NIGHT DOCTORS: CLINICS TO JOIN FORCES. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
Alice may get an after-hours GP service despite the on-going shortage of doctors.
Executive Officer of the Central Australian Division of Primary Health Care, Vicki Taylor says that by combining their existing after-hours services, doctors from the three main GP clinics could decrease their individual workloads.
At present, all three clinics operate separate after-hours rosters. This sees each doctor "on call" every few days, depending on the number of doctors in the practice.
If all doctors were pooled in a single roster, "on call" duties could be cut back to less frequent intervals.
This improved lifestyle could make for "additional ammunition" to attract doctors to the region, says Ms Taylor.
At the same time consumers would benefit. At present, "on call" doctors are usually only available to patients of their clinic. The combined service would be open to everyone.
Ms Taylor says access to after-hours care has been identified as a major issue concerning consumers, particularly the mothers of young babies.
The proposed collaborative roster would be good for patients, including tourists, and for doctors, says Dr Gus Matarazzo of Bath Street Family Medical Practice.
He says the three main clinics are "quite unanimous" in their support of this model.
At present there are technically three doctors, one from each of the three private clinics, working after-hours, as well as one at Congress.
Pooling resources would rationalise the system.
"The workload could be handled by one good quality GP in an independent, fee-for-service system," says Dr Matarazzo.He says fee-for-service would be essential to the viability and sustainability of an after-hours clinic.
He says paying a fee acts to limit the number of people wanting to use an after-hours service, which is supposed to be for emergency care only.
He also says private practice doctors can't be expected to offer a free (bulk-billed) after-hours service, and nor could the service pay for itself on the strength of Medicare rebates.
At present, the Medicare rebate is the same whether a consultation takes place in-hours or after-hours, although after-hours fees are considerably higher.
Dr Matarazzo says just how much patients would be prepared to pay to see a good quality GP after-hours is one of the issues that needs to be carefully assessed.
He says it is also important that the clinic not be co-located with Accident & Emergency (A & E) at the hospital, although the hospital grounds are a possible site and Ms Taylor says that the plan is to use existing infrastructure.Doctors would want to offer the service out of an independent clinic, possibly staffed also by a receptionist and with security facilities.
The clinic would probably operate between 7pm and 11pm, after which patients would have to attend A & E.
"This is very positive," says Dr Matarazzo.
"It's the first time, that I'm aware of, that private GPs in town are coming together to provide a communal service."
Ms Taylor says it is not yet known what impact this type of after-hours service would have on A & E.
"The type of patient attending A & E has not yet been clearly identified," says Ms Taylor.
"That will be important to find out, which we should be able to do by looking at admissions over a two week period."
A meeting last Thursday of the taskforce working on the after-hours service resolved to apply for a development grant from a Commonwealth fund set aside for after-hours primary medical care. The grant would allow the taskforce to develop a refined model of service.
Ms Taylor says the taskforce will also be applying to the NT Department of Health and Community Services for assistance.Consumer representative on the taskforce, Lorraine Heslop, describes last week's meeting as "very productive", but says that the model of service being proposed will not cater to the needs of the whole community.
"There needs to be an on-going look at the needs of people who can't pay and at ways of addressing those needs," says Ms Heslop.
She says the taskforce will undertake a survey of consumers to get a better picture of their needs, including their willingness and ability to pay for the service.
"The fees need to be realistic," she says.
Ms Heslop supports the location of the service at the hospital (although not in A& E), at least in the pilot stages.
"It needs to be easy to access, somewhere where you only need to get out of your car once," she says.
BUSH STORES 'BOOKUP': RIP-OFF OR A BLESSING?
A high profile launch in Alice Springs this week of a charter aimed at remote area cattle station and community stores is grappling with fundamental issues.
On the one hand, having the stores cash welfare cheques for their customers – many of them illiterate in English and far from alternative shopping opportunities – is open to rip offs.
On the other hand, keeping cash out of the hands of Aboriginal people, who make the "bookup" arrangements out of their own free will, reduces the chance of the money being used for grog, and assures that primarily food is purchased.
Consumer protection tsar Alan Fels, head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and in Alice for the launch of Storecharter, sets out where – despite the absence of price control – stores may be straying into illegal conduct.
But he also says the reduction of grog-buying opportunities is worth taking into account.
Professor Fels says some of the more common concerns about "bookup" that the Storecharter tries to address are:
• that consumers surrendering their key cards are unable to retrieve them and are therefore tied to that store;
• that handing over key cards and PINs makes consumers vulnerable to fraud or exploitation;
• that consumers don't know how much is being charged for goods or whether the amount of money withdrawn from their account is the same as the amount booked up.
