Female tourists sleeping in car alleged to have been sexually assaulted: all three suspects now charged, rifle still not recovered.

UPDATE Saturday, May 5, 3.05pm: Detectives in Alice Springs have this morning laid charges against two 17 year-old youths who Police believe were involved in the alleged sexual assault of two tourists in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Detective Acting Superintendent Travis Wurst said one of the youths has been charged with Sexual Intercourse Without Consent, Acts of Gross Indecency, Deprivation of Liberty, Assault and Threaten with a Firearm along with numerous other offences: “The other youth has at this stage only been charged with the Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle (similar to the one pictured) in relation to the alleged sexual assault but we hope to lay further charges as the investigation continues.”
A/Supt Wurst said the firearm allegedly used in the incident has not yet been found.


UPDATE Friday, May 4, 6.55pm: Alice Springs Police have located a green Toyota Ascent (similar to pictured) allegedly stolen and used during a sexual assault in Alice Springs on Wednesday.
Detective Acting Superintendent Travis Wurst said the vehicle was found in Ntaria [Hermannsburg], about 130 kilometres south west of Alice Springs.
“Police located the vehicle of interest in Ntaria at around noon today,” says Det Wurst.

“The vehicle is currently being forensically examined and will be transported back to Alice Springs for further analysis.
“A third man, 17, appeared in court today after Police charged him with sexual assault.”
Meanwhile Detective Acting Superintendent Wurst said Police believe the weapon used during the alleged sexual assault was also used in an attempted armed robbery of a taxi early on the same morning.
“The three 17 year olds arrested for the sexual assault are also believed to be involved in this crime.
“Police are now calling for witnesses who were in the vicinity of Barrett Drive near the Casino at 2:50am where the alleged attempted armed robbery of the taxi took place.
“A firearm was used to threaten the driver and occupants of the taxi before the offenders fled. Nothing was stolen from the taxi.
“There were three passengers in the taxi who Police would now like to come forward.
“Anyone else with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Police on 131 444.
“Investigations are continuing.”


UPDATE Friday, May 4, 9.17am: The third suspect in the alleged sexual assault of two European tourists has now been arrested in Hermannsburg, west of Alice Springs.

One suspect will appear in court this morning. Police say the other two are helping with enquiries.
Neither the rifle, which one suspect is alleged to have been armed with , nor the car have been found as yet.


UPDATE Friday, May 4, 8.40am: Another 17-year-old male has been arrested and is in Police custody this morning in relation to the sexual assault and the stolen car.  He is yet to be interviewed or charged.
Detective Acting Superintendent Travis Wurst says police are continuing their search for the other alleged offender, firearm and stolen vehicle.
“Members of the public can act as our eyes and ears in situations like this.

“I believe the community may be actively hiding the last remaining person and I continue to urge anyone that may be able to provide any information relating to the whereabouts of the outstanding offender, the stolen car or the firearm, to contact Police on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”


UPDATE Thursday, May 3, 8.38am: Alice Springs Police have arrested a 17-year-old male in relation to the alleged sexual assault that occurred early yesterday morning.
Commander Michael Murphy said Alice Springs Police are confident of further arrests in the coming hours and days.
“We are methodically working through all avenues of enquiry to identify the offenders,” Commander Murphy said.
“I urge those involved, you know who you are, to hand yourselves in now as we will find you.
“I’d like to thank members of the public who have called through and assisted Police with their investigation, however I continue to request information from anyone that may have witnessed any suspicious activity around Maconochie Road in Mount John, or The Fairways area between midnight and 4am yesterday to contact Police.

“The dark green Toyota Ascent, SA registration plates WXD617 remains outstanding and I urge anyone that may see the vehicle, not to approach it, but to contact Police immediately on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.”


FIRST REPORT: Police are investigating the alleged sexual assault of two women that occurred early this morning.
At approximately 4am, police were approached at Heavitree Gap Caravan Park by two international female tourists reporting that they had both been sexually assaulted.
It was established that the alleged sexual assaults occurred near the end of Maconochie Road in Mount Johns where they were sleeping in their vehicle overnight.
Commander Michael Murphy said their vehicle was broken into and three aboriginal males allegedly forced the women to have sex with them.
“One of the males was armed with what has been described as a rifle. Money and tobacco was also stolen from the victims.
“Sometime between midnight and 4am, a vehicle was stolen from The Fairways in the Alice Springs suburb of Desert Springs.

“This vehicle (similar to the one pictured), a dark green Toyota Ascent South Australian registration WXD617, was sighted in the area where the sexual assault occurred.

“The vehicle was also sighted in the Alice Springs CBD on two occasions by police who pursued the vehicle.
“The vehicle did not stop and evaded apprehension. It was last seen at approximately 6:30am traveling west on Larapinta Drive out of Alice Springs.
“Police are eager to speak to a group of bicycle riders who witnessed Police pursuing the vehicle in the CBD.
“Police are treating this incident very seriously. Members of the public are urged not to approach the vehicle or its occupants as they may be armed.”
Anyone with information or who may identify the vehicle is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or the Police Assistance Line on 131 444.

