ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
May 28, 2003.



NT BUDGET: FILM AND TV OFFICE FOR ALICE.

The Northern Territory will establish a Film, Television and New Media Industries Office in Alice Springs.
"This is the start of a strategy that will focus on ways of developing these industries for economic growth, artistic development and cultural benefits," says Arts Minister Clare Martin following the NT Budget handed down yesterday.
The office will be established with an initial funding base of $250,000.
Additionally, funding will be available for a grants program with $50,000 in 2003-2004, increasing to $150,00 per annum over three years.
A 1999 consultancy engaged by the previous government outlined the potential economic benefits of the emerging industries, but a recommendation to establish government support to the industry was ignored, says Ms Martin.
The research in 1999 indicated that film, television and new media industries had a capital base in the northern Territory of $29 million and a turnover of $33 million.These industries provide substantial flow-on benefits to the economy.
Film and television production involves disparate groups of suppliers, and around 30 per cent of most typical production budgets can be attributed to wages, with services another significant component.
"The industry is labour intensive and a prolific generator of high value jobs," sys Ms Martin.
"The ABS estimates that 37 full-time jobs are created with every $1 million of investment."
In 1999 the industry employed around 310 local people full time with another 155 employed on a casual or subcontractor basis.
Benefits also occur from the flow-ons to tourism from commercials, features, movies and television programs.
Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne says the Budget’s infrastructure items for Central Australia include:-
• $2.2m for Desert Knowledge Precinct headworks to provide road access, power and water.
• $2.5m for upgrade works at Traeger Park.
• $1.5m to provide essential services for stage one of the Larapinta residential development.
• $550,000 for Leichhardt Terrace parkland improvements as part of the Todd and Charles River Master Plan.
• $1.05m to upgrade a number of health centres.
• $1.83m for fences, rail crossings and other infrastructure along the rail corridor.Dr Toyne says to improve transport networks the budget package includes:• $3m to upgrade and seal sections of the Alice Springs to Kings Canyon Mereenie Loop road.
• $2m for selected flood immunity upgrading and sealing of the Tanami road.• $1m for the Docker River road as part of the upgrade of the east west corridor through Alice Springs.
• $1m to upgrade beef roads: $500,000 for the Sandover Highway and $500,000 for the Finke road.
Other Government initiatives in the Budget to benefit Central Australia include:• A capital grant of $5m for stage one of the Desert People’s Centre.
• $300,000 to relocate the start/finish line and build new supporting infrastructure for the Finke Desert Race.
• $250,000 to establish an Office of Crime Prevention in Alice Springs to strengthen crime prevention and community justice initiatives.
• $200,000 for the Alice in 10 Strategy to address anti-social behaviour in Alice Springs.
• $86,000 towards the Footprints Forward program to improve employment opportunities for young Indigenous people as they leave school.
• $220,000 to establish an archive service in Alice Springs, to ensure treasured archival material can stay in the Centre and not be sent to Darwin for safekeeping.
OWEN SPRINGS• $300,000 to manage the new Owen Springs Reserve.
• $100,000 to commence planning for the effluent re-use program at the Arid Zone Research Institute.
• $50,000 for preliminary work on a potential fruit-fly eradication program in Central Australia.
• $250,000 to establish a Film, Television and New Media Industries Office in Alice Springs.
A new Office of Crime Prevention will be established in Alice Springs, says Dr Toyne, providing:-
• crime prevention policy support to the Alice and Barkly regions, including to the regional crime prevention councils in both centres.
• enhanced coordination of crime prevention and community safety activities across Central Australia.
• strengthened Indigenous input into crime prevention strategies in the region, through new Indigenous crime prevention officer positions.
• two positions to support reintegration strategies for released prisoners including employment and drink-driver programs.
• a central location for other existing justice services in Alice Springs including consumer affairs and community corrections.
The Finke Desert Race will get $300,000 to relocate the start and finish line and build new supporting infrastructure, and the provision of land to give the race a permanent home on the three square kilometre land allotment at the quarantine reserve west of the airport.
The new works are expected to be completed for next year's Finke Desert Race.
Treasurer Syd Stirling described the Budget as both responsible and responsive and delivering on the Government's commitment to improved health care, better schools and increased opportunities for all Territorians.
The Budget also supports business through increased and targeted spending to create new jobs and further economic growth with no new taxes, he says.
Main Budget items include:-
• The removal of the Temporary Budget Improvement Levy 18 months early - from 1 July 2003.
• A $14m increase to Health and Community Services to a record $561 million, including $1.57m to employ more nurses.
This brings to almost $100 million in additional funds injected into the sector since the Government came to office in 2001.• A $13.5m increase to Employment, Education and Training, including an additional $2m to employ 20 extra teachers.
• A $3m boost to Police, Fire and Emergency Services, including $1.4 million to employ extra police.
• A $5.25m Itinerants Strategy to address and combat anti-social behaviour.• $434m on infrastructure investment – the second highest ever following last year's record amount. This brings to almost $900 million the amount spent on infrastructure works in the Government's first two years.
• A reduction in the rate of payroll tax to 6.2 per cent plus measures to ease the stamp duty burden on business.
• A public housing program of $93.2m plus $26.1m for Indigenous housing in remote communities.
• $127m in programs to reduce the cost of living to Territorians, including the ongoing freeze on domestic power prices.
• $500,000 increase in operational funding for Territory parks.



