ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
June 21, 2007. This page contains all major
Ratepayer rip-off? By ERWIN
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
The Town Council’s costs for maintaining public parks and gardens
appear to be three times greater than those charged by a private
An investigation by the Alice Springs News has compared charges by
Ramjets Gardening Services for maintaining two hectares of grounds for
the Braitling School, the School of the Air and Teppa Hill Preschool,
with the Town Council’s cost for similar parks and gardens under its
The council’s cost per square meter per year is $3.69, while Ramjets’
This is despite the council having significant economies of scale: it
looks after 1,116,459 square meters of parks and gardens, and can use
much bigger and faster equipment such as large mowers.
Ramjets’ contract is for just 20,000 square meters.
For that the firm charges $2000 a month, or $24,000 per year.
Ald Melanie van Haaren says if the calculations by the Alice News are
correct, there should be an immediate review of the council’s
efficiency, especially in view of the proposed rate rises of 10% across
She says rate payers will demand that the council ensures its
operations are efficient before the public has to put its hands into
“There is probably a raft of things we can do better,” says Ald van
Haaren who missed out on becoming Deputy Mayor on the toss of a coin:
she and Ald David Koch had an equal number of votes, and Mayor Fran
Kilgariff did not order a second vote.
The council does not know what its cost is for parks and gardens, but
this is how the Alice News estimates it:-
The general costs for parks and gardens was calculated at $1,623,000 by
council senior council staff, including Director of Finance Bob Mildred
and Paul Barreau, a manager of the outside workforce.
The figure was published in the Alice News on June 7.
This cost is for labour and materials but does not include equipment
We added $600,000 for administration, on the following grounds: the
council has a budget of $26m, including a $6m NT Government grant for
an extension of the pool complex.
Further, taking away the administration cost of $6m leaves $14m for
projects to be administered.
Of that amount the parks and gardens make up around 10% of the
expenditure, inviting the conclusion that 10% of the administrative
expenses, namely $600,000, is devoted to parks and gardens.
The next expense is the machinery needed for the job.
The council makes no provision for replacement of fixed assets its
2007-08 budget (Alice News, June 7).
Their replacement costs are shown as a deficit in the council’s budget,
and will be covered by loans, as required, during the year.
However, Ramjets owner and manager Gary Owen says he uses about $40,000
worth of equipment to do the job for the schools, and the gear has a
life span of about five years.
That means he sets aside about $8000 a year for replacement of
That equipment is used half the time on the schools job, making the
replacement component $4000.
That’s one sixth of the value of the job.
If that is extrapolated to the council’s task, even ignoring in this
calculation the cost for administration, then the annual component for
plant replacement is $275,910.
That brings to $4.1m the council’s total cost for looking after parks
Ald van Haaren says she hasn’t asked for the all-up costs (and neither,
it seems, has any other alderman), although the costs of council
operations are “constantly on everybody’s mind”.
She says there is a “trust factor,” an assumption that the senior staff
and “the leaders” are running the operation efficiently.
“Maybe there should be a complete review, and a look at outsourcing”
says Ald van Haaren.
“Many councils do it.
“The era of big councils is over.”
She says despite assurances to the contrary, the new civic centre –
costing $11m and climbing – is having a domino effect.
“We’re out of our depth financially,” says Ald van Haaren. “The 10%
rate hike seems inevitable.” (The deadline for public comment is
Any changes to the “outside” work force of around 55 people would need
to be done with the welfare of the workers, many of them long term
locals, firmly in mind.
However, much could be achieved with retraining and multi-skilling: if
economies can be achieved in the maintenance of parks and gardens, and
ovals ($3m for general costs alone), then freed-up labour could be
deployed to do “things we don’t have time to do adequately, such as
policing illegal campers”.
Ramjets’ contract requires them to mow to the street kerb line the
lawns and ovals, to do some watering, edge trimming, maintenance of
sand pits, garden plots and nature strips.
This includes weeding all garden beds and sand pits, pruning of plants
and shrubs, mulching garden beds, caring for trees up to 2.4 metres
high, clearing storm water drains and gutters, and fertilizing grassed
areas twice a year.
Scullion in probe about CLC’s
role in Centrecorp. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Senator Nigel Scullion says he will be seeking advice from the
Solicitor General about whether or not the three fifths share held by
the Central Land Council (CLC) in Centrecorp is illegal.
The Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act says land councils may “assist
Aboriginals ... to carry out commercial activities ... in any manner
that will not cause the Land Council to incur financial liability or
enable it to receive financial benefit”.
Centrecorp is secretive about its business but it owns, directly or
indirectly, large amounts of real estate in Alice Springs believed to
be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The investment company’s wealth is founded on statutory mining
royalties and donations.
In a statement this week the CLC confirmed it is a shareholder in
Centrecorp but says its profits “are distributed according to its
charitable trust deed for the benefit of Aboriginal people in the
Central Australian region and as such the Land Council has no economic
interest in Centrecorp and does not account for Centrecorp as a
“The investment by the CLC is pursuant to to Section 22(1)(c) and
23(1)(b) of the Land Rights Act.
“This information is tabled in the Australian Parliament
“The CLC also undergoes rigorous annual auditing processes by the
Australian National Audit Office.”
But Senator Scullion says “the CLC appears to be the only land council
that has that kind of arrangement (as majority shareholder of a
“I want to know immediately how Centrecorp disperses its funds.
“I’ll be speaking to ASIC.
“I want to know where the annual reports have been since 2002.
“Everyone needs to know how the profits from a major shareholder of [an
Indigenous company] are dispersed among these Indigenous people.”
He says the CLC is “a Commowealth agency. I can get them to appear
before Estimates. I might have to get them to appear in any event.”
Meanwhile Senator Scullion says the $60m offered by Indigenous Affiars
Minister Mal Brough for town camps in Alice Springs “is being
“However, Mal Brough has said to the NT Government that if they can
broker the outcome we were aiming for by the end of the month then he
will find some money, but it won’t be $60 million.”
The horror of child abuse. By
The incidence of sexual abuse of children in Territory
Aboriginal communities is “significant” and increasing, as victims go
on to become perpetrators.
This is the most haunting evidence of the report by the Board of
Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse,
made public last Friday.
If the problems are not dealt with, they will lead to “real disaster”
in Australia “within a generation”, says the report.
Chief Minister Clare Martin established the inquiry on August 8 last
year, appointing to conduct it former Director of Public
Prosecutions in the Territory, Rex Wild, and Alywarr woman and well
known Indigenous advocate, Pat Anderson.
The inquiry came about in response to media stories, in particular the
ABC Lateline interview on May 15 with Central Australian prosecutor
That interview rocked the nation with its account of a number of
appalling incidents of abuse.
The inquiry has found that it is “not possible to accurately evaluate
the extent” of the abuse, but there is “clear evidence” that it
is a “significant problem, in the context of a breakdown of peace, good
order and traditional customs and laws”.
It was acknowledged as a problem by members of all 45 communities,
urban and remote, that the inquiry visited.
The inquiry’s focus was “to find better ways to protect Aboriginal
children from sexual abuse”.
It discusses issues to do with policing and prosecutions but its
role “was never to investigate allegations of child sexual abuse
nor to undertake investigations with a view to identifying or
It negotiated processes for referring to police and the Department of
Health any “new cases of suspected maltreatment” and any complaints
regarding FACS and / or police management of case matters.
The report notes from the outset that sexual assault of children “is
not acceptable in Aboriginal culture,
any more than it is in European or mainstream society”.
It says “a breakdown of Aboriginal culture” combined with the
“excessive consumption” of alcohol and other substances leads to
“excessive violence”, which, in the worst case scenario, leads to
sexual abuse of children.
The case of “HG” is quoted as an example.
