WE WANT OWEN SPRINGS STATION, SAY ABORIGINES. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Aboriginal interests say they are incensed over NT Government moves to buy Owen Springs Station, the 3744 square kilometre pastoral lease adjoining Alice Springs to the south-west.Ted Kunoth, an Arrernte man and former pastoralist, says he had started negotiations to buy the land through the Indigenous Land Corporation, on behalf of some 400 members of his clan."We were moving on this and now the government wheeled around and bought it," says Mr Kunoth. "They s... on us, and for no good reason."He says members of his clan from west of Alice Springs, around Jay Creek and Hermannsburg, had planned to establish agriculture and horticulture projects on Owen Springs."It's just another form of genocide," says Mr Kunoth. "The time will come when there is no dole and no pension, and people will need their own income."We will need land this size to derive an income from it. The're trying to thwart the people. That's the main game."Mr Kunoth says Alice Springs does not need the room to expand suggested by the plans on how the land will be used."This place isn't going to turn into another Sydney or Melbourne."It's not going to grow that big. It's a pipe dream."Where will the Aboriginal people go? They'll be trespassing wherever they go."Mr Kunoth, now a pensioner in Alice Springs, previously owned Mt Ebenezer in The Centre and two cattle stations in WA.He says he will "follow up" the issue. He would be happy to negotiate about the Larapinta Trail section running through Owen Springs in the Ellery Big Hole area.Meanwhile Stuart MLA Peter Toyne says there are similarities between the purchases of Owen Springs and Pine Hill station, near Ti Tree: in each case there were Aboriginal interests competing for the land.Mr Toyne says the deal was made through the Government owned NT Land Corporation which is "not open to scrutiny" because it acts like a corporation, not like a department.There was no Budget item to buy the station, says Mr Toyne."While a deal like this remains outside normal scrutiny one would have every reason to suspect it is funded from a slush fund," he claims.
SHOOTING THE MESSENGER: SECRECY IN THE TERRITORY.
Final part in a series by KIERAN FINNANE (see Parts One & Two in our issues of May 10 & 17).
After withholding information and refusing to comment, "shooting the messenger" is another favoured strategy of Territory politicians and officials when dealing with probing questions from the media.A few weeks ago Tourism Minister Mike Reed refused to comment on a story by Alice News editor Erwin Chlanda about the NT Tourism Commission ignoring Aborigines in its latest promotions (see the News' front page of April 5). When Mr Chlanda saw him at a subsequent tourism industry conference, he asked Mr Reed why he had refused to comment, yet had made a comment to an ABC television reporter following up on the story.Mr Reed replied that he wouldn't talk to Mr Chlanda because he had misquoted CATIA General Manager Mike Gunn, another source in the story. That, however, is pure fabrication, as Mr Chlanda has since pointed out to Mr Reed in a letter: the interview with Mr Gunn is on audio tape, proving the accuracy of the quotes, and a fax containing a draft of the story (with all the direct quotes subsequently published) was sent ahead of publication to Mr Gunn and he made no objections to it.As Mr Chlanda wrote to Mr Reed:-"Your attempt at justifying your refusal to inform the public about how you spend its money is the more undignified because it defies logic."Even if I had misquoted Mr Gunn it wouldn't wash as an excuse for your refusal to comment, unless you are equipped with astonishing powers of foretelling the future: how could you have known on Friday, March 31, when I asked you for comment, both by phone to your media officer and in a very specific fax to you, that I was going to misquote Mr Gunn in the edition published [on April 5] five days later?"To date, Mr Chlanda has not had a reply to his letter, nor a response to his repeated invitation to comment on the substance of the original story, one of vital interest to the development of tourism and economic opportunities for Aboriginal people in the Centre. One of the dangers of the present Government's intransigent secrecy is the way it appears to have infected other areas of political life in the Territory. A stranglehold on information at every level of activity, a consistent refusal to comment, and "shooting the messenger" are equally characteristic of almost all of the News' dealings with the most powerful Aboriginal organisation of the region, the Central Land Council. Readers will probably remember the News' recent reports about cattle rustling allegations and the sacking of the Aboriginal manager and traditional owner of Love's Creek Station, north-east of Alice Springs.The man, Henry Bloomfield, alleged he was sacked by senior lawyer of the CLC, David Avery, against the wishes of the traditional owners.The News' first report appeared on April 5, with the CLC typically declining to comment.The