The Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) submission to the Coroner …

Comment on Send in the taskforce: councillor by Russell Guy.

The Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) submission to the Coroner in the tragic Briscoe Inquest was reported in The Australian on Monday (25/6/12).
The recommendations are consistent with what many of us have been saying in the AS News and the Advocate regarding the immediate need for alcohol supply reduction. Not prison farms for rehab, not more law and order, but a floor price, a take-away sales free day/s and a reduction in opening hours from 10am to noon.
There are many well-intentioned people in Alice who are not even aware that two pubs sell take-away seven days a week. This is a fatal flaw in any plan for this town’s future.

Russell Guy Also Commented

Send in the taskforce: councillor
Ray @ June 27. 1:11AM. Hi Ray, your post reminded me of the old argument about a means to an end. Sometimes, we use the means (alcohol regulation) to achieve an end that we can’t live with. It’s time for change.
The end of forty years of liberal laws, where we currently have take-away alcohol being sold seven days a week, has produced a very expensive social problem, but this is where I really want to engage with your argument about all of us being equal under the law.
The cultural difference that underpins much of life in Alice between Aboriginal people and those of a more European background, is seen not exclusively through the prism of law, but in inequalities in affordable housing, educational opportunities, welfare, prison and health statistics.
There are terminologies for why this is so in the social sciences. Accelerated cultural change is one of my favourite, whereby change from a way of life has come upon Aboriginal people (whose first language in the majority of cases, is not English), at a rapid rate, causing confusion, psychological stress and shorter life spans, etc, than the majority of Australians.
You are right in saying that more things need to change than alcohol supply, but the focus on alcohol-abuse, welfare reform and job creation is an obvious place to begin.
Cultural difference is hard to explain, even though it’s all around us in central Australia. It’s something you have to appreciate. George Bernard Shaw once said “to be in Hell is to drift: to be in Heaven is to steer.” Guess who’s steering social change in Australia and on the streets of Alice?
You want Aboriginal people to fit into this scheme, but their cultures are different and they don’t have the skills mentioned above to negotiate, because of the historical situation that still pertains.
I maintain that we’re trying to put a circle into a box. The circle is found in Aboriginal art and the box is found in the geometry of Western science. I make a fire (in a circle of rocks) each morning out bush and people stand around it. The TV is a rectangle. There has to be a better accommodation of cultural difference.
In conclusion, I would like to draw your attention to the Northern Territory Police Association’s (NTPA) submission to the Coroner’s inquest into the death of a young Aboriginal man in the Alice watch house in January.
The NTPA, on behalf of our police, make some welcome statements regarding the “soul-destroying” work of taking Aboriginal alcoholics into custody. You will find the links to that in the AS News.

Send in the taskforce: councillor
Rex @ June 21. 11:59pm. Thanks for continuing to engage with this situation. Cr Brown, Ray, Jason Newman and yourself, et al deserve a medal or at least a cup of billy tea around the fire, BUT, you have side-stepped the one positive point that I made in reply to Ray.
All very well to apportion blame and who hasn’t made mistakes, but turning down the supply of alcohol is one way that we can improve the dysfunction in Alice. In fact, I’d go further. It’s critical to the three points of breaking this la la land cycle – alcohol reform, welfare reform and job creation.
By continuing to salute the mighty grog god as if it’s sacrosanct, it will grow more powerful – emphasis on ‘more’ marketing, more sly grogging, more policing as it has since 1984’s 2 km law.
Let’s start somewhere around the fire and maybe we can organise a trip to your Reptile Park for some of those kids who need fathers and mothers to show that they care about them and their future in this town.
I know you’ve had terrible experiences, but most of us have had our feathers ruffled and clipped over the years. Let’s have a go while we still can. Are you interested?

