LOCAL GOVERNMENT PLANS SOUND GREAT BUT THERE'S NO MONEY. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
NT Government plans to reform local government in the bush will be "long on rhetoric and short on detail" as long as it remains unclear where the massive amount of money needed will be coming from.
Yet the issue is critical for all Territorians because anti social behaviour sweeping the major towns has its roots in the catastrophic conditions on remote communities.
That is the view of Cecil Black, president of the NT Local Government Association (LGANT).
He says there is concern that money will be taken from the four municipal councils Ð Alice Springs, Darwin, Katherine and Tennant Creek.
And it is unclear what support the Federal Government - the major source of local government funds administered by the NT Government - will give to ambitions plans unveiled by Territory Local Government Minister John Ah Kit in Alice Springs this month.
There are currently 63 "councils" in the NT, some with just a few employees and a number of them close to bankruptcy.
Mr Ah Kit says he will set up five Regional Development Boards covering Central Australia; the Barkly and Gulf; Katherine; East Arnhem and Top End.
These will "offer planning and coordination across regions, but no powers of direction.
"That will remain in the hands of individual councils," says Mr Ah Kit.
"Councils may choose to join up to form Regional Authorities, [which will include] business stakeholders in the region."
While Mr Ah Kit stressed these boards were not "another tier of government" he made it clear that funding will depend on the willingness of small councils to work together, in about 20 Regional Authorities.
While councils would not be forced to join these, Mr Ah Kit said there would be stringent requirements for accountability, efficiency and economy.
But Ald Black says: "It's all very well to have these ideas, but the bottom line has got to be money."
And so far the NT Government has allocated less than $2m for the scheme, $800,000 for additional community development officers, $500,000 for the preparation of regional development plans and $600,000 for a Capacity Development Fund.
"It's just a drop in the ocean," says Ald Black.
"You can't even build one health centre for that."
Yet he says a resolution to the troubles in the bush is fundamental to the welfare of the entire Territory population.
"It impinges on the development of the larger centres because of the amount of anti social behaviour," says Ald Black, a former Lord Mayor of Darwin.
"Some of us think that anti social behaviour is sourced back to lack of opportunities in the communities.
"There is not much for these people to do.
"Once they get educated, what do they do with it?
"If they go back to their home communities they just become drifters."
Ald Black says LGANT will only have one of the nine seats on each of the five boards drawing up "the blueprint for the development for that particular area.
"There is a fear that local government won't have much input into these developments," he says.
[A spokesman for Mr Ah Kit says the numbers of seats and composition of the boards have not yet been decided.]
"We really don't know whether it's going to work but we are cautiously supportive of the general principle.
"Some of my colleagues are very cautious.
"Some people are very concerned that local government will lose its autonomy.
Ald Black says it is not clear whether funds will be taken away from the Alice Springs, Darwin, Katherine and Tenant Creek councils and given to the bush communities, despite claim from Ah Kit staffers that this won't be the case.
Says Ald Black: "What we don't know is whether the municipal councils, which are probably the major stakeholders, are going to lose their access to some government funds.
"[In that case] the major municipals will feel very threatened.
"What is going to be the source of other funds needed?
"There are a number of communities close to bankruptcy because there is just not enough money."
Ald Black also says there are concerns that the Labor government, heavily reliant on bush votes, will use the scheme for pork barrelling, with the boards acting as advisers only, and the Minister having the final say.
"So ultimately an opportunistic Minister could reject proposals, and we all know about the political reasons.
"We all know what has happened in the past where there have been ministerial deals done, ministerial preferences," says Ald Black.
"There will certainly be a desire to maintain [electoral] support in the bush.
"There will always be a tendency for political nepotism in these areas."
Mr Ah Kit, during the launch in Alice Springs, painted a horrendous picture of conditions in the bush, the failure of local government there, and the parlous condition of Territory Aborigines generally.
He said: "Between 1996-2001, the proportion of Aboriginal employment in local government saw a catastrophic collapse, dropping from 8.8 to 3.2 per cent of the Territory's Indigenous workforce.