“Detailed information will greatly assist police in acting to track down these alleged offenders,” says Commander Murphy. [Police release]


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40 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Russell Guy
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Dear Eli,
    Thank you for the invitation to participate in a discussion with you about the alcohol and its effect on Alice Springs. Yes. I agree to participate.
    On the subject of ‘ground rules,’ I’m in agreement with Bob Durnan (posted May 8, 2012 @ 11: 37pm). You have invited Bob and myself, but do you have any other names that you would like to invite? You have only nominated those who have contributed to this debate, so far. I presume that you mean via the Alice Springs News.
    It seems to be more of a forum, rather than a debate. If that is the case, I believe that it should be open to anyone to attend, because that is what will most likely occur. We have no way of identifying who has posted, but the success of the event depends on the quality of the input, so could you clarify if you would allow questions and contributions from the floor of the meeting or how do you see it?
    I have no problem with Erwin being Chair, if that seems best to you. I think it fair that all media should be invited. I would like the event to be outcome focused, i.e., taking note of where the goal posts are and attempting to kick a few, rather than going around in circles.
    I agree to Erwin’s agenda and his suggested terms as protocol on which to begin as it’s clearly a ‘hot potato’ subject, but as the Police Commissioner has said “police cannot solve the acutely dysfunctional social elements in this town.” I also agree with Chief Magistrate Hilary Hannam who has noted that alcohol-abuse “is the community’s greatest concern in the NT.” The Alcohol and Other Drugs Tribunal (SMART Court) is correctly named.
    I’m not sure how the ‘live streaming’ would be governed – outgoing and incoming – it may distract from the discussion, but I’m open to further comment.
    I’d prefer the meeting to be in the evening, commencing at approximately 7pm, so that workers can attend. What venue do you have in mind? What date are you considering? Please post your answers.
    Regards, Russell Guy.

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  2. Bob Durnan
    Posted May 8, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Eli (Posted May 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm), I will be ‘in’ on your roundtable discussion, subject to a couple of caveats of my own. I will discuss details of these with Russell and get back to you.
    One preliminary observation: there would need to be an agreed set of ‘ground rules’.
    I would prefer that participation be restricted to those who use their actual names when making comments on this site, and that Hal Duell, John Boffa and Jane Clark be asked if they would like to take part.
    Ensuring sizeable Aboriginal participation would probably be possible, depending on time and place for the discussion.
    I am intrigued by your request for word limits. Surely you aren’t scared of words?
    [ED – Hi Bob, I hope you will participate. Some early thoughts on our role as moderator:-
    • Eli would clearly need to be a debater, and not in the chair.
    • An agreed agenda – e.g. floor price, mandatory rehab (including costing but comparing it with how much the likely participants are costing the public right now in repeated hospital, court, corrections and rehab services), Thirsty Thursday (or several days), banned drinkers, removal of restrictions, wet canteens on communities, opening hours.
    • Two minutes per speaker per subject followed by one minute per speaker right of reply.
    • No repetitions.
    • All assertions to be supported by credible corroboration. Published studies should be referred to in summary, but the URLs of the full texts should be supplied.
    • Participants need to give their full names.
    • Live streaming (if possible) so people can watch it on their computers at home – Desert Knowledge may be able to assist.
    I look forward to feedback on these ideas!
    Cheers, Erwin]

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  3. Posted May 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Dear Ed, Russell Guy, Bob Durnan and all others who are regular contributors to the alcohol discussion / debate.
    I would love nothing better than to put all of you in a room sit around a table and continue this debate; however I have a condition or two before I invite any of you.
    I want your help to ensuring that in the same room present will be an equal representation of Aboriginal people.
    It is my desire to be inclusive and engaging in the discussion so we are not just talking about people but talking to them.
    While I will be happy to chair the meeting, I have another condition, that we have Alice Springs News act as some form of a moderator. Erwin, do you accept?
    Two hours of a no holds barred discussion on how best to find a solution to the effect of alcohol abuse has on this town and its people.
    Also Bob, and Russell, in your reply to my post, (I think this will be harder for Bob), but in any case do your best to reply back to me in at least 100 words or less and Bob try to not insult me too many times either, let’s save it for the live debate, please.
    Post your desire to be involved and I will do the rest. Book a venue; provide tea and coffee, microphones etc.
    As a special event, we will have someone tweeting and facebooking live the discussion which will be posted on all the new community groups appearing on face book.
    So who is in?
    Eli Melky
    [ED – Hi Eli. The Alice Springs News Online accepts with pleasure, depending on the date.]

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  4. Russell Guy
    Posted May 8, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Ray, posted May 7 at 9: 02pm.
    It’s time you posted with your surname, Ray. We, who do, along with the Editor, recommend that you have the courage of your convictions and it negates confusion from other “Rays.”
    The recidivist statistics, which you ridicule, are posted at the AS News SMART Court reportage. Google the archives. I doubt that you are reading the links suggested, because if you were, you’d be better informed.
    Like others, you totally ignore the positives because you have an agenda, or you refuse to see the incremental gains made by the SMART Court and voluntary restrictions such as a floor price. More posts are now supporting a take-away sales restriction.
    The arrival of the Police Commissioner is another positive, but it doesn’t mean that it’s the only salvation. The Law and Order approach is related to supply restriction and Rehab.
    I have made reference to the bursting prison stats during the past three months of this debate.
    Your comment about Aboriginal fathers “dragging” their kids to a lawyer, overlooks the verifiable fact that some of these kids you refer to haven’t got a Dad or Dad is in gaol. I know of many such cases which puts more pressure on extended family and commnunity. This is an issue that has not been disclosed by those who have made wild claims about Rehab solutions.
    Your comments about taking responsibility, while correct, have been made ad nauseum. Try getting with the program and do a little reading, it may cure you of your disdain for evidence-based policy.

