ALICE SPRINGS NEWS


April 19, 2007. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.



Chief Minister booed. By ERWIN CHLANDA and KIERAN FINNANE.

Chief Minister Clare Martin was subjected to unprecedented anger, with sustained booing and heckling while she spoke to the crowd – a Who’s Who of small local business – gathered to protest about law and order issues as Parliament opened in Alice on Tuesday. Ms Martin took the microphone to loud booing, and it didn’t get any better, with constant, often vehemently angry, interjections. “I do understand your concerns,” she said. “Go and walk our streets in the dark!” came the cry. “We as government have put over the last 12 months considerable efforts into dealing with the long term issues of Alice Springs.” Booing, catcalls. Ms Martin got sustained heckling when she mentioned the alcohol plan and a decrease in consumption (a minimal 11%). “What crap.” “Look around the Northside.” Ms Martin: “There are major plans under way for the future of the town camps.” “When are you going to start?” Ms Martin: “Police numbers will be at full strength in the future.” Loud heckling by several people. Ms Martin: “We need to be dealing with the immediate problems, which we are.” “Well then do something today.” Ms Martin: “Your future is bright.” “No thanks to you.” “If this were Darwin, it wouldn’t be happening.” Ms Martin: “I’m happy to meet, if you are available, to talk about these issues in more detail.” “We’re here.” Ms Martin: “Thank you for coming today.” “Oooohhh. Booo! Go back to Darwin.” Ms Martin: “And can I tell you that I share your concerns for Alice Springs.” “You do not.” “Dream on.” “Go to the record [of what she has done].” Ms Martin: “We do have strategies in place that I believe will see a change in the next 12 months and into the future.” “You might fix [the problem] when we’re all dead.” “You can’t even ring the police station.” “Go and take your gutless mates with you.” Trevor Filmer, organizer of part of the protest, took the mike to applause from the audience, and said he and a delegation would accept Ms Martin’s invitation to a meeting inside where Parliament was getting ready to start its third sittings in Alice Springs. Before going in Ms Martin told journalists: “I am the Minister for major projects. Alice Springs is one of my major projects. “There is an unacceptable level of violence. “There are youths that should be home and are not. “We haven’t had full police numbers. “Over the last couple of weeks we had full police numbers. “I’ve given Alice Springs a commitment that we will respond when there are problems here, so that the streets of Alice Springs can be safe.” In a media release later on Tuesday Ms Martin announced a $150,000 grant towards CCTV for Todd Mall and a “summit to continue the fight against anti-social behavior”. “The summit will be held after the decision on the Alice Springs application to become a dry town – which is expected next month. “It’ll build on the leaders’ forum which is being hosted by the Alice Springs Mayor Fran Kilgariff on Friday,” said Ms Martin. Ms Martin also announced a police “Social Order Taskforce which will identify crime hot spots in and around Alice Springs”. That means the widely mocked talk fests are continuing: A forum followed by a summit followed by a task force. Earlier Steve Brown, from Advance Alice, got loud and long applause when he took the microphone, saying this is “an historic day, a moment that’s been building for a couple of years, and gaining momentum over the last few months. “Enough is enough.” More huge applause. He urged the immediate problems, such as policing, the basic safety issues, to be addressed urgently, “in the most aggressive manner possible” even if the underlying causes of the anti-social behavior and crime are tackled later. The Alice News spoke to people in the crowd. Business owner Linda Wilson was there with her toddler and retired parents. They came to Alice in 1972 and love the town. “We went out to the movies the other night, an eight o’clock movie. “We’re sitting outside having a drink and there’s gangs of kids, little kids, five to about 13, they had knives, one had a syringe and he was trying to stab another little kid with it. “The police come but what can they do with all these kids, there’s nowhere to take them. “We’ve got a small business in town. “Over the last week we’ve been broken into five times, windows smashed, damage to vehicles, it’s petrol sniffers. They caught some, but they are out again. “It’s all got to come out of your own pocket and you just can’t afford to have it keep happening.” What does she think needs to be done? “With the young children, they’ve got to have somewhere to take them, they can’t take them home. And with petrol sniffers, I don’t know what they’re going to do with them, their communities don’t want them, that’s why they come to town. “They’re scary. I want my little feller to grow up and be able to be like I was when I was a kid. We used to ride our bikes up town, go to the movies, stuff like that and I want him to be able to do that. “Our home is here, we want to stay in town but if it gets worse and worse you have to consider, is it a safe place to live.” Ms Wilson says the police need more resources. Her business had similar problems with petrol sniffers a couple of years ago: “There was a big taskforce and they came in camouflage gear and caught a lot of people. “And we asked them why they couldn’t do that [again] and they said they don’t have the money in the budget to do it anymore. “We spoke to the police yesterday and said maybe the police on patrol should have dogs for their protection as well – because it’s all in the hills