LAW AND ORDER: POLICE HAS SAY. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

A number of issues raised at the law and order rally outside the recent temporary Parliament in Alice Springs, and which continue to be debated, go to matters of policing.
"I don't care if they are 10 or 310, if they do the crime, they do the time."
"I was the 27 year old teacher who was attacked in the mall by a group of juveniles. Unfortunately because they are juveniles nothing could be done about it.""We don't ring the police anymore because they can't do anything. They grab the kids and the next day they are back on the street again."The Alice News put its summary of the issues to Police Superintendent Trevor Bell.
News: What happens to juveniles who steal, damage property or assault a person?Mr Bell: Each matter is treated on its merits – arrest, summons, diversion,caution, etc.
News: Once police have dealt with a young person and their family, is there any follow-up to see if the young people are being kept in control?
Mr Bell: It depends on what course of action is taken. If there is an arrest, there is no follow-up by police. The courts may order some form of supervision. The same goes for a summons offence.If diversion is done, then the juvenile is case managed and his/her progress monitored.
News: Is there any protocol about police not apprehending juveniles who are committing a crime?Mr Bell: No, if we see a juvenile committing a crime we will act. It may not be arrest, it may be convey home and summons or divert, circumstances will dictate.News: Is there any pressure on police to not record juvenile offences?Mr Bell: No.News: Do juvenile offences appear in the crime statistics?Mr Bell: To the best of my knowledge, yes."It should be the same for black, white or brindle, if you do the crime, you do the time."News: Is there any distinction made between offenders on the basis of race or ethnic origin?
Mr Bell: No. However, when dealing with diversion there is, because we may need to place some people on a culturally appropriate diversion program."I've heard from policemen that they have been told not to record any damage under $5000, or if it's a juvenile, you don't record it."News: Does damage to property worth under $5000 get recorded as an offence and go into the statistics?Mr Bell: Yes.
"They have just stolen my car... And then I'm told if they find it in the bush, I've got to pay at my expense to go and get it. If I don't I'm fined."
News: Is the owner of a stolen car financially responsible for its recovery, if it has been located by police?
Mr Bell: They are responsible for the recovery, however quite often police need the car for a forensic examination and may have it recovered to our compound."The city, it's all full of drunks at 10 o'clock in the morning."
News: What action do police take about drunks on the street?Mr Bell: Depending on the circumstances, if a person is merely intoxicated and no danger to himself or others, we would do little.If the person is so intoxicated that he may be placed in danger, i.e. walk in front of car or be subject of an assault etc, we will apprehend and either convey to the sobering up shelter, the cells or place them in the care of someone sober who is willing to care for them.News: Do police take any action if a drunk is inside the yard of, for example, the Old Hartley Street School (which has become something of a haunt lately)?
Mr Bell: Again, depending on the circumstances, if he is trespassing he will be moved on; if he is, as above, a danger, he will be apprehended.
If the school wished to lodge a complaint of trespass, we would investigate that.Anti social behaviour and crime "are very similar because they are not acceptable".
News: What action do police take about other types of anti-social behaviour, for example, swearing and rowdiness?
Mr Bell: It depends on the behaviour, who is about and whether it offends, annoys or causes a substantial annoyance to someone. Swearing sometimes is not looked upon by the courts as offensive, depending on what is said and the circumstances surrounding it. Nearly all of the anti-social behaviour offences need to be committed in a public place.
News: How important a part of everyday policing in Alice Springs is maintaining order in the streets?Mr Bell: Very important. We try and deal with [situations] in an appropriate manner, having consideration for the behaviour displayed.
"… they haven't got enough policemen, the policemen are overworked."
" … our police force who are over-stretched I think do a fantastic job…"News: Are police seriously under-resourced in Alice Springs to do the job they are required to do?
Mr Bell: We have resources to deal with any issues that arise."You are saying one set of figures [Office of Crime Prevention] and we've got Neighbourhood Watch figures that reflect a different thing and the police figures which say something else."News: What crime figures do the police work with?
Mr Bell: We work with our figures.
News: How important are crime figures in terms of allocating police resources to fighting particular types of crime, or do police make your judgements based on other types of information?Mr Bell: The figures are important. However, they are only one of the factors upon which we base our resource allocation decisions.
News: Is there any direction from government about recording offences and/or targeting crime that would be reflected in the crime statistics?Mr Bell: No. We record all crime. The police, as a government agency, implement the government's policies, for example, their three point plan to target drugs, but operational policing is not governed by politicians.
Police themselves formulate their own operational plans.


