Story Archive » Volume 18 » Issue 43 »

November 24, 2011

Native title group: losing a battle but winning the war?

 

UPDATED: Still working on ORIC compliance order.

 

Alice Springs native title holders determined to reform their organisation, Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation (LAAC), say they may have lost a battle at last week’s annual general meeting but they are starting to win the war.

Brian Stirling was re-elected chairman – by just one vote – but the seven hour meeting set in motion a string of measures to get clarity about the multi-million dollar investments, in supermarkets and real estate, by entities linked to Lhere Artepe.
The 2010/11 financial report tabled revealed LAAC assets totaling $678,000 in the form of loans to related commercial entities, including $282,000 to LAE Discretionary Trust, understood to be associated with the Mt Johns real estate development, and Lhere Artepe Enterprises ($390,000).
LAAC itself had a loss of $317,000, up from $74,000 last year.

LAAC has now complied the majority of the 20 requirements of a compliance notice issued by ORIC earlier this year and “the outstanding matters should be finalised before the end of November or early December 2011,” the meeting was told.

It became clear that the power of “contract” CEO Darryl Pearce will be curtailed and that he will need to corroborate his responses to queries from members with “paperwork”. This information comes from a key member of the reform group, Janice Harris (pictured), now a director of Lhere Artepe. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Pictured at top: Today’s Lhere Artepe website – its redevelopment is “due for completion in early 2011 [sic]”. FULL STORY »

NT Government action on grog clearly not enough for Macklin

Adam Giles slams Feds giving themselves new alcohol reform powers in NT

 

The Australian Government will add to the ways in which it tells the Northern Territory Government what to do with new measures to tackle alcohol abuse  just announced.

It’s a move vehemently criticised by Shadow Minister for Central Australia, Adam Giles (pictured), who says the “Territory Labor Government has again ceded its sovereignty to the Commonwealth as a direct result of its failure to bring about improvements in living conditions on Aboriginal communities.”

The NT’s most recent alcohol reforms have been packaged under the banner Enough is Enough but they are clearly not enough, in the view of Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin.

The Stronger Futures legislation, being introduced into the national parliament today, will give her new power to request that the NT appoint independent assessors to look into licensed venues that are contributing to significant alcohol related harm to Aboriginal people through their serving practices.

“If the independent assessors find that the venues are disproportionately contributing to alcohol related harm to Aboriginal people, the Australian Government will work with the Northern Territory Government to ensure the practices of those venues change,” she says.

Specific venues are not mentioned in the government’s announcement but the so-called ‘animal bars’ (video below) of Alice Springs have been the subject of controversy, with strong criticism of their mode of operation aired in the national media, and would seem likely candidates for scrutiny. – Kieran Finnane

 

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it’s missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe. This error may appear if the URL path to the embedded object is broken or you have connectivity issue to the embedded object. Powered BY XVE Various Embed. FULL STORY »

Sunset on Intervention in 10 years

The Australian Government’s Stronger Futures legislation – essentially a further Intervention – will “sunset” after 10 years, says Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin. When its measures achieve their objective, they will not continue. An independent review will commence after seven years, with its findings to be tabled in parliament.

Progress has been made, says Ms Macklin, but “across each of the Closing the Gap targets, the gap remains the greatest for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory” and in particular “some children are still not receiving proper care, and that is completely unacceptable”. FULL STORY »

Close, contemporary, complex

 

What a weekend! Art here, performance there and even more art over yonder! It started with the dance theatre production, Close To Me. Performances by a cast of people of  mixed abilities from Acacia Hill School and Life Without Barriers were so beautiful I was moved to tears several times! It was amazing to see Araluen Theatre packed out by such a diverse cross section of people. And I’ve never heard such pre-show raucousness and such a fast falling hush as the lights went out.

The next night it was out to Araluen again, this time to see the beautiful group show aptly titled, Sequences and Cycles: Contemporary Ceramics from the Desert. Pip McManus’ little, insignificant men set against vast and monumentally contrasting circumstances particularly enchanted me.

