An epitaph: Steve Brown, the Last Action Hero. “In order …

Comment on Besieged businessman stands for zero tolerance but also calls for more ‘joy and laughter’ by Bob Durnan.

An epitaph: Steve Brown, the Last Action Hero.
“In order to save his town, he believed he first had to destroy it.”
First, he would invite everybody who felt inclined to do so to drive early and drive free: Why should a minority who would risk driving over their kids and slaughtering defenceless pensioners get in the way of free-wheeling funsters enjoying their inalienable rights to drive as and where and when they themselves saw fit?
His argument was long and complicated but there was an underlying principle to it all. You cannot take the wellbeing of the weak, the kids, the victims, the taxpayers, the service providers or the community into account when free individualistic citizens are exercising their God-given narcissistic rights to do what they damned well feel like in the Nanny Car State! There has been far too much paternal interference in drivers’ and passengers’ lives, and far too much use of the Law in an attempt to force decisions that community-minded licensed drivers, helmeted bicyclists and plodding pedestrians want, such as adhering to speed limits, driving on the left side of the road, wearing seat belts, stopping at stop signs, observing road rules, registering cars, taking out third party insurance, and even obtaining drivers’ licences, as opposed to the individual’s choice to do stupid risky things; and nowhere nearly enough influence used, through psychotropic drugs, electric shock therapy, wistfulness, hypnotism and threats of long solitary imprisonment, or even execution, to shine the light on another choice; nowhere near enough effort spent on creating better pathways, improving lives creating expectations of something more fulling than driving you life away.

At the moment if you’re an angry young petrol head you can purchase a turbo-charged car as a legal product, legally within the prescribed rules whenever you choose yet we make it really difficult for them to drive their legally purchased product legally in an unrestricted dangerous manner. Their attempts to do so often end in the humiliating disrespectful seizure of their legally purchased product in the police lockup yard. This results in very real anger and desire to “pay back”! It also causes ever deepening divisions in our society as it only ever appears to be cops’ hands in their faces.

I am not arguing for a free for all on hooning. I don’t like to see our streets full of hoons, I don’t like to see the wasted lives, the battered and homeless kids. I am horrified by the endless misery and want to bring it to an end as quickly as that can be achieved. What I am saying is that we have gone the wrong way! The present approach is a disaster of horrifying proportions. We’ve created enormous anger, separation and a never ending desire to drive hotted up jalopies recklessly and bash our heads in retaliation.

We’ve succeeded in criminalizing half the population, with people being quite angry enough to do whatever it takes to drive what they want when they want. My argument is to stop making sanctimonious decisions on others’ behalf, get out of their faces, allow them to make their own choices, take the heat, the anger out of the situation. Let’s return to the situation we had years ago, we still had a lot of hoons, but they were happy petrol heads who said “gidday mate” when trashing you on the streets.

Let’s recognise and respect every hoon’s individual rights, their equality! Let’s make a start on the long slow process of teaching hoons a better way, by encouraging them to rage wild and free, unencumbered by “road rules” because we care about their individual well-being not just the prettiness of our streets. We can begin this climb to sanity by normalising hooning, getting rid of restrictions that divide or cause mass binge hooning, make available areas where people can legally hoon under influence of moderate alcohol and police those areas heavily for bad behaviour, immediately remove any drunk hoon from our roads, otherwise leave them be. Pretty soon you’ll see the heat recede from the streets and we can concentrate our energies on the bigger goals.

Bob Durnan Also Commented

Besieged businessman stands for zero tolerance but also calls for more ‘joy and laughter’
You are both dead right, Stevie and Jan. It’s time for the Action Heroes and Little Hitlers. Send in the Clowns. I’ve taken your advice to heart and ordered myself a new clown suit and truncheon, a tazer and a magic wand. You take the high road, I’ll defend my house. Please ask Murray where he got that last lot of wacky pills. They are working so well.


Besieged businessman stands for zero tolerance but also calls for more ‘joy and laughter’
Steve (@Posted March 13, 2012 at 6:34 pm):
You mean start executing people?
Or just building more gaols so you can lock more people up for longer for doing things that they mainly would not have done if they had not been able to get so drunk?
Do you have any idea about how much we taxpayers would have to pay for this? Any upper figure in mind? Or the sky is the limit?
NB Regular periods in gaol are not deterring a lot of people at present – it seems to be a better lifestyle than what many have access to outside gaol. Aboriginal men in gaol in the NT are healthier and less likely to die or be injured, and more likely to learn some skills. Simply locking these people up more often is not going to achieve the changes in behaviour that we all want to see.