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  5. Bob Durnan
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Insofar as the CLP Government’s failure to build police stations and provide adequate education services in any bush communities contributed to our present problems (and these failures undoubtedly did contribute to these problems, in a major way, because they made it impossible for the police to systematically enforce laws, particularly those against violence, drug dealing, illegal grog running, traffic offences etc) Janet is, weirdly enough, correct (Janet Brown, Posted May 7, 2012 at 10:13 am).
    The CLP, or Country Liberals as they would now prefer to be known, enjoyed twenty seven years of virtually unchallenged power in the NT Assembly and ran the NT Government for 23 years following the granting of self-government in 1978.
    In the forty-odd remote Aboriginal communities south of Tennant Creek, only five actually had a police presence based in their communities prior to Clare Martin coming to power in 2001. Those five police stations were all built by the Commonwealth Government prior to the advent of NT self-government.
    In 23 years of CLP rule, not one police station had been built in a remote community, despite considerable begging from many respected leaders for this discrimination to be redressed.
    As a consequence, drug dealers, grog runners, con men and bullies were able to get their claws into many communities and become entrenched. Whole communities became used to many people driving around most of the time unlicensed in unregistered uninsured unroadworthy vehicles. Use of violence to settle disputes and get advantage became ever more entrenched in the daily lives of many residents.
    Most communities voted to ban alcohol within their boundaries, but the CLP Governments refused to allocate the police needed to enforce these decisions, although they had been made under the provisions of the CLP’s own Liquor Act by its own Liquor Licensing Commission.
    Even in the communities which did have a police presence, the numbers of police were completely inadequate compared to the tasks that they were expected to perform (patrolling vast road networks and taking responsibility for other communities which were several hours of travel distant from their base).
    As Janet attests: “Why are we here easy answer. A failure in policing. Failure in governments to treat all equal under law and in policy.”
    In fact, the CLP in government preferred to pump vast amounts of revenue into building casinos, five star hotels, resorts and convention centres to further enrich their business cronies rather than use their revenues to construct police stations, clinics and schools for the neediest people in the Territory. The CLP also ignored widespread serious malfunctions in the system of local community governance which it had established.
    It is unsurprising then that many of the folk who have grown up in these communities experience major problems in relation to bad behaviour and lack of respect for the law today. As Janet says: “As to why some in our society are not entitled to the protections of Australian laws and opportunities due to their races. That is the face of racism. That is also why we have violence on streets, home invasions and massive criminal damage. It will only stop when segregation ends. And we rebuild as a community that works together.”

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  6. Ray
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    @Russell “The savings to society, already evident in recidivist statistical data, includes health, policing, court and prison costs, leading to positive future benefits like full-time employment.”
    Already evident?? No Russell, crime is so high the police commissioner has been asked by the CM to personally get involved and fix the problem. The Berrimah and Alice Springs prisons are at bursting point, and the number of juveniles in detention are staggering, (the next generation). You are of course right Russell when you question my beliefs when I say I don’t give a S#%t, I really do, but do you really think these habitual drunks care about going to jail or losing their licence? It’s not like they are worried about where their next pay cheque is coming from, or how they are going to pay rent. I asked an old Aboriginal chap recently “why do these kids think they can keep breaking the law?” and was told “they don’t give a f&ck about the your law, they’ll get caught and get to spend time with family”.
    Remember the old days when if a kid got brought home by the local sergeant? He’d be more scared about the hiding he’d get from his dad. Nowadays, the father would drag the kid straight to a lawyer to defend him against that “horrible white racist copper bastard”.
    Drinking is not the cause of this society, is it a symptom. Unless we look at making all people (ie all races / all Australians) obey the same set of laws that have been developed over centuries, for a civilised society, the next generation will suffer the same fate. We have seen the gently gently approach tried and failed over many many years. As I’ve said previously, I love the concept of social inclusion, but if people want respect and not resentment, they need to understand they have to take responsibility for themselves, and their children.
    If you banned driving for one day every week, I am sure you would make a massive difference to the road toll, and you could make a valid point with those stats as well.
    Thanks for the discussion though, it has been enjoyable.

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  7. Leigh Childs
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    @5 Bob Durnan. Thank-you Bob for your comment even though I’m not sure what you are trying to tell me. That there is even more grief out there? But I would like to respond to some of your comments. After reading Peter Sutton’s, The Politics of Suffering and Rod Moss’s The Hard Light of Day and listening to your interview with Ted Egan on Radio National there isn’t much hope is there?
    I believe that I do contribute to this oft repeated mantra of ‘a whole of community approach’. I ask Aboriginal adults in the company of school age children, during school hours why the child is not in school. [One of these days I’m gonna get decked !] The usual responses are fairly evenly divided between ‘none your business’ and ‘we just come in from out bush’. What more can I do on that front?
    Last week while in the Yippy center I was about to ask a young Aboriginal lad of about 10 years why he wasn’t in school and was vaguely aware of his having his arms across his face. I then became aware of the sound of a fast traveling shopping trolley, when I looked there was an Aboriginal woman running full tilt AT the boy. I was able to push the trolley aside. I believe that if she had connected with him he most likely would have gone through the window of Dick Smith. I walked away; I was so angry and upset. What could I have done Bob; taken the boy to the Police Station? Taken the Aboriginal woman to the Police Station, or maybe held them both there and called the Police?
    Bob I don’t know what the “answer” is but I would like the town to try a couple of dry days. Alcohol plays a huge part in the outrageous behaviours we see every day. But I’m afraid the vested interests in this town will win every time. ‘Thars money to be made outta those drunks.’ They are our drunks. Shocking isn’t it?