The charter will be adopted by stores voluntarily. Those who adopt it will display the Storecharter logo.
Prof Fels says the charter does not encourage the holding of key cards and specifies that stores should not know the PIN.It requires stores to provide receipts whenever bookup is used and to maintain a clear record of bookup, which can be inspected by the customers or by consumer protection or law enforcement officials.
It does not allow third parties to use a customer's bookup account unless the store has been provided with specific authorisation from the customer.
The store is to make sure that the customer understands the terms and conditions relating to bookup before engaging in it, including any fees or charges or limits to the amount that can be booked up.
The store must return a key card if and when a customer requests it.
Is there anything illegal or improper in stores cashing people's welfare cheques?
Prof Fels says the practice is "not inherently unlawful".
"Stores cashing cheques cover a wide range of circumstances. I am reluctant to give global approval or disapproval. It comes down to how it is done.
"Consumer protection laws do not oppose the practice in principle.
"The Trade Practices Act is basically about misleading or deceptive conduct, or unconscionable conduct.
"You couldn't say that all bookup arrangements are misleading or deceptive, clearly they are not in a large number of cases.
"[If they are in some instances] that's against the Trade Practices Act and against Fair Trading Acts at state and territory levels.
"Unconscionable conduct is not in itself having a bookup system, but if someone takes advantage of it, it could unconscionable.
"The elements of unconscionable conduct in the law are that firstly, the exploiter has got someone cornered, they have no way out; secondly, the exploited person has some special disadvantage in terms of lack of education and knowledge, lack of language skills and resources; and thirdly, they are taken advantage of in a manner that is against conscience."
Prof Fels says one of the reasons that the ACCC is "reluctant to take a global view that bookup arrangements are bad" is because it may work to the advantage of customers in preventing cash being spent on grog.
He expected there to be vigorous debate on this issue at the forum following the launch of the Storecharter.
Overcharging is discussed in the charter. It recognises that in remote areas prices may be higher for legitimate reasons on many occasions, but that some stores may charge unreasonably high prices.
Who is the arbitrator of "unreasonably high"?
Prof Fels: "We don't have price control in Australia.
"The Storecharter suggests that there may be valid reasons for high prices such as transport costs and very low sales volumes, but there may be excessive prices because of limited competition or because some customers don't know they are being charged too much.
"We've recommended in the Storecharter that stores should be able to explain their pricing policy to customers."Stores should clearly display the prices of all items on sale, through price tags in individual items or, as a minimum, by a shelf price or a sign near the item.
"Prices displayed should include GST when it applies.
"As far as possible stores should provide receipts for everything.
"If there are any conditions in regard to non-cash payments they should be displayed.
"If there's payment ‘in kind' a value should be put on it and it should be at a fair market rate."
The Storecharter came about as a result of the ATSIC Regional Council inviting the ACCC to visit a couple of remote communities.
"They saw the necessity to address the issue," says ATSIC Commissioner Alison Anderson, who is calling for proper banking facilities in communities and a food voucher system similar to the one operated by Tangentyere Council in Alice Springs."In some cases bookup works to people's advantage, and in some cases they are taken advantage of," says Commissioner Anderson.
"One problem is that our people are taught to live beyond the means of their income.
"With Storecharter we're making people aware that they have rights as consumers.
"We want to see good healthy food in stores.
"We want to make sure shops are open six or seven hours a day, that they open on time and that they're good and clean inside.
"Products in the shops shouldn't be out of date – especially with dairy products you have to be very careful – and there should be choices for people. It's a voluntary charter with a focus on educating consumers, making people aware of good healthy practices," Commissioner Anderson says.
Meanwhile, the Licensing and Gaming Commission is quite clear that "bookup" is not on for takeaway liquor sales:
"Without the written consent of the Commission, no liquor shall be sold for consumption off or away from the licensed premises unless payment for the sale shall be made before or at the time of the supply or delivery of the liquor."
Transactions have to be conducted by normal commercial means.
When that involves "point-of-sale processing of a sale by credit card or debit card … the licensee shall not retain possession of the card nor retain or store any data or information taken from or in any way relating to the card'.
"… in no circumstances shall the licensee seek to know or record a purchaser's PIN in relation to any card or bank account."
TOYNE ACT ON DANGEROUS PEOPLE NOT FIT FOR TRIAL.
Outrage over the lack of provisions for dangerous offenders unfit to stand trial could have been avoided had the previous NT Government followed a national lead.
Attorney General Peter Toyne says the need for such provisions was given currency recently when a deaf mute man, Roland Ebatarintja, facing three counts of aggravated assault, was discharged.
