Russell, On this, as on a great many other things, …

Comment on Home at last? by Bob Durnan.

Russell, On this, as on a great many other things, I strongly disagree with Betty.
I am not saying that Stuart didn’t need or shouldn’t have carried a gun. I’m just saying that I don’t believe that, under all the circumstances, it would be appropriate to have it featured so prominently, if at all, in any commemorative feature about explorers in public parks in Alice Springs.
Despite John Howard’s brave and far-sighted moves to reduce the power of gun culture within Australian society it is still a powerful force and there are still far too many kids being raised to regard possession of guns as normal and even the mark of manhood.
We don’t feel compelled to include Stuart’s horse, compass, or many other essential items that helped him, so why have a gun out front? It’s not a matter of whether he personally ever used the weapon inappropriately. It’s just that he is emblematic of that epoch’s international caste known as “the explorers”, and many of them did. To my way of thinking, the imagery is wrong in our times and in this place.

Bob Durnan Also Commented

Home at last?
Erwin, your Editor’s note on Russell Guy’s post (Russell Guy, Posted August 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm) states “It’s land rights, not native title, which created inalienable Aboriginal freehold”. You make reference to “inalienable Aboriginal freehold”, but this is not what Guy was writing about. I think you may be misinterpreting what Guy was saying, as it appears to me that he was referring to the distinction between claiming whatever residual Native Title rights you might continue to hold in relation to any land (whether it be leasehold, freehold, alienated Crown land or vacant Crown land), and claiming actual full legal title to unalienated land. (The NTA does not permit Native Title claimants to claim full legal title over alienated land).
Although the Native Title Act enables claimants to claim some rights over alienated land, it is not capable of interfering with the freehold or leasehold title to land – i.e. a successful Native Title claim cannot cause it to be “alienated”, although it may gain recognition of the Native Title holders’ residual rights to enter onto, camp, hunt and gather, and conduct ceremonies on it. These are not rights to ownership of the land, but simply rights to make use of the land in certain ways and under certain circumstances.
[ED – Thanks, Bob. Further to this Russell has provided the following explanation: I spoke to Noel Pearson about this and read his book in which he details his involvement in, and the outcome of the post-Mabo, Native Title legislation.
The point that I wish to make is this: In the present wash-up to the 1976 NT Land Rights law, the Mabo-inspired dismantling of the Terra Nullius doctrine and the subsequent Native Title
legislation, Indigenous claimants still have to prove that they have maintained an attachment to the land under claim and in many cases, e.g., where freehold has been granted to non-Indigenous interests, that land is no longer able to be claimed.
Our recent story “Native Title to become national path to indigenous land acquisition?” deals with these issues.]

Home at last?
Hal (Posted August 27, 2012 at 12:30 am), I fully realise that the rifle is historically accurate, and that it has a stabilising role in the statue’s construction. However, in the local context, it also makes a very big contemporary social and political statement, echoing not just the events and style of old colonial and settler history, but also the general aura surrounding guns and easy killing and intimidating in our society (celebrated and normalised in much gaming culture, as well as in much of the international film culture, war culture, law enforcement ideology, military culture, the strong hunting sub-culture, not to mention television epics such as Underbelly, The Straits and Breaking Bad, and a multitude of web sites).
In local terms, we have had a lengthy series of murders, homicides, suicides, rapes and other assaults and robberies involving guns in recent decades (including the deaths of a number of my acquaintances, one of them a close friend who was shot at the Barrow Creek roadhouse), and it is this which I believe makes the presence of the rifle entirely inappropriate. Whilst I also accept that this resonance was completely unintended, there is the issue of ideation as a strong component in triggering violent outbursts by immature and/or fragile minds. I believe the statue’s endorsement will prove to be highly regretted over time if the town permits it to stand in an honoured position in a Council park. Let’s just quietly put the guns away. There are enough of them out there on other memorials already.

Home at last?
Re Hal Duell (Posted August 19, 2012 at 4:08 pm):
I beg to differ with both the always civil and reasonable Hal Duell and Russell Guy, and the increasingly apoplectic Mrs Brown on this.
I say, thank goodness for the gumption of the local artists and others who took on this statue’s supporters and objected to it being placed, without artistic advice or public consultation, on the Council lawns in 2010.
I don’t believe that it necessarily should have a place in a public location in Alice. Despite the good intentions and generous spirit of its creator and the Loyal Buffalo Order people, it has little to recommend it as a piece of public civic art.
As a purely historic tribute to the efforts of this explorer, I don’t think it measures up either. Unfortunately the statue’s imagery and presentation will primarily send several problematic messages to many viewers, and obscure Stuart’s more admirable achievements.
Its main effect will be to reinforce the doctrine held by some of our society’s more privileged individuals about “exploration” as being a legitimating, sacramental triumph, in itself a kind of transcendent ritual that rationalises and somehow justifies colonisation of Aboriginal lands by the Crown, and “settlement” by the Crown’s subjects. These people will view it as being an heroic and celebratory symbol in support of the manner of the occupation and annexation of most of the continent. It also serves to reinforce a more general, uncritical sentimentality about Europeans’ exploration and colonisation of the Australian inland. Another consideration is that it inadvertently celebrates the patriarchal clubs that helped entrench white male dominance of Australian society. Last, but not least, it seems to laud the absolute centrality of the gun in the European conquest of most of the planet over the last several centuries, even though this may not have been the intent of its producer.
Stuart quite possibly deserves better than this. If the Town Council wants another memorial to this historically important person, it should commission an appropriate one.
Nor does this statue deserve to get a home in the Stuart Park, just for the sake of “giving it a home”. Stuart Park is a beautiful area where the lack of grace and character in this statue would be pretty obvious to most viewers, and where its presence would act as a continuing cue for divisiveness.
The most appropriate repository for this creation would probably be in one of the private “big thing” theme parks along Stuart’s route, where curiosities of interest to some travelers are displayed, such as Greg Dick provides at Aileron. It would also fit well with the ambience of Les Pilton’s Barrow Creek Roadhouse site.

Recent Comments by Bob Durnan

Police want parents to stop youth crime
Evelyne, you forget that half the adults of Alice work under contracts that forbid them from speaking publicly.
Others fear the repercussions to their employment, business prospects or social acceptance if they speak up and are seen as being trouble makers, unconventional or damaging to certain vested interests.
Their only recourse is to use nom de plumes, or remain completely silent.

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.

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