ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
June 19, 2008. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Mount Johns Valley: race starts to create
800 homes. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Alderman Samih Habib says the town council
should be the developer of residential land in the Mt Johns Valley, up
to 800 blocks, between the golf course and the MacDonnell Ranges.
Meanwhile the native title body, Lhere Artepe, is saying it also wants
to develop the land, and is asking the NT Government for the
opportunity to do so.
CEO Darryl Pearce says to relinquish native title rights over Mt Johns
Valley, Lhere Artepe would seek a deal similar to the one struck at
Stirling Heights, on the western edge of the town.
That deal – half of the value of the undeveloped land as determined by
the Valuer General – would be “a starting point”, says Mr Pearce.
And Planning and Lands Minister Delia Lawrie says: “The NT Government
and Lhere Artepe have been in positive negotiations regarding the
release of land at Mt Johns.”
Ald Habib says the council should enter into an agreement with Lhere
Artepe about the extinguishment of native title, acquire the land from
the government, and release it to developers.
That would enable the council to ensure an appropriate supply of land
over the next 10 years.
“We cannot afford to wait every six or seven years for 70 blocks to be
released,” says Ald Habib.
“We have the town at heart. We are not subject to the political process
Ald Habib says council development of the land would be an opportunity
to make a profit, reducing the need for future rate rises, while
ensuring the public gets access to cheaper land after several years of
price increases to levels rivaling Sydney.
The proposal came as a surprise to Mayor Damien Ryan: “I look forward
to Ald Habib bringing a solid business plan before the council,” he
Mr Pearce says its own ambitions notwithstanding, Lhere Artepe would
consider other offers: “We’re always happy to listen,” he says.
Stirling Heights has about 80 blocks.
Half the land was transferred to Lhere Artepe as compensation for the
extinguishment of native title over the entire area.
Lhere Artepe sold that land, on which subsequently 40 blocks were
developed, for $1m.
If that formula is applied to Mt Johns Valley, Lhere Artepe’s demand
would be $10m for the extinguishment of native title there.
Mr Pearce says Ald Habib’s proposal seems to be in conflict with the
council’s hopes of gaining town planning powers, or having aldermen who
are appointed to the Development Consent Authority to represent the
At present council nominees, who are all aldermen, sit on the authority
in their own right.
[This report first
appeared in the Alice Springs News online edition on Thursday last
Alice is sweet but off-beat.
Alice on track, but whack.
Alice youth rated their town as mid-way between a functional and
dysfunctional community at the Youth Forum organised by Mayor Damien
Ryan on Tuesday.
A functional community is characterised by hope, fun, unity,
interaction, openness and satisfaction, while a dysfunctional community
is characterised by fear, unrest, division, isolation, suspicion and
Facilitator of the forum, Coralie Boyd of YouthTrax, a division of NT
Group Training, says discussion on all topics looked at “the good, the
bad and the ugly”.
Some of the things that came up under “good” were big events like the
Finke Desert Race, rodeos and BassintheDust.
Croc Fest would have made it onto the list if it were still being held
in Alice: the young people wanted to know what had happened to it.
Crime, vandalism, lack of personal safety came up under “the ugly”.
Ms Boyd emphasised that these issues came from the young people. She
says she threw away the program at the start of the day and even showed
Mr Ryan the door after his introduction: “I told them, ‘It’s up to
Did many of them say they felt personally unsafe?
“No, but broadly they felt safety was an issue.”
Employment cropped up under all headings.
There’s an assumption that Alice is a good place for young people to
get a job, but not all the young people themselves felt that.
Forty seven attended the forum, from St Philip’s, Anzac,
ASHS, the Clontarf Football Academy, Congress, Yipirinya School,
Centralian College and some representatives from the Chief Minister’s
Ms Boyd will now write up a report on the day’s discussions; it will be
endorsed by group leaders identified at the forum before it is
presented to council.
One early recommendation from the day is that young people have an
ongoing advisory capacity for council. Ms Boyd has already taken this
to Mr Ryan.
Mr Ryan hopes the event will be the first of many.
He said he was buoyed by the young people’s enthusiasm and
“This could not in any way be construed as a cynical exercise”, he
“One young person thanked me personally for the opportunity to
Planning: Delia won’t budge.
If Planning Minister Delia Lawrie was at the June 5 planning forum to
listen, she didn’t listen long to the Town Council’s request that its
nominated members to the Development Consent Authority take their place
on it as formal representatives of the council.
Control of town planning has long been a bone of contention in the
Territory, the only jurisdiction where it is controlled at state level.
Mayor Damien Ryan’s request was the first of his specific points during
his speech to the forum.
It followed his remarks about the “beat-up” of the previous two days –
referring, without naming his colleague, to Deputy Mayor Murray
Stewart’s so-called “Hate Darwin Day”.
Mr Ryan suggested that a person with their back turned to Darwin would
miss seeing opportunities for the development of Alice Springs.
Local resident Mal Crowley later in the day told Ms Lawrie that giving
Alice Darwin’s money for 12 months would “fix all our problems”.
“I’m hearing you,” said Ms Lawrie, “that’s why I’m here.”
But at a press conference during morning tea she poured cold water on
council’s DCA concerns.
She said the council has a very strong involvement with the DCA,
through their nominees as well as through the participation of their
technical officers and the advice provided to council about
It’s a system that “has worked and worked well”, says Ms Lawrie.
She suggested that “any tension” that council may feel about the role
that its nominees play on the DCA, they “can resolve themselves”.
Council’s concerns are to do with the fact that their nominees –
historically always aldermen – are required to act within the DCA as
individuals (without prejudgment of an application before it is heard)
and not as representatives of the Town Council.
This was the grounds of a battle fought with the CLP Government in 1999
during a review of planning legislation. Then Planning Minister Tim
Baldwin articulated his government’s viewpoint on local government
involvement with planning in an interview with the Alice Springs News
(Sept 29, 1999):
“Where does the council’s mandate come from to say that they are the
best representatives of the community on matters of planning?
“They may be the best to deal with matters of garbage, dogs, and all
the rest of it, but on matters of planning, are they the only people
who can have the say?
“I’m saying, let the community have a say. Let the community have a
view on this.”
