May 1, 2008. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Illegal camping, littering: How much longer will this go on? By KIERAN FINNANE.

Alice Springs is in desperate need of more housing, both for permanent residents and short-term visitors, Mayor Damien Ryan and Town Council CEO Rex Mooney told the Senate Community Affairs Committee, sitting in Alice Springs on Tuesday.
With many more people from the bush coming into Alice and setting up “new camps” around the town – often on sacred sites and so offending traditional owners – the town’s ability to offer accommodation and services has been stretched to the limit, said Mr Ryan.
Mr Mooney said council did not know how much, if any, of the recently announced Indigenous housing funds would be available for housing in Alice Springs (story page 4).
Mr Ryan tabled for the committee the photographs of illegal camps that appear on this page.
They were taken by Alice News editor Erwin Chlanda and shown to the council with a request to comment.
Mr Ryan asked permission to table them at the Senate hearing and a “site inspection” by rangers was ordered.  This took place while the councillors were before the committee.
The Alice News asked to accompany the rangers: the council and police had no objections but Tangentyere personnel did despite the fact that the land being illegally occupied is not land over which Tangentyere has responsibility.
Rangers found evidence of some 10 to 15 people having lived at the site, off Elder Street, for a couple of weeks.
There were cooking utensils, firewood, bedding, storage crates and rubbish.
The campers themselves were absent.
Head ranger Kevin Everett said there was no obvious evidence of children having lived at the camp.
Had the campers been there Mr Everett said rangers would have let them know that what they were doing was wrong; would have given them bags to pick up their rubbish; and would have waited for them to pack up and leave.
He said Tangentyere would have been able to offer the campers access to other services, such as Return to Country.
As it was, the rangers tidied up, but personal items were left in the care of Tangentyere.
Another inspection was to occur after the Alice News went to press.
The Senate committee was inquiring into community response to the Federal Government’s amendments to the Emergency Response legislation.
Mr Ryan made the connection between the protection of children, at the heart of the Emergency Response instigated last year by the Howard Government, and the housing stress being experienced in Alice Springs: with winter coming on, he pointed out, some children would be living in very difficult conditions.
The councillors reiterated their strong support for the intentions of the Intervention, but asked to be kept more fully aware of its implementation.
Mr Ryan also raised council’s concerns about apparent increased drinking and the consequent increase of liquor-related litter. Council estimates dealing with this costs some $600,000 a year, more than a quarter of the total rubbish collection budget – a “big impost on the ratepayer”. 
Mr Ryan spoke of the widely reported problems for small enterprises being able to do business with customers whose incomes are quarantined by Centrelink as part of the Emergency Response.
He claimed income management has exacerbated urban drift, with more people coming to town for better shopping opportunities.
He called for Centrelink to introduce an EFTPOs-style debit card in place of the store cards that favour the major retailers.
He raised the problem of wastage of unredeemed money on the store cards and their susceptibility to being converted to cash. He referred to anecdotal reports of people using store cards to buy items like clothing from supermarkets, and then returning the items and asking for, and being given, a cash refund.
The Senate committee also heard from William Tilmouth, Executive Director of Tangentyere Council.
One of the amendments to the Emergency Response legislation deals with re-instating the permit system.
Mr Tilmouth was quizzed at length on this matter.
He told the senators that there had “not been open slather” of undesirable people moving into camps, but there had been “unwanted media”.
He was asked whether, when the permit system had been place, whether media hand been refused entry.
He said that there had been one instance, during Mal Brough’s tour of camps with Night Patrol.
He was asked about how the presence of undesirable people was policed under the permit system. 
He said “the same way as now”, by Housing Associations issuing trespass notices.
In other words, these notices can be used to keep out undesirables, with or without the permit system.
Mr Tilmouth was asked repeatedly for information about the extent of child abuse.
He said, initially, that he had no information about child abuse on the camps.
He complained that the town camps had never been visited by the “Little Children Are Sacred” team; had such a visit taken place everyone would have known more.
He said any matters concerning child safety were referred to the appropriate authorities; the senators should ask them.
Senator Suzanne Boyce (Liberal, Qld) was particularly insistent: would not your council have some sense of these issues, are they not raised at all, she asked.
Mr Tilmouth said the issues are raised within family groups and with authorities.
Senator Boyce queried his access to data on all sorts of services offered by Tangentyere but “not around problems with families”. Is the council not concerned about these trends, she asked.
Mr Tilmouth said: “We are concerned.”
He said he could get that information from one of his managers.
Later in the session he was reminded by the deputy chair Senator Gary Humphries (Liberal, ACT) about the committee’s interest in the child abuse information.
Mr Tilmouth said again he could get it for them.