CRIME STATISTICS MAY COME UNDER AUDITOR GENERAL. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Justice Minister Peter Toyne says he will consider involving the Auditor General or a similarly independent officer in the checking and releasing of the politically sensitive quarterly crime statistics.
Dr Toyne says there is no doubt about the integrity of the figures, compiled by the Office of Crime Prevention, but the involvement of another office may provide a further dimension of independence from the government.
Opposition MLA for MacDonnell John Elferink has criticised the current arrangement under which members of the public can obtain the figures direct from the Office of Crime Prevention, but Members of Parliament must channel their requests for details through the Minister.
Mr Elferink said two weeks ago the different regimes for obtaining the statistics put in doubt the independence, claimed by the Government, of the Office of Crime Prevention.
Dr Toyne said in Parliament, sitting in Alice Springs on April 29, that the statistics are "independently put together; they are the official figures from our authorities, and we will live with them good, bad or indifferent."
Chief Minister Clare Martin said: "We produce figures that reflect what is happening.
"As the Minister for Justice has said very clearly, the Office of Crime Prevention will produce those figures on a quarterly basis and we do not, as the previous government did, put our hands all over them and change little figures for presentational purposes."
Dr Toyne said this week the current process in the NT for briefing Opposition Members is no different from that in other states, and was in force during the previous CLP Governments.
But he says the credibility of the crime statistics – whose publication is a new initiative of the Labor Government – may be enhanced by the involvement of an independent officer.
The Auditor General, like the Ombudsman, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Anti Discrimination Commissioner and the Information Commissioner operate under statutory regulations adding an additional "firewall" to the public service's freedom from political interference guaranteed by the separation of powers and conventions enshrined in the Westminster system.



WHO'S DOING WHAT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE? Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

When it comes to youth services, does the left hand know what the right hand is doing?Informally, yes.
According to a spokesperson for the NT's Youth Affairs Office, representatives of relevant Territory Government services have positions on national committees, but otherwise the liaison between the office and the Commonwealth's Youth Bureau is informal.
There is no available figure for spending on youth services, partly because some of them are absorbed into the broader functions of a range of government departments, but partly because it simply is not known.
At the local level, Central Australia's Regional Crime Prevention Committee, chaired by Alice Springs High School principal Peter Vaughan, has given priority to developing a child and youth safety policy.
They are starting by mapping youth services in Central Australia.
A survey questionnaire was sent to some 60 organisations.About 30 have responded so far, with a few still trickling in.
Project officer for the committee, Larissa Ellis says the survey results thus far confirm the committee's view that there is not a lot of after-hours supportfor young people.
Only FACS (Family and Children's Services) and ASYASS (Alice Springs Youth Accommodation Support Services) are active for 24 hours.
There is still no youth refuge for under 15 year olds, stalled after a hostile neighbourhood reaction to a proposed location for the service. (Other accommodation options are being reviewed.)
An after-hours drop-in centre for advice and referral, also expected to be operating by now, has been delayed by insurance issues.
These deficits in after-hours support are "concerning", says Ms Ellis.
There is also a lack of services supporting families as a whole.
This is the aim of the Safe Families project, with a focus on Indigenous families.
However, there is "nothing there" for non-Indigenous families, where the issues may be different.There is also an obvious short-fall in services dealing with petrol- and paint-sniffing.
Apart from identifying gaps in service, the survey hopes to get a picture of the way services do or do not communicate with each other and "network" in their service delivery.
A question about funding is optional.
As with the NT picture, the links in Alice Springs are at present informal.
The committee wants to be able to come up with strategies that complement what exists, fill the gaps, with a long term view to contributing to crime prevention, says Mr Vaughan.
It also wants to develop a strong early intervention strategy, so that young people don't get to the stage of exhibiting anti-social or criminal behaviour.
A draft strategy will be drawn up by June 30.
Is it expected then to pass to action?"Included in the strategy will be an action plan that will identify key priorities for implementation," says Ms Ellis.
"As part of that, we will be seeking partnerships with government and the community so we can take immediate action."
Mr Vaughan says supplying sound advice to government is the committee's "first task".
"Acting on gut feelings and impressions is an inappropriate way to spend government money," he says.
The committee will also be taking into account the views of young people themselves, with youth throughout the region being asked whether they feel safe and if not, why not.
The comprehensive survey is being undertaken by Alice Outcomes students as part of their Community Studies course. Under the supervision of their teachers they have designed and distributed a questionnaire to all schools. Over 200 responses from one school have already been received.
The recently-released Territory Government youth policy framework , Building a Better Future for Young Territorians, also drew on consultation with young people.
Chief Minister Clare Martin claimed the framework as "a first as it was developed and written following consultation with 5000 young people, youth and community organisations and NT Government agencies across the Territory".
As with many such documents the directions the framework establishes are very broad brush:
• Improve young people's health and well being.• Improve access to education and employment for young people.• Provide more opportunities for young people to have fun and develop new skills.• Make sure that young people are able to participate in decisions that affect their lives.• Create communities where young people can feel safe and secure.
There are some actions identified however, including the establishment of an Alcohol and Other Drugs Information Service to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week; the establishment of school health programs including a pilot nutrition program; the employment of School Attendance Officers in targeted schools over the next three years.
A lot of other "priority actions" start with words like "reinforce", "promote", "strengthen" and "improve".
In response to the information that "young people want to make their views known and heard", this is what the document says: "Structured mechanisms such as youth groups and public forums are not always the most appropriate option.
"A range of participation avenues is required to cater for the differing needs and preferences of young people.
"Particular effort needs to be invested in actively involving those young people who due to their skills, location or personal circumstances may not have the same opportunities to participate as their peers."Government recognises the expertise of the youth services sector and the value of forming partnerships with community youth organisations to address issues affecting young people, particularly those who are at risk.
"The views of marginalised young people will be sought by utilising youth service providers to facilitate those connections."Being able to make informed life choices is also very much dependent on having access to relevant and user-friendly information about programs and services." Government will investigate ways to make information more accessible and appropriately targeted towards young people."



