June 21, 2007. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Ratepayer rip-off? By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The Town Council’s costs for maintaining public parks and gardens appear to be three times greater than those charged by a private company.
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 care.
The council’s cost per square meter per year is $3.69, while Ramjets’ is $1.20.
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 the board.
She says rate payers will demand that the council ensures its operations are efficient before the public has to put its hands into the pocket.
“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 nor administration.
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 machinery.
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 and gardens.
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 tomorrow.)
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 controlled entity.
“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 annually.
“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 company).
“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 re-allocated elsewhere.
“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 KIERAN FINNANE.

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 Nanette Rogers.
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 prosecuting perpetrators”.
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 community.
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 been abused.
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 intervention”.
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 children.”
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 girl.
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 abuse.
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 skin systems. 
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 dominant culture”. 
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  communities.
“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 process”.

97 recommendations.

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 communities. 
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 children.
The full report can be found at:  HYPERLINK ""


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 behind.
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 crimes.
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 has come.

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 each.)
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 Darwin University.
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 case. 
“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 doing.

Good onya, UNYA. By DARCY DAVIS.

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, May 8.
Among other things, it would choose two delegates to send to the UN Youth Conference in Canberra.
I lobbed.
The Morning Tea Committee seemed to have catered for 40;  fortunately the 20 attending seemed prepared to say twice as much as you’d expect!
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.

Arrernte people gave OK for town campers to stay. Historian DICK KIMBER speaks to KIERAN FINNANE.

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 involved.”
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 man.
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 fact.
“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 Kimber.
“There’s quite complex genealogical information because people were and are intermarrying.”
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 dry times. 
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 always.
“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 language groups.”
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 country.
“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 visit.
“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 another.” 
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 in grog.
“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 it.
“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.

Paul Sitzler: 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 later.
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 to.”
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 work.”
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 Brothers won.
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 company.
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 bad health.
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 Steve Margetic.
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 Bicentenary Council.
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 locals.
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 evaporation rates.
“This is expected to reduce the overall quantity of water in Ilparpa Swamp during the winter period as well as address issues relating to mosquitos.”
Well, a little bit of rain on the weekend and Perfume Creek is flowing again.
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.

Volunteers and 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 arena activities.
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 ""

‘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 humble hat.
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 year.’’
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 themselves. 
“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 bushtucker.’’
“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 landscape.
The show, held as part of the festival, opens on Saturday, June 30.

ADAM CONNELLY: 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 ADHD.
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! Shiny!”
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 the community.
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 what happened.
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? 
Barbara Curr
Alice Springs

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 produce.  
Michael Harries
Alice Springs 

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 2003).
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 Labor.
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.
Alex Nelson
Alice Springs

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 land.
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 arbitrary preconditions.
Everyone wants the same thing for the Alice Springs town camps – a standard of infrastructure and housing that will give the people a real chance.
It appears the real stumbling block is the Federal Government’s refusal to move.
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. 
Warren Snowdon
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 leases.
Mario Guiseppe
Alice Springs
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 Territory Government.

Help needed for victims and perpetrators

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 welfare services.
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 services.
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 through.
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 several generations.
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)
Alice Springs

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 community.
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 delay.
Hal Duell
Alice Springs

Snowdon should resign

Sir,– Warren Snowdon must resign over child sexual abuse inquiry.
Mr Snowdon started representing the people of Lingiari some 18 years ago.
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 acts.
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.
Adam Giles
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 provide.
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 school year.
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.
Loraine Braham
Independent Member for Braitling

Jolly jaunts

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. 
Gerry Baddock
Alice Springs

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 Calma.   
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 then.   
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 other Australians.  
Changing the headline indicators of disadvantage is going to take considerable time –  something Mr Calma acknowledges in passing.   
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 area.   
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  communities.   
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.
Mal Brough
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 communities. 
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

Go green

Sir,– Applications are now open for the Commonwealth Bank Green Ambassadors.
The program, now in its third year, will acknowledge 20 Australian 16 to 23 year olds, who are actively involved in protecting their local environment.
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:// 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.
Tristan Wills
Commonwealth Bank
Karen Dimmock
Conservation Volunteers

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