Send in the taskforce: councillor
Ray @ June 20. 8: 56pm. Thanks for your thoughtful post. Please allow me to respond by saying that I think you are making a racist statement in identifying Aboriginal people as being solely responsible for the social dysfunction in the Alice community. I know “it stands out” and I appreciate your frustration.
I remember the introduction of the 2km law in 1984 and had to work with it. I asked the police for help at the time, but they responded with, “we don’t make the laws.” Quite so.
I think I have a little knowledge of alcohol restrictions in Alice, so I’m not just shooting from the hip and I agree with you that the current regime could be improved, but the NTG’s Enough is Enough measures have statistically improved the situation since their introduction in 2007. It would have been far worse without them.
Along with many others, I advocate a take-away sales free day/s and a floor price (a reduction in public bar trading hours would be a good thing, say from 10AM opening, back to noon), but we’re such “good drinkers in the NT”, it’s a hard one to live down and keep one down, much less close down for the good of the community, but so was the abolition of the British slave trade.
Regarding your advice to “broaden my scope”, if you Google my name in the Alice Springs News archives, you will find my recommendations for the overhaul of Centrelink.
It seems to me, with a post-graduate degree in Sociology, among other things, if you’ll pardon my modesty, that in a laissez faire democracy such as we have in Australia, whereby many people go along with whatever happens and/or complain from the sidelines until the next election comes along, we have structural problems that are not easily overcome, especially, in a Rights-based environment where certain activists agitate for their rights above those of the community good, simultaneously reducing certain freedoms that were once taken for granted. We see it in the alcohol debate too.
The legislative framework for governance is often limited, slow in adjusting to social pathology, unwieldy, inefficient, duplicated, etc. and such is the pace of modern life, that few of us have the time to listen, while the colossus of government rolls on and over.
However, one has to start somewhere in Alice and reducing the supply of alcohol remains an obvious target in improving our community’s dysfunction. Since 1984, we have allowed numerous take-away alcohol outlets to supply seven days a week, to the point where the expense far outweighs any benefit to the community.
We have arrived at a social crossroads in a transitioning economy where only the mining industry is referred to as a saviour. This morning, it was announced that housing construction is down 12.5p.c. in the first quarter.
I’ve gone cold turkey on grog after 43 years. It’s not necessary for life. In fact, the benefits are amazing in so many ways. I expect to get shot at for saying this, but how about you?

Recent Comments by Russell Guy

Feel free to try this at home
The last Sunday in March is apparently ‘Neighbourhood Day’ around Australia. This morning, I was given a free cup of tea at a market stall, announcing the event.
A gent next to me said, “G’day, neighbour.”
I was momentarily affronted that he would break into my morning to tell me this after having had my home broken into during the weak.
I told him so and said that I would get over it, but it’s not the first time I’ve been robbed and I’m bruised.
The flyer that came with the free cuppa said: “The principal aim of Neighbour Day is to build better relationships with the people who live around us. Neighbours are important because good relationships with others can and do change communities, connections help prevent loneliness, isolation and depression. Reach out to families with children and teenagers in your community to help them connect and belong.”
I haven’t exactly been shy about doing this for most of my adult life, but I’m tired, burnt-out, lonely and depressed enough to be affronted by a simple act of goodwill from an anonymous man, posing as a neighbour at a market stall on Saturday morning.
Does anyone else feel like this?

