Story Archive » Volume 19 » Issue 37 »

September 20, 2012

Rehab of drunks is secondary to getting them off the streets, says A-G

 

Crime stats released: there is little difference in the number of alcohol-related assaults in Alice between 2010-11 and the BDR year, 2011-12, however alcohol-related assaults in Alice have increased by 47% since 2007.

 

The success of the government’s mandatory rehabilitation of habitual drunks will be measured by things like fewer protective custodies, fewer presentations at accident and emergency departments  – the usual benchmark indicators of social order, says the Territory’s new Attorney-General John Elferink (pictured at left).  And while the 800 or so “frequent flyers”, as he calls them, are incarcerated in the “camps” intended for them,  they will be off the streets – and that also will be  a measure of success. KIERAN FINNANE speaks to the Attorney-Genereal.

 

UPDATED: September 27, 10.25am. FULL STORY »

Offending in Alice significantly worse than five years ago …

… while Darwin’s offending is significantly better in many categories


The picture of offending in Alice Springs over the last five years is not pretty in most categories. Importantly our homicide and related offences are not climbing but in most other categories the increases are very significant. This is revealed in the June Quarter 2012 crime statistics released by the Mills Government yesterday. Darwin, by contrast, experienced significant decreases in most categories. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

‘Chain gang’ or holiday gaol time: a crucial question for our parks

When the new government gets cracking on its promised work camps for prisoners it needs to look no further than the Larapinta Trail, much of which was built by inmate labour in the 1990s. The current dry spell and the escalating threat from weeds to our neglected national parks, add urgency for a cheap workforce that can be deployed at short notice. The need to halt the decay of our prime natural assets, which should be bringing home the bacon for our flagging tourism industry, makes a good argument for change for people now doing time in what some regard as holiday comfort. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Pictured: Botanist Peter Latz with wattle burnt in a bushfire. FULL STORY »

New legislation to keep dangerous sex offenders locked up indefinitely

 

 

 

 

Dangerous prisoners can already be detained indefinitely if the Supreme Court so decides, so why is the Territory’s new Attorney-General, John Elferink, wanting to add legislation in this area? Mr Elferink introduced the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Restraint Bill while in Opposition and recently announced his intention to reintroduce it. It was among the matters of concern discussed with him by President of the Criminal Lawyers Association, Russell Goldflam, in their first meeting since the election last week. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Officers a leap ahead of councillors on parks

The Town Council’s Director of Technical Services, Greg Buxton, would appear to have been ‘freelancing’ (as Tony Abbott would put it) when he released earlier this month the 2004 draft report on council’s parks. When the issue of public consultation was raised in last night’s council meeting, Mayor Damien Ryan said it was Mr Buxton’s decision to present the report, he didn’t understand why he had done so and looked forward to finding out. Mr Buxton was not at the meeting to be asked. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

Central Desert Shire drops 11% of its Indigenous population

 

Central Desert Shire lost 6.6% of its population in the five years from 2006, according to the 2011 Census. And this was with a gain of 11.7% in its non-Indigenous population. Its Indigenous population fell by 11.1%. This was one of the standout snapshots from a presentation by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to the Alice Springs Town Council last night. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

  FULL STORY »

Aboriginal job training scheme in the bush: Governments, bureaucrats, contractors, public money – who gains what? A case study.

We are returning this story to the home page because we have received further government responses – as distinct from answers.

Leaving your home town to learn a trade is a tough call for anyone, even more so if you’re an Aborigine living in a tight-knit remote community: while the bright lights may be alluring, the temptation of booze too often has catastrophic consequences.

Now a Cairns, Darwin and Adelaide based company has developed what may well be the answer: Don’t take the people to the training, take the training to the people. By ERWIN CHLANDA. Photo: Construction industry trainees in the APY lands. FULL STORY »

Mills sidesteps Coroner’s recommendation

UPDATE, September 18, 3.30pm:  Shadow Minister for Police Kon Vatskalis has called on the CLP Government to implement Coroner Greg Cavanagh’s recommendation regarding reducing the supply of excess alcohol from take away outlets. However, he puts his own gloss on what that would mean: reinstating the Banned Drinker Register … read more in FULL STORY.

 

Chief Minister Terry Mills has side-stepped Coroner Greg Cavanagh’s recommendation that an urgent meeting of stakeholders be convened in Alice Springs to commit to “all available, reasonable measures to reduce the supply of excess alcohol from take away outlets”. As reported yesterday, this was one of two recommendations to government made by the Coroner in handing down his findings from the inquest into the death in custody of Kwemetyaye Briscoe.

