, for about 12 months.The CLC is in the process of converting the 3700 square kilometre Love's Creek lease to inalienable Aboriginal freehold land, for a "hand back" to traditional owners.The station is currently owned by Jayrook Pty Ltd which has an Aboriginal board. All board members are traditional owners of the land. Mr Bloom-field says the company is being advised by the CLC's rural enterprise unit which arranges board meetings, transports members to meeting locations and pays them meeting fees out of Jayrook's accounts.Early this year Mr Bloomfield, manager for seven years and the son of the late Love's Creek stockman Max Bloomfield, was sacked (Alice News, April 5.)Mr Bloomfield provided the News with statutory declarations from three board members who said they wanted him to stay on as manager, and from two others who were not at the meeting, but opposed his sacking."I don't know how the others voted but I suspect they were told I am a cattle rustler," says Mr Bloomfield.He says a CLC employee had accused him to his face of being a cattle thief. That land council staffer now lives in Canada, alleges Mr Bloomfield: "He served only one year of a three year contract."Us locals are working together, and always will be, not like the blow-ins the CLC employs."Mr Bloomfield says he has been told by other board members that there were allegations against him of cattle stealing.[The News asked the CLC what stage the land claim over Love's Creek had reached; what role the CLC was playing in the management of Jayrook; and whether or not the CLC or any of its employees had made a report to the police. A spokesperson said no comment would be available before the deadline for this edition as most senior staff were absent, and made no undertaking to provide a comment later.]By mid March the issue was well and truly out of control. Rumours were rife about a police investigation against major pastoral figures. According to Mr Coe, a newspaper reported the events as the biggest cattle duffing operation in a decade.Mr Bloomfield and Mr Coe allege the CLC, or people employed by it, were the source of the complaints to the police, although they may have acted on behalf of Jayrook."I tried to sort this out with the CLC at the time," says Mr Coe. "I met with CLC director David Ross, who said he had no power over Jayrook's business."But I believe he obviously does because the CLC calls the Jayrook meetings and has a hand in running them."The focus of the police enquiries were the sale of 200 head from CAMP's Wamboden abattoirs, on the Heaslip-owned Bond Springs station just north of Alice Springs, to a cattle property near Kingaroy in Queensland.Police apparently believed that there were no waybills for the cattle transported on a road train owned by CAMP.RAIDSOn March 18, about a dozen police officers raided the office at the abattoirs, the company's butchery in Gap Road and simultaneously the Queensland property, seizing a raft of documents.Queensland police also took possession of the livestock.They turned up nothing.Says Mr Coe: "Elders had all the waybills for the 200 cattle sent to Queensland, and a reconciliation of all the 336 cattle in question."The stock firm had the waybills a month before the raid."A single phone call to me or Henry Bloomfield could have cleared it all up."[Police have not responded to several enquiries from the News about who laid the complaint, nor on the basis of what evidence the extensive police operation was put in motion.]Meanwhile Mr Coe says the Alice Springs CIB, which initiated the police action, has declined to get back the cattle impounded in Queensland."They advised me to get a lawyer and take it up with the Queensland police," says Mr Coe."Why do I have to pay for a lawyer?"The Queensland police obviously acted on the say-so of the Alice Springs police. "They're now washing their hands of the matter although they have proof that the cattle were acquired legally."Mr Coe, who has 15 years of experience in the Territory and WA cattle industry, says the inept handling by the CLC of pastoral industry issues sells short many of its own Aboriginal clients.The land council represents owners on more than a dozen former cattle stations in The Centre, now held under land rights, says Mr Coe.Much of the Aboriginal land roughly half the Territory is potentially good cattle land, and the land council has several staff and comprehensive facilities for land management.Yet about $100,000 worth of meat is imported from interstate each week for consumption on the Aboriginal communities, says Mr Coe.BIG JOB"That's despite Aboriginal people wanting to run cattle."They just don't get the assistance they need."It's a big job and the CLC isn't up to it."It has to be done on the land, not in an office in town."Mr Bloomfield says CAMP, in collaboration with Aboriginal land owners and cattle men, wants to develop the Wamboden abattoirs as well "the full cycle" of production from mustering on the station right through to the butcher's shop and deliveries to the communities.Mr Coe says Wamboden could employ up to 100 people and meet the entire Central Australian beef demand.

LAND COUNCIL 'BLOCKS DEAL'.