Then the next night to a dinner hosted by puppets at Watch This Space. I had already had, to varying degrees, two intensely emotive visual experiences and now I was being led into a room blindfolded and sat next to people I didn’t know …

 

Pictured: Earth by Pip McManus. Photo courtesy the artist and Araluen Arts Centre. FULL STORY »

Arrernte Workforce for hire: ‘We don’t need funding’

 

“Standing on our own two feet, that’s the beauty of it all.”

Thomas Warren (pictured) is crewing for Arrernte Workforce Solutions, once a CDEP provider but now an independent Aboriginal enterprise, working mostly on grounds maintenance contracts and competing in the marketplace at commercial rates.

When their CDEP funding was taken away, Arrernte Workforce was not ready for independent commercial trade. It probably would have fallen over, if its present manager, Damien Armstrong, hadn’t picked up the pieces. It’s been a struggle over two years, to completely restructure and get to the point where they are now, with good secure trade and consistent employment of Indigenous people “without being any burden whatsoever on government funding”.

Today Arrernte Workforce employs a full-time bookkeeper and a permanent crew of six men, working on different contracts in teams of two or three, five days a week or more. As well there are two casuals on call and a “stack of resumes” on Mr Armstrong’s desk, from “motivated individuals who would like to come on board”.

“At the end of the day we are Indigenous people who want to work, we’re not being forced to work out of fear of our dole being cut off,” he says. “I’m a businessman, I’m into making money and employing people. As we become a more successful business, we’ll be able to give back to the community – because I reckon we’re here to stay.” KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Todd River: will we stand by and let the worst happen?

 

Alice Springs wants to be a player in the global tourism business but it is allowing one of its major assets to be destroyed by neglect and vandalism. Vienna has its famous Woods, New York its Central Park and Paris has the Bois du Bologne. Yet Alice’s Todd River, a wild landscape in the heart of the town, is abandoned to arsonists, vandals, litter bugs and remains shut off from visitors whose major attraction it should be. KIERAN FINNANE comments.

 

Deliberately lit fires have exacted a heavy toll on the Todd River and its trees since the warmer weather began. It seems that we are in a brief moment of reprieve but instead of moving to the front foot, the town seems to be sitting back, waiting for the worst to happen.

We can hardly expect the destructive mindset of the arsonists to have changed all of a sudden, so why is there not a sense of urgency about doing what it takes to reduce the fuel load in the river corridor?

The action that needs to be taken is not rocket science – immediate removal of combustible material around individual trees, possibly linked with fire breaks. Every tree is precious, from the ancient giants to the more recent trees. Their protection is all part of the investment.

The Alice Springs Town Council, as trustee of the Todd and Charles Rivers, must step up to its responsibilities. Or is all this talk of connecting the town to the river, our greatest natural asset, mere lip service? – Kieran Finnane.

Pictured: Top – The aftermath of Spring fires in the Todd River, south of Tunks causeway. Right – Charred ground beneath a red gum which has shed its seed pods. By photographer and naturalist MIKE GILLAM.

 

 

In our slideshow MIKE GILLAM tells the story in 12 images. FULL STORY »

Carrots for jobs, sticks for education and grog

New NT Intervention measures

 

While the Australian Government is extending the ‘stick’ approach in the field of education, tying welfare payments to school attendance, and alcohol, extending income management arrangements for people with alcohol related problems, there was no mention of the stick in relation to jobs. The announcements today, part of the Northern Territory Intervention Mark 2, are all ‘carrots’, sounding very like the carrots proffered in the past. This new bunch cost $19.1 million.

On the government’s school attendance ‘stick’ Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion says: “Labor is all talk and no action with the re-announcement of welfare quarantining of Aboriginal parents who don’t get their children to school.

“This government can re-announce this policy until the cows come home but it is no good unless it is acted on and people are breached.”

Headlining the government’s new programs are 50 new ranger positions in the Working on Country program.

There’s also emphasis on local filling local jobs, with traineeships to support up to 100 Aboriginal people to fill service delivery jobs in their communities. FULL STORY »

Bigger steps needed to fix the grog and the violence

 

“The Intervention’s new alcohol measures are steps, but they’re just small steps, when what we urgently need are big steps,” says newly elected President of the Criminal Lawyers Association of the Northern Territory, Russell Goldflam.

The latest measures announced under the Intervention involve compulsory income management for people with alcohol-related problems and ministerial approval of local alcohol management plans under guidelines yet to be announced.