Besieged businessman stands for zero tolerance but also calls for more ‘joy and laughter’
It is interesting to see that Geoff Booth, the proprietor of several venues which depend almost entirely upon alcohol sales for their existence, sees the future of Alice Springs as being dependent on the population learning to have fun without alcohol (presumably at least partly at rate payers’ expense) and remote Aboriginal communities becoming hosts to alcohol outlets (presumably at least partly at tax payers’ expense).
Perhaps Geoff could put his money where his mouth is, and make Sundays alcohol-free, low-cost, family fun days at his venues, and challenge his fellow licencees (especially the two pubs which make a mint on Sundays selling take-away alcohol) to match him.
If he wanted to really help Alice Springs, he could create suitable conditions, with relatively low priced (in terms of on-licence charges per drink) alcohol beverages, to attract into his venues the impoverished drinkers who are currently being policed out of the riverbeds, public places, social housing and town camps where they consume cheap take-away alcohol.
Geoff could also check out the research literature concerning the documented impacts of alcohol outlets in remote Aboriginal communities.
He would find that the normal result of a remote alcohol licence is not less problems in the regional centres such as Alice Springs, but that it does lead to a near doubling of the numbers of both habitual and casual drinkers in the remote community, greatly increasing social, education, health and employment problems in the communities, whilst the rate of visitations by drinking parties to the regional centres, and associated harms and problems, remains about the same.
We should all be careful when proposing alcohol reforms, to be guided by the principal that what we do should not cause any more harms than are already occurring.


Recent Comments by Bob Durnan

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.


Turn rock-throwing into backflips: how community can help
Nice exposition Rainer. Some very useful ideas and analysis there.
However, in relation to your advocacy for volunteer based programmes, such as on bus runs, night patrols or supervision of activities: I believe that it would be a grave error to make assumptions about the practicalities of these proposals.
Recent experience indicates that Alice does not have a reliable supply of such volunteers.
The midnight basketball came a cropper a few years back because of this factor.
The Uniting Church’s Meeting Place is not open very often for the same reason.
All the main existing youth spaces have appealed for volunteers at times, without much response.
A proposal to run Saturday night football for youth during the last Christmas holiday period failed for the same reason.
If a bus run or patrol is to operate through the night, I believe that it must be staffed by professionally trained, paid workers.
On the buses, a small core section of the client group are not easy to handle, even for the best professionals. Playing mind games with the driver becomes an integral part of their night’s fun. Chopping and changing explanations about what their problems and needs are, contradictory requests about where to go, and, in some cases, manufacturing reasons for not going being able to go home, are all part of the challenging behaviours displayed by some of the very alienated clients.
Threatening drivers and other staff may be a regular way for some to get extra attention. These rebellions sometimes become contagious within the cohort.
Your point about the need to employ workers who are fully cognizant of trauma informed theory and practice is, I believe, extremely relevant in this type of work.
For some young people, simply staying up all night and on the streets is their major act of defiance. They get a sense of achievement and success in their rebellion, including strong peer recognition, by this simple act.
The Department of Children and Families’ old YSOS unit (Youth Street Outreach Service) was very effective in dealing with these young people and their very difficult habits, before it was so tragically shut down by the Robyn Lambley/Terry Mills/Adam Giles budget cuts of 2012/13.
At the time, Giles said this service was no longer needed, because it was not dealing with a lot of clients.
Predictably, after its disbanding, problems associated with youth out at night rose inexorably, until things returned to the levels that had been occurring ten years ago, just before the YSOS was started.
It would now be very useful to find the people who worked on the YSOS, and get their views about what worked and why.


The millions and the misery
Jones (Posted June 10, 2018 at 12:46 pm), you display an unreasonably negative and incorrigibly antagonistic attitude towards the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and its considerable achievements in the health field.
You may have heard the old adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing? This certainly applies to you. You continually use your ignorance as a cloak for confidently, and very unfairly, maligning Congress.
For your information:
1. The primary causes of most renal disease are very long term, and are mainly associated with poverty. The impacts of the chronic stresses from living in poverty begin in utero, then early childhood, with kidney stones and infections much more common. The stress burdens and infections contribute to weaknesses in organs such as the kidneys. These experiences are all imprinted on a person in ways that may lead to renal disease in later life, irrespective of what health service a person attends. As already discussed, a great deal of the global obesity / diabetes epidemic is socially determined, and health services can only do so much on their own.
2. The rate of end stage renal failure requiring dialysis amongst Congress’s own long term resident clients is vastly less than the rate in the rest of remote central Australian Aboriginal communities. The rate in remote areas is generally more than eight times greater than the town. If you are going to use data, you should use it correctly.
3. There is no basis for your statement that “the [overall] incidence of this terminal disease [i.e. renal failure] is a good measure of the success or failure of diabetes programs for which Congress has responsibility”. The situation is much more complex, as explained above, and health services can only do so much.
4. In light of the above facts, there is no validity in your statement that “the incidence of end stage [renal] disease is out of control despite the tens of millions of funding provided to Congress.” Rather, it would appear that Congress’s funded programmes have contributed to the rate of end stage renal disease being much lower in the long term Alice Springs Aboriginal population than it would have been without those programmes.
Jonesy, it is now incumbent upon you to relinquish your pathological denial of Congress’s achievements, and “agree that Congress has long been a leader and good practitioner in prevention and early intervention strategies and practices.”