Born in a remote Barkly community in 1960, at the age of 12 HG was
twice anally raped by an older Aboriginal man.
“He didn’t report it because of shame and embarrassment” until 2006,
when he was seeking release from prison.
He had been gaoled as a dangerous sex offender, having repeatedly
attempted to have sex with young girls, anally raping a 10 year old
girl in 1993 and an eight year old boy (ZH) in 1997.
That same boy, ZH, in 2004 anally raped a five year old boy in the same
The inquiry asks: “Who will ensure that in years to come that little
boy will not himself become an offender?
The inquiry reports that in another Territory community an 18 year old
youth, who raped a six year old, had also been raped at six, as
revealed by his medical records.
The inquiry came across many instances of abusers having themselves
The report also refers to research with 58 Aboriginal prisoners
convicted of sexual and/or physical assaults, revealing that 22 of them
had been raped or sexually abused.
The researcher, Caroline Atkinson-Ryan, concluded that the “flow-down”
of traumatic events and dysfunctional behaviours across generations
will result in those behaviours being repeated at increased rates,
continuing “to increase across successive generations without effective
The report paints a distressing picture of abuse by young people of
other young people, often little children: “Many sexual offenders were,
in fact, children themselves, and some of these offenders were female
Examples cited involve a 12 year old interfering with a three year old;
a 13 year old interfering with a five year old; a 15 year old
interfering with a three year old and an eight year old; a 15 year old
girl interfering with a group of younger boys; a14 year old girl
interfering with girls and boys.
The inquiry also heard about a 17 year old boy showing pornographic
DVDs at a certain house and getting young children to act out scenes
from the films.
The report says the community knew what was happening, tried to keep
children away from the house, but found it difficult. The report
doesn’t give detail about why it was difficult. It does say many
community members were “in denial” about what was happening.
This situation seems to be the same as one referred to later in the
report, revealing that one of the children exposed to the pornography
later became an offender in the serious rape and murder of a teenage
According to the report, juvenile offending “exists due to the
combination of inter-generational trauma, the breakdown of cultural
restraints and the fact that many of these children (if not all) have
themselves been directly abused or exposed to inappropriate sexual
activity (through pornography or observing others) ...
“This is a powerful argument for substantial education about sexual
issues being provided to communities and to Aboriginal children from an
early age (in order to entrench behavioural norms of what constitutes
appropriate children’s behaviour).”
The inquiry found no evidence of “paedophile rings” operating in the
Territory, but did find evidence of a number of non-Aboriginal
paedophiles who had been “infiltrating Aboriginal communities and
offending against children”.
These men often held positions of trust in communities.
In examples discussed there had been police investigations and
instances of prosecution, but convictions had foundered because of
evidentiary problems and victims’ unwillingness to speak.
The inquiry was not told of many instances of incest, but the report
says it is safe to assume that, as elsewhere, it is more prevalent than
was identified in the consultations.
There was universal agreement during consultations that incest is an
“extremely serious breach of traditional law, and punishable by death”.
The inquiry reports the story of a woman abused by a relative 37 years
ago. Subsequently her daughter was abused by a relative and many of
daughter’s cousins had also been abused by relatives. “The person said
that Aboriginal law ... had now deteriorated to such an extent that
young children in the community were sexually abusing one another.”
Other examples include a father impregnating his daughter (this matter
had been dealt with by the courts), and a community president and
church leader abusing his 14 year old niece.
A number of examples cited in the report of “opportunistic” offending
have already been detailed in the media (via Dr Rogers).
They include an 18 year old who anally raped and drowned a six year old
(the offender was a chronic petrol sniffer); an 18 year old who
digitally penetrated his seven month old niece (also a sniffer and
under the influence of alcohol at the time of the offence); an
extremely drunk 26 year old, who digitally penetrated the anus and
vagina of a two year old and attempted penile penetration.
The report notes the risk factors for opportunistic offending as:
overcrowded housing, lack of privacy when bathing, failure to show
children affection and love, the absence of a capable guardian, lack of
physical security and social taboos, as well as chronic substance
The inquiry also heard instance of people “selling” their children to
obtain money, acohol or drugs.
Opportunistic offences may be more violent, says the report, relying on
force rather than a relationship with the child.
Particularly vulnerable children are those lacking a strong family
network, with no one taking primary responsibility for looking after
them. This is especially a problem with boys, due to a lack of suitable
male carers, and for children born outside of “promised marriage” or
Hearing loss is also a risk factor.
“Children with a history of middle ear disease are generally less
confident, less assertive and anxious and find it more difficult to
protect themselves and express to others that they have been abused.”
The inquiry heard of many instances of adult Aboriginal and
non-Aboriginal men taking advantage of teenage girls.
In “many cases” the girls actively sought out the men and consented to
sex in exchange for goods or favours.
The report quotes a remote area nurse: “They are vulnerable and
desperate and crave things that they do not get at home, such as love,
attention and material goods.”
In a number of communities, the inquiry heard of local Aboriginal men
and non-Aboriginal outsiders providing alcohol and drugs to teenage
girls in exchange for sex.
In some cases, alcohol, drugs and goods had been provided to the girls’
adult family in exchange for sex with the girls. In one example, swags
were the goods being exchanged.
An alleged “rampant informal sex trade” between Aboriginal girls from
12 to 15 years old and non-Aboriginal mining workers is also described.
Local police were aware of it but it is claimed they could do little
because of a “culture of silence” among the workers and the attitude of
the girls themselves, who saw that they were gaining.
In some larger communities, taxi drivers were said to accept sex in
lieu of cash for fares and it was alleged that some taxi drivers were
“pimping’ for girls.
The inquiry heard about Aboriginal girls from a remote community taken
by a non-Aboriginal man to town, where he traded sex with the
girls for drugs. He used some of the drugs to “pay” the girls, others
to exchange for Aboriginal paintings, which he sold to fund overseas
travel and plastic surgery.
In one town, a non-Aboriginal man regularly taped young girls doing
sexual acts, offering them cannabis, and blonding the tips of their
hair to identify them as “his girls”.
In a matter before the courts it is alleged a non-Aboriginal health
worker “befriended” a number of children, offering goods, drugs,
attention in exchange for sex.
The report says that Aboriginal children are “widely exposed” to
pornography, adult films and adults having sex within the child’s view,
with the latter due to overcrowded housing.
It cites a number of examples of children acting out sexual behaviour,
which makes them more vulnerable to being abused.
The report discusses the difficult area of consensual sex between
children, which is not necessarily abuse but is of “great concern
to many Aboriginal people”, and is also against the law.
All communities were worried that teenagers were becoming “more
violent, more sexual, and more anarchic”.
The inquiry was told that the high rates of sexually transmissible
infections in children between 12 and 16 years, as well as high rates
of underage pregnancy, could be attributed to the high rate of
consensual sex between children. However, the report notes that this
belief may mask levels of abuse.
People on communities attributed teenage promiscuity to the breakdown
of Aboriginal culture and the influence of the “bad aspects of the
Many people saw the Federal Government’s “baby bonus” payment as
an incentive for teenage girls to get pregnant.
However the report suggests having a baby could also be a strategic
decision by some girls, as their role as a mother would offer them a
level of protection.
The inquiry found no evidence to show that children are being regularly
abused in the context of traditional marriages, though the report notes
that communities may have been unwilling to speak about it, for fear of
a media outcry and backlash.
The report discusses the practice at some length, commenting:
“These practices do not exist to provide young women for the
sexual gratification of old men, but are a part of a complex system
that has had many practical aspects.
“These include preventing inter-family marriage, providing a system of
custodianship to land, information and ceremonies, and ensuring that
women and children are cared for by a mature man who could protect and
provide for them.”
