So Rex reckons Ray (Posted May 4, 2012 at 4:24 …

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

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.

Bob Durnan Also Commented

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


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


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


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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