Hal (Posted August 27, 2012 at 12:30 am), I fully …

Comment on Home at last? by Bob Durnan.

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.

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?
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.

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

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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