Living in a concrete desert ... or is it stony? COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

Some phrases are so over-used that eventually they become abused.
Even a cliché needs to freshen up from time-to-time.
For example, why do people say "set in stone"? I know nothing about materials science but you can't set anything in stone because it doesn't set and was never liquid in the first place.
Surely, they must mean concrete.
As a young man, I spent 30 evenings studying concrete. If this conjures up images of a spotty person in heavy-rimmed spectacles and unkempt hair standing in a municipal car park gazing at the beams, this is not what I mean. Although I did have bad skin and did spend a few evenings doing this.
What I mean by study is a course that I attended at a world-renowned centre of concreting excellence called Stockport College of Technology. It wasn't really world-renowned. I made that up. But it was certainly renowned to those of us who had to stick it out for every minute of those 30 lectures and then trudge home late in the drizzle. The concrete lecturer was a man who looked and sounded like Michael Caine. After that, I reckon I must hold enormous authority on the subject and I have a dog-eared certificate that confirms it.
By the way, isn't it peculiar the way that you can do an intensive course and yet gain no skills from it at all? I have met people with masters degrees in mechanical engineering who act like they have never seen a pocket calculator before. Why is that?Anyway, to the concrete aficionado, Alice Springs is a desert in more ways than one.
I mean, where is the concrete? Most towns wallow in it but the best stretch of fresh, unadultered and undisguised concrete I have found is across the road from the Federals Club where Arrernte Council built some paths last year. Either that or the jaded pillars under Bi-Lo. Apparently, people who do the full 60-lecture advanced concrete course cannot resist the temptation to check the quality of the finish of concrete pillars. They do this by placing their facial cheek close to the surface and gazing along it. I am glad that I stuck to the short course.
I once read an article by a gardener who said that a line of terracotta pots made his heart leap. This is how concrete works for me. While most people hate the sight of it and wonder why nobody has invented a colourbond version, a good stretch of unencumbered concrete is enough to set my pulse racing.
So, on tenterhooks, I watched closely the redevelopment of Coles Complex car park in the hope that they had chosen the grey stuff instead of bitumen or pavers.
I wonder if there has ever been a protest movement in support of concrete where people chain themselves to bitumen-laying equipment. We could start one right now.
Yes concrete, in the right space, makes the world a better place. Not only that, but it has long been clear to me that all conversations can eventually be manoeuvred towards the subject of concrete.
This may be a solitary game, but it passes the time. All you need is an unsuspecting partner. Here's an example: "G'day Steve, How'd yer go?" "Not bad, we won three-nil." "Aw, well done, mate.
So you'll be in the finals?" "Well, it's not set in concrete yet, but we only need one more win."
Here's another one: "G'day mate. How'd yer go?" "I tried to get a ticket for Midnight Oil but then I found out it was a free concert." "Hard luck, mate.
So what are you going to do instead?" "No concrete plans yet. I might just rent a video."
On all these levels, I invite you to celebrate the richness of gravel, sand and cement mixed together with water and allowed to cure. Never mind the climate and the lack of greenery, it can be tough living in a concrete desert.
afishoutofwater@bigpond.com


Lacking bite but politically correct. COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.