around our area, that’s where the trouble is – and there’s no budget for that either.” Father, Bob Wilson, says “education is what we have to concentrate on, get them to school, get them a work ethic”. Maurice Aladjem and wife Louise came because of what has happened to their neighbor: “She was sexually molested in broad daylight at 3pm in front of Yeperenye. “When it’s getting to that extent it’s about time something’s done. “We’ve lived here just over 10 years and seen an incredible deterioration in safety and a whole lot of conditions in Alice Springs.” Who’s responsible for fixing the problem? “It’s obvious governments are put in place to look after the citizens and for there to be law and order. Unfortunately a lot of things seem to be touchy because of race. I don’t see it as a race issue at all. “If law and order is breaking down, law and order is breaking down. I’ve been to other places in Australia where order has broken down and it just so happens to have been among Anglo-Saxons and the same thing needs to be done. “Unfortunately a lot of the politicians are up north. “Having lived in Darwin you can see the resources are being focused there and there’s no interest here whatsoever.” Are they going to stay in town? “I hope so, I love it here. We don’t go into town now at night, can’t go for coffee, restaurants or the cinema. “My wife doesn’t feel very safe.” Robyn Perry, a car dealer, brandished a poster saying she’s sick of the “murder and mayhem: Do the crime, do the time”. She’s no longer feeling safe in Alice Springs. The pollies are just “tip-toeing, forgetting us”, she says. Will she be leaving town? “Not me. I’m not going anywhere.” Tom Surr likewise is tired of “all that violence and stuff. “I’ve been here for a long time but it’s changed very much.” He was beaten up recently: “Got a couple of broken ribs out of it.” And he’s is thinking of leaving town: “I love this town. It’s got good people in it. Good place to work. But I’ve had enough of the rest of it.” Ali Hutchinson would “love to leave town but I can’t afford it”. “It’s not safe to be out. You’ve got to lock your doors. “You’re just too frightened to look at anyone sometimes in the street. “I’ve just had enough of the problems in the town. “I don’t think enough is being done. “Everyone has to have a say in [fixing] it. Work together and come up with a real solution, not just a bandaid. “Apart from that it’s a good town. “I’ve been here more than 20 years.” An older woman who declined to be named said “there’s a gang of about 30 Aboriginal children holding the town to ransom at the moment”. “I’ve been here 22 years. We’ll stay because my husband likes it, but my children have all left town because of the way the town is. “They just cannot stand the vandalism and white people being treated as a minority.” She hadn’t had direct experience with the gang but her friend had: “I had dealings with the gang last week. My husband and I slept in the shop to protect it last week.” Their shop is in the CBD, but not the mall. “The police are under-resourced,” said the woman, who also declined to be named. “They do as much as they can, but they can’t be there when we need them. “These children are 13, 14, 15, they need to have a juvenile detention centre back in Alice Springs.” Is she going to stay in Alice? “No. We’ve been here 34 years. Next year, once our children finish school, we’re leaving town, we’re selling everything up and we’re going. “We’ve had enough.” Businessman Tony Bandera said the government doesn’t care about Alice Springs: “Every time you ring the Chief Minister up she ignores you or she sends one of her cronies down or they don’t even turn up. “There’s two ways to go, try to make them understand we are doing it hard down here, or it’s too hot in the kitchen and you get out. “But I really don’t want to get out at the moment.” Is he thinking about it? “Absolutely. And not only me, if everyone’s got the guts to tell you, but they’re afraid they’ll lose their business or the value of their house will go down.” Shane Forrester drives around town doing deliveries: “I’m forever hearing of shops being broken into, kids bashed, just general over the top stuff.” “I’ve got two kids who are coming into that age where they’re going to go out on their own and I can’t protect them and if the [police] job’s not being done effectively then every time they go out they are going to be at risk.” The government are “too interested in what’s happening in the north”. “I don’t have any solid answers. They’ve got to pay attention, they’ve got to look and they’ve got to stop pandering to the minority groups. “Opal fuel’s for a couple of hundred people, alcohol laws for a couple of thousand people but as far as I can see it is not being effective. “The $80m they claim they’re getting for this temporary housing bit, that’s not going to change anything. All they’re doing is bringing the problem into the community, that’s not going to change anything out on the communities out bush. A whole heap of things, hey, and it’s all being done wrong.” John Dawkins was of similar mind: “The residents of this town are continually making compromises and nothing is being changed. “We’ve got Opal petrol when we didn’t want it, we’ve got alcohol restrictions which have proved nothing. It’s only gotten worse and worse and worse. “Try to address the real situation. The problem is with Aboriginals roaming the street drunk, not looking after their children. MONEY FOR DRINK “We shouldn’t be giving them the money to go and get drunk every day. That’s all we’re doing.” Mr Dawkins has lived and worked in town for 18 years, has raised his children here and plans to retire here but “in the last