allegations, involving also owners of Central Australian Meat Processors (CAMP), Brett Heaslip and Troy Coe, subsequently collapsed, after police raids here and in Queensland failed to turn up any evidence whatsoever. This was reported on the front page of our issue of May 3.In preparing that report Mr Chlanda had put a number of questions to the CLC, whom the cattlemen alleged were behind the original complaint to the police.A spokesperson for the CLC said no comment would be available before the deadline of that issue, and none has been made since.Not in public, at least.On the Saturday morning before publication, Mr Chlanda was sitting on the terrace of Swingers' Cafe, in conversation with a local politician.Mr Avery, known to Mr Chlanda over many years, both professionally and socially, walked past. Mr Chlanda said: "Good morning, David".Mr Avery replied, with vehemence: "Mr Slander."The politician, an important news source, clearly heard Mr Avery's reply.If Mr Avery had any grounds for concern about "slander" of any parties to the events reported in the News, or even about the accuracy of reported details, he had had plenty of opportunity to say so before the reports went to press.The News consistently endeavours to present both sides, or the several sides, to all of our reports. But if the parties refuse to comment or supply any information, they can not then blame the News for running the information we have.If they have nothing to hide or be ashamed of, why don't they provide information and comment?Personal attack, like Mr Avery's, is not only unfounded and completely unfair, it is also hardly a response fitting to the senior lawyer of an organisation like the CLC.Mr Chlanda has asked for an apology, but Ð true to form Ð has never had a reply.
ALICE ARTS COURSE BEATS BIG SMOKE! Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
As the Northern Territory University makes plans to expand its presence in Alice Springs, the standard of teaching it offers received whole-hearted praise from recent graduate Nova Marcic who started at NTU but completed her Fine Arts degree at the prestigious Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).Nova, at left in the photo, is pictured with mother Chris Marcic, at right, who received at the same graduation ceremony her Master's degree in Education and, at rear, Bryony Callaghan, who was awarded a total of four prizes for her performance in the first year of a Business degree, as well as a Zonta prize for academic excellence.Vice-Chancellor Ron McKay says Alice-based students will be able to undertake a wider range of NTU degree courses (at present only Business and Fine Arts degrees are on offer) when a multi-media "learning space" for NTU students is built as part of Centralian College's new tourism and hospitality facilities.The space will be equipped with 12 learning stations including computers with on-line access.What courses will then be offered will depend on demand, says V-C McKay.NTU offers most courses, except in the high-cost areas such as Medicine and Dentistry, although it is starting to move into the health sciences with the introduction this year of a degree in Pharmacy. It is also a partner with Flinders University in the Centre for Remote Health which was established in Alice at the start of last year.The learning centre is not an ideal arrangement but "we will be able to do more as our numbers develop", says V-C McKay.A "chat room" style of communication with Top End students and tutors, using facilities at the learning space, may help overcome the isolation of Alice-based students, he says."But even in Darwin we have a problem of critical mass, there are simply not enough students in each area," says V-C McKay.Nova Marcic, born and raised in Alice, began her Fine Arts studies at Centralian College, where she majored in painting under lecturers (and practising artists) Rod Moss and Iain Campbell."They were the best teachers I ever had," says Nova.Her Certificate in Creative and Applied Art then allowed her to enter the second year of a bachelor degree at NTU. She could have stayed in Alice, but Nova chose to spread her wings with a move to Darwin.She spent a year and a half there, enjoying "the wonderful laid back atmosphere of the campus" and the "great quality of its services".She could work in her own studio and received a lot of individual attention from her lecturers.After a break from study and a spell in the workforce based in Canberra as well as travel overseas, Nova then moved to Melbourne to finish her degree.While she loved life in the city, she describes her experiences at RMIT as "terrible"."The teachers were lack lustre and showed up late, sometimes not at all."At NTU they would come early and stay late, there was real commitment there."She had to share a studio space, but found that in the mornings she was pretty well on her own as "the students wouldn't turn up till after lunch"."They were always down the street drinking coffee."Nova says that in this atmosphere she became disillusioned with her art and for a while stopped painting.She is now going to life drawing classes