Mr Mills’ response in a media release focussed on “the need for cultural change within the Northern Territory police force”. On the issue of alcohol control, Mr Mills said only that the “Country Liberals will increase the focus on mandatory rehabilitation”. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

  FULL STORY »

Bushfires an even bigger heartache when they are started by fools

The big country we live in turns into a monster when it burns, thumbing its nose at our feeble efforts to regain the upper hand.
It’s the more agonising when the cause is human stupidity, carelessness or malice, as appears to have been the case a few days ago when part of the West MacDonnell National park, our greatest tourism asset, was turned into cinder.
An area of about 40 square kilometers was burned.
One blaze was started by the roadside near Redbank Gorge.
Another, ignited in dozens of spots for some 30 kilometers on the Glen Helen to Alice Springs road, was lit by sparks from a car driven on its rims. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

ABOVE: The Finke River (foreground) stopped the bushfire just short of a popular bush camp, and the Glen Helen Resort. Mount Sonder is in the background, charred bushland in the middle ground. LEFT: A curry wattle re-grows after a bushfire in the MacDonnell Ranges, near Ormiston. FULL STORY »

Hard work finding the small steps of progress in Territory education

The preliminary NAPLAN results

 

You have to work hard to find a positive for the Northern Territory out of the preliminary results for NAPLAN – National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy – released on Friday. New Education Minister Robyn Lambley did, pointing to the percentage rate of improvement in the proportion of students at or above the National Minimum Standard in the Territory being stronger than in other jurisdictions. However, Mrs Lambley described the gains since 2011 as “marginal” and acknowledged that the Territory still has “the nation’s poorest education outcomes”, while longtime educator Ralph Folds says the results should be considered in the context of  the extensive additonal investment made in education, particularly in Indigenous schooling. In that light they are “disappointing”. KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

  FULL STORY »

Country Liberals ‘not ruling out’ a floor price for alcohol

Key stakeholders in the Centre will meet about alcohol policy

 

UPDATE, September 18, 7.00pm: While they are “not ruling out” the introduction of a floor price on alcohol, the Country Liberals have “traditionally opposed it”, said a spokesperson for Deputy Chief Minister Robyn Lambley … read more in FULL STORY. 

 

Deputy Chief Minister Robyn Lambley would appear to be foreshadowing the introduction of a floor price for alcohol – whether Territory-wide or in Central Australia only is not clear. She has just issued a press release, calling on Police Minister Kon Vatskalis to say “whether Labor supports a floor price on the sale of take-away alcohol – a supply side measure Labor previously opposed when in Government”. – Kieran Finnane FULL STORY »

Alleged burglars sought by police

 

 

Police are asking for public assistance to identify two males who are responsible for several offences including the unlawful entry of an Alice Springs bar. FULL STORY »

Lifeguards needed to keep aquatic centre alive

The new operators of the aquatic centre are struggling to get enough staff for the extended operating hours required by the Town Council last week.
Rob Heinjus, of the Adelaide based firm Casa Leisure, says he hopes permanent residents will show more interest in becoming lifeguards to make making the $19m facility work.
Around 12 of them are needed during the summer season, and three to four when only the indoor pool is in operation.
It’s hard to operate with itinerants such as backpackers or short-term visitors, he says.

Photo: The indoor pool of the aquatic center (courtesy Town Council). FULL STORY »

Briscoe Inquest: reduce supply of excess alcohol from take away outlets, says Coroner

“The NT Police shoulders a huge burden from alcohol sales. They cannot be expected to tackle the social problems that result, in the absence of further initiatives to stop the flow of alcohol in the community.” – Coroner Greg Cavanagh, Kwementyaye Briscoe Inquest.

 

Less than one month after taking power and ushering in a new era of Territorians taking “individual responsibility” for their drinking, the Mills CLP Government has been called upon by the Coroner to urgently convene a stakeholder meeting in Alice Springs to commit to “all available, reasonable measures to reduce the supply of excess alcohol from take away outlets”. This is one of two recommendations to the government arising from the inquest into the death in custody of Kwementyaye Briscoe, who died in the Alice Springs Watch House on January 4 this year. Coroner Greg Cavanagh handed down his findings today. KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »

No deposit home loans appear unlikely

 

UPDATE September 18, 3:45pm:

“The My New Home scheme is an interesting proposal – my only concern is that there’s often a difference between what governments, lending institutions and finance brokers say people can borrow and how much they should,” says Duncan Poulson, NT Regional Commissioner of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

 

Posted September 17:

The new government appears unlikely to implement the no-deposit, low interest scheme, My New Home, promised by the defeated Labor government – certainly not in a hurry. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Coniston: survivors and descendants recall the massacre in a new film

How could a man designated Protector of Aborigines end up leading a revenge party that would shoot at least 31 of them, including women and children, and probably many more, in retaliation for the death of one white man? It is a question that preoccupies a white Australian audience but the film Coniston does not try to answer it.  Nor does it look in much detail into the broad context of the infamous event it is concerned with – the last white on black massacre in Australia, starting at Coniston, about 250 kms north-west of Alice Springs, in 1928. The one hour documentary, that includes dramatised sequences, focusses instead on capturing the oral history of the massacre held by Warlpiri, Anmatyerr and Kaytetye people. KIERAN FINNANE reviews.

  FULL STORY »

Goodbye at last, Berrimah Line?