Pressure from local government and the community saw the government’s
proposed changes boost council’s nominees to the DCA from one to two
(with one alternative), still a reduction from the former three.
The other two seats on the authority are for community members, who
respond to a call for expressions of interest and whose appointments
are approved by the Planning Minister. The chairman of the DCA, a
permanent appointee, is common to all divisions. The current chairman
is Peter McQueen, who was present at the planning forum.
David Koch, former alderman, has been on the DCA as a council nominee
for seven out of the past 12 years. He says there has never in his
experience been a decision of, or recommendations from the DCA “of any
significance” that have gone against the thrust of council’s views.
Artifical park gets three times
the funding of the real thing. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
It seems unlikely that the Desert Park, for all its attractions, would
entice Frau Huber in Frankfurt or Monsieur Dupont in Paris to pay for
an international flight to Australia, fuel surcharge and all.
The West MacDonnell National Park, destined to be World Heritage
listed, would be much more likely to – if properly resourced and
Yet the Desert Park, on a 50 hectare core site, has almost three times
the funding of the West MacDonnell National Park, covering 205,563
hectares, and four times the number of staff.
Visitation to the Desert Park has grown by 47% in its first decade but
it looks like most of that growth was achieved in the first few years.
It got 56,708 visitors in its first year of operation (it opened in
1997), peaked at around 110,000 in 1999-2000, dropping to 86,000 in
2001-02 – in the wake of September 11 and the collapse of Ansett.
But in 2006-07 it drew only 83,539.
This is scarcely more than the average visitation to the Royal Flying
Doctor Service – around 80,000 a year; fewer than the 98,000 who went
through the Visitor Centre in Gregory Terrace; and about a quarter of
the number of visitors who came on holiday to the Alice Springs and
MacDonnell regions (an average 330,000 a year between 2005 and 2007).
It is also significantly fewer than the 120,277 (close to a third of
the holiday-maker numbers) who visited the West Macs in 2006-07.
Locals and other Territorians made up nearly 17% of Desert Park
visitors in 2006-07 (some 20% of them were school children), with 41%
from interstate and 28% from overseas.
In the most recent data available on the West Macs park (a survey of
travel parties in April 2002) 13% were Territorians, 58% were from
interstate and 29% were from overseas.
What seems to be relatively low visitation to the Desert Park is
surprising given the efforts to expand its attractions.
These include an increasing emphasis on a cross-cultural experience: a
drive in recent years to recruit Indigenous staff has been fairly
successful, with eight out of 45 full-time positions at the park now
held by Indigenous locals – four tour guides plus two positions in
zoology, and two in botany.
On most days visitors to the park would have the opportunity to talk
with an Indigenous person, says manager Gary Fry (at left).
“A lot of people find the Indigenous contact one of their richest
experiences at the park. It’s a need people have and we try to meet
it,” he says.
Apart from their own programs the park also hosts tours offered by the
NPY Women’s Council: a one hour experience with Tjanpi basket weavers
or a richer, four to five hour experience of sitting down with the
women over billy tea.
Desart in the Park – displaying and selling work from Aboriginal art
centres – is now a twice yearly feature: the last one drew a crowd of
more than 900 and returned $50,000 to the art centres (that’s $55 per
Nature observation experiences have also been expanded, with the
introduction of early morning bird tours and evening mammal / bush
The intention is to have a rich palette of activities celebrating
“The region can be interpreted at different levels,” says Mr Fry.
“We can’t distil what we do and who we are to a couple of snapshots “
The new activities are obviously additional to the park’s long-standing
attractions, such as the birds of prey and nocturnal animals
displays, as well as the beautifully maintained gardens –
including year round wildflowers – and its stunning natural setting.
The park does more than tourism – its role in captive breeding programs
and other research into endangered species is well known.
Perhaps not as well known is its part in coordinating seed collection
in the dry lands of the Territory for the Millennium Seed Bank run by
the Kew Botanical Gardens in London. This is to safeguard plant
diversity against a possible future cataclysmic event.
Nonetheless tourism is the Desert Park’s primary focus. Yet it seems
that not a lot is known about how well it is contributing to the
industry in the region.
Mr Fry says they know about their own visitors – how long they stay in
the park, what they like and don’t like (“The satisfaction rating is
really high”) – but they don’t know about where they’ve been before or
where they’re going afterwards.
Nor do they know if a visit to the park is adding an extra day to
people’s itineraries, although the early morning and evening timing of
some tours would suggest that visitors who take them are over-nighting.
There’s an expectation that events like Desart in the Park, as it
becomes cemented into calendars, may offer a reason to spend another
night in Alice, with benefits flowing in terms of the accommodation,
food and so on.
But it seems that there’s no analysis of this.
In 2002 the Alice News reported then general manager of Central
Australian Tourism Industry Association (CATIA), Craig Catchlove’s
concern that the park had not added an extra day to people’s stay.
His counterpart today, Peter Grigg, general manager of Tourism Central
Australia (TCA, the re-badged CATIA), says that the visitor centre’s
advice to tourists is, “Don’t just do the Desert Park and leave – use
it as an introduction and then go to the West Macs, the East Macs, to
Says Mr Grigg: “If the Desert Park brings people to our part of the
world, we should use it as an asset, like The Rock.
“For example, if they learn something about our snakes there, then they
might like to go to the Reptile Centre where they’ll actually be able
to handle snakes.
“If they love the spectacular ranges, they might like to take a balloon
ride over them.”
Yet nobody seems to know if or how consistently these links are made.
In some displays at the Park– for instance in the “fieldbooks” of the
various aviaries – visitors are pointed to where they can see
things in the wild, but this advice doesn’t jump out at you.
And, not unexpectedly given that the park is a government-funded and
operated entity, there do not seem to be any links made to commercial
Mr Fry compares the presence of a lot of competing attractions in
Alice, of which the Desert Park is one, to competing car yards that
congregate in certain areas of the capital cities: Alice Springs
is enhanced by a large number of tourist attractions and the
attractions enhance one another.
“We work with each other through Tourism NT and TCA,” he says.
Likewise with parks and reserves, which are a separate division of the
same department (NRETA) that oversees the Desert Park.
“The Desert Park is funded separately and managed separately from
parks,” says Mr Fry.