"The cruel irony is that CDEPÑoften touted as a road to Ôreal' jobsÑhas operated as a cheap way out, and an exercise in cost shifting.
"In reality, more often than not, local government has been unable to provide Ôreal' jobs.
"One fifth of [the NT's] total resident adult population is impoverished, structurally detached from the labour market, and ill-equipped to engage in it.
"If we do not strengthen our regions we risk the creation of a permanent underclass for which future generations, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, will pay potentially overwhelming economic, social and political costs É and the Northern Territory will cease to function as anything other than a financial basket case.
"In 1986, the average personal income for Indigenous people in the Territory was $7,700 compared to $16,800 for non-Indigenous people. By 2001 the figures were $12,222 and $32,151 respectively.
"In 2001, gross Indigenous income was only 11 per cent of the Territory total, despite Indigenous people forming 25 per cent of the adult population.
"If only mainstream income is included, this proportion drops to four per cent.
"In 2001 over half of Indigenous income came from welfare sources, compared to nine per cent for non-Indigenous people.
"If CDEP income is counted as welfare income, this rises to two thirds for Indigenous people.
"Of note is that almost one quarter of CDEP incomes accrue to non-Indigenous people, reflecting their role as managers and skilled personnel.
"Between 1996 and 2001 the only recorded increase in Indigenous employment was with CDEP, from 15 to 17 per cent.
"Mainstream employment fell from 20 to 16 per cent.
"The participation rate dropped from 42 to 38 per cent, vastly lower than the non-Indigenous participation rate."
PUBLIC CASH FOR PRIVATE CLINIC: DOCTOR HITS OUT. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
An Alice Springs doctor has expressed his concern about government funding going into what is essentially a private practice after-hours clinic, charging what he describes as "hefty fees".Dr Alex Hope says the fee structure for the clinic Ð $70, $50 for concession card-holders Ð will mean that a lot of people will continue to use the hospital's emergency department for after-hours general practice type consultations.
This is what establishing an after-hours clinic was supposed to eliminate, says Dr Hope.As an employee of the then Central Australian Division of General Practice (now of Primary Health Care, CADPHC), he convened the public meeting back in April 1996 that identified an after-hours GP clinic as a top priority for local health "consumers".
He commends CADPHC for "plugging away" at the issue for all these years but sees their solution as "missing the point".
He also says the membership of the division was not consulted about what model of after-hours clinic to run with before the project submission went to Canberra.
"We were presented with a fait accompli when there was some strong support for a bulk-billing clinic."Of course, such a service would have had to be subsidised so that doctors were working for a reasonable fee."
Says Dr Hope, who now works for a community-controlled Aboriginal health service: "We know that a disproportionate number of people who attend the hospital's emergency department are not well off.
"Over half of the presentations are for category four and five complaints Ð things like kids with high fever, coughing green spit, people feeling crook and needing some kind of attention, which they would ideally get from a general practitioner.
CARE"As doctors we see the consequences of them not getting appropriate care."They frequently see junior doctors who are not trained in general practice and who have no access to their histories.
"And because they are in a hospital environment where it easy to do investigations, there are often excessive investigations and referrals to specialists.
"This is not in the interest of the hospital and the health system, and there is no evidence of improved outcomes for patients."There are national and international studies which identify these problems.
"There is also quite good evidence of people discounting the seriousness of their symptoms if they don't have good access to care."Jane Tishler, CADPHC's project officer for the after-hours clinic, says it is being set up as a "research project, to see if this model is going to work".
She says a bulk-billing clinic model was investigated but "there are simply not enough doctors in town to staff such a clinic"."We can't say to private doctors that they are going to work during the day for the fees they establish, then work after hours for a lesser amount. Why would they do it?"She says one of the issues that the research will cover, in collaboration with the Centre for Remote Health, is the level of on-going use of the hospital's emergency department for general practice problems.
Why people using the hospital have chosen not to use the clinic will be investigated.