LETTERS: Pearce has answers for town’s woes.

Sir,- I was very impressed with your lead story and interview in last week’s edition ‘Alice Springs in 2020’.
Darryl Pearce certainly envisages a very positive future for our town. He claims the role and function of Lhere Artepe is crucial if there is to be a ‘turn around’ with regard to attitude, behaviour and mutual respect from people outside Alice who come into town to visit and for those of us who live here. I, for one, wholeheartedly agree.
Generational differences in values (especially respect) have produced some quite negative consequences in this town over the past decade or so and it’s absolutely time that we all work towards regaining that. As a generally vibrant and dedicated community, we all have the responsibility to turn this around.
Darryl’s term ‘anti-cultural behaviour’ is so very apt. A vast number of people regaining their sense of purpose, identity, dignity and integrity is crucial in all this. More power and congratulations to you, Darryl Pearce, along with the traditional owners and native title holders / guardians of this place. I wish you all well in your endeavours and hope that you achieve great success as we all move toward the 2020 goals you suggest are possible.
Many of the social and behavioural markers are achievable today and tomorrow – we certainly don’t have to wait another 12 years!!
In partnership with the Alice Springs News and established infrastructures including Imparja Television, CAAMA radio, the other various print media, Tangentyere and Arrernte Councils and the Central Land Council, the on-going messages of what is acceptable behaviour needs to be rolled out loudly and clearly – to everybody!!
In ‘A Town Like Alice’, Joe’s belief that ‘Alice ... she’s a bonza place’ can return to a prouder reality. I believe that this place has a special spirit that so many around the country and planet have experienced for decades now. It’s part of why I have chosen to live here for almost 15 years.
Part of my involvement as a small business tourism operator helps to inform visitors and guests of some of the magic of this place – its people, country and spirit. It saddens me to witness some of the appalling behaviour appearing to permeate the town – especially around 6pm outside and inside liquor outlets.
To witness the reactions of many of the tourism visitors is also saddening. Everyone is in the tourism industry in this town – we want to encourage our visitors to spend more time here and experience so much of what we have to offer. Building a positive impression of the town and its surroundings while potentially adding significantly to the local economy can only be of benefit to the place and her people.
A very positive example where this sort of collaborative investment in proactive and productive energy is in Katherine.
There, many of the proud Jawoyn people are very actively involved in tourism experiences. Through a number ot successful tours operations around the region (working closely with other businesses, government and agencies), the Jawoyn have created a fantastic array for travellers to the region.
The Arrernte (and other) people of this Central Australian area can have a similar impact. We already have a number of Aboriginal tour products and businesses operating successfully in town. These could easily be the corner-stones of a vibrant and industrious cultural industry built upon to create a more favourable reflection of ‘engagement’ in the pride and prosperity that Alice Springs and Central Australia offers.
Mentor-ships, education and strong, positive messages should be the role of so many more of our locals. Our collective behaviours need to better reflect the pride and esteem that IS Alice Springs.
Phil Walcott
Alice Springs