“But we are constantly in touch, I don’t feel any sense of competition
– we’re all on the same side, with the same aims.”
Nonetheless the Desert Park gets almost three times the funding of the
West MacDonnell National Park – $5.186 million compared to $1.850
million – and has four times as many staff – 45 compared to 11, one of
whom, the Chief District Ranger, also oversees Finke Gorge and Owen
(The Desert Park has generated $837,147 in entry fees this financial
Despite this, the incomparable landscapes of the West Macs are still
working their magic to draw more visitors than the Desert Park.
And while a visit to the Desert Park on average takes four hours and it
is not known whether or not it adds a day to people’s stays in the
region, it would seem a visit to the West Macs for almost a third of
its visitors lasts one to three days.
Data appears to be rather skimpy and old but a visitor survey in July
1998 showed some 30% staying two to three days, while in April 2002 26%
stayed between one and three days.
How many more would venture into the West Macs and spend more
time there if more resources were put into improving facilities –
such as upgrading access roads – is an interesting question and surely
one that tourism interests would want to have answered.
TOP: A quandong tree in fruit at the Desert Park. BELOW: A
“fieldbook” shows visitors where to look for birdlife east of
U-mine under looking glass. By
Alice residents urged the Town Council to “listen to both sides of the
argument” on the issue of a uranium mine opening up 25 kms south
of the town, during public question time on Monday night.
Council was scheduled to receive a deputation from Cameco, who together
with Paledin, have been given the go-ahead by the Territory Government
to apply for an exploration licence over the Angela-Pamela deposit.
Resident Donna Cross, a “born and bred” local, said it was
“cutting” for council to be receiving the Cameco deputation when they
had refused to discuss a motion from Greens alderman Jane Clark to
support the recommendations of a recent public meeting on the issue.
Alderman John Rawnsley, chairing the Technical Services committee
meeting, said all aldermen are gathering information as individuals.
The issue has yet to be discussed and debated by the council as a
whole, he said.
Ms Cross suggested that the Cameco deputation would put a “positive
spin” on the issue, and “propaganda” had already been seen in the
“I implore you to listen to both sides of the argument,” she said.
Ald Murray Stewart said he had received hundreds of pages from the
“environmental side”, which he is endeavouring to read.
He said council has also had a private breakfast meeting with a
geologist [perhaps he meant Dr Gavin Mudd, a civil engineering lecturer
at Monash University in Melbourne, see Alice News, May 8] presenting
He said council was endeavouring to meet with people “on both sides of
He applauded Cameco for their “transparency” in attending a public
meeting of council.
Mayor Damien Ryan said council will be meeting with a delegation from
the Central Land Council later this week: “We’re still learning,” he
Resident Rod Cramer asked aldermen if they were aware that there was no
legal requirement for companies carrying out minerals exploration
to”abide by land management issues on pastoral leases”.
Ald Clark commented that exploration “is not just looking around”, it
involves drilling and is “quite invasive”.
Jimmy Cocking, coordinator of the Arid Lands Environment Centre, asked
aldermen to consider the environmental record of Cameco in Canada,
referring to contamination by radioactivity of Lake Ontario.
Tom Keaney, a doctor who works at the Emergency Department at the Alice
Springs Hospital, asked how the council will ensure that the public is
adequately informed of the risks to health associated with uranium
He also asked whether the council had received a guarantee that uranium
mined at Angela-Pamela would not be used in weapons or would not allow
other uranium supplies to be freed up for use in weapons.
Mr Ryan replied that the council is still collecting information.
The Cameco deputation arrived late (due to a delayed flight) but head
of operations in the NT, Jennifer Parks, seemed familiar with the
Water is “the main issue”, she said, acknowledging people’s worry about
impact on the aquifer, not only potential contamination but the
quantity of water to be used in mining processes.
“We’ll have a lot of work to do to determine how we can protect the
aquifer,” she said.
Dust, dust storms, overall concerns about radioactivity, transport of
samples and products, rehabilitation of country, benefits to the
community such as jobs, Indigenous economic development, heritage
issues owing to the presence on the tenement of a section of the
Old Ghan railway and the Finke racetrack, and the reputation of Alice
as a solar city, were all community concerns that she listed.
“We are not saying you should become a nuclear city,” said Ms Parks.
Ald Jane Clark asked about Cameco’s uranium mine at Cigar Lake in
Saskatchewan, Canada, containing 17% of the world’s known deposits.
It was flooded on October 23, 2006 and has been shut since.
Ms Parks said the company is still “remediating” the situation.
She said the company does not fully understand why the mine had
flooded, apart from the fact that it is 400 metres under a lake – “very
Ald Clark also asked about the suspension of operations at Port Hope
Nuclear Plant in July, 2007, due to concern about a leak and suspected
contamination of Lake Ontario.
Ms Parks said Lake Ontario is in an industrial area and “is not as
pristine a lake as we would like”.
She said the company has identified the leak and advised authorities
and the community.
The company’s computer modelling also suggested that there may be “a
plume” going into the lake but “now we don’t think so”.
“We learn from our mistakes,” she said.
“There will be steps in place” so that the same mistakes are not
Ald Samih Habib asked how much processing would be done on site at
“A small bit,” said Ms Parks. The ore will be converted to “yellow
cake” – “still pretty low grade”.
Ald Sandy Taylor returned to the Cigar Lake situation, wanting to know
“what kind of studies you can do to ensure” that the same mistakes
“I’m not sure I could be satisfied,” said Ald Taylor.
“I’m not an environmental scientist,” said Ms Parks, but she suggested
that technical failures could be contained. At another mine a leak was
contained in a matter of a week.
Ald Taylor asked how it was possible in the first place when all the
studies had been carried out?
“I’m not sure,” said Ms Parks, adding “I think they’re still
Ald Stewart asked if it would be a fly in, fly out operation.
Ms Parks said it would be hoped to base most people in Alice – “one of
the beauties” in having the mine close to town.
Ald Liz Martin asked what sort of mining methods would be used.
Ms Parks said that was still being considered.
Cameco will be opening an office in Alice on July 1 and will have a
booth at the Alice Springs Show.
Once approved, a mine would not be constructed until 2014, said Ms
US wide open for Centre art. By
Mainstream North America represents an “amazing untapped market” for
Australian Aboriginal art.
