ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
October 31, 2001.



GROG TRIAL: TOUGH NEW MEASURES! Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

When they finally came, after at least five years of heated public debate but just 10 weeks after the election of the Territory's first Labor Government, supply restrictions imposed to bring down the enormous alcohol consumption in The Centre were unexpectedly severe. Licensing Commission chairman Peter Allen stressed the decision last week had nothing to do with politics: "We put our position statement out on June 30 and that set the guidelines firmly in place as to what would move us. "Restrictions alone will not work." That, Mr Allen told journalists last week, had been the position of the commission well before the August 18 Territory election. On the other hand, the "complementary measures" which tipped the scales – yet to be put in place and funded – are hardly rocket science: most don't need any new money, and those that do are not big ticket items:
• Tangentyere's night patrol will be extended into daylight hours;
• the Drug and Alcohol Services (DASA) sobering up shelter, whose opening hours had been reduced because of funding policies by the previous government, will stay open longer;
• and there will be a drop-in centre and grog free entertainment for young people.
The raft of complementary measures was put together by an Alice in Ten committee headed by DASA boss Nick Gill, who is also an advisor to the Prime Minister on drug issues. He says: "I believe that this is the beginning of a significant change in lifestyle and problems for Central Australians." In all, the annual bill for the strategy is unlikely to exceed $250,000, some of it recoverable from Canberra. The rest is likely to come from the new NT Government, much more determined to tackle the problem than its predecessor. Says Mr Gill: "I believe that there is a willingness [by the NT Government] to consider funding these initiatives as a matter of urgency. "Even if not all the money we are looking for is able to be found, I must emphasise that the remaining complementary strategies are sufficient to bring about the changes of behaviour and attitudes that we need." The liquor industry is meeting this week to consider an appeal, says spokeswoman Diane Loechel, of the Todd Tavern, after assessing the effects on the booze trade of the measures coming into effect on January 1, 2002:
• weekday takeaway sales from 2pm to 9pm instead of 12 noon to 9pm;
• no liquor to be sold in containers larger than two litres, cutting out the notorious "green suitcases" of four or five litre casks of cheap wine.
• except for Saturdays and public holidays, only light beer will be sold before noon "on premises" such as bars: "That was the only thing we were not expecting," says Mrs Loechel.
Explains Mr Allen: "It seemed a nonsense to us that if you restrict takeaway sales back to 2pm, to then have people in the pubs and clubs from 10am consuming liquor of any description through to 2pm, and then out in the Mall, and elsewhere in Alice Springs, on the cusp of intoxication, seeking the purchase of takeaway liquor. "And if those attempts are unsuccessful, as they should be [sale of alcohol to intoxicated people is prohibited] there is still a level of public nuisance. "If you need a drink before noon you've got a problem, anyway, and you need help rather than a drink," says Mr Allen. Says Mrs Loechel: "Most people will go along with the restrictions and see where that takes us. "I would imagine the Liquor Commission hasn't left any loopholes for people to be ... successful if they take them to court. "I think they have been quite thorough in what they have set out to do." She says some major traders – the supermarket chains – are managed from interstate and it is not yet known how they will react. In any case, court action, in the form of an administrative appeal in the Supreme Court, would be drawn out and costly. In all, 66 of the town's 91 liquor licensees are affected by the measures targeting local alcohol consumption which, per head of population, is two and a half times greater than the national average. Mr Gill says the objective is to get consumption "back down towards the national average". Mr Allen says the trial will be subject to an evaluation process that is "thorough, democratic and scientific" [overseen] by a group of six or seven people including representation from licensees, the commission, business and community. There will be progress reports. Mr Allen is clearly optimistic, although