Patient satisfaction with the clinic will be looked at, as will staff satisfaction.
Some of the funding for the project has also gone into improving Congress' after-hours service, including the provision of a 1800 phone number.
Improved telephone access for Aboriginal people is on the "to do" list.
Nonetheless, it is true that government money is supporting the town's three private general practices to rationalise and improve their provision of after-hours care.
Ms Tishler says this is down to the issue of long-term viability.The clinic is expected to be self-supporting at the end of the two year establishment and research period.
"I want to make sure that come Christmas Day 2008 if someone in Alice Springs needs emergency general practice care, they will be able to access a quality service, getting value for money.
"The fee structure was determined by looking at what comparable clinics around Australia charge, as well as what was necessary for viability. We also took note of a survey by the Health Consumers' Voice [a consumer lobby group] which indicated that more than half of the people surveyed were prepared to pay more than $60 for a good quality after-hours service."
However, despite the survey, Health Consumers' Voice spokesperson Helen Hyde (also NT representative of Health Consumers of Rural and Remote Australia Inc.) says the fee structure will be prohibitive.
The lobby group is in the process of restructuring. Ms Hyde did not have a copy of the survey to hand but expressed doubt about the way it had been constructed.
She says there were no questions about bulk-billing, no questions about concession-card holders, and many of responses were verbal.
"Due to the poor construction of survey, it should not be relied on for statistical data," says Ms Hyde.
Meanwhile, the Federal Labor Opposition has revealed its plans to revive bulk-billing, by increasing the Medicare rebate paid to GPs to 100 percent of the scheduled fee.Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon says Territorians have been hardest hit by the Government's cuts to Medicare."Territorians can't afford the Government's plans for an American-style health system," says Mr Snowdon."We're worse off than most Australians because we face the highest GP charges as well as penalties if we don't pay for private health insurance."This is despite there being just one private hospital in the NT to service a sixth of the continent."
GREAT ALICE NOVEL WAITING TO BE WRITTEN. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
"Why the hell would I write on a wall?
"I would most likely be pulled up for graffiti and fined $500.
"My Mum would kill me and I would be grounded until I'm, like, 50 because Phillip Gwynne made me write on a wall!"
You might think on the basis of this piece of writing that student Lee Thomson was not enjoying Phillip Gwynne's recent creative writing workshop at Alice Springs High School (ASHS) but you'd be wrong.She loved it.
"He lets you write what you want, and like, no barriers, nothing really stopping you, so it's better than what you can write in class. "You can say things you can't usually say," said Lee.
Caleb Rothwell read aloud a story he wrote about the most embarrassing day in his life Ð when he couldn't find any clean underwear except his mum's.
After sport his clothes are stolen out of the shower-room and he has to run around the school in her nickers. When he sees his crush coming, he dives into a bush: "If she sees me my life is over."
He doesn't need to worry though Ð she thinks he looks cute.
Of Gwynne, the author of the best-selling young adult fiction Deadly, Unna? and the screenplay based on it for the movie Australian Rules, Caleb said:
"He's a great guy, he knows about writing.
"I've been interested in writing for a long time and he's just showed me how to be a bit more creative."
The rules are "write fast, don't think, don't go back and cross out, write about whatever," said Antje Chalmers.
"He helped me become more fluent, before I was stopping and starting all the time, now I just write what I feel. It's much easier."Sometimes Antje writes stories, but this time it came out as a poem:
"Life without chocolate would be like / Life without air / A fish without water / A bird without feathers / A writer without a pen / A desert without sand / A life without love / I love chocolate!"
Gwynne's workshop was called "Writing on the Wall" and some short pieces of writing will end up on the walls around the school.
Longer pieces will come together in a published collection of students' work, which Gwynne will edit.
His visit to ASHS, his second, was part of the Territory's Artists-in-Schools scheme, with extra support from ASHS' school council and ASSPA committee.
