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

Wakefield insists on Anzac Oval, ignores majority
Seems to me as a former Stott House rezzie long ago that the Melanka block is the perfect tourist spot for a gallery.
But what about the sacred site trees on the Melanka block? Would a space be left for them in the middle of the gallery?
Or have they been cut down? I confess I have not seen the block for a few years.


Martin Luther King III ‘disheartened’ by what he saw in Alice
@ Evelyne Roullet. I am not sure that your reference to this Latin phrase fits the critical grog problem social situation in Alice.
The full Latin phrase is “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam”. Roman statesman Cato the Elder 200 years before Christ was reported by Livy and other historians as saying “furthermore, it is my opinion that Carthage should be destroyed”.
Carthage was Ancient Rome’s major enemy, sitting on its doorstep about three days’ sail away in what is modern day Tunisia. Long after Cato’s death, the Roman army on the Third Punic War left not a stone upon a stone of its rival city, decreeing that nothing was to be built on the site thereafter.
I don’t think anyone envisages the “tap being turned off” completely, leaving not a keg upon a keg in the pubs and takeaways of the Alice.
We have learnt the lesson. Grog is entrenched in the DNA of every race in human culture throughout the world.
We found that out in the western world with Prohibition that will never be revisited in Alice or anywhere else after the failed experiment in the USA of the 1930s.
The trick will always be now to wisely navigate the perils of over-indulgence, especially in our young people of all races and colour who are hammering themselves for whatever reasons with the added beast of drugs.
Like Ancient Rome, the grog solution in Alice will not be built in a day. We just have to keep looking for answers.


Large number of cars vandalised at Araluen
@Josh Davis. Josh. You are being a tad unfair, quite harsh, in fact, on 99.9% of people who have been expressing serious concerns about escalating property and increasingly violent youth behaviour.

No fairminded person has been “heaping endless vitriol” on these kids. They are simply distressed and fearful of what may well happen in the very near future if this massively destructive behaviour does not stop, no matter what the root cause is.

There has to be a balance between opportunities to rehabilitate/reconnect and getting these kids to take responsibility for their own actions.

They have to be taught, if they do not know already, that the consequences of their anarchic behaviour cause serious hurt and deep stress to victims and their families. Invariably.

In many cases the nameless victims they target suffer far more than the kids who are doing the damage.

Taking personal responsibility and growing up to be good citizens knows no cultural boundaries. All cultures must apply the same standards to be met by their youth.

If these kids can simply be taken back to talk to the victims they have hurt, every time, I believe the light will eventually switch on for all except the smallest minority in every culture who may never wish to change or give a toss.

It would also be comfort for the victims and conducive to better understanding and better relations between the feared and the fearful.


Large number of cars vandalised at Araluen
Is the Alice a very sad place now, or am I just imagining it?
So many locals and former locals of the Baby Boomer generation have been saying to me that these are the most depressing and awful of times compared with the Alice of the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
It seems to me that racial issues now take second place to the sheer lawlessness of Alice youth out of control.
The relevant authorities, both black and white, appear unable to stem the overwhelming tide of youthful social anarchy, let alone define and isolate the real reasons, far less coming up with any answers.
Where to now, Alicians?


A life in flowers: new account of the extraordinary Olive Pink
In a letter of thanks to Dan Conway and the staff of NTA District Office in Hartley Street in 1969 for remembering her birthday on St Patricks Day with a bunch of flowers, Miss Pink fondly recalled her favourite flower from when she was a little girl in Tasmania.
Primrose forget-me-nots.
Miss Pink used the term “Alician” to describe herself.
Thank you, Ms Ward, for this lovely tribute to a great Alician, a true Lady of the Red Heart who loved all flowers.


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