Vale, Michele, one of our community’s shiniest, gutsiest, loveliest lights. …

Comment on Michele Castagna, 1944 – 2016 by Russell Goldflam.

Vale, Michele, one of our community’s shiniest, gutsiest, loveliest lights.

Recent Comments by Russell Goldflam

The spin on crime statistics
The NT should follow the lead of NSW, where the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), led by respected criminologist Dr Don Weatherburn, provides a credible and impressive service to the community: http://www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au/
Both BOCSAR and the NT Criminal Justice Research and Statistics Unit are based in their respective Departments of Justice, but unlike BOCSAR, it appears that the NT Unit has never been provided with the resources, or the independence, to establish the credibility that its NSW counterpart has.
The latest figures (thanks for the link, Physics Bill!) are disturbing for at least two reasons.
Firstly, they are in stark and unexplained contrast to the repeated media statements in 2015 that there has been a dramatic reduction in violent crime in Alice Springs.
Secondly (thanks again, Physics Bill!), they remind us of the appalling levels of violence in our community.
Our rates of property offending per capita are broadly on a par with those in the USA, but our violent offending rates are many times higher.
It’s good that the Alice Springs News is blowing the whistle on the lack of transparency in crime statistics, but your article gives the impression that property offending is the main game in the fight against crime.
Whether or not that dominates local Facebook pages, it’s certainly not the main game, which is violence, and in particular of course, domestic and family violence.
Russell Goldflam
President, Criminal Lawyers Association of the Northern Territory
White Ribbon Ambassador


What the Rock handback bash wasn’t told
Thank you David for your pointed analysis and fascinating first-hand account of pre-Yulara Uluru.
And thank you, Alice Springs News Online, for publishing David’s story.


The fertile space between us
I too was away and unable to attend this presentation, but grateful to have the opportunity to read it here online, and to reflect on your lucid, poignant and uplifting observations, Kieran. What a fitting way to cap off your year as the LOFTY recipient!


New action on pregnant women who drink
Hal Duell is right: FASD education aimed at young women is important, and it is already happening in our region, as the short animated film “Barkly Fights FASD” and the rap song “Alcohol it effects your babies” both well demonstrate.

However, I don’t agree that education should be ‘first and foremost’. My reading of the research on education programs is that they are among the most popular of alcohol measures – and among the least successful in actually reducing harm.

That said, FASD education is in a special category: if a program like the Anyinginyi fetal alcohol spectrum disorder project persuades just one young woman not to drink during her pregnancy, it will be worth its weight in gold: they don’t call infants born with FASD “million dollar babies” for nothing: the lifetime cost to our community to care for each of them can be prodigious.

To minimise the scourge of FASD, we need to both turn down the tap AND pump out the message.


Prisons cost us four times national average
Ray, there is no inconsistency between what Priscilla Collins says, and what the Productivity Commission says in the ABC report you cite. They are both correct: The NT spends $553 per head of the NT population per year on our prison system (compared to the national average of $139 per head), whereas the ACT’s daily cost per prisoner in 2012-13 was almost $465, while the national figure was $297.
Even though we in the NT have far more prisoners per capita than any other jurisdiction, we actually spend less per prisoner per day than any other jurisdiction. Why is that? Because we spend less money per prisoner on prison rehabilitation: the NT has the lowest proportion of its prison population in the country doing education, training and employment programs.
NT prisons are, tragically, more like holding pens or warehouses than, as they should be, places of ‘correction’.
This is, in essence, because we are so overwhelmed by the numbers, it is all we can do to keep our prisoners under lock and key. The NT government is to be commended for its ‘Sentenced to a Job’ program, which gives the lucky few an opportunity to go to work while they are doing their time. But so far, only 5% of our prisoners are in that program. Which means 95% are not.


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