According to their media release, ASHS "as a school and a culture, epitomises the themes and issues of Phillip's work. Deadly, Unna? and Nukkin Ya [his second novel] deal with Indigenous and teenage issues. The writing embraces adolescence, racism, culture clash and reconciliation."
Gwynne is used to working with teenagers, though often from more privileged backgrounds than his own Ð he was raised in a small town, working-class family with eight children Ð or that of many of the ASHS students.
"I've been to Cranbrook in Sydney, Geelong Grammar in Melbourne, they're privileged kids," he said.
"Here the kids are totally different, it takes a bit of getting used to but once you do, it's much more rewarding to be in a school like this.
"The kids have got more interesting backgrounds.
"They're rowdier, but I enjoy that, and they are doing really, really good work."For kids in Cranbrook Deadly, Unna? is from another world, but all art is about empathy and hopefully they can empathise with the characters.
"Kids from here would see the story as coming from their world, which is more interesting."
All of the students attending the workshop were volunteers, so they started with some interest. They might have been expecting a "weird little middle class guy" but Gwynne is a former professional footy player. He played for Woodville until a serious knee injury finished his career. That certainly helped break the ice. He said Alice is the "most sports mad town" he's ever been to.
"They think wow, he's a writer and he's played football!"
Stereotyping of writers was not the only barrier, though. There was also everything that the students have been taught about writing.
"I don't care about spelling, I don't care about grammar," said Gwynne."I just care about the truth of the stories that are coming out. "That's all that matters. That's a revelation to the kids."
Convincing kids that their world is worth writing about was another challenge.
"The kids here will say this is a boring place to live, but as far as social interaction goes it's a really fascinating town to live in.
"There is a great novel to be written in this town. It hasn't been written yet and I'm not going to write it, but somebody should.
"There's a lot of friction, a lot of hypocrisy. It's a dramatic landscape.
"There are stories all around, they just don't realise it. It can take somebody with fresh eyes to show them."
Interestingly, when I spoke to Gwynne, a week into the two-week workshop, none of the students' stories had touched on black-white relations.Said Gwynne: "It's the first thing that I would touch. It's where the sparks are."
Obviously not all of the students in the workshop will become writers, although some do have precisely that goal in mind.For the others, Gwynne saw the workshop as a great opportunity to show them "they have a creativity".
"They are expressing themselves, their feelings, and I think for some of them, especially for boys, that can be really hard."
CHILPIES GET GONG FOR SERVICE. Report by DOROTHY GRIMM.
Three lifetimes of community service, leadership and involvement were recognised and celebrated during a special Library Week event held at the Town Council Amphitheatre on Friday.The event was attended by more than 150 people, including school groups from Braitling Primary and Yirara College.Governor-General Centenary Medals were presented to Pastor Eli Rubuntja and Bernie Kilgariff, followed by reading of excerpts from Wenten Rubuntja's book, The Town Grew Up Dancing, which provides insight into the life and times and work of Wenten and, to an extent, Bernie in Alice Springs from the 1920s onwards.The Centenary Medal was established by the Australian Government in 2001 to commemorate the centenary of federation and to honour contributions made to Australian society and government.The medals were presented by Lingiari MHR Warren Snowdon.In describing Pastor Rubuntja's achievements, Tangentyere Council director William Tilmouth said Eli was a "quiet achiever", regarded as the founding father of Yipirinya Bilingual School, Tangentyere Council and the first Tyeweretye Social Club."From early years, Pastor Rubuntja was sent to school to learn to read and write without losing the significance of his bilingual upbringing, which was to play a very strong role in his later dealings with the way of the Ôwhitefellas' and their attitudes to education," Mr Tilmouth said."Pastor Rubuntja speaks all of the Arandic languages as well as Pintupi, Warlpiri and Pitjantjatjara."Pastor Rubuntja was sent by his father to Alice Springs (Mparntwe) in 1958 to protect sites of significance to his Dreaming stories."His special site was Anthepe, just south of Heavitree Gap (Ntaripe); he lives on this Ôtown camp' to this day."Pastor Rubuntja is an excellent example of reconciliation through his contribution to the Aboriginal community and the broader community by ensuring that Aboriginal people have agency in their lives," said Mr Tilmouth.