Sir,- I had the opportunity to read your article regarding Barbara Shaw and the United Nations meeting in New York (Alice News, April 24).
I would have thought that you might have taken a bit more time, as the editor of the Alice Springs News, to find out a little bit more about the meeting before criticising Ms Shaw, essentially for living at Mt Nancy town camp.
The meeting is the seventh session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
This Permanent Forum is a body established by the Economic and Social Council, not UNESCO as you seemed to have concluded, to advise the ECOSOC on indigenous issues.
Ms Shaw spoke to the Permanent Forum last week regarding the fact that the racial discrimination laws in Australia do not apply to the Northern Territory as the so-called ‘Intervention’ continues to roll out.
While it is apparently not a problem for many white Australians, I can assure you that the rest of the six billion people around the globe, and the UN itself, are astounded that a country like Australia, already infamous for its attitude towards the Aboriginal people and their rights, refuses to provide lawful protection to the Aboriginal people against racial discrimination.
Just to give correct weight to this disgusting situation, the Commonwealth Heads of Government (including Australia) declared long ago, in 1979, its commitment to the eradication of the ‘dangerous evils of racism’.
In the same Declaration the CHOGM drew attention to the role of the media, in particular: “We are particularly conscious of the importance of the contribution the media can make to human rights and the eradication of racism and racial prejudice by helping to eliminate ignorance and misunderstanding between people and by drawing attention to the evils which afflict humanity.
“We affirm the importance of truthful presentation of facts in order to ensure that the public are fully informed of the dangers presented by racism and racial prejudice”.
It would be good if your newspaper informed the public that Australia is unquestionably in breach of the international treaty it signed in 1966 to eliminate racial discrimination, because the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 is now suspended.
The suspension of the RDA means that the Aboriginal people have no access to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission or the Australian courts to defend their human rights to protection against racism.
How weak is that, Australia?
A bit of attention to the most important and core facts might help to resolve the real problems.
But rest assured that I will be mentioning your name and your article here at the United Nations next week, and that I will also ensure that my contacts in Australia are also aware of your name – Erwin Chlanda – and your standard as a newspaper editor.
If you choose to use your position to make an underhand and unsubstantiated attack upon people working as human rights defenders then I think you should be subject to, if not the same treatment, exposure to the public as a newsaper editor with a cowardly manner and uninformed opinions.
This correspondence is being widely circulated.
I request that you retract your article and also publish this message as a response to your article.
Les Malezer
Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action
ED – It’s Mr Malezer who “might have ... to find out a little bit more about” about the Alice Springs News, and our report about Ms Shaw, before unleashing his tirade.
That would have allowed him to discover that this newspaper has produced sustained, carefully researched and accurate analysis and reporting of the Federal Intervention since it began – its accomplishments and shortcomings, with the keen and extensive participation of Aboriginal people as readers and informants.
We have paid particular attention to the plight of the people in the town camps of Alice Springs (and were doing so well before the Intervention), all with first-hand research.
It was Ms Shaw who used the acronym UNESCO, and then got its full title wrong.
Our report last week takes no position on the suspension or otherwise of the Racial Discrimination Act, nor about the merits or otherwise of the United Nations Organization and its instrumentalities.
His shooting from the hip should not surprise us though, given his views about Australia in general which, in any case, would be properly addressed to Kevin Rudd than to the Alice Springs News.
We were not “criticising Ms Shaw, essentially for living at Mt Nancy town camp”.
With a more careful perusal of our story, the research for which was cut short by Ms Shaw, Mr Malezer would have noted that :–
• Ms Shaw’s family is extremely well connected to the publicly funded, yet broadly dysfunctional, Tangentyere Council, set up to assist town campers;
• that the majority of Mt Nancy residents are members of the Shaw family;
• that Ms Shaw would not disclose how much they paid in rent; 
• that the average occupancy rate of houses at Mt Nancy is 2.4 while it is as high as 11 in other town camps;
• that her father, a resident of Mt Nancy which was established with public funding, is the former director of Tangentyere and its current chairman, and that he will not respond to questions from the Alice News as to whether his financial position would disqualify him from obtaining public housing provided by the Territory Government. Neither, by the way, will Mr Shaw disclose the budget (believed to be $23m) of the organization he presides over, notwithstanding that these funds come from the public purse.
Having taken all this into account, Mr Malezer will discover that the underlying motive for our report was to examine the integrity of publicly funded initiatives aimed at assisting disadvantaged members of our community.
We stand by our report.
Mr Malezer will of course draw this reply to the attention of his “contacts” in Australia and at the UN to whom he’s “widely circulating” this correspondence.

