December 18, 2002.


The Institute for Aboriginal Development (IAD) will be spending a Federal grant of $2.6m to build a new campus on South Terrace that in all likelihood will never be used Ð at least not for its intended purpose.
It is clear that it will face stiff competition from the Desert Peoples Centre (DPC) which will get a $30m campus, as part of Desert Knowledge and the Cooperative Research Centre complex, south of The Gap.
IAD last week withdrew from the DPC, leaving just two partners, the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) and Batchelor Institute.
Gatjil Djerrkura, Batchelor chairman, says DPC will fill the void left by IAD by developing its own educational and cultural programs.
This is likely to put IAD out in the cold as the Federal and NT governments Ð IAD's major clients Ð are likely to favor the new center, heavily subsidized with public funds, and the result of a willingness by two major organizations to cooperate.
So far $7m in Federal funds has been allocated to the DPC, through the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA), of which $700,000 has already been spent.
A spokesman for the DPC says a bid has been made for a further $2m from Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson.
But a spokesman for Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Phillip Ruddock appears to be in the dark about funding, saying the Commonwealth Government has "not committed yet to the Desert Peoples Centre".
"They have not come to a view on that yet."
The spokesman says it is "premature" to comment on who is participating in the centre and who is not.
NT Education Minister Sid Sterling says $300,000 is available immediately to the DPC.
While not ruling out that IAD Ð established by the Methodist Church in 1969 Ð will get further "fee for service" contracts from the NT Government, it seems clear that it will be favoring the new centre.
Says Mr Stirling: "IAD have played a valuable role for many, many years in providing training to those most in need.
"They see they have a continuing role to do that.
"And where that meets with government priorities, and they deliver a service efficiently and equitably, they will continue to get fees for services.
"There is no view of this government that they are cut out in any way.
"It's up to them, it's their decision.
"If they can remain a viable organisation, so much the better.
"We would have preferred them to be inside the Desert Peoples' Centre.
"Whether they continue to survive in the longer term is a question of the market place, in some sense, the quality of the service they are providing, and whether their service remains in need and is seen as a priority and meeting the needs of my government."
NT Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs John Elferink says IAD's decision to pull out "appears to demonstrate a lack of vision".
"I would hate to think that short term problems will have long term consequences."
Mr Stirling rejects claims by IAD that it was pushed out of the consortium by the other two partners, as does Mr Djerrkura.
Says Mr Djerrkurra: "We've had an open door arrangement for IAD through negotiation and consultations for a period of four or five years.
"We've been very understanding and patient.
"There is no suggestion in any shape or form of exclusion whatsoever."
Another source in DPC says the reticence of IAD delayed the project by at least six months.Mr Djerrkura also refutes IAD's assertion that the DPC doesn't have a business plan; and that the presence of non-indigenous people on the board would be a problem.
In fact only one of the 10 people on the association formed last week to manage the DPC is not Aboriginal: CAT head Bruce Walker, a key ideas man behind the entire Desert Knowledge concept.
Says Mr Stirling: "If there are one or two non-indigenous people on the board when it's finally worked through, so what?
"We want the best result."
PROPERTYSays Mr Djerrkurra, who was also speaking for CAT chairman James Bray, when asked whether the DPC would include services initially intended to be provided by IAD: "Oh, absolutely.
"We have a management committee that will look after all programs from buildings to educational programs, intellectual property, Aboriginal interests in all areas.
"There may be some courses where we could complement each other in joint efforts but that's for the future to materialise."
Will the DPC miss out on anything it originally wanted to do?
"No," says Mr Djerrkurra.
"CAT and Batchelor have put in all the effort to this stage, even without the effort of IAD in the past."
But IAD chairman Graeme Smith, well-known Pioneers footballer (he underwent a knee reconstruction in Adelaide last week) remains unrepentant: IAD does not want to be amalgamated or "swallowed up by this big consortium," he says.
"They've said quite openly, both [other] consortium members, and the project manager, maybe it's not time for IAD to come in yet.
"Maybe you should step back, pull out, and come back when your board feels you're ready.
"On one occasion we got excluded from a meeting.
"It was IAD's turn to host a DPC meeting because we used to do it on rotation.