The report concludes the practice has been “an important and
integral part of traditional Aboriginal culture”; it is also in
decline, a fact regretted by many Aboriginal people, although younger
people “were more inclined to favour a less restrictive regime”.
The report also discusses “sub-cultural traditional marriages”, where
girls are claimed as wives but outside of traditional laws and
arrangements. Examples were cited involving girls as young as 12.
Under the heading “A way forward” the report again calls for action to
establish a new set of moral “norms” within Aboriginal
“Traditional marriage practices can still exist but the age difference
between husband and wife will need to be reduced (otherwise the
girl will not consent to be with the man), the “marriage” cannot
be consummated until both parties are 16 years or older, and the
sex must be consensual. In other words, the girl must enter the
marriage of her own free choice.”
The report notes that “the present attitudes of the wider Australian
society have come about through education and a cultural shift in
attitudes. Many Aboriginal communities have not been part of this
The inquiry has made 97 recommendations, with the first
two encapsulating their findings:
1. That Aboriginal child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory
be designated as an issue of urgent national significance by both the
Australian and Northern Territory Governments, and both governments
immediately establish a collaborative partnership with a Memorandum of
Understanding to specifically address the protection of Aboriginal
children from sexual abuse.
It is critical that both governments commit to genuine consultation
with Aboriginal people in designing initiatives for Aboriginal
2. That while everybody has a responsibility for the protection of all
children, the Northern Territory Government must provide strong
leadership on this issue, and that this be expressed publicly as
a determined commitment to place children’s interests at the
forefront in all policy and decision-making, particularly where a
matter impacts on the physical and emotional wellbeing of children.
Because of the special disadvantage to which the Aboriginal people of
the Northern Territory are subject, particular regard needs to be given
to the situation of Aboriginal children.
We commend the report not only to the government and the people of the
Northern Territory but to the government and people of Australia.
Our hope is that the nation will work together for the sake of all its
The full report can be found at: HYPERLINK
See no evil? COMMENT by ERWIN
You could have put money on it: Warren “More Money, More
Money” Snowdon would put the blame for the sexual abuse of Aboriginal
children on the taxpayer.
“Significantly, [the Anderson - Wild report] singles out
education as a key factor in making life better for Aboriginal
children, which points up the abject failure of the education system to
meet their needs and it is an area that must be addressed by both the
NT and Commonwealth Governments,” Mr Snowdon declares.
No doubt the litany of “decades of CLP neglect” isn’t going to be far
While nearly a generation of conservative rule in the NT has little to
be proud of when it comes to Aboriginal affairs, this is a buck that
won’t be that easy to pass: it was mainly Labor Parliamentarians who
represented Territory bush communities, the scene of these abominable
Like hardly any other people, for decades these politicians had
sustained access and generously funded (by the public) travel
opportunities and communication facilities.
It was their job to visit, consult and represent their constituents.
Mr Snowdon has been the Federal Member for the NT from 1987 to 1996 and
for Lingiari (all the NT except Darwin) from 1998 till now.
The two Territory bush electorates taking up pretty well all of the
southern part of the NT are Stuart and MacDonnell.
Both have been held by Labor pollies for more than 20 years, with the
exception of John Elferink (CLP) being the Member for MacDonnell from
1997 to 2005.
Neville Perkins was the Member for MacDonnell from 1977 to 1981 when
Neil Bell took over and held the seat until 1997, one the longest
serving Opposition members in any Westminster government.
Labor’s Alison Anderson won MacDonnell in the 2005 landslide.
Stuart’s Members were Brian Ede (1983 to 1996); Peter Toyne (1996 to
2006, and he had also been a long time resident of Yuendumu); and Karl
Hampton since 2006.
Did they, collectively or individually, over all these years, not know
that child abuse was so widespread?
After all, in well under a year, the two authors of “Little Children
are Sacred” unearthed the most heart wrenching evidence.
And if the pollies did know, what did they do about it? Did they
consider the adult perpetrators, who could vote for them, more readily
as their constituents, rather than the children, who could not?
Like in so many other areas of Aboriginal affairs, the day of reckoning
No jail terms for Pine Gap
Four. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
The Supreme Court trial in Alice Springs of the Pine Gap Four,
despite a massive effort by the Commonwealth and the prosecution to
obtain jail sentences, resulted in money fines of $1000 or less for
each of the four defendants.
Bryan Law, Donna Mulhearn, Adele Goldie and Jim Dowling stood to get up
to seven years in jail after being prosecuted under legislation never
before used. Supreme Court Judge Sally Thomas, in her sentencing
remarks, said the four acted with a strong belief in their pacifist
cause, no-one was injured, they co-operated with law enforcement
officers, and she described the damage bill of $10,075, which included
a snipped fence, as “high”. (The Four were ordered to pay a quarter
Justice Thomas said the Crown pointed out there was no disruption to
the operation of the spy base by the intrusion into its grounds, where
the four took pictures of each other and were promptly arrested.
Justice Thomas said she could not be guided by any comparative
sentences because there had never been a prosecution before under the
Defence Special Undertakings Act.
While the crime was minor, some of the trial’s implications about what
can and cannot be placed before a court – and, consequently, the public
– are significant, says Michael O’Donnell, lecturer in Law at Charles
An application by the Commonwealth Government was made to prevent the
disclosure of information concerning operations of the Joint Defence
Facility at Pine Gap, apart from information concerning that facility
that had already been made public by the Commonwealth.
Justice Thomas ruled in the Commonwealth’s favour that the information
could not be disclosed as it would prejudice national security.
This ruling did not prevent the defendants giving evidence of their
beliefs as to why they went on to the Pine Gap facility, but when they
sought to present as evidence a parliamentary report, Justice Thomas
ruled that this was a breach of the Parliamentary Privileges Act.
so the report could not be produced in Court.
Explains Mr O’Donnell: “Essentially, the Parliamentary Privileges Act
protects the proceedings that go on within Parliament.
“One of its purposes is to allow people to freely give evidence to
parliamentary inquiries and parliamentary committees.
“This evidence is privileged – that is, it can’t be used in Court
– in order to facilitate people telling the truth, giving the
full story, without being concerned that what they are saying could be
used in court proceedings against them.
“The judge ruled that the report clearly fell within the Act and so
couldn’t be used in the court case.
“The accused could give evidence about what motivated them in their
actions but they couldn’t present the report.”
So, in effect, while the Parliamentary Privileges Act protects some
people, the Act denied the Pine Gap Four the possibility of presenting
evidence that could have been in their favour.
Mr O’Donnell says it’s impossible to determine whether this ruling
changed the result of this case.
“It certainly worked against the defendants in the sense that they
wanted to present that report to the judge as evidence and they were
not allowed to.
“I would be surprised if that would have made any difference in the
“The four were able to give evidence about what their beliefs are and
what motivated their beliefs.”
However, in a third ruling Justice Thomas said she wouldn’t put to the
jury the defences that the accused were raising.
These were: acting in a sudden or extraordinary emergency; acting in
self defence which includes defending another; and acting with lawful
authority to do what they did, namely breaking into Pine Gap.
These defences related to the defendants’ beliefs about the role of the
Pine Gap facility in the war in Iraq and the harm that that war is
Good onya, UNYA. By
As I flicked through the local newspaper, I read headlines such as
“burglars and vandals, aged 11 & 12”, “Youth attacked in broad
daylight”, “street patrols as youths run amok”.
Geez, I thought, our town is pretty terrible and from what I haven’t
read, nobody seems to be doing anything about it.
So I set out, all guns blazing, ready to pounce on anyone and everyone
who wasn’t doing anything about youth issues in Central Australia.
I found CAAMA was doing something, with a youth radio show and a media
training course (see last week’s story).