A Territory Parliamentarian says he tried for a year and a half to broker a deal between a cattle man and an Aboriginal land trust west of Alice Springs, but the proposal did not get off the ground.MLA for MacDonnell John Elferink says the bid failed when the pastoralist "walked away" because no decision could be reached by the Haasts Bluff Land Trust, represented by the Central Land Council (CLC).The proposal was for agisting cattle from a neighbouring station on the Aboriginal-owned land, with long term plans to set up a fully fledged cattle operation there.It would have employed a number of Aboriginal people.Mr Elferink says the proposal had been pursued by NT Government's Office of Aboriginal Development for some time, but was dropped because the CLC "was dragging its feet".Mr Elferink says all his attempts at collaboration with the CLC have been frustrated:"Their conduct raises the question whether their agenda is to keep their constituents needy." He says he was at a function recently that was also attended by CLC director David Ross, who made an impassioned plea for the abolition of mandatory sentencing.Mr Elferink says he approached Mr Ross at the same function to arrange a meeting for discussions about mandatory sentencing.However, Mr Ross told him he wouldn't be available for two weeks, and no meeting took place.

MANDATORY SENTENCING: SAFETY OR REVENGE? COMMENT by Labor candidate PETER KAVANAGH.

I have always opposed the concept of mandatory sentencing, simply because the statistics clearly show that it does not deter crime. My position has been reinforced since becoming a victim of property crime myself. I had heard from victims of home invasion and unlawful entry that although your first thoughts might be about the damage done to your home and the loss of private and personal possessions, these become minor concerns when you realise that a stranger has violated your home and may well try again. DETERRENTIt's difficult to determine whether or not the majority of Territorians favour the current regime of mandatory sentencing and whether or not they believe that it is an effective deterrent. Here in Alice Springs, where unlawful entry offences increased by 20.8 per cent from 1997/98 to 1998/99 (according to Police, Fire and Emergency Services Annual Reports), there's growing skepticism. In trying to defend and justify mandatory sentencing, Denis Burke argued in Parliament: "No, it wasn't to reduce crime. That was not the primary focus of mandatory sentencing. "The primary focus of mandatory sentencing was to punish the offender." At this point in time, I am not concerned with vengeance and retribution, my overwhelming concern is for the safety and security of my family. The Burke Government's one dimensional approach to law and order has failed to protect hundreds of families in Alice Springs and by the Chief Minister's own admission, was not designed to. In fact, with a clear up rate of around 10 per cent for this type of crime in urban areas, it is more likely that victims will be violated again rather than the perpetrator caught. I believe that mandatory sentencing is rapidly losing public support in Alice Springs as more and more families here become crime statistics. Mandatory sentencing has failed to reduce crime in Alice Springs, is expensive and does nothing for the victims of crime. We need a strategy that focuses on protection, punishment and prevention so that we can all feel safe in our own homes. Mandatory sentencing is not the answer.

CAAMA: ON AIR FOR 20 YEARS! ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