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  8. Russell Guy
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Ray, posted May 4 @ 4:24pm and Janet, posted May 7 @ 10: 13am.

    Ray, I hope you’ve had some time to read the link I posted to the Overview of Indigenous Health 2011, published in January this year. I’ve been thinking about your use of the word “huggers”, in relation to those who show concern for problem drinkers in Alice Springs.
    And Janet, I hope that you too will take the time to read that link, because it contains information on the long-term health issues endured by Indigenous people in the history of “the rules of this society”.
    Both of you are dictating in terms of “go somewhere else” or learn to like Western society, justified by the right to drink alcohol and dismantling Indigenous institutions that allow for cultural difference. You want a return to the Assimilation Policy, but it’s a waste of time and taxpayers dollars.
    Social inclusion is a more contemporary term. In the 1980s, it was called a Treaty, but it didn’t get very far, mainly because the dominant European society hasn’t evolved that far from the old Squattocracry. Some still want the blackfellas to go somewhere else, out of our face and out of our town, or “back to their homelands” as was recently posted. That ain’t gonna happen either.
    This status quo has created some unfortunate statistics in which Indigenous have been disproportionately represented since the rule of English law arrived on our shores, but good news, the SMART Court (Alcohol and Other Drugs Tribunal or AoD) has arrived.
    Part of the NT Government initiative to reform some of the carnage caused by Western-style, seven day a week take-away alcohol sales, cheap, nasty grog and early openers, the SMART Court stands for Substance Misuse Assessment and Referral for Treatment.
    It allows the mainly alcohol related offenders to undertake rehabilitative programs, instead of being sent to Gaol, as would more likely happen under the Court of Summary Jurisdiction.
    However, convictions including disqualification for holding a driver’s licence and community work orders are still imposed. Violent offenders are, controversially for some offenders, excluded, but include alcohol, cannabis and methamphetamine, and not all are Indigenous.
    The savings to society, already evident in recidivist statistical data, includes health, policing,court and prison costs, leading to positive future benefits like full-time employment.
    As the AS News has reported, only the longer term will tell to what extent the SMART Court can reduce re-offending and include rehab in the NT, but it’s a huggers court, where offenders are encouraged and rewarded for success.
    It proves that the West is not intractable and that a more compassionate society can be created out of what Chief Magistrate Hilary Hannam in describing alcohol-related offences, is “the community’s greatest concern in the NT.”
    [ED – Google SMART Court in the Alice Springs News Online.]

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  9. Janet Brown
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 10:13 am

    To all who want to focus on the politics and where individuals use public pain for political gain I find offensive.
    We need government to do and ensure safety and law and order are always addressed above segregation and race based excuses for bad behavior and community decay.
    We are here in the midst of civil unrest due to the inability of government to ensure all are equal under law and equal in responsibility to community obligations.
    Those who push the alcohol banner as an excuse for community break down. Excuses excuses no room for individual responsibility for their actions. We all live in the same space breath the same air and instead of respect for selves and others we have anger brutality and horrors that should exist only in war or third world countries. Why are we here easy answer. A failure in policing. Failure in governments to treat all equal under law and in policy. The governments at all levels. Promoting and implementing segregation policies and laws and community differences. How do we deal with the situation we have. Governments at all levels remove all government business, schools, policies, funding etc that promote and fund segregation. Supporting difference based on race is unacceptable in the western world. That is due to our democratic views that do not support dictatorship. Time for equally and no more excuses. As to why some in our society are not entitled to the protections of Australian laws and opportunities due to their races. That is the face of racism. That is the result of Federal laws that have segregated and displaced a race of people who are Australians.
    That is also why we have violence on streets, home invasions and massive criminal damage. It will only stop when segregation ends. And we rebuild as a community that works together.

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  10. Bob Durnan
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Thanks Dave (David Chewings, Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm):
    I realise that it is tedious for most people who regularly read these posts to encounter my repeated affirmations of certain arguments to do with excessive use of alcohol and other drugs.
    However, it is also obvious that some people who see themselves as our local political, civic and/or opinion leaders simply fail to comprehend key facts and logic that are relevant to this debate, and take a long time to understand them and integrate them into their thinking.
    For this reason – given the centrality of alcohol and other addictions in both the causes and possible solutions to many of our problems – it is necessary to challenge the statements of those who would be our kings when they make dubious assertions, or appear to be ignorant of central factors. There is really no alternative, as far as I am aware.

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  11. David Chewings
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    @Bob Durnam Posted May 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm.
    Bob, reading your first two posts, [i.e. Bob Durnam posted May 3,2012 at 12:14 am and Bob Durnam posted May 5 at 8:27 pm], the alleged crime in Maconochie Road on May 2 raised serious concerns for me.
    I write with a deep concern for all victims knowing too well that it is now a legal matter complicated by the fact that there is an Territory election just around the corner.
    I thank you for reminding us of the pain of the Jenissa Ryan tragedy.
    To my way of thinking, you seem at times, to be so obsessed with the grog debate that you risk losing your much needed sensitivity and empathy.
    Your last post has put my mind more at ease. Thank you.
    It will be interesting to see the response of the NT Opposition via the CLP member for MacDonnell, Alison Anderson.