two to three years this place has become scary to live in, you cannot walk down the streets, not just around the CBD, even to take your dogs for a walk at night, it’s dangerous because of roaming gangs of Aboriginal kids who are just assaulting people”. Holly and Darren Clark run the Wicked Kneads bakery. They’ve experienced “numerous break-ins” at their business. Mr Clark says they won’t be staying: “Not long term, I wouldn’t bring a family up in this town, it’s a disgrace, it’s unsafe.” His wife is sad about that: “We’ve invested a lot of money in this town as a young couple and considered we’d be here for 20, 30 odd years but in the last three years with the downturn of this town, we’ve had to rethink and change our whole way of looking at things and that’s very sad.” Said Mrs Clark: “We don’t have enough police support in Alice Springs. “I’ve just been informed that overnight, each night in Alice Springs, we only have eight police people actually able to respond to crime. “Three of those are desk jobs, so only five can attend to the problems. We’ve always known there’s a shortage but for it to be that low is just ridiculous given the problems we have in Alice.” Merilyn McIver, from Action Enterprises Event Management, was standing with the Clarks. “I find it totally sad to hear comments like that. I love this town, I’ve been here for 36 years, I’ve brought two children up here and in all the 30 odd years that I’ve lived here I’ve never seen it as bad as it is now. “And to have the Chief Minister stand up there and say she shares our concerns, it’s a load of garbage. “She needs to come down here and see what goes on, go out with the cops, out with the poor old paramedics. “I got broken into in my home only two weeks ago. “It’s awful the way we are being ignored down here.” But, “I will be staying, this is my home and I defy anybody to shift me out of here”. Dale McIver said: “Hopefully the Chief Minister and all of her cronies being out here this morning have actually seen that we are a town, we are supportive of everyone around us. “It’s not just people, it’s businesses, it’s the heart and soul of the town that are out here.” Rose Sabadin lives in Gillen, near Flynn Park. She’s been in town 39 years. “Even our dogs are out of control with barking because of the bad behavior at night. “Police are always there, going up and down the street, noisy, under age drinking. “It’s kid behavior, they go past, bang on fences, they wake up people, swear and fight. “It’s mixed [not only Aboriginal children]. “It’s very sad.” Bonnie Mitchell, a resident for 17 years, was anxious to stress the good points about the town: “It’s a great place to bring your kids up, the opportunities here are fantastic, you don’t have to travel far, the sports facilities are excellent. I just think it’s a great town but it’s got a huge problem to be solved. “The government could do a lot more. “I want to spend the rest of my life here, I love it that much, look how beautiful it is here this morning.” Rodney Mengel grew up here but has got his doubts about staying: “Go down the mall on a Thursday afternoon, it gives you a great idea of our society. “We’ve got a percentage of our society that lives on the dole, drinks, spits, fornicates, defecates wherever they want to, no respect for anybody’s property, including their own. “They come here because it’s easy to live here, we’ve got a police force that’s handcuffed [by insufficient numbers].” But there’s also the alcohol problem: “Police don’t have the powers, the force to keep that under control.” He also raised the donga camp issue, referring to Mal Brough’s “$80m bribe”. George Sabadin said all that money should be spent on Aboriginal communities. “If they want to have alcohol in their lifestyles they should have the right to drink on their own communities. CANTEEN “They could have a wet canteen, if it’s two hours a day so be it. “Why should we, the town of Alice Springs, 30,000 people, put up with the crap?” Will he stay? “A dam good question. I’ve been here 47 years, I love the town, the town made me and I thank the town for it, and it’s a very sad thing to think whether I should go or not go, but I tell you what, it has been on my mind. “I don’t want to go, I’d love to stay here, but if this government of ours – they say there’s no Berrimah Line but there’s a Berrimah Line all right – if they don’t get off their butt and do something about it the economy is going to collapse. “And then where are the taxes going to come from when there are no business people of Alice Springs encouraging other people of Alice Springs to commit their money in this beautiful town.” Darrel Wilson who’s been here for 23 years, is “selective of when we go out and how we go out”. “I’ve never had problems but the only reason I haven’t is because I know the town. Those poor unfortunates who don’t know the town who do get accosted, I certainly feel sorry for them.” Speaking after Ms Martin’s speech, he said: “If Clare understands our problems, this should have been addressed a long time ago before the people had to get together to do something about it. “The government’s a yes government, there are people in this town who are yes people, she’s being misinformed or she just wants to ignore it.” Sam Gardener was another who wanted to thank the town for the life he’s had here, as a business and family man. “It brings a tear to my eye what’s happening in this town,” he said. “They have destroyed the spirit in the town temporarily. “But it will rise up again. I’m not going to leave. They’re not going to force me out of town, we’re going to force them out of office.”
Change of guard at the Catholic Church in Alice. By KIERAN FINNANE.

