Aboriginal men ‘need to reinvent’ themselves: forum

Violence towards women in Aboriginal communities is not only down to disadvantage.

 

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

Half of the inmates in the Alice Springs gaol are men who are there for having assaulted their intimate partners. Justice Jenny Blokland is one of the people gaoling them. It gives her no pleasure, she told a public meeting in Alice Springs last night, attended by hundreds; it’s a protective measure, often short-term, and doesn’t solve the problem.

 

Other speakers put forward possible causes – alcohol and all the reasons people might choose to “drown conscience” in the bottle, as visiting Professor Stuart Twemlow from Houston, Texas put it. Justice Blokland acknowledged the very difficult social problems in Alice but said this does not explain the “gendered nature” of the violence: 80 to 90% of perpetrators are men.

 

The meeting came off the back of a male health summit, the third since 2008, organised by Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. Its theme was “Time for Action”, said Congress Deputy CEO Des Rogers.  He showed a short clip from the gathering (above), one of a number that will promote the summit’s messages, one of them being that men need “to heal” to get back to being “the head of the family, to control the family and teach the kids”.

 

The need to redefine the role of men – and not only Aboriginal men – came up repeatedly.  “We need to reinvent ourselves,” affirmed Ken Lechleitner, President of Australia’s First Nations Political Party, to applause. He reached out to all in the room by acknowledging not only the Mbantuarinya traditional owners but “the Aussies”: family violence was a problem of “dual heritage and dual responsibility”, he said.

 

Prof Twemlow said the concept of what a man is relative to women is not very clear. This is not confined to Aboriginal men; the roles of all men have been under challenge by the women’s liberation movement, he said. The evidence from Congress’ male health summit, including the men’s 2008 apology for being cruel to their women and children, points to the need for people getting together to discuss what their roles are as men and women.

 

The second international guest, Lord John Alderdice – a politician from Northern Ireland who sits in the House of Lords – drew on his experience of dealing with “whole communities” responsible for violence in his homeland. He spoke of the importance of talking to the men who do the violence, to understand “what’s going on inside their heads”. High rates of alcohol abuse, poverty etcetera do not provide the whole answer, he said, as there are other parts of the world where these things exist but which are “not like here”.

 

At right: panel members, from left, Ken Lechleitner, Lord John Alderdice, Donna Ah Chee and Professor Stuart Twemlow. 

 

He talked about the degree of change that men around the world have experienced in terms of what they can contribute to their communities and noted that the change experienced by Aboriginal men over the last 40 to 50 years is much greater than in the whole of the last 60,000 years. The focus needs to be on finding ways to adapt to such a fast-changing situation.

 

Julie Vincent from the floor said men need to be empowered, given a sense of accomplishment, value and identity. This received a round of applause.

 

Beverely Angeles from the floor, who works in education, stressed the importance of everyone having a place: “Our males are in limbo – they don’t know their place”. She too wanted acknowledgement of the skills people have.

 

Northern Territory identity Charlie King, who was MC for the night, while acknowledging that Alice Springs has a particular problem – with an assault rate twice the NT average – referred to the half million women in Australia annually who are subject to sexual or physical abuse: “an appalling statistic that somehow does get traction”.

 

Bruce “Tracker” Tilmouth from the floor said the problem lies with “the economic paradigm” in remote communities and lack of services, which drive people to move into town where they don’t know how to get on.  They walk around drunk because they don’t know what else to do. He said the Central Australian economy is based on services to Aboriginal people – a “nigger farm” is how he put it with typical provocation, a “big social experiment” with governments spending money on programs “that don’t add up”. Services need to be decentralised.

 

Phil Walcott, psychologist and independent candidate in the recent federal and last Territory election, followed with a comment on the language of negativity, asking what would harmony look like.

 

Prof Twemlow took this up, speaking about his work in Miami and Puerto Rico at neighbourhood level, with “natural leaders – the people who do things without having to be asked, because it’s their home”. They regularly get together to talk about how their neighbourhoods are functioning and set goals for improvement. The results are impressive, he said, with everything from homicide rates to the occurrence of graffiti going down, but it takes time and commitment – it’s a “marathon”.