A possible cure for the Berrimah Line malaise is the by-product of the report by Alice-based remoteFOCUS – part of Desert Knowledge Australia – about fly-in, fly-out workers, presented to the Senate this week.
And this tonic would be far more potent than the pledges from either major party, invariably broken, that Central Australia will no longer be left out in the cold.
The answer could be a commission or authority, or a company established under the Corporations Act, wholly owned by the members, or some other legal mechanism, says Bruce Walker, the report’s main author.
He tailored the recommendations to the Pilbara, where governance is driven by a sustained mining boom, but says they could easily be adapted to Central Australia, which now has the welfare industry as its main business.
Dr Walker says the background to the decades-long desire of people in The Centre to have control over their lives is a litany of neglect, misunderstanding and disinterest. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photos from the report – landscapes in Central Australia and the Pilbara. FULL STORY »

Cr Brown adapts Port Augusta solution to Alice Springs, calls for closer look at youth centre proposal

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

A councillor has described the new government’s plans of spending $2.5m on refurbishing the youth centre, announced in the dying days of the election campaign, as “another short term token gesture,” suggesting the project should be deferred pending a closer look.
Cr Steve Brown renewed his call to spend up to $40m for a new centre, possibly on the Memo Club or the Melanka sites, and featuring a string of facilities and services for young people and the general public.
In a discussion paper he will present at tonight’s town council meeting, he is also making a call for regular questioning by the town council of local departmental heads about the activities of their instrumentalities, such as it is carried out at Port Augusta. Cr Brown also wants, for young people who are neglected, homeless or in trouble with the law, a bush camp with cattle and horses, modeled on initiatives by long-time youth worker Graham Ross, possibly at the government owned Owen Springs reserve.
Photo: Mr Ross (left) and Cr Brown inspecting a possible site for a youth camp west of Alice Springs, five years ago. FULL STORY »

Councillors want free wi-fi in Todd Mall

Councillors this week rejected a recommendation by officers not to install free public access wi-fi in Todd Mall, asking for more information. FULL STORY »

Chairman of new tourist commission on hunt for experts to fix industry

 

UPDATE on Saturday’s report: Interview with tourism supremo.

 

SATURDAY’S REPORT:

Both new tourism supremos announced so far by Minister Matt Conlan are Darwin-based although portions of Tourism NT, including new CEO Tony Mayell, will be moved to Alice Springs – where the organisation was located for many years.

Tourism Central Australia (TCA) chairman Jeff Huyben has not returned calls from the Alice Springs News Online but a local tourism figure, Deborah Rock, a former member of the TCA board and an unsuccessful Labor candidate in the August 25 NT elections, says it is still premature to criticise key people.
It will be interesting to see who else is appointed to the Tourism Commission to be set up, she says.
Mr Conlan yesterday nominated Michael Bridge (pictured) as its chairman. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
FULL STORY »

The way it’s always been and the ways of the future

The old men from Amata stole the show. It wasn’t just their charisma but their focus – the young people of their community –  and their enquiring and imaginative outlook. Frank Young, Hector Burton and Ray Ken spoke to their ideas and work at the Desert Mob symposium on Friday. Willy Kaika and Barney Wangin were present in the auditorium and the men were joined on stage by a collaborator, the much younger installation artist Jonathan Jones, a Wiradjuri man from NSW.

The men are still painting – all of them except Young have work in the Desert Mob exhibition – but they have also turned their attention to teaching their young men to make their traditional weapons, kulata (spears) and spear-throwers.  As they worked they saw “how strong and powerful” the weapons would look in their art work, said Young, director of Tjala Arts and chairman of the community, who translated for the other men. They began to imagine a room in a gallery “full of spears, thousands of spears”.

KIERAN FINNANE reports from Desert Mob, the symposium and the exhibition. 

 

Pictured, from left: Jonathan Jones, Ray Ken, Hector Burton and Frank Young. In the photograph behind them, Willy Kaika (left) with Burton. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Quota back in Alice

Quota International is looking to re-establish the once vibrant Quota Club in Alice Springs. FULL STORY »

A canvas of stone and concrete

The stone walls and simple geometry of the Old Stuart Town Gaol last night became the canvas for a different kind of street art, known as “video architecture”. Aptly named, it doesn’t just look for a flat surface to mark or adorn, but actually responds to the form of the building, inviting you, creator or viewer, to re-imagine it.

 

Words by KIERAN FINNANE, pictures by ERWIN CHLANDA.

  FULL STORY »

APY lands get income management

The Australian Government will introduce income management in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the Top End of South Australia to help families ensure their welfare payments are spent in the best interests of children, according to a media release from Jenny Macklin, Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

A similar system operates in the Northern Territory under the Federal Intervention.
“Income management ensures that money is available for life essentials, and provides a tool to stabilise people’s circumstances and ease immediate financial stress,” says the release.
“Consultations in May this year with APY Lands communities clearly showed strong support for income management on the Lands.”

Picture: Minister Macklin in Alice Springs in 2008. FULL STORY »

LETTER: A lot of hassle for a litre of oil – motor home tourist won’t spend any more money here.

I would like to award Centralian Motors the thumbs down for wasting a day of my holidays. FULL STORY »

LETTER: Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association says live cattle exports on the right track

After last week’s industry and producer tour of inspection of live export supply chains in Sumatra and Java, David Warriner, president of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, congratulated Indonesian industry, importers and Australian exporters on the implementation of the new Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) in Indonesia. FULL STORY »