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  12. Bob Durnan
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Leigh (Leigh Childs Posted May 3, 2012 at 9:59 am):
    On the morning of Saturday 30th January 2006, fifteen year old Jenissa Ryan, who had been seen and ignored by several passers-by as she was lying unconscious in a gutter on Undoolya Road, was subjected to attempted rape by three 14 and 15 year old lads near the Centralian College roundabout around 3am. The boys left her still unconscious, lying in nearby bushes, where she was found several hours later in the hot summer sun, suffering from brain damage.
    The boys’ respectable, church-going families at Areyonga were shocked and uncomprehending.
    Just a few hours before the attempted rapes, Jenissa had been savagely assaulted at the Hoppy’s camp party scene by the 18 year old bloke whom she thought was her friend, and his 16 year old girlfriend.
    Jenissa was evacuated to Adelaide, where life support had to be turned off the next day.
    None of those involved in the assaults and abuse committed on Jenissa in the period leading up to her death appeared to have much idea of the difference between right and wrong.
    This illustrates the dimensions of the challenges facing society and government in Central Australia.
    I don’t know if anybody was ever able to get to the core of what had gone wrong with these young people, other than the bare predictable facts: they grew up in poverty, part of a society where families are often wracked with violence. A society in which many kids still grow up with very poor health, education and socialisation, and in which aimlessness, boredom, frustration, and excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs too often dominate the day to day lives of many young people. Sexual abuse of young women is common.
    These crimes were part of a large number of similar incidents – serious assaults, rapes and homicides – that occurred in the 12 months from mid-2005 to mid-2006.
    I don’t know of any Aboriginal adult who thinks that there are cultural excuses for these acts or this type of behaviour.
    However the facts are that the recent history of Alice Springs youth sub-cultures includes on-going instances of similar behaviour, and has done so for many years.
    Many parents of these kids do not have the skills or will needed to supervise, control, or even locate, their wayward children in the context of the wild environment in which they live. Many other parents are dead, or in gaol, or living far away. Many of the youth committing these crimes are actually under the care of the Minister.
    In the absence of effective carers being present in the lives of many of these youth, the community at large has to step up and help address the factors which are allowing these appalling circumstances to proliferate and become more and more embedded as part of our everyday reality.
    It is way past time that we demanded that there are early childhood, family support and youth services throughout Central Australia adequate to meet these challenges.
    This means that we must not only unite to demand greater exercise of responsibility by some of the parents who are still there in the lives of their offspring, and greater vigilance by police and child welfare workers, but we must also pay attention to the kids ourselves, lend a hand where we are able, and advocate for serious investment by all levels of government to help with the task.
    Matters are not helped by high recidivist rates and the fact that there are no actual ‘through care’ programs or post release supports that are appropriately resourced to ensure young people who exit the system stay out of it.
    Inevitably we must demand urgently needed funding to provide intensive case management of many young people who are going to cost us even more if we don’t start to prevent them from committing so many aberrant acts.
    We must also demand that governments allocate sufficient general funding for a range of professionally-run youth facilities, activities and services in bush communities as well as in Alice Springs. A large part of this investment must be used to take care of the capital needs of such a program.
    However, even more importantly, we need to assist Aboriginal community and economic development initiatives, so that a new start can be made to rebuild Aboriginal society from the ground up throughout central Australia.
    Unless we start to do this with intelligence, knowledge and commitment, the future of Alice Springs and the rest of central Australia is going to be very dismal, no matter what other efforts we make in all our private and public initiatives.

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  13. Rod Cramert
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Rex, no problem with night patrol, but as I pointed out, police are already entitled, perhaps even obligated to “enforce” Council by-laws.
    As I also said before, while not shifting any blame from perpetrators to victims, if Council and Police were doing that, the potential for the catastrophy this discussion was about would be considerably reduced.
    I suspect any one pinning their hopes on the Commissioner is having a lend of themselves, from Henderson down.

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  14. Hal Duell
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:02 am

    It is so true that we gain nothing by forcing the trouble makers to go elsewhere. If we in Alice Springs adopt that approach, then how can we complain when the remote communities do the same? That is what they are doing with with their problem drinkers, and just look at the mess that attitude is making of the metropolitan areas in the NT.
    The same can be said of the recently aired proposal to close the Northside bottle shop. There’s no question that the parking lot over there is almost worthy of being included on the national register of must places to visit, but that is still no excuse to foster their problems onto the rest of us.
    We simply have to find a way to live within an agreed set of laws. I don’t see that we have an option. From reports in the local media, 16 of a proposed 18 aboriginal organisations met last week. So did the town council. Are they pooling their ideas? Have they come up with a concerted strategy?
    I can only hope they decide to share their hopefully amalgamated thoughts with the rest of us.

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  15. Bob Durnan
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:27 am