Sir,- It is unfortunate that you so totally missed the point of Barbara Shaw’s trip to the United Nations.  Barbara has been working for a long time, with the backing of Aboriginal Rights Coalitions and the wider network of supporters from around the country, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to have rights for the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory reinstated.
It is immaterial what rent she pays or how many people live in her house. She is living the intervention. She has a huge blue and white sign at the gate to Mount Nancy drawing attention to alcohol and pornography. Her welfare entitlements are quarantined. She queues for store cards. She and her family have nowhere to sit and have a drink of beer or wine together.
Barbara consults with many people on communities and knows the confusion, fear and stress the threat / imposition of the intervention is causing. It is hard to fight the intervention with little resources. The government has plenty of money and the power to influence the media.
Most right-thinking people know, whilst acknowledging the problems that are there in the community, that intervening is not the appropriate way to deal with these issues. For sustainable solutions, the community has to be consulted and involved.Barbara is in New York to take part in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  She has taken up this opportunity to learn how United Nations processes work and to present a statement drawing attention to the impact of the Northern Territory Intervention.
Canada has now agreed to ratify the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Australia must do the same.
Marlene Hodder
Intervention Rollback Action Group
Alice Springs

Group fights Alice uranium mine. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Fear of water contamination and radioactive dust is driving the Alice Springs Angela Pamela Collective to oppose uranium mining 25 km south of the town.
Spokeswoman Natalie Wasley says the project has been given the green light, for exploration at least, by the NT Government without consulting the public.
The site’s “reservation from occupation” status was revoked despite recognition of the area’s “national conservation bio-diversity significance” in the government’s own parks draft master plan, she says.
Meanwhile Tom Keaney, a member of the collective, says there is “potential for environmental damage and contamination” to the town’s water supply.
Palladin, one of the two partners in the mining venture, had said earlier that such a risk did not exist because there is a barrier between the proposed mine and the aquifer.
The Alice News had requested the other partner, Cameco, to take part in a three-way interview, together with a member of the collective, but the company’s Jennifer Parks declined, saying she may comment later.
Dr Keaney says there is doubt about the function of a geological barrier as a protection of artesian basins.
“Surface run-off, from rain and flooding, and ground water are inter-linked,” he says.
“What are the barriers that would stop any surface run-off from the mine infiltrating the aquifers which supply Alice Springs?
“The mine up at Ranger contaminated drinkable water in 2004.
“That’s a significant issue.
“And it wasn’t related to a failure of technology. It was related to simple human error.”
Dr Keaney says the ASAP collective wants guarantees that there will be no contamination of groundwater, either through acts of God, such as floods, or through individuals’ mistakes.
“The mine itself uses water,” he also says.
“The Olympic Dam mine in South Australia utilizes a great deal of water. We live in an arid environment.
“Water is precious.
“You can’t justify the use of large quantities of water to extract a toxic substance.”
Radioactive dust is another worry for Dr Keaney: “Prevailing winds are from the south and the south east,” he says. “This mine is 25 kms to the south.”
Dust storms are common in The Centre, and in what way would dust from the mine be different?
“This is a difficult question,” says Dr Keaney.
“Obviously, there would be a low level of radiation present in dust that may blow over Alice Springs.”
What would that mean?
He says the question was the subject of report number seven, about the biological effects of ionizing radiation, sponsored by the National Sciences Academy in the United States last year.
“The report talked about a linear effect between radiation levels and possible effect on human health,” says Dr Keaney.
“That means the more radiation an individual is exposed to, the greater is the likelihood of illness.”
What illness?
“Again, it’s difficult to say at such low levels, but the report talks in particular about thyroid cancer and leukemia.”
He says genetic defects and “problems with inheritance” are also mentioned in the report. Vehicle traffic from the mine may be a further concern.