So says Peter Molloy whose gallery in La Jolla, California,
specialising in Central and Western Desert Aboriginal art, opened three
In the first year it sold 400 paintings and has grown by about 50% each
year since, yet still some 80% of the business effort goes into
education, he says.
There are a few important collections of Aboriginal art in the US –
including that of the Kelton Foundation in Santa Monica, California,
and the Kluge-Ruhe at the University of Virginia – but the mainstream
North American market “has yet to actively embrace this art”.
His gallery has participated in all the major North American art
shows – the New York and Toronto Art Expos, Art Chicago and its
satellite shows, Art Basel in Miami, the Armory Show in New York.
It was the only gallery specialising in Central and Western Desert art
to do so.
The sales justified the investment of time and money, says Mr Molloy,
but more importantly his participation contributed to a greater
exposure of those markets to Australian Aboriginal art.
He says many people who come into his California gallery “love the
art”, but making a significant investment in it is difficult when the
art is so unfamiliar to them.
However, broadly there is a growing interest in “culture-based” art –
African, African-American and Australian Aboriginal – and his gallery
manager, Katie Heffelfinger, says the narrative content of much
Australian Aboriginal art gives it an advantage.
Molloy Gallery’s range goes from small $200 paintings up to collectable
works at $30,000, but Mr Molloy says increasingly their focus will be
at the higher end – investment and museum quality work.
“It takes the same effort to sell one $20,000 painting as to sell many
He says he positions the Aboriginal art he sells as “contemporary fine
He describes art from Arnhemland and the Tiwi Islands as tending to be
“much more ethnographic”: “I can’t build a sustainable business on that
in the US, where the demand is for contemporary fine art.”
Mr Molloy and Ms Heffelfinger took part in a recent tour of 20 art
centres, in the desert and the Top End, organised by Austrade and the
The sixth of its kind but only the second to involve US collectors,
academics and dealers, the tour was designed to help the local art
industry increase its profile and sales in the multi-billion dollar US
Austrade’s Joel Newman, based in Los Angeles, says “the simple maths”
made the tour a success: he guestimates sales at between $250,000 and
“That vastly clears the investment of $40,000 to $50,000.”
And he expects further sales to be made, worth tens of thousands, if
not hundreds of thousands, as a result of relationships developed
during the tour.
A similar tour last year returned $550,000 in sales – “an eleven-fold
return on investment”.
Mr Molloy describes his own purchases as “modest” but he has taken home
images to reflect on and he is likely to buy more.
Previously he has made all his purchases through dealers in Alice
“The value of this trip was in being able to build relationships with
art centres beyond Alice, so they can become future suppliers and we
can expand our offerings in the US – some artists who paint for art
centres don’t paint for other suppliers.”
That’s good news for art centres, but perhaps not so good for local art
Mr Molloy was careful in his reply:
“Whether this will significantly change the volume of purchases from
Alice Springs sources remains to be seen.
“But anything that gives a wider range of choice will help develop the
American maket and that ultimately will be of benefit to Aboriginal
Mr Newman says the tour was designed to take buyers to the source – the
art centres, mostly on remote communities.
In Alice Springs the tour also visited Tangentyere Artists and Papunya
Tula and there was free time for people to “connect with relationships
they already had”.
Mr Molloy visited the Aboriginal Desert Art, Mbantua and Gondwana
Mr Newman says there was no pressure that he observed for tour members
to not visit private dealers, but the ethics of the market was a
constant subject of discussion.
Says Mr Newman: “I don’t believe in a ‘binary world’ – everything is
not black or white, good or bad.
“In the art trade there are certainly some rotten dealers, and some are
wonderful, with the vast majority being somewhere in the middle.
“But for us, as government instrumentalities, to choose one dealer over
another would be seen to be making a statement about them and we could
find ourselves in murky waters.”
There is also the issue of price: buying from source should allow a
better margin for re-sellers in the US.
Of the desert art centres Mr Newman says Warlukurlangu Artists at
Yuendumu and Kayili Artists at Patjarr were favourites for the group:
this was based on the quality of the work available at a price on which
the dealers could still make a profit, and work of a kind that their
markets would like.
Another “big factor” was the ease of the relationship with the art
centre: “Dealers were asking, will we be able to work together in the
Another plus arising from the tour was that four gallerists decided to
form an association to work together to promote Aboriginal art in the
Says Mr Molloy: “It makes sense when the market is at the small,
emerging stage to work cooperatively, building awareness, rather than
competing for market share.”
The four may look at cost-sharing at art expos and coordinating buying
trips to Australia: “It’s an amazing untapped market but without
support it is challenging. Together we can share the risk.”
Batchelor’s plans under a mantle
of ‘cultural safety’. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
As the Batchelor Institute prepares to move to the Desert Peoples’
Centre – part of the Desert Knowledge complex south of Alice Springs –
it is also taking steps to turn itself into a university.
This expanded role will not see a change to its policy of taking
enrolments on the basis of race – possibly the only university in the
western world to do so.
The 34 year old, $40m a year educational facility, operating in more
than 100 locations, will maintain a policy of not bringing
“non-Indigenous students into programs that are running on our campuses
as workshops,” says Vice-Chancellor Jeannie Herbert.
She says non-Indigenous students can take online courses, or courses
that are delivered off-campus.
“It’s always going to be an Indigenous university.
“Our council wants cultural safety on our residential campuses.”
Batchelor University would cover a “specialist niche market, Indigenous
students from around the country”.
Says Deputy Vice-Chancellor Tom Evison: “We’ve always had a policy of
enrolment for Indigenous people only.
“Where delivery is taking place outside of the two main campuses, if a
community wants to have a mixed group studying with us, then that’s
fine, with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together.”
University status would apparently position Batchelor well for getting
non-government funding for research, and some projects are already
Prof Herbert says the relocation of the facility to outside the main
township will be no disadvantage.
She says the $30m Desert People’s Centre, a joint venture with the
Centre for Appropriate Technology, will be “not crowded, custom built.
“I’m talking now as an Aboriginal person – there is a sense of place,
of belonging, simply because of the location.
“People look out into the country.