and painting again in her spare time, while she studies for her post-graduate Diploma in Education.With this under her belt she plans to head overseas to wherever a job offer will take her.Nova shared her graduation celebrations with her mother, Chris, local ABC radio personality, as well as full-time teacher at Alice Springs High School.Chris did the research for her Master's thesis with Aboriginal students in the pre-vocational courses offered in years 11 and 12 at ASHS.She wanted to understand how they best learn:"It's hard to summarise a 50,000 word thesis in a couple of sentences, but basically I came up with conclusions that have been talked about before Ð that the best approach is an informal teaching style, working with the students in small groups and pairs on material that is pertinent to them."The families have to be involved and the students have to feel that their teachers are friends and care about them."Nova describes Chris as "Super Mum" because she did her Master's in the minimum time of two years, while continuing to work full-time, do her radio show and teach at Yirara four nights a week.Chris says that once she started she wanted to get the degree "over and done with", but she also wanted to graduate with Nova."Us graduating together is probably unique in NTU history, it was a buzz, it made the night twice as special."Bryony Callaghan, another born and raised Alice Springs girl, went back to study after a break of six years, switching from a degree in Psychology, to a degree in Business at NTU last year.After an outstanding performance in her first year she has transferred to Flinders University in Adelaide to undertake a double degree in Law in Legal Practice and Commerce. She is not quite sure where her studies will lead: "I've learnt a lot of theory but I haven't put it into practice in the real world."She is looking for work experience with a local legal or accounting firm in the long break at the end of the year."In Adelaide I wouldn't know where to start, so I'll come back here, where I know people," says Bryony.In all, 20 students graduated at this year's ceremony in Alice, with several others receiving special awards. The majority were women and mature age students.
URBAN COW BOYS (AND GIRLS!) LOVE LIFESTYLE IN THE CENTRE. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
The Centre's legendary slow talking, fast riding ringers are getting company from the other side of the world.Backpackers from Europe are discovering the adventure of cattle work and are lining up jobs in the bush through international organisations and the world wide web.And they're loving the lifestyle.A stint on Donald and Janet Holt's Delmore Downs, north-east of Alice Springs, has prompted Lora Crowley, 23, from England, to rethink her future altogether: "I live in Bath, a small city, but it was a bit boring, not much going on there."My job, dental hygiene, was getting a bit repetitive."I decided I'd just save up all my money and have a year off."And now I've decided to go back and train and do something completely different."What?"Don't know. Something outside. "Definitely, I need to be outside, not cooped up."She found the Jillaroo job through Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF)."You buy a book which is full of addresses of farms which would take someone on to do four or five hours' work a day and you get your bed and board."But the mustering is slightly different."I get paid a little bit."She says WWOOF is an Australian idea.She read about it in the Lonely Planet guides, and "all the backpacking centres tend to have leaflets about it".There are only two entries for Alice Springs: the other one is for Bert Cramer's meteorite tours."The paragraph about him is a bit crazy, so I opted for this one.""The mustering keeps you outside all day."I like riding motorbikes, because I've only just learned."It's great to be in the truck with Don, to see how he reads the cattle, and see his very fast driving."It's just good fun being in the truck, four wheel driving, watching out for the bikes, checking everyone's still there, dishing out water.Jacqueline Nyenhuis, 21, a cook from Holland, also likes working outside."I live in a small town. Farms are very small."We have a lot of grass. It's really green."In winter the cows are always in the stables."We don't use them for meat, only for the milk."I live in the biggest province in Holland."It's the same size as this farm [Delmore Downs, incorporating Delny]."So 12 of these farms make up Holland."Would she come back to do this kind of job?"Yes. I love it."Jannis Muenter, 21, from Germany, normally works in a nursery."On this farm you're doing really something different. You get to drive a motorbike, and mustering, running."You learn to prepare a snake to eat."You have more contact with Aborigines," he says."For me they are normal people, no problems."When I was in Germany I read a lot about their history."I like their Dreamtime but I think the Dreamtime really is dead."They need the land for their Dreamtime and white people have their land."
HOW GOOD WERE THE GOOD OLD DAYS? JANE LEONARD reflects.