"Red Storm", a documentary for the prestigious US National Geographic TV production company, was a "big coup," according to Chris Ross, the deputy director of CAAMA, which is turning 20 this week.And the Aboriginal media association's music section had a highly productive year, launching 15 CDs, mainly for local "bush" bands, but also a sprinkling of top interstate artists.They including Shelly Atkins, from Tamworth, and Melbourne's Deadheart both due in town for the birthday bash.CAAMA's biggest venture is its 52 per cent share holding in the television station, Imparja.CAAMA's founders, including Freda Glynn, Johnny Macumba and Phil Batty, who will be in town to celebrate the anniversary, made a plea to the Broadcasting Tribunal's licence hearing in 1987.They claimed that indiscriminate broadcasting to traditional communities, via the satellite facilities serving the vast "Central footprint", would harm the ancient Aboriginal culture still thriving there.Although CAAMA's rival applicant, Darwin's Channel 8, pledged it would run at least 10 per cent Aboriginal programming, the tribunal was persuaded by the CAAMA argument.However, Imparja's programming consists predominantly of US-produced or mainstream Australian programs picked up from the major networks.Although the station now has its own news readers, the vast majority of its news reports are also sourced from interstate.But Ms Ross says Imparja and CAAMA have made significant achievements in developing Aboriginal shows, directors and technicians.Apart from Nganampa, they produced the 13-part BRACS Show featuring programs produced by remote Aboriginal communities, mainly in Aboriginal languages, as well as Corroborree Rock, the Indigenous music program.CAAMA and Imparja initiated the National Indigenous Documentary series, 15 half hours co-produced with ATSIC, ABC and SBS.Imparja also "sources and broadcasts quality Indigenous programming from independent Indigenous film makers, ABC and SBS, and participates in joint venture Indigenous productions, such as The Way Forward with SBS in 1998," says Ms Ross."Imparja invests 40 per cent of its total programming budget on Indigenous programs."It, together with CAAMA, produces the vast majority of Indigenous programming in Australia."Ms Ross says 60 per cent of Imparja employees are Aboriginal.Several staff from the CAAMA stable have become film and television figures with national and international reputations, says Ms Ross.They include "Radiance" director Rachel Perkins, and the film's cinematographer Warwick Thornton, Australian Cinematography Association gold award winner Alan Collins, director Erica Glynn, and winner of several radio documentary awards, Adrian Shaw.Ms Ross says Imparja is considering a "current affairs program, because that's what people want to look at, issues affecting Aboriginal people."Let's have a forum where these things can be aired."It isn't as though there is [no current Aboriginal programming] at all."There is the Nganampa Series, there is the Yambah [children's] program."Nganampa consists of ten 30-minute programs of story telling in language.Is the Aboriginal content more or less than one per cent of the total programming?"I really can't comment on that," says Ms Ross.What do the people in the bush say about Imparja?"I don't often hear that many negative comments," she says."People are still tuning in, they still get pride in the station being Aboriginal owned and controlled."You've got your Aboriginal news readers, stories are run very positively about Aboriginal issues."When any Aboriginal organisation events are happening around town, they usually cover those."Imparja comes at considerable cost to the Aboriginal community: state governments usually subsidise remote area TV operators' satellite expenses, but when Channel 8 was rejected, both the SA and the NT governments balked at paying.Ever since ATSIC has been kicking in $2m a year for the satellite costs although Imparja's audience is predominantly non-Aboriginal.From the start Imparja has not advertised alcohol."This comes at a significant cost," says Ms Ross.Last financial year alone the station gave $2.5m worth of advertising and production at no charge "for worthy causes".ATSIC also funds CAAMA, which has 35 full time staff, 80 per cent of them Aboriginal, but Ms Ross declined to disclose the amount received.Commenting on the viability of CAAMA's subsidiaries, she says Imparja is "definitely" in the black. CAAMA Shops a high-class dealership in Aboriginal arts and memorabilia "aren't doing too badly".Because two key staff were away on an overseas marketing trip, Ms Ross says she was unable to tell the News how many finished program minutes CAAMA Productions had turned out in the past 12 months, nor whether it is profitable.CAAMA Productions has state-of-the-art television production and post-production equipment, including one of the finest Betacam and One-Inch broadcast standard video editing suites in the nation.Ms Ross says CAAMA Productions is "branching out and looking at hitting the overseas market for Indigenous film and documentaries".Promotional material lists a string of programs from mini series to documentaries as "projects in development for 2000", but none except "Red Storm" are in production.Ms Ross says CAAMA Music is looking at "improving selling strategies" for its big output of CDs.

OUTBACK ROAD RAGE.

A Central Australian outstation, continuously occupied for 25 years, with a permanent population of around 70, including 40 children who regularly attend school staffed by two teachers, has yet to receive any help to repair its internal and access roads, severely damaged by heavy rains.In March MLA Peter Toyne visited Irrultja, some 350 kms north-east of Alice Springs, to find large sections of the access road washed away and other areas filled with sand by February's rains.He says in the community itself, situated on a slope with limited drainage infrastructure, every house had been flooded. The internal roads had largely washed away and great holes, at least a metre in depth, had exposed underground power cables, housed in PVA pipe, as well as the water pipes.Mr Toyne expects the situation now, after the rain of the last fortnight, to be twice as bad. He is concerned that to date the community, via the Aherrenge Association who look after their local government matters, has had no news about emergency repair work.Based at Ampilatwatja, the Aherrenge Association's Council Clerk, Tim Parslow, says the "significant damage" is "way beyond the means" of the association to fix. He has obtained a quote for $50,000 for restoration of the access road and repair to the holes in the internal roads."Our road maintenance budget for Irrultja is about $4000 to $5000 a year. "We simply don't have the money to fix what is now quite a dangerous situation. "It's a functioning community, they run a lively, well-attended school, and I think they have the right to a bit of extra funding for basic infrastructure."Mr Parslow has contacted both the Office of Local Government and ATSIC requesting assistance, but has yet to receive a formal response.Irrultja is about 25 kilometres from the Sandover Highway, and across the Sandover River.Mr Toyne says the access road passes through a huge swampy area before heading across hilly country, and to avoid future problems it should be re-routed. Drainage infrastructure works should also be undertaken. Mr Toyne says that in his vast electorate, stretching from Lake Nash in the east into the Tanami Desert in the west, Irrultja and Nyirripi (south-west of Yuendumu) have been the most affected by the heavy rains.He says there are massive washaways on the main access road to Nyirripi and it needs a major re-build.A spokesperson for the Office of Local Government, in response to enquiries from the Alice Springs News, says the Territory Government is aware of damage throughout the region as "very bad", and is preparing a submission for National Disaster Relief Funding from the Federal Government.She says the latest rain has caused some delay in finalising the submission, as damage in some areas has had to be re-assessed.