he's aware that the community will be divided: "I think they wanted to lynch my predecessor in Tennant Creek at one time." That was John Maley who brought "thirsty Thursday" to the Barkly town. ORANGE JUICEMr Allen says he was impressed with the results of restrictions in Katherine, brought in when the town had an influx of bush visitors during the floods in the region this year. He saw families having picnics: "I've never seen Aboriginal people drink large bottles of orange juice before, opening packets of sandwiches. "There was a respite. "Several doctors and nurses said during that trial it was the first time in living memory that they've seen the children's ward empty. "People who had chronic health problems – with heart, lung, liver ailments – were presenting less often, in less deleterious states, less alcohol affected, and staying for shorter periods." Problems "which are well known in Alice Springs, the health related problems, the anti social behaviour, domestic violence, arrests for protective custody, are all problems which ought to be able to be measured during this trial," says Mr Allen. But the "problem" isn't one for the black population alone: " During the Masters Games the alcohol purchases by licensees in Alice Springs has a minimum of 100 per cent increase." Mr Allen is adamant there should not be exceptions for visitors, similar to the "bona fide traveller" provisions in other states. Says Mr Allen: "Once you start to make exemptions it's difficult to know where to stop. "You in fact give ground, and then you open the door to submissions from people who were not going to make submissions. "They read the writing on the wall, they knew what ‘no' meant, but then when something beside ‘no' establishes a grey area, or when ‘yes' is extended, ‘yes' gets nearer to them and they think they'll have a go, too. "Once you start bona fide travellers [exemptions] suddenly everybody would be bona fide." Mrs Loechel says while bona fide travellers provisions have not been discussed in detail they "could be a great benefit". Mr Allen pours cold water on proposals that alcohol should be made available on Aboriginal communities: the same law that required measures in Alice Springs to be a reflection of community desires also applies to the bush communities. Says Mr Allen: "Clubs are a question for the communities long before they become a question for the commission. "I would wonder how an Aboriginal community could be made to have a club. "It's not [the commission's] job to promote or deny." Are the measures going far enough? Says Mr Gill: "We need to consider a balance. "There are individuals and businesses who are going to be harmed or are going to perceive they are going to be harmed. "They are certainly not going to like it. "You have to balance how much dislike do we have of losing money compared to how much dislike do we have of seeing people suffer needlessly. "Those are pains that this community needs to bear because the existing pains in the community ... are unacceptably high ... from a moral point of view and an economic point of view. "We accept that as a matter of reality. "Politics is the art of the possible." Says Donna Ah Chee, from Congress: "Any reduction is going to be an improvement. We had to start somewhere." Mr Gill says cask wine is taxed at about two cents per standard drink as opposed to $1.20 for spirits. "That's craziness but we can't do anything about that," he says. It is a Federal taxation issue. There's still important unfinished business. For example, there has been no progress on setting up dry areas in any of the 18 Aboriginal town lease areas within Alice Springs. An application by "Abbott's Camp" in South Terrace failed recently when police objected. Says Superintendent Gary Moseley: "We opposed that because there was no strategy in place for those who wanted to drink. "People would be merely displaced into public places. "There must be somewhere, some strategy where these people can drink. "If you keep forcing people to the margins it just creates problems. "Whilst the police force is not opposed to dry areas, I think there has to be some accommodation to those who do drink. "It's a matter for Aboriginal organisations to come up with proposals. "It's not up to me to enter into those sorts of issues." Supt. Moseley says in Tennant Creek "they had a wet camp and a dry camp. "That worked very well up there." Mr Gill says a "displaced drinkers working group" will be formed to investigate the setting up of dry areas within the camps, with proposals expected by mid next year.