Bernie Kilgariff's contributions to Australia, the Territory and Alice Springs were outlined by Mr Snowdon who spoke of Bernie's childhood, his first work with E.J. Connellan, building airstrips (1939-1942), and then joining the Australian Army in 1942.Bernie's work with the NT Housing Commission in the 1960s and in politics was also cited, including being elected to the Legislative Council in 1968 and being the first Speaker of the House in 1974 before becoming a Senator.Responding, Bernie said that if a person is to be successful, it is because of the support of many fine people and their advice and encouragement.Alice Springs Mayor Fran Kilgariff then outlined Wenten Rubuntja's work with various Aboriginal organisations in Central Australia as well as an artist and a founding member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.Speeches over, Library Week's main event, "Good Umpires", began with Aboriginal community leader and artist Doug Abbott and Wenten's collaborator in writing The Town Grew Up Dancing, Jenny Green, reading excerpts from that book.They included memories of "growing up with whitefellas", "building up the town", "odd jobs", "footy", "working for country and land rights" and Ôliving under two laws".
As Jenny set the scene, Doug read Wenten's recollections, often interjecting his own memories of being young, Aboriginal and growing up in Alice Springs."I remember trying to get chooks from Bernie's place," Doug said, "and when we got back to the mission block, Paster Eli reprimanded us by reminding us of the Seventh Commandment, ÔThou Shall Not Steal'."
Another memory was trying to go swimming in the town's old swimming pool and being told they could not swim without proper bathers."'What are bathers?' we asked each other and then went swimming elsewhere," Doug said.Although Wenten originally wasn't going to speak, he decided to as the event drew to a close."I grew up in the Todd River," Wenten said."All people all mixed up; I've met the Queen, the Pope, the Prime Minister."It is good to see you girls and boys."We are all family; thank you."
Time for a localised Alice. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
The SARS virus is pretty scary.
I think we can all agree on that. But between the grim medical experts, the stoic politicians and the alarmist journalists, it has been hard to find any sense. Then I heard the Prime Minister of Singapore speak to his compatriots on the TV news. He said that the SARS virus might not kill them, but the collapse of the Singaporean economy certainly would.
Now there is a disturbing thought. A prosperous trading economy like Singapore reduced to metaphorical rubble by a potent, but limited, medical scare. Of course, with SARS, politicians just call for the people in white coats. Doctors went to college for many years, so they must know what to do. Seal off the victims, get out the test tubes, work out a recipe for some injection that will kill the virus and Bob's your uncle. Everything back under control before you can say "Hang Seng Index".
No such remedy exists for economies. We are all globalised and inter-dependent. Pull away one strand of the web or one card in the house of cards and the whole lot comes tumbling down. No economist could sort it out. They'd be too busy disagreeing with each other. So who yer gonna call? Actually, nobody.
The trading of goods and the flow of capital makes people wealthy and creates jobs. In the Alice, we gain from art and tourism, to name two global products. But this cuddly description of globalisation is not the reason why tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of exotic-sounding cities in the northern hemisphere in recent years.
Over 250,000 turned up to confront a meeting of ministers in Barcelona in March last year. Attracting less publicity, Mexican peasants and Indian farmers have also taken to the streets, worried by declining terms of trade for their products and the threats that they perceive from bigger economic players. The concern that unites them is that unchecked global economic growth benefits only the few and makes them more vulnerable.
An aspect of Alice and economics has dogged me for some time. On walks around the old drive-in and between the races at the Camel Cup, I have wondered about the unique character of Alice Springs. The town is known for much more than the average town of twenty-whatever thousand people. We are famous for Indigenous culture, the Ghan, the MacDonnells, the desert and now desert knowledge. But surely there is something missing.