IN BRIEF with KIERAN FINNANE: Town camps to go into Alice electorates – win for Labor.

The town camps as well as the rural residential areas, currently in the seats of MacDonnell and Stuart, will be absorbed into Alice’s town-based electorates in the proposed redistribution of electoral boundaries by the NT Electoral Commission.
This marks a change of perception about where the town campers’ “community of interest” lies. In the past it was deemed to be  with the bush electorates, entrenching another divide between town campers and other town residents.
The change also makes the town electorates, long the stronghold of CLP and conservative independents, more “contestable” for Labor, with Aboriginal voters tending to favour Labor.
Public responses to the proposals are due by May 26. Boundary changes should be gazetted by June, in time for the next legislative assembly general election, widely tipped for August.
• • •
The Town Council will take no further action on buying a house for its CEO.
Despite protestations by Alderman Samih Habib, the council voted down the move on Monday in the name of fiscal responsibility.
Mayor Damien Ryan said spending $550,000 on the house would not be a smart financial decision at this stage: “The prime real estate market tells me prices will go down rather than up.”
• • •
The Federal and Territory Governments look set to trial a scheme linking school attendance with Centrelink benefits.
The Alice News understands that the trial will take place in two centres, Hermannsburg and Katherine.
The NT Department of Education declined to answer our questions, referring us to the Commonwealth.
A spokesperson for the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) responded by way of a broad statement, saying that he could not comment further on a matter that is part of budget deliberations.
The spokesperson said the work will build on “measures already well-progressed, such as the Australian Government’s commitment to fund 200 teachers (50 per year over four years 2008-2011) in the NT. 
“This will involve NT education providers deploying 50 new teachers in 2008 to remote NT Emergency Response schools.  In recognition of this, the NT Government has committed to a goal of 500 new enrolments in the 2008 calendar year in those schools.”
• • •
The Alice News last week reported that the Territory Government is planning to install overhead powerlines in its “upgrade” of infrastructure on the town camps, though work on any new subdivision in Alice Springs would require power to be installed underground.
A spokesperson for  the Department of Local Government, Housing and Sport supplied the following statement after the News had gone to press: “We are at the design stage only for electrical services in Alice Springs Town Camps.”
Alderman Jane Clark, at Monday’s mayoral press conference, reiterated the Local Government Association’s intention to watch every detail of the Territory Government’s plans.
She had a pile of correspondence on the subject and said it included statements such as the town camps are “technically not a new subdibvion”.
“LGANT will push this as well as the Town Council,” said Ald Clark.

Governments stonewall queries on huge Aboriginal housing scheme. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The Territory and the Federal governments are failing to answer questions about why Central Australia is all but missing out on a $420m program to build 1000 houses for Aborigines.
Only two of the 16 communities selected by the NT Government to benefit from the scheme are in Central Australia (Alice News, April 17).
The NT department of housing is mum also on details why the average cost of a house is $420,000, saying only that “labour, materials and infrastructure development is part of the overall cost of building a new house”.
And despite more than three decades of design of Aboriginal houses, by experts around the nation, the department is now engaged in yet another round of consultations, delaying the provision of shelter to those in need and leaving the local construction industry high and dry for more than a year.
“There is no set design for a house,” says a spokeswoman for the department.
“Each community has their own needs and Indigenous Communities will be consulted during the program to help develop sustainable housing construction methods and design.
“We cannot provide any further information at this stage.”
There was no response on the question from the Alice News, why the “mutual obligation” notion of previous Aboriginal Affairs Minster Mal Brough has apparentlybeen discarded, especially as there is evidence that homes built with the help of the ultimate occupants are much better looked after.
In addition to the funds for new houses, $124m will be spent on housing upgrades in 57 communities under the five year Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP), a total of $547m in Federal funds.
The Territory will kick in a further $100m.