A friend mentioned that my columns of late have lacked bite – social comment, no teeth.
I've been consciously trying to choose topics which aren't too sensitive: I've never really been known for my political correctness but when "one" is in the public eye (ha ha) certain attitudes must be adopted.
It's just over three weeks until the shortest day of the year! Isn't it frightening how quickly the seasons slip around?
Autumn was truly evident when David and I were last interstate – gigantic trees, probably now bare, were covered in leaves, reds, oranges, yellows and browns.
The other morning, first thing, at home and hanging out the washing, I smelt wood-smoke – just love that odour and all that it evokes, the bush and winter!
Some people may opt for electric or gas heaters, instant warmth, but nothing beats the smell and atmosphere of logs burning in the grate, on the barbeque or on a camp fire somewhere.
For the next few weeks we're able to enjoy cooler temperatures – if we're lucky there'll even be the odd frost. People will say that they're sick of the cold weather, then suddenly we'll skip through spring, and summer will arrive before we know it – and some people, as temperamental as the seasons, who complained about the cold, will then say it's far too hot!
David and I enjoyed dinner out with dear friends last week - Lori, Kate, Kingy, Terry, Stephanie, John, Nathan, Anne, William and special guest Keith, who, with Peter, drove from sodden Queensland, via the Plenty Highway and near-drought conditions in places, to Alice.
They're en route to the west, where it's raining and time to plant wheat. It was Peter's first trip to the Centre and he was suitably impressed: the colours, the landscape, the big skies, the weather, the people! Keith is an avid camper and mentioned, as he pointed the vehicle towards the Outback Highway, how great it was to revisit good friends and the Alice. The winter months are absolutely idyllic in the Centre.
With all this great weather about, is it climatically suitable to mention, yet again, our particular anti-social behavioural problems which don't seem to be getting any better.
We enjoy the best weather, the greatest scenery, an incredible lifestyle and a wonderful cross-section of culture and art (as anyone who has been along to Araluen to view the latest exhibitions will vouch).
If we could solve the issues of drunks and the associated acts of harassment and violence, pick up the litter lying anywhere and everywhere in our parks and streets and harness some of the anger which is directed by some sectors of the population against society in general, Alice could be Paradise!
Is it a good time to ask how our truancy officers are faring? School holidays are over and there are many young Indigenous children, who should be in classrooms, hanging around the mall and shopping centres.Have the diversionary programs involving youth leaders and counsellors, as proposed by Minister Peter Toyne late last year, been actioned yet?
These programs were to be put in place so that our over-stretched police force is freed up to get on with the real job of policing. Juveniles were to be counselled rather than making what are often futile court appearances.
The young rock thrower who was arrested a fortnight ago obviously appeared in court because he was bailed - and picked up a day or so later for the same offence. Has anyone yet asked the kids why they're so angry?
Elsewhere people are living with the daily threat of terrorist attacks, suicide bombers, earthquakes, SARS, cyclones, torrential rains, flooding, famine and drought.
Here we have gloriously sunny days, crisp nights and long lazy weekends, a few drunks in our mall and an increasing element of anti-social behaviour around the streets.
It's like apples and grapes – there's no comparison and no balance, but the question has to be asked: Will the processes to bring about change ever be put in place or is everything everywhere seasonal?




95 AND A LOT TO DO. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

"A Senior Citizen is one / who bears the scars of life / and thro' its trials has victory won / o'er trouble, war and strife."
At 95, Joe Arrand finds that there's still a lot to do. Writing is his preferred past-time: letters to the editor, verse, like the one above.
Wife Margaret, 91, loves to read; historical romance is her favourite genre. And although she has trouble moving, that won't stop her from making an apple pie to show her appreciation to the people who help the couple remain in their home, rather than move into care.Their daughter, Mary Walsh, is "an angel", who visits them every day. Friends also drop by, though their number is dwindling, as they move away or pass on. Mien Blom continues to be a faithful visitor.
They also get "wonderful support" from the Commonwealth-funded Community Care Services: assistance with housework every morning, from 11 to 12.30, and a visit every evening, around 5pm "to make sure we have our tea".
These people also do "many things outside the call of duty", says Joe.
Denise Huhs, a former carer, who now works in the service office, still drops by to see how they are. (She was a recent recipient of one of Margaret's apple pies.)
Rael Cartledge, their current morning carer, "shows loving kindness".
This experience helps confirm for the couple their view of Alice Springs as a "smashing place", in Margaret's words.
They migrated here from England in their retirement – "the best move we ever made" – in order to be with their daughter and her family.
They love the climate and open spaces, both in such contrast to their native Manchester and contributing, in their view, to their longevity.
"All my contemporaries in England are dead and buried," observes Joe.
His retirement was a very active one. His philosophy of life is that we are here "to help our fellow man".
He was involved with the Red Cross; was secretary of the Alice sec of the Council on the Ageing for 10 years, and variously secretary and president of the Senior Citizens Club in Alice. The wood-working workshop that he helped set up there is something he is "very proud of".
CHARITYOn her side, Margaret was involved with the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.
Now that their daily life is pretty well confined to home, their kindness is being returned and in their very senior years the couple, now great-great-grandparents, are comfortable and happy.
Arnold and Betty Probin have also been helped to stay in their home by Community Care Services, though this changed recently when Betty broke her leg in a fall.
Irish-born Betty has led an extraordinarily active life: nursing Dunkirk evacuees in a military hospital, joining the Civil Defence during the Battle of Britain, then nursing with the British armed forces during the Allied landing at Normandy, and later in Germany, India, Bangladesh, on a hospital ship, and in Italy.
Arnold was a petty officer with the British navy and spent his early war years on convoy duty off the British coast, then in the North African and Pacific campaigns, and later with British Commonwealth occupation force in Japan.
Both he and Betty received numerous war decorations, including two for Betty from the French Republic.
They met 56 years ago when Arnold returned to England from Japan, migrating to Australia in 1956 and to the Centre in January, 1960.
Arnold worked for the NT Administration's Welfare Branch and later for the Department of Education, while Betty nursed on Aboriginal communities, at the Alice hospital and later with the Flying Doctor Service, while they also raised their own five children.
In 1998, Betty started showing more than usual signs of forgetfulness and was diagnosed with dementia, which by 2001 had become quite severe.
The ends from her cigarettes would fall and burn the carpet."She'd blame me," says Arnold, "even though I packed in smoking in 1976.
"She'd light all the burners of the stove with nothing on them, the smoke alarm would go off and she'd bring me the phone, thinking it was the phone ringing."
This is when Arnold sought help, which he first got from the Red Cross and then from Community Care Services. He wanted to be able to care for Betty at home, but because she required fairly constant watching, he was struggling to keep up with the housework. Increasingly, Betty also needed help with personal care, like showering, which the services provided.
Through the services, Arnold became aware of a support group, run by the NT Carers' Association, and while Betty was being looked after, he was able to attend.
He finds it good to be able to talk with other people, mostly women, caring for a loved one with dementia – sharing the experience is part of what carers need to look after themselves.
It's hard: "I never visualised that this would come as I got older," says Arnold.
"But you go to the altar saying it will be through sickness and health. I know if it had been me, Betty would have done the same."
Betty no longer seems to know Arnold or her children. Nonetheless, when they are all with her to celebrate special occasions, they can see that she is happy.
Now Arnold has had to make the difficult decision to leave Betty in care, at the Old Timers. He has nothing but praise for them, as well as for the St John Ambulance and the hospital, for their care of Betty and their help to him.
He visits Betty every other day but still he misses her: "I turn around to talk to her and she's not there."
You can contact Community Care Services on 8953 8200.


