ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
March 7, 2001.


EDDIE MAY TIP THE SCALES IN BRAITLING. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

An Aboriginal independent with a tough law and order platform may be holding the key to who is going to be the next Member for Braitling. With "anti social behaviour" again likely to be a top issue in the NT election, now tipped for next month, Eddie Taylor has a powerful voice because of his daily work at the sharp end of the "problem", as Tangentyere's Night Patrol coordinator. He says even if he doesn't win, his preferences will go to whichever candidate agrees with his objectives and he may well be asking for commitments in writing. Mr Taylor (pictured at right) says he's being courted vigorously by the CLP. At present, CLP hopeful Peter Harvey and sitting Member Loraine Braham now also an independent are considered to be neck and neck for the conservative vote, giving Labor's Peter Brooke a better than usual chance. Mr Taylor's entry into the campaign makes an end to the CLP's continuous hold on Braitling since self government even more likely. He scored the sixth highest primary vote in the last Town Council elections, but missed out on becoming an alderman because he did badly on preferences.The ATSIC commissioner, former cattle station ringer, truck driver and road plant operator wants decisive action on grog abuse, much broader community work programs for minor offenders and dole recipients, and better representation by local politicians. "There is a law that says you can't drink within two kilometres of a licensed premises," says Mr Taylor. "One, the police are not exercising their powers the way they should be. "Two, the liquor outlets seem to be growing and doing what they want to do. "Every time we put up a protest about that we get shot down. "The Liquor Commission doesn't agree. "Abbott's Camp [in South Terrace] wanted to be a dry camp. We sat in front of four commissioners and they knocked us back in favour of the police [which claimed a dry camp would be too difficult to police]. "We're hopeful of taking this to the High Court now." Mr Taylor says in Katherine, take away grog is only available from 2pm: "This is what's going to have to happen here. "While there is alcohol allowed to be drunk in the Todd River, we'll always have trouble, in the river, in the streets. "The police have got to do their job, full stop. "And the publicans should say, if you people are just going to drink this down the river we can't sell it to you. "They can do that. They can refuse to sell. It's their right. "But they don't want to do that because they're losing money. "If [the publicans] want to be part of this community they've got to start toeing the line as well."Mr Taylor says: "Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people have been saying to me for a long time, let's get rid of social security. "Let's start giving everyone jobs. Let's work for the dole. "Let's give people the incentive to go and find a job for themselves and do something that's contributing something back into the community for the money they are receiving for the dole." He says minor offenders should be sentenced to work on cattle stations: "Their fences are falling down, their bores are falling over, cattle are not being branded on time."Instead of putting people in jail all the time, send them out to the cattle stations."They're learning at the same time. Get the work ethics back into them. "Get a bit of pride in themselves again, instead of being locked away in jail."There's people in jail who have done really bad things, and of course those people have to stay where they are." But with offences such as drunken driving, not paying fines, children breaking windows or stealing cars, "send them out to where they are doing something, paying back the community for what they have done wrong".He says work for the dole projects should be expanded. The Old Timers Home and pensioners around town should be assisted: "Because those people have done a lot for the community in the past we should be rewarding them people [such as those] in flats around who need their gardens done or their flats painted." Other community work could be clearing couch grass in the Todd which is "killing the trees" and picking up rubbish from drinkers in the river.Mr Taylor says this litter "is not the problem of the Aboriginal people, it's the problem of the people who sell the alcohol to them in the first place "in cartons or casks". "They go down there, they drink it, they leave it behind." He says the government isn't doing "its job to make publicans responsible for these problems". Mr Taylor says present measures to prevent domestic violence aren't working: "We've got all these legal places in town but there are still a lot of men bashing their wives. "You take someone to the police station to do a domestic violence order, they tell you to go and see a lawyer. "They try and not do it there any more. And yet it's their job! "They try and and keep pushing it through the court, and we all know how long the court list is. "If you take your daughter there to get a restraining order it takes two months and in that time she could be dead or maimed." (According to a police spokesperson, a person applying for domestic violence order is referred to Domestic Violence Unit which then applies to the court for an order."Only if they didn't want this option would they be referred to other legal services," says the spokesperson."If there are grievous concerns for a person's safety, then an emergency interim order can be applied for by phone to a magistrate.")Mr Taylor says domestic violence offenders ordered to do community service work in public should be forced to wear a shirt with "I bashed my wife" printed on it. "If we want to draw a hard line we've got to do something. "A lot of people are going to be angry, what's Taylor doing now? "But it works in other places, in America they've got these shirts and make them wear them, and people do feel embarrassed, and it slows them down or stops them from doing it. "Or a shirt saying, I got done for drunken driving, and this is my penalty, cleaning up'." Mr Taylor says people sentenced to community work have "orange bibs, and if they don't wear them the [supervisor] doesn't have to sign the time sheet. SHAME"Give them different bibs for different offences, so people know who they are and what they've done wrong." Mr Taylor says he admired former Braitling MLA Roger Vale for his style of representation, but these days politicians are not adequately accessible: "You can't talk to them. "You go to talk to them about something, they're too busy or they're not in town. "They just haven't got the time to talk to people any more. "I want to bring it back to where the politicians are there for the people. "We've got to get away from this Berrimah Line. Alice Springs is our little town and let's prove to the rest of Australia that this is the best town to live in."Mr Taylor has been a warden for three years, is now the coordinator of Tangentyere's Night Patrol and the Return to Country program which currently takes each week an average of 20 people who are stranded in town, back to their communities. The program has two Toyotas for trips to communities in the west and east. People are also sent on commercial busses as far as Port Augusta and Nhulunbuy.Mr Taylor says some of these people have been brought here by the prison system "to serve their time here and they're just let out and they're stuck here, and unfortunately Tangentyere has got to pick them up and send them home".Mr Taylor says the program is not adequately resourced: "We need vehicles that can stand up to the terrain we have to travel over." Conventional mini busses used in the past frequently broke down on the roads in poor repair another issue Mr Taylor wants to take up: "Just because those people live way out in the never never they need decent roads and all weather air strips so that they have the same resources as we have in town. "Whether they live on a cattle station or in a community, they should have the same rights as everybody else." Mr Taylor, 50, was born in Tennant Creek but has lived in Alice Springs since he was six weeks old. He worked on a cattle station as a jackaroo for five years: " This is when the money was $10 a week. "After the five years I left with eleven dollars fifty or something and a pair of boots."Later I drove trucks from here to Darwin, from Darwin to Katherine and west as far as Kununurra for round about 10 years."Then I worked on the roads as a plant operator for years." He later became a manager for Aboriginal Hostels. Mr Taylor says he's worked with street kids for 20 years, as a volunteer or as a paid employee. He is also the chairperson of the Aboriginal Justice Advocacy Committee, and is doing a law course at Latrobe University through IAD.