Dr Toyne says courts in the Northern Territory will now be given power to order custodial or non-custodial supervision of people who are unfit to stand trail but are deemed a danger to the community.
He says he will introduce "on urgency" in the May sittings a Bill amending the Criminal Code to this effect. "On urgency" means that the Bill will be able to be heard and passed in the one sittings.
A 1995 murder charge against Mr Ebatarintja had also been previously discharged for the same reason.
However, the issue has been around for a lot longer than this case, says Dr Toyne.
It was considered at a national level in the early 1990s by the Standing Committee of Attorney-Generals.
As a result a model Bill was offered to all states and territories in 1995.
The only jurisdiction to not pick it up was the Northern Territory.
Since then, Dr Toyne says there have been at least two recorded deaths and several serious assaults by people whom the courts have been unable to deal with.
"The previous CLP government by their negligence is directly responsible for the tragedies that have occurred," says Dr Toyne.
He says the previous government also ignored work on the issue by the then Department of the Attorney-General (now the Department of Justice).
He says he was briefed on the matter immediately on taking office, and officers in the department especially deserve credit for the planned reform.
The Bill he will put to the Legislative Assembly aims to protect the community and to provide adequate care for offenders.
If the court determines that an alleged offender is unfit to stand trial, it will nonetheless be able to consider evidence to determine whether on the balance of probability an offence was committed.
"This will clarify the position of people deemed unfit to stand trial: it will put away the charges against them, instead of leaving them in their current limbo," says Dr Toyne.
If the court determines an offence has been committed, it will have the right to order custodial or non-custodial supervision of the offender.
How long these arrangements stay in place without review will be determined in the same way that a custodial sentence is determined.
If after review it is considered that the person still represents a danger to the community, the supervisory arrangements will be able to be continued.
Dr Toyne says the legislation will also call for the Secretary of the Department of Health to provide adequate resources and staff for the arrangements.
Mr Ebatarintja is under 24 hour voluntary supervision in Alice Springs, a decision made by his joint guardians, his grandmother and the Minister for Health.
COLUMN by ANN CLOKE: Showcasing the Centre - painters, nature and rock wallabies.
I had so many comments about "Flying Not So High", Alice and international airport prospects together with Qantas' monopoly and lack of in-flight service, that I was a bit concerned that David's grandchildren, Rebecca (9) and Ben (6), might be off-loaded somewhere!
They did arrive, on Saturday, and our other visitors, David's daughter Miriam and friends Carolyn and Audrey, left on Sunday. Mid-week we had driven out to Standley Chasm in David's wagon, now sporting a shiny new bumper bar (thanks, Andrew!).
Wide tracts of charred ground either side of the highway and clouds of black smoke on the horizon reminded us of the constant bush-fire threat. We parked, then followed the walking trail, admiring photo opportunities every step of the way and those towering red and orange cliffs against a clear blue sky. The kiosk, amenities blocks and grounds were impeccably clean and litter-free. Staff members, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, were welcoming and seemed pleased to see everyone.
An Aboriginal artist was busy applying final touches to a huge dot-style mural in the outdoor sitting area: she was happy to share her knowledge and told the stories depicted in her painting. Everyone was enthralled – two rock wallabies joined us as well. What a great cultural experience!
The only one the girls had. They loved our wide open spaces, driving down to Uluru and Kata Tjuta, but said they were surprised that there weren't any Indigenous staff members to meet and interact with at Yulara and the Cultural Centre.Miriam enjoyed showcasing the town she's called her second home for almost 20 years: At least her friends now know a little more about the Red Centre.
They commented about how diverse Alice is, not as "red-necky" and more sophisticated than other country towns especially with the range of services and shopping facilities on offer. They loved the desertscape, contrasts, colours, our spectacular countryside. So, the BIG questions: Did they have fun? Would they come back? Will they promote us? As the motivators say: "Yes, yes, yes," but, it's qualified.
The girls were, like the majority of visitors to the Alice, shocked, saddened, and a bit threatened by the spectacle of dozens of Indigenous people, in all stages of sobriety, at times aggressive, sitting or lying across footpaths, blocking access to shops and businesses around Parsons Street and the mall.
"What's everyone waiting for?" we were asked.
The main issues regarding anti-social behaviour are still being ignored and talked around. Minister John Ah Kit and others have identified key problems, from alcohol and substance abuse through to lack of education, hygiene and health problems, but there is still no plan of attack or any proposals regarding where Australia's first inhabitants fit in to today's social structure. In particular those displaced itinerants who have left their communities and have taken over the town centre, camping in the Todd and, again, putting further pressure on Aboriginal people who do live and work in and around the Alice, and on our existing town resources and facilities.