LATERAL THINKING CREATES A GREAT PLACE FOR YOUNG! Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

A drop-in and recreation centre, but also a school, and a resource centre, but above all a place where everyone feels safe and happy.This is the bottom line agreed upon by young peope and staff at the Gap Youth Centre (GYC), and it is tangible as soon as you walk in the door: no sagging couches and graffitied walls, the building is bright and airy, it has a welcoming feel.The young people make a beeline for the computers. As computer games are the hot favourites, time with them is limited by a roster they organise themselves.There's also a gym area (in need of more equipment, but they're confident it will come in time), a playstation, pinball machines, a pool table and plenty of hanging out room where they can be themselves: noisy and boisterous if that's the way they feel, as long as they're respecting one another.Outside there's a basketball court, and often staff will take the young people to an oval to play cricket or kick a footy, or else out bush.There's another agreement between everyone: "No school, no centre". This is often enforced by the young people themselves, says administrator Joanne Miller."They'll see someone who wasn't at school and chat them, or else come and tell us."A homework centre runs on three afternoons a week, but there's also recognition that mainstream school is not working for everyone, so in collaboration with Alice Springs High School, GYC runs a program known as Alice Outcomes, teaching core subjects like English and Maths, as well as offering vocational training and placements."There may be 20 factors impacting on why some young people are not going to school," says Mrs Miller."It can be as basic as having no clean clothes to wear, or not having had a peaceful night at home, or not having any food to eat."It may be because they are having to look after younger brothers and sisters. Or perhaps they haven't any transport. Perhaps they've been expelled from school or had a baby."We've found that young people have so many unmet needs, but we've also found that on the whole they are resilient and hopeful. They want something better for themselves and we've looked for ways to respond to that."Although services which could help might already be there, young people often don't know how to access them. So GYC invite the services in: family planning, drug and alcohol education, health and legal services, all come "to meet the youth on their own turf, and find out what they need".About 60 young people a day come to GYC, from five year olds up, with a predominance of teenagers from 13 to 17.They are mostly Aboriginal, but not exclusively. The centre was formed over 20 years ago when the Gap was largely an Aboriginal area, and it was mostly the Gap youth who used the centre. But with a change to public housing policy and the sale of a lot of the housing stock in the Gap, the area has become more mixed. Now the young people come to the centre from all over town often on the GYC bus straight from school and they don't want a service just for Aborigines: they bring their friends with them, and want the service to be open to any young person."We listen to what they want. It's no use providing a service that people don't want."A youth committee is elected by the young people themselves, and they work with staff and the management committee to set the direction, the boundaries and rules for the centre.Has it all been laid on by the funding bodies?No, says Mrs Miller: although success, demonstrated by increased numbers at the centre, has been met with increased funding, GYC has still had to manage on a shoe-string, getting to where they want by networking and taking advantage of every opportunity.The computers, for example, are all superseded models, donated by government departments.The youth workers, eight in all, have recently completed Certificate III in Community Studies (Youth Work) on site at GYC, with the training supplied by Centralian College. They are now starting Certificate IV. Some of them were originally unqualified CDEP (Community Development Enterprise Programs) participants. They had the right personal qualities, so Mrs Miller went looking for a training package for them. As resources have become available and they have become qualified, they have taken on paid work. "If you link CDEP with training, you can use the scheme to create employment. We've had to be inventive, but that is the challenge for organisations and part of the best practice philosophy of the centre."In the largely unregulated youth work area, GYC now has eight well qualified youth workers, whose skills, Mrs Miller says, are transferable. She saw proof of that at the recent First International Youth Service Models Conference held in Adelaide, when youth workers Geraldine Stewart, Dee Sabey, and Bridgette Beer, and youth committee members Jade Reidy, Patrick Ah Kit, Daniel Warrior and Cassie Stewart, together with her, presented a paper about the centre.It was one of only two Indigenous papers at the conference, and the only paper from the Territory. Mrs Miller says the feedback was tremendous. "We knew we could provide a positive role model, we were so upbeat and positive, people couldn't believe what we've been able to achieve."The key to success has been to strive to improve on what they are doing. "The job is never done, you can always go one better," says Mrs Miller.