LETTER: Old Timer Dave Baldwin on 'crime' in Alice.

Sir, - Re: "Crime Rally; No Answers" (Alice News, May 7).Having been a very long time resident of the Territory and having been a full time and part time cab driver in the Territory for 50 years, and as there was a large gathering there at that meeting, I was quite surprised that no one could come up with answers, acceptable solutions to all in solving the problems we have in the Northern Territory.
In relationship to alcohol abuse, crime, violence and liquor outlets trading hours and unacceptable behaviour by a minority group of people, there are some questions I would like to ask those people who said the Alice and Territory is quite a safe place to live and work.
I am not a racist. Had I been racist, I would not have been a driver. In my early youth as a driver probably 70 percent of my passengers were part Aboriginal, or full blood Aboriginal people. I must say whilst I was travelling the lonely outback tracks of Australia to far distant cattle runs, missions and Aboriginal communities I do not recall a time when I felt that my life was in danger.
In those earlier years way out back of beyond, or around the streets of Darwin and Alice Springs, I felt that I was more safe than the city taxi driver out in the city suburbs. The Aboriginal people, full blood or part Aboriginal, had the greatest respect for taxi drivers, police and the general public, as well as for property of others. There was no criminal damage, bad behaviour, theft and violence as there is of recent years.
We of all colours walked the streets, slept beneath the stars on hot summers' nights under the gum trees in our back yards with not a fear of being raped, bashed or murdered and we did not have to put up with racist abuse on the streets, or in our taxis.
I only recall one car stolen in Alice Springs during the 1950s and that was stolen by white persons. In 1956 a ringer came in from a cattle run, dumped his swag under the big gum-tree in Parsons Street, then jumped in my taxi and said, "To the airport, Dave, thanks." "Your swag, you are not going to leave it there, Mac? It will get stolen." "She'll be right," was his response. Three weeks later he returned. The swag was still there.
My questions to you are: Would you sleep beneath the stars with or without a gun today? Would you leave your car, or home, unlocked? Would you go for a walk up the Todd River in the moonlight? Would you sit in a park? Would you walk down the Mall after dark? Do you feel safe in your own home of recent years? Do you feel sure that your car is not going to be stolen and torched? Your house contents and personal effects, are you sure they won't be stolen? Would you drive a taxi in the Northern Territory or join the Northern Territory police force?Should you answer no to one, or all the questions, then the Territory is not a safe place to live, or visit.Time changes everything. In the Territory there have recently been many changes, many for the better. But there have been some changes up through the last 30 years, which have not been for the better for all of us. The drunkenness, bad behaviour in public places, a terrible increase in crime, violence, rape, murders, domestic violence and a break down in law and order and in our courts.
Government policies of recent years on sentencing laws are just simply not working and with such policies on dealing with crime, and dealing with criminals who come before the courts, things are not going to get better until our politicians get real in preventing and dealing with the problems in a rational manner.
I remember hearing the Aboriginal men saying many years ago when a white persons thinking and sayings were irrational and most stupid, they would say, "That man has his brain in all the wrong way round! Poor bugger white ‘pella'." So, Dr Peter Toyne, Clare Martin, judges and magistrates this is what most of us think too. Now we find your go soft policies on crime and with problem drinkers don't work.
Tough punishment is the only way to go. Around 14 years of age I was with a gang that stole water melons from a market garden. Ten lashes of the stock whip got the message across to me. How it changed my thinking.Of recent times we hear of Aboriginal tribal laws to be the answer to punishment for offenders. Before you introduce Aboriginal laws into the courts, you people in government, judges and magistrates should do a course yourselves on Aboriginal law. Before the coming of Gough Whitlam, back in the "Dreamtime" very tough Aboriginal laws came in. Punishment for adultery, incest, rape and carnal knowledge, etc, was death. There were no human rights groups, solicitors and so called "do-gooder" groups around in those times to defend the ones who broke Aboriginal laws.For 40 years now through my windscreen no body would have seen so much violence, drunkenness and criminal damage to property as I have. My stories would fill a book.
NEXT WEEK: Murders, rape, families torn apart, Aboriginal cultures destroyed.