"And when it was our turn to host it we got notice the meeting's been cancelled and they were having another meeting at CAT and we were told maybe we shouldn't turn up.
"If we get locked out the intention is not there for us to be equal.
"We're not saying we will come back later but we may."
Mr Smith says the conditions for participation in the DPC remained unclear.
"We're just worrying what's going to happen to the language and culture and traditions people are going to give to this consortium.
"Seems to be it's all giving, giving, giving and there's nothing in return.
"At the end of the day we're getting into a business out there, IAD, CAT and Batchelor, it's supposed to be a business.
"We're getting into a business and we don't see a business plan. A business plan hasn't been developed.
"All we've got is a draft structure and a draft constitution.
"We want to know what we're getting into.
"We're not convinced that there's going to be Aboriginal control and ownership from the top to the very bottom."
Mr Smith says the board of directors should be "entirely Aboriginal".
"Now there's room for government departments' representatives on there, non-indigenous directors or board members from the other two consortium members can be on there.
"We want to make sure Aboriginal people are making all the decisions [or else] they're just going to be talked over, out-muscled by the people É who have the dollars.
"There are Aboriginal organisations that get funding from governments now that are 100 per cent controlled by indigenous people.
"Why can't DPC be the same?"
IAD Ð with the possible exception of its publishing arm Ð has been torn by internal strife for some two years.
However, director Eileen Shaw says with the new campus in South Terrace, IAD "will provide second chance education and É also use the facility to run new community driven courses".
Ms Shaw says IAD has an annual budget of $3.5m, the Federal Government contributing $2.6m, ATSIC $400,000 and the remainder as fees for services from the ANTA paid via the NT Government, between $330,00 to $350,000 a year, covering 68 full time students.
The Commonwealth Ð directly Ð pays for 174 full time students.
In all IAD provides 95,000 annual hours of curriculum, that is the number of students multiplied by the number of hours they attend.
The course completion rate is 70 per cent, equivalent to national indigenous and non-indigenous completion rates, says Ms Shaw.
The agreement with La Trobe University is being re-negotiated but since 1995 has resulted in more than 20 people completing diplomas and degrees.
Ms Shaw says IAD has achieved the highest form of recognition by achieving the status of a self-accrediting registered training organisation.
The most recent check by an independent national auditor last February has extended IAD's registration for another five years.


The face of higher education and research is changing in Alice Springs.
On the one hand a Desert Knowledge precinct is set to become a reality, embracing the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre, which has just won $20m worth of Commonwealth funding, and the Desert Peoples Centre.
On the other, Centralian College, itself an innovative amalgamated TAFE and senior secondary school, is looking to merge with the Northern Territory University and possibly the Menzies School of Health Research, to become a yet-to-be badged, whole of-the-Territory higher education establishment.
This "conjunction of events", coming on top of the founding of the Centre for Remote Health, could change the face of Alice Springs itself, says Don Zoellner, currently Executive Director of Centralian College.
Just as the establishment of the University of New England put Armidale in central NSW on the map, so Alice Springs could become a place known as a centre for formal learning, says Mr Zoellner.
He says much credit should go to the College Council.
"It's a big ask. The college is running nicely, so why change?
"They have looked to the broader good of Alice Springs and the Northern Territory as a whole and taken a principled and community-minded stance."
Although legislation governing the new institution has not yet been formally signed off by government, arrangements are being made to enrol students for the start of the academic year in new on-campus higher education courses in Alice Springs.
In addition to Business and Nursing degrees already available in face-to-face study, will be the Bachelor of Education, and higher education studies in Information Technology.
The move will bring "substantial academic benefits" to the town, as well as the benefits of quite considerable economies of scale to the institution, says NTU Vice-Chancellor, Kenneth McKinnon.
Prof McKinnon says the results of a survey conducted by NTU makes him "fairly confident" that Alice students will enrol.
Mr Zoellner says the college already gets a lot of inquiries about studies particularly in the fields of nursing and education, where there are national shortages and consequently guaranteed futures for successful students.
Prof McKinnon says continuity of the courses on offer is assured.
Problems of continuity that NTU has experienced in the past he puts down to the extensive range of courses that the university has been expected to offer in Darwin.