    So Rex reckons Ray (Posted May 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm) is on the right track, wanting “others who refuse to take responsibility for themselves” to “go somewhere else.”
    It is precisely this kind of short-sighted, simplistic and self-centred reasoning which keeps us from making the changes that would provide the kind of social environment which Rex and Ray presumably want. That talk is really nothing more than cheap propaganda for a certain type of authoritarian and reactionary conservative political thinking.
    We will not improve our social environment if we just rely on forcing trouble makers to “go somewhere else”, as this will simply encourage other communities to behave similarly, sending their difficult and unwanted cases into our domain.
    We have to face up to the problems and attempt to manage existing dysfunctional individuals and try to prevent the reproduction of these behaviours in the younger people. We will get nowhere for ourselves or our children if we abrogate these responsibilities.
    We do have to expect others to behave responsibly, and demand that they do so, but making ourselves anti-social will not help solve the problems or prevent anti-social behaviour from continuing to disrupt our lives.
    Ray also claims, and Rex endorses, that all they “ever hear from the huggers is that alcohol is evil, and we have to cut our consumption to help the poor unfortunates”.
    Get real Rex and Ray. Alcohol regulation reformers are not saying alcohol is evil. We are not prohibitionists. What we are saying is that excessive consumption of alcohol by individuals and groups of individuals triggers a lot of bad behaviour and harm; and consequently alcohol has to be regulated realistically so that this volatile, potentially dangerous substance is consumed as carefully and responsibly as possible, in the same way that other toxic substances are regulated to ensure that they cause the least harm to innocent bystanders and other vulnerable people.
    When Ray states that he doesn’t “care any more if they drink themselves into a stupor or worse, if you can’t handle the grog, don’t drink!” and Rex endorses this attitude, are they being sincere?
    How can they claim to want a better social environment and at the same time advocate such simplistic nonsense?
    Rex, how can you expect your arguments to be taken seriously if you do not oppose excessive consumption of alcohol by problem drinkers?
    That kind of [argument] does nothing to help attain the changes we all want, and indicates a degree of bad faith on the part of those who make such unhelpful provocative statements.

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  16. Hal Duell
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:44 am

    You are absolutely right. The very survival of Alice Springs is in the balance these days, and that balance will tip one way or another depending on whether or not we, as a community, can find the will to live with agreed laws.
    The many residents now calling Alice home include local families and families from around the world, and we all grew up learning different laws around the family hearth. If we are to live together in a functioning community, we must all agree first to acknowledge the need for common laws to bind us together. Then we can start the process of bringing our different laws into alignment.
    In the public sphere on our common ground, any law that only applies to one group has to be subservient to laws that apply to all. Unless we do that, civilisation will break down, and incidents such as we saw last week will happen again and again.
    Bringing our different laws into alignment is a work in progress. I welcome the appearance of the NT police commissioner in Alice Springs. I am also glad the last Town Council had the foresight to pass an updated list of by-laws governing how we are to act on our common ground.
    Respect is crucial. Not just to each other, but to our law makers and to our law enforcers.

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  17. Russell Guy
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Rex and Ray, I recommend you Google the Overview of Australian Indigenous Health Status 2011, pub. 1/12 @ http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au. I’ve presented those stats several times, but if you go into the Alice Springs News archive and search under my name, you’ll see the more salient stats.
    In relation to your claim that there are no stats on CONSUMPTION, the NTG (22/2/11) stated that “Territorians consume alcohol at 1.5 times the national average” and I underestimated the cost of that abuse at $642m p.a. See also PAAC release (1/4/11).

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  18. Posted May 4, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    @4Ray, well said. @5Russell, there is no such thing as ‘statistically proven, nationally over-represented NT consumption figures’. Statistics on SALES are available, there is no such thing as statistics on CONSUMPTION.
    On points raised re Council Rangers working after hours: Why not have an MOU signed between Council and Night Patrol so that Night Patrol can do these tasks after hours as they are already patrolling Alice Springs roads etc throughout the night.

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  19. David Chewings
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Don’t you think there are matters of greater importance that need your mind to attend to right now?
    Matters of life and death indeed and the very nature and survival of Alice Springs as a community.
    David Chewings.
    P.s.: I will attend to your request later as a matter of record.

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  20. Rod Cramer
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I guess it’s too much to expect everyone reading these pages to employ reasonable literary comprehension skills (or maybe there is another reason) that would save them wasting all our time “attacking” me about things I clearly wasn’t referring to, and while real, quite irrelavent to the point I was making. A topic for another day, but I doubt very much Council has dealt with too many of those campsites – in fact I know how hard it is to get Council to go outside their comfort zone on exactly that topic.
    Hal, I don’t need your patronising, nor do I need to table in Council something they informed us of in a public Council meting. You also are missing the point.

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  21. Hal Duell
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I dispute that we are dealing with “matters of fact” when discussing whether or not Council “were happy to steal the meager belongings of any countryman camped in the Todd”.
    But if I am wrong, and if a theft has occurred, then let’s see or hear the evidence. Otherwise this bandying about of loose talk of theft on an on-line forum is just that – loose talk.
    At the time of the council debates on the new by-laws, then Alderman Jane Clark was challenged over whether or not she had made a reference to Council burning blankets. Council vigorously denied doing any such thing. Alderman Clark denied making such a statement, but when asked to apologise to Council by Mayor Ryan at a public meeting, an apology was given.
    Without substantiation of the allegations of theft which you and Rod seem to be making, is an apology from the two of you now in order?