 

Mayor Damien Ryan pointed out some of the good work being done on the ground in Alice, naming Girls in the Centre and the Clontarf Football Academy as examples.

 

Congress CEO Donna Ah Chee appreciated Prof Twemlow’s point on the long-term commitment required, but said there is something that can be done to “make inroads tomorrow” on the domestic violence rates: reducing the supply of alcohol. If she could do only “one thing” to bring about change, this would be it via a floor price set at the price of beer, a take-away free day, timed with Centrelink payments, and the reintroduction of the photo ID system for purchase of alcohol, abandoned by the CLP Government as soon as it came to power.

 

She also stressed the importance of education, starting in early childhood to prepare children for a positive experience of schooling. She claimed strong results from Congress’ home visitation programs working with parents, which she said should be run throughout Central Australia, and lobbied for the introduction of the Abecedarian early daycare model.

 

Above: Part of the audience which filled the Centralian College theatrette. Tyson Carmody on the microphone. 

 

Prof Twemlow said there is “new science” in the understanding of how young children think and they can be taught through classroom activity how to control their feelings, empathise with others, take into account others’ viewpoints.

 

Justice Blokland agreed with Ms Ah Chee that reduction in the supply of alcohol would have “the biggest impact at the least cost”, but how it can be done when the issue is now so “political” remains a question. The criminal law response to offending is not enough. Something needs to be done to teach young people about “respectful relationships”. She mentioned the program “Loves Bites” as one model.

 

Defence lawyer Tanya Collins, speaking from the floor, asked why more isn’t done with the “huge captive audience” of men in gaol. She asks the “young fellers” she represents in the criminal justice system all the time whether they are getting any opportunity to deal with their anger, their grog problems and so on, and they say “no”.

Another speaker from the floor, a nurse, also spoke of the high rates of hearing loss and tinnitis (ringing in the ears) among men in gaol that is not being addressed.

 

Mayor Ryan and fellow panel member Julie Ross, who heads up the NT Chamber of Commerce, both spoke about the importance of economic development. In response to a question from Francis Xavier, MLA for Arafura, Mayor Ryan said regional development needs a “really strong commitment” from government. In remote Australia the NBN is not much help, he said, though Lord Alderdice countered that broadband, coupled with education, could lead to jobs no matter how remote you are.

 

Mrs Ross said the Chamber has been lobbying for economic development in the Growth Towns but there are “land issues”. This got Central Land Council director David Ross to his feet. If you want access to land, talk to the CLC about getting a lease, he said, but in most Aboriginal communities they have run out of land serviced by power, water, sewerage. The CLC is hoping for an investment of $.5b from Infrastructure Australia.

 

A young woman in the audience, identifying herself only as Sarah, was “scared abut the future”, the likely “racist attacks” on Aboriginal people from the incoming federal government. She wanted to know from panel members how they were preparing for that.

 

Charlie King reminded her that the focus of the meeting was on high levels of family violence, which continue no matter which government is in power. We need a community movement to do something about it, he said.

 

The spirit of his remark was taken up from the floor. Tyson Carmody, who works in education, said he’d like to broaden the horizons of relationships for the young people he deals with: “What you don’t know you’re scared of”.  He also said that change had to come not from government, but “from us on the ground – we’ve got to get up and do it ourselves.”

 

John Liddle, manager of men’s health at Congress and the initiator of the 2008 summit, also brought the discussion back to individual action but not before commenting that Aboriginal men do not have a role on communities, “except as perpetrators or potential perpetrators”.

 

He told a story of himself as a younger man at the football, standing by with others while an Aboriginal man was “kicking the shit out of his wife”.

 

“We all have to take the issue in hand,” he said. One of the actions that we all can do, is that if we see violence happening, we’ve got to say something about it: “We don’t need money, we need a bit of heart and the gonads to go with it.”

 

Charlie King closed the evening with a statistical snapshot of the NT: 80% of people in gaol are Aboriginal; 80% of children in the protection system are Aboriginal; unemployment on Aboriginal communities stands at 80%.