He says all universities in cities of comparable populations, providing the bare minimum of students on campus aspiring to do the full range of courses, suffer similar problems.
The range of courses on offer in Alice Springs will be limited to the most popular.
Mr Zoellner says as Alice Springs has 20 per cent of the Territory's population, it should get 20 per cent of the higher education places.
"We have to be a bit more assertive about that.
"The success of the Business degree shows that if you offer the right subjects, people do respond.
"I am very keen to see the Bachelor of Fine Arts re-established. It's a shame that it ever went.
"And this area should also lend itself to degree studies in Tourism and Hospitality.
"We get huge numbers of secondary-age students doing Certificates I and II in Hospitality, we are bound to get good numbers moving through to career-oriented higher studies."


The latest - and likely, final - chapter in the saga of former wine maker Denis Hornsby's land development schemes unfolded when last month, the Development Consent Authority (DCA) considered an application from him.
As had been the case with several earlier schemes over more than 10 years, he wanted an exemption from the zoning requirement that blocks in the Rangeview Estate area must not be smaller than two hectares. Mr Hornsby wanted to subdivide his five hectare winery into four blocks.
Neighbours and land owners were concerned that this would set a precedent detrimental to their lifestyles; 18 of them, including the Rural Areas Association representing some 50 members, made formal objections.
The DCA resolved to allow him three blocks Ð including one of one hectare.
Outraged people throughout the Alice Springs rural area unleashed a flood of some 90 protest letters, emails and faxes to Lands Minister Kon Vatskalis and Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne.
Mr Vatskalis, using his statutory powers, instructed the DCA not to issue a subdivision permit. The residents were elated: after more than a decade of feeling powerless, the people had been listened to by the new government Ð due to hold a public enquiry into the entire planning process next year.
Mr Vatskalis' move had the backing of CLP Member for MacDonnell John Elferink.
Part Two of this comment (see last week's News for Part One) continues its detailed look at how the present planning process works Ð the kind of opportunities it offers developers and denies to "third parties".
On November 28 the futile ritual of the DCA hearing into the latest Hornsby application unfolded in offices of the Department of Lands and Planning, upstairs in the Alice Plaza Shopping Centre.
In one corner of the corridor were Mr Hornsby and supporters, in the other, objectors, eyeing each other off uneasily, before being invited into the conference room.
The room is set up like a court.
Opponents to the scheme, who had filed 18 objections, and were merely seeking the maintenance of the status quo, were required to make their case in a rather daunting environment.
One goes in there, cap in hand, begging a favour from the all powerful.
The "submitters" and the applicant sit down in rows of chairs, facing the DCA members on the other side of a long table, chairman John Pinney in the middle, flanked by members Jenny Mostran, David Koch, John McBride and David Cloke.
They're all honourable citizens but hardly a representative cross section of the community: a former business woman and now an ambitions member of the town council; an ex-publican and alderman; a barrister; and a semi-retired partner of a large accountancy firm.
The only question comes from Ald Mostran who enquires how many members the Alice Springs Rural Area Association Inc (ASRAA) has.
Chairman Rod Cramer says about 50.
The town council has clearly washed its hands of the process.
It is represented only by acting CEO Roger Bottrall whose sole interest is engineering considerations Ð roads and drainage.
The council hasn't even formulated a policy on this latest application by Mr Hornsby Ð notwithstanding its profound consequences to ratepayers.
No wonder, really.
Although Ald Mostran and Ald Koch are council nominees to the authority, the council Ð under current legislation Ð would break the law if it instructed them how to vote on the application.
As things stand the council nominees are acting solely in their own right.
An objector tells the chairman that a real estate firm, Framptons, is already advertising the winery land, claiming that approval has been granted for three blocks.
Mr Pinney explains that is wrong, an earlier approval for three blocks had lapsed Ð in fact a year earlier.
Later in the morning Framptons withdraws the advertisement.
The earlier approval for three blocks had been given under circumstances that caused a change in departmental policies.
The application was put on exhibition in 1996 just 12 days before Christmas. It was heard on January 14, 1997, when thousands of people, who had a legal right to make submissions to the authority about the application, were out of town during their Christmas Ð New Year break.