The “big steps” that Mr Goldflam and CLANT want are a floor price and volumetric tax. Measures such as these would have a chance of making inroads on the NT’s appalling levels of domestic violence, fueled by alcohol.

“Let’s have a minimum price on grog so that nothing alcoholic is cheaper than the current price of beer. And let’s have a tax based on how much actual alcohol is in the product, to wipe out the ridiculously unfair advantage cheap and nasty cask wine producers have over all their competitors.

“Do that, and we’ll see an immediate, substantial and sustained reduction in grog-fuelled violence,” says the senior Alice Springs legal aid lawyer who has represented hundreds of clients charged with assaulting their partner or other family members. FULL STORY »

Intervention – solid black? Or shades of grey and even some light?

1343 Aboriginal residents in 16 remote communities give their assessment of what the Intervention has achieved and the challenges to come.

 

The Northern Territory Intervention – “punitive” and a “betrayal of Aboriginal people” as conditions deteriorate even further, as the Stop the Intervention Collective in Sydney (STICS) would have us believe?

Or making some headway, as the responses of 1343 Aboriginal residents surveyed in 16 remote communities suggest?

Believe the STICS media release that paints a picture, without nuance, of devastation and despair?

Or the research results that discern the shades of grey, particularly between small and larger communities, and even discern some light?  Your call.

The Community Safety and Wellbeing Research Study was commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA, the one responsible, of course, for the Intervention) and was conducted by four social research companies, employing 50 local Indigenous people to work with them. They made three trips to each community between December last year and June this year, systematically asking residents, using a questionnaire, about the changes that have taken place over the last three years, producing quantitative data for statistical analysis. Residents also took part in discussions about their own experiences and priorities in their community, producing qualitative data.

The study summaries the key “very strong” messages from the survey: the majority of people judge that their life has improved over the last three years; young people are the epicentre of many difficult community dynamics; and, small communities are very different to large ones.

Its authors comment that there is an enormous policy challenge to create conditions in which it is more difficult for young people to opt for a ‘party’ lifestyle, and easier to get a job. They also says there is scope for working to understand why larger communities are much more difficult environments in which to achieve positive change, and to fashion policy to address their very particular dynamics.  Pictured: Children during lunch break at Ntaria School in 2009. Their hot meal had been provided by a school nutrition program, the likes of which, along with the Basics Card, have meant that more kids over the last three years have been getting more food. Photo from our archive. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

From Intervention Lalaland: ‘We demand reparations’

 

PICTURED are Concerned Australians (from left): Alastair Nicholson (Former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia),  Barbara Shaw (Alice Springs); Djapirri Murunggirritj (Yirrkala); Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra OAM (Elcho Island); Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM (Utopia); Japata Ryan (Kalkaringi); Harry Nelson (Yuendumu).

 

And now, a short excursion into the Lalaland of some Intervention foes.
Wikipedia will tell you reparations are “measures taken by the state to redress gross and systematic violations of human rights law or humanitarian law”.
So normally, reparations are given to people who have something taken away from them – sometimes a relative’s life, or many relatives’ lives.
“Northern Territory Elders and Community Representatives” as they call themselves, are now seeking reparations for having received something, namely around a billion taxpayers’ dollars for housing and a string of other services and measures. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

A new jobs program for locals at Ayers Rock Resort – will this one succeed?

When the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) bought the Ayers Rock Resort late last year there was not a single local Aboriginal employee working there – despite good intentions by the resort’s previous owners and many training programs over the years. So it will be interesting to see if a new program, announced today by Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development Mark Arbib, succeeds.

Like many before it, the focus is on training, this time to be delivered at the ILC’s newly established Indigenous Training Academy at Yulara, benefiting from a $4.9 million partnership with the Australian Government.

A 12 month traineeship program will recruit locally and from across Australia by offering competitive wages, help with relocation and costs of living, retention bonuses and a guaranteed job, either at the resort or in the hospitality and tourism industry.

All up the program is expected to create 350 new jobs at the resort and in the hospitality industry elsewhere. – Kieran Finnane

Photo: Filling empty resort beds with Aboriginal trainees? FULL STORY »