 

“Are they connected?” he asked. And “how different” it would be if you could say 80% of the university population was Aboriginal.

 

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30 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Lankaster
    Posted September 24, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    The problem is colonization. The point all around the world was to destroy the Aboriginal which was done as planned.
    I have been following North American Aboriginals who are speaking up and becoming successful at fighting what was forced on them.
    There is an author and journalist named Wab Kinew in Canada who is very knowledgeable on Aboriginal issues. He speaks of the residential school saga that basically destroyed a generation.
    The same model happened here. In Canada, they are entrepreneurs and business people. There are multinational Aboriginal owned clothing companies like Kanati Co.
    There are tobacco billionaires, there are gaming billionaires. I think an Aboriginal even owns Headrush MMA clothing if I’m not mistaken.
    They seem to be doing very well in Canada. So whats missing here? Maybe some inter-country communication might be advised for our governments?

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  2. Kieran Finnane
    Posted September 24, 2013 at 8:31 am

    @Arthur Bell: As I thought my comment made clear, Lord Alderdice and Prof Twemlow were invited by Congress and CASSE. The forum was organised as part of their five year program “to address the violence and trauma within Central Australian communities”.

    Further information about Lord Alderdice, from a media release by CASSE: he is a psychiatrist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist who played a significant role in initiating the dialogues that led to the Good Friday Accord and peace in Northern Ireland. He is the recipient of many honorary degrees and awards for his work on conflict resolution in various parts of the world.

    However, my report focussed as much, or more, on contributions from local panelists and the floor as it is the ongoing local airing and understanding of the issues that is essential.

    Des Rogers and Charlie King were among the Indigenous men who yesterday in Darwin signed a memorandum of understanding against family violence. They also discussed the agenda for a men’s forum Mr King is organising in Darwin for October. Chief Minister Adam Giles has agreed to be an ambassador for their effort.

    “I believe some Aboriginal men need a greater supportive framework in place to help them break away from welfare, stay out of the justice system and avoid alcohol abuse,” said Mr Giles.

    “I am personally worried about the high levels of family violence in our community and I want to do more to prevent it.”

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  3. Posted September 23, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks Kieran, but back to my earlier inquiry.
    Did Lord John Alderdice and Prof Twemlow “just happen to be in Alice Springs” at the time or were they invited by someone? Or sent up. If so, what was “their” contribution expected to be? What was the “purpose” of the forum / meeting. I didn’t read anything about this.

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  4. Kieran Finnane
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    @Arthur Bell: The forum, under the title ‘Walk in My Shoes’, was presented by Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and co-sponsored by a non-profit organisation based in Victoria called Creating A Safe Supportive Environment (CASSE), whose “mission is to create safe, supportive environments for individuals, families and communities through psychoanalytic awareness”.

    Before joining the forum in Alice Springs as panelists, Lord Alderdice, described as an “international peace expert”, and Professor Twemlow, described as “an international authority with more than 40 years’ experience in the application of psychoanalytic principles and systemic interventions to the prevention of bullying and violence”, spoke at a public forum in Melbourne, titled ‘Reconciliation Australia: Psychological Perspectives’, hosted by CASSE and co-sponsored by Murrup Barak Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development.

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  5. Posted September 23, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    High rates of alcohol abuse, poverty etcetera do not provide the whole answer, he said, as there are other parts of the world where these things exist but which are “not like here”. Lord John Alderdice
    Prof Twemlow speaking about his work in Miami and Puerto Rico at neighbourhood level, with “natural leaders – the people who do things without having to be asked, because it’s their home”. They regularly get together to talk about how their neighbourhoods are functioning and set goals for improvement.
    Prof Twemlow said there is “new science” in the understanding of how young children think and they can be taught through classroom activity how to control their feelings, empathise with others, take into account others’ viewpoints
    Other than the above, “nothing new”.
    Did Lord John Alderdice and Prof Twemlow “just happen to be in Alice Springs” at the time or were they invited? What’s the story here, Des? Erwin?