Here we are, far from anywhere, suffering high transport costs for basic products and services. More or less everything is trucked in. Travel to other places is expensive so most people stay where they are. Surely these conditions, a contained local economy and a lot of time to think about it should be a breeding ground for new ideas on self-reliance. The Alice, one of the most remote places in the world, ought to have some kind of response to globalisation.
Internationally, a few enterprising thinkers have worked on this subject. They include theorists, like David Korten and Colin Hines, who have labelled their ideas "localisation". Their idea is that the global economy should be broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces. It means rooting capital to a place and distributing its control among as many people as possible. Localisation directs efforts towards building up local self-reliance and production for local consumption (more Centralian hydroponic lettuces, for example). Of course, none of this comes without a heavy dose of control of movement of goods and restrictions on trade (goodbye, then, trading of local desert knowledge). Even if the idea is interesting, it may be too utopian for most of us.But let's suppose that localisation was a serious model for the future. Or that world events took a turn that forced regions to close their borders and fall back on their reserves of self-reliance. The next SARS, perhaps, or a global threat that we have not yet imagined. Globalised Central Australia would stand not a feral cat's chance in hell. So what would localisation look like in the Alice?
Blame stress. COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.
It doesn't matter what's ailing you, a rash, headiness, moodiness, flatulence, the Ôflu or any other minor affliction, there's a good chance in this day and age it'll be put down to stress Ð most things seem to be!
I suppose, all things considered, chaotic lifestyles, the state of the world in general, and the ever growing number of people who refuse to take any responsibility for their actions, it was only a matter of time before some bright spark came up with the latest excuse as to why so many people fall into arrears with their mortgage repayments. An illness, as yet unnamed, brought on by the stress of actually trying to keep up with the mortgage payments, prevents people from doing just that.
According to "An Englishman's home is now his casualty ward", in the Weekend Oz (May 10/11), a recent report published in the British Medical Journal has suggested that standard mortgage documentation should come with a national health warning telling prospective borrowers that keeping up with mortgage payments may make them sick. Everything else comes with health warnings, so why not? The report didn't actually balance its coverage and state anything about the risks of not paying said mortgage!!
Basically it was found that many people purchase properties which they can't afford to maintain after they've made mortgage payments. The buildings start to deteriorate which may cause the owners to feel depressed and despondent, and when people live in poor quality housing, they may begin to suffer from environmental hazards and psychosocial problems which, in turn, may impact on their immune systems making them more susceptible to health deterioration. Phew!! In a nutshell when homeowners fall behind on payments they become fearful of losing the roof over their heads which causes them to (1) drink copious amounts of alcohol, and (2) smoke to excess, (3) their relationships may break down. Then because they are so worried about how to finance points (1) and (2) and avoid number (3) whilst still trying to make some sort of contribution to the actual mortgage (all of which obviously equates to further anxiety, possibly causing other chronic stress symptoms), it has been suggested that they are also more likely to have car accidents. (Especially if they're heading home after a night out partaking in activity number (1)!)It's like that Goon's sketch: Spike and Co, out-doing each other, talking about abodes and growing up. One says, "We were so poor we stayed in shoe-box at side of road", which is greeted with cries of, "Luxury!" Then, "We were so poor we lived in paper-bag in middle of roadÉ"
The stigma of defaulting on loans, mortgagees in possession and losing a property is serious. I'm a compassionate person, but the questions have to be asked: are the British Medicos a little misguided? Don't they have enough to do?In some households when the financial situation is at a diabolical low, no money to buy food or basic necessities let alone pay the mortgage or rent, there's often, miraculously, enough for liquor, cigarettes and the odd bet or dalliance.
Everyone tries to justify happenings at one time or another and there will often be extenuating reasons. We'll meet people from all walks of life: some who've lost it all, others who've never had the opportunity to live in a home, let alone a crumbling one, and those who have the option to live in a house but choose not to.
For medical professionals to propose that mortgage docs should come with health warnings suggests a lack of commerciality, and for stress to be nominated as a cause for an act of default, seems to be a real cop out. Perhaps public health warnings should also be issued to anyone thinking about investing in shares? Because most beneficiaries and retirees are definitely stressed, as are their portfolios, and stretched to the max.
