Further in reply to Hal Duell (Posted June 13, 2012 …

Comment on Shires: either revenue must go up or expectations, down by Bob Durnan.

Further in reply to Hal Duell (Posted June 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm): Hal,
I agree that “it’s unrealistic to imagine every small outstation can have all the amenities needed for modern life, amenities like roads, schools, stores and medical clinics.”
Despite this, I believe those few outstations which are consistently occupied do need to have their access roads graded, plus sometimes some other road repairs, to enable their occupants to maintain access to their closest “schools, stores and medical clinics” without constantly damaging their vehicles in the process. To do otherwise will only worsen the already considerable problems of over-crowding and social dysfunction in the main settlements, and risk completely wasting the substantial and often worthwhile investments in housing and essential services that have been made on the outstations in the last forty years.
This necessity should stand beside the undeniable need for much more robustly constructed and better maintained connector roads between most of the communities, or settlements. In the west-north-west sector of greater central Australia out from Alice, these settlements include places such as Nyirrpi, Willowra, Yuelamu (formerly Mt Allan), Walungurru (formerly Kintore), Kiwirrkurra, Balgo, Watiyawanu (formerly Mt Liebig) and Ikuntji (formerly Haasts Bluff), for example, as well as the few places anointed as “growth towns” in this sector, such as Hermannsburg, Papunya, Yuendumu and Lajamanu.
These places are much larger than outstations (or homelands as they are sometimes known, especially in the Top End). Outstations consist mainly of single extended family groups living in a handful of houses and /or tin shacks, some of which may not be occupied. Outstations do not normally have schools, stores or clinics, except for some of the larger outstations, or groups of outstations, at Urapuntja (aka Utopia) in the Sandover region to the north-east of Alice, which do have primary school buildings. (The many Hermannsburg outstations had three outstation schools operating in the ’80s and ’90s, but these are no longer functioning, owing to too few students in their vicinity. Attempts at providing schooling and clinics out of the backs of Toyota Troop-carriers, and delivered by travelling staff and local assistants under trees or in tin sheds, were made in the mid-to-late 1970s, but ceased decades ago on most other outstations in central Australia).
On the other hand, the settlements, or communities, like the twelve cited above, mostly contain multiple clans and many family groups, many houses of varying quality, usually have much overcrowding, and most seldom have vacant houses for any serious length of time unless a death of an important person who has lived in the house has occurred. These places usually have what is by contemporary Australian standards mostly rudimentary infrastructure that includes a school, a clinic, some very poor sport/recreation facilities, some staff housing of varied quality, small basic council/shire offices, access to an airstrip of some description, and some poorly bitumenised streets.
These places, unlike outstations, do need to have some of “the amenities needed for modern life”, but these amenities – roads, schools (including pre-schools), stores, police stations, youth/recreation centres, medical clinics and family/early childhood centres – need to be of sufficient standard, quality and size to meet the needs of the local population and the people who often have to move to the community for a few years to ensure the services are able to meet the needs of Australian citizens in the 21st century.
If the Australian tax payers aren’t willing to foot the bills for this infrastructure and the workforce that must go with it, then they are going to be saddled with a mostly perpetually dependent and increasingly troublesome remote population which will gravitate towards places like Alice Springs anyway, but which will have neither the education nor health to permit them to go forth into the wider world for secondary and further education, training, jobs and life’s adventures without falling foul of too many problems and traps, and thus becoming an even greater burden on the state and its beleaguered tax payers.

Bob Durnan Also Commented

Shires: either revenue must go up or expectations, down
Re Hal Duell (Posted June 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm): the problem of feuding families, clans and language groups does follow many people into town. You only have to look at the regular playing out of major scenes from on-going Yuendumu, Willowra, Laramba, Watiyawanu and Ntaria feuds occurring in Alice Springs during the last couple of years to see this. However some of the intensity of of these skirmishes could be lessened were the alcohol tap to be turned down to a more manageable level.


