I believe Ralph (Posted October 20, 2012 at 7:51 am) …

Comment on NT needs someone to ‘call things honestly’ says Havnen … by Bob Durnan.

I believe Ralph (Posted October 20, 2012 at 7:51 am) is broadly correct: some communities’ populations may be generally more mobile than others, but multiple ‘residences’ and identities are the norm for many of their ‘residents’, some of whom may be more accurately labelled variously as ‘habitually travelling, occasionally itinerant, often wandering or sometimes semi-nomadic people’. The ‘over-estimations of remote community populations’ is a real problem, but under-estimations are also a problem. A health service will generally perceive a higher resident population than will the ABS, NTEC or the AEC, for example, as the clinic keeps records of all the people who define themselves as residents (i.e. ‘living’ in the community) at the time they visit the clinic, even if they unpredictably disappear, unbeknownst to the clinic, shortly afterwards, whilst the ABS and Electoral Commission workers, constrained by all kinds of niceties even if they are highly familiar with the community, will be unable to push past their agency’s guidelines, ‘protocols’ or resource constraints to identify where some people are living, and are unlikely to find any trace of many of those who are on the Clinic’s books at the time, even if they may still be most often residing in the community in question. The clinic and ABS figures both will probably be quite different to the average number of people present in the community in the course of the year. Outstation services and the old community councils had their own ways of measuring population numbers, but these were sometimes conflicted by their need to maximise numbers in order to maintain desperately needed funding levels.
The true average is a figure that nobody is ever likely to know with any accuracy, as the fluidity of ‘residence’ on a daily basis is shaped by various unpredictable and often very elusive factors, as well as by an ever changing combination of predictable causes.
However, when Ralph claims that ‘remote community men can, in no way, afford to not have an income’ he is largely correct, but on less stable ground. Although it is true that ‘remote community men can, in no way, afford to not have an income’, that does not mean that all men, at any given time, will actually have an income. Some of these men – a small number – for various reasons, will very often not have an income. The reasons for this range from rejection of sufficient co-operation with the welfare system, to simple social disconnection and inability to sufficiently comprehend the system’s requirements. For some, constant mobility is one of these factors, and may be enabled by relatives who feel pity for the ‘akunye’ (a ‘poor thing’, deserving of pity and, perhaps, care).
However, as Ralph indicates, the people working for Centrelink and in other segments of the welfare apparatus are these days mostly hyper-vigilant to minimize the instances of “people falling through the cracks”, so the numbers who do fall are far less than they were 20 or 30 years ago. The mythology that drives the popular assumptions that Ralph is attacking have their basis much more in data and lived experience from past decades than they have in the present, since the NTER enabled Centrelink to employ sufficient workers and establish systems to bring virtually all those who wish to be on welfare into the system on a relatively permanent basis.
This contrasts strongly with the situation in the 70s and 80s, when many men (at least, many men amongst those living on or frequently visiting town camps) did survive for considerable periods without any reliable income. I suspect that the now deeply engrained practices of humbugging for access to relatives’ and acquaintances’ cash, goods and cards, using a combination of bullying and distortions of reciprocal sharing traditions (‘demand sharing’), became more deeply entrenched as a survival mechanism amongst some groups during those desperate times, when the rate of alcohol addiction and its associated needs were far outstripping the ability of many individuals to maintain a commensurate personal income stream.

Bob Durnan Also Commented

NT needs someone to ‘call things honestly’ says Havnen …
Matt (Posted October 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm): Gathering from what I’ve heard on the radio today, I think the advice from both Havnen and Gleeson is not that international NGOs should be brought in to the NT, but rather that the NGOs working here should be encouraged to apply some of the better practices of progressive international agencies: for example, Olga mentions partnering with local organisations, something that has been fairly conspicuously absent from the approaches of several national NGOS who have taken on major projects in the NT over the last few years without trying to forge formal partnerships with locally-based Aboriginal organisations, and who you would think should have known better.
Although it should go without saying that we should understand and support “what works here”, this is not as straightforward as it seems, as the literature is littered with examples of fulsome praise for organisations, projects and practices which have been highly recommended by not necessarily neutral or capable assessors, only to see the supposedly praiseworthy enterprises fall over due to corruption, mismanagement or inappropriate program design shortly after the accolades have been articulated.
A major problem with the commonly held belief that we have large amounts of developmental treasure here which is under-recognised and under-utilised (“learning from what works here”) is that the writing about these examples of “what works” is too often short on realistic and frank critical analysis, and is therefore less then compelling when presented to politicians and public servants who often have much more direct experience of the local organisations and practices than that held by the proponents of their alleged virtues.
We badly need to foster a more mature climate for discussion of the merits and problems associated with our local developmental initiatives, and this is where people like Matt and his associates could be of immense assistance.

Recent Comments by Bob Durnan

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.

Judge Borchers’ position should be assessed: CAALAS
Alex, on June 22, 2017 at 11:44 am you said, and I quote: “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.”
So you cast an aspersion on her. It is entirely unwarranted.
Don’t wriggle out, apologise.

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