FIGHT FOR HARD DRUGS 'REHAB'. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

An Alice Springs group is making an urgent plea to the NT government for premises where addicts to hard drugs can be rehabilitated.Allison Lillis, who has a family member who turned from a marijuana user into a "hopeless" heroin addict in just two years, and is now facing criminal charges, says there are at least 10 Alice people in a similar situation, including tradesmen and professional people leading apparently normal lives. Other drug addicts have turned to a life of crime, including dealing, and lies, borrowing and stealing even from their closest family members to support their secret habit costing up to $2000 a week. "There is a terrible network of borrowing and lending," says Mrs Lillis. "You don't know what is the truth. "There are always different stories and tales."Mrs Lillis says hard drugs are available in Alice Springs and she has been told by young people that they have been approached by dealers. Although there are a number of services for addicts government as well as non-government in Alice Springs, there is no opportunity for rehabilitation which can take as long as a year. She says her family member underwent "rapid detoxification" in Sydney last year which she describes as successful. However, he returned to using because there was no follow-up in Alice Springs. She says this has been the case also with other addicts. There is a 10 day residential "detox" offered by the Drug and Alcohol Services Association (DASA) in Alice Springs, says Mrs Lillis, "but for most long term users it is not just a case of stop using, it requires ongoing counseling and relearning to live in a socially acceptable, functional manner". DASA manager Nick Gill says: "Studies throughout the world have demonstrated that long-term residential rehabilitation, while expensive, is the most cost-effective way of assisting hard core addicts."These people, if not helped, will cause society at large a great deal of harm in criminal activities and in their medical care, to say nothing of the anguish caused to their families, friends and employers." Mr Gill says DASA's 10 day program works for "a significant proportion of people in the early stages of addiction [who] need a short period of intensive care, followed by outpatient counseling and support to overcome their habit once and for all. "DASA's treatment statistics demonstrate this." But Mr Gill says the lack of a long-term residential program for drugs other than alcohol is "a major gap in services in Alice Springs. "Besides opiate and amphetamine users, an increasing number of long-term cannabis users need the sort of treatment that only such a unit can provide. "It is extremely frustrating to be forced to provide such people with treatment you know will be inadequate." Mrs Lillis says she belongs to a group, Green Gates Inc, willing to invest volunteer time and money, but has been unable to find a place to set up a residential care unit. An attempt last year failed when a fledgling operation in a house in Gosse Street had to be abandoned because neighbours complained, and the Development Consent Authority refused to grant a rezoning application. This was despite support from private interests, including Lasseter's Casino, which provided meals three nights a week, and assistance from the Salvos. "It wouldnt take long to get it going again," says Mrs Lillis. " It took us just a week to furnish the house." She says Green Gates "would offer support, a roof over the head with hopefully professional assistance and counselling." It would also help addicts under 18 who cannot get any refuge type housing in Alice Springs. Says Mrs Lillis: "Green Gates would provide common ground for families and friends who experience a debilitating isolation produced by living with a loved one who is crippled by drug abuse, or going through family supported detox treatment." She says the government's NT Safe program last year rejected an application from the group for a $150,000 grant on the grounds that NT Safe's budget is not for treatment but for " intervention, diversion, prevention or educational activities". Says Mrs Lillis: "I think the rehab would prevent crime because clients wouldn't need to commit crime to get money for their drug habit." Mrs Lillis has visited and obtained information from a range of residential rehabilitation facilities throughout Australia, including Odyssey House in NSW, Drug Beat in SA and Cyrenian House in WA, all of which had offered advice and practical help. Meanwhile a spokesman for Health Minister Stephen Dunham says because of the clandestine nature of drug use it is very difficult to correctly ascertain the level of illicit drug use in Alice. "Estimates vary widely depending on who you talk to and can be notoriously inaccurate. "People who use drugs do not usually like to disclose this information," says the spokesman. However data recorded by drug and alcohol services in the region and collated by Territory Health Services (THS) suggest that demand for illicit drug treatment is low. Illicit drug related deaths in the NT are very low (four deaths last year compared to over 350 deaths in NSW). "THS