Hal The relevant flaws in the justice system are the …

Comment on LETTER: Taking no prisoners by Bob Durnan.

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!

Bob Durnan Also Commented

LETTER: Taking no prisoners
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.

Recent Comments by Bob Durnan

Booze report: What the government is likely to do.
In response to R Henry on Oct 20th, on who gets the extra markup money?
There is very little brand loyalty to the cheap brands of Chardonnay amongst our dedicated alcohol-drinking punters: They are after the cheapest hit of alcohol for their buck, regardless of its host liquid, not for their next taste of the rank Calabrian / Bortoli products.
Since the vast majority of shoppers generally shift their choice to better value for money when confronted with higher prices (and this happened when Clare Martin knocked the cheapest wines and sherries off the shelves in October 2006: there was a massive shift to beer), there is unlikely to be very much windfall profits via extra markup.
To the extent that there are any windfalls, they are unlikely to be anywhere near commensurate with the decrease in profits that are likely to occur because of the overall impacts of a number of the proposed reforms.
To see if I am correct, keep your ears open for the sounds of the interstate alcohol industry cartels – manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and their paid public relations reps squealing about the alleged injustice, unfairness and unworkability of these visionary evidence-based reforms.
It is going to be an interesting war, and the outcome will decide whether the NT has any future worth speaking about.

Elferink and Gooda clash over underage marriage
Peter, Posted June 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm: some young girls may resist promised marriage more strongly these days, but I doubt whether some are in a position to do so.
It has been authoritatively reported by youth workers in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek in the last few years that rape of young women is rife in these towns.

I’m not kungka, I’m arelhe
Does anybody know if the hours when the Arrernte words teaching program is held at the Apmere angkentye-kenhe are available somewhere on the net, or anywhere else?
I thought I had seen it advertised for every Wednesday night at 6pm, but this doesn’t appear to be the case?
I have gone there at this time, found it closed, and no notice or info on the door.
Anybody wanna clarify here?

Judge Borchers’ position should be assessed: CAALAS
Alex, of course one part-time worker with CAALAS is not able to, in your words, “work closely with EVERY SINGLE young person going throughout Central Australian court system, their family, community, lawyer, school and other service-providers to provide the young person with the support they need to get back on track and stay out of trouble”.
That is exactly my point, and why it is wrong for you to lay the blame on that worker, as you did when you wrote “if your PART-TIME advocacy programme co-ordinator did her job after this child’s court appearance in March, then he wouldn’t have appeared in court again in May.”
As I said earlier: That advocacy programme co-ordinator performed her job with great diligence and dedication, and cannot be held to blame for any alleged failure of duty of care, as the case load of such cases far exceeds the ability of one worker to cover even a small proportion of them. She was doing her job very well, covering as many of the cases as she could, but she wasn’t a magician. So your cheap jibe at her reputation is wrongly placed, and you should withdraw it.

Judge Borchers’ position should be assessed: CAALAS
Evelyne Roullet, Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:42 pm: Ralph was not talking about where or how the kid should be housed. He was referring to the bigger issue of the huge trauma in his life, caused by the alleged killing of his mother by his father. Kids who experience this level of trauma need intensive help and support, and we need to make sure that they get it, from wherever it may be best available.

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