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  6. Nothing but the facts
    Posted September 19, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    That’s it Yuendumu mob. Bingo! Hit the nail right on the head. Aboriginal Men taking control of Aboriginal Men’s Business! Taking control and being responsible for our problem.

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  7. Yuendumu mob
    Posted September 19, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Learn from Yuendumu elders, who worked very hard to make their community safer and better. 365 days without violence in Yuendumu.
    Let’s work together with the Aboriginal leaders, empower and engage them, ask them how they want to fix their problem in their own way and just support them their way. Don’t enforce the white fella law to them. It’s never going to be changed like that way. Let’s change the white fella way of working with Aboriginal people.

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  8. Mark lockyer
    Posted September 17, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    As an Indigenous man of central Australia I am well aware of the cultural and social issues that affect my people. Drugs and alcohol misuse, poor health, poor education and overcrowding housing are just a few issues. People abuse alcohol and drugs to escape their responsibilities of going to work or getting a job, keeping their homes and yards clean, getting up early to help get kids to school and buying food to feed themselves or their families.

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  9. Nothing but the facts
    Posted September 17, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    It’s about time Ingkentye Mens Health Centre along Gap road started to take control of the situation, creating goals and achieving them. Developing partnerships with other stakeholders both Remote and Urban and sitting at one table would help. Our elders do not have to constantly be at these meetings. They are tired and they did their time fighting for the Land. They are trusting us to look after business and at the moment we are incapable of doing it! Ingkentye have a summit every year and bring some grand statement out that achieves nothing. Take control of the issue Congress have a look where the strengths and weaknesses are. There is no strength there and no good logic plan and that’s what’s making it weak. This isn’t the answer but let me assure you, it is a start in the right direction.

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  10. Russell Guy
    Posted September 17, 2013 at 8:29 am

    @ Ian Shrp.
    Thanks, Ian. I know where you’re coming from, particularly with the anonymous Nimby, but I’ve learnt a few things, despite not being sure where he ends and the quotations begin.
    I’ve learnt that the feelings of a so-called “leftie” whitefeller can’t be trusted, but blackfellas are encouraged to get in touch with theirs.
    I’ve also learnt that what used to be called common sense, albeit a long time ago, is now referred to as being “politically correct.” In this respect, Nimby might be a prophet of doom, if not, as mentioned in an earlier post, a serendipitous one.
    The rest of the argument, post ad homineminitis, is complex, even if one is familiar with the Frankfurt, rather than the Hamburg School of Marxism, but there are issues there that are integrated with why some people might resort to alcoholism.

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  11. Ian sharp
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Do yourself a favour Russell and ignore the anonymous trolls. They get off on it.

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  12. NIMBY
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Typical sidestep from RG. Seriously, you ought to take up line dancing.
    Quoting Kieran, “The performers do it well, reveling in the seductive costumes, the strutting, the jiving, the voluptuous posing.”
    Sex appeal is sexy (that’s a fact, for you lefties), distinctly unlike the unpleasant, untruthful and unattractive narrative of “political correctness”.
    No surprises to learn it is straight out of the (Frankfurt School) Marxist toolbox.
    If we are to assist Aboriginals out of the mire of intergenerational violence, they must be in control of their feelings, not have leftists control their emotions for them, try as they might with “political correctness”.
    An honest appraisal of the facts means the lefty apparatchik can’t be the gatekeeper.
    The ownership of the problem and solution must be Aboriginal.
    Real help means facing some hard truths about aggression in the aboriginal population as well as dealing with the inevitable cries of racism from the revolutionary malcontents of the left aided by elements of the Aboriginal group themselves.
    1:1 violence as a mechanism of conflict resolution is no stranger to any human group or even individual, but it is pronounced in Centralian Aboriginals and selling a narrative of victimology at best does nothing to help and at worst, exculpates and extemporises violent action.
    Alcohol is one part of the management, but not at the root of the matter. It merely disinhibits. The core of the matter is autonomous control of a tendency to violence.
    Forcing all customers to present their identification will not stop the purchase of grog.
    Rather sadly, it sets up a black market.
    However, I’m happy to agree, as it is a fact, that where a homogeneous Aboriginal community can completely eliminate alcohol supply, the incidence of domestic violence is likely to be lower.
    However, unlike remote communities, that is just not going to happen in Alice Springs.
    In this case, I doubt there is a Nanny State substitute for Aboriginals talking to each other honestly about the violence, accepting responsibility and leading the situation themselves.