prioritises funding to those substances which cause the greatest level of harm and disruption to the community. "In Central Australia those substances are clearly alcohol and inhalants. "It is these drugs, and not illicits, which are factors in drug related crime and violence, illness, premature death and disability. "It is these drugs which are having an effect on families and the general community. "Over $1.5m has been allocated this financial year through the Alcohol and Other Drugs program for drug and alcohol services in Central Australia," says Mr Dunham's spokesman. "This figure includes programs funded to address anti social behaviour as well as drug and alcohol treatment programs."Meanwhile, five people will face court on drug charges in the coming weeks after a series of drug search warrants were executed on Friday on five locations. Those charged included a 54 year old woman. The youngest charged were two women aged 20. All charges concerned possession of amphetamines or cannabis, or both.

WHAT IS OUR BACK YARD? Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Embracing an architecture that is regionally driven and native to place is important to allow Central Australians to move forward with a sense of confidence, says local architect, Brendan Meney.Last week Mr Meney told the Alice Springs News about responding to Aboriginal sacred sites as an inspiration rather than an impediment to his design for the new Centre for Remote Health.This week, he discusses using a notion of interwoven layers, both cultural and physical, when thinking about development in relation to landscape.Such a notion, he says, offers the opportunity of implementing a more cohesive and flexible approach to designing buildings and urban infrastructure.In this approach legal boundaries become a secondary "driver" in the design of the built environment. They give way to design drivers such as the integration of Aboriginal sites as well as non-Aboriginal histories and stories, and others which include: preservation of view corridors to natural landmarks and between sacred sites to allow the visual extension of the buildings into their surrounds; designated allowance for natural wind currents and solar control access to facilitate passive energy design into buildings; maintaining natural habitat corridors where they exist, linking through a particular site to the next, and so on, where they are vital to ecological balance in the area; vehicle access to and around sites with the view to reducing the visual and solar impact of large expanses of car parking areas and heat generating hard surface roads; flexible planning zones under town planning legislation, and building codes that have their foundation in "performance based" outcomes; designing for spasmodic frequencies of flooding from the mainly dry Todd river using innovative design solutions to integrate raised floor levels (by, for example, running ventilation paths beneath them see last week's story); and, the positive implementation of planning " trade offs" such as transferable development rights and floor space bonuses, energy credits, land rate rebates, and government direct contribution schemes, where responsible development approaches can be demonstrated."If we offer developers incentives and work with them, we've got a greater chance of achieving a more cohesive and uniquely Central Australian built environment," says Mr Meney. He argues that embracing the neighbourhood or "precinct" development concept within a greater town structure for all designers and legislators should be commonplace, replacing the current trend of focusing on sole allotment development with only superficial regard for the neighbouring properties, Aboriginal connections with the land and the unique and abundant natural landmarks which exist within the urban boundaries. While all the major physical landmarks of Alice Springs have remained in place, much of the development has been inward looking and insular in its regard for surrounding buildings and prominent natural assets. "Generally the hills around the town have been seen as impediments to be removed or modified to allow the accommodation of our rectilinear town grid system," says Mr Meney.Planning moves over the last three to four years have attempted to define zones of the town as precincts with the view that more cohesive neighbourhood development would occur, but Mr Meney argues that existing documents do not go far enough to ensuring the desired outcomes through appropriate development. "There is clearly no solid legislative document that stringently defines the intent and limits the interpretation of the planning statements contained in the guidelines," says Mr Meney. Current action by the NT Government through the Alice in 10 futures initiative aims to develop up some positive urban design parameters to guide the town's future development. Mr Meney is hopeful that this process will bring together a credible urban design manual with legislative support that takes into account the history, climate, landscaping, Aboriginal needs and functions of the town and that guides appropriate sustainable development of a built environment that is truly The Centre.