The resulting outcry, and a similar one in the Top End, moved the department to no longer allow applications to be exhibited December.
Back to the hearing: Mr Cramer, on behalf of Alice Springs Rural Area Association Inc (ASRAA) Ð for the second time this year in response to an application from Mr Hornsby Ð gives an impassioned speech against the proposal.
He tells the authority that members have raised the following concerns:-
¥ Mr Hornsby had claimed, in connection with an earlier subdivision containing smaller blocks, that it would not create a planning precedent. But now he is claiming "hypocritically" that the earlier subdivision has created a precedent which should be taken into account.
¥ Members totally rejects any argument that the concerns of members living further afield in the rural area should be in some way discounted: "The issue of precedent is a very real one."
¥ "Members wish to most vigorously point out that there is no basis forthis proposal in terms of planning principles."
¥ Members "vehemently reject the argument that this proposal has any justification in terms of relieving demand for land, or Ôproviding a more efficient use of community services'." If this argument were accepted, "we would never have other valid benchmarks, such as height restrictions, in Alice Springs."
¥ "Members cannot comprehend how this proposal ever got to exhibition stage. Members are therefore distressed that they constantly have to commit valuable time and effort into defending their chosen level of amenity in this manner.
"They note the Reasons for Determination given by Minister Kon Vatskalis in rejecting the last application, and feel most strongly that they apply equally to the current proposal."
¥ "People who have made this choice [of living in the rural area] therefore have a very real and reasonable expectation that the essence of their chosen neighbourhood, their dreams and aspirations, will be protected and preserved by the existing zoning (in this case RL2) and Planning decisions.
"In this way they are no different than people living by choice in any other zoning."
All this, quite clearly, goes in one ear and out the other so far as the authority members are concerned.
They go into a closed meeting and make their decision.
News soon filters out that they have knocked back four blocks but approved three, including one of one hectare, in conflict with the zoning.
When asked by the Alice News how they had voted, Ald Koch said he supported the three blocks, but the other three declined to disclose their positions.
The clandestine planning process Ð a passionate issue for more than 10 years Ð is alive and well.
The authority's published reasons make entertaining reading.
"The subdivision of the land, as approved, is not expected to adversely impact on the amenity of the area, due to small lots to the south of the approved smaller lot É and the large lots to the eastern side of the smaller lot."
The authority is blithely following the precedent set by the CLP planing regime, when Minister Ortmann Ð despite a storm of protest Ð approved five small blocks south of the winery.
"The unique nature and history of the restaurant / winery given its commercial character precludes concerns of planning precedence with respect to the variation to minimum lot size granted in relation to the eastern-most parcel (proposed lot)."
Mr Hornsby's argument exactly: The rules apply to everybody else but not to him.
"The majority of lots comply with the 2 hectare minimum that applies to the RL2 zone under the Alice Springs Town Plan 1992 (as amended)."
It's like saying: "Your Honour, two times out of three I'm stone cold sober when I drive a car.
"It's just one time out of three that I'm drunk as a lord."
The DCA resolution was raised at an ASRAA general meeting on Sunday, December 1.
A flood of emails and faxes was unleashed upon Mr Vatskalis and Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne. They urged Mr Vatskalis to use his powers and stop the subdivision.
As it turned out Mr Pinney was overseas until Monday, December 2 and not available to sign the development permit.
The following day Mr Vatskalis, using his powers under the Act, directed the authority not to issue a permit.
Predictably, sections of the local land development industry rushed to the barricades.
Steve Bennett, who says he does work for developer Ron Sterry, and who has tried Ð unsuccessfully, of course Ð to entice the Alice Springs News into "cash for comment" conduct, claimed on the ABC that the News had published the Vatskalis decision before it had been communicated to the DCA. We had not.
In a hapless attempt at spin doctoring Mr Bennett also asserted Mr Vatskalis' decision was a case of "ad hoc" planning. Clearly, exactly the opposite was true: the minister was blocking an attempt at "ad hoc" planning by the DCA.
Are we witnessing the dawning of an age of enlightened town planning?
Many of us hope so.
The CLP has always argued that commerce and development as we know it would grind to a halt unless we continue to permit departures from the town plan at the whim of a secretive and unrepresentative authority.