NEW FEDERAL SEAT BOON FOR ALICE OR BERRIMAH LINE? Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Federal Member for the Territory, Warren Snowdon, says the Australian Electoral Commission's draft proposals for the redistribution of the Federal seat creating two seats in the Territory, Solomon and Lingiari will entrench the "infamous Berrimah Line".The seat of Solomon will take in Darwin and Palmerston, servicing an area of 325 sq km, compared to the seat of Lingiari, which will cover the rest 1.347m sq km!"There are no prizes for guessing which Territorians [will] get to see their member more often," says Mr Snowdon.Mr Snowdon supports the creation of two "whole of the Territory" seats, reflecting the whole geographic, economic and social makeup of the Territory. He will make a submission objecting to the proposed redistribution within the next 28 days, and urges other Territorians to do the same.NT Minister for Central Australia, Loraine Braham, says any decision would disadvantage some areas.However, she sees an advantage for Alice Springs in the proposals, as, being largest town outside of Darwin-Palmerston, it is most likely to become the base of the second seat.On what looks like the unbalanced workload of the two members, Mrs Braham says there is likely to be a "fair amount of sharing of responsibility" on issues affecting the whole of the Territory, such as aged care.She also suggests that "sometimes people in major centres are more demanding of their member".Independent Legislative Assembly aspirant Meredith Campbell says the AEC proposal makes sense in terms of the two distinct communities of interest in the Territory, urban and rural."To my mind the rural areas will benefit from having a dedicated member."And Alice Springs will benefit in particular as the most likely base for the rural member."Fran Erlich, alderman, mayoral candidate and spokesperson in Central Australia for Territorians for Democratic Statehood, says she has a lot of reservations about the AEC's proposals on social and political grounds."It will heighten the feeling in the Territory of Darwin versus the rest. "And it will strengthen the CLP's political hold, as I imagine that the Darwin-based seat will go to the CLP."It also seems clear that the Darwin-based member would have an easy road to hoe compared to the rural member."You would have to expect that the level of service to rural electors would be less."

THINGS HAVE CHANGED, DARYL!

Mayoral candidate and alderman Geoff Miers says there is now a greater willingness in the Alice Springs Town Council to work with the community than existed in the past.Ald Miers, responding to questions raised by former alderman Daryl Gray (see last week's Alice News), cites a number of community-driven programs supported by council: the Local Area Traffic Management Program, of which he is chairman; We Care Week including the Garden Fair; chemical collection days; Trash & Treasure kerbside collections; carboot sales; and community and school planting projects.Ald Miers says the Territory Government and private enterprise have also supported these initiatives.Two community initiated park programs , the Grant Road and Gosse Street Parks, have been allocated funds by Council in the last three years, says Ald Miers.As well, Council has "forged a close and productive working partnership with Greening Australia, that has resulted in significant funding coming to the town," he says.Ald Miers has personally worked on a number of community driven projects, and cites his current involvement with the Eastside Residents' Association in further developing the Gosse Street Park; a park development with the Kurrajong Residents' Association; designing a garden with the parent committee for the new Gap Neighbourhood Childcare Centre; and planting and maintaining two roundabouts in Alice Springs.Says Ald Miers: "Recently considerable publicity has been given to the number of consultancies undertaken by Council. Some have been absolutely necessary and these I've supported, others I've not supported and others I've found out about after the fact."Calling in outside consultants on some issues is necessary, however on other issues it reflects nothing but a lack of faith in this community and in local knowledge being able to solve local issues."I can't disagree with a lot that Daryl Gray has said, however I can says that things have changed and as part of that change I believe we need to move even further in engaging the entire community in working with Council to confront the many challenges that face us."DISEASED TREESAlderman Fran Erlich, also a mayoral candidate, says the issue of diseased trees in the Lindsay Avenue park one of Mr Gray's concerns is a maintenance issue which should be attended to, but it is separate from the issue of community involvement and the provision of shade in parks.Like Ald Miers, Ald Erlich says the current council's attitude to community involvement has been far more encouraging, citing the Gosse Street park as an example. She says, however, that one of Council's concerns is that community involvement will fall away from particular projects, leaving them as a maintenance responsibility of Council, and these responsibilities need to be carefully planned for.For this reason, she says, it has been important for Council to wait for the final consultants' report on Open Spaces in Alice Springs, before acting to beautify parks and provide shade."It will be much easier for Council to decide on what should be done where, ensuring equity for all residents, once we can see the whole picture."