The impact of first impressions usually lasts. Visitors pack them away with photos, souvenirs, "been there and done it" t-shirts and the like. They'll either promote Alice to other travellers, or they won't. We know how easy it is for visitors to bypass Alice and fly direct to Yulara, pick up a three day tour and "do" the little loop, Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon.
If the people of Alice Springs are really serious about preserving lifestyles and optimising tourism potential which will mean future employment and better prospects for everyone, non-Indigenous and Indigenous, we have to smarten our image. Enough is enough.
CENTRE FOR REMOTE HEALTH: OUT OF THE IVORY TOWER INTO TRENCHES OF WAR ON DISEASE. (Advertising Supplement)
A 65 per cent decrease in the purchase of sugar; a 175 per cent increase in the purchase of low fat tinned meat and vegetable meals; an 81 per cent increase in the purchase of fruit; and, an 11 per cent increase in the purchase of vegetables.
That sounds like a good news story by any measure. It was achieved by the Laramba community in a Diabetes Prevention Project, funded by the National heart Foundation and evaluated by Marg Tyrell, a Centre for Remote Health Master's degree student in Public Health, in partnership with CRH evaluators John Grundy and John Wakerman.
Mr Grundy says the evaluation revealed that two key factors contributed to the success of the project: strong community leadership, and a partnership between community-based workers and a public health officer whose job it was to generate program activities.
Such a partnership had not occurred before in the community. They worked with the Women's Centre on nutrition education and food preparation, which linked in with another initiative, the community's vegetable garden.
There were education events, such as diabetes camps and a diabetes disco, and other sports and recreation activities.
A store policy was introduced, and purchasing behaviour monitored, revealing the excellent results recorded above.
The project was unable to measure any movement in the level of diabetes as there had been no prior screening of the community's health status.
Now, however, the community leadership has agreed to such a screening, which will take place as part of the second stage of the evaluation.
This will be conducted by CRH's Ilan Warchivker.who'll be looking at economic costs and benefits of the project.
The first stage did measure increased access to health services by community members and improved health service performance, including better collaboration with other services in the community, such as the school and the Women's Centre.
Says Mr Grundy: "Another important indicator of the success of this project was the way the community leadership used community resources to assist, for instance using CDEP to pay the community-based workers.
"They really took the lead, they were advising the health services and setting the agenda."
More generally, this is an example of the direction in which the CRH wants to take academic research.
Mr Grundy is one of three academics working on a four-year national project called Primary Health Care Research Evaluation Development.
"We are working to get research projects set at community level, by the leadership, or at practice level, by doctors, nurses and health workers.
"In this way research is likely to be of benefit to the community, instead of simply adding to the number of reports out there.
"It's a big job, aiming to change the culture and agenda of research, but it's an important one."
A collaboration between CRH, Flinders University and Tangentyere Council is a good example.
The project, proposed initially by Tangentyere Council, is aimed at injury prevention.
In the first instance it will analyse the causes of injury on remote communities. A substantial literature review is being undertaken by Alexis Wright, while a researcher is being recruited to work with Indigenous researchers.
They will collect information on the incidence and causes of injury, as well as on the programs in place to prevent such injuries, such as night patrols.
A second stage will evaluate the efficacy of the programs, and a third stage will help the communities to either strengthen them or to develop new ones.
"The project wants to help people tackle some of these problems at the grass roots," says Mr Grundy.
CENTRE FOR REMOTE HEALTH: A HOUSE OF IDEAS. (Advertising Supplement)
The new Centre for Remote Health, behind the Old Alice Springs Gaol, is a step forward in arid zone design at many levels.
Architect Brendan Meney says it strives to be "culturally inclusive", recognising the "layered custodianship" of the landscape by both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.
Sacred sites contribute to a holistic landscape by thinking with the land: The building is staggered around trees sacred to the Arrernte, embracing them and creating integral natural courtyards. In this way, via the visual connection and linking timber decks, staff and students have access to the trees without being physically on the sites.
Tree root and canopy relationships are integral to the design. The circular courtyards were formed by the construction limits set by the arborist in consultation with traditional owners' representatives.
Sight lines between the trees have been maintained to form a "cultural trail".
The building also draws its form from the harshness and the uniqueness of the arid zone environment.
Internal spaces open up to the elements when conditions are mild. The layout of the building wings and the placement of openings allow easy cross ventilation and offer a flexible natural alternative to the typical "air-conditioned shell" working space.
The site lies within a potential flood zone of the Todd River. Having to raise the above natural ground to a minimum 300mm higher than the anticipated 1:100 year flooding level, facilitated the integration of a passive cooling system for the central internal spaces. The mass of the building cools air passing under it through underfloor ducts, which utilise thermal exchange. A solar roof space promotes thermo-syphoning.