I also saw an email in my inbox about a United Nations Youth
Association forum in Alice to be held at St Philip’s College on Friday,
Among other things, it would choose two delegates to send to the UN
Youth Conference in Canberra.
The Morning Tea Committee seemed to have catered for 40;
fortunately the 20 attending seemed prepared to say twice as much as
Many issues were raised: youth boredom, petrol sniffing, culturally
appropriate housing, recreational centres, arts and music venues, sport
programs, better utilization of existing programs such as Incite and
Youth Night Patrol, as well as global issues including climate change,
poverty and AIDS.
Eventually this Kids Congress decided, to deal with local calamities
rather than international catastrophes.
They collaborated in writing a letter to Senator Nigel Scullion.
They suggested combatting the issues of drinking with a ‘No handout’
voucher system instead of welfare payments.
To combat youth boredom they called for a radio station, run by the
youth (they didn’t realise that CAAMA had already jumped the gun).
The assembly was quite pumped. Here was a forum for them – good UNYA.
gave OK for town campers to stay. Historian DICK KIMBER speaks to
The town camps were intended to give long term security to permanent
Indigenous residents of Alice Springs, whether or not those residents
had direct traditional ties to this place.
Arrernte permission for people to stay was sought and was given,
although there may have been some who disagreed with this.
So says historian Dick Kimber, who attended the meetings organised by
Central Land Council lawyer Geoff Eames in 1975 to explore the
inclusion of rights for camp residents in the Land Rights Act. (This
was ultimately rejected and the alternative solution of special purpose
leases for needs-based claims was found.)
As discussion and plans developed, Mr Kimber was asked by Mr Eames to
conduct a survey of residents of fringe camps around the town to get a
picture of who lived where and why.
Mr Kimber, at the time working as a teacher at Alice Springs High
School, undertook the survey as a volunteer in the company of Wenten
Rubuntja who acted as his go-between.
“Geoff had a very big map to use in attempting to explain what land
rights meant. The Act hadn’t been passed then.
“You had people in that group who were quite sophisticated in English
and in understanding European concepts.
“The possibilities were being discussed and also how people should get
There were about 30 Aboriginal people attending the first meeting,
including Eli Rubuntja, Wenten Rubuntja, Alec Simpson, Roy Dubois,
Milton Liddle, Michael Drogermuller, and George Jangala, a Warlpiri
There was only one woman, whom Mr Kimber did not know, but his notes
record that she was a relation of Richard Mokatarinja, a Western
Arrernte man, who was also present.
“The point was made in that meeting that the Land Rights legislation
didn’t make provision for people living in town. As the town expanded
they were constantly being pushed off where they were living, where
they’d been living for a very long time, sometimes for generations in
“There was a perceived need to cater for those people.”
At that and subsequent meetings everyone spoke individually.
“It meant there should never be anyone drunk, this was an Aboriginal
decision. They all took it that this was serious business.
“People made statements as to why they were there and why they should
be allowed to stay but they also made statements, very very clearly,
about who should not stay.
“There were whole groups of people of whom it was said they should go
back to their own country.”
Mr Kimber is emphatic that the concern was to look at the individual
situation of “absolutely everyone who was living in Alice Springs”.
“They asked George Jangala why he had to stay here rather than go back
to his own country. And he said, ‘I haven’t got any father out there, I
haven’t got any brothers, any uncles’. He had had all of the members of
his family shot in the Coniston massacre.
“I talked very specifically to George about this several times. As a
result of historical movements he’d ended up living in town. He’d been
here a long time.
“Another person who was well known was Ted Egan Jangala, the police
tracker. He was present at the meeting and he estimated he’d been
living in town for six years at that stage.
“And there were other trackers in town who were long term because of
their skills and abilities.
“So there were different reasons for people being here and for why they
should be able to stay. “Everyone listened to those. There was rarely a
dispute, at least on the surface, as to why anyone should be there.
“There was one case where a man made claims on the basis of a
mythological dreaming route, linking him. That was accepted as a claim
but not as a strong claim. It was accepted as right but it didn’t have
the strength of an Arrernte person living here, born here,
traditionally of this country.
“So there were weightings given to people’s claims.
“It was clearly and emphatically stated that it was Arrernte land.
“But there’d been no ability by anyone to determine who lived where
except in traditionally oriented terms.
“You tended to have Warlpiri people, for example, living on the
northern and north-western side of town, and Pitjantjatjara people
living to the south.
“There were quite distinctive mixes of people, but a majority lived in
relationship to the direction of their own country.”
Arrernte people obviously had strong land connections in and around the
town, though they were not as clear cut as some perceive now, says Mr
“There’s quite complex genealogical information because people were and
An old account by Charles Chewings who came here in the 1880s says
Alice Springs, the area where the Telegraph Station was built, was a
meeting place – “I think he says from time immemorial” – for
Eastern, Central, Northern and Western Arrernte and sometimes Anmatyerr
people from further north, who would fall back on this country during
Mr Kimber says his understanding of this issue is on the basis of quite
detailed literature studies, like the Chewings account, and discussions
with old people, like old Sidney Ross, whom he met in the ‘seventies.
Mr Kimber says there was a great “generosity of spirit” among many of
the people with whom he talked: “Particularly old Pastor Eli Rubuntja,
who saw that many people had been moved in here against their will. It
wasn’t necessarily their desire to be here.”
But their response was also shaped by Arrernte belief: “There
were two old Pitjantjatjara women I talked to, who were camping down
near where Old Timers is, south of the Gap.
“When they were very young, old prospectors out in the Pitjantjatjara
country had picked them up. Whether the women were willing or not I
don’t know, but they had come into Alice Springs with those men and had
their children in Alice Springs.
“There was a strong sense amongst Arrernte people, once children were
born here they have rights.
“Sometimes you were looking at two to three generations of people who
may have come here initially against their will, but not necessarily
“Historically there were plenty of people who came here for their own
reasons, including health and the excitement of town life.
“There are also very strong traditional links even for different
Dreaming stories tell of the travels to the Alice area of caterpillar
ancestors and others over great distances.
“There are major, major connections because of the permanence of water
in the MacDonnell Ranges.”
Even so, traditionally a visitor had to be invited to stay. In the
mid-twentieth century in many cases Arrernte people had had no say in
inviting people who stayed, and those people also often had had no say
in how they came to be travelling here.
“Drovers would pick up a young stockman recommended by another
stockman, as far out from Alice Springs as cattle stations were, in any
direction you like.
“So that person comes into Alice Springs – under the legislation of the
day there was a kind of license for that person’s movements. And
some became trapped in Alice Springs because there was no one going
back to their country.”
Mr Kimber recalls the story of the natural father of Barney Raggett
Jupurrula, a man he met out in the Haasts Bluff country.
Barney’s father was taken on a droving trip over to Queensland, ending
up somewhere near Urandangi.
“When he was over there he could never get back because of the law that
prevailed. Eventually he married a Queensland based woman and had
children by her and accepted that he was forever to be over in that
“Much, much later he was asked to go on a droving trip that came back
towards Central Australia.
“He somehow got a message to Barney, I don’t know how, who got
permission from his employer out in the Haasts Bluff country to go and
“He caught up with his father, I think I’m right in saying it was in
the Mount Riddock country. And that was the last time they ever saw one
Mr Kimber, accompanied by Wenten Rubuntja, conducted his first survey
on 11th October,1975.
“The very first camp we visited was on the banks of the Todd opposite
Mills Street which was where I was living at the time.
“A wonderful old character called Toby Brown Jampitjinpa lived in that
camp. He came from Anmatyerr country, around Napperby, but he had
connecting lines through his dreaming right in through the northern
MacDonnell Ranges. He was out of his country here. I noted an
approximate time for his stay in town: one year. He was an artist with
Papunya Tula at that time.