My experience over more than a decade, working with the people on the receiving end of the current regime, has convinced me of a much greater danger.
People will just leave town if their lifestyle and real estate investments are continuously exposed to the vagaries and injustices of a flawed system.
Mr Hornsby did not respond to an invitation from the Alice News to comment on these issues.
[Declaration of interest: The author of this comment is a rural resident, a long time member of the ASRAA and an objector to Mr Hornsby's application.]


A room full of art in many different colours, styles and mediums greeted people visiting the Irrkerlantye Arts exhibition on South Terrace last week.
The group of Arrernte artists working at the Irrkerlantye Learning Centre have had several successful exhibitions since 1996.
Last week's exhibition was no exception.
One of the new artists is well respected senior woman, Margaret Kemarre Turner, OAM.
For many years Mrs Turner would tell the Aboriginal stories of her country, even sketch them in the sand, to family members who in turn would paint them on canvas.
But a few months ago she decided to try painting the stories herself.
In describing one of her works, Hunting Streams, living in the land, Mrs Turner said the idea "just came to me":
"The circles are where the traditional people live.
"In the corners of the painting is the stream, that is where the hunting is.
"In the circles people have traditional totems. The same language is spoken everywhere, but the totems are different from circle to circle.
"The people hunt and gather and live.
"The family lives together; the season comes and they live together.
"The dots joining everything together represents the language; it comes from the land.
"The wood they gather comes from the land for cooking."
Mrs Turner is also pleased that she has developed a painting style which she feels is distinctly her own:"The feathery brush stokes; the small flowers in different colours which represent the seasons, they are my style."I have so many ideas now; I just can't stop painting."
Another first time exhibitor is William Quall.
William's work features three-dimensional figures including one of Jesus, one of Mary and one of a Navaho Indian.
"Sculpturing is in my family's background," William said.
"My grandmother does sculptures.
"I wanted to sculpture figures of Jesus and Mary; God made them.
"But I wanted to give them an indigenous appearance, also the Navaho Indian.
"It is like telling the stories of their travels but from an Australian perspective.
"This is the first time I have exhibited.
"It is nice to be able to be sit down and think."
The exhibition also features ceramic pieces done at Centralian College, paper mache works, painted bags and t-shirts, cards and bookmarks, among others.

Hope for 2003 - preparing for what lies ahead. COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.

As per the lyrics of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)": So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year olderÉ.There are only seven sleeps until the jolly fat bearded man in the bright red suit comes calling (or not, depending on your persuasion, and lately, between paedophilia fears and political correctness, the "HO" seems to have disappeared from the usual Santa sHOws, which is all rather unfortunate).What to write, in this, the last edition for the year? You had a skinny little headline last week, someone commented É Probably indicative of my expected weight loss (NOT!!!).
It's important to try and keep the excesses under control, especially now, when every publication is full of articles about growing health concerns, over-weight Australians, child obesity and the woes of sedentary life-styles. It's difficult to find a balance at this busy time of the year Ð loads of invites to pool and garden parties, graduations, formals, barbeques, dinners or presentations and together with the general Christmas cheer around the town everything revolves around meeting, greeting, eating and drinking.I went along with David, my husband, to one of many presentation nights last week.
It was up-lifting to listen to inspirational music, motivational speeches and to note that the hall was packed by parents and staff and young people, many of them Year 12 students, preparing for whatever lies ahead.
In these uncertain and volatile times, as everyone reflects on yet another year of universal upheaval, it would seem positive and appropriate to celebrate life and everything we cherish Ð freedom, friends, family, lifestyle.
Most Australians are fortunate Ð we have much to celebrate, the luxury of time to do it in and ample to do it with.
Festive cards and emails David and I have received have one commonality - a wish for universal peace.From those friends who are living under extreme conditions, many in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Malaysia, there are comments about dictatorships, the futility of war and the senselessness of any action which results in the loss of innocent lives.As we rush to embrace the festive season, lifting glasses, toasting the health of friends and family here and elsewhere, we should think about what we'd like the new year to bring.