Together with a natural lighting regime, reverse brick veneer and controlled thermal mass construction, minimal fencing, an integral building management system and a bush medicine garden, the CRH responsibly implements whole-of-life design principles.
Excluding fencing further guarantees the visual outlook as well as access needs for the Aboriginal custodians.
The butterfly-style roof forms reinforce the canopy visuals and are stepped down as the building advances towards the street to achieve a more human scale height and embracing effect at street level.
The building utilises a combination of materials, finishes and forms that work together to link the landscape to the working environment.
The blade vent walls attached to the thermal mass on the east / west faces of the building have a corrugated copper penny finish which reinforces the rich colours and raw expression of the "red" desert.
The core education spaces of the building are designed to open up and take advantage of internal and external interaction. Corridors are kept to a minimum, with the outlook, forms and volumes of the internal spaces constantly changing shape and direction as people move through.
The hierarchy of the entrances has been staged from main, through staff to 24 hour student entries and has been played down intentionally to reduce the public building grandeur often associated with entry into institutions.
The use of desert red rammed earth walls to frame the main entrance compliments the warm paint colours and raw metal finishes used in the cladding.
Correct orientation principles ensure efficient control of solar gain and manipulation within and onto the building fabric.
Where the sun angles are low in the sky on the east and west, lightweight vent blade walls have been attached to the sand filled concrete block walls (thermal mass) to counter the summer solar gain. These venting "skins" have been constructed in a simple, cost-effective manner by creating venting top and bottom to allow cool air to naturally exhaust the warm air generated from solar gain.
The majority of the offices have been located in linear wings, which offer easy access to cross ventilation, solar control and ingress of natural light. All offices have ceiling fans to create localised cooling and support the natural cross-venting action.
The levels and quality of natural light entering the spaces reduces the use of artificial lighting to a minimum. For the lecture rooms, lighting sensors have been installed to ensure that groups do not leave lights on unnecessarily.
External security and area lighting is linked through both timers and photoelectric cells which interact to most efficiently supply artificial lighting when it is vital. Lightweight shade canopies, using celled polycarbonate, are slung on structures on the external decks, offering weather protection with clean lines from underneath. They reflect high heat loads away, whilst allowing soft diffused light to enter the building.
The executive offices on the south offer high level northern light and cater for flow-through ventilation via louvres.
The whole of the building has zoned air conditioning via individual plants all linked to a central building management system for efficiency of operation and energy control. Unoccupied areas can be shut down as necessary.
Each of the communal office areas in the west and north-east wings has localised split units so the air is delivered at varying capacities according to heat load and user requirements.
The abundant ideal outside weather in Alice Springs during most of the year has been captured through the use of operable walls from the main two lecture spaces and direct access from offices onto external decks.
If doors are opened then the mechanical air conditioning shuts down automatically to the localised area to allow natural cross ventilation without effecting other parts of the building.
A series of dwarf walls supporting the suspended slab has been utilised as a cost-effective solution for natural cooling of parts of the building. By providing a labyrinth air path to maximise thermal exchange between the in-coming ventilation air and the ground /building mass above, the greatest cooling effect achievable is gained. These natural ventilation intake paths deliver the cool air via floor grilles into the main education rooms and core of the complex.
In conjunction with the under floor air system the ceiling space is being utilised as a solar chimney to assist in the action of drawing the air through the internal space and exhausting it via motorised thermostatically controlled roof vents on the west side. This is being achieved by an unlined corrugated iron roof which will allow considerable heat build up from the sun and induce the natural thermo-syphoning effect efficiently drawing the cooled air through the core of the building.
Interlinking with the building management system allows the system to operate automatically with the air-conditioning system to achieve the comfort levels required.
Ongoing monitoring and research of the system is being facilitated through the installation of data logger sensors within the building which will feed back information both locally and to Flinders University engineers in Adelaide, assessing the system and its possible application to other projects.
All the office partition walls and ceilings have been designed by engineers to ensure more efficient acoustic and thermal regimes are created.
An ultra violet filter rainwater collection and distribution system has been installed to reduce that amount of off site water loss and to support higher quality water for drinking.
The tank is located underground to improve its insulation qualities, keep the water cooler in summer and reduce its visual impact.
Installation of the bush medicine garden enhances the natural environment already established. Local botanist, Jock Morse designed the built landscaping as a bush medicine garden. The long term watering regime required is minimal and the garden allows the training of medical practitioners in interaction with local Aboriginal people.