GAY FEST FURORE. Report by NICK SHEPLEY.

Sensationalist press reports and inadequate laws have created a climate of fear around next week's gay festival, leaving organisers concerned for the safety of their guests.The Mayor, members of the gay community and some Aldermen have been battling to calm fears of a gay parade after a news article in the Centralian Advocate was published alongside a picture of Sydney's Gay Mardi Gras parade.Following the article, at last Monday's council meeting scores of concerned people attended with an 830 signature petition asking the council to intervene to stop the event.Local resident Mien Blom sent the Alice Springs News a letter to the editor, "appalled at the prospect" of a gay parade in Alice Springs.When she learned that no such event was planned, she withdrew the letter.She said: "By the way people were talking we thought that there was going to be a parade through town."The main thing was from the Advocate when they put a picture on the front of the paper, we thought there was going to be some Mardi Gras in town."I know many gay people through working with them and they are some very nice people, we were just all worried about talk of this parade."This week an official statement from the organisers, who asked not to be identified, expressed dismay at the reaction to the Advocate's story. "We, the organisers of the Alice is Wonderland Gay, Lesbian and Friends Fun Festival, are deeply saddened by the fear, hatred and bigotry that has been generated subsequent to the article and photo printed in the Centralian Advocate on February 16."The festival is a celebration of our society, of acceptance and tolerance for diversity and a willingness to interact with people as human beings as opposed to stereotypes."In the statement the organisers clearly point out that there will be no street parade. Mayor Fran Erlich said: "The issue has been highly sensationalised and the council is disappointed with the way in which certain media have presented the issue. "It would be against the Anti Discrimination Act if the council were to attempt to stop this community based event."Ald Jenny Mostran was very disappointed by the show of hostility to the festival.She said: "I am really concerned about the image that this will project to the rest of Australia of us being a redneck intolerant town."The Northern Territory's Human Rights Commission acknowledged that laws designed to protect minorities from vilification in the press were failing gays and lesbians following a number of inflammatory letters to the Centralian Advocate.VILIFICATIONA legal officer to the commission said that the vilification laws which prevent unfair, biased and bigoted commentary appearing in the press were designed to protect minorities in general, and normally related to discriminatory job advertising.However the law was not strong enough to prevent the stream of anti gay letters to local media being published.John Tortorella, a member of the town's gay community, said: " Very simply the festival is going to be a series of private functions that people can pay to attend if they choose, or not attend if they don't want to. "It is very much like watching the TV if you don't like what is on you can switch off. But there will be no parade, nothing in public."According to the seven day festival program, the only free event will be the last, a function at Pioneer Park on March 17. There are no advertised events in public places.Tony Hand, also a member of the gay community, said he had enjoyed a tolerant attitude in Alice Springs for many years and was disappointed although not surprised by the public opposition to the festival."It's a shame that the media didn't get their facts right, I think it has been blown out of all proportion," said Mr Hand.Another gay, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "I came to Alice Springs and I have found no problems at all."That is why I have stayed here as long as I have. "But I have to say that I am really really horrified by these people, I honestly didn't think Alice Springs was like that. "The town prides itself on being an international centre, it has gone global and is marketed all over the world, so they have got to accept the people who are coming here."At last Monday's council meeting Mayor Erlich explained to the public gallery that the council was powerless to stop the event as it consisted of a series of private functions.Protester Lorraine Morgan said: "You say that you can't stop the festival. It was to be held in Darwin and the people of Darwin didn't want the festival. Because of Darwin saying no it comes down here."The event is about sexuality, and sexuality should be kept to the confines of one's own home."Why should these people have a festival to flaunt their sexuality in our town?"