Thanks Dave (David Chewings, Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:00 …

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.

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.

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.
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.


Recent Comments by Bob Durnan

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.


Fewer pokies, help for gambling addicts
Bev Emmott, I don’t understand some of your comments, but I get the drift. “Where are the drunks in Sadadeen,” indeed?
Maybe you could try some of these activities?
Swimming, athletics, archery, shooting, motorbike riding, keeping bees, knitting, embroidery, playing pool, darts, training dogs, raising birds, keeping cats,
following non-Aboriginal art at Araluen, the Art Shed and elsewhere, doing painting, visiting the prisoners, assisting the disabled, helping young single mums, volunteer work, making sculpture, writing, cooking, helping Maureen York, soothing Matthew Langdan’s feelings, dining out, dining in with friends, cycling, walking, running, netball … etc etc etc.
There are not enough hours in the day, or days in the week, or weeks in the year!


The millions and the misery
Re Michael Dean’s mean minded aspersion against the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) staff (Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:37 am: “Amazing … $32m budget and $28m in salaries. They know who to look after, don’t they.”)
Michael, you need to stop and think a bit before you make statements like that.
Consider that the 333 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions on the Congress payroll include about 20 FTE doctor positions, covering seven town clinics (at Gap Rd, Sadadeen Shops, the Diarama Village shopping centre, the Alukura Women’s Clinic on Percy Court, the male health Ingkintja, the youth mental health service at headspace, the after-hours service for the whole community at the hospital), plus a clinic at Amoonguna and four remote clinics (at Mutitjulu, Utju, Ntaria and Ltyentye Apurte).
Most of the rest of the staff are nurses and other health and allied health practitioners, working over these same twelve sites, as well as doing outreach into other services and agencies.
If you deduct the salary packages and on-costs of the doctors from the total, you will see that the average annual wage packages, including on-costs, of the 313 FTE non-doctor staff is around $75,000 per annum.
This is not excessive, considering their skills, the difficult jobs that many of them perform, and the remote locations in which many of them work.
In the last 20 years this workforce has contributed greatly to improving the life expectancy of local Aboriginal people and reducing the gap with other Centralian residents.
Considering the continuing shorter average life expectancies of Aboriginal people, and the gap between their health and the average health levels of other Australians, do you really think that this expenditure is not warranted, Mr. Dean?


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