FROM LITTLE THINGS, BIG THINGS GROW. Review by KIERAN FINNANE.

With the right choice of materials and techniques, inexperienced artists can be quickly guided to producing very attractive work for sale.
At the Yarrenyty Arltere Learning Centre in the Larapinta Valley Town Camp, artists have turned their hands variously to redecorating recycled furniture, painting original canvas backs for camping chairs, to painting boards and printing three-toned linocuts.
Participants in a two-year training course, offered by Batchelor Institute at the Learning Centre, the group of artists will soon be ready to operate as a managed art centre.
Many have been selling their work individually, but now are coming together to present an exhibition at the centre next Wednesday.
The art and craft program is just one of the activities of the centre, which attempts to bring family members of all ages together, working side by side.
If mothers, aunties and grandmothers are in the art room, for instance, children are more likely to be in the schoolroom. Indeed, one talented young girl, Selina Ebatarinja, moves between both, trying her hand at linocut prints before returning to her reading and writing.
Some 15 artists work regularly in the art room, following in the footsteps of acclaimed artists who have been based at Larapinta Valley Camp – Albert Namatjira, Arnulf Ebatarinja and Wenten Rubuntja.
Coinciding with the exhibition will be a tour of the centre's bush tucker gardens, a sausage sizzle and a screening of "Bad Hair Day" (people's choice at the recent Youth Film Festival) as well as other locally made short videos.
The show will be open at the centre, Wednesday, June 4, 3-7pm, with opening speeches at 6pm and screenings around 7pm.


A WINNING STREAK FOR FRONT RUNNERS. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.

Front runners were rewarded at Pioneer Park over the weekend when three of the four winners forced the pace and claimed victory.
In the Sea Royal Class Five Handicap over the 1000 metres, Juroma led a five-horse field by two lengths early and controlled the race to the finish. Greg Carige has put plenty into this horse's preparation and the return was worthwhile.
Juroma won by three lengths with favourite Oakleigh Boy having to settle for second money. Oakleigh Boy may well have a reasonable excuse for the placing, as hoop Ben Cornell dropped the whip in the charge into the straight and depended on hands and heels riding to get the horse across the line. Joint equal favourite, Gerrard, completed the placings.
Stun Gun from the Kevin Lamprecht stable was well supported in debut at carnival time and looked after his followers in the Duchovny Trobis Maiden Plate over the 1000 metres. Backed into odds-on favouritism, he made every post a winner from the jump and led throughout by some three lengths to go to the line looking the goods. It's Our Boy travelled with the main bunch and, while he popped the question in the straight, was not in the race in tracking down the leader. Geolude was a mere head away in third place at the finish, but an eye catching run came from fourth place getter Brother Winston who came into contention from the rear of the field.The third event on the card went to the well regarded Make Me a King ridden by Phillip Crich, living up to favouritism status when racing from the front despite the task of lumping 60kg.
He crossed the line a length and a quarter in front of Raja Mahal, with Dury's Classic third in the 1100 metre Surrenders Class One Handicap.
The win gave Crich and trainer Carige a double for the day.
In the 1100 metre Don Thomas Open handicap last start winner Aspen Star did everything right for the Dick Leech stable.
He led Son of Grace and Le Saint in the running and then kicked in the straight to get to the line by a short half head from the favourite Son of Grace, with Paris Duo filling the placings.The last of the day was the Nappa Class Three Handicap over 1200 metres. This was the only race of the day where the front runner did not control the race.
Navigator led out, with Strewth perched mid-field to the turn into the straight. At this point Ben Cornell made steady ground on Strewth and with 100 metres to go jumped the leader to win by half a length.
Navigator held on to second place, with Smartly Evident a length and a half away, third.