After 78 years in Alice Springs the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart are leaving. Only two from the order remain – Brother Ed Bennett, now 93 years of age, and Father Brian Healy, parish priest. They will bid farewell to the parish in a special event on June 3, and leave in July. After 17 years in town Fr Healy will do a renewal course before taking over as parish priest of Palmerston from the start of next year. Incoming parish priest in Alice will be Fr Jim Knight, a Divine Word Missionary, as are Fr Asaeli Raass and Fr Michael Loke, already in town, and Fr Peter Tam Tran at Santa Teresa. Once the only order in the parish, the numbers of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSCs) are dwindling, “like all orders”, says Fr Healy. “Young men just don’t seem interested.” Would allowing priests to marry make a difference? “I’d be surprised.The number of practising Catholics is dropping. We still get good numbers of students at the college, but far fewer are coming to church on Sundays and being involved in other religious practices and that’s across the ages, both senior and junior. “We mightn’t be relevant, but the lack of interest is right through their lives – even sporting teams are struggling to get enough players.” Born in 1936, Fr Healy grew up in the west Victorian town of Hamilton. He attended the MSC’s apostolic school in his last three years of secondary school and then went into the seminary for seven years’ training to become a priest. He was ordained in 1962 and posted to the Territory in the following year. “In those days you knew you would be sent where they wanted you to go. But I did ask if I could come to the Northern Territory because I had my eye on the Aborigines. I felt they were a people in need.” But while he served at Port Keats, Santa Teresa and Gove in the late ‘seventies, most of his time has been spent between Darwin – a decade at the cathedral, from 1963 to 1973 – and Alice Springs. In Darwin his contact with Aborigines was pretty much limited to the times they attended church. When he first arrived the congregation was segregated, apparently voluntarily – “but after a while it petered out and they sat wherever they felt like.” In the communities, the biggest challenge was communicating across language barriers. “You had to learn to speak [English] simply but first of all you had to learn to befriend the people. “It would have been easy to live apart because of our differences but you had to go round the camps, mix and talk with them.” What did he think Aboriginal people were seeking from the church? “The same as white people.” The Christian messages “have penetrated reasonably well”. “It could always be better, but the results are similar for whites. “They all know a lot about what we want them to know. Whether or not they put it into practice is another matter.” After a stint in Alice in the early ‘eighties, Fr Healy returned in 1989. There were three MSC priests then, as well as Br Ed. Other than for funerals, Fr Healy serves mainly the non-Aboriginal congregation. Aboriginal Catholics have their own Mass at the church’s South Terrace premises. “They are able to participate in the mass in the way they want. They have a hand held microphone that they pass around. “They wouldn’t do this in the church. And down there if the mass doesn’t start till 11.20 or 11.30 nobody gets upset, but for whites that would be another matter! “There’s not as much mixing in the parish as I would like to see but the Aborigines don’t mind whites going down there, and some do, some go to contribute, to drive busses, to pick people up.” The “white parish is very friendly”, “people participate well”, “there’s no trouble getting a parish council together”. Does he feel regular attendance at Mass is largely a habit or is it more dynamic than that? “For most it is more dynamic than habit.” He describes as “great” the participation of lay people in the Mass. Fr Healy sees his role as being a spiritual leader, in particular through celebration of the Mass, and being a friend to his parishioners. He is also involved in the prisoner fellowship and visiting people in hospital – “a normal part of our ministry”. He does not “go out of his way’ to comment on or be involved in broader social issues affecting the town. His service to the church and his parishioners will be much the same in Palmerston as it has been in Alice Springs. “All parishes have a similar set-up.” He says he likes Alice Springs “very much” but is utterly unsentimental about his departure after so long. “From the day you join you accept that your superiors have the right to ask you to move.” Brother Ed undergoes surgery to receive a pacemaker next week. He is likely to move with Fr Healy to Darwin and perhaps later to Palmerston. For his modest reflections on his long service as a missionary in the Territory, which earned him an OAM, see our website, “A tough man’s work for God,” June 13, 2001.
No end to grog woes. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The passage of years and a debilitating condition have not extinguished the fire in Barbara Curr’s belly about our leaders’ sustained and entrenched incompetence in dealing with Alice Springs’ crushing alcohol problem. “Why are lawyers not getting in on the act?” she asks. “Liquor traders are selling a dangerous substance. “There are class actions against the tobacco industry. “In what way is alcohol different?” Ms Curr is a long time resident and a counsellor, having worked in government and private enterprise. She had the ear of Chief Minister Marshall Perron, tin snipped placards for full strength Fosters from fences adjacent to children’s playgrounds, and dropped the ads into government offices. And she helped organise the legendary demonstration by 500 traditional women, with their breasts painted, marching through Alice’s CBD, demanding action against the booze carnage. “The government had never seen anything like it before – nor since,” says Ms Curr. That was in 1990. The Living With Alcohol initiative was born. She put “availability” on the agenda of the Drug and Alcohol Association (DASA). The notion of “responsible serving” was introduced. Mr Perron was talking seriously about buying back licences. But tragically, nothing of consequence followed. Mr Perron retired and his successor, Shane Stone, “extinguished the spark of energy in grog reform”. “DASA ceased to be reformist and was taken over by the liquor lobby.” PAAC, the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition, was formed. Yet despite a mountain of reports and passionate