TOYNE HITS ROOF OVER SEWER ROW. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

How do you pull PAWA into line which for decades has foisted upon the Alice Springs community a sewage system that wastes two billion litres of water a year, produces foul smells, encourages the breeding of mosquitoes carrying fatal diseases, and wastes precious real estate?You jump on it from a great height, especially if you're the Minister for Central Australia: that's how. About two weeks ago the News learned from a member of the Urban Water Management Strategy Reference Group that there was under way what was clearly a process of softening up the community: there was no money for a $8.5m recycling plant ... an end user for recycled water couldn't be found ... the best way of dealing with the current environmental and health fiasco was to add another pond to the string of lagoons, a system that flies in the face of the much touted "desert knowledge" aspirations, and is singularly inappropriate in the driest part of the world's driest continent. To get some official answers the News emailed a series of questions to PAWA's public relations manager, Malcolm Keeble, on October 19. Mr Keeble has been the official spokesman for PAWA for several years and we have always found his performance to be less than satisfactory. He lived up to his reputation by failing to provide answers to the News. Instead he hand balled our enquiry to the brand new press secretary of the brand new Minister for PAWA, John Ah Kit. The answers the News got, and accurately published, were disturbing: While other options – including recycling – were still on the table, an additional pond was the NT Government's " preferred option" – proposed by PAWA – and that the Government was " constrained by the wreck of a budget we were left". We quoted the spokesman as saying the spending of $2m to $3m on a new pond would be "a solution both financially responsible and achieving important objectives". While admitting that water is a "finite resource" in the region, the spokesman said about the recycling option: "At the moment we don't think that would get us through the cost difficulties." When Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne read the News report last Wednesday, he hit the roof. In a Ministerial Report to the Legislative Assembly that morning he said: "As a benchmark the Power and Water Authority currently considers that the least cost option ... is through extension of the evaporation pondage system, possibly supplemented by further irrigation of the trees in the Ilparpa area. "No decision has been made by the [authority] as to its final, preferred option. Further studies on other options are under way. "None of these options has been presented to Government, nor have they been considered by Government, at this stage. "Depending on marketing analysis of the potential to supply the recycled water to commercial and other users, some of the options for reuse may require Government to consider provision of a community service obligation to [the authority]. "Overflows to the Ilparpa swamp must cease. "The views of the community will continue to be listened to in this regard." As it happens, those views are well known already: get rid of the ponds. Dr Toyne told the News that recycling is his preferred option, and he would – once the issue comes up "in the near future" – fight for it in Cabinet. So, it's back to the drawing board for PAWA, which will also hopefully take on board that under the new regime's open government philosophy, dealing with the media is a serious obligation.

DEMOCRAT SAYS START-STOP PROGRAMS GET US NOWHERE. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

"There are lots of little pilot lights but no one turns the gas right on so that it empowers communities." When Democrats candidate in Lingiari, Linda Chellew (pictured), said yes to politics, it was because she felt she had things to say concerning those she cares about most passionately: young people and Indigenous people, especially Indigenous youth. Her professional experience, in vocational education, tells her there are too many pilot programs, particularly in Indigenous communities, without the good pilots being "taken up and turned into full-on programs to make changes for people's well-being, employment and community life".She wants to see community development: "I worked for Leprosy Mission Australia before coming to the Territory and in that role I visited India and Thailand."I became well aware of the principles of community development that brought about change in those countries, the ways you do and don't relate to communities, being respectful, involving people in all areas of decision-making."The reasons why that doesn't happen here are tied to things like terra nullius and the past."It's hard to backtrack and get that all right, but most Aboriginal people have their land now and a lot of community development research has already been done."There's no need to invent the wheel all over again, but there is a need for turning the gas right on, with funding, inspiration, and the commitment to go through with it."Ms Chellew doesn't see this as solely a government responsibility: "There are definitely some issues to be addressed in how Aboriginal people are able to develop their land."There's room for creative leadership among Aboriginal organisations as well as on the government side." She says much more needs to be done to address the needs of secondary age students out bush.She argues for an adult education model, especially for young men who have been initiated. She says all students need a fair go.When her own son returned to education after a period on the dole, his income dropped by $30 a week. "He was living well below the poverty line."What message is that sending to our young people on the dole – if you study you get punished, you get less money?" Meanwhile, the Democrats stand for free tertiary education, "investing in our future, in this information economy".Ms Chellew says she joined the Democrats for their commitment to democracy and honest government, and the way they involve their members in all political debates.So far there is no branch in town, but there are eight members, who will be out in force on polling day.They'll be handing out "split ticket" how-to-vote cards. Fay Lawrence, Darwin-based campaign organiser, stresses that voters decide their own preferences, but can be guided according to which major party they would prefer. However, the Greens, as a like-minded party, are always in the number two spot. "The Democrats are running candidates in every electorate in Australia," says Ms Chellew."Natasha is wanting to really take it up to the two major parties."It's time for change – good money management and the economy need to be balanced with community and environment, the Democrats' ‘triple bottom line'."If young people are going to be inspired and have confidence in their future, they need to see a government that doesn't just count dollars but counts social cost, and identifies the values that we need."

SAYING SORRY WON'T FIX IT! Column by ANN CLOKE.