“His wife was Peggy Napangardi Forrester. The time I was given for her
stay was “long time”. The Forresters are a very well known family here.
“Here’s one comment for children in the camp: ‘Father killed, all being
fostered by Toby Jampitjinpa.’
“I can remember old Toby one day being quite upset because a couple of
white blokes on motorbikes thought it was a big joke to ride right
through his camp. Just yahoos.
“There were other problematic issues. You might have some people
totally sober in a camp, not wanting any grog, and others who brought
“You can never generalise on any of the groups, even now.
“People say all the town camps are dysfunctional but they are not.
“Trucking Yards camp was right where it is today. It was spotless then
– tents, ground swept clean, utensils clean and hung up in the trees,
everything spic and span – but it was a camp with no formal rights to
“Alec Simpson had a neat little shack at Morris Soak. He described it
as ‘little bit like a chicken coop, Dick’. He was fluent in English and
his son was attending school.
“Old Francis Stephens and George Edwards lived in a kind of a humpy
initially, in big saltbush on the Coolibah Swamp.
“When the big rains came in ‘74, they’d had to move.
“Charles Perkins was one who organised a lot of army tents to be
delivered to people like them.
“He wasn’t the only one. Old Jack Cook, head of the DAA at one time,
did a great deal of positive work.”
Eventually Mr Kimber presented the evidence of his surveys to Justice
R. C. Ward, the first Territory-born judge, who was conducting the
Alice Springs Urban Land Claim hearing.
NEXT WEEK: Migration, not drift.
Foundations of modern Alice, NT firm. OBITUARY by KIERAN FINNANE.
He arrived in Alice with a pick, a shovel and a few tools but left the
town having built some of its most substantial buildings: Paul Sitzler
OAM, founder with his brother Peter of what is now the Territory’s
largest homegrown construction company, has died.
He fled post-war southern Germany, where he faced a life with few
prospects in 1951, sending the fare for brother Peter three years
An English lesson in a Lutheran church hall in Adelaide exposed him to
his first images of the Centre – “I couldn’t believe that there were
colours like that” – and when he heard that a carpenter was needed, he
said “You’ve got one!”
He arrived in Alice in May 1953. The biggest job in that first
year, when he worked for R.A. Drogemuller, was the Old Riverside Hotel
(now Todd Tavern).
With things quiet in town, he went bush, working in places like
Yuendumu and Hooker Creek.
He told the Alice Springs News in 1998: “It gave me the taste for
working in the bush. Later on my brother and I made it our specialty to
work in remote areas and do a good job, which those people weren’t used
The brothers started working for themselves in 1957, building houses
until they realised “there was no money in it”.
They got their first big contract in about 1962 – $50,000 to build
offices, houses, a school, and an eating house at Areyonga.
It was followed by jobs in Hermannsburg and Yuendumu: “That’s when we
started to get ahead a bit and made enough money to buy some decent
plant, a back hoe, a decent tip truck, it all came out of that bush
At the end of the ‘60s Alice Springs started to expand. The Sitzlers
were the first sub-contractor for the Joint Defence Facility at Pine
Gap, doing all their concrete work.
They had to buy a little crane to build the Catholic Church and went on
to build the first stage of the Catholic school, the Baptist Church in
Yuendumu, and the Lutheran Church at the Gap.
In 1967 they formed their company, Sitzler Brothers.
The company started competing for work in Darwin in 1977, but it took
until the mid-eighties to get established there.
The power station in Alice was the first contract over $1m that Sitzler
They went on to build a big water tank behind the power station, as big
as a football field inside, “quite a technical job”.
Big contracts, tending towards unusual designs or requirements, kept
coming their way: water tanks at Mereenie, the Sadadeen High School,
the Anglican Church, the Greatorex Building, and the biggest one of
all, the Ford Plaza, now the Alice Plaza.
In Darwin they built a naval base at Humpty Doo, the Anglican
Cathedral, another big water tank, aircraft hangars for the Navy, a lot
of Army buildings at the Norforce Headquarters.
A particularly difficult assignment was Jindalee Stage One at Harts
Range. The second stage of the $3.5m contract went to a national
Paul told the News: “They made such a mess of it! Their staff was not
used to building in remote areas and living in camps. That showed me
that we had the ability to go somewhere and do that.”
Later they built for themselves and with partners, buildings like
Minerals House, the FAI building, the Centrepoint Building and
the Diplomat Hotel, making the intersection of Hartley Street and
Gregory Terrace a veritable Sitzlers’ Corner.
Peter Sitzler died in Januray 1992 and Paul had already retired, due to
The Peter Sitzler Building on the North Stuart Highway was built at
about the time Paul got out of the company.
The company was taken over by Peter’s son Michael and business partner
Paul is survived by his wife Minna, former Deputy to the Administrator
of the Northern Territory, their three children and grandchildren.
He met Minna while he was working for her father, Pastor Friedrich
Albrecht, at the Finke River Mission block in the Gap neighbourhood.
They married in 1959.
Paul’s social life was built around his membership of the service
clubs, first Apex, later Rotary. A highlight was his role as Chairman
of the local Bicentenary Committee, and from 1983 to 1988, representing
the Southern Region, together with Fred Hockley, on the Darwin
The Alice News published a two part interview with Paul Sitzler, giving
an interesting account of the development of Alice Springs over almost
four decades on August 5 & 12, 1998. See our web archive.
Alice lake? No,
it’s Perfume Creek. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
The best laid plans ...
The Power and Corporation Water just can’t win a trick with its Soil
Aquifer Treatment System (SAT).
Behind the impressive name is a modest scheme which takes sewage
overflow from the antiquated ponds in a pipeline a few klicks down the
road where it will seep into the ground.
Brain surgery? Rocket science? Hardly.
Far from being a comprehensive recycling system, which would stop us
wasting billion litres of water a year, the SAT is just mean to stop
the smelly outflow down St Mary’s Creek, dubbed Perfume Creek by the
It was all meant to be finished, at the pain of major penalties for
unauthorized discharge of sewage, by Christmas 2005.
The came Christmas 2006 - and Perfume Creek was still flowing.
In March Power and Water sent out a brave media release:
“Completion of SAT is expected by September 2007.
“Pond construction is nearing completion, however, delays have been
experienced in the construction of the Dissolved Air Flotation Unit – a
critical component of the system.
“Given the contractual delays, the Power and Water Corporation has
applied for an extension of its Waste Discharge Licence with the
Environment Protection Agency.
“It is likely that effluent overflows will be experienced during the
coming winter months as has previously occurred.
“To minimise the impacts of these overflows, Power and Water will begin
a program of planned releases to take advantage of the present high
“This is expected to reduce the overall quantity of water in Ilparpa
Swamp during the winter period as well as address issues relating to
Well, a little bit of rain on the weekend and Perfume Creek is flowing
We asked Power and Water:
Is P&W paying a penalty yet for the delays?
If so, how much?
What’s yet to be done?
How much is that worth?
Is there a contract yet with an end user (remember, all this is meant
to be part of a horticulture plantation)?
If so, with whom?
But alas, the only answer was: Refer to our media release in March.
sponsors needed for Camel Cup.
Organisers of the Imparja Camel Cup July 14 are looking for help
on the day from volunteers.
Says committee president Ian Rowan: “The Camel Cup is run by a small
group of dedicated volunteers, but there are just not enough of us on
the actual day.
“A couple of hours from people is all we are seeking, and hopefully we
can get enough support and people to cover all the shifts.”
Jobs include manning the entrance gates, bars and running the centre
The Camel Cup is also seeking sponsorship to ensure all the costs are
covered for this year’s event.