public debate, the town is now paying the price for government’s dilly dallying, and its pandering to the grog industry, says Ms Curr. On a recent weekend, when hundreds of teenagers ran amok in 10 separate incidents, many of them were drunk, although under age. “Where do they get the booze?” she asks. And the alcohol card, the latest “initiative” to reduce the harm alcohol is doing to the town, seems to have bogged down in haggling, despite a recent agreement between the tourism lobby CATIA and the Chamber of Commerce to advocate its go-ahead. She says the latest announcement of CATIA, that it wants restrictions lifted if it agrees to the card, is “absurd”. It would result in less regulation of alcohol availability than there is now. Ms Curr maintains the government should buy back the Todd Tavern liquor licence and turn the place into a youth resource centre with a cultural theme, and provide not only food and a safe place to sleep for young people, but also a location where cultural pride is on display for tourists. She says the government should buy up some unviable pastoral properties and turn them into “Timbertops of the Outback”. She says: “Young people could learn rewarding ways to live under the guidance of well trained staff. “Why should only kids from posh private schools go to places like that?” she asks. “There are just 43,000 people in Central Australia. “Why can’t we live together in harmony? “Here’s the government’s chance and responsibility to show some leadership.” Six years into Labor’s reign there is still no sign of it. Family Minister Delia Lawrie refused to be interviewed about the issues, although as juveniles, many of the booze transgressions are committed by people she has responsibility for. But Opposition Leader Jodeen Carney, when asked what she would do to stop the disorderly conduct linked to underage drinking, said: “We would put more police on the beat, as this is the most effective way of addressing and reducing disorderly conduct. “I would also get the mobile police van out and about: very few people have ever seen it. “When I saw it in the Mall once, I knocked on the door, and no one was there! “It is widely thought that the Government would provide the police to work with and from the van.” Is she aware of protocols of collaboration between the many organisations dealing with young people at risk? Says Ms Carney: “I suggest you ask the Minister this one. “The Opposition would like to know what they are; who they are between; what the objectives are; and what performance measures exist to assess their benefit. “And, by the way, where is the new Community Welfare Act Labor has promised for years?”
From no family to a big one. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Alec Kruger was “too cut up” to talk at the launch of the book that tells his life story, a pity because he can be an engaging, often humorous speaker. “A man might be a movie star yet,” he quipped later, as several photographers flashed away at him and co-writer Gerard Waterford signing copies of Alone on the soaks, a stolen generation memoir. The twinkle in Alec’s eye is testament to remarkable resilience in face of what has been, by anyone’s account, a difficult life. As a child of mixed race, Alec was taken from his Aboriginal mother when he was just three and a half. He writes of her that she was “a hard-working spiritual woman” and a “good mother”. “But most of us were taken away from her. She tried but couldn’t pull us back. My father wasn’t able to stop them. She grieved for us, but kept her faith, kept busy with her community.” And of himself, the child with “no mother’s arms” to hold him, no father to lead him, he writes: “Us taken-away kids only had each other. All of us damaged and too young to know what to do.” The title of the book refers to the scarifying period when as a boy of just 11 he was sent off to work and left quite alone at Loves Creek Station, a long way from the homestead, for up to three months at a time, making sure the soaks were flowing and the troughs full to water the cattle. “It was just me and the cattle and dingos for company. “No meat or real food. I was expected, as an Aborigine, to just know how to live off the land. But I had been in institutions all my life and didn’t have any idea of what to do.” Thankfully after a few terrifying, panic-stricken days, and especially nights, old people, “wild Aborigines”, found him and stuck around for a while, showed him friendship, taught him some bush skills – “they pretty much saved my life”. The contact with the old people was a turning point – “I felt better about being black and spending time in the bush” – but the traumatic experience of his enforced periods of solitude stayed with Alec. “Today I still dread being left alone,” he writes.” I get terrible panic attacks where I can scarcely breathe.” A long and fruitful life was in front of him, happier times as the dedication of the book and the presence of his large family at the launch make clear, as well as struggles. Writing the book was designed “to be a gently healing journey for him”, guided by counsellor and co-writer Gerard. The book also has a political agenda: by providing an account of the way “oppressive government practices and abusive individuals” shaped the life of Alec and his family and friends, it provides insight, argue the authors, into the reasons for the present-day plight of many Aboriginal people in Central Australia. Many of us have by now heard many stories of the stolen generation but they still have power to shock. As Alec writes: “I look at my young grandkids and think I was their age when I was left along at the soaks. It is unbelievable. It just wouldn’t happen today.” Territory Administrator Ted Egan, speaking at the launch, described the removal of mixed race children as “a vindictive, awful policy”: “It was genocidal – that’s not too emotional a word to use.” There were murmurs of agreement and applause. But there were survivors, Alec and others. Doreen Franey remembered a childhood of hungry, often violent times at the Gap Cottages but “being poor half-castes didn’t stop us,” she said. “We survived and continue to do so and we’ll always remember the ones who didn’t come back.” Alec survived and, as he says, moved on. His “loving and beautiful wife Nita” and their family gave him the strength he needed. “I learnt to accept and embrace all the changes the world has to offer – to treat others with dignity and respect and help those in need.”
Mayor says we don’t need Federal cops: would make us look like third world. By KIERAN FINNANE.