A sorry situation? National Sorry Day was first celebrated on the 26th May 1998. An enquiry into the "Bringing Them Home" report tabled 12 months earlier recommended a National Sorry Day be declared (Australia's Cultural Network website)."Sorry": as per the Oxford Dictionary, feeling pity, regret or sympathy… apologetic, conscience-stricken, sad or remorseful The BeeGees sang, "Words… It's only words, and words are all I have …" Words are wonderful but taken out of context they may become meaningless. The OD describes "meaningless" as empty, insincere, pointless. Mummy used to say (after a family blow-up) that saying sorry won't fix it" – the apology may make you feel a bit better about yourself, but it doesn't alter the situation.Last night Noel Pearson was to speak to Central Australians. The visit had to be postponed for family reasons, t hopefully he will be able to come in the near future. He is an acclaimed Indigenous leader, ex-Chairman of the Cape York Land Council, a strong advocate for the concept of reconciliation: he is passionate about the re-writing of our Constitution, to bring about a new Constitution which will recognise all peoples in a society which is free of racial, sexual and cultural discrimination. He recognises that there are problems out there – he's brought many of them to the attention of the media. In the past he has talked about his people being destroyed by welfare dependency. It's happening here, in the Centre: sit down monies, CDEP and Work for the Dole schemes, alcohol, drug, petrol, glue and welfare dependencies are ruining lives, black, white, brindle, male, female, of all ages and from various walks of life. Noel has mooted welfare reform, restoration of social order and law enforcement. He has stated that until Aboriginal communities are empowered they have no ownership, therefore no control, over their respective problems. There has been dissent amongst members of some Aboriginal communities who say the process of reconciliation is meaningless because reconciliation wasn't there in the first place. When asked (ABC News On-Line) about his views regarding Aboriginal reconciliation in light of what was being said, Noel replied that he's not troubled about the semantics, whether we're coming back from an original position of reconciliation, separation and then reconciliation, or whether we've never had it… He says that the concept of reconciliation captures what the challenge is all about, trying to bring two peoples together. Most people I've spoken to regret what happened decades ago, however there is a view that Territorians have nothing to apologise for. Many people have their own stories of loss, dispossession, exile, hardship, abandonment, adoption and grief: we can't alter yesterday, but we can influence tomorrow and ensure changes are implemented.Globally, millions of people have been persecuted, hounded, over the centuries: today, many are still being persecuted. If we are able to acknowledge the past, accept history and move forward together, then we'll be a lot closer to the ultimate aim, reconciliation. OD says: "reconcile", make friendly after an estrangement, settle, make compatible. A start has been made – let's build on it and make it happen.