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  22. Ray
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    @Russell. I get pretty sick and tired of being the one that has to make the sacrifice because of all the others who refuse to take responsibility for themselves. If they can’t abide by the rules of this society, go somewhere else. I see no reason I can’t enjoy the right to buy alcohol and drink it responsibly, like I can do in any similarly sized town in this country. All I ever hear from the huggers is that alcohol is evil, and we have to cut our consumption to help the poor unfortunates. I greatly don’t care any more if they drink themselves into a stupor or worse, if you can’t handle the grog, don’t drink! I’ve gotten blotto many times in my youth, and moderated my behaviour as I have grown up. It’s not that hard

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  23. Russell Guy
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Ray, you make some good points amongst a lot of tired old arguments, but running a small army of patrol officers and more police etc. has to come, not from government grants, but from a finite fund of taxpayer dollars which are largely occupied in policing alcohol-abuse.
    I don’t know about you, but I pay my taxes and work very hard to do it, so I’m claiming the right to say where I believe it’s being misappropriated.
    The cost of alcohol abuse in the NT is in excess of $300m p.a. plus additional servicing costs by police, health, courts, correctional services, etc, at the expense of education, housing, rates, etc. If we keep going like this, more will have to given to the great idol of grog, which is never satisfied.
    What amazes me is that alcohol, the chief cause of this expense, including woefully planned and massively expensive Rehab options, is considered untouchable by Alice Springs councillors and the Leader of the Opposition.
    They will not address the statistically-proven, nationally overly-represented NT consumption figures. The power of this legalised, under-regulated, out of control, lifestyle drug to hold us hostage is something for adults to behold, while kids stare and wonder.
    I don’t think too many have the developmental focus to consider what it means for their future, but if it’s a tragedy now, what will it be like as lawlessness increases?
    We in Alice Springs still have the ability to pull some levers and show the nation, and the world, what is possible in alcohol reform, but not for much longer.

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  24. David Chewings
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Hal, we are dealing with matters of fact which in terms of local politics are now ancient history. Let us all move with the times otherwise the new council will do no more than chase its own tail while the town misses one more real opportunity to “go forward.”

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  25. Hal Duell
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    @David and @Rod
    Can we then look forward to the tabling of your evidence and appropriate apologies and restitution sought from the Alice Springs Town Council? Their public meetings this month (May 2012) are on Monday the 14th and Monday the 28th.
    We don’t allow theft from urban drifters, and there is no reason to allow it from Council.

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  26. Ray
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    @2 Rod, I ride through bushland near town regularly. The amount of crap that I see dumped in and around these areas is disgusting. Filthy blankets, often caked in dried blood and shit, surrounded by tins of food, drink containers etc all swarming with flies are becoming a blight on our town. This is occurring more and more regularly. I applaud the council workers for putting their health at risk and collecting this rubbish. I have never had any of my camping gear “stolen” or taken away, because it is all cleaned, and stored in my shed behind the house that I bought from working hard. I am part of the community I choose to live in, and accept that if I want to be a part of this community I will follow by the rules they have in place. If people choose to ignore those rules and it affects my ability to enjoy a lifestyle I should be able to expect, I expect them do be dealt with according to the law / rules.

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  27. Ray
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I believe that we need to “do what it takes” Hal. We need the new council to divert funds from projects or issues that could be put on hold and allocate their funds where they are needed. We need our NT Pollies to step up and help the council in finding grants from the government. If there is a day patrol, night patrol and youth patrol, surely we need to work collaboratively with these organisations that are already funded by us, to enable the bylaws to be enforced. If we need to pay the rangers to work after hours to get the job done, we should expect all tiers of government to find the funding and find a solution. Not finding a solution will mean the beautiful town of Alice Springs will loose its appeal to visitors and locals. There are a lot of people looking at cutting their losses and leaving at the moment.

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  28. Rod Cramer
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Thanks Dave.
    I make a practice of not “shooting from the lip”, if I’ve asserted it, rest assured the evidence exists. And I haven’t finished yet. Council made no secret of their procedure at the time, openly discussed in meetings. Of course they didn’t call it stealing, but when you remove something in the full knowledge that it does belong to someone, that they will be back for it, and that it is essential to them, with absolutely no intention of even finding the owner, let alone giving it back, with no law to support your action, what else is it? For a substantial period it was just taken to the dump (Council’s words), fresh food, clothes, utensils, bedding, art supplies, anything.
    I was neither condemning nor supporting the camping in the Todd. Clearly I am highlighting the double standard Council (and the Police) employs, for whatever reason, and now we all have to live with one of the outcomes, none more so than the victims, which do number more than the last two.

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  29. David Chewings
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

    @ Hal Duell
    Wake up to yourself Hal! This was the norm, the modus operandi during the first days of those horrid ASTC by-laws twinned with the permanence of the NTER policies.
    I saw it so often first hand when I was cleaning up the Todd with assistance from many of the campers back then.
    David Chewings

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  30. Hal Duell
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:55 am

    That’s a big call, Rod, saying that Council “were happy to steal the meager belongings of any countryman camped in the Todd”. I hope you won’t just leave it at that. If you can substantiate the statement, Council will have some questions to answer.
    Conversely, if you can’t substantiate it, you are way out of line.
    About the Rangers’ working hours, is any ratepayer willing to cop the increase in rates that would be needed to have Rangers patrolling the Todd to enforce by-laws later than 9pm?
    I am mildly surprised that these by-laws are still not seen as necessary from both a public safety and a hygiene perspective. Perhaps if we could get over the silly idea that the Todd is still a “wild river” where if flows through the built-up urban area of Alice Springs, it might become easier to enforce them.

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  31. Ray
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I remember back in the 80s when I was at the Sunshine Coast for a sporting event. It was school holidays and there were no vacancies in any of the motels that we could afford, so we decided to sleep in the car. We were woken by the police and told in no uncertain terms that we could not sleep in our car on the esplanade, and were promptly moved on.
    Even two years ago when I was on the Gold Coast for holidays there are red and white signs everywhere stating that sleeping in public (even in your car) was illegal.
    It still amazes me that here in Alice Springs it is tolerated (effectively permitted), in the river and in many of the crown land reserves around town.
    It does not take a lot to spot them, the rising smoke from their campfire or ramshackle tents are a giveaway.
    Where do they shower or go to the toilet? Why do we allow children to be brought up like this?
    If there are not enough rangers, employ more, at a higher pay rate if necessary. Stagger their starting times, and back them up when they enforce the by-laws. To those who say it will just move the problem somewhere else, my response is, good, that means it is not here.

