Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 26 »

June 28, 2012

Donna Ah Chee acting CEO of Congress as board seems headed for the chop

 

 

Prominent Alice Springs woman Donna Ah Chee (pictured) has been appointed acting CEO of the troubled Congress.
Ms Ah Chee is the former deputy CEO of Congress but spent the last year heading up the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) in Canberra.
Meanwhile speculation is rife that the NT Department of Justice, under whose legislation Congress is incorporated, will sack the Congress board and appoint a statutory manager. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Henbury carbon farm: more than watching the grass grow

A perennial water hole on the Finke River with Alice Spencer, Program Administrator: Community, Climate and Biodiversity for R.M.Williams Agricultural Holdings. Photo by Martin Vivian Pearse, R.M.Williams Agricultural Holdings.

There’s more to carbon farming than locking up land and watching the grass grow. To earn money from carbon credits in this brave new world there needs to be “additionality”, in other words, the project needs to have come about as a result of the carbon markets, not as a result of land management improvements for other reasons.

There also needs to be “permanence”: the farm needs to keep doing its sequestration job (pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it)  in perpetuity.

This is where there is potential for local jobs now and into the future, drawing on a similar skill set to the pastoral industry. So explained Rebecca Pearse, manager for R. M. Williams Agricultural Holdings’ carbon project on Henbury Station, when she spoke to the recent ABARES Regional Outlook* conference in Alice Springs.

Ms Pearse and her husband David will be living at Henbury, 130 kms south-west of Alice, when the carbon farm “goes live” next month – quite a change from the esoteric world of the “weather derivatives market” in Europe, which is what they were involved in previously.

KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

 

Pictured: Rebecca and David Pearse who will soon call Henbury Station home. Photo by Martin Vivian Pearse, R.M.Williams Agricultural Holdings. FULL STORY »

Overseas trips with no report back to Congress – allegation

Congress CEO Stephanie Bell and Board President Helen Kantawara travelled to Hawaii last year together with Board member, Darryl Pearce (former CEO of the native title holder body, Lhere Artepe, since sacked) and a family member of Ms Bell’s, according to reliable community sources.

Ms Bell’s partner Brian Stirling, also a Board member and former chairman of Lhere Artepe, was booked to go on the trip but cancelled due to ill health. His fares could not be refunded.

If the trip was in some way connected with Congress business – the delivery of health services to Aborigines in The Centre – the sources say the organisation has never received a report about it. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

PHOTO: A recent Board (from the Congress website) – at left Mr Stirling, at right Mr Pearce, center Ms Kantawara (red shirt, standing). FULL STORY »

Tangentyere ‘cell visitors scheme’ may have prevented death

 

Hourly visits to police cells checking on inmates were a routine task for social workers employed by Tangentyere, says former Alice identity Eddie Taylor (pictured).
He says for four or five years in the late 1990s the youth night patrol called at the police cells, spoke to all prisoners and made sure they were OK. Mr Taylor says if the scheme had been continued, it may have saved the life of Kwementyaye Briscoe whose death in the police cells is the subject of a coronial enquiry. FULL STORY »

From rags to wearable riches

A bridal gown from a tablecloth, a party dress from a curtain, a coat from a blanket. And how? Raid the op shops, then recycle, deconstruct, reconstruct, embellish. Sewing skills are a must; tacking is advised. Above all, have an eye for design, for the possibilities.

They call it “sustainable couture” and last night was its fourth showing in Alice Springs. Well-known names were joined by first-timer Jane Lloyd, who has recently found the time to resurrect the sewing skills taught by her mother when they lived in Darwin in the days before TV.

There’s a camaraderie between the designers, all of them women. So much so that Nicky Schonkala, known for the clean lines of her designs, feels that her style is “morphing” into Carmel Ryan’s – more complex and decorative. – Story and photos by KIERAN FINNANE

 

Pictured: Aviator’s outfit with a difference, designed by Nicky Schonkala, modeled by Madly Bodin. FULL STORY »

Pay dispute with Robert de Castella: Alice runner John Bell raises new issues.

A bitter dispute has erupted between Alice sporting identity John Bell and former world marathon record holder Robert de Castella over a project that took four young Territory Aborigines to New York, to compete in the annual marathon there.

Two of the young runners, Charlie Maher and Caleb Hart, are from Alice Springs.
The project was featured in an ABC TV documentary and is receiving $1.2m from the Federal Government to make it an ongoing initiative, according to Mr Bell.
Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon had helped to arrange the grant.
Mr Bell says Mr de Castella owes him $100,000 in wages for 20 months’ work but Mr de Castella says Mr Bell was a volunteer and had declined to accept money so as not to affect a disability pension. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

Picture by Dan Himbrechts, Adelaide Now. Robert De Castella with (left to right) Charlie Maher, Juan Darwin and Caleb Hart.

NOTE NEW COMMENT BY MR BELL. FULL STORY »

Briscoe inquest: Alcohol’s ‘flotsam and jetsam’ forever a burden on police?