5 YEARS IN AFRICAN REFUGEE CAMPS ... NOW A COMPUTER WIZ, SOCCER COACH IN THE ALICE. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Robben Yak got a job using his computer skills within seven days of arriving in Alice Springs from a refugee camp in Kenya. His brother David, a mechanic, found work even more quickly. Their sponsors, the OLSH Refugee Support Group, suggested that they take their time, relax after all their years of hardship, get to know their new home town. Both young men were of the same mind: "We had wasted a lot of time, nearly five years, in the camp," says Robben. "We had skills, we wanted to contribute something." Shortly after, a more suitable job came up for Robben, as network administrator with Hertz in Alice. He's been there ever since. He has a degree in commerce from the University of Cairo. His computer skills are largely self-taught, "just from playing around", although CARE International in Kenya also gave him some training when he started working for them in the Dadaab refugee camp. Charming, quietly self-confident and well educated, Robben doesn't fit the stereotype of your average refugee (if there is any such a person). How did things go wrong for this relatively privileged young man? He was born in South Sudan to start with, where civil war has raged since 1983. Like his countryman, Peter Rik (Alice News, Oct 17), Robben says the conflict is between the Muslim north and the Christian south, but, not surprisingly, there are "underlying economic issues". He says the southern province of Upper Nile is rich in oil and minerals, yet there is no development there: all the wealth goes to the north. Tension about this was exacerbated by the introduction of Sharia (Khoranic) Law and the rise to power of Muslim extremists. War broke out and young men on both sides were under pressure to fight. At this time Robben had finished his studies in Cairo and was looking for work in the developed north. He fled the conflict, returning to his home province in the south, Bahar Elgazal, where he hoped to be able to teach. As fighting closed in around them, he and David left Sudan, fleeing into upper Somalia. From there, they found their way to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, designated as the camp for South Sudanese. Like Peter Rik, Robben and David felt that they were always in danger at Kakuma: "The armed rebels can come and take you at night," says Robben. They moved on to Dadaab, deeper inside the Kenya-Somalia border and populated mainly by Muslim Somalians. Robben says there was very little help available for the 2000 South Sudanese who had gathered there. In fact, their presence was discouraged. They received no food or medical care from the UN. They had to hunt to supplement the meagre rations provided through CARE International. There was limited medical care offered by the French NGO, Medecins Sans Frontieres. "We walked each day from two to four kilometres to fetch firewood and hunt gazelle or deer," recalls Robben, sitting now in his nicely furnished unit in suburban Alice Springs. "Some people would work for other refugees, just to get a bit of flour. "The militia could find you in the bush, punish you, rob you. "It was so risky to go to the bush, you didn't go by yourself." After Robben and David had been in Dadaab for two years, fighting broke out between factions in the camp, causing the deaths of two young men. An investigation by UN officials led at last to the South Sudanese being treated like the other refugees. "They started giving us the ration card and we started living normally with the other refugees. "But the Somalian Muslims were a real threat for us. "If a Sudanese went to fetch water from the public tap, the Somalians would contest it. They would clean the tap, saying it had been used by someone who didn't have religion. "But we had to stay there and bear with it. "It was a struggle until I found a job with CARE International, which I got because of my computer skills." Robben was so relieved to have work. He says one of the hardest things about camp life is the inactivity, the boredom. "Most refugees have nothing to do. They stay in the camp, talk, kill time, play soccer in the evening." He and David decided to apply for resettlement. They were interviewed by the local office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). A year went by, then they were interviewed by the protection office of the UNHCR. They then waited nearly another whole year before they were contacted by the Australian Embassy. After some six months, an officer from the embassy arrived to interview them. He said they would be accepted by Australia but "it would take a while". "Why does the process take so very, very long?" asks Robben. He says the Americans don't take nearly as long. After another six months Robben and David received a thorough medical check-up and then they were on their way. It was only when they arrived in Perth that they were told their destination would be Alice. They wouldn't have to stay there, but initially it had been chosen for them because of the Catholic support group there willing to help them. Today Robben says he loves this "simple, easy place". At first he was worried that, being so remote, "it would be a hardship place. I thought it would be like the refugee camp, without any services." That impression was soon righted. He finds the people "easy going, friendly", especially at work, and even in the streets. "It's a small community, everyone says hello."It takes me five minutes to get to work. You go to Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, it's hard to interact with people, and there's a lot of traffic." He and his brother are grateful to the support group, of which Robben is now a member. "They made us feel at home, feel secure. "They are more than sponsors, they are good friends, if we need advice we still go to them." Robben lives with his partner Joanne, whom he met two days after his arrival in town in 1995. They've been together for nearly two years now. He plays A Grade soccer and coaches a team of juniors for the Memo Verdi club. He owns his own car and unit, as does his brother. They both became Australian citizens last month. "We are lucky to be in Australia and even luckier to be in Alice Springs," he says. "Some of my friends who have gone to the big cities haven't settled as well as we have." In his good fortune, Robben can't forget those he has left behind. First and foremost, his mother whom he has not seen since 1989, two brothers and two cousins who have fled Sudan for Cairo. He and David hope to bring them to Alice. "There are a lot of Sudanese in Egypt and Nairobi [the Kenyan capital]. They don't get a chance to resettle anywhere. Others stay for years and years in refugee camps. There are kids born there, who have never seen anything else, just living on a ration card which gives you two kilos of wheat flour and some oil every 15 days. There is never any meat "There are people who die there and people have better qualifications than me and they don't get a chance to resettle. "When we came to Australia, there were about a dozen of us from East Africa. The US and Canada took hundreds. I wonder why Australia can't take more. "There are thousands and thousands who need a chance. "It's just luck that we were picked. We do appreciate our luck."

