Sorry Rex Neindorf (Posted September 6, 2012 at 12:37 am), …

Comment on LETTER: Time for a third sealed national route by Bob Durnan.

Sorry Rex Neindorf (Posted September 6, 2012 at 12:37 am), hold your horses, comrade, you have got this all mixed up. Patrick Hill and his Outback Highway Development Council aren’t lobbying for the billion or so dollars that would be needed to complete sealing of these roads between Laverton and Boulia: they are simply trying to obtain the mere $150 million required to bring gravel sections of the route up to unsealed all-weather status.
However, even this modest cut-rate version of your dream risks being another one of those you beaut big ideas, beloved of officials conflicted by addiction to one-eyed parochial boosterism, wanting to be seen to be “doing something” for local entrepreneurs, but extremely expensive and with negligible return likely on the investment for the nation, and done at the expense of other needs. We have learnt that lesson already, I would have thought, after hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been written off in the course of the Darwin railway connection fiasco.
There has been no “detailed cost-benefit analysis” undertaken, just some calculations based on some very questionable assumptions, and it is unlikely that there will ever be one, as it would cost Qld, WA and the NT many millions of dollars they don’t have just to bring the thing up to unsealed all-weather status, all for the sake of a few extra coaches, trucks and cars using the route. The cost of paying the interest on the borrowings, along with the cost of maintenance, would in no way be commensurate with the benefits, and it would in turn help undermine the case for maintenance and expansion of the more economically valid rail networks in the states and Territory.
On the list of serious needs in Central Australia (e.g. half a dozen significant arterial routes and many inter-community roads urgently needing major investment just to bring them closer to unsealed all-weather status, many airstrips requiring major upgrades, hundreds of millions needed for housing and associated services, secondary school and VET facilities required in several communities, expanded police and court buildings, early childhood services and centres, youth centres, sports and recreation facilities) the Docker-Uluru and Atitjere-Boulia connections do register, but are not clear priorities. On the other hand, failure to make some of these other investments will cost Australia enormously.
As for your wishful fantasy that having a little-used highway (either sealed or unsealed) that will “pass many Aboriginal communities presenting them with the best opportunity they will ever have to finally leap into the 21st Century” this is delusional. There are only three Aboriginal communities on the unsealed sections of the NT portion of this route, none in Qld, and two in WA. The benefits for these communities will not be “wide ranging”. In fact it could well be the opposite – witness what has happened in tourist highway truckstops such as Ti Tree and Mt Ebenezer over the past forty years – endless problems with alcohol, and very few benefits to the communities. If there was any significant growth in traffic, the “opportunity to open new businesses” would inevitably flow to the regional centres such as Alice, and the reality would turn out not to be a “much better option than receiving benefits”.

Bob Durnan Also Commented

LETTER: Time for a third sealed national route
Rex (Posted September 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm), there is a link to an old and not very detailed document on the website, which is what I originally read, but Helen from the Outback Highway committee in Laverton has emailed me a copy of a much larger and more comprehensive effort from April this year after I contacted Patrick and her. I will try to read it tonight and see if it changes any of my opinions.


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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