The town council has backed Alderman Samih Habib’s motion to appeal to the Federal Police Minister for help to restore law and order to the streets of Alice Springs. Only Mayor Fran Kilgariff dissented. She said it would “sensationalise the issues” and make Alice Springs “look like a third world city”. It would also allow the Territory Government “to get away with something they should engage in”, said Ms Kilgariff. She was concerned about council having “egg on our face” if such assistance proved impossible. She said she would like to investigate the “flow” of Territory Police actually “feeding” the Federal Police [with recruits]. Ald David Koch responded that “some people would think we’re in the third world anyway”. He said in the area where he works, three businesses have experienced 15 break-ins in two and a half weeks: “They’re all after petrol.” He denied things have improved in the last couple of weeks, referring also to two incidents of women known to him being assaulted, one off Lovegrove Drive while taking a daily walk early in the morning (pulled into a ditch by a youth but rescued by two women cyclists and a passing motorist), the other “groped” in front of Yeperenye, in broad daylight. Ald Marguerite Baptiste-Rooke also thought the move may let the NT Government “off the hook”, but ultimately supported the motion. “People are sick of meetings, debates, reports, they want police in the street,” she said. Ald Melanie van Haaren said the motion sounded “emotive” but that was because the situation “is emotive”, referring to the dentist recently hit over the head with a beer bottle in a random attack and receiving “52 stitches to his face”. She said the appeal for Federal help was an “ambit claim” but “we are desperate”. Ald Murray Stewart said rather than letting the NT Government off the hook, “it’s the reverse”. It would be a message to them, “you’ve failed us”. At their meeting scheduled with the Chief Minister and Police Minister yesterday, that council should demand that they pay for monitoring of CCTV footage, said Ald Stewart. “We want to prevent crime while it’s happening.” Ald Geoff Bell said the only problem with the motion was that it didn’t go far enough: “We should take this to the Prime Minister if we have to.” In closing, Ald Habib said: “The Territory is not a state. The Federal Government is obliged morally and legally to help us.”
'Give each other a break.' By KIERAN FINNANE.

It’s not every day that a small Aboriginal community in the middle of Australia pops up on the motivational speaker circuit. But at Amoonguna, some 20 kilometres east of Alice Springs, the health service will try whatever it takes to encourage people to take care of their well-being. Dave Evans, manager of the clinic, had heard former footballer and Collingwood trainer turned author and speaker Mark McKeon at a conference and thought Mark’s message was one people at Amoonguna should hear. Whether it was the AFL link or the promise of a sausage sizzle that drew people in, there was a healthy turnout for the session, held in the community hall. School children at the front, women to either side, a smattering of staff from different community services among them, men at the back. Mark began by handing out Collingwood jumpers to the local footy team and then launched into his spiel. It’s all about setting goals, being confident and being persistent. The goals can be anything, from losing weight – and there was a local man who’d done very well with that, in an effort to control his kidney disease – to getting a particular job. A member of the audience volunteered that he wanted to become an Aboriginal health worker. “That’s a very powerful way you’ve expressed that,” said Mark, “ by saying ‘I want to ... ‘” He said people can train themselves to be confident, by simply pretending to be: after a while “it starts to happen”. In response to a question about building individual confidence “in a big family clan”, Mark urged people to give each other a break: “Don’t be jealous when someone does something good.” He said individuals are often reluctant to try something because they are “scared the people they care about will hold them down”. It was hard to gauge what the audience thought about all this. The children were enthusiastic about the little tasks he had them do and loved the girls versus boys footy game on the oval afterwards. Most of the adults drifted quietly away, though a number of the men lined up for Mark to sign their Collingwood merchandise. Dave thought it had gone well: “People will go away and think about it. “There are people in this community with fantastic achievements but people don’t like to talk about themselves – it’s not a [Aboriginal] cultural thing to do.” Mark says he was then approached individually by five of the men, one at a time, while the sausages were cooking.  “One proudly displayed a well worn, yellowed sheet proving he had completed a course in land care.  Another told me of the job interview he had lined up for the coming week, a third about his hopes for the coming footy season.  “Another explained that he was a ‘bush man’, that he had never been to a city and how he loved to have space around him.   “What it showed me, was that while they were reluctant to ‘expose’ themselves in a group, they all had passions and dreams and goals and pride.  “That is what we need to foster, because self esteem is the conduit to living happy and successful (in your own terms) lives.” Mark says he was honored to visit Amoonguna and learn so much about the rich culture and heritage that exists there.  “I don’t see it as me going and giving to the community, I see it as a chance to enrich each other.  I got as good as I gave!”