“That gives a very strong sense of reassurance of identity for
“In terms of cultural safety I think that those aspects of engaging in
education will be very strong in that particular location,” says Prof
Herbert whose title indicates “positioning ourselves in terms of our
academic structures, including titles from the university structure”.
The institute went through a major shake-up three years ago.
On March 23, 2005 the Alice News reported chairwoman Rosalie Kunoth
Monks as saying the institute would place greater demands on its
students, emphasise English and maths, and become a bridge to the
She said the institute needs to become more “efficient and get closer
to our [Indigenous] core client group.
“To make life worthwhile and to find some kind of sustainability,
people have to have education to compete with the rest.
“Indigenous people must become responsible for obtaining education from
the dominant culture.”
Profs Herbert and Evison say the strategy is paying off “for many
of our students, but obviously not for all”.
Says Prof Herbert: “We can’t be all things to all people.
“Some people are still locked in the past, in the welfare mentality.
“You’ve got to consider the size of the bridge.
“You come from people who don’t have any English.
“They come to us for spoken and written English.
“Others still need a lot of literacy and numeracy before they can
actually kick into training and education programs.”
Prof Evison says of the 3125 enrolled students, about 200 are studying
spoken and written English, a catch-up on inadequate earlier education.
He says around half of the institute’s students are in Vocational
Education and Training (VET), and contrary to recent claims from
Professor Helen Hughes, of the Economic Society of Australia, all
graduates are able to read and write.
However, it’s difficult to assess to what extent the institute has
implemented the policy outlined by Ms Kunoth Monks three years ago.
Prof Evison says about 500 students graduate every year and most if not
all gain employment.
“I would say most of them would be employed in government positions.”
Some go to land councils or other Aboriginal organisations.
Some pursue creative writing, or work as teachers, in environmental
health, or in the “corporate world”.
In what proportions is not clear.
Prof Evison says Batchelor has just started an ongoing “employer
satisfaction survey and a graduate destination survey which is a
Prof Herbert says these surveys have been done in other universities
for at least 10 years “but it has never been done here”.
And a new Federal grant for the Desert Peoples Centre of $380,000 is
used for “transitioning students from study into employment,” says Prof
“All of the courses we offer represent a bridge into the dominant
culture,” as Ms Kunoth Monks put it, says Prof Herbert.
How is this happening?
“At the earlier level you acquire those basic skills, such as the
English language” which ideally will lead to further studies, up to
“You’ve empowered yourself in terms of engaging.
“That’s the critical issue, being able to engage with mainstream
But what form does it take? How many graduates step out into the big
wide world, get a job in private enterprise or start a business, buy a
house, get a mortgage ... all that?
Replies Prof Herbert: “It depends where you choose to live your life
whether you get a mortgage, and it depends whether you actually want to
do all the things that mainstream Australia thinks are the most
wonderful things in the world.”
Mainstream Australia is paying for it at the rate of $40m a year.
(All students except those in VET contribute through HECS, as in all
universities, which amounts to about half of the budget.)
What does the taxpayer get for that?
The News put it to Prof Herbert that this is a blunt question but a lot
of people may be asking it.
“The taxpayer, for his $40m, is getting an institution that is focussed
on undoing what has been done to Indigenous people through colonial
history,” says Prof Herbert.
And how does Batchelor do that?
“Through the programs we’ve just been talking about, which give those
people the capacity to move up.”
Says Prof Evison: “They have the qualifications to make the choice.
“For people from remote communities choices are very constrained.”
What choices do they make?
Prof Evison points to the institute’s “both ways philosophy, the
inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and cultures, improving the quality
of education by incorporating different world views and ways of
“It also creates an area of cultural and intellectual safety which, we
have found, is a much greater predictor of success in this level of
education for many Indigenous people.”
After Melbourne gigs, The Moxie
The Moxie sing about a tough world – not the Alice Springs kind of
tough, rather the tough experience of young men and women losing their
Their debut CD to be launched this Friday at The Lane is titled Behave
Yourself, but instead of an admonition the title is a recognition that
how you behave is not obvious.
“People aren’t who you think they are all the time – everybody is
supposed to conform but no one really does,” says drummer Jack Talbot,
reflecting on the lyrics of “Red Heels”, penned by the band’s singer,
It’s about a girl whose father is a cross-dresser by night. It’s a
crowd favourite, says Talbot, one that a lot of listeners in Alice will
recognise, but it’s been “under the knife” in production, together with
the three other familiar songs on the EP.
A new song, “Guns in the Sky”, is about “people standing over you,
putting a gun to your head, forcing you to act the way society wants
Production was done in town at Huge Sound Studios, with Matt Byrnes,
who used to work as a drum technician with INXS.
“He got the best from my kit,” says Talbot.
“I just used my basic acoustic kit but I’d never heard it sound
anything like this.
“All our songs are a lot more radio friendly thanks to Matt.
“They’re tightened up – they had unnecessary riffs, stuff that they
didn’t really need.”
The band will be working to get their CD listened to by distribution
companies and radio stations around the country.
They managed to get a couple of gigs in Melbourne recently – at the
Noise Bar in Brunswick and The Bang night club in Burke Street in the
“There were about 200 people at The Bang and we got a really good
response,” says Talbot.
“We even sold a couple of CDs and apparently that was a good effort.
“A local guy said you hardly ever sell any.”
But the trip was a learning curve: “We started organising it a couple
of months ago but we discovered we would have had to start four to five
months ago to get a good run of shows.”
Apart from their CD launch, coming up are appearances at the Alice
Desert Festival, the Darwin Festival and at the closing ceremony of the
At the launch The Moxie will be supported by Leon Spurling and his band
and old friend Eddie Alexander, who lives now in Melbourne where he
performs in an acoustic duo known as Southerly (but on Friday he’ll be
going solo). – K. Finnane
Like a ride on a decommissioned
see-saw. Pop Vulture with CAMERON BUCKLEY.
Everybody`s favourite split personality disorder is having a
conversation with himself about The Incredible Hulk.
Dr Jeckyll: It`s great how this film kicks off at action point.
We find protagonist Bruce Banner (Ed Norton, Fight Club, American
History X) in exile following a laboratory mishap. He quests to find a
cure for the raging beast that resides within him, threatening to
surface if his heart beat reaches a certain level.
Mr Hyde: This movie was a spectacular, over-budgeted disappointment.