A strong partnership between users, the project managers and architects ensured the incorporation of passive energy design features within the budget allowance.
The building allows a number of the spaces such as the multi-purpose lecture rooms, tutorial and meeting rooms, break-out areas and library space to be used for gatherings simultaneously without overcrowding occurring. Coupled with the 24 hour student zone the complex offers a high degree of cost-effective functionality.
The design is being looked at as an appropriate arid zone model for the Desert Knowledge Project.
'CLOSING' PINE GAP.
This last instalment of SCOTT CAMPBELL-SMITH's history of the Pine Gap protests takes us to 1987 when an anti-bases conference attracted international delegates and saw the Alice Springs Peace Group take on an increasingly professional profile. The group's focus also broadened as it moved towards a more international and anti-colonial identity.
The 1987 conference arose out of an earlier conference of like-minded groups held in Sydney in 1986. That first conference approved a national "Close the Bases" campaign, the first leg of which was to focus on Pine Gap. Peter Garrett launched it in July 1986.
Pine Gap was chosen partly because it was (and is) the most important base in Australia and partly to coincide with the date for the expiry and proposed renewal of the lease agreement. Preventing the lease renewal was the ultimate goal of these actions.
In 1986 the Peace Group had served an eviction notice on the base, with twelve months to quit (as required by the lease agreement). In preparation for the conference the group had managed to raise funds (largely from supporters in Sydney and Melbourne) for two full time workers for one year, on miserable wages but workers nonetheless, and an office.
These workers strove to increase and strengthen links to other organizations around the Pacific, there being at that time a push towards an independent and nuclear-free Pacific. This concept brought with it the involvement of numerous small Pacific nations and groups that were fighting for independence. New Zealand had declared itself nuclear-free several years previously and New Zealanders were also active in this arena.
Deborah Durnan was one of the paid workers and recalls: "They'd upped the ante and so had we. We all became obsessive researchers. I was reading military journals in bed at night, just to get across the technical detail we needed to know. Everyone had their own areas that they had to research.
"We were also sure that we were being infiltrated as a group, and so some things went on in secret. When we planned an action only a few people out of the whole group might know it was going to happen.
"A number of people were also sure that their telephone was tapped and I know at least one person who made it a rule never to talk about the Peace Group on the telephone."
The conference opened on the 19th of October 1987 and was attended by three to four hundred people. International delegates came from the Philippines, New Zealand, East Timor and Kanaky, which at the time was fighting for independence from the French.
Delegates talked about the various aspects of their experience with bases and colonialism for several days. They were also driven around for an inspection tour of various sites of base operations, including the so-called "Seismic Monitoring Station" and Collins Radio. Following that they undertook a series of intensive protest actions at the gates of the base that resulted in approximately 200 arrests.
The major actions were coordinated with police and involved masses of people going through the perimeter and immediately being arrested by police. Following the violence that had occurred in '83 both police and protesters recognised that a more controlled process would be beneficial to both sides. There were also actions that were less controlled, undertaken by "affinity groups", and these also resulted in numerous arrests.
All protesters were asked to abide by a code of conduct, and membership of an affinity group and training in non-violent protest were parts of the code of conduct.
The conference and the protests again focused national and international attention on the base but it also achieved an important change in national consciousness. People generally stopped calling the Pine Gap base "the space base" because it was now generally accepted that Pine Gap was (and is) a spy base.
The nation also knew now that Australians probably benefited very little from the intelligence gathered by the base. By maintaining the pressure on Australian politicians, admissions to this effect had been gradually and painfully wrung from them.
But a change in emphasis had occurred both within the Peace Group and in the world around them. The Soviet Union was being dismantled as a communist state by Mikhail Gorbechev. The Cold War seemed to be diminishing in relevance, and a period of détente beginning.
Consequently, the peace movement seemed to be losing relevance, and anti-colonial issues had been brought to the fore both by recent world events and at a local level by the links that the Peace Group itself had made.
Atrocities in East Timor and Chile were an international focus at the time. This evolving emphasis had its formal expression as the "Regional Links Group".
Actions at the Pine Gap gates continued through 1988, and 12 delegates from Northern Territory peace groups (10 from Alice Springs) also visited the Philippines to attend a conference in Manila and participate in anti-base protests.
In following years protests continued but the peace movement (both locally and internationally) seems to be running out of steam. The Alice Springs Peace Group shared an office with the Arid Lands Environment Centre until 1993, when it officially de-incorporated.
By this time, however, some members of the group had decided to focus on East Timor, following up on connections they'd made in previous years and because of the sense of urgency produced by the Dili massacre in 1991.