(The organisers told the Alice News that the festival was always an entirely Alice-based initiative; it was never planned to be held in Darwin.)The Town Council issued a statement clarifying its position with regards to the festival.It confirmed that the council had no involvement in the festival, and gave the reason for the council allowing its logo to be displayed on the festival's promotional material. Organisers applied for money from the council's Araluen Access Grant.These are open to any not-for-profit organisation or individual who wishes to use the Araluen Arts Centre. (In this case the organisers are presenting two film evenings at Araluen.)It is a requirement that the council's logo be displayed on promotional material if it is partly funding the event.The controversy reached the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly last week when Loraine Braham, independent Member for Braitling submitted questions to the Minister for Tourism.She claimed the Northern Territory Tourist Commission planned the festival without consulting Alice Springs Town Council.The department responded to her claims by stating that the Town Council initiated the event, a claim denied by council spokesman, Chris Hallett.Deputy Chief Minister Mike Reed then said the event was initiated by a local company, and the Northern Territory Tourist Commission gave it funding support of $2000.He claimed the commission was in a no win situation: had it not offered funding it would have been criticised for failing to assist the town's tourist industry.DISGUSTEDAld Geoff Bell, who presented the petition to the council last Monday on behalf of the protesters, said he was disgusted at the way the event had been sprung on Alice Springs. Mr Bell and three other Aldermen all voted against the use of the council's logo on promotional material.He said : "The reason I stood against it is that I work for the rate payers of this town and the majority of those rate payers feel that it is inappropriate."As far as I am aware it is not going to be a totally private event behind closed doors there is going to be a boys' night, and a girls' night at the Gap View Resort."I am absolutely disgusted with the tourist commission for dropping it on us at the last minute. By all means have an alternative lifestyle, but don't flaunt it in my town."The Araluen Centre is funded by rate payers and I already know that it will support some groups that are leftist or some groups that are rightist. "The fact is that this is a minority group that seem to be getting more than favorable help," said Ald Bell. (Director of the Araluen Centre, Suzette Watkins, told the Alice News: "Araluen is a community space and all groups accessing its programs and facilities are treated equally in terms of support and assistance."She said decisions about allocations from the Alice Springs Town Council Araluen Access Grant are made by representatives of the community through the Araluen Advisory Committee and are "influenced by considerations of inclusivity".)Pastor Richard Tozer of the Potter's House Christian Fellowship echoed Mr Bell's concerns over the short notice given to the council.One organiser of the event, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke to the Alice Springs News about the media coverage they had received."Last year when we were planning the event we decided not to advertise it in local media, just among our friends. "A copy of the media release for this year's event was sent by a third party without consent or permission to the Centralian Advocate and they told us they were going to put it on the front page. "I asked them not to because it was going to cause problems but they were determined to go ahead with it. We relunctantly agreed then to edit the copy that went to press."Our main concern now is for the safety of people coming to the festival and that all those who attend have lots of fun."

MICE, MEN & MOGGIES. Review by DOROTHY GRIMM.

Colourful, naive style paintings showing "gentle, caring people" will be on show this Sunday at the Central Australian Art Society's Art Shed.The works are by Marg Connell who came to Alice Springs in 1996 because she was attracted by the town's supportive artist community."Alice Springs has such a supportive environment," Marg said."The environment is nurturing and encourages creativity."I came to Alice from Darwin because I wanted to be with a community of artists. Being among artists is very stimulating."And I find the colours of the Centre and the dynamics of the community stimulating too."She has called her show "Clowns and Company" as it includes a series of four clown paintings which Marg did as part of her studies at Centralian College's Art Department. Marg started painting seriously about five years ago after a weekend workshop.Her only previous exhibiting experience has been as part of an Emerging Artists exhibition at Araluen in 1998.She enjoys painting naive art and her mood often affects the way she paints."I like to use a lot of colours," Marg said. "And I like to create an image that shows gentle, caring people."There will be 23 paintings in the show, open from 11am to 5pm in Crispe Street.

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