While I agree with much of this I don’t think …

Comment on Can the town afford the welfare burden? by Mike Gillam.

While I agree with much of this I don’t think we’ve got 30 years. With the right policy settings and adequate investment, great strides are possible. I realize Alice Springs locals are demoralized by social dysfunction but I’d suggest that many welfare recipients are also profoundly demoralized by the pattern of their lives.
Welfare puts money in your pocket but it robs able-bodied people of a purpose in life, motivation, mental and physical development. Moreover the damage radiates outwards impacting on their family and community. People are caught in a bitter trap that provides some basics and certainty but the costs to the whole community are immeasurable and rapidly growing.
Chances are they did not grow up in a working house-hold. Instead most of their friends and extended family may live this way so a welfare situation is “normal”. In their community the overwhelming critical mass is often unemployed so the failure rate for those trying to break free is high. As they struggle to find a job and keep it they have little or no support from other workers in their immediate social circle. I’ve watched too many dynamic young people with significant promise crash and burn – some give up trying. I guess its easy to judge people and say you should get up and try again and again but realistically most of us have never walked in their shoes – that’s assuming some-one hasn’t already taken their shoes and the clean shirt they were going to wear to work.
So it’s complex but the issue of critical mass must be addressed before the lives of Aboriginal people can improve. We must take the whole family, street and community on this path together. School leavers should not be allowed to submit to a dole habit – they must be embedded in workplaces, committed to training, rangers, police cadets, Norforce or whatever but most importantly they need routine and somewhere decent to live and if possible trusted mentors to help them grow in confidence and experience.
Supported accommodation for workers is the single greatest need and this is an efficient way to switch critical mass (at a given locality) in favour of work. I respect the professionalism of Aboriginal Hostels but I’d like to see worker’s villages that provide for all races and ages. Funding is the big question. Governments must also get back into public housing in a big way but with a huge emphasis on transitioning people to work and HOME OWNERSHIP.

Recent Comments by Mike Gillam

Melanka building would obscure unequalled backdrop
While I broadly support the views of the writer, I’d like to correct what is clearly a typo.
The building height limit in the CBD is 14 m. not 8.5m, and for the record, I won’t be making a submission to the NT Planning Commission, a Statutory Authority advising the NT Government on planning matters including building heights in Alice Springs because I don’t regard the public consultation process as genuine.
Recent calls by the Chief Minister for expressions of interest in the development of land at Whittaker Street, just outside the western boundary of the CBD and in an area with a LOWER height limit, makes a mockery of this public consultation.
The artist’s impression shows a building that dramatically exceeds the stated limit for this area, from memory, not even 14 m but currently 8.5m.
Of course, the nature of legislation, regulations and town plans may be subject to the extraordinary powers granted to the responsible Minister who can always find some justification.
In closing I would give credit to the NT Planning Commission for its recognition of the value of protecting some critical east west sight-lines across the CBD.
However the town’s future shape and collective massing of buildings will be determined to a large extent by the uncoordinated actions of individual developers and politicians in the decades ahead.
Ultimately this is a game of chance and DESIGN, that elusive collective vision for Alice Springs, appears to be taking a back seat in the process. As a struggling tourist town we can and should do much better.

Festival broadens ambitions of Alice Cinema
At a time when the town’s commercial centre is under great stress we are very fortunate to have such dynamic and progressive people directing the cinema complex.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the tip …
Delightfully zany, elegant, rigorously conceived and resolved, an asset to the landfill and the town. Congratulations to the artist for her uncompromising effort and those on the Town Council who placed their faith in her and dared to make this happen. I hope the obvious quality of this public art has raised the confidence of decision makers and they feel vindicated to do it again with equal rigour. Perhaps in time, as the town’s artistic side is further highlighted and revealed we may regain some of our reputation as a tourist mecca.

Dancers take over after dark
Not denying there is an equivalent need for the hard core stories but surely this is the Alice Springs News at its very best.I’m kicking myself for missing the event.

Residency is at risk, says heritage group
Hal, where to start…If you peddle misinformation some readers might hyperventilate. But I think you’re ignoring the elephant in the room here…no-one likes their time being wasted and that’s how I feel trying to unravel your torrent of opinion and innuendo. Time prevents me from responding to more of your posts. It’s not simply that you distort reality by describing The Residency as “…current inactive state…” or that it’s preposterous and insulting to say, “Have you considered that Heritage Alice Springs’ dogmatic approach to these matters contributed to the Old Riverside not being given Heritage listing?” What an outrageous example of shoot the messenger by some-one who has not seen the nomination by HAS. But wait there’s more, “…I often think the heritage crowd exceed their brief…” Really? They’re the main reason you can cite the example of the Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame at its fantastic heritage location. And again, “…We don’t have very many buildings worth listing. Too many tin sheds, and who really cares…” Your regard for vernacular architecture including sheds is out of step with rising national interest and ignores much of the development history of Alice Springs.
PS Re. leasing the Residency for use as a cafe, I reiterate the issue of onsite car-parking. From memory, 6 parks are required for every 100m2 of net floor area and any alfresco dining areas – so I’m guessing this site would have to at least double the existing parks – this reasonable condition may be waived by the Minister BUT it’s in the best commercial interests of cafe owners to provide viable parking to lessen the impact on the street during periods of peak trade. And no, the idea that a new venture would be allowed to free-load on existing public car-parking is unlikely to win much support. The RFDS has it all, why try to replicate that experience with less at the Residency?

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