Imagine a world where freedom of speech and better communication between all peoples was actively promoted Ð every country putting decisive policies in place to try to bridge the gaps caused by racial disharmony, religious turmoil, prejudice, fear, frustration, war, hunger and poverty. Is it beyond the realms of all possibilities?We could start at home, here, in Alice Springs, focus on our on-going social issues, identify positive policies, action them and look forward to a happy result.
The problem is that someone has to discern which issues need addressing, and this then brings a judgemental element into the equation, and in a perfect world, where acceptance rules, no-one will judge anyone else Ð similar to Walt Disney's Fantasy World perhaps - dreams cost nothing.
We can't change 2002.
It's time to consider new year resolutions and how to make a positive difference to create the environment we'd all like to live in Ð and like any initiative, it's better to start sooner rather than later.
I hope that you and yours have a happy healthy safe festive season and that 2003 brings all you desire.

Can we change the default settings? COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

There is one part of computers that I like more than anything else. No, it's not the off button. I am referring to the default settings.
You can fiddle around with the insides of the machine without having to do as much as lift the bonnet and get grease under your nails. You can change the way that the whole electronic bundle of magic nerd power operates.
And then, when finished, you can restore the defaults and bring everything back to the way that it was before. All you have to do is click the button marked Ôrestore defaults'. I love that.
Good families work this way. For example, you have a ferocious argument with your nearest and dearest.
Then you walk away, prune your roses, change the disc on your angle grinder, come back inside and everything is back to normal.
Air cleared, no chips on shoulders, default settings restored. But, of course, nobody's family is ever like ÔLittle House on the Prairie'.
If it were, we wouldn't need the movies.
A default setting is that state to which you return when there's no particular reason to do anything different. A kind of auto-pilot, but without the pilot.
My own default is to slouch onto a sofa with a news magazine and a decent CD playing in the background. In this state, please leave me alone for at least half a day.
On second thoughts, make it a day and a half. In the case of other people in my family, their default is to think that soap operas are real life and that the people in them are not actors.
For the younger members, there's a joint default where they squabble until I shout at them.
Defaults apply to places and objects too. The default for Alice Springs is a dry, dusty tourist and service town liked by a few and visited by many.
Sometimes its different, like when it rains or when the Yeperenye Festival was on, but mostly this is what the place is like.
Rugby, my previous hometown, was described by geographical almanacs as Ôdrab and with no redeeming features'. This was a state from which it rarely emerged.
I know it is Christmas and we should look for the beauty in everyone, but I can tell you that I have met human equivalents of Rugby.
Western culture has a default setting. No matter how hard we try, the system always slips back to superficiality and materialism.
I might visit the Desert Park to learn about desert life, but I am joined by hundreds of people who go to the gift shop first.
I might relish the tribal bonding of soccer, but we all vote on the Internet for the design of our $140 leisure shirts that we wear to the games.
It wasn't like this in the flat cap days of my grandfather, but I bet that even he wished that he had two tweed jackets instead of one.
Materialism is the default, I'm afraid, even if some of our friendly local stores Ôcut the cost of Christmas'.
Why does Christmas have to have a cost in the first place?
I was reading an interview with Sarah Michelle Gellar, the film star, in the kind of gossip magazine that serves a range of research purposes.
Like many celebrities, she makes a visit to the gym every morning. But Sarah has a problem.
By the time that she has given the car to the valet man to park, had a cappuccino-lite and looked around the brand-name sport store, there is no time to actually work out.
So here's another default. Even the primal urge for physical activity succumbs to superficiality and materialism in the end.
Let's look forward to the day when the defaults in our consumer culture no longer work.
This would be a day when the weather is not sponsored by a tyre company.
If this happens, we'll be able to have a decent whinge about the early summer or the late spring without some irritating voice telling us that we should be grateful because a member of the motor trade association has bothered to bring us the information.
All this is depressing of course, but this time I decided not to wander moodily around the old drive-in. Better to do something more uplifting and selfless.
So I went to the Alice Plaza for some retail therapy. Oh, let's be optimistic, for once. Advanced computer users know how to change the defaults. So maybe we could perform such a change for Western consumer culture.
I thought hard about this during the hour that it took to find Bi-Lo across a car park the size of Pluto.
Whatever they may be, I hope that you manage to find your own defaults over Christmas. Thanks for reading this column in 2002. See you again next year.

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