More to camps deal than meets the eye. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The $50m from the Federal Government for improving Alice town camps will be subject to land being subleased by the current leaseholders to the Territory Government which owns it. The Alice News understands the convoluted arrangement is necessary to avoid the land reverting to Crown land, even just for an instant, which would expose it to native title claims. This would occur if one lease is surrendered and another taken out. The town camps are on NT Government owned Crown land leased under NT law to individual housing associations. These are independent groups incorporated under NT law. Federal Minister for Community Services Nigel Scullion, the Territory’s CLP Senator, says the leases would need to be in the hands of an “appropriate authority” for 99 years for the Federal Government to spend money on them. “We’ll go with the ones which do go along with this,” says Senator Scullion. The News understands that the authority will be NT Government’s Territory Housing. Some blocks – schools, community centers – within the camps may remain in the hands of the associations currently holding the titles, and roads as well as drainage will become a town council responsibility. Meanwhile Senator Scullion has placed the blame squarely with the NT Government for the current public furore over the two camps for temporary visitors. “Clare Martin asked for help with accommodation of itinerants” and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mal Brough agreed to contribute $20m and the ex-Woomera dongas. But at no time was Mr Brough or anyone else from the Federal Government involved in the selection of the two sites, the subject of massive protests at the special sittings of the Legislative Assembly in Alice Springs this week. “The Northern Territory Government [through NT Lands Minister Delia Lawrie] was entirely in charge of the selection of the two sites,” says Senator Scullion. “Any notion that they would now be pointing to us about the selection of sites is absolute baloney,” he says. “I wrote last year to Elliot McAdam, the minister at that time, reflectiing on the wider concerns of citizens of Alice Springs, asking if further alternative sites would be considered. “He neither acknowled my letter nor responded to it.” Senator Scullion says the Darwin-based engineering company, Qantec McWilliam, which recommended the controversial sites, was not engaged by the Federal, but by the NT Government. The company has subsequently been engaged by the Federal Government to design the camps because it is familiar with the project. Senator Scullion defended Mr Brough’s call to hurry up the site selection process – which finished up taking more than a year – because there were competing demands for the $20m from “many areas in Australia with similar challenges, highly mobile communities seeking services at a centre hub”. These included Broome, other places in northern WA, and Queensland.
Youth is attacked in broad daylight.

A 13 year old Darwin tennis player, in town for a national juniors tennis event during the Easter break, was attacked by a group of Aboriginal youngsters in broad daylight last Thursday in Todd Mall. Bruce Scobie of the Alice Springs Tennis Association says the police had nobody available to come to the rescue of the youth and his companions, two local boys. And neither did any passers by in the mall try to help them. The incident happened at around midday. Mr Scobie says the Darwin boy needed to get money from an ATM. As he and his companions walked up the mall they were followed by a group of “young black kids, around 12 of them, ranged in age from probably 10 to 13”. The Darwin boy was punched in the back of the head. He and his companions took to their heels, ran down the mall and into a shop. “Not a single adult stood up to help,” says Mr Scobie. The boys lingered inside the shop and eventually spoke to a woman working there. They told her that the boys outside – she estimates about 15 of them, some holding their bikes, some with their bikes on the ground – wanted to bash them. She says the boys were “very nervous, really uptight”. She fronted the boys outside who confirmed their desire “to bash” the boys inside, saying they were racists. She says the white boys denied having started anything. A phone call was made to the tennis association. Mr Scobie says he told the manager of Red Centre Tennis Academy to ring the police while he went to see the boys. The manager, Wayne Foote, called 8951 8888, the station number (police are asking people to instead call 131 444). He said the call was diverted, before coming back to the station. “It took five to 10 minutes to get through. “I was told all officers were busy. The officer I spoke to said he would call the shop-owner, “ says Mr Foote. The woman in the shop confirms that the police called, and says about half an hour later a patrol car went by. A tennis coach arrived to pick up the Darwin boy and Mr Scobie walked back to his vehicle with the two other boys. They saw the group who had attacked them and pointed them out. “We went straight to the police station,” says Mr Scobie. “They asked me, what do you want us to do. I said, come down to the mall and at least move those kids on. They said, we’d love to do that but we don’t have the people.” Later the Darwin boy went to the station and made a statement about the assault on him. A police spokesperson said: “Police take all reports of assault seriously.  “In this particular incident police records indicate that it was reported to police by phone at 12.35pm on 12 April and a patrol was immediately dispatched.  “Patrols were conducted by vehicle and on foot in the Todd Mall and the Alice Springs Plaza but no alleged offenders fitting the description provided were located.  “The alleged victim later attended the Alice Springs front counter at 2.55pm and provided a statement.  Unfortunately, as in most incidents of this nature, unless further information comes to hand it is difficult for police to apprehend those responsible. “Police take every opportunity to advise people that the correct number to call when police assistance is required is 131 444, or in an emergency 000.”
And on a lighter note: Moxie give pollies a cracker. By DARCY DAVIS.