Shires: either revenue must go up or expectations, down
The sooner the notion of “growth towns” in central Australia is discarded the better. It is only serving to confuse the issue and divert attention from rational planning for the future of remote communities and their relationships to each other and to Alice Springs.
There is little logic in the charade being played out about these local growth towns, as there is very little apparent or likely economic, legal or social basis for the establishment of viable private businesses beyond a handful of single person or single family or other very small enterprises in them.
Likewise there is no foreseeable ability by either the NT government or the Shires to invest sufficient resources in these places to change their current economic and social trajectories.
The figures that Kieran quotes about roads clearly indicate the problems. To prioritise spending on local roads (presumably mainly to outstations) within 50 km of Yuendumu above the completion of sealing the Tanami as far as Yuendumu, or over the need to upgrade and properly maintain the entire lengths of the arterial roads from Yuendumu to Willowra and Nyirrpi, or the Willowra-Ti Tree connector, would appear to be sheer folly. Similarly, to privilege other development in places like Yuendumu (which was losing population well before it was declared a growth town, and appears to have gone on doing so at a greater rate since then) and Lajamanu over the rest of the Stuart electorate communities on the basis of fanciful preferential status rather than allocating funds according to need is indefensible.
There are strong demonstrable needs for infrastructure investment in many other remote communities which haven’t been dubbed growth towns, and it is unbelievable that senior politicians and public servants are continuing to bury their heads in the sand about this.
The fact that the major towns in the NT continue to have their astonishing sporting and other civic facilities upgraded year after year while significant bush communities go for decades begging to get culverts installed and sufficient grading and repairs on their main access roads so they can safely send an ambulance to town or otherwise try to conduct their necessary business in a safe manner speaks for itself.
The standard of sports facilities, where they exist at all, in most remote communities is worse than shameful. Airstrips are often inadequate for night time and wet weather evacuations.
It is rare to find an adequate youth centre or recreation hall or civic centre building in these places, despite exceptionally high needs.
People in Alice Springs wonder why people from the bush want to escape from life in these badly under-resourced and neglected places …


Recent Comments by Bob Durnan

Booze report: What the government is likely to do.
In response to R Henry on Oct 20th, on who gets the extra markup money?
There is very little brand loyalty to the cheap brands of Chardonnay amongst our dedicated alcohol-drinking punters: They are after the cheapest hit of alcohol for their buck, regardless of its host liquid, not for their next taste of the rank Calabrian / Bortoli products.
Since the vast majority of shoppers generally shift their choice to better value for money when confronted with higher prices (and this happened when Clare Martin knocked the cheapest wines and sherries off the shelves in October 2006: there was a massive shift to beer), there is unlikely to be very much windfall profits via extra markup.
To the extent that there are any windfalls, they are unlikely to be anywhere near commensurate with the decrease in profits that are likely to occur because of the overall impacts of a number of the proposed reforms.
To see if I am correct, keep your ears open for the sounds of the interstate alcohol industry cartels – manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and their paid public relations reps squealing about the alleged injustice, unfairness and unworkability of these visionary evidence-based reforms.
It is going to be an interesting war, and the outcome will decide whether the NT has any future worth speaking about.


Elferink and Gooda clash over underage marriage
Peter, Posted June 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm: some young girls may resist promised marriage more strongly these days, but I doubt whether some are in a position to do so.
It has been authoritatively reported by youth workers in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek in the last few years that rape of young women is rife in these towns.


I’m not kungka, I’m arelhe
Does anybody know if the hours when the Arrernte words teaching program is held at the Apmere angkentye-kenhe are available somewhere on the net, or anywhere else?
I thought I had seen it advertised for every Wednesday night at 6pm, but this doesn’t appear to be the case?
I have gone there at this time, found it closed, and no notice or info on the door.
Anybody wanna clarify here?


Judge Borchers’ position should be assessed: CAALAS
Alex, of course one part-time worker with CAALAS is not able to, in your words, “work closely with EVERY SINGLE young person going throughout Central Australian court system, their family, community, lawyer, school and other service-providers to provide the young person with the support they need to get back on track and stay out of trouble”.
That is exactly my point, and why it is wrong for you to lay the blame on that worker, as you did when you wrote “if your PART-TIME advocacy programme co-ordinator did her job after this child’s court appearance in March, then he wouldn’t have appeared in court again in May.”
As I said earlier: That advocacy programme co-ordinator performed her job with great diligence and dedication, and cannot be held to blame for any alleged failure of duty of care, as the case load of such cases far exceeds the ability of one worker to cover even a small proportion of them. She was doing her job very well, covering as many of the cases as she could, but she wasn’t a magician. So your cheap jibe at her reputation is wrongly placed, and you should withdraw it.


Judge Borchers’ position should be assessed: CAALAS
Evelyne Roullet, Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:42 pm: Ralph was not talking about where or how the kid should be housed. He was referring to the bigger issue of the huge trauma in his life, caused by the alleged killing of his mother by his father. Kids who experience this level of trauma need intensive help and support, and we need to make sure that they get it, from wherever it may be best available.


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