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  13. russell guy
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    @ NIMBY
    “Feminist incursion” aside, “legs eleven” – anything goes with a moral relativist, including personal responsibility. Hope that’s not too prolix for you.

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  14. russell guy
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 11:55 am

    @ NIMBY.
    Ah yes, “alcohol aside.” Good one.

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  15. russell guy
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 11:51 am

    @ Interested Observer.
    Yet another anonymous equivocator with a “perhaps” clause in his/her argument and so, we come back to “personal responsibility” again.
    As a relative newcomer to the debate, you can go back into the AS News archives and check it out for yourself: stretch those armchair legs and do some research.
    We are in a national crisis of alcohol-abuse which has been forty years in the making through liberal supply, primarily in the proliferaton of take-away outlets, sports promotion and discount advertising.
    Having removed a civilised arbiter of reckless consumption by dismantling the Banned Drinker’s Register (BDR), the NTG has stopped short at Alcohol Mandatory Treatment (AMT), unlike other Australian governments and countries in other parts of the world with a less apocalyptically affected demographic who are tackling supply as well as demand.
    We don’t have to accept that twice the national consumption average is “core culture” in the NT and that this is anything more than an alcohol industry promoted pandemic.
    Personal responsibility is only one part of the solution, not the silver bullet you make it out to be. And while we’re on the subject, you surely play the Devil’s Advocate. It’s much easier when you’re an anonymous shadow.

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  16. NIMBY
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 10:52 am

    You know you’ve hit a nerve when Russell dishes up another round of prolix distraction!

    Alcohol aside, there is something much more fundamental that delicate PC leftists won’t touch for fear of hurting “feelings”.

    Violence of all kinds is ENDEMIC in Aboriginal society, whether it be the lovely “stabbing capital of the world”, domestic violence (includes women towards men), sexual abuse of minors, floggings, suicide, you name it!

    We’ve ALL seen it with our eyes and the problem goes far deeper than alcohol.

    I don’t know if I’m allowed to quote something from The Australian here, but here’s a link to a good article on the subject from 2007:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/culture-of-denial/story-e6frg8px-1111113048370

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  17. Interested observer
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 9:05 am

    The only primitive appeal here is the attack on the correspondent rather than the argument. The personal responsibility argument is always welcome and so often lost in statements about the failure of government. How about the failure of many Aboriginal people to stop drinking, despite a lot of money spent on assistance, the failure of many Aboriginal people to maintain their health despite a huge expenditure on health, the failure of many Aboriginal people to be educated usually by not even attending school, despite endless expenditure on schools. These are all personal / individual / family failures.
    Of course there are many similar non Aboriginal failures but do we say that health clinics, schools, governments failed them? Perhaps rarely we do but not with the relentless zeal that we reserve for Aboriginal failure and certainly not with the same dollars.
    So yes Nimbi thanks for reminding us all of personal responsibility.

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  18. Russell Guy
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    So, Nimby the anonymous ad hominem refugee comes back with his “primitive leftie appeal” to “white guilt” trip, but my focus is on the well-documented role that alcohol-abuse plays in social pathology.
    Your use of “leftie” to describe a position in the current NT alcohol policy settings has the imprimatur of serependitious primitivity.

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  19. NIMBY
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    “And all power to them, only Aboriginal men can change Aboriginal men.”

    Well said, Dan.

    There is no point blaming anyone or a lefty primitive appeal to “white guilt” to address what is an issue that can only be solved by Aboriginal men.

    Not by feminist incursion, not by throwing taxpayer money away, not by anything other than placing the responsibility squarely upon each and every Aboriginal man who chooses to beat his wife.