The "Friends of East Timor" group was formed locally as a means of focusing upon that issue. It was felt at the time to be necessary to maintain separation between the Timor issue and the activities of the Peace Group.
The Pine Gap protests had mostly been a thankless campaign, where successes were marked only by the degrees of publicity achieved and by small and grudging changes of policy or title, but the base remained immovable and supported by the Australian Government throughout the period.
AUSSIE RULES: ROOS AND BLOODS OPEN ON TOP. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
The Super Roos pounced onto Traeger Park on Sunday as though they were out to let Central Australia know that the 2002 flag was theirs.
Coach Shaun Cusack had all guns blazing for the opening volley of the year, and as the game went on counterpart John Glasson responded with some telling salvos from his quarter that took it right up to the Kangas.
At the end of the day South ran out winners by three points, 19.13 (127) to 19.10 (124).
In the main event the laurels went the way of Wests with an 87 point win over Federal 23.14 (152) to 9.11 (65). While the scoreline indicated a decisive win, both sides came out with measured confidence.
The South versus Rovers encounter was played in many parts. At the first bounce Shaun Cusack, rather than manning centre half back, was in civvy attire and coaching from the sideline.
So too in the Rovers' box, John "Moose" Glasson declared himself as a non-playing coach.
On field Souths placed a side of true believers, with Adrian McAdam returning to the ranks; Willy Tilmouth , Darren Talbot, and Alby Timouth again displaying the colours; and Herman Sampson leading the push from the bush.
For Rovers, Roger Thompson led the charge of the new recruits, and the seasoned professional Karl Hampton joined the ranks, after a distinguished career with the Eagles.
South jumped to an early lead by scoring 6.3 to 3.4 in the first term. Charlie Maher, in fronting for the Roos, gave plenty of drive and capitalised with a goal. Gilbert Fishook came good with two; and other singles went the way of Trevor Presley, Brendan Forrester and Willy Tilmouth.
In response Rovers kept themselves in the game, with Kasman Spencer scoring and, the man they can never keep out of any game, Glen Holberton, nailing two.
The second quarter was yet another confidence-builder for the Roos. They booted five goals to three for the term and held a 32-point lead at the big break.
Willy Tilmouth proved the inspiration in this term with a three-goal haul. He ran through the half forward line with gay abandon leaving the Rovers defenders in his wake. Fishook chimed in with a goal, and the dynamic Darren Talbot slotted a major.
In reply Sherman Spencer showed signs of hitting his straps when he scored a goal; one came off the boot of Josh Schultz and a third from Holberton.At the half time break one would have expected the game to be South's for the taking, but as is often the case at Traeger Park the third term proved to be a challenge.
Nigel Lockyer opened proceedings from the forward pocket with a goal for the Supers after they had peppered three consecutive points through the behind posts.
Then in an inspirational turn of events the ball spent most of its time in the Rovers' zone. Sherman Spencer threaded one through from a half forward line set shot. Soon after he buttered up with six points from the pocket, then Edric Coulthard, accustomed to being seen in the backline scored a goal for the Blues.
The run was continued when Karl Hampton took a set shot from half forward and didn't let the side down. Points followed from the impressive monster Kriss Sparnon before Holberton again came into the picture with a goal from the pocket.
In a matter of 20 minutes, while South apparently had a sleep, the Blues had themselves back in the game. At three-quarter time only three points separated the sides, with South up 12.11 to 12.8.
The Roos came out breathing fire to start the last term. Jeremy Scrutton scored within the first minute from in front, and McAdam blazed a pearler through to re-establish command of the game. Brendan Forrester then put the Roos in a commanding position with a goal taken off hands in the square. Kasman Spencer then responded with a major for the Blues, even though by this stage he was moving on one leg.
Rovers were given yet another reprieve when Malcolm Ross, a gun for the Roos, was red carded. A point followed the incident, which was disappointing, but Kasman Spencer took control of the situation and brought Rovers back into the game with a goal.
In something of a turnaround, the now dubbed "hook foot" Sparnon from his mark, speared the ball between the posts like a true professional. Moments later Brett Wright stamped his name on the game with a goal to bring Rovers within two points. Full of confidence Spencer again goaled to arrest the lead.In the dying minutes of the game Holberton again burst onto the scene with a memorable performance. He kicked two consecutive goals, which many a commentator would describe in a colourful way. Despite this Rovers had established a lead and looked home for the money.But this was not to be. Souths got the run of the ball with McAdam scoring a goal thanks to a 50 metre decision; Shaun McCormack adding another with a soccer off the ground; and McAdam taking the ball off the pack in the goal square to have Souths hit the lead. The siren sounded with the Roos taking the points.
The main game was by no means up to the standard of the South versus Rovers challenge. The heart went out to the umpires, Greg Gilbert, Bruce Were and Andrew Modra, who lined up to umpire a second consecutive match. It was little wonder that Modra was munching on a banana as he ran back onto the arena!
With Andrew Crisp unavailable due to a broken hand, Michael Gurney for West tossed the coin with Fed's Darryl Ryder.
The Bloods showed no mercy from the first bounce with their mid-fielders, headed by Jarrod Berrington, forging the ball forward.
They had a seven goal to two first term, with Daryl Low instrumental in many of the Bloods' half forward line attacks.
Steven Squires capitalised on the opportunities at hand and scored three goals for the quarter; the optometrist from Coburg, showed promise with two; and singles went to Karl Gunderson, and Gurney who threaded through a true backman's punt. In reply, Federal had their share of the play. Daniel Palmer had three chances to goal and scored only one pointers. Ryan Thomson missed at his first chance and then nailed a goal, and Shane Buzzacott scored a major.
Being the confidence game that football is, the Bloods thrived from their quarter time position of 7.2 to 2.4 while Feds faded. West added six goals for the term to three. Berrington took full control of the centre and brought Adrian Dodson into play. The 17 year old, who has already run on several times for Southern Districts, fitted in well to the West game and was responsible for many attacking moves.
The other recruit, Slater, proved his true worth in the centre half forward position. He moved like a natural and besides scoring two goals himself, set the scene for Squires in the goal front.
By half time the game was bundled up in red and black, as the Bloods held a 36 point lead.
It lost tempo in the last half with West scoring five goals to two in each of the terms. Squires finished the day with 10 goals and proved that he has the ability to develop into a fine player.
Slater dominated at the centre half forward position and has been a major pick up.
Berrington is class, as shown by his performance with Rovers last year, and with a string of talent around him, 2002 could prove to be another top year for him.
Shaun Cantwell is still only a lad, and rucked well. But talking youngsters, credit should go to Luke Hodges, who played Under 18s, B Grade and then in the As!
The Federal camp, although going home 87 point losers, can take consolation from the performance. Palmer and Buzzacott are play-makers in the forwards. Darryl Ryder is a leader, and Francis Hayes, Darren Young and Derek Ronson are play-makers. Craig Turner and several others are due to return, and the club attitude is positive.
This week Pioneer make their first appearance for the year against West in what will be a blockbuster. South will take on Federal in the late game.
MARINA STROCCHI: LARGE FORMAT TO CATALOGUE BUSH. Review by KIERAN FINNANE.
Marina Strocchi's paintings read like a bowerbird's nest of symbols of the culture, or I should say cultures, of the bush.
They're mostly but not exclusively associated with the Northern Territory.
Ned Kelly pops up in a couple of the linens, and generic kitchen utensils in some of the gouaches, but the stamp of the Territory, where Strocchi has spent the last 10 years, is unmistakeable.
Its vast spaces, soon to be crossed by the long-promised railway, at a more intimate scale are populated by the vegetation of here the Western Desert, there the Top End, native and introduced animals, the ships of the north, the earth-moving machinery of mines in the south. Readabilty is suggested by the way the symbols are arranged on a flat plane in orderly lines and grids, like a storyboard or a panel of hieroglyphics.
Readability though, other than as an expression of affection and delight, is not Strocchi's concern.
"I'm trying to achieve harmony of colour, line, shape and pattern," she says. She could also add texture to the list: a couple of her large linens are very engaging for their carefully textured surface of short brush strokes.
The gouache surfaces are also interesting for their dense layering.
The small format gouaches are more what viewers are used to from Strocchi.
The exhibition that opened at Araluen on the weekend is a departure: Strocchi is working for the first time in a large format, making the transition with remarkable confidence.
Although with the first of these, Tennant Creek, she allowed more "air" into the frame, on the whole the large linens are as tightly packed as her smaller works. In this way they are like a catalogue of plenty, exuding an aura of repleteness, as after a delicious meal.
One could wonder though what would happen if Strocchi broke with this system?
The show includes explorations in a couple of different directions: there are two representational (as opposed to codefied) landscapes, both featuring Top End vegetation, Strocchi's strong sense of patterning responding particularly to the silhouettes of Woolley Butt trees. There is also a charming still life, The Kitchen, the room, its forms and colours lovingly rendered.
Strocchi has long been a facilitator of other people's work, in particular the painters of Haasts Bluff, whose influence especially on her motifs is apparent, and Kintore.
This show underlines for the local audience (she has already had three solo shows in Melbourne and has been acquired by major national collections) that she is a fine and committed artist in her own right.
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