If you don't have a Mum or Granny in town to visit, the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame is an alternative. Its long-time "temporary" home is in the old Courthouse building, on the corner of Hartley StreetThe place has a cosy, homely atmosphere and also offers a serious tribute to the past achievements of the women of Australia. The stickers on the entrance doorway proclaim women and girls can do anything and set an inspiring tone for your visit. Inside the volunteer on duty is so friendly and welcoming she could be a long lost rellie.You can browse a great collection of books for sale, by and about women, and you can even buy a little bag of Anzac bikkies before you head for the displays. A small room, complete with comfy lounge chairs, a gramophone and a piano in the corner, is dedicated to "Women of The Heart" Ð Central Australian women and their stories. You can read about "Mrs Kunoth" a housemaid and cook at the Telegraph Station whose granddaughter Rosie starred in "Jedda" in 1955; or "Mrs Lee" born under a tree in Alice whose life took her back to China for a decade before returning to NT. Then there are the photos and stories of all the local station women, including real items such as Mrs Heffernan's riding trousers. Above the mantelpiece there's a movie poster from the 1946 Chips Rafferty film "Overlanders", filmed partly locally, and a glamorous photo of Daphne Calder nee Campbell, the leading lady who went on to become a "leading lady of the Alice Community as one of Town Council's Aldermen". As I sit on the couch taking it all in I feel like I am visiting my grandma's place.A small hallway leading to the main room features Mrs Gertie Turner's dressing table from Garden Station and on the wall, you can read about Molly Clarke, of Old Andado station, the Museum's 1993 founder. Next to her are stories of Olive Pink, eccentric anthropologist and fighter for Aboriginal rights, who also cleaned the courthouse and "named trees after prominent officials and if they failed to please her ... would stop watering them."The centre of a larger, less cosy area features a very professionally presented display entitled "Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives", a tribute to Australian women nationwide and their achievements in all fields. This was put together by the museum's former vice president and present curator, Pauline Cockrill, who stresses that though a portion of the museum is dedicated to local "pioneer" women, it is a "National" Hall of Fame for women of all backgrounds all over Australia, and one of only three women's museums in the country. She explains the Hall of Fame is "not just a domestic nostalgia kick" but an institution devoted to celebrating and preserving women's heritage and efforts, while also providing inspiration to today's women, young and old.Arranged around this exhibition, more domestically orientated items are displayed, including a range of irons with names like "Lifewear" and "Beet All" and a collection of old CWA books with titles like "A Pudding a Day for the Whole Year" (those were the days!). CHOOKSOn one wall there is a great series of paintings called "The Chooks" done by artist Ralph "Butch" Peverill, who was commissioned by the CWA to do chook caricatures of local members for a fund-raising guessing competition. In another corner, next to an old typewriter, you can read "Hints for The Business Girl" from New Idea 1906 which advises: "Keep your standards of manners and morals firmly fixed, but don't be a prig, ever, anywhere. "Believe me girls, the world has no place for prigs." Beside this you can read "Rules for Women Teachers 1915" which outline living and dress conditions not unlike those now forced on the women of Afghanistan by the extremist Taliban Regime, stipulating a curfew, not riding anywhere "with any man unless he is you father or brother ... not loitering down town in ice cream parlours ... not dressing in bright colours".The rules also prescribe a punishing schedule of cleaning and chores to complete along with teaching duties. There is also a description of a "Bush school Teacher of the 1880's" and what "she had to be able to do" including "wallpaper the residence with newspaper to keep out wind and snakes." You can buy a copy of these rules for twenty cents and the woman at the counter assures me they are very popular as a souvenir with modern day teachers.Other souvenirs include books, t-shirts, bags and old favourites like crocheted coat hangers, tea towels, and those little homemade cards with tea bags in them. Alternatively you could buy "a brick" for someone, which is a recognised way of helping fund the eventual building of a permanent purpose built home for the Museum.There is so much to take in: to do the museum justice, a couple of short visits would probably be in order. As it's right next to the Alice Plaza, open seven days, from 10am-5pm, and costs only $2 a visit, this is easy to do. On the way out I pause to read the visitors book, which is also offered as a suggestion book to nominate women whom you feel should be included in the Hall of Fame. There are some heartfelt nominations as well as quite a few entries expressing disappointment that there is not enough material devoted to Indigenous women's lives and contributions. Ms Cockrill says that this is an issue she takes very seriously."The Hall of Fame is not supposed to be just a white women's place. But as a white curator it is harder for me to get Aboriginal women's stories. "I am working on updating "Women of The Heart" and we should eventually see more Indigenous women represented."One way of gathering their stories has been to work in conjunction with CAAMA to broadcast a women's story each week on 8KIN-FM's new women's program. Ms Cockrill says hopefully feedback from the broadcasts will lead her to more stories of Indigenous women.Apart from this, there seems to be a great appreciation of the Hall of Fame by women both young and old.One entry dated September 14, 1999 says: "It feels so very good being a woman, thank you to all the women here."
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