Says Mr Rowan: “The insurance bill itself is over $5000 and there are
many other costs such as getting the camels into town and looking after
them that the committee needs to cover.”
There are three different levels of sponsorship available: your own
camel for the day, your own race, or a corporate style marquee to
entertain your staff and clients.
Contact Dale McIver at Action Enterprises Event Management Company who
manage the promotions and marketing for the event on 8952 6796 or
HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org
‘tis the season for
the beanie. By KIERAN FINNANE.
These women draw on oral tradition to make their beanies. Members of a
University of the Third Age class, run by Jude Mapleson, they are
aiming to make 10 beanies each to enter into the Beanie Festival which
starts next Friday (June 29).
From left they are Meg Chabrel, Dorothy Hall and Emmy van Maarseveen.
This year the festival explores the theme “My Journey”.
Hundreds of textiles artists from all over Australia and the world will
tell the stories of their journeys in yarn, felt, seeds, feathers and
anything else they can weave into a beanie or tea cosie, and
beanieologists from far and wide will come to town to celebrate the
Says Beanie Festival organiser Jo Nixon: “As well as all the usual
highlights, like the Beanie Olympics and our fantastic family night to
open the festival, there will be lots of new things to see and do this
Textiles workshops will be run in conjunction with Territory Craft
while Indigenous artists and beanie maestros will be in the foyer at
Araluen where festival goers can sit down to watch, learn and have a go
“Beanieologists will also be out and about – some will be dining out
under the stars at Simpson’s Gap and others will be doing Beanies,
Baskets and Bushtucker workshops which will be held in the craft room
of the women’s cell block in the Old Alice Springs Gaol, where inmates
once learnt handcrafts from the matron.
“Our Pitjantjatjara tutors will teach people how to crochet mukata
(beanies) or weave tjanpi (grass) baskets while sharing stories and
“The standard of entries for the ‘My Journey’ competition and
exhibition is sky high and there will be more than 3000 beanies for
sale,” says Jo.
Watch This Space gallery will be the venue for an exhibition of works
by textile artist Nicky Schonkala that interpret the Alice Springs
The show, held as part of the festival, opens on Saturday, June 30.
Stiff competition for getting on TV.
Last week’s scuttlebutt around town mainly concerned itself with the
fate of four people.
The Pine Gap 4. Originally named the Pine Gap 6, the Pine Gap 4, for
those of you unaware, are not in any way related to the Belfast 4, the
Fab 4 or even the Fantastic 4.
They are a group of Christians who see the Joint Defence Facility at
the outskirts of our town as an evil installation.
They hosted what they referred to as a “citizen’s inspection” of the
base and were duly arrested. Something to do with the fact that
citizen’s inspections of military installations are against the law.
Last week our justice system handed them an appropriate fine for
trespass and the Pine Gap 4 were sent on their way back to the cities
in which they live.
Regardless of what your thoughts are on the merits, morality and mental
state of the people involved, sadly for the four they will soon become
a statistic of a media savvy world.
It’s nothing personal, it’s just that with 24 hour news services and
“news as it happens” internet sites, we’ve all caught a dose of media
The Newcastle floods was only the second most looked at story on the
internet last week.
What was number one? Paris Hilton in gaol. We are, when it comes to
information, like the kid on attention deficit medication. “Look!
Can you remember what the lead stories happened to be on Imparja news
last week? There was the story about the floods in Newcastle and of
course Paris H. but apart from that, I’m a bit foggy.
Unfortunately for those that organise and participate in events meant
to draw attention to a plight or perceived injustice, the events tend
to go into the bubble gum rubbish bin of the over stimulated minds of
Back in 1998, I was a slightly politically aware 22 year old in Sydney.
I wasn’t particularly impressed by what was going on at the time and I
wanted to do something about it.
A colleague and I decided to run a satirical campaign for the Senate.
We changed our names by deed poll and even got some funding for the
campaign from some of the major parties.
We got our faces in the papers, on radio and television and we are
cited in a couple of books written about that election.
We even received about seven and a half thousand votes that worked out
to be about 50 cents a vote. Cheaper than the major parties.
I had a ball. I was able to make my point and I had a little look at
how the political system works.
I got my mug in the papers and will be able to tell the grandkids about
The election was in October that year and to be honest by Halloween no
one remembered what we did. I’ve got a feeling that the same fate
awaits the Pine Gap 4.
So while the event is still fresh in our ever shortening memory, here’s
a bit of free legal advice.
Don’t ever represent yourself.
I don’t care how pious your cause, fork out the coin for a lawyer. They
are the experts. They know how the system works. They take the headache
out of going to gaol.
You’re in court. There’s a judge and the prosecutor cites a certain
piece of law that pretty much means that you are screwed.
The last thing you want to be thinking at the time is “Gee! I didn’t
read that bit.”
While you might believe that a gaol sentence is worth getting the
message across, bunking next to Big Bubba while the world has forgotten
why you were in there in the first place, seems a little silly.
ED – In representing themselves, the Pine Gap 4 made a case that moved
the judge, who had the discretion to sentence them to up to seven years
in gaol, to fine them only $1000 apiece.
Most people would think they made a good fist of it.
LETTERS: Call for Tangentyere to
stop adding to the ‘river of grog’
Sir,– I have heard with interest the Chief Minister’s intention to
consider the buy back of some liquor licences in Alice Springs.
This was one of the key resolutions of the then Chief Minister Marshall
Perron’s Living With Alcohol initiative in the early ‘nineties.
He was responding to the community calls for government action to
address the grog strife in Central Australia.
In those heady days, Congress gave back a liquor licence and poured the
alcohol into the gutter as a visible sign of their commitment to
advocate for a grog moderate town.
Now, will Tangentyere Council do likewise and lead the way by
returning their liquor licence for the outlet in Milner Road?
The hurdles of poverty and corruption
Sir,– Thank goodness for the courage and wisdom expressed by Dave and
Bess Price (Alice News, June 14).
We should all be cautious, very cautious, when our civil rights are
threatened, but those heroes who fought for civil rights never dreamt
that what they fought for would one day give people a licence to drink
themselves to death, keep their kids away from school, live short
destructive lives full of wine, women and song (or is that football?)
and ignore their responsibilities as citizens.
The terrible state of affairs that Dave and Bess write about is by and
large not a ‘racial’ issue.
Thinking and strategising about it as an Aboriginal issue is racist,
ineffective and has resulted in us having offices full of highly paid
bureaucrats searching for the seven hundredth allusive solution.
The problem is a matter of poverty and all that comes from poverty;
corruption, powerlessness and profiteering from people’s misery.
There is really little difference between a ‘white’ family caught in
the poverty trap in Adelaide’s northern suburbs and an Aboriginal
family caught in the poverty trap in a miserable town camp. Add racism
and tough becomes tougher.
Corruption is not always measured in bribes and dodgy bank accounts.
Corruption happens whenever people who are trusted with responsibility
put their ulterior selfish motives before the purpose of their job.
When this persists individuals and whole organizations become part of
the problem, not the solution.
Obviously race is the main determinant of who gets deepest into the
Alice Springs poverty traps but it is folly for organizations and
authorities, including Community Councils to see the task as jumping a
racial grand canyon.
Yes, of course there will be cultural sensitivities and yes, we need to
know cultural impediments (and motivations!) to participation in
education, the workforce and enterprise but these are secondary and
relatively easily managed.
The real impediments are the vicious circles of poverty; corruption in
both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organizations alike and a deep sense
of powerlessness that both poverty and corruption manage to
Science on nuclear has been done
Sir,– I am confused by Lingiari MHR Warren Snowdon’s assurance that
there would be a “science-based process of consultation” before there
is any radio-active waste dump constructed in the NT if Labor wins
power in this year’s federal election (Alice News, June 14).