How can director Louis Leterrier of the Transporter franchise fame fail
to utilize the casting skills at his disposal. Tim Roth spends the bulk
of the film acting as though he was entirely in a different movie.
Liv Tyler looks like an extra walking about the set with a Liv mask on.
Dr Jeckyll: I have to agree with myself. Although I did appreciate the
cameo appearance from Robert Downey Jr.
Mr Hyde: Ahhhh, yes ... The Avengers. Will this be the next instalment
in the Marvel avalanche of late? Occasionally filmmakers get right the
recreation of superheroes on the silver screen, but it is a dramatic
Dr Jeckyll: The CGI and action sequences are directed and choreographed
well and most scenes involving the green man become engrossing.
Mr Hyde: Yes, I`m right there! But you can give a lemon a new paint
job, and that still doesn`t make it a Rolls Royce.
Dr Jeckyll: What?
Mr Hyde: Forget it.
Dr Jeckyll: I do appreciate these conversations with myself. I`m
assured of intelligent conversation and witty banter. What`s my final
Mr Hyde: With no real soundtrack to mention, a plot that rides like a
decommissioned see-saw, and acting talent squandered on effortless
dialogue? And the picturesque scenes found in the favelas of Brazil do
little to make me want to sit through this again. 431/1000.
New moves on plight, so easy to
fix. By KIERAN FINNANE.
“Don’t worry about audiograms, assume everybody has an issue.”
That’s the message to teachers going to work in remote community
schools in the Territory – assume that your students will have some
hearing loss, says hearing advisory teacher, Dick Sheehan, member of
the Hearing Team in Student Services in Alice Springs.
In the past three years staff on the team have gone from four to nine,
responding to the Education Department’s new resolve to combat the
“debilitating issue of conductive hearing loss”, says Mr Sheehan.
Even without recent technology that is now being trialled, there is a
lot that teachers can do to improve their students’ capacity to hear,
The department accepts 2004 research by the Menzies School of Health
which showed that in 29 communities in 2001 91% of children (0-14
years) and in 2003, 88% did not have “normal” ears.
But this is not a deafness life sentence.
Conductive hearing loss (resulting from Otitis Media or middle ear
infection) is a fluctuating condition. Audiograms of the same child
taken at three month intervals are likely to show different levels of
hearing each time.
Building into the school program an intensive routine of
“breath-blow-cough” and treatment with “ear spears” can significantly
reduce hearing loss.
A class at Ntaria (Hermannsburg) School, in which 13 students needed
hearing aids, has recently trialled such a routine over three months:
at the end of that time the students had achieved normal hearing.
The “breath” part means doing some physical activity to get respiration
and body temperature up. This causes mucous to flow in the Eustachian
tubes (the canals between the middle ear and the pharynx), which is
where the “blow” and “cough” come in.
But mucous can also clear through the ears, making them
infection-prone, and infections can result in burst eardrums. This is
why the ears need to be cleaned with the “spears” – cones of tissue –
and then hands washed and tables cleaned.
If all this is done regularly enough, keeping the ear dry and less
infection prone, perforations in the eardrum can heal quite well, says
The problem then diminishes at around the ages of 11 and 12, when the
Eustachian tubes, which till then have been flat, grow down, giving
Teachers in the bush have long been aware of and have practised
“breath-blow-cough” but now there’s a case study that says yes, if it’s
intensive, it really works, says Mr Sheehan.
Other simple classroom strategies involve decreasing ambient noise, for
instance by putting stoppers on the legs of tables and chairs, rugs and
carpets on floors, and avoiding the traditional “desks in rows” set-up.
Students with conductive hearing loss need to be within 1.2 metres of
the teacher and the teacher needs to be at their level.
Many of the affected students get through everyday life using signing.
Mr Sheehan says signing should to be used as a strength: “You can
quickly use the signed alphabet for language learning.”
And “multi-sensory approaches” – using music, chant, rhythm and rhyme –
can’t be under-estimated.
“You don’t need to be a trained music teacher to do this – $50 spent at
the ABC Shop will give you three years’ worth of language work.
“There are great examples of teachers in schools doing these things.”
But there is also recently developed technology to boost students’
chances even further and it’s being trialled in four Central Australian
This is infra-red amplification in sound field systems.
Formerly FM sound field systems amplified all sounds in the room, so
students were really no better off.
The infra-red system, costing around $2500, amplifies only the human
However the systems need to be installed in “advantageous classroom
environments”, explains Mr Sheehan.
After acoustic treatment works, six systems were installed – four at
Ntaria School, one at Watiyawanu (Mt Liebig) and one at Haasts Bluff –
plus a further two in the Top End.
The acoustic treatment involves reducing ambient noise, for example,
replacing evaporative air conditioning with split system units
(achieving a reduction of 25 decibels).
“Non-education noise” from students also needs to be reduced.
And critically, reverberation needs to be eliminated.
Carpets and curtains are a starting point, but it has been discovered
that the area in the room above head height is the most critical, says
Mr Sheehan, drawing on work done by South Australian colleagues.
Two thirds of the ceiling working out from the centre needs to be
covered with acoustic broadband tiling, and a band around the walls of
1.5 metres from the ceiling also needs to be treated.
Two classrooms, one at Haasts Bluff and one at Watiyawanu (Mt Liebig)
were entirely covered in the tiling: the difference in the acoustics
was “astounding”, says Mr Sheehan.
“It was like stepping into a sound booth.”
But the total treatment is expensive – about $20,000 for each classroom
– and is not necessary.
Partial covering gives an acceptable result.
The department allocated $.5 million last financial year and again this
year to begin treating classrooms in existing schools, with priority
being given to 15 schools which have entered into community partnership
agreements with the department.
And the Department of Planning and Infrastructure has agreed to build
new schools with attention to acoustics – “where possible and subject
to budget and tender considerations, constructing new modular
classrooms on solid concrete slabs as opposed to the elevated method of
construction”, according to a spokesperson.
“The Hearing Team’s recommendation is to start with the most remote
schools, likely to have the greatest need, and to work in, and to start
with the early year level classrooms,” says Mr Sheehan.
“If we aren’t linking children to language by the age of seven or
eight, it becomes increasingly difficult for teachers to backfill.”
