Janet (Posted November 5, 2012 at 7:05 am), as usual, …

Comment on Indigenous adults must ‘grow up’ so that Indigenous children can depend on them, says Alison Anderson by Bob Durnan.

Janet (Posted November 5, 2012 at 7:05 am), as usual, understands virtually nothing about the topic, but never lets her ignorance deter her from letting out a set of furious demands. Alison would know very well that it is not as simple or straightforward as Janet reckons.
The royalties to which Janet refers do not belong to governments to do what they want with them, nor to ‘communities’, nor do they belong to most of the individuals living in the communities.
However the traditional owners of the specific estates on which mining (or other resource extraction, such as oil, gas, sand and gravel) occurs, are entitled to receive thirty per cent of any royalties which flow from mining activity on their land.
These traditional owners are only a small sub-set of the Aboriginal individuals who are resident in the remote communities. Most Aboriginal people do not have mining occurring on their traditional lands, and so are not entitled to receive a payout of royalties in cash. As there are actually very few mines on Aboriginal land in central Australia, and not much other development generating royalties, rent or profits on most Aboriginal-owned lands, Janet’s formula would not constitute a way out of welfare for the vast majority of Aboriginal people in central Australia.
Under the Commonwealth Government’s Land Rights Act (NT) the Commonwealth retains ownership of the minerals that lie on or in land which has been claimed and has the status of Aboriginal inalienable freehold title. The Commonwealth, on advice from the Land Councils who act on instructions from the traditional owners of the precise pieces of land under discussion, licenses developers to undertake mining exploration, negotiate about development, and proceed to extract minerals etc, provided they pay agreed royalties to the Commonwealth, and observe other requirements, such as avoidance of disturbing sacred sites, or other requirements agreed during negotiations.
The Commonwealth is then required to distribute those royalties according to a formula: a majority of the royalties are diverted in two streams which benefit Aboriginal people more generally.
About 30% go to the Aboriginal Benefits Account for projects of benefit to Aboriginal communities, such as the leasing of township lands from the Land Trusts, and construction of youth centres, aged care facilities, swimming pools, and other capital items of benefit to the general Aboriginal population (for example, a large sum was released a few years back to help pay for the expansion of the Alice Springs swimming centre, reflecting the fact that Aboriginal people benefit greatly from the availability of this water sports complex).
The Land Councils receive around 40% to cover their administrative running costs, undertake community development activities, support Land Trusts, negotiate with potential developers, research and prosecute land and native title claims, manage huge swathes of land in partnership with the traditional owners, assist in protecting sacred sites, and many other tasks.
The remaining 30% goes to the senior people in the local Land Trusts (i.e. the traditional owners’ elected representatives) to distribute amongst the traditional owner families and/or invest through entities such as Centrecorp for their families’ future well-being, a responsible use of income which is a practice which seems to disgust Janet.
If Janet did get her way, and the ABA and Land Councils were abolished by act of the government, and all welfare – pensions, family benefits and Newstart allowance payments – to Aboriginal people ceased, and all the royalties were cashed out to individuals regardless of the proprietary rights of the individual traditional owners, the net impacts would include a greater impoverishment of Aboriginal people, as the quantum of royalty payouts is much less than the quantum of welfare and Newstart income. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if Janet thought this to be a satisfactory outcome, it would increase individual Aboriginal poverty and alienation, whilst worsening community disempowerment and dysfunction, and achieve no actual benefits, other than making it easier for miners and other entrepreneurs to rip off the traditional owners.
It would undoubtedly ensure a massive compensation claim from the traditional owners of the land on which mining is occurring, as they would legitimately regard the reduction of their royalty shares as a form of theft that the Australian system of law would not permit.
It would also throw NT society into chaos, as traditional owners would have no incentive to agree to development or mining exploration occurring on their lands, and many people would regard others as being thieves of their entitlements.

Bob Durnan Also Commented

Indigenous adults must ‘grow up’ so that Indigenous children can depend on them, says Alison Anderson
I see that my favourite verbal sparring partner Janet Brown (Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:43 pm) is still determined to insist that there are separate laws applying to Aboriginal people who receive welfare payments such as Newstart allowances and family payments. She seems to think they are not required by law to report all their other personal income (such as royalty payments) to Centrelink, every time they lodge an income statement.
Janet also appears to believe that Aboriginal people who don’t claim welfare entitlements but do receive royalties are not required by law to declare these royalties as income when they lodge their tax returns.
Janet, not unusually, is completely wrong in her assumptions.
On the available evidence, Janet possibly also believes that up is down, black is white, day is night, the earth is flat, and space is finite, but unless she is able to show me reasons why these things are true I wouldn’t be inclined to agree with her just because she says so.
However, I am quite confident that Janet and I both will be able to find legislation supporting my contentions if we want to spend the time looking up the relevant acts (I have spoken today to an expert in the field who assures me that I am on solid ground in saying this).
Thank goodness that nobody is relying on her for advice about how to conduct their personal business.
Once again, I say to Janet: If you know of anybody who has broken the law, you are duty bound to report them to the authorities. If you don’t know traditional owners who have broken the law, and are making allegations against a group of people based on hearsay, simple suspicion or pure prejudice, then you need to apologise to them and stop making defamatory assertions.
There are no separate laws applying to Aboriginal people on the matter of needing to declare royalties (or anything else) as income.


Indigenous adults must ‘grow up’ so that Indigenous children can depend on them, says Alison Anderson
Janet (Posted November 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm). Stop playing these snide games with peoples’ reputations and self respect. Of course there are many people who declare royalty payments as income. If you know of anybody who has broken the law, you are duty bound to report them to the authorities. If you don’t know traditional owners who have broken these rules, and are making allegations against a group of people based on hearsay, simple suspicion or pure prejudice, then you need to apologise to them and stop making defamatory assertions. There are no separate laws applying to Aboriginal people on the matter of needing to declare royalties as income.


Indigenous adults must ‘grow up’ so that Indigenous children can depend on them, says Alison Anderson
Thanks for the advice Janet (Posted November 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm), but you are full of humbug. I’ll have a go at figuring out how your cranky statements relate to the arguments I put in my comment. And, by the way, not all traditional owners ‘live in squalor’ or fail to support their communities.
Another thing that will be even more amazing to you: many people on welfare do not ‘live in squalor’, and nor are they ‘welfare cheats’. Please stop inferring that ‘royalty recipients’ equals ‘welfare cheats’. Many do declare their income to Centrelink.


Recent Comments by Bob Durnan

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.


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.


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