Making Alice safer, friendlier, livelier? By KIERAN FINNANE.

What would it take to make the heart of Alice Springs, the CBD, a livelier, friendlier, safer place – a place of which the town could be proud and where people would want to be?
And could urban design have something to offer in this regard?
Highly regarded designers Paul Carter and Michael Innes were in town last week to discuss these questions with CBD “stakeholders” – from the Town Council and Lhere Artepe, the native title holder body, to Todd Mall traders, tourism operators and the “creative communities” (local IT and new media specialists as well as designers, architects, artists, arts workers). 
But if people were expecting Dr Carter and Mr Innes to propose at least the draft of a grand plan for them to react to, they would have been disappointed.
Or perhaps pleased – as there were not already plans taking hold that had to be combated.
The proposal to develop an “east-west axis” through the town, connecting the Red Centre Way through the CBD to the Todd River (see Alice News, April 11) is a proposal of the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, coinciding with the work of Dr Carter and Mr Innes, but not the focus of it.
Rather, their company, Material Thinking, has been engaged by the department to produce a document called a Design Options Framework (DOF), which will be about discovering what “revitalisation” means for Alice Springs, identifying the obstacles to it and the sort of actions and projects that could contribute to it.
Material Thinking was a key contributor to the development of Melbourne’s acclaimed Federation Square.
A look at their website,, gives an idea of the scope of their work.
Of particular interest is the project called Golden Grove, commissioned by the University of Sydney to make a section of their campus (the whole of which is probably larger than the Alice CBD) a safer, friendlier place. Instead of “over-regulating and over-lighting”, the designers together with landscape architects came up with a solution involving dispersed lighting, ground patterning and stencilled poetic inscriptions. The whole aims to give a sense of animation and inter-connection.
Material Thinking also have commissions in London – a “community beacon” responding to issues of climate change – and in Lower Manhattan, New York – a public art work designed to “repair a public space so brutally injured”.
That’s an interesting span of the globe – Melbourne, Sydney, London, New York ... and Alice Springs.
But before we get too inflated an idea of our importance, Material Thinking  is also involved in a project called Mallee, focussed as its name suggests on the western Victorian lands known as The Mallee, “currently experiencing terminal stress”.
The subtitle of this project is “Breaking the drought: sustaining stories sustaining places” and it is not located in one place or one time, but is rather a series of initiatives – exhibitions, screenings, publications, sculptural installations.
This is what Dr Carter means when he talks about “programming” as opposed to infrastructure, because in Alice their work won’t necessarily be about infrastructure. 
It is not clear yet what it will be about because the process, despite the appearance of a discussion paper (released at the start of March), is still at the beginning stages. 
The process starts with stories, explains Dr Carter – seeking out the many stories, past and present, of this place.
They heard all sorts – from the most basic, for instance about problems associated with public toilets as well as the increase of urinating and defecating in public spaces, to the more emotional and elevated, such as the history of the date palms on the Civic Centre lawns and on-going attachment to them.
Mayor Damien Ryan at his press conference on Monday was quite excited about council’s session with the designers, emphasising the input of aldermen with long family histories in the town – his own family’s but also those of Alds Sandy Taylor, Jane Clark, Brendan Heenan and Liz Martin.