The millions and the misery
Yes Evelyne Roullet, I have heard of HTLV-1. It would be hard to not have, given the recent publicity.
But no, I don’t know how much Congress, or anybody else, contributes for research and cure of it.


The millions and the misery
You are being perverse, Jones (Posted June 8, 2018 at 7:18 pm), and you are not nearly as well informed as you seem to think that you are.
Being a provocateur perhaps, just for the sake of it?
I pointed out that Congress (Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, or CAAC) has helped to greatly increase the average length of Aboriginal life expectancy in our region.
CAAC has played a leading role in achieving this increase in average life expectancy, not just by medical interventions, but also by fostering social and behavioural changes, such as by helping to ensure that when children are quite sick that they are brought to Congress by their parents, and are referred to hospital when needed.
You are possibly unaware that before Congress started providing health services in 1973, many sick Aboriginal babies were not being treated in the hospital, for a range of reasons.
Most important was the fact that the hospital was only desegregated in 1969.
Added to that was the fact that the hospital had also formerly played a key role in informing the Native Welfare Branch about the presence of mixed race children in the hospital, or where they were living, and this often lead to their removal.
Thus there were some powerful legacy issues.
In this context, many parents had been very reluctant to take their children to the hospital.
Although you agreed with me about CAAC helping to greatly extend the average rate of Aboriginal life expectancy in our region, you then went on to condemn CAAC for not preventing diabetes, and for allegedly not taking effective steps to intervene in its progress.
These are clearly unreasonable accusations on your part, based on a simplistic understanding of the complexity of the relevant issues, and the history of the situation with diabetes.
Much of what you say about this matter is factually untrue.
It is clear that you have not looked at the CAAC annual reports carefully, otherwise you would know the proportion of Congress diabetic patients who have their blood sugar tested regularly each year is quite high. Further data shows that a high proportion of patients have excellent sugar control.
These figures and many other key performance indicators (KPIs) are published every year in Congress’s annual reports.
This is in stark contrast to most other general practices, which rarely publish such data in their annual reports.
Please have another, more careful look at the CAAC annual reports, which are available on line.
You will find a wealth of information which you and other interested members of the community can use to judge the success of Congress.
As for prevention of diabetes, it has a very long development period.
Most of the CAAC diabetes prevention programmes are also long term by their very nature, and begin with trying to ensure healthy pregnancies, healthy births, and good early childhood health and emotional wellbeing programmes.
CAAC is now providing these services to many of its clients.
However, some of these programmes have only been funded in the last 10 years, some of them only starting quite recently. Several of them are not yet funded in many remote Aboriginal communities.
As you may be aware, the diabetes epidemic is a massive global health crisis that has been caused by what is known as our “obesogenic” social environment, which is rich in high fat, high sugar, high salt, high carb ultra-processed foods, and increasingly sedentary, inactive lifestyles.
Congress alone cannot be expected to change this.
There is much that is still needed to be done in public health terms.
For example, Congress has been advocating for a sugar glucose tax of 20% for more than a decade.
Congress has long advocated that funds raised by such a tax should be hypothecated, or reserved, to be spent solely on a subsidy to ensure fresh fruit and vegies are affordable in all remote communities.
This key position and advocacy has been Congress policy well before the AMA and other peak medical groups around the world adopted it.
Congress removed soft drink machines back in the late nineties, something that most of Australia’s public hospitals and major medical centres are only starting to do now, 20 years later.
Another key endeavour, where CAAC has had some success in recent years, is in the area of reform of the NT Government’s regulation of alcohol consumption and sales, in order to reduce the average level of consumption amongst problem drinkers and those at risk of becoming problem drinkers.
This is widely acknowledged to be a necessary pre-requisite before many further advances in the preventative programmes area can be expected to take place.
You can’t have it both ways, Jones.
You should admit that Congress has long been a leader and good practitioner in prevention and early intervention strategies and practices.


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