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  32. David Chewings
    Posted May 4, 2012 at 8:35 am

    @ Rod Cramer Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:56 am. Very well said Rod. I do appreciate your consistent efforts especially in relation to town council incompetency.
    Regards, David Chewings.

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  33. Rod Cramer
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Rex Neindorf is right, but the issue doesn’t end there. Over the last 10 or so years I have asked Council on numerous occasions why aren’t they enforcing their bylaw in relation to camping in public places within the Municipality.
    I did this essentially because as a citizen of this community I was ashamed that Council, for much of that time, were happy to steal the meager belongings of any countryman camped in the Todd, and make efforts of various substance to move them on, all the while turning a very blind eye to anyone else breaching the exact same bylaw, but parked in various car parks, streets and open space about the place, often within sight and “spitting distance” of the less fortunate in the Todd.
    Council’s response has always been along the lines of “it is only illegal between 9pm and 6am, and our rangers knock off at 6pm”. When I then queried the role of police in this issue, I have on several occasions been advised by Council that every police officer in the NT is empowered to enforce Council bylaws. I can’t recall their exact response when I asked whether they had encouraged the police to enforce this bylaw in relation to those above the bed of the Todd, but their response was never enthusiastic.
    I in no way am I trying to shift any responsibility away from the perpetrators onto their victims. But I believe both Council and the police have to take a serious look at the implications of their own long standing inaction.
    I have raised at least three other issues with Council that are of similar consequence. Unfortunately Council has established a track record going back at least three decades of not heeding warnings on serious issues that could lead to serious harm or even death (which unfortunately has happened), something they manage to look very “poker faced” about when reminded.
    Yes, we all have a responsibility to reduce the possibility of these unacceptable events, and sadly I wish now I had done even more to prod Council into meaningful action. I can only try harder.

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  34. Posted May 3, 2012 at 10:13 am

    @1 Good coverage as always, Erwin.
    But Crystal, ABC Local Radio and ABC News in Alice Springs covered this issue extensively yesterday throughout the day. Michael Murphy was interviewed on the Drive program and mentioned over multiple news bulletins and on ABC TV News at 7pm.

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  35. Leigh Childs
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 9:59 am

    I find it so hard to get my head around the fact that one of the alleged attackers is only 17 years old. I mean 17. I think back to when my own sons were 17 and they were just kids doing kid things, big kid things admittedly. What kind of home life and his [so far] experience of life leads this boy to think that this behaviour is somehow OK ? In whose culture is this OK ?
    I am so gobsmacked/apalled/shocked that I find it hard to find the words to express myself. How would his Mother/family be feeling right now ? Is there ‘payback’ for this sort of crime…..?

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  36. Crystal
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Perhaps even more disheartening is the fact this was [not] widely shared via the local radio station. And even if it was, nowhere near enough was mentioned to enable Alice Springs residents to reflect, share and spread the word of mouth. It’s very disturbing that many of us do not find out until the day after, and perhaps not even until the next paper on Friday. How can we expect people to look out for suspicious behaviours or inform crime stoppers if we don’t communicate or we aren’t kept up to date.
    [ED – The Alice Springs News Online posted the story at 2:37pm yesterday, May 2.)

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  37. Hal Duell
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:25 am

    If it is true that these [alleged] rapists were armed, then when the NT police catch them, and they will, I hope for two main outcomes.
    First, that whoever left a firearm in an exposed place so it could be stolen is brought up on charges.
    And second, that the courts treat this crime as serious and don’t go the token punishment route. Don’t care their age, don’t care their hard luck story.

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  38. Bob Durnan
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Excessive consumption of alcohol is heavily correlated with the vast majority of these incidents Steve. Alcohol acts as the disinhibitor, or trigger, for much violent behaviour.
    How can you expect to be taken seriously on these issues when you actively call for the greater availability of alcohol in such a dangerous context, where so many people are susceptible to excessive consumption and are in the habit of using violence to get their way?
    How do you reconcile your stance on alcohol with your alleged concern for the wellbeing of tourists?
    If you get your way with increased hours of trade, less restrictions on cheap products and less monitoring of sales to problem drinkers, then we can expect to see an explosion of drunken violent assaults, sexual assaults and homicides, such as we have not experienced since the 2005/2006 period.
    Who in their right mind would want that to happen?

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  39. Posted May 2, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Hi Steve,
    It is actually against Council regulations for people to camp anywhere within town limits. They must be in a hotel, backpacker hostel, caravan park etc. This is well known, however a lot of people try to travel as cheap as possible and set up their camper van in a town street. This is not good for anyone. I will raise this issue with TCA.

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  40. Steve Brown
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    And we wonder why we have a declining tourist market! Three months ago I had a knock on my door at White Gums by three French Girls looking for somewhere safe, “out of Town”, to stay for a couple of days, they were very frightened after being harassed twice on two separate nights camping in their van on two different Alice Springs streets. How often does this occur I wonder? How many battered young ambassadors are we sending off to spread the message that Alice Springs does not look after its visitors. It is the obligation of all of us to do so! See someone camping in the streets or on the roads close to town knock on their doors and warn them that it simply isn’t safe! Go stay in a park.

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