I was under the impression that this process had already been carried
out nationally at the instigation of former NT Labor senator Bob
Collins from about 1989, when he was the federal minister for mining
and energy resources.
This was an exhaustive process involving the cooperation of all the
states and territories to systematically survey the whole of Australia
to derive the most suitable location in the country for this purpose.
It led ultimately to an area near Woomera in South Australia, whereupon
the South Australian Government (Labor, of course) abruptly changed its
mind about this process and fiercely rejected this option (this was in
Politics being what it is, the South Australian Government forced the
Federal Government – Liberal-National under John Howard – to abandon
this site that had been derived by a “science-based process of
consultation” originally started by Labor.
This has led to the focus switching to the Northern Territory, where it
is no sweat off the Federal Government’s brow to impose a radio-active
waste dump, scientifically or not, in a region that votes solidly for
History is, of course, repeating itself here too, because in 1986 the
then federal minister for mining and energy resources, Labor senator
Gareth Evans, called for expressions of interest for the siting of a
low-level radio-active waste dump in Australia.
The Northern Territory Government (then Country Liberal under Chief
Minister Steve Hatton) was the only one to positively respond to this
request, as revealed in March 1987.
This was in keeping with an increasingly confident campaign by the CLP
to develop a full-scale nuclear energy industry based in the Northern
Territory, ranging from mining, milling and processing of uranium ore,
enrichment and re-processing of nuclear fuel, and disposal of
high-grade nuclear waste from around the world.
This was the formal policy of the Northern Territory Government as
outlined in a detailed ministerial statement to the NT Legislative
Assembly by Mines and Energy Minister Barry Coulter in May 1988.
In November 1989 at a CLP Central Council meeting held at the Gagadju
Hotel in Jabiru when Mick Palmer, then the Member for Karama in Darwin,
made an impassioned plea for continued support for a full-scale nuclear
energy industry based in the NT.
A sample of Synroc (a material designed to incorporate high-grade
nuclear waste for disposal by deep burial, invented by the CSIRO) was
passed around for all the meeting delegates to inspect.
Cooler heads prevailed – Chief Minister Marshall Perron advised against
Mick Palmer’s plea on the basis of political reality as the NT
Government had no direct jurisdiction over this issue and, at the time,
there was no likelihood of support to be expected from Canberra.
In 1990 the CLP admitted defeat on the issues of a nuclear energy
industry and radio-active waste disposal.
There is no doubt, however, that there are some who have never given up
on the prospect of the Territory’s potential pre-eminent role in the
development and participation of the nuclear fuel cycle, and it would
appear that their goal of achieving this is tantalisingly close.
Camps money still there?
Sir,– Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough must first
set aside any preconceptions about the future of Alice Springs town
camps and then negotiate in good faith with their representatives.
The Minister needs to recognise there is no longer any dispute from
Tangentyere Council and the town camp associations about leasing their
They’ve agreed to do just that and that means the real question is over
their right to self-determination.
And despite the unwelcome and unhelpful comments made by Senator
Scullion over the issues, the Minister told Parliament this week that
the money for the camps is still there.
But the associations want to retain control over their own destinies,
which is critical to the town campers’ sense of dignity.
Offering them an advisory role only in no way recognises this and this
is the real sticking point, but things will move along when the
Minister makes it clear to everyone that he recognises the right of
town camps to control their own affairs.
He also needs to make it clear he’s ready to negotiate without setting
Everyone wants the same thing for the Alice Springs town camps – a
standard of infrastructure and housing that will give the people a real
It appears the real stumbling block is the Federal Government’s refusal
The people of Alice Springs are waiting for the Government to take that
one small step.
All it requires is a willingness to be flexible, which shouldn’t be too
hard for them.
Member for Lingiari
All care, no responsibility
Sir,– Why is it that the Minister for all Care and No Responsibility,
Mal Brough, is demanding that Alice Springs town camps sign over their
head-leases for 99 years in order to receive government funding?
He wouldn’t dare try this stunt on the Alice Springs Town Council or
any other for that matter.
Good on the Tangentyere Council and the town camps for standing up for
their rights and beliefs.
What we see and hear from this Minister is foot in mouth disease,
denigrating with no solutions.
Just ask the Traditional Owners of Uluru-Kata Tjuta about 99 year
ED – Under Mr Brough’s proposal
the head leases were to be retained by the housing associations, but
the land on which housing was to be built was to be sub-let to the
Help needed for victims and
Sir,– Child sex abuse in Central Australia is not news. Anyone who has
lived here for any length of time would be aware of anecdotal evidence
of the high rate of child STD presentations at the hospital, the early
age of pregnancy and the severe frustration of those involved in
What is news is that the abuse has been investigated and documented.
What worries me is the slowness with which action is being implemented.
If there was a natural disaster, people would be on our doorstep within
hours offering support, clothing, care, money, counselling.
Every community needs a professionally staffed, well resourced rape
crisis centre set up today. It won’t happen.
All we can do is be realistic and diligent, not let the outcomes be
swept under the carpet, and support the victims and perpetrators in
their quest to become balanced functioning adults.
The perpetrators need to be stopped, punished AND rehabilitated – not
an easy task. The victims need lifelong support and we also need to be
diligent not to shun them because of the embarassing, shameful part of
our history they will represent.
My opposition to council’s youth curfew has always been because family
homes are not always safe and because we do not have enough crisis
We need to address boredom and lack of functional family structures
within our community FIRST before we punish and shun the victims.
I think it could be safely assumed that most young people (of all
races) raging around the streets at night come from dysfunctional
families or have deep psychological issues which need to be worked
The NT Government is responsible for the provision of quality child
support services – should there be an inquiry?
Do we have the right to aspire to become a state when we cannot manage,
or even acknowledge, the huge crisis which has obviously existed for
PS. Here’s a thought. If we could create a climate where perpetrators
are encouraged to come forward for rehabilitation, would this help
resolve the issue faster? We all know that child victims are often
unable to come forward until well into adulthood, if at all.
Surely there are points within the abuse cycle where perpetrators are
more likely to feel shame and a desire to bring the cycle to an end?
Have there been studies on this?
Can past perpetrators come forward and be a part of the solution? I
realise that most of us want to destroy perpetrators and there is the
belief that they cannot be rehabilitated – but is this the way forward?
Jane Clark (alderman)
Martin must move quickly
Sir,– The findings of the report on the sexual abuse of Indigenous
children on communities across the NT are almost beyond belief.
There has been a national outpouring of comments and recommendations,
and I would like to add four of my own.
First, and most importantly, the permit system has to go. It is
said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The
good intentions behind the permit system have become a road leading the
children of Aboriginal communities through a childhood from hell.
As co-chair of the report, Pat Anderson, said, ‘Our people are sitting
out there going quite mad…”.
I suggest they are going quite mad because they have been abandoned to
a permit-protected isolation while the rest of us, including their
administrators, chase the good life on offer in the wider Australian
Second, wherever possible the youngest of these children must be
removed to a place of safety. Both their families and their
communities have absolutely failed in their duty of care and have
forfeited all natural custodial rights.
Given the level of technology and communication today, there will never
be another stolen generation. But without intervention, there
will be another lost generation.
Third, the Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, must resign from public
office. Fourth, Chief Minister Clair Martin must now move faster
than she has ever moved before.
Her government’s response to this report has become their most urgent
task. There must be no spin, no politics, no whitewash, and no
Snowdon should resign
Sir,– Warren Snowdon must resign over child sexual abuse inquiry.
Mr Snowdon started representing the people of Lingiari some 18 years
What have he and his many other Labor colleagues done to protect the
Territory’s Aboriginal men, women and children?