ALICE IS 'TOO REMOTE' TO DESERVE VIOLIN TEACHER! Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Immigration authorities think Alice Springs is "too geographically remote" to warrant a violin teacher, according to English violinist, Jane Coleman, who has applied for a visa to teach here. The Alice Springs Strings Group has been trying for three years to attract a qualified violin teacher to the town, after the departure of Dian Booth, founder of the group. They have advertised in the Weekend Australian, in music magazines, put notices up in conservatoria around Australia, and even paid for candidates to visit the town, all to no avail. Along comes Jane. Engaged temporarily by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, she takes the opportunity to come to Alice, having always wanted to see the Outback. She loves the town and discovers we need a violin teacher. Not only is she an experienced orchestral performer; she is qualified to teach and has had considerable teaching experience, for the Inner London Education Authority and the East Sussex Music Education Service. Now living in Switzerland, she continues to teach privately and is a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Basel. The Strings Group, having exhausted the onshore possibilities, is delighted and offer to do whatever they can to support her visa application. Trouble is, what she wants to do does not fit any of the visa application categories. Like many a music teacher she would be essentially self-employed. Although the Alice Springs Steiner School feel that they can offer her a half-time position to teach their strings program, and the Strings Group identify interest in lessons among some 50 young people, the Immigration Department wants an offer by an employer of full-time employment. An immigration consultant suggests she apply for a Distinguished Talent visa, which she does through the Australian Embassy in Berlin. "I was turned down – not famous enough," Jane says. "But what made me angry on Alice's behalf, was that I was told in my decision that Alice Springs was ‘too geographically remote' for Australia to benefit from my migration. "I believe that if you serve a part, you serve the whole. Who knows what talent is in this town waiting to be developed by consistent teaching?" No one knows better than Linda O'Brien, mother of promising young violinist Clare. Clare is now studying for a Bachelor of Music at the Melbourne Conservatorium. For her last two and a half years of high school, Clare travelled to Adelaide once a month to take lessons with Semyon Kobetz, senior violinist with the Elder Conserva-torium. For the first year and a half she made the trip by bus or train. In her final year she received a Queen's Trust grant which paid for air travel and the lessons. Her sister Therese, a cellist, is now following in her footsteps: she takes a monthly train trip to Adelaide to be taught by Janis Laurs, principal cellist with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Now she also is being assisted, by the Connellan Trust. Apart from disruption to their other schooling, how much has all this cost the family? "I've never totted it up," says Linda. "If I had, I wouldn't have dared to do it. "I've been rewarded by their progress, but it's the little ones coming through now that I feel sorry for. "It's such a hard instrument to learn in the early stages. Without the constant encouragement of a teacher they know and trust, how will they keep going? "Jane Coleman is the perfect person for the job. She's been here as a visitor three times, she loves the place. "The isolation seems to terrify most strings players – they need an orchestra to play with – but Jane knows what she's in for and we are desperate to have her." Carol Muir, teacher at the Steiner School who introduced the strings program there, says Linda has put in hundreds of hours to try to find a strings teacher for Alice: "And all this has been for other children." Another stalwart has been Anne Jaquiery, who leads the Strings Group in practice once a fortnight. But her job as a doctor at the hospital prevents her from teaching and in any case, while it may be her love, it's not her profession, says Anne. At present Steiner students in years three to five, some 30 in all, are learning to play the violin. "It trains the ear as no other instrument can do except for the voice," says Carol. "As it is unfretted the player has to find the right note for him or herself." At present, local musicians Bob Barford and Amber Barrington are teaching the Steiner students but both have primary commitments elsewhere. In the next school year there will be a new class at Steiner wanting to start. "They all expect it now," says Carol. Then, when the senior class graduates who will continue to teach them? None of the Alice Springs high schools offers a strings program, according to Carol. A spokesperson for the Immigration Department says it is policy to not comment on individual cases. The department forwarded information about possible categories for application, which, as the News understands, have already been explored by Jane.

CATHOLIC HELP FOR REFUGEES.

The OLSH Refugee Support group established itself at the time of the Bosnian refugee crisis. But instead of Bosnians, the first refugees to need their help were Robben and David Yak. "That was fine by us," says Michelle Castagna, a member of the group. "We wanted to help anyone who needed it, irrespective of where they came from or their religion." She says the group was given some training by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, under the NT Settlement Planning Program. "Initially, your obligation to the refugees is for six months, to help them in whatever way they need," says Michelle."You help them access Centrelink, settle into their accommodation, help them furnish it. "We had a small grant from the Settlement Planning Program and the rest came from donations, mainly from within the OLSH parish. "You help them register with Medicare, get in touch with a GP, get to know the town and the Australian culture. "After six months you take on a new family. "Robben and David didn't really need a lot of support, they were off and running. "Since then we have helped another single gentleman and three families. Michelle says an American couple, Daniel and Mona Bissonette, have been the mainstay of the OLSH group. The workload can be quite heavy and at present the they can't take on any new people. What keeps them going is seeing people getting their lives together. "The day Robben and David got their citizenship, I felt like a mother, so proud!"