WHERE DID THE TEAM NAMES COME FROM? Report by DOROTHY GRIMM.

Three long-time Centralians spoke to Heritage Festival gathering at the Town Library last week about Alice Springs' Sporting Heritage.Joan Higgins, OAM, talked about sport as recreation during World War II, while Dick Kimber spoke about football from the time he arrived in 1971, while Reg Harris rounded out the evening with his own recollections.Mrs Higgins arrived in town as a Voluntary Aid in 1942."We were initially housed in tents behind Adelaide Hospital, " Mrs Higgins said."Todd Street was a dirt road. "In January 1943, there were 4500 service personnel in town and the civilian population numbered 950."Fear of invasion was running high and the Northern Territory was a military zone."One needed an Army pass to get into Alice Springs or to leave."Mrs Higgins said the army set up culture and sporting activities to give the people something to do when they were not working which was not very often!"We worked from 6am to 6pm six days a week."There was a soccer league and a camp theatre as well as tennis courts, cricket and a debating and arts club."The local people were very good and loaned us vehicles so we could get out to the stations and relax."There were also barbecues, a race meeting and trips out to various pools and gaps."These sporting and cultural activities relieved the stress and boosted morale and mateship."Mrs Higgins and her husband came back to Alice Springs to live in late 1946 and have since watched the town grow.She described the development of the Alice Springs Youth Centre in the 1960s."In those days facilities were the result of the hard work of community groups and individuals with some assistance from government," Mrs Higgins said."Now the government builds the facilities."Dick Kimber spoke of his amazement at the natural ability of Aboriginal people in playing sports.He described how he believes that their traditional lifestyle, from the way they carry their children to their constant awareness of what is going around them, has made them excellent sports participants."Hunters and gatherers have to be alert to what is going on around them all the time," Mr Kimber said."They have terrific peripheral vision."Even young children seem alert and aware of potential danger when playing and these attributes lead to terrific alertness and judgment on the playing field."And they enjoy the game, scoring is not that important."Reg Harris began his recollections with the years after World War II."The war years were the strong days for the Central Australian Football League," Mr Harris said."Afterwards most of the games were scratch ones."Mr Harris said the footy teams got their names from the occupations of their players.The Department of Works team was called Rovers because the men went from place to place for their jobs, while those who worked for the Commonwealth Government were called Federals, and the people with Aboriginal backgrounds were called Pioneers because they had been the early pioneers of the area."Footy was so important," Mr Harris said, "that one question every employer asked those seeking employment was how good a football player are you."If the person said he was a good football player, he got the job whether or not he was actually qualified for the position."Mr Harris also spoke of the development of Traeger Park and how one day during a final match the one and only football was flattened and someone had to run out and pump up the practice ball while both sides and the spectators waited.ABUSING THE UMPBut the tidbit which attracted the most interest was about the CAFL rule that no one was allowed to abuse the umpire until 24 hours after a footy match had ended.Before the talk Councillor for the National Trust Dave Leonard presented Heritage Awards to Brenda Thornley and Bill Sullivan, acknowledging the significant contributions they have made to presenting and preserving the history of Central AustraliaThe library talk was only one of the many Heritage Festival 2000 events which, for the most part, attracted large crowds of interested people.The McDouall Stuart Branch of the National Trust of Australia (NT), which presented Heritage Festival 2000, holds a number of events throughout the year, the next one being a 4WD field trip to Anna's Reservoir on May 21.

Return to Alice Springs News Webpage.