June 19, 2008. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Mount Johns Valley: race starts to create 800 homes. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Alderman Samih Habib says the town council should be the developer of residential land in the Mt Johns Valley, up to 800 blocks, between the golf course and the MacDonnell Ranges.
Meanwhile the native title body, Lhere Artepe, is saying it also wants to develop the land, and is asking the NT Government for the opportunity to do so.
CEO Darryl Pearce says to relinquish native title rights over Mt Johns Valley, Lhere Artepe would seek a deal similar to the one struck at Stirling Heights, on the western edge of the town.
That deal – half of the value of the undeveloped land as determined by the Valuer General – would be “a starting point”, says Mr Pearce.
And Planning and Lands Minister Delia Lawrie says: “The NT Government and Lhere Artepe have been in positive negotiations regarding the release of land at Mt Johns.”
Ald Habib says the council should enter into an agreement with Lhere Artepe about the extinguishment of native title, acquire the land from the government, and release it to developers.
That would enable the council to ensure an appropriate supply of land over the next 10 years.
“We cannot afford to wait every six or seven years for 70 blocks to be released,” says Ald Habib.
“We have the town at heart. We are not subject to the political process in Darwin.”
Ald Habib says council development of the land would be an opportunity to make a profit, reducing the need for future rate rises, while ensuring the public gets access to cheaper land after several years of price increases to levels rivaling Sydney.
The proposal came as a surprise to Mayor Damien Ryan: “I look forward to Ald Habib bringing a solid business plan before the council,” he says.
Mr Pearce says its own ambitions notwithstanding, Lhere Artepe would consider other offers: “We’re always happy to listen,” he says.
Stirling Heights has about 80 blocks. 
Half the land was transferred to Lhere Artepe as compensation for the extinguishment of native title over the entire area.
Lhere Artepe sold that land, on which subsequently 40 blocks were developed, for $1m.
If that formula is applied to Mt Johns Valley, Lhere Artepe’s demand would be $10m for the extinguishment of native title there.
Mr Pearce says Ald Habib’s proposal seems to be in conflict with the council’s hopes of gaining town planning powers, or having aldermen who are appointed to the Development Consent Authority to represent the council.
At present council nominees, who are all aldermen, sit on the authority in their own right.
[This report first appeared in the Alice Springs News online edition on Thursday last week.]

Alice is sweet but off-beat. Alice on track, but whack.

Alice youth rated their town as mid-way between a functional and dysfunctional community at the Youth Forum organised by Mayor Damien Ryan on Tuesday.
A functional community is characterised by hope, fun, unity, interaction, openness and satisfaction, while a dysfunctional community is characterised by fear, unrest, division, isolation, suspicion and problems.
Facilitator of the forum, Coralie Boyd of YouthTrax, a division of NT Group Training, says discussion on all topics looked at “the good, the bad and the ugly”.
Some of the things that came up under “good” were big events like the Finke Desert Race, rodeos and BassintheDust.
Croc Fest would have made it onto the list if it were still being held in Alice: the young people wanted to know what had happened to it.
Crime, vandalism, lack of personal safety came up under “the ugly”.
Ms Boyd emphasised that these issues came from the young people. She says she threw away the program at the start of the day and even showed Mr Ryan the door after his introduction: “I told them, ‘It’s up to you’.”
Did many of them say they felt personally unsafe?
“No, but broadly they felt safety was an issue.”
Employment cropped up under all headings.
There’s an assumption that Alice is a good place for young people to get a job, but not all the young people themselves felt that.
Forty seven attended the forum, from St Philip’s,  Anzac,  ASHS, the Clontarf Football Academy, Congress, Yipirinya School, Centralian College and some representatives from the Chief Minister’s Round Table.
Ms Boyd will now write up a report on the day’s discussions; it will be endorsed by group leaders identified at the forum before it is presented to council.
One early recommendation from the day is that young people have an ongoing advisory capacity for council. Ms Boyd has already taken this to Mr Ryan.
Mr Ryan hopes the event will be the first of many.
He said he was buoyed by the young people’s enthusiasm and sincerity. 
“This could not in any way be construed as a cynical exercise”, he said. 
“One young person thanked me personally for the opportunity to participate.”

Planning: Delia won’t budge.

If Planning Minister Delia Lawrie was at the June 5 planning forum to listen, she didn’t listen long to the Town Council’s request that its nominated members to the Development Consent Authