ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
April 9, 2003.


ALCOHOL ABUSE STRATEGY: WE ARE DRINKING MORE! Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Liquor sales as measured in pure alcohol have increased by three per cent during the first nine months of the trial aimed at reducing grog related harm in Alice Springs.
This increase between April 1 last year and the end of January this year, over the preceding corresponding period, is despite a drop in tourist numbers, suggesting that drinking by locals has risen more sharply than three percent.
DASA's Nick Gill says the reason the overall consumption has gone up is because people who used to buy cask wine are now buying cask port.
"There was a strong push by the People's Alcohol Action Coalition to freeze the wholesale sales of fortified wines and spirits at the pre trial level.
"However, this was refused by the Licensing Commission," says Mr Gill.
Ian Crundall, of the Department of Health, says during the first nine months of the one year trial,
• alcohol related ambulance call-outs were 23 per cent lower;
• admissions to the sobering-up shelter were 27 per cent lower;
• Alice Springs Hospital emergency department presentations for complaints usually related to alcohol abuse – assault wounds, fractures – were 19 per cent lower;
• protective custodies were down 39 per cent, and drink-related loitering incidents 66 per cent;
• but alcohol-related disturbances – fighting, loud noise, disorderly behaviour – increased by 43 per cent;
• and admissions to the hospital for alcohol caused conditions, such as alcoholic poisoning and liver disease, rose from 29 to 82 – a whopping 280 per cent.
Dr Crundall says the evaluation of the trial, to be completed by the end of May, will deal with the seemingly contradictory results.
For example, a large number of people who previously may have been drinking in the creek are now frequenting the Gapview Hotel, with apparently successful dress and conduct rules in place.
Dr Crundall says the report will be presented to the Licensing Commission, which has undertaken to make it public.
He says people in 400 Alice households are being interviewed about their perceptions of the trial.
A separate team from the Division of Primary Health Care, headed by Perth academic Dennis Gray, is carrying out a survey in the town camps.



SKATERS: TALKING IT OVER. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

If only all community issues could be dealt with like this – touch wood!Last Wednesday's meeting, called by the Town Council to discuss skateboarding, was well attended, friendly and made progress.
Skaters were well represented, from older to younger enthusiasts.
They're a confident bunch, politely but firmly establishing their agenda at the outset, which is that skateboarding cannot be confined to the skatepark.
John Sharp explained the popularity of street skating in Alice. It's obviously how most of the skaters started – as the skatepark was only opened last year – and it's what they're good at.
They like the variety and the challenge, the different kinds of obstacles – stairs, railings and all the rest of the hair-raising tricks they do.
The park is "good", they'll continue to use it, but they won't abandon street skating.This said, the skaters signalled that they are prepared to compromise and asked to be met half way.
They asked to have designated hours and areas for skating in the mall. In this they received support from some of the adults in the audience.
Shawn Phillips from the YMCA suggested that the sites skaters favour –"Legends", in reference to area in front of the stairs to the former night club in the Alice Plaza, and the Sails – are hardly used outside of business hours.
Parents of skaters, Sue Wiles and Erwin Chlanda, also argued for compromise in the mall.
Mr Chlanda said that young people should not be excluded from the mall-using public.
Mrs Wiles said she has seen skating permitted in malls at times of low usage in Queensland towns.
"Let's face it, there are times you could fire a cannon ball down Todd mall and not hit anyone," she commented.
She suggested a survey be carried out to establish the hours and areas of low usage.
MLA Jodeen Carney had her own compromise to propose: an area within the Coles carpark could possibly be set aside at certain times.
MLA Richard Lim waxed eloquent on the challenges of a changing streetscape for the skaters and thought they should be given the right to meet those challenges. He earned himself a round of applause from the skaters.
Young skater Rowley Hill piped up: "The mall is not the only place we get told off."
Skaters have been moved on from all their favourite haunts, they all agreed. They have even suffered 24-hour bans from the CBD.
At the moment, skating in the entire length of the mall is forbidden under council by-laws.
Mayor Fran Kilgariff, who chaired the meeting, seemed to regard these as a fixed obstacle.
However that was challenged from the floor: in the view of one man, by-laws are only by-laws, they can be changed. He suggested that if the council can set aside parts of the mall for al fresco dining, they can "do the same for the kids".
(In a subsequent media release, Ms Kilgariff said council will investigate "the option of opening up sections of the Todd Mall to skaters during times of minimal pedestrian use".)
Clarification was sought about laws governing skating in streets outside the mall.
There doesn't seem to be a specific ban, but laws relating to "nuisance value to the public" can be applied, said Acting Police Superintendent Geoff Sullivan.
"People want to be able to walk the streets unhindered," he said.
"There's a time and a place for everything."
Henry Szczypiorski from the Town Council raised the issue of noise "which may be offensive to businesses".
This was acknowledged as an issue by Mr Phillips.
John Sharp queried the objection, as buskers are allowed to use the mall. (Let's hope they produce a better effect than the sound of a travelling skateboard or they should stick to their day job!)
A mall shopkeeper reported that he had had his window smashed by a flying skateboard and was against any compromise usage in the mall.
Skater Eddie Alexander asked him if he blames all drivers for car accidents and wasn't that what he was doing in relation to skaters.
Speakers who took the floor several times and opposed compromise in the mall were Des Rogers, ATSIC regional chair and Gavin (he didn't give a last name) from the Youth Night Patrol.
Mr Rogers asked for recognition of ATSIC's contribution to the partnership that created the skatepark – along with the Town Council and the Territory Government – and signalled ATSIC's desire to be involved in the solutions.
Gavin said the Youth Night Patrol was available in the mall on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights (between 9pm and 2am) to give lifts to the skatepark.
One of the skaters asked him for the phone number.
Gavin also said the patrol vehicle drives past the skatepark several times on those nights.
The mayor then directed the discussion specifically to issues affecting the skatepark.
Skaters and parents agreed that the issues are: security from bullying and theft; access to toilets; and provision of night lights, shade and water.
Roger Bottrall from the council noted that some lights have been installed and more may be added later on; some fencing has been constructed; a bubbler installed; and a bank of toilets are being constructed along Speed Street.
Would these be close enough, he asked.
He said money would be set aside in next year's budget for landscaping around the park to eventually produce a "very attractive and useful area for skaters and bike riders".
A parent suggested that toilets in Traeger Park or the Lyle Kempster baseball field could be accessed.
A number of skaters argued for incorporation of the park in the Swimming Centre.
This was supported by Mrs Wiles, who noted that two of the Caloundra (Qld) skateparks are within swimming complexes, with a nominal entry of 50 cents charged.
Mr Phillips said access to the pool facilities (toilets, phone, kiosk) for users of the park had been allowed in summer but not publicised because the situation would change as soon as the pool closed.
There was a lot of concern over bullying, which Rowley Hill said happens "every minute of every day".
A parent, whose children had been intimidated at the park, said that there is no particular time for bullying, it can happen at any time. If certain gangs turn up, "it's time to leave".
A skater suggested it was another reason for skating up town: "If they bully you, you can walk into a shop."
Gavin from Youth Night Patrol said the skatepark is not well located in this regard: "If you're in trouble, it's a long way to run."Earlier, Supt Sullivan had encouraged skaters to report instances of bullying. His own son had received "a thumping" and had not told his dad until much later.
Supt Sullivan said while police can roster infrequent patrols to the park, they would also like to be able to prosecute offenders. That would require the victims to come forward.
One skater said he could name the bullies.
A parent said many children won't name bullies for fear of reprisals.
Skater Peter Jefford asked what maintenance was done at the park, for instance to clear away broken glass and to scrub out graffiti saying "Kill white boys".
Many of the solutions to security at the park have public liability implications.
Ms Kilgariff said the council would look into whether it would be exposed to public liability if there were provision of a youth worker, as opposed to a supervisor, at certain hours.
OPEN ACCESSShe also said free and open access to the park had been an important part of its original concept.
Jane Vadiveloo from Tangentyere Council said bullying could be related to tensions between "the haves and the have nots", noting the expense of skateboarding as a hobby.
She said Tangen-tyere's youth program is looking at ways it might be able to provide some gear for aspiring Indigenous skaters.
She said they are also looking at whether their sport and recreation officer, as well as the day and night patrols, could be present at the park at certain times.
Tangentyere would be happy to be part of a partnership working towards solutions.
Taking off her Tangentyere hat, Ms Vadiveloo then spoke as a member of the public, noting that she does not have children of her own: "Our life is our kids," she said, "it's a shame to push them out of our public spaces."
The meeting wound up with the formation of a working group, with representatives from the Town Council, the Territory Government (apparently unrepresented at the meeting), ATSIC, Tangentyere, YMCA and the police.
Sue Wiles nominated as a parent representative.
On the suggestion of Des Rogers, some Indigenous youth representatives will be sought.
The skaters held out for six positions on the group, which was accepted by the mayor. Although young skaters (around 12 years old) had been quite outspoken, Nic Wiles said their views would be represented by the older skaters.
They were all smiling from ear to ear. Listening goes a long way.


NT UNIVERSITY FORUM: WAR A THREAT TO TERRITORY'S RELATIONSHIP WITH NORTHERN NEIGHBOURS.

SUMMARY prepared by KIERAN FINNANE
The war on Iraq does not make good sense for Australia nor the region to our immediate north, according to Northern Territory University academics.In a symposium at the university last Wednesday, titled Making sense of the war in Iraq, three out of four academics outlined the case for gloom as they see it.
Professor Bob Catley, Foundation Professor of Governance and current Head of the School of Business, argued that access to oil – "the energy life-blood of the world economy and the feedstock for much of its most advanced industries" – is at the heart of the US strategy in propagating this war.
The war is consistent with a 60 year old US strategy for global economic dominance, said Prof Catley.
He saw the outcome of the war as likely to ensure access to oil "but unlikely to produce a democratic revolution throughout the Middle East".
"Any reduction in anti-US sentiment in the region is also unlikely in the short term as a result of this war."In a comment to the Alice Springs News, Prof Catley said Australia's exposure in this regard is not great."I don't think Australia is getting much airplay in the major Arab media," he said.
"We are not a prominent player."
However, he did see an increased risk of terrorism against Australia "as one country among many".
In his paper, Prof Catley put US expenditure on its efforts in Iraq at 200 billion dollars."This cost is most likely to ensure that the forces in Washington who have achieved this strategy are unlikely to be able to repeat it in Iran, North Korea or elsewhere.
"This will be an expensive victory," concluded Prof Catley.
Dr Siva Ram Vemuri, also of the School of Business, proffered a different – and more unusual – interpretation of the economic strategy behind the war.
Said Dr Vemuri: "The purpose, stated in simple economic terms, is that there is regime in place [in Iraq] that is unwilling to promote economic development of ordinary people.
"There are resources locked up in foreign banks that ‘justifiably' belong to the people of Iraq which can only be unleashed if the regime is overthrown.
"So by overthrowing the regime of the Baath party, distribution of wealth can be made more equitable. So the economics of war is a war on distribution."The economics of the war for Australia seemed too fluid for detailed comment from Dr Vemuri. However, his guestimates of the cost of war put the Australian bill at $25m a day. He based this on a "very rough" estimate "that our direct involvement is one per cent of the involvement of US".
In the most detailed paper at the symposium, Dr Dennis Shoesmith, Senior Lecturer in Political Science, argued that in taking part in the war, Australia has banked on its bilateral relationship with Washington " as almost the sole basis of Australian security".
Dr Shoesmith said "one assumes" that the Australian Government has factored in to this the significant consequences for our regional relationships.
As he outlined them, focussing particularly on Indonesia and Malaysia, they are in the most moderate scenario "uncomfortable".
In the worst case scenario, "our involvement in Iraq may contribute to the deterioration of our regional security", argued Dr Shoesmith.
That scenario is:
• widening ethnic and religious unrest;
• the proliferation of terrorist groups;
• and, not only the collapse of governments but the overthrow of state systems.
This seems to be more likely in Indonesia, our most populous and powerful neighbour, than in Malaysia, in Dr Shoesmith's analysis.
Said Dr Shoesmith: "Both Indonesia and Malaysia will hold national elections in 2004.
"In both countries Islamic parties are positioning themselves to increase their influence within the state.
"The heightened religious consciousness evoked by the war on terror and the war in Iraq may well encourage a groundswell of Islamic indignation that will translate into record votes for the Islamic parties in these elections.
"If that surge of votes is high enough, the nature of the state itself may come under challenge in Indonesia and Malaysia."He saw the capacity for the governing élite in Indonesia to successfully project central state authority as "weaker than at any time since the 1960s".
At the same time he saw evidence of mainstream Muslim politicians moving to a more radical position in the wake of the war on Iraq and the war against terror.
He cited the public position of Amien Rais – chair of the People's Consultative Assembly and expected to run for the presidency in 2004 – as one indicator.Amien is also a former head of the 30 million-strong Islamic Modernist organisation, Muham-madiyah.
Said Dr Shoesmith: "Responding to Bush's decision to invade Iraq, Amien compared Bush to Stalin, calling him an ‘insane cowboy'."On March 31 … he delivered a letter to the United Nations demanding that President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair be tried in an international court ‘for their unjustified use of force against the people of Iraq'.
"He told reporters: ‘Like [former Serbian president] Slobodan Milosevic who is being tried in the Hague, George Bush can also not avoid similar charges as a war criminal'."The current head of Muhammadiyah, like the leadership of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Muslim organisation in Indonesia, has called for peaceful protest against the war.However, said Dr Shoesmith, "smaller, more militant organisations like the Islamic Defenders' Front have called for volunteers to go to fight on the side of Iraq".
"If Indonesian volunteers do fight in Iraq, those who return will be battle hardened recruits for local terrorist groups (as happened with volunteers who fought in Afghanistan)."
Dr Bill Wilson, Lecturer in History and Politics, saw little comfort for the Prime Minister in the increase of support for the war since its outbreak. He saw this more as support for the troops than support for the PM's position and that a "a dirty long war" could "easily see a swing back to supremacy of the anti-war movement".
He described leader of the Opposition, Simon Crean as irrelevant, saying "it is just a question of when the challengers [for the leadership] emerge".
He predicted that "the divisions caused by the war will linger and, whatever side is in power, there will be a divided society which is going to be hard to govern".
"Are we as a nation now at higher risk of terrorist attacks against Australian interests?" he asked."Yes, undoubtedly. As Australia becomes more and more identified as one of the aggressor states then I believe the risk will grow, maybe not on continental Australia but certainly against our interests somewhere in the world."
In the worst case scenario, he saw Australia as "one of three pariah states, alone in the South Pacific with hardly any friends".
In the most likely scenario, Dr Wilson saw Australia emerging on the side of the victorious allies, with "a Liberal Government basking in the reflected glory of a successful military operation", but "we'll be a frightened nation as we wonder where the next terrorist will strike at Australia".



ALICE SUMMER START IN TWO VANS, NO AIRCON, LITTLE ENGLISH AND BAGS MISSING. BOOK REVIEW by KIERAN FINNANE.

We're almost past the days when we complain about the heat – for this year anyway – but while they were still with us, I started to read Mien Blom's second volume of autobiography, Red Hot Soup, and decided I should never complain again.
Mien and husband Fred arrived in Alice Springs from the Netherlands, with their six children aged four to 12, in October 1971.
It was a hot summer from the start, at least in Mien's memory, with temperatures in the high thirties to early forties day after day.
We all know what that's like, but try it with six kids in two aluminium caravans, no shade, no air-conditioning, not much money, not much English language and most of your luggage delayed in transit for another seven weeks!
Part of the ordeal was down to Mien's brother, Sam, whom she brings to life quite vividly as a man too used to living on his own, and a perfectionist with a time management problem.
She and Fred had been expecting to rent from him the house he was building, but have to make do with the garage and caravans for many months to come.
The details of Sam's various procrastinations with the house, in favour of, for example, an elaborate kitchen sink, are funny and touching.
In some respects unlucky with her brother, Mien was lucky enough with many others. She and Fred were occasionally treated badly, but often with kindness, which they repaid with their involvement in community life at many levels.
Before their first Christmas they were offered the use of a large air-conditioned house for six weeks. I breathed a sigh of relief with them when they were able to leave behind for while the narrow vinyl bunks in the aluminium caravans and the cooking and washing for nine in the improvised facilities of the garage.
Apart from the initial accommodation, Mien evokes the kind of small town life that is often regretted, when Alice had a population of eleven and half thousand, interactions between people were more informal and they made their own fun.
I loved, as one example, Mien's description of the midnight Mass of their first Christmas in Alice:
"People flocked to the church from all sides, and in all states. Most were dressed up in their very best, but some came in their work clothes. Several obviously came from a Christmas party or straight from the pub, as they seemed quite drunk. At the back of the church, people stepped over a well-dressed young man who seemed unconscious.
A whiff of alcohol nearly choked me when I passed by …
Later, in his welcome address, Father M said how good it was that even a bloke in such a state had made the effort to get to midnight Mass …
"There were a lot more Aboriginal people than on Sundays, when no more than half a dozen attended Mass.
"They were usually very shy, their eyes cast firmly down to the pavement and keeping as much distance as possible when they passed us in the street. But they seemed happy and at home in the church."I didn't understand much of what was being said, but the service was quite entertaining. Crying babies were continuously being plugged with dummies. Toddlers wandered away, sucking on bottles with milk or cordial, and dogs walked in from the street, looking for their owners.
"Some of the townsfolk, men as well as women, were snoring their heads off, sleeping right through the service, while others were talking as if they had not seen each other for years. I later learned that that was probably the case for many of them. Some people answered back to the priest or commented aloud on what he said. Most of the time Father M didn't take any notice, but occasionally he stopped speaking until it was quiet before he continued the sermon."
I can't imagine much of any of that happening today.
Mien and Fred were able to break quite a few social barriers by loving to dance and all the parties they went seem to have involved dancing, and there were plenty of balls as well
Mien observes that the arrival of television had a negative impact not only on the drive-in but on this "active social life of balls, musicals, plays, parades, and other events soon suffered badly too."
There is something rather satisfying in following the blow by blow move from insecurity and discomfort to the establishment of the family in town. It's a tale of the ordinary travails of a migrant in this country, exacerbated by the demands of the Centralian environment, which could hardly be in greater contrast to the Holland left behind.
It's valuable and moving for that, and has a probably unforeseen resonance at this time, more than 30 years later, when immigration has again moved to the forefront of issues to be considered by Australians.
Perhaps it is because she seems to be someone who has lived with her emotions close to the surface that Mien is vividly able to convey the many anxieties of being in a new land, as well as the rewards of overcoming them and of being able to take up the opportunities on offer.
She clearly has an exceptional recall of detail. For some readers it will be excessive, but I appreciated her picture of ordinary daily life, from all the sewing that she did to the family's physical ailments and the quarrels between husband and wife as they struggled with their responsibilities and desires to make the best of their new life.
Most moving is her account of her own struggle to work outside the home.
Her ambition to become a nurse, thwarted by circumstance and conservative attitudes in Holland, is partially fulfilled when she gets work as a nurse's aide at Old Timers.
The book takes a different direction at this point as Mien collects the stories of the residents, and reveals her ability to listen and empathise with others and retell their stories in an engaging way.
Red Hot Soup has much to offer readers interested in the "micro" history of Alice Springs, in stories of migrants, stories of ordinary families and of women in particular.


Wake up and smell the desert roses. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

Some white liberal-minded, middle class and middle-aged men not only support minority causes but also wish they were one.
But, as a white male, it's hard to be part of a minority. This may explain why some choose to wear Aboriginal tee-shirts at anti-nuclear marches or gay pride badges when we are as straight as, well, the next straight person.
Yes, believe it or not, victimhood is something that people like us covet, so long as it is not too serious, like being a victim of physical violence or sustaining something that affects our superannuation. My answer was to become a cyclist. That way I can be abused and occasionally have my rights infringed, but not in a way that causes lasting damage to my self-esteem or home loan.
A recent example illustrates the point. I was riding along Undoolya Road in the early evening, looking forward to another cheese sandwich for my evening meal, when I heard someone swearing loudly at someone else. "That's a bit strong," I thought. "Let's hope it doesn't turn violent." My thoughts returned to the sandwich. Should I have pickle or chutney on it?
Then I realised that the swearing was directed at me.
The driver of a ute was leaning out of the window to suggest that I might use the cycle path in future. He didn't put it quite like that. It was more, sort of, abusive.
I think he wanted to round the bend into Kurrajong Drive at sixty kilometres per hour rather than fifty. Anyway, whatever the reason, I relish this kind of situation. It gives me a good excuse to bleat about how cyclists are a persecuted minority but without suffering any of the kind of lasting prejudice endured by minorities of race, sexuality, religion or appearance.
Anyway, last week I was once again feeling victimised, this time by some minor injustice to my distant and under-achieving home town soccer team. So I fired off an indignant email to an old friend. "These big, powerful clubs are stealing our players by offering them superior wages,' I whined.
Next day came a reply from him that was not what I expected. "What is the matter with you?" was the gist. "There's a war going on affecting the lives of millions and all you can do is carp about your (expletive deleted) tiny and pathetic team." My response was characteristically too lame to print here.
Pause for thought. I can remember the Falklands War and the Gulf War. I spent them in earnest debate with anti-war and pro-war people. I sat on bar stools, drinking pints of warm ale with my mates. We wore tweed jackets with patches on the elbows. Our hair was a mess. But all the time we focussed on the one subject of importance: the War. We didn't let minor issues get in the way until it was over. So what happened to turn me into someone who thinks that sport is more important?
Only two changes have happened since those halcyon days. One is that I have become older and more decrepit. Everyone knows that the older you get, the more mellow you become. Mellow being another word for apathetic. The other is that I live in Alice Springs now.
Oh no, has the NT bug bitten me? The one that makes you think that nothing in the news will ever have any impact on your own little world. It's like riding in a coach, gazing out of the windows at the world going by, tucking into fast food and wondering what those people are doing shooting at each other.
Be reasonable. Let's not blame our remoteness this time. Surely there is a genuine dilemma here, whether you live in LA or Larapinta. When the entire world is falling apart, when the SARS virus has crossed the desert, will we still take advantage of special offers for family ten-pin at the Dustbowl?
When global warming has made the Centralian desert like the Sahara desert (or whatever it is going to do) and when globalisation has made every place basically the same, will we still go enter Tattslotto and watch tittle-tattle on TV?How bad does it have to get for the routine daily activities to become trivial in comparison to the real events in the world?
And for the trivial to become dangerous apathy? Let's hope we never have to wake up and find out.
afishoutofwater@bigpond.com



Don't mention the war! COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.

There's nothing wrong with a little escapism now and then: it allows us to dream before reality hits and we have to shift the focus back to current events and each day as it unfolds. Life as we know it …"Don't mention the war!" was a popular catchphrase in episodes of Dad's Army and Fawlty Towers: so let's not mention it, let's concentrate on anything but, because the time frame to secure Baghdad, capture Saddam Hussein and get in and out of Iraq, within a fortnight has now well and truly over run.
Latest bulletins suggest that the incursion by our Allied Forces could go on for at least another three months. It's difficult to find distractions, apart from playing favourite music, because every television screen, radio station and newspaper is bringing us news of the war as it happens. It's like a long running soapie – reality television – but there's no "big brother", there are thousands of them, together with sons, husbands, fathers, daughters, wives and sisters, which is hard to bring into perspective as we receive this blow by blow coverage.
Friend Lori, over lunch, was telling us that her young son, Ben, who has never been particularly interested in toy guns, is having a lot of fun finger firing at her from various hiding places around the house and garden – "Stick ‘em up, you're dead!" "Bang, got you again!"
Michael Moore's documentary style film, Bowling for Columbine is currently screening nationwide. According to the BBC News, May 2002, Moore said he was "blown away" (an interesting choice of words considering the doco explores America's love affair with guns and the gun culture generally in the USA) when his film was selected for competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
Reviews have been interesting. One of the kindest, perhaps, appears in Senses of Cinema and was written by an Australian film maker, Spiro Economopoulus.In the meantime, back in our neighbourhood, young children are running around pretending to shoot other kids with water pistols, sticks, brooms, cricket bats, anything that looks remotely like a gun. Some of our juveniles are picking up any missile, rocks in particular, and creating havoc on Alice streets.
It was with total shock and disbelief that most people reacted to the news of the brutal crossbow attack on two schoolgirls in a New South Wales schoolyard last week. Is the "in your face" approach to reporting the war in Iraq, in fact any conflict, Northern Ireland, Bosnia or Afghanistan, influencing young people to enact aggressive war games against others? Do the kids think life is like the movies - it doesn't matter how many times people get shot and die, they're back on the screen next week?
I sat in front of my blank computer screen and typed "survival suit" then pushed "search" – loads of sites came up. Most of them seemed to be targeting yachties and people who enjoy water sports: anti-exposure suits with flotation and hypothermia protection would prove life-saving in a boating mishap anywhere.
A very informative Preparedness Centre website offers thermo-lite all weather emergency survival gear for every conceivable natural occurrence from cyclones to earthquakes, floods and fire.A link to another special site, Disaster Systems and Kits, offers environmental and anti-terrorism protection equipment and supplies and broadens the list of possible disasters to include biohazard chemical spills. A check-list ensures that life may carry on: batteries, torches, portable transistor radios, solar powered cookers and torches, compasses, a how to convert the pantry into a bulk storage cupboard by ensuring a supply of heavy duty zip-lock bags, jars with sealed lids and a supply of dehydrated, freeze-dried, powdered and canned products. There's also a reminder that water may be stored in any container which is obviously water-proof – barrels, boxes, packets and bottles.I then tapped in "gas masks": on offer are Russian and Israeli style filters and masks for protection against every conceivable disaster including nuclear, biological and chemical warfare, also anti-radiation tablets and survival suits. Rick from the Alice Disposal Store said that customer enquiry for protection equipment is very strong.It's possibly the fastest growing business as people universally, Alicephiles included, react to world events and underlying threats and purchase "escape kits", gas masks and survival suits.
That's where escapism is handy. If there was large scale destruction globally, would the "New World" be any better than the one we may leave behind – this one where we're proving we don't seem to be able to co-exist together. I guess a true believer would say: of course, the Brave New World will be idyllic.




GROG: NO SHAME IN ADMITTING THE PROBLEM, SAYS LETTER WRITER BETTY PEARCE.

Sir,- Recently Kieran Finnane has been interviewing Aboriginals on the effects / results of the alcohol restrictions over the last 12 months (Alice News, March 5 & 26).
There are a number of issues that should be addressed; I will attempt to address two.
The first is that there is no shame in admitting to any problem, whether it is alcohol or anything else.
Ms Abbott and Ms Turner must be congratulated on their stand to try and bring out into the open the alcohol problem.
The shame is in the Aboriginal organisation providing services to the town camps, in this case Tangentyere Council, for putting pressure on Aboriginals to hide any problems, alcohol or otherwise.
When problems are hidden by excuses like shame, they are made worse.
My second point is that alcohol restrictions are all very well, but they perpetuate the dependency syndrome.
People, whether they be Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, must be responsible for their alcohol or other substance abuse. They must decide for themselves whether they use or abuse the substance.
With education programs, people would be given the information they need. Service providers like Tangentyere Council are in an ideal position to provide educational programs and also to put pressure on government to include substance abuse and family violence awareness in the school curriculum.
After all, the people on the town camps are not just numbers for more money without real results for the unpopular issues such as alcohol and family violence problems.
Betty Pearce
Alice Springs

Shock and awe

Sir,- Response to recent television news items: Those so keen to support use of military might, so squeamish about seeing resulting casualties, please explain your unwillingness to be presented with the effects of your attitudes?Let the shock and awe be known by all.
Speak not of truth and honesty while avoiding awareness of the conditions of victims, be it "theirs" or ours.
That children do not know who Saddam Hussein is, need not invalidate their protestation that war is the worst option, being infliction of death and destruction which contradicts what they are being taught to strive for – peace and procreation. All things have a begin/grow/decay cycle, of nature, or of God, as you may prefer to call, without need of humanly ignorant, hostile, and too often arbitrary interruption.
Or am I mistaken about what education presents these days?
Wonder not that youth suicide be so much more than before?
Forget not, we willingly defend our place, as do any who are attacked by strangers from afar…Think about it?
Robert Drogemuller
Alice Springs

Smiling faces

Sir,- While waiting for my wife to get ready for church last night, I saw on Public Broadcasting Station a man touring Australia.
I had only a short time to watch, but saw a map with his route and a short segment on your town.
I wish I had more time to watch this special on Alice Springs, but the five minutes that I saw stayed with me last night, and I had to find your newspaper on the internet.
To see smiling faces from a world away was pleasing.
Hope the citizens of Alice Springs live and prosper in internal peace.
Allan Scott
Bluffton, Indiana USA
ajscott@parlorcity.com


THEY ARE WINNERS!

By KIERAN FINNANEIt's a classic silver lining to a dark cloud story.
Sarah Chunys, recovering from severe depression, has worked hard to get a message out there about young people's mental health.
She urges youth suffering depression or experiencing suicidal thoughts to get help, to not be afraid to talk.
To those who can help, she says don't be afraid to listen.
On Saturday night her efforts earnt her a Territory Young Achiever award in the Regional Initiative category.
At 19, she was the youngest recipient in this year's awards.
And Saturday's gala occasion at the Carlton Hotel in Darwin was just the start of a string of engagements for Sarah.
She travelled on to Brisbane where yesterday she helped launch Ybblue, the youth campaign of the national Beyond Blue depression initiative, chaired by former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett.
Sarah came to the attention of Beyond Blue last year after she spoke at the national conference of the Australian Division of General Practice.
"I'm just a normal kid who has come out the other side of depression," says Sarah.
"I can tell other kids that life may not be that wonderful, but it is still worth living."I still have my bad days but I can cope."
Today Sarah speaks at the opening ceremony of the Brainwaves Festival, also in Brisbane and again with a theme of mental health for young people.
She'll also help facilitate a question and answer forum on depression as one of the many activities of the festival.
A 60 Minutes crew will meet up with her there and start filming her story before coming on to Alice Springs.
This has been planned since December. Sarah says it's "really weird" but is taking it in her stride.As part of the program they will fly out to Alice a Canadian friend from childhood who by strange coincidence went through severe depression at the same time as Sarah did.
Sarah was born in Canada and lived there until she was five years old.
In May she'll go back for the first time, the trip made possible by her engagement to speak at a Child and Youth Health conference for health professionals from around the world.
"I got a letter from them, saying ‘Dear Dr Chunys', and asking me to do all this research. I rang and told them, ‘Look, I'm just 19…' They said great, come anyway."
After that she'll take a break for a while.
"It's going to be pretty full on but I'm looking forward to all the stuff and Mum gets a holiday as well – she deserves it."Her mother has been a constant support during Sarah's recovery.
"We've got a really good relationship, we understand each other now."
Normal life will seem pretty quiet in contrast but Sarah is increasingly more active. She is tutoring an autistic child; has just finished a stint of swimming coaching (she used to swim competitively for the Territory and was a competitive track and field athlete); and is training as an aerobics instructor.
"It's hard work but it's nice to get out and be social and do physical things," she says.
Alice Springs had another Young Achiever recognised on Saturday, 22 year old Glenis McBurnie, who won in the environment category.
Glenis is currently in her third year of a horticultural apprenticeship at the Desert Park.
Raised and educated in Alice Springs, in Year 12 she was awarded the NTCE Academic Excellence Award for Biological Science.
She successfully completed a Green Corps traineeship, working and training in conservation and the environment.During the second year of her current apprenticeship Glenis researched, wrote and presented a paper, titled The Germination of Central Australian Plant Seed after Long-Term Storage, to the annual conference of the International Plant Propagators' Society. This won her the coveted Rod Tallis Youth Award.
In 2002 Glenis was one of three Youth Ambassadors for the Outback.
Both Sarah and Glenis were presented with trophies and $1000 cheques.
Young Achiever of the Year was Jason Lee, 25, who also won in the Career Achievement category. A doctor, Jason is currently working at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.


BROTHERS BATTLE IN BUGGIES. By ERWIN CHLANDA with JOL FLEMING

The Coulthard brothers fought a spirited duel in round one of the NT off-road championships at Mt Ooraminna on the weekend, with Chris narrowly beating Anthony.
The super fast Class Two buggies slogged it out over a total of 228 kms, four races over the 38 km course, including one at night, and three sprints.
Co-pilots were Matt Wharton and Anthony's wife, Jo.
The winning aggregate time was 2 hrs 29 min 30 sec – an average speed of just under 100 kmh over the challenging dirt tracks.
Anthony finished in 2/34/18 with Damien Smart and Shane Braitling coming third in 2/42/33.
Alice Springs based Australian Safari contender Bruce Muir, with Theo Van-Luenen riding shotgun, came fourth.
The surprise of the day was Shannon Lander (with Vance Glynn in the left-hand seat), who came fifth out of an original field of 19, in his first ever buggy race, doing the distance in 2/48/22.
The big Class One cars were nowhere to be seen, not because they aren't fast, but because of reliability over – when compared to the Finke – the shorter distances,Also, this was the first race of the year, and the big buggies take a lot more sorting than the lower powered Class Two machines.
The big guys will get the chance in the Finke, where they can strut their horsepowers.
Nine vehicles did not finish, including one roll-over in the last race of the day, luckily without any injuries.
The main problems were fuel pumps, clutches, a wheel fell off a big Chev ... and so it went.
The next race meeting at Mt Ooraminna will be on May 11, followed by a break for the Finke.
Round two of the NT Championships will be run on October 25 - that's when the drivers play for keeps.
The Alice – inspired by the Finke – takes the lead in Territory off-road racing, with hardly any activity in other centres, including Darwin.
The excellent facilities, less than 40 km south of town on the Old South Road, have been progressively expanded.
They now include a U-shaped area with a dozen covered pits, a well-stocked canteen and washrooms in the middle, and surrounded by great camping spots in a picturesque stand of desert oaks.
The beer's pretty cold ... not a bad place to spend the weekend!


RACING: 2-YEAR-OLDS PARADE. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.

The two year olds had their chance to parade at Pioneer Park on the weekend, with the first of the Trobis Triple Crown Series contested.
Bonuses were up for grabs along with the chance to progress through the series in the coming carnival by way of winning the Jansz Dash and then the William Inglis &Son Red Centre Classic.The Hourglass Jewellers sponsored event had to be divided in two as there were so many acceptances. This meant that first up a consolation race was run, followed by the Triple Crown event.
In the consolation sponsored by Hourglass, Getting Lucky lived up to his name by leading all the way and scoring an impressive 12 and a half length victory over Archie Bay, with Spin Dusty three and three quarter lengths behind in third place.
The Hourglass Jewellers Sprint was then run, with Darwin visitor Delway leading all the way. He was provided early with a degree of pressure from Awash but when it mattered proved too strong for Drifter who had to cope with top weight and the outside barrier. The favourite, Not Abandoned sat midfield in the running and was able to make up enough ground to take third prize money.In looking at times, Getting Lucky can be considered unlucky as in the consolation he recorded a time one second faster than that of Delway, but hasn't now the opportunity to race for the Triple Crown.The 1400 metre Class Four Handicap saw Our Mate Jack leave the ring as favourite, and he made every post a winner early, with Surrenders tracking behind, and Edge to Edge and Murphy's Prize in the running.
In the straight Surrenders proved too strong and ran past Our Mate Jack to win by a length. The horses carried 59 kgs and 60 kgs respectively, and came out of the inside barriers.
Hence the result may indicate that Surrenders is better suited up to a mile, while Our Mate Jack is bred for the shorter distances. Edge to Edge was a length and a quarter away in third place.
In the 1400 metre Peter Losh Class Three Handicap, the favourite, Merits led, with Mr Cardin nicely placed in fourth spot and travelling well. In the run home Mr Cardin showed his class by going to the line a three and a half length winner. Jayashari came home nicely for second and longer distance may suit, while Merits filled the placings.Vivian Oldfield sent Cypress Lakes out with Joel Hallam on board in the 1500 metre Mick Stumbles Open Handicap, and it was too good. Cypress Lakes scored by six and a quarter lengths from the Class Four performer Solario, with Magic Weasel filling the placings.
The Pharmacist had the punters in for the Simon Price Class D over 1100 metres, but it wasn't to be. Regent Copy led early, but was headed in the straight by The Pharmacist. Regent Copy kicked again however and worried The Pharmacist out of it to win by a head, with Saratoga Bay two and a quarter lengths behind in third place.
The last of the day, the Robert Thompson Handicap, was raced over 1200 metres for Class Five horses. Navigator led the field early, with Punk opting this week to sit back off the lead.
On the turn the Ursula Dobbe owned and trained Gong Napar was guided through a gap in the running by Danielle Lockwood and the 10-1 chance stormed home to win by a length. Navigator held on to take second place, while Punk finished a half a length away third.


AUSSIE RULES AGAIN. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.

The smell of liniment will pervade Traeger Park on Sunday, heralding the start of the 2003 Aussie Rules season in Alice Springs.
In contrast to the traditional Easter carnival, the CAFL will stage a one match A Grade draw card at the park.
South will play Federal at 2pm, and spectators will be allowed to stroll through the gates free of charge.
The game holds plenty in store for all followers of the code. Federal looked as though they were on their knees pre Christmas, but a spirited campaign by the incoming president has seen the pioneering club rise from the ashes, to face another year.
It was expected that the Santa Teresa connection would provide the club with the players necessary to field A, B, and Colts Grade players. Rolfe however extended Federals' interest, announcing that he and his talent scouts were also looking in the Hermansburg district for players.
Meanwhile, in town itself another unexpected event turned the Feds' cards yet again. Michael Graham, who coached the Red and White side last year, put his hand up for another season in the hot seat, only to have to stand down when his partner accepted a position in Perth. In his place came the appointment of Gilbert McAdam.
The attraction of the former Magarey Medallist has already had a positive effect, with pleasing numbers turning out to in town training.
At the helm of the Roo outfit this year is Gilbert's brother, Greg McAdam who learned the game at both North Adelaide and St Kilda. Greg has the respect of players and fans in the South camp and should be able to ensure a stable year, with the South younger brigade coming to the fore.
Over the Easter weekend the Lightning Carnival will be played, with over 20 communities expected to vie for honours against the CAFL sides.
Last year's was a landmark carnival, with community sides pressing the CAFL all the way. Stars of the weekend were Laramba and Mimili, and it will be interesting to observe just how much the gap between the two competitions is closing.
From the weekend of April 26 and 27 regular competition will begin for the country sides of a Saturday and the CAFL of a Sunday.
There will be no games played on the Finke and Show weekends in June and July, whereas over the Picnic Day weekend in August, while the communities contest the Yuendumu sports, the CAFL will play a normal round.
The season will wind up on September 21, a week before the AFL grand final.

Return to Alice Springs News Webpage.