Council CEO Rex Mooney says council will now take the next step and formalise “its own corporate concept” of what it would like to see happen in the CBD.
Ald Clark spoke of the importance of the CBD being able to offer tourists a better and richer experience, getting “below the surface to meet the real Alice Springs” – a place where people of very diverse backgrounds and aspirations have come together.
These are the stories that the design developed by Material Thinking’s work will “tell” – stories that the community can be proud of, that will “percolate out, on the web, through tourist magazines, into the global consciousness”, says Dr Carter.
(Tourism NT and all those people so worried about the rich diet of “negative stories” about Alice will breathe a huge sigh of relief.)
Dr Carter is quite skeptical about the record of his own profession: he says most urban design doesn’t deliver revitalisation.
“It’s about the ego of designers, getting something to look wonderful, especially in design magazines or in boardrooms.
“We believe the design that works is the design that conceals itself.”
In other words, good urban design doesn’t need to make a huge statement; it can be as simple as creating the right conditions for people moving through town and coming together in the everyday rhythm of life with a sense of well-being – the provision of shade, of seating, of pleasing lighting at night, for example.
Good design is also about putting in place symbols or forms “in which people can recognise themselves”.
Every town has at least one of these, says Dr Carter – “an iconic point of reference”.
“Tell me if I’m wrong, but in Alice it seems to be the distance marker outside the Flynn Church – that’s where we’ve seen lots of tourists taking photographs of themselves.
“But it’s hardly adequate, is it?”
The marker, erected by the Lions Club, shows the distance – colossal, of course – to some of the world’s major centres. To Tokyo it’s 6578 kms, Rio, 17,874 kms and so on. The name, Alice Springs, is not even mentioned.
As an icon, it defines Alice in the negative, by its distance from other places, rather than by reference to its own qualities.
What Material Thinking will propose, distilled from the stories they are gathering, are forms or programs that will define Alice in the positive.
No grand plan “to colonise the CBD” but key points where people will meet in public spaces that they are proud of, that speak to them about the town and history they are part of.
There will be another round of consultations in June and a report delivered in three to four months’ time.
No doubt last week Dr Carter and Mr Innes were inundated with stories about Alice’s “social problems”.
Could design really make a difference?
Dr Carter recognises the “extremely difficult” issues and answers by way of an example where design has contributed to a lack of social cohesion – the development of the shopping centres.
“This is not our observation,” he says, “it is what we have been repeatedly told”  – basically that by moving food shopping places into the shopping centres (Woolworths, for example, used to have its store at the northern end of Todd Street, now the Mall), tourist shoppers became separated from residents, and to some extent (more so prior to the Intervention and income management) Indigenous shoppers became separated from non-Indigenous shoppers. 
The move was designed to improve the economy but it had the paradoxical effect of creating disconnection.
Material Thinking’s Design Options Framework will be about “finding ways of reconnecting”.
But that doesn’t mean going in with the bulldozers –  “that won’t solve anything”.
It means working creatively with what is here – weaving into it new “beautiful and well-judged design”. Watch this space.