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  20. Bob Durnan
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Several advanced economies (a number of European and third world jurisdictions and US states) have also recently taken steps to extend ‘income management’ techniques in relation to welfare payments, to the extent of disallowing purchases of alcohol, tobacco, illegal substances and gambling etc out of their welfare grants. It’s not a foolproof method that will staunch all such spending, but it goes a long way towards stemming some of the problems, and, apart from focusing the recipients more on addressing their own problems, also enables other support services more chances for effective interventions.

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  21. Russell Guy
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    @ Cameleer.
    You are a relative newcomer to this debate and an anonymous one.
    I am also of the opinion that your ‘Big Picture’ prescriptions are more of the hyperbole you condemn, which makes you either confused or contradictory.
    Governments in several countries have recently taken steps to cut the supply of alcohol, not just because of its effects on their health budgets, but also, because of the violence it causes to innocent citizens.
    We have seen many examples of this here in Australia as we begin to grapple with the supply problem.

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  22. cameleer
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 11:06 am

    The government does NOT have a duty to protect its citizens from themselves, it may choose to do so in extreme circumstances (perhaps as now exist?) but to not do so is not a failure of government.
    Dan and Diane are talking about remedies for the consequences of people injuring themselves and others, a discussion that has been going on for decades. What is needed is not more talk, social work or community empowerment but a fundamental structural change. And it’s simple but very difficult to do, welfare must be cut and alternatives in the form of work and training offered. This will be expensive and painful, it will attract international condemnation, it will breach the racial discrimination act, it will require a strong federal government working hand in hand with a strong and determined NT government but in time we will see a shift that will be positive for future generations.

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  23. russell guy
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 8:30 am

    @ Dan.

    Yes, and Vale the BDR.
    I have to disagree with your closing statement “only Aboriginal men can change Aboriginal men”. There are numerous daily examples I could give you from my own life, beginning at the age of eleven, but for a start, the government has a duty to protect all citizens.
    The BDR was dismantled by an act of political hubris of the most callous kind and I speak from close-hand.
    It would still be helping and not just Aboriginal men today – at the very least, by virtue of the example it set that government cared enough to directly intervene at the supply side of the counter. Humbug to the NTG for trying to prove otherwise.

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  24. Diane de Vere
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 8:27 am

    @ Russell Thanks for your response and I agree the use of the word “experts” would be better replaced by something more like “the combined wisdom” of all of those present at this forum. I agree there is an urgency and many small steps need to be taken now -not later-steps that build on the existing initiatives that work and there are many. As well as small steady steps a strong nurturing overarching framework of governance is needed at the national level to hold on strongly and counter the ill informed interventions and deficits in the current policies and dominant systems.

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  25. Dan
    Posted September 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I had the privilege recently of sitting in on several sessions, facilitated by Tangentyere and Red Dust Role Models, at the “Big Brother’s Place” where aboriginal men from town camps were coming together to share their stories, their problems and pain.
    Together they were supporting each other talking from the heart, with tears often flowing, looking at the issues having a negative impact on their lives and admitting and owning the negative impact they were having on the lives of their families.
    They were working together supporting each other, identifying the core of their problems and looking for their own solutions. Simple ways that they as individuals, with the support of their peers could begin to turn their lives around.
    It was powerful stuff and I could see the results beginning to flow from these sessions.
    Unfortunately, when governments throw money as a kneejerk reaction to a headline “Stab Capital of Australia” etc they expect a headline result, and want it quickly.
    But when we are talking about such major ingrained and ongoing problems its only by taking tiny small steps that people can change their lives, Perhaps a small line in the classified section, “Johnny is trying to keep off the grog during the week” is a better aim.
    Eventually all these small steps will lead to massive change.
    Funding is always too short term, people are never given the respect and time to be able to work through the challenges in their lives.
    These same problems have been talked about for years they’re still with us and a thousand, one or two year programs have been rolled out to address the issues.
    People need stability to change their lives, they need to know that they can trust the program, that when they start to make the difficult changes in their lives the support will continue to be there.
    Every time a program is rolled out and a man puts his trust in that program and begins to try and sort out his life and then the program falls over due to lack of funds, it makes it harder the next time to start again.
    We need long term funding for the good work that is being done by Aboriginal men. Fortunately some of these men could feel the power of these sessions and the positive impact they were having on their lives, and the potential to change the lives of the rest of their brothers. They are still struggling on with little or no support.
    And all power to them, only Aboriginal men can change Aboriginal men.

