Hal: Mark clearly stated that “While the importance of executing …

Comment on LETTER: Taking no prisoners by Bob Durnan.

Hal: Mark clearly stated that “While the importance of executing warrants is clear, many of the people recently arrested on warrants are facing minor charges which will not attract sentences of imprisonment.” For the most part, these will probably be in relation to traffic, fighting and other public order offences, and failure to comply with bail conditions or DVOs. Most will be repeat offenders, or “recidivists”.
Most will have been raised in bush communities for at least some of their childhoods, but now living in Alice Springs, here for varying periods and a range of reasons. The reasons will be dominated by boredom with, and alienation from other people in, their home communities, and the attractions of easy access to alcohol and cannabis in Alice.
They are likely to have attended school, but only a little, so that their average literacy and numeracy levels will be, at best, around mid-primary school average attainment. They will mostly call “home” other people’s living room floors, verandahs, yards or a tin shed.

Bob Durnan Also Commented

LETTER: Taking no prisoners
Hal
The relevant flaws in the justice system are the lack of provision for community service as a practically available sentencing option, and the lack of home detention, particularly in remote communities. My understanding is that previous efforts to develop these options foundered on the problem of supervision. There were usually no sufficiently reliable methods of supervising the convicts in most remote communities. To create this capacity was judged to be too expensive. There may have been other factors involved. I think in some communities high levels of non-compliance may have led to political opposition to use of such options.
In response to your question: at present there doesn’t appear to be any easily identifiable solutions available or being applied to the problem of “how … our urban society is supposed to deal with these law breakers”. This is partly why many of us, probably like you, think it is so urgent that measures such as a floor price on alcohol, and days without take-away alcohol sales, should be introduced, to help provide a buffer to these problems. In the long term, the new early childhood and family intervention programs should help ease the rate of offending. Some Aboriginal family leaders support more radical measures, such as the introduction of an NT licence to drink alcohol, and extension of compulsory Income Management to cover more than half of welfare benefits.
Personally, I would support these reforms, provided they were to be applied to everybody, and I have called for more pressure on the recipients of unemployment benefits to have to accept available work, even if this requires them to move from home, provided they are psychologically able to cope with leaving home and have access to some affordable accommodation in the vicinity of the jobs.
However I also believe that – at the same time – governments have no choice other than to support more job creation and accommodation programs, to enable some of the less adaptable unemployed, and people who are unable to leave because they are caring for others, to do socially useful work in remote communities.
I believe this because there is simply nowhere near the amount of accommodation or conditions suitable for them and their dependents in the towns and cities where most of the existing services and work opportunities are available.
Any such new job creation programs would need to be better planned, funded and monitored than the old CDEP projects, which were usually hamstrung by important factors such as insufficient funds, and lack of suitable accommodation and other infrastructure needed to attract and retain high quality staff in sufficient numbers to guarantee strong planning, administration, supervision of workers, and training. There would have to be stringent requirements that wages only be provided for work performed properly. Participants’ wages also need to be at award rates, and as far as possible the work provided should be commensurate with their skills. Full-time work should be available for those who want it.
If I am correct in these assumptions, then we have a very big job on our hands in trying to persuade governments about these needs, and also to persuade great numbers of the taxpaying voters to overcome some of their prejudices and cynicism, and get behind such a program!


Recent Comments by Bob Durnan

Coles Mural: Government, Heritage Council fall silent
Hal @ November 9, 2018 at 8:09 am: There is no plan that I know of to do anything with the Anzac Oval area other than retain it pretty much as is, just better set up for concerts, other public events and general public access and use, but without football matches being played there.
I am certain that there is no intent “to turn … Anzac Oval into a bus parking bay for the proposed gallery.”


Ice Age in Alice
Steve Brown, you claim ice – crystal meth – is a “massively escalating issue in both the town and surrounding communities for a long time”.
I have just checked with experienced youth workers in several remote communities, and they are all mystified by your claim.
Could it be that you are being fed false information?
You are risking being seen as an hysteric, unless you can substantiate your claim.
The fact that there have been occasional reports of isolated cases of ice use in bush communities over the years does not mean that its use is either widespread or escalating.


Golf Club gets Masters liquor licence despite missing deadline
Mabel, presumably you mean “good logical thinking” by the Deputy Liquor Commissioner.
However, I don’t understand how you see the NT Government as being “wounded” in relation to these matters.
The Liquor Commission is independent of the NT Government, and the police are operationally autonomous.
The NT Government, like the police, can express its opinion to the LC, and ask the LC to consider certain arguments, but it can’t direct it as to how it must act.
Similarly, the NTG has guaranteed autonomy in operational matters to the NT Police.
Therefore Robyn Lambley MLA and others are barking up the wrong tree when they insist that Gunner and the NT Government are responsible for the police submission and the LC decisions around the Masters Games liquor licence application.


Police want parents to stop youth crime
Evelyne, you forget that half the adults of Alice work under contracts that forbid them from speaking publicly.
Others fear the repercussions to their employment, business prospects or social acceptance if they speak up and are seen as being trouble makers, unconventional or damaging to certain vested interests.
Their only recourse is to use nom de plumes, or remain completely silent.


Torrent of toxic Facebook posts after Mall melee
Russell Guy (Posted below on July 14, 2018 at 2:07 pm), as you and Sue Fielding (Posted below on July 14, 2018 at 8:46 am) both posit, “generational trauma, racism, alcohol abuse and domestic violence [are] some of the reasons for anti-social behavior among the young people responsible [for much crime and disturbance in our town]”.
What you and many others fail to recognise is that Chief Minister Michael Gunner, Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield, and most other NT Cabinet members share this analysis. They are collectively taking serious steps to address these problems as quickly as possible.
They are doing this via several important measures, including by working in partnerships with Aboriginal community groups, organisations and remote communities to establish and support new out of home care and rehabilitation services; designing and building new therapeutic and educational rehabilitation institutions; as well as by assisting Alice Springs and other regional centres to develop positive directions and strategies.
As you observe, “Anger and frustration are two of the motivational issues, [as well as] mindless vandalism, which is existential for many kids”. However, anger, frustration and mindless vandalism, when permitted to flourish during the child’s development phases, can themselves become a driving habitual mode of operation and subconscious rationale for living.
These ingrained compulsions may be so strong that they become a huge obstacle to rehabilitation, and a powerful force undermining workers’ attempts to undertake generalised prevention strategies and early interventions with other young people who may be shaping up to replicate the patterns set by the dominant role models in their peer groups.
It is ignorant and patronising to suggest that [the politicians] are not completely aware of the need for investing “in healing, strengthening and skilling up young people”, and that they are not committed to achieving this as soon as possible.
The Chief Minister is providing strong support for both a national Aboriginal art gallery, and a national Indigenous cultural centre, in Alice Springs. He is also funding extra development of regional art centre facilities and staff accommodation in remote communities to help attract international tourists to spend time in Central Australia.
He is doing this to help provide direction for the town and region, responding to the requests by Indigenous leaders over many years.
His vision will extend the tourist season to year round activities, as these facilities will be air-conditioned and enable comfortable extended holiday breaks for Asian, European and North American visitors during the northern winter.
Trevor Shiell has some fine ideas, but he fails to see that the art gallery needs to be at the heart of the town, where it will maximise involvement not only of tourists, but also of townspeople on a daily basis, particularly local Aboriginal people, via jobs, training, social and cultural activities, and family events. A place to be very proud of, in a town that is providing futures for our youth, including Aboriginal youth.


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