As a fresh-faced young lad newly-arrived in the Alice from …

Comment on Sit-down money: Pointless jobs for the dole by John Bell.

As a fresh-faced young lad newly-arrived in the Alice from the city down south in 1967, my first job in the NTA District Office was to implement the Training Allowances Scheme in the remote communities of Central Australia, as far up as Hooker Creek.
With my Darwin colleague Brian Chin, who implemented the scheme in the Top End, over the next five years I saw the development of the scheme’s job-creation attempts in all of its spectacular futility.
The politics of it all was fascinating. Liberal Minister William Wentworth introduced the Training Allowances Scheme to keep union influence and agitation out of a challenging and fragile work environment.
In the form of below-award training allowances, a bonanza of cash money began to flow into communities like never seen before. To paint rocks white on the roadside.
Then the Whitlam Labor government came to power, and the creek-flow of cash become a flooding river of gold. Still painting rocks white in the brave new era of outlying home camps and Toyota Dreaming.
I saw the mind-boggling scams, the cover-ups, the hare-brained community projects dreamed up in Canberra, the practical difficulties facing community staff, the sheer lack of worthwhile “jobs”, the challenge to stay honest and optimistic, the rampant political correctness attitude that demanded good people keep their mouths firmly shut or lose their jobs.
For a naïve young white city boy who came to Alice fired up to work with Aboriginal people after meeting the incomparable pastor Doug Nicholls, it was a culture shock to beat all culture shocks.
I can say now, with the benefit of a lot of years that have flowed under the Causeway Bridge since then, that I feel for all Aboriginal people in those communities, together with their community staff and the fair dinkum community-based job creating agencies who face the reality every day.
I take my hat off to them all. I am so thankful that I had the privilege to be there at a unique time, to see the reality.
Back down here in the Big Smoke, I can see that the city mob generally, including the majority of politicians, would not have a clue about what makes remote communities tick. Not even the foggiest.

Recent Comments by John Bell

Sleeping on the floor in over-crowded juvie
In Victoria, stats released last week show that the 15 to 19 age group has the highest rate of violent crime.
If juvie detention centres in the NT are bursting at the seams with teenagers who assault guards, surely this tends to suggest that around the country, this age group is in serious danger of breaking down the sovereign borders of restraint and authority’s control.


Remains of missing man found near Yambah
@ Alex Nelson. Thank you Alex. It was a very sad situation. I have often wondered about the two young lads who found him and how they must have felt.


Remains of missing man found near Yambah
This brings to mind the finding of a human skeleton in the early 70s.
Up on the cliff face of the MacDonnell Range near Heavitree Gap, stuck in a cleft, an old .22 by his side, ragged remnants of clothes, with pre-decimal currency in the pocket.
He had been looking out over Sadadeen for quite a number of years, discovered by young lads climbing.
I cannot recall if identity was ever established, whether it was suicide or an accident.


Business group may establish ‘federal’ prison in The Centre
@ Carly. Your rather crass comment is perhaps better suited to the Twitteratti social comment medium, rather than in this respected cyber news medium?


Business group may establish ‘federal’ prison in The Centre
Strewth. A Federal prison in the Alice. The mind boggles. It could be filled immediately with Feddie ratbags and bushrangers for whom warrants are still outstanding from Traeger Park days of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
I can think of a few lads to be cell block chiefs. And then there are the Eover boys, the Pioneer lads, the Soupies … the place will be chockablock in an eyeblink.
They will have to throw away the keys.


Be Sociable, Share!