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  26. Cameleer
    Posted September 13, 2013 at 5:23 am

    Or cut all forms of welfare and provide jobs with associated training so men will be too busy to travel and drink. Domestic violence may just fade away.

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  27. Russell Guy
    Posted September 13, 2013 at 1:43 am

    @ Diane de vere.
    It’s not about “communities”, us or them anymore. It’s about the policies of the State and in this instance the forum “experts” include Donna Ah Chee who is absolutely right about the over-supply of alcohol causing the pathology which you refer to, but who wants to listen to a champion of the people? That’s the real tragedy I refer to.
    It’s not some form of racism anymore, it’s the failure of the State to protect its people from alcohol-abuse permitted by the market and causing the statistical havoc described by the “experts” ad nauseum.
    It is a grog dictatorship, overseen by expert-advice-rejecting plutocrats disguised as politicians. Sir Les Patterson take a bow! You don’t have to look to the halls of Australia House. Sir Les lives and works at home now.
    In some respects, Tracker Tilmouth’s “nigger farm” is correct, but the irony is that the “whitey farm” being reaped by the alcohol industry under the auspices of a democratically elected government (except for the unrepresentative Senate swill – no offence Nigel) goes undescribed by yourself.
    We are just plain rooted and that’s the expert fact.
    Didyabringthegrog?

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  28. Diane de Vere
    Posted September 12, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Education is the key not more of the same, more of something different.
    A new way of thinking and working is needed where the locus of power shifts to the elders, the families, the youth and the natural leaders of the community, where the recipients of the programs are informed, valued and respected and where all stakeholders see themselves as part of the same story where everyone has a voice and everyone is held accountable.
    Paolo Freire believed that “illiteracy is one of the concrete expressions of an unjust social reality”.
    He also describes education as a distinctly political act, and curriculum development as functioning in personally or politically empowering ways.
    “Community empowerment, therefore, is more than the involvement, participation or engagement of communities.
    “It implies community ownership and action that explicitly aims at social and political change. Community empowerment is a process of re-negotiating power in order to gain more control.
    “It recognizes that if some people are going to be empowered, then others will be sharing their existing power and giving some of it up (Baum, 2008). Power is a central concept in community empowerment and health promotion invariably operates within the arena of a power struggle.”
    I understand there is currently another review into Indigenous education in the NT, hopefully Congress and the experts at this forum have some input at this critical time.

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  29. Russell Guy
    Posted September 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Donna Ah Chee is right, of course and its easy to agree with Justice Blokland at how politicised the supply of alcohol is in the NT.
    It is tragic to consider that one of the world’s great democracries has got itself into a position of not being able to do anything about altering the over-supply of alcohol (seven days a week takeaway from pubs and roadhouses makes for a vicious matrix of addiction) that is both killing and impoverishing its citizens, sometimes fast, more often by a slow death, from renal failure, diabetes, hypertension, cumulative racism and low self-esteem, etc.
    The NT Chief Minister is on record as saying that consuming alcohol is part of the “core culture” of the NT.
    This has to be one of the most socially irresponsible remarks to ever come from a government leader, and in a jurisdiction where the statistics reveal that consumption is almost twice the national average.
    It does not give much hope for those who are among the Indigenous 80% and those, like myself, who are, by some curious default, in with them.
    I feel like something inside of me is dying and it is a great sadness for a whitefeller to carry around.
    In having to impress whitefellers and prove yourself Mr Giles, I don’t envy you.
    The PM, Senator Scullion and Warren Mundine have their work cut out.

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  30. Mike Gillam
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Thanks to the Alice News for detailed reporting and to Congress for this important initiative.

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