QUESTIONS KEPT COMING: DO YOU LIVE IN HOUSES? Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
"They found it so exciting to meet an Aboriginal person."They asked so many questions: Do you live in houses or little huts? Do you walk around with no clothes on?"I thought that was going a bit far!!"
When Natarla Dann spent a term in a small boarding school in the middle of England Ð Abbotsholme at a small village between Nottingham and Manchester Ð at the start she found she was an object of curiosity.
"It made me feel funny. It was amazing, they didn't know anything about our history."
Across the Atlantic, Samantha Parker was having a similar experience. She was at the Athenian School in Danville, California.
The students there had never heard of Australia's Indigneous people.
"The first three words I heard from the girl who became my friend was, ÔOooh, a coloured face!'"She was an African American but there were not many black people at that school. I said I was a black Australian. They didn't believe me. They'd say, ÔThat means your great great-grandmother must have come from Africa'. They had no idea."
Natarla and Samantha are the first Aboriginal students from St Philip's College to go on a three month exchange to a school overseas.
The schools in the exchange program are part of a world-wide network known as the Round Square. One of its ideals is the promotion of international understanding.
Natarla and Samantha did their bit.
Says Natarla: "They didn't know anything about the Stolen Generation so I told them. My dad's mum was part of it. My mum's family history is all gone. My dad's side is trying to hold on to theirs. We've got a good grip on our land and we're trying to get our culture back."
Samantha's hosts were city people. They mainly liked going shopping, which she doesn't care for all that much. She told them about going out bush and hunting, which she loves."They were really interested in hunting and football. They all love AFL."
The girls also learnt a lot.
Natarla soon learnt not to ask people if they were "pommy": "They find that word pretty rude."
In fact, her fellow students were from all over: France, China, Russia, Germany, Spain, Scotland.
"I made friends from all over the globe."
One of Samantha's most memorable experiences was going to a black American church for a three hour "pray session", complete with gospel singing and dancing.
"You had to line up for half an hour to get in.
"They spoke about Jesus the Conqueror. He was pictured as a knight standing on top of the devil, putting a sword through him."The girls were struck by the contrast of their surroundings with the Australian landscapes they are used to.
Danville is about a 30 minute drive from San Franciso: Samatha was expecting that there would be countryside in between but "it was all joined up"."I couldn't see where San Francisco began and ended."
Natarla found the English midlands countryside pretty boring: "There's green grass, sheep and blocks all over the land. It's not like in Australia where there are trees and rocks and all sorts of different animals that look really interesting."
When it snowed, her eyes would get sore from the brightness, and she was frightened driving on the small roads.
"I couldn't get over it, I was scared we would have a car accident. ÔDon't let me die here,' I'd say. ÔI want to die home'."
Did they get homesick?
They had the advantage of having already jumped that hurdle, at least in part. Both girls are boarders at St Philip's. Natarla comes from Broome and Samantha did most of her growing up on the north coast of New South Wales, although her mother comes from Kintore, a community well west of Alice, where she has also regularly spent time.
While Natarla is used to being away from her family, it did get to her being away from her friends. But this was valuable: "I moved out of my comfort zone and got a bit of my own independence," she says.
Samantha takes things pretty much in her stride. She loves her home in NSW and she loves Kintore, quite used to moving between her several worlds. She enjoyed the exchange, she "liked the people and liked making cookies".
BEATEN - BUT NOT A WHITEWASH. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
Top team West was drawn to play bottom side Federal in Sunday's CAFL curtain raiser, and while the Bloods scored a 97 point win, 23.16 (154) to 8.9 (57), it was not a game to write off as a white wash.
In the late game South started as favourites against Rovers and won but not by the margin expected. South scored 16.15 (111) to 14.8 (92).West shot out of the blocks in the first term to establish a 9.7 (61) to nil lead at the first break. Clarry Green, who can read a game like a fortune teller, set up scoring opportunities for the forwards and plonked two goals through off his own boot.