When you’re a striving, local, independent band, the most important thing to be doing is changing up your style, finding your niche, constantly improving. The Moxie broke out a whole set of new, rearranged and re-written songs last Sunday afternoon at the community concert on the Convention Centre lawns to open the Alice Springs sittings of the Territory Parliament. Super Raelene Bros played from five and were never short of a political or ethical message in their music, and always backed it up with their unique desert grooves on a humble set up of bass, kick drum and violin. I especially loved it when they busted some rhymes in “Sunny Weather: “Livin’ in Alice / it Ain’t a palace … Finally get down to the Todd Mall / that’s where I meet my mate called Paul.” I don’t know whether it’s just me, but when I think Warren H Williams, I think slow, country tunes, so I frankly I didn’t expect much – but when he came on stage with his full band I woke up to myself. “Of course, it’s not just Warren H Williams by himself on an acoustic guitar!” He had a rocking band, with a lead guitarist, fond of screaming guitar solos, and Vincent Lamberti on keyboard, who I was told was reeled in at the last minute and had to learn the chords on the spot (that’s not a compromising thing to have to do for someone like Vince). But it was The Moxie who flew the youth flag for Central Australia, having now firmly established themselves as THE youth band of Alice. Moxie bass player, Bill Guerin’s younger sister Claire was there to lend some advice, support and interpretive dance: “Don’t forget to smile Bill!” she shouted from the front row. Inspired by Claire’s dancing, the Minister of the Arts, Marion Scrymgour, and Speaker Jane Aagaard, got up and shook their stuff. I’d like to say that I did the right journalist thing and sat there with my notebook and jotted down names of songs and the details of them, but I didn’t. I enjoyed their new songs, they’re mixing up their style and genre and taking the time to improve the old songs.
Juggling with changes. REVIEW by KIERAN FINNANE.

The organising principles of most local exhibitions of Aboriginal art are aesthetic and commercial; On Track, an exhibition of contemporary Aboriginal art from Western Australia, is organised around ideas. The ideas are to do with responses to the vast changes that have occurred in Aboriginal lives over the last century. And the exhibition, drawn from the collection of the Berndt Museum of Anthropology, is particularly interesting for gathering a number of viewpoints around certain themes. For example, a work by Julie Dowling makes reference to Mother of God and crucifixion iconography in a political work titled “Icon to a Stolen Child: Stigmata”. But there is also a simple, reverential image of the “Madonna” by Karen Reys. Not unexpectedly there are a number of works around stolen generation themes, and there are also works of family and community closeness, such as the gentle “Sista’s” (sic) by Sharyn Egan, showing one sister checking another’s hair for nits, and the upbeat “Sadie, Sue and Keith” by Sue Wyatt. “Dead Cow” by Jody Broun, showing a bloated white carcass by a asphalted road slicing through the country reads as a critique of the cattle industry and its relationship to the land and its creatures, while “Droving to Wyndham” by Alan Griffiths skillfully uses motifs and composition of traditional Kimberley painting to render something of a homage to herding and stockmen. “Kings Park Picnic, 1934” by Primus Ugle and “The Big Fill ‘94” by Geoffrey Fletcher document damaging changes in diet. Once nomadic hunters and gatherers, in 1934 the mob are sitting down, receiving handouts – including an ice cream and bananas – from missionaries. Sixty years later they are sitting down outside the “Quick Food” store, eating a meat pie, fried chicken and chips. There are also statements of cultural assertiveness. “Waringarri Dancers” by Peggy Griffiths impresses with the sheer numbers of people absorbed in ceremonial practice. This would have been a very important occasion. “Keep off the Grass” by Jody Broun has a different character altogether. A small group, two women, a child, two dogs, sit impassively on a lawn outside an official building, ignoring the sign that says “Keep off the grass – shire property”. All these ideas are the “juggling around” referred to in the statement that gives the exhibition its title. “There was all that confusion about culture, trying to come into one culture from another culture ...”. Valerie Takao Binder is quoted as saying. “We had to juggle it around a bit. Now we’re back on track.” It’s interesting to think about what track that is. My feeling was that it is the track of dealing with change, working towards understanding it, expressing feelings and viewpoints about it. The show is at Araluen until April 29. Meanwhile, more art from WA is on show at Gallery Gondwana. Its Autumn Exhibition, which opened on the weekend, features paintings from Balgo (Wirrimanu) whose artists are internationally known for their dynamic, often brilliantly coloured and highly textured work. One of the newest Aboriginal art centres, Tjarlirli Art from Tjukurla in WA, is also included in the show. Tjarlirli Art was formed in June 2006 out of a desire to draw people back to their birthplace from the communities of Docker River (to the south) and Kiwirrkura (to the north). The centre is named after one of three sacred rock holes near Tjukurla that has special significance to the women of the region. Their paintings are mostly traditional in that they tell the stories of important ancestral sites and events.  Many paintings are about people travelling to and from Tjukurla, the rock holes, sand hills and lakes of the area feature prominently. The show runs until 31 May 2007.
Cops have winning.

A lull in gang violence because four ringleaders were behind bars, phone calls to police being answered quickly, and fast response times to break-ins marked last weekend when the cops in Alice had the upper hand over the villains.
Cops have winning.

A lull in gang violence because four ringleaders were behind bars, phone calls to police being answered quickly, and fast response times to break-ins marked last weekend when the cops in Alice had the upper hand over the villains.
Cops have winning.

A lull in gang violence because four ringleaders were behind bars, phone calls to police being answered quickly, and fast response times to break-ins marked last weekend when the cops in Alice had the upper hand over the villains.


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