Reading, riting – no rithmatic.

The Territory’s own writers’ festival, Wordstorm, will have a small manifestation in Alice Springs with workshops and a spoken word event on Friday, May 9.
Mary Anne Butler, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Jennifer Mills, Munkimuk, Terry Whitebeach and other Alice Springs writers will perform their work at the Aboriginal Art & Cultural Centre in Todd Street from 7pm.
Meanwhile a “literary lunch” will be held on Wednesday, May 14, with Dorothy Porter, who has “perfected the art of writing sexy, gutsy crime verse novels”.
You can hear her read from her work and discuss her writing at Olive Pink Botanical Gardens, 12.30-2.30pm.
Indigenous anthology
Submissions are being called for an anthology of Indigenous writing, to be published by IAD Press.
The editors are mainly looking for short stories and poetry but also of song lyrics, theatre or film scripts, and essays are welcome.
The writers will be involved in a two-day workshop with established writers such as Alexis Wright, Richard D. Frankland and Steven Kinnane. 
Deadline is May 26, with the workshops being held from June to September.

Art controversy again?

The Alice Prize is usually good for spirited debate, and  the biennial affair will unfold with the opening this Friday night at Araluen.
Art writer and critic Susan McCulloch is this year’s judge – will the locals agree with her?
She is the co-author along with daughter Emily and her father, the late Alan McCulloch, of Australia’s leading reference book McCulloch’s Encyclopedia of Australian Art.
And in judging the 35th  Alice Prize, she follows in her father’s steps: he was judge of the second Alice Prize in 1972.
Ms McCulloch will announce this year’s winner of the $15,000 acquisitive award at the opening.
Sixty-three artists were selected from over 250 entries from around Australia.
Open to any medium, the show includes painting, drawing, steel sculpture, black and white photographs, digital projections and barrels of oil.
It gives a broad view of developments in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal art around the country.
Selection of exhibitors was made by Alice Springs artist Iain Campbell, Araluen curator Kate Podger and Toni Bailey, Curator at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space.
But the artists are then free to submit work of their own choice.
Territory artists are well represented: they include Deborah Clarke, Yaritji Connelly, Gladdy Kemarre, Dinni Kunoth Kemarre, 1995 Alice Prize winner Pamela Lofts, Pip McManus, Nancy McDinny, Henry Smith, Catriona Stanton, Julie jat Taylor, Ben Ward and Puntjna Watson.
The Alice Prize is organised by the Alice Springs Art Foundation, and is one of Australia’s oldest art prizes. The show continues at Araluen till June 8.

ADAM CONNELLY: A rite of passage for men, women and children alike.

I don’t feel good. I feel well; there’s nothing wrong with my health. But I don’t feel good.
I feel the shame of a nation. It is a weight upon my back and it is a weight I can no longer carry. The burden is too great.
It is a shame that will live with me for at least the next 12 months. I’ve tried to find a path to forgiveness. Ash and sackcloth, self-flagellation, rosaries, the lot, but nothing so far has provided absolution.
On a normal work day I get out of bed at 4am. No matter what awaits you at 4am, it is not a desirable time to wake up. So when the opportunity arises for a sleep in, until say … 7am, it is most appreciated.
I took this opportunity last Friday. A nice sleep in until a time more acceptable for the rousing of consciousness.
The morning sun was filtering in from the bedroom window, birds were singing their morning songs and the air fresh with the anticipation of a new day. None of these qualities are apparent at four in the morning.
I sleepily get out of bed, stretch, yawn, and – like all blokes – scratch. I wander into the wet area of the house and perform my ablutions. Fresh and ready for the day, I put on the kettle and turn on the telly. Then it hits me. There on the telly are old men walking proudly down a Sydney street. The ANZAC Day parade. Oh no. I didn’t, did I? I couldn’t have slept through the dawn service?  
In our ever increasingly secular world ANZAC Day is gaining more prominence in our collective consciousness. It’s taking over Easter and Christmas as the number one public holiday in terms of personal significance.
Tens of thousands of Australians from every walk of life flock to cenotaphs and civic centres across the country to pay their respects and commemorate the sacrifice of those who died in battle.
The amazing thing about ANZAC Day is the growing popularity of the event. As the diggers’ numbers dwindle, the crowds on the side of the road swell.
ANZAC Cove was bursting at the seams this ANZAC Day.
Not even 10 years ago the service in Turkey was a small affair. Now, due to its overwhelming popularity, the cove is floodlit and has stadium seating.
It is a rite of passage for men, women and children alike and Alice Springs is no different.
The dawn service at ANZAC Hill is beautiful. A town on the top of a hill commemorating the sacrifice of Centralians.
Fathers with their daughters. Mothers with their sons. Granddad with his medals and grandsons proud as punch, ANZAC Hill is a magical place in the pre-dawn of April 25.
And I slept in.
There is a real stigma, a sense of un-Australianess in not participating in ANZAC Day activities. And fair enough too.
I can at times be a tough bloke. But nothing makes the eyes water quicker than an old bloke tearing up on the telly about the mates he lost. I fall to pieces every time.
To my mind war is a sign that we have failed. There are no winners. Seeing a man in the winter of his life, emotional about the events of the spring of his life proves that point.
It wouldn’t have taken too much effort for me to show my appreciation.
I wasn’t called upon to do anything that required even a small amount of effort. Yet I couldn’t get out of bed. 
No one will care that I didn’t turn up to ANZAC Hill last Friday. No one missed me.
But I know I wasn’t there. I know that I hit the snooze button and pulled the blanket up. The diggers couldn’t do that 93 years ago.
And nor will I next year.

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