The mainstays of West's forwards completed the job, with Steven Squires booting three, Kevin Bruce two, and Curtis Haines a single.In the huddle at the break coach Gilbert Macadam wasted no time in letting his players know the state of affairs, and the message got through. In the second quarter the Demons generated some respect by scoring 3.2 to West's 3.4. Macadam led the way and scored two goals in the process while David Bird again proved to be a force in their running game.The Bloods' Haines, Bruce and Squires with the assistance of Anthony Haines got the West machine mobile again with a seven goal third term, while Feds at least contributed with a goal from Macadam.
Although beaten, to Federal's credit, they lifted their game in the last term to run with West scoring 4.3 to 4.4, and so complete the 100 minutes well in arrears but with something to build upon.Jarred Slater played another sterling game for the West team, with Curtis Haines and Steven Squires bagging six goals each, so deserving commendation. Others in the limelight were Mike Hauser, Victor Williams and Andrew Wesley.
For Federal David Bird and Macadam led the best players list, with Kevin McDonald and James Braedon again giving 100 per cent.In the late game South were expected to win against Rovers, and while they did, they didn't have the game all their own way.Rovers put 6.1 on the board in the opening stanza to South's 3.4. Big Max Fejo was a pivotal point with three goals. Sherman Spencer cashed in with a goal, as did Jamie Tidy, in a meritorious start.In looking down the barrel South piled six goals on in the second term to Rovers' two, and so when both teams went into the change rooms at half time the Roos held sway by 12 points.Malcolm Ross was instrumental in the change of events, as he scored three goals and again played a big man's game well. Willie Tilmouth's presence in the Roo jumper was again appreciated as the mobile all rounder continually set up play.
In the third term South put themselves in a winning position, without being able to nail their opposition. The Roos added 5.5 in the quarter to the Blues' 1.3, and should have gone into the last term prepared to set up a runaway win.This did not eventuate as Rovers were able to make inroads through a sometimes dormant defence, to score 5.4 to 3.2 for the quarter. As such South took the premiership points by 19 points, but they would not have put this performance in their all time best file.Jeremiah Webb was their best over the four quarters, and Gilbert Fishook, Darren Talbot and Bradley Braun always provided the impetus for attack. Up in the forwards Shane Hayes and Malcolm Ross finished the day with three goals each.
For Rovers the veteran Karl Hampton again put in a determined and effective performance. His effective delivery into the forward zone created chances for the Blues.
The man who is still trying to touch the moon (unassisted), Clinton Pepperill has proven to be an assett to Rovers, and Max Fejo with five goals, Oliver Wheeler, and Kenny Morton were well deserving of mentions in the best players.This week the Rovers come up against West in the early game. Late in the day Federal will be challenged by Pioneer.
TIM HOTWIRES BASKETS. Review by KIERAN FINNANE.
Tim Rollason's "dancing baskets" and the bold paintings of a band of young artists from Lockhart River in Cape York Ð the latest double billing at Gallery Gondwana Ð are not an obvious blend.
Marcia Langton, Indigenous activist and professor of Australian Indigenous Studies at Melbourne University, in a compelling speech opening the exhibition, framed them as possible together in post-Mabo Australia.
This time in history has permitted freedoms to Indigenous and "Australian settler" artists alike, said Prof Langton.
In the Lockhart River work, the artists Ð Rosella Namok, Fiona Omeenyo, Samantha Hobson, Silas Hobson and Adrian King Ð have "transcended the last frontier battleground of their elders".
MOTIFSIndigenous motifs are rendered in emphatic gestural strokes; country, in expressionist fields of colour; stories, with suggestive figuration.
Rollason Ð who came to the centre to work for Keringke Arts and is now curator at the Araluen Centre Ð has, on the other hand, been able to leave behind the "angst" of settler artists, she said, producing his light-hearted functional forms sculptured in wire that express qualities that are both "male and female, strong and vulnerable".
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