Man in a hurry, surrounded by people who were not
It was about a quarter of a century ago – how time flies – a few years before I undertook a postgraduate Master of Social Science degree in sociology, anthropology and cross-cultural psychology (JCU, 2000), published the core of my thesis as BAPTISED AMONG CROCODILES: A History of the Daintree Aboriginal Mission 1940-1962 (Boolarong Press, Brisbane).
And it was before I did a further five years, primarily in alcohol dependency mentoring at a remote Central Australian community, this after 15 years of working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations around the country, mainly producing recordings and events for indigenous dance bands, that I thought that Alice Springs would become a kind of New York.
People from all over the US move to the Big Apple in search of greater opportunity for their dreams and aspirations and it’s no different among the Indigenous of Central Australia.
But I wonder if local town planners have factored this movement into their vision for the future?
Not so long ago, the too-often criticised police were talking about moving youth back to their communities, but the word is out that the purposelessness and abuse associated with these desert satellites is causing enough concern to render assisted passage to somewhere else.
These problems were first mooted, to my knowledge, by R M Williams in the 1930s who noted that the desert tribes were on a collision course with liberal alcohol supply.
Fast forward to the Gunner Government acting on most of the Riley Report recommendations (with the notable exception of banning Sunday takeaway).
It’s no coincidence that one of the most troubled neighbourhoods in Tennant Creek, where Sunday takeaway is currently under emergency extension, is referred to as “the Bronx.”
It’s early days in the implementation of various supply reduction measures, but 40 years of critical mass in the alcohol supply infrastructure cannot be exonerated for the Shakespearean tragedy of progressive Western values.
Beyond the alcohol plague, assuming that it will be reeled in, governments will have to give thought to how remote community families and former alcoholics will be accommodated in towns like Alice Springs, with attendant social support and employment opportunity.
The concept of safe or dry, no grog houses or Mandatory Rehabilitation Centres, will need to be extended to entire neighbourhoods, rising above the refugee or migrant settlements of yore.
This type of housing estate requires considerable financing, planning and input if it is to be built and assisted to succeed above the expectations of many of those who are complicit in causing the tragedy of lost generations and future opportunity.
It will transform the current vision of Alice Springs, but first of all, it needs to be put on the drawing board.
Ursula Le Guin, the novelist who passed away a couple of months ago, recently said: “I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope.
“We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.”
Tracker was one. Surely, we can learn from what defeated his vision or the Enlightenment has bitten the dust.

Man in a hurry, surrounded by people who were not
I spoke to Tracker a few times during the Robert Tickner period. One of his more infamous quotes was referring to Aboriginal people as a farm for whitefellers to manage and be well paid for producing the current tragedy.
Quite a few informed commentators are now talking about assisting those who want to move from remote communities into towns where employment and education opportunities either exist or could be set up to end the hopelessness and various forms of abuse that can go with a purposeless life on a remote community.
More than one is talking about overcrowded housing as a major cause of dysfunction. I’m stating the obvious.
If Alice was to be a centre for remote community refugees to retrain, restart and realise a future, who would build the houses and where would they be built?
Who would pay the electricity bills while the transition is fostered?
Would Tangentyere and other organisations be resourced to manage this situation?
Could it even be done?
Tracker seemed to think so.
The Federal Government did it to resettle migrants.
I recall Bob Beadman saying a couple of years ago that alcoholism would bankrupt the NT, or words to that affect and finally, we have a floor price, but in moving from generational alcoholism to the provision of basic housing, it appears that there are too many hard questions not being asked or acted upon.

Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill: it’s not over yet
@ Fiona: There’s some kind of irony in appealing for symbolic unity under an Aboriginal flag when Kittles, an Aboriginal-owned company is continuously trashed by children of Native Title holders.
It suggests that there’s some other law at work and that trying to construct a body of politically-inspired law has limited chances of changing anything.
Whilst I don’t doubt the sincerity of your attempt to unify, I make the suggestion that the practical method of law enforcement, alcohol supply reduction and housing in Alice Springs for those who may wish to leave remote communities for education and employment opportunities in town has better prospects than adding to the divisions on the hill.

Chamber of Commerce in a grog Catch 22
@ Paul Parker, posted 1st March, 2018 at 6:49am: How appropriate was ‘Sit-down money’ and the ‘Two kilometer law’, Paul?
Do you absolve the critical mass of take-away outlets in the 5km radius of the CBD as having any impact on the situation you describe?
Generational alcoholism has something to do with the present historical ennui and the police have stated that they can’t arrest their way out of it, so we’ll have to agree to disagree on failures to deal appropriately with intoxication and disturbing the peace.

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