The inquiry report tells us of horrifying stories. Sexual abuse and
sexual trade or paedophile rings are rampant through Aboriginal
communities in the Northern Territory.
For these acts of child betrayal to have gotten to this point of
devastation is disgraceful.
Action should have been taken years ago to address these horrendous
While the Howard Government has been trying to improve things we have
seen continual resistance to change from the Labor Party.
Change that would improve the lives of Aboriginal children.
Like the town camps, we need leadership to fix the problems, leadership
to protect the children, not more Labor negativity.
The left side of politics has gotten it completely wrong.
It is time for change and time for the right side of politics to
provide the answers.
We need to move those children from harm’s way. We need to
provide safe environments for men, women and children.
We need more police to enforce law and order.
We need housing that provides a safe place to eat and sleep.
We must provide education to children and jobs to parents, not more sit
down money combined with alcohol.
CLP Candidate for Lingiari
ED – Regarding “paedophile
rings “, the report specifically says the inquiry has “found no
evidence” of them operating in the Northern Territory, but “there was
enough evidence to conclude that a number of individual non-Aboriginal
‘paedophiles’ had been infiltrating Aboriginal communities and
offending against children”. Page 61.
Mr Snowdon declined to speak to the Alice Springs News this week, but
says he will next week.
What a lot of crock!
Sir,– The disappointment of over 2000 students and 53 schools cannot be
underestimated, now that the Alice Springs Town Council has decided
that the Croc Fest cannot be held at Traeger Park.
The reasons given can only be described as petty and overstated.
By this decision, the aldermen and mayor have sent a clear message to
these young people that they are not supported by our elected members.
It also says they are not welcome to use a facility that ratepayers
The not-for-profit Croc Fest has for years provided opportunities to
motivate and inspire young Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
This has lead to better school attendance and learning outcomes.
Isn’t this what all governments have been advocating?
Council is using excuses such as “the irrigation system may be
damaged,” or “the noise upsets nearby residents,” or even “it is an
overuse of the facility.”
This is demeaning to all the community groups that contribute so much,
and to the many students who see the Croc Fest as a highlight in their
I ask the Aldermen to reconsider their decision and get behind our
young people with some positive thinking before the organisers pull the
pin and walk away.
Independent Member for Braitling
Sir,– It is not just a motion of no confidence in the Town Council that
is needed, it is a petition, or perhaps another good boo-up for the
Chief Minister for continuing to allow the Minister for Local
Government / Minister for Central Australia to ignore the indisputable
fact that the ASTC is responsible for this dirty rundown town, overrun
by rabble who should have been made to conform to civilized urban
living, or dealt with by the town by-laws.
Before council has the bloody gall to increase rates let us see a
complete cessation of the jolly jaunts that have been taken, often
unnecessarily, at ratepayers’ expense.
And in the immediate future let us see council administration attend to
urgent matters, such as the metre high dead buffel grass destroying
more ancient trees, to add to the 17 destroyed by the fires of illegal
campers since September 2005.
Damned if we do, damned if we don’t
Sir,– I am disappointed with the 2006 Report by the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom
The report simply doesn’t do justice to what’s being achieved through
reforms to Indigenous affairs since 2004.
It looks at progress from a ‘glass is half empty’ perspective and
consequently misses the real outcomes being achieved and the
foundations being laid for the future.
The report is also so out-of-date (referring to the 2005-06 financial
year) as to be unhelpful, if not misleading, because it fails to
consider the extent of reform in Indigenous Affairs since
The 2007-08 Federal Budget shows the Government is putting its money
where its mouth is in Indigenous affairs.
The Budget included additional three-quarters of a billion dollars to
measures focusing on education, early childhood, and economic
independence, taking overall Indigenous spending to a record $3.5
billion in 2007-08.
The Government is also fundamentally overhauling our largest
Indigenous-specific programs, those dealing with employment and
housing: Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) and the
Community Housing and Infrastructure Program.
And we are demanding that mainstream agencies step up to the mark to
ensure Indigenous Australians have the same access to services as
Changing the headline indicators of disadvantage is going to take
considerable time – something Mr Calma acknowledges in
But much of his report is a litany of concerns about progress being
either non-existent in some areas or, where it is happening, that it’s
occurring too quickly or not in the way he would prefer.
Governments end up being damned if they do and damned if they don’t:
it’s a no-win situation.
No-one disputes that there’s still a long way to go, but cynical
critiques of the genuine efforts of governments and Indigenous
people to reform failed approaches of the past don’t help anyone
– least of all those who are most disadvantaged.
It would also be more constructive and fair if these reports examined
the performance of agencies generally from all levels of
government, rather than offering a very partial analysis of one
I was also particularly disappointed that the Social Justice
Commissioner did not choose to use his report to give a higher profile
to the issue of family violence in Indigenous
The Australian Government has been leading the way on this issue for
the past year but there is minimal discussion of human rights
abuses occurring in Indigenous communities, let alone of our work
to address this.
I would have thought it reasonable to expect that this issue
would be a higher priority for a Social Justice Commissioner.
Indigenous Affairs Minister
Millions for UN Uni for NT
Sir,– The Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education should
merge with the Charles Darwin University as a step towards the
establishment of a United Nations University Research and Training
Centre on traditional knowledge and indigenous studies based in Darwin.
Speaking during the debate the national parliament on the Higher
Education Bill, I said that the United Nations University has made an
in principle agreement to build such a research centre in the Territory.
CDU won the backing of the UN University to locate the centre in Darwin
against strong international pressure.
I congratulate vice-chancellor, Professor Helen Garnett, for her vision
in promoting this collaboration.
Funding has been sought from both the NT Government and international
philanthropic sources. I am still very hopeful that federal funds
will be available for this project.
CDU is seeking funding of several million dollars from the federal
government. The UN University has agreed it will contribute several
million dollars to the establishment of the centre.
The Territory has the potential to become a world leader in indigenous
studies and tropical medicine.
I strongly support the idea of a United Nations Centre for Indigenous
Studies, which would consolidate all Territory indigenous educational
groups, including the Batchelor Institute, into one world-class centre.
The proposed tie-up between CDU and the UN University should strengthen
ties between Batchelor Institute and indigenous communities through
cooperation in indigenous research and development.
If the Batchelor Institute were to merge into CDU it would also allow
them to focus on those areas which they should do best. That is
predominately the VET sector, training apprentices and the like in a
whole range of fields, which are sorely needed in most remote
The centre would attract overseas students and academics, reinvigorate
higher education in the Indigenous education field, provide new funding
sources and grants and promote partnerships in research and
scholarships with other organisations and researchers.
So far research activities in the Institute’s dispersed environment
have been very limited to say the least. There are currently no
students undertaking higher degrees by research.
David Tollner MP
Member for Solomon
Sir,– Applications are now open for the Commonwealth Bank Green
The program, now in its third year, will acknowledge 20 Australian 16
to 23 year olds, who are actively involved in protecting their local
Applicants need to be:–
• actively participating in local land care, bush care, coast care or
local environmental group conservation activities;
• actively promoting or demonstrating environmental responsibility at
school or on campus, or
• actively contributing to environmental initiatives within various
clubs outside of school or campus.
Ambassadors will receive a Commonwealth Bank Green Ambassadors pack
including a digital camera, a 12 month Conservation Volunteers
membership and the opportunity to participate in a CVA conservation
experience as well as the Certificate 1 in Active Volunteering.
Application is quick and easy.
Go online to ttp://www.conservationvolunteers.com.au/greenambassadors/
or call Conservation Volunteers on 1800 032 501.
Applications close July 27.
Ambassadors can be nominated by themselves, teachers, peers or other
members of the general public.
Back to front page of the the Alice Springs News.