Shopportunity: It’s Not OK Mart!
By DARCY DAVIS.
I went hop scotching through town to find the top notch crop of op
Straight to the Saltbush where I found Claire Bastin.
“Kmart is way more disorganized than any of the op shops,” said Claire,
“They singular variety! Why they wanna unify us entirely? No
fashion … one fit, that’s it.
“I tried to find one thing in my size and nearly cracked the shits,
they just didn’t have it. “So I bolted down to the Saltbush, got
active and interacted with racks quick and found this most mega of
style Tjala Arts kick ass t-shirt.”
Melbourne op-shopper Bridget thinks Alice op shops are even cheaper
than Melbourne’s. “There is quite a high demand [in Melbourne]
for second hand clothes – franchises like Savers buy clothes from the
Diabetes Foundation for 20 cents a kilo and re sell them in store.
There’s a lot of scouting and re selling.”
So there are more potential pockets of gold in Alice …
Quinta Vanwik has been styling op shops since pop tops were hot and she
had a lot to tell me about.
“I reckon op shops are way better, you can get the same stuff for
cheaper. Like this Canada shirt was only 50 cents, it’s from Supre but
they send the slightly damaged goods to op shops.
“Saltbush is my favourite op shop – they’ve got the best belts and
I went to the Cockatoo Second Hand Store and even before I got in the
door saw four things I could easily buy. One was a pleasing delight of
Alice musical merchandise, a Nights Plague autographed t-shirt (Nights
Plague are now living in Melbourne and are working on a new album).
Inside I said hello to Anneka at the counter – she works on weekends
for op shop items. “Today I’ve worked for this kimono, some red and
white striped salt and pepper shakers, a vintage Beatles songbook, and
these little hanging chickens. I haven’t bought but would love to buy
that Army hat, this leather jungle jumpsuit, and I would buy that Head
“One guy came in the other day and saw these bull horns outside and
said ‘I need these’ and I thought, good for you mate,” said Cockatoo
“Bought a nice shirt and a dress, 30 bucks for four items, pretty
happy, mum bought it for me,” said happy op shop hopper Jess Mooney.
Sam Salmon likes his op shops “organized, well marked, clean, within
context of being second hand”.
His favourites are Salvos and Vinnies.
Central Second Hand attracted me with its giant hand finger graph on my
“The emo goth hippies come in and they love buying vinyl records and
furs,” said owner Carmel.
“But all types come through – we once had a busload of Japanese and
they were putting hats on the manikin, dressing them in Aussie attire,
“They love that strange endurance stuff, they like to be seen around
different stuff, fascinated by the weird and wonderful.
“Once this gorgeous beautiful lanky Norwegian backpacker came in –
she’d travelled all around Australia and wanted a pair of stitched
knee-high Aussie boots. She came in and was hysterical, she’d gone
around town looking for her perfect pair and they were four to five
hundred bucks but when she came here found two pairs perfect fit – some
people just get the jackpot.”
So recycle your clothes, and buy other people’s clothes too and buy new
clothes as well to keep the swirl in style, then donate them when
you’re done and put them into use. And free the world of slavery and
climate change and sexual abuse.
Mere Rumbal still has the moves.
By EMMA HURLEY.
When I first approached Mere Rumbal for an interview about her life,
she asked, “Why? My life isn’t that interesting.” I beg to differ.
Mere has been teaching dance for 59 years, starting in New Zealand at
the age of 15, after dancing herself since she was two and a half.
She studied ballet, tap, character and modern jazz as well as eccentric
dancing and acrobatics.
She went on to choreograph various shows in New Zealand and Australia
and has served as a dance adjudicator all over New Zealand.
She has taught thousands of students and intends to keep teaching for
as long as she can.
“I cannot imagine my life without dance,” she says.
A well known identity in Alice Springs, Mere originally came to town
because her son, Darran Rumble, told her of a job vacancy.
She had taught at Central Dance Theatre in New Zealand which she says
was “one of the top schools”.
She has had quite a few successful students over the years including
Gayle-Anne Jones who danced with the Danish Ballet Company and Frankie
Snowdon who is in her second year with the Victorian College of the
Mere has also had been awarded Life Membership to the British Ballet
Performance obviously runs in the Rumbal blood as Mere’s four sons have
also found success in the entertainment industry.
Darran, who owns Rock City Music, has been an international adjudicator
as well as a disc jockey.
Darran’s son, Zanerin, who is only nine years of age, was awarded a
jazz and ballet scholarship whilst he was on school holidays in
Mere observes that dancing has changed over the years, noting new forms
such as hip hop and break dancing.
She believes television shows such as ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘So,
you think you can dance’ have increased the popularity of dance.
As for Central Dance Theatre, Mere says with luck her talented students
will carry on her legacy and continue to teach dance to people of all
She says she’ll only stop dancing when she “drops dead”.
I hope that when I’m her age I’ll still be dancing and showing such an
amazing outlook on life.
[Emma Hurley was a
year 10 student from OLSH College, doing work experience with the Alice
News last year.]
students help East Timor.
Sir,- I am a year eleven student at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
Later this year I and six other fellow members of my grade will be
visiting East Timor for our yearly East Timor Immersion.
During our stay in East Timor we will be donating a certain amount of
money to one of the Marist Teaching Colleges in Bacau and painting
schools as well as assisting in other projects.
During our stay we will also be immersing ourselves into another
culture and way of life.
As one of our main focuses is to fundraise enough money
to complete these projects, we are holding a number of
These include our popular “pave the mall in gold” as well as numerous
barbeques and a lawn sale.
To help us in our fundraising efforts we would greatly appreciated if
you would be able to donate an advertising column and even
write a report on our upcoming trip.
We would greatly appreciate this as it would boost our fundraising and
help us encourage Alice Springs to suppport our efforts and East Timor.
Sir,- Ill have what Mark Jones from South Australia is having! (Alice
Springs News, June 12, “Rainwater Tanks”).
We live in the driest part of the country, and he wants us to all have
And what’s more, he wants the government to subsidise them!
Mr Jones, if we actually had rain in Alice Springs, then we would
all have rainwater tanks.
In fact, they aren’t sold as rainwater tanks here, they are sold as
“Fill up with your garden hose” tanks.