SOUTHS PUT SPARK BACK IN. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.

Aussie Rules has been under the hammer somewhat in recent times, but on the weekend a proactive initiative from the South Club possibly sparked the flame that could re invigorate footy in the Centre.It was the Roos' turn for a bye in the CAFL, and through Shaun Cusack, who has been doing time to date in the season, a social match between the old and new Roos at Larapinta Oval on Saturday proved to be an absolute winner. Some 300 supporters gathered at the ground to witness a win by the "oldies".
After a day of thrills, spills, and plenty of laughs one and all went back to the club at Elder Street for a meal and refreshments. In all the day provided the impetus for all South fans to come together and celebrate the club's heritage of over 30 years, and to strive as one for a flag this year.
In fact the whisper around Traeger Park on Sunday was that Pioneers' fans would like to see something happen as well, even in the form of a South versus Pioneer "oldies" game.On the ground the positive feel for footy permeated both A Grade games.
The West game against Rovers was expected to be a one sided affair. To read the final score of West 22.15 (147) to Rovers 11.8 (74) one would assume that it was but in fact the opposite was true.West went into the game with three last minute withdrawals due to the ‘flu, and although able to lead at quarter time, 4.2 to 3.2, were by no means doing it easily.
The Blues had plenty of run in their legs, with Sherman Spencer leading the speedy forward line, and Clinton Pepperill in ruck, feeding the burst out of the centre square.
The presence of big Max Fejo added to the Blues attack. For Wests the presence of Kevin Bruce at half forward, and Steven Squires accompanied by the forward pocket dynamo Jason Swain in the gaol square, meant a scoring avenue was always at the ready.
In the second term the Blues kept running and acquired the desired result of a lead at half time, albeit by a mere point. The veteran Glenn Holberton controlled proceedings up forward with three personal goals for the half, and at the break they rested 8.5 to 8.4.
Come the third term the Rover machine began to show signs of fatigue as West slowly compiled five goals to two. Adam Taylor came into his own in the centre with penetrating passes into the forward line. In that region Curtis Haines burst through twice with individual brilliance to score goals, and both Squires and Bruce were on hand to create a passage of play forward.
Three names of recent West history also exerted pressure – Jarrod Slater, Brett Stevens and Andrew Wesley. They extolled the Bloods' belief in attacking the hard ball and issuing a challenge to the opposition.
With the running game of the Blues slowing, it was the determined West approach which gradually took control.In the run home West scored 9.5 to 1.3, with a display of disciplined football. Swain and Squires were able to bag five goals each, while Bruce and Haines ended the day with three goals apiece. Taylor was best afield and he was ably assisted in by a stoic Victor Williams; Damien Timms, who will be better as the season progresses; Wesley , Slater and Stevens.
For the Blues Glen Holberton led the goal kickers with three. Adam Egel, Karl Hampton, Clinton Ngalkin and Clinton Pepperill were among the best players.
For a side that led at half time and were still a chance well into the third quarter, the 73 point loss was a bitter pill to swallow.
In the late game Federal gave the game their best shot. It was a pleasure to witness both sides shaking hands as they left the field at the game's end, in respect for a game well played out.
Despite the platitude, the fact is that Pioneer won the game 24.12 (156) to 12.5 (77). The 79 point margin is indicative of the difference between one of the better sides and the cellar dweller in the competition.
The Eagles ran on without Laughlin Ross, Craig Turner, Trevor Dhu, and Aaron Kopp. They were a team of young Eagles out to do what tradition demands of Pioneer players.
By quarter time they had established a 6.4 to 2.1 lead. Joel Campbell showed his enthusiasm for the coveted full forward spot by kicking three goals in the term, the start of what would end as a bag of 13 for the match.
In the second session Federal actually ran with Pioneer, being outscored 4.5 to 3.0 but well and truly making the game one that had to be won. Federal indeed uncovered a player with potential in Adrian Dixon, from Central Anmatjere, who held full forward well and besides booting five goals for the match himself, handed out chances to running players.
Pioneer had a functional third term marked by good ball handling and precision passing, which enabled them to outclass the Federal back line and penetrate the goal scoring area. They added eight straight goals for the term and stitched the game up, while Federal could only muster 3.3.
With the game in their control, the Eagles runners continued to assault the goal square in the last term, scoring a further 6.3 to 4.1 by the final bell.
Campbell's 13 goals won him best afield votes, but he was well supported by Nathan Flanigan, Ryan Mallard, Eric Campbell and Nathan Pepperill.
For Federal David Bird scouted the forward line incessantly and created opportunities. Kevin McDonald gave 100 minutes of determined football. Daryl Ryder was welcomed back to the fold and James Braedon was again in the thick of things.
Another plus for the game was the attendance of NTFL Umpires Director, Ben Schmidt who controlled the game as umpires should. His presence was hardly noticed, as the game flowed incident free.

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