CRICKET: BLOODS ON THE SCENT FOR A TOP YEAR.

West established the top spot on the Alice Springs Cricket A Grade premiership ladder with a convincing win against RSL at Albrecht Oval on Saturday. The day game was played on a great strip in ideal cricket conditions. The same could be said of Traeger Park which had been prepared to perfection for the day/ night game between Federal and Rovers. In contrast to the earlier game at Albrecht, this encounter went right down to the last balls of the final over, when the Blues took the game. RSL compiled 183 for the loss of nine wickets in their allotted 40 over. Graham Schmidt again provided a solid start by scoring 41. Luke Rowe again impressed with a 41, and down the order Luke Southam put together 25. The premier performance for the Razzle however came from the bat of Chris Turner. Contrary to popular belief this fellow is not the prominent lawyer about town, but he can bat. His 53 put RSL in a position demanding challenge. For West the wickets were shared with captain Jeremy Riggs taking two for 28 to be among the best performers. West in reply lost three wickets in the opening 15 over and the game appeared poised for a tight finish. In this segment Brian Manning put on 25 before being dismissed, when it seemed he would continue in the form he had shown the previous week. In a matter of a further six over however Ken Vowels put the game beyond doubt as he pummelled the RSL attack to take his side to 4/136 after 21 over. When on 83 and seeing the ball like a road train, Vowels clouted a six down the ground off his back foot, which would rival any shot played anywhere. In the run to the required tally Vowels was partnered by Riggs who held up an end and scored 19 while the master blaster hit 119 not out. The run chase was completed, and the game signed and sealed after a mere 28 overs. The day / night game started in a rather controversial manner. After two hours in the field the Rover boys realised the match ball was rather easy to handle, and after consultation with the umpires it was realised that in fact the four piece white balls were only 146 gm models, more suited to junior cricket. Federal made a solid start to their innings, edging their way to 3/68 off the first 20 over. Rory Hood was snared by Craig Murphy in front of his stumps; and Matt Allen made 21 before falling to Mark Nash. Craig Prettejohn seemed to be in full control when he attempted to force the pace with a big hit, only to be caught three metres from the rope by young Shane Trembath. New recruits Jamie Chadwick and Roger Weckert then occupied the crease and provided a partnership which indicated big things were yet to come from the pair. Chadwick, obviously in need of a hit put together 20 before holing out. Weckert saw the ball well and took control of the attack through to the 35th over. Partnered by Jarrod Wapper, Wechert executed some power hitting to reach 50, out of the team total, at that point, of 5/162. Wapper scored 42. Shaun Lynch (13) and Alan Rowe (11) then saw the innings through, and the Demons got through their 40 over with 205 on the board. Rovers in chasing proved they are to be a force in local cricket this season. They paced themselves to 5/154 off 32 over. Matt Pyle and Jamie Carman provided a solid opening with stands of 19 and 31 respectively. Ty Rayfield again contributed with 24 and in the middle order Nash played a captain's innings to score 36. The final 10 over were played out at the rate of about a run a ball. The pressure mounted as the over were bowled, with the Demons possibly showing cracks in their armour with an increasing delivery of no balls and wides. To his credit young Shane Trembath kept his cool and hit those balls which justified a shot. In the final over he was partnered by a " crippled" Craig Murphy who batted with the assistance of a runner. Despite his disability, Murphy provided moral support for Trembath who took the lead role and steered the Rovers to victory with a ball to spare. Indeed Trembath dispatched the last ball of the game to the boundary to make certain of the win. Particular mention must be made of the excellence of pitch preparation at both Albrecht and Traeger Park. It was a most impressive crowd who enjoyed the evening under lights at Traeger, with all players and umpires dressed in their colours. This week the first of the two day matches will begin. The Demons will play Wests at Traeger Park and RSL will venture to Albrecht to play Rovers.

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