Mr Jones, when you were in Alice Springs, you may have noticed that
none of our rivers or creeks for about 700km in any direction have any
water in them - this is why Alice Springs residents dont bother with
Sir,- The complex deliberation process for the 2008 Alice Springs Town
Council budget is complete and the proposal is now open for public
Money has been set aside for Public Art, for a future land fill site in
15 years time, for footpaths, the Traeger Grandstand and much more.
Following my election campaign call for a freeze on Mayoral and
aldermanic allowances, for the first time in quite some years, a
decision was made not to increase allowances, although the financial
cost of being an Alderman is far more than the remuneration received.
Unfortunately, we have a small number of ratepayers compared to the
large area we maintain, along with the pressures of being a service
centre for the region and this is why the work of LGANT in lobbying the
federal government for greater funding is critical into the
As the budget is now available for public comment, I urge residents to
look at the budget as a whole and make comment.
Sir,- In response to your article (June 5) “Native holders have no
worries with uranium mine”.
I can potentially understand that people might not have worries when
they are not given correct information.
When they are not told about radon gas that is carried on the wind, not
given incorrect information about health effects of radiation from
doctors brought in by the mining company, not told about the history of
leaks, accidents and spills at uranium mines across the world (current,
highly regulated world standard uranium mines in Australia included).
This mine would have a devastating impact on our community health, but
due to the nature of the genetic effects, it may only begin to show in
years to come once the companies have made their big dollar and walked
There are no guarantees on the safety of our water.
If our new council aldermen do not take a public stand opposing the
exploration of these sites, then they should step down immediately as
they do not have the community’s interests at heart.
Sir,- Prime Minister Rudd has called for politics to be taken out of
radioactive waste management, and to “make sure that any advice to
Government is based on science” (ABC June 16, 2008).
Clearly, the Prime Minister should then reject the four proposed dump
sites in the NT left decaying from the Howard era of
None of these sites were short listed in a scientific study undertaken
to site a national dump (completed 1997).
Howard’s plan was to find the site of least political resistance, then
try and make the science match.
To differentiate from this process, and find an equitable solution to a
very long-term problem, Rudd must act on ALP election commitments;
repeal the draconian legislation forcing a dump on the NT and undertake
thorough and genuine community consultation over this important
Sir,- The Territory Opposition will spend this week in Parliament
forensically examining how the Labor Government managed to blow a $330
million windfall in just one year.
This Government’s financial performance is the equivalent of winning
the lottery and frittering it away on baubles.
With Territory taxpayers carrying a $1 billion debt, before calculating
unfunded superannuation liabilities, an excellent opportunity to ease
the burden of interest repayments on future generations has been lost.
As a consequence of Labor making inconsequential inroads into
Government every man, woman and child in the Territory owes $4761.
By way of comparison each Victorian owes just $460.
Had the Territory Government been better budget managers that $330
million could have put an additional 100 police on the streets right
now, made our teachers the best paid in the land and still shaved a
respectable amount from our debt.
This wasteful Government lacks the discipline to save whilst the
economic sun in shining.
Ordinary Territorians will be the ones to suffer when the rain comes.
ADAM CONNELLY: Bats about tats.
Alice Springs goes by many monickers. The pet names and tags all tend
to say a little something about the place.
There’s The Alice, Central Australia, Mbantua, the Red Centre and any
and all combinations on that theme. Of course due to some of the media
coverage of the past few years we are either the “murder capital” or
more affectionately the “stabbing capital” of Australia.
There are others too, but the beauty of a pet name or a slogan is that
none of them are gospel. We can change them anytime we want.
For example, last year I swear Alice Springs could have been dubbed the
Camel Capital of Australia. Sure, there’s a feral camel problem but
remember going out to a restaurant last year? Every eatery of note
played with the idea of camel on the menu. From Ship of the Desert Stir
Fry to Camel Canapés the chefs across the town were nutty for
some dromedary delights.
With the popularity of camel on the menu, maybe we should be putting
some sort of tax on camel. The money raised could then pay the
insurance bill for the Camel Cup. Genius! Another problem solved by
yours truly. Who needs Darwin anyway!
My campaign to have Alice Springs dubbed the sporting capital of
Australia, to be honest, hasn’t really been that well received down
south. Melbourne is whingeing that they have that claim sewn up.
Sydney is saying something about the Olympics. And Adelaide, well who
knows what Adelaide says? They generally have their gobs full of pie
floater and iced coffee.
Sure some people in other parts of the country might be a bit miffed
that we call ourselves the sporting capital of Australia or the desert
racing capital or the whatever capital.
There’s more than a few places in Australia that call themselves the
beef capital. A few places that claim the pineapple capital tag. But
Alice Springs does hold one tag that cannot be refuted.
We are the tattoo capital of Australia. How many people have tattoos
here? There’s more tattoos in Alice Springs than on a Maori bikie gang
full of sailors.
If you are one of the uninked reading this column, you are in the
minority. From hard nut miners to librarians, Alice is full to the brim
with people tattooed.
I know a quite demure and well dressed young lady. A woman of
impeccable class. She has a tattoo. I know an executive of a local
company. Under the sleeve of his Zegna suit is an arm full of
I’m not about to go on a rant about tattoos. In fact, when done well, I
think they look good. However I’ve never been brave enough to get one.
And it’s not the pain that’s holding me back.
You see I’m a compulsive channel surfer. Self confessed, I’m atrocious
to be around if I have a remote in my hand. In fact in most aspects of
life I change my preferences and favourites as often as I change
I’m certain that the first thing I’d do once the scab healed from my
tattoo is want to change it.
I know people get marked with significant symbols or a word of import
in a mystical language. The problem is I’m not sure I’ll really be into
celtic knots by the time I’m 35.
I don’t know if I’ll want the ancient Peruvian word for wisdom on my
buttocks next week.
And I don’t really trust the bloke in the tattoo shop – I’m pretty sure
he said his name was Smudge, and that he’s up on his ancient Peruvian.
You are all braver than I think I could ever be. And most of you are
still quite happy with the ink you’ve got.
So whaddaya say Alice? The Tattoo Capital of Australia. We could make a
big deal of it. Run Tattoo Week after Finke.
Hey, we could have a Tattoo Tattoo.
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