When Kwementyaye Briscoe died in the Alice Springs police watch house in January it was a tragic event for him, his family and the community.
The coronial enquiry heard evidence that police procedure surrounding the death was inadequate and more appropriate action by several officers may have prevented the death of the extremely drunk man.
Counsel for the Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) Lex Silvester addressed the enquiry and acknowledged the severity of the events: “That Kumanji’s death occurred in the circumstances then prevailing is a matter for profound regret. The loss of a child, brother, sister, relative or friend causes terrible grief the extent of which can only ever be known to those closest.”
However, much of Mr Silvester’s address to the Coroner, in its content and significance to the community, went well beyond the events of that night.
It painted a horrendous picture of the trauma, mayhem and tragedy alcohol is causing, and the intolerable burden that is placed on the police, every day. It went further to urge a sweeping independent review of the take-away liquor trade in Alice Springs. 
The Alice Springs News Online has been an important forum for discussion about better management and control of the use of alcohol. It is in this spirit that we publish excerpts from Mr Silvester’s submission.

PHOTO: Police CCTV image of Kwementyaye Briscoe in the watch house shortly before his death. FULL STORY »

Pool contract awarded

The Town Council has awarded to the South Australian company CASA Leisure the management contract for the aquatic and leisure centre, although the council will carry out a range of functions. FULL STORY »

What a week!

 

Hi. Welcome to a new column. From next week we’ll post it on Saturdays. It’s comment and opinion, not reporting. It’s what goes through my mind digesting the week’s events over a cuppa on Saturday morning or a whiskey in the arvo.
It’s as much a reflection about the results of our reporting work as it is about the valuable contributions from you, the reader. Use the comment box below to let me (pictured) know what you think. ERWIN CHLANDA. FULL STORY »

Massive fuel price savings not passed on to Alice motorists

 

 

When it comes to the exorbitant fuel prices in Central Australia it’s not about the bottom line but about the top line – namely the yellow one in the two graphs above.
It shows what you are paying at the pump compared to the Terminal Gate Price (TGP, mauve line) and the Singapore Parity price (blue line).
And the gap is what the dealers are pocketing.
In the last three months that margin grew massively: the TGP dropped significantly but the dealers hardly adjusted their prices, so that the margin, per liter, is now around 40c.
That’s around five times the average around Australia. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Council gets the drum on community harmony, Port Augusta style

While he was “really impressed” with the many “community harmony” initiatives taken in Port Augusta, and with their apparent success reflected in the town’s general appearance and atmosphere, the consultant reporting back to the Alice Springs Town Council was at pains to point out the “very significant” differences between the two towns.

Alice has twice the population, said Craig Wilson of Craig Wilson Consultancy, formerly an employee of the Alice council, now based in Mt Gambier.

Port Augusta has only one Aboriginal community on its periphery, Davenport, in contrast to Alice’s 18 town camps.

Davenport, which is not a dry zone, has a population of around 200, compared with the 2000 to 3000 living in Alice’s camps.

Around 1300 people from outlying areas use Port Augusta as their regional hub, as opposed to the 11,000 to 12,000 for whom Alice is the regional centre, said Mr Wilson.

Key among the initiatives have been the Port Augusta Aboriginal Community Engagement Group and the City Safe Program. The engagement group’s enquiries into budgets and outcomes of various government departments and agencies were initially seen as “threatening” but are now well accepted. City Safe is in the hands of a private contractor whose personal qualities seem to account for a good deal of his success. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

PICTURE: Port Augusta’s ACEG in session. From left – Khatija Thomas Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement,  Aaron Stuart, Katy Burns, Alwyn McKenzie and Corey McKenzie. FULL STORY »

Doing a better job of managing a shoe-string budget

MacDonnell Shire has already started work on responding to the recently released Review of Councils’ Financial Sustainability.

A financial audit committee has been established, says CEO Diane Hood (pictured left), to sort out the weaknesses in the council’s financial management. The committee is meeting monthly, looking at how their income and expenditure statements are stacking up against the budget, and at their cash flow position.

If a service has been started, yet the grant funding for it has not been received, council can respond in a timely fashion, ie remind the funding body that it needs to pay up!

Ms Hood says two things in particular have contributed to the inconsistencies in council’s financial records pointed out by the review. One is that the shires are only four years old and the “clean-up” of the transfer of assets from the old community councils has still not been finalised. Another is that council was not doing a good job in allocating costs to the specific service delivered. Doing this properly allows managers to see that one service is not “cross-subsidising” another, to set priorities and to be sure they are not over-spending. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Desert Knowledge heading for desert wisdom?

First story of two.

 

Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) is five years old. Its precinct is now the place of work for up to 180 people in six organisations, all with a national profile, including CSIRO, which had been shutting down regional labs elsewhere but now has a staff of about 15 in The Alice, and the home-grown Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), the winner of Australia’s highest engineering prize, the 2011 Sir William Hudson Award.
The movement spawned Desert Knowledge CRC which morphed into Ninti One which, amongst other things, is getting millions of Federal dollars for shooting camels from helicopters. But that’s another story.
What has DKA been up to? Should we expect from it Desert Wisdom?  ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

PHOTO: Leadership course participants, front row left to right: Jade Kudrenko, Kellie Tranter, Barbara Shaw, Benedict Stevens, Lynda Lechleitner. Back row left to right: James Nolan, Lyndon Frearson, Mark Lockyer, Kristy Bloomfield, Nichole Kerslake, Donna Lemon, Tom Newsome, Skye Thompson, David Quan, Fionn Muster, Georgina Davison. FULL STORY »

Council landfill tenders soon

The Alice Town Council is about to call tenders for the refurbishment of the landfill using $3.5m in Federal money from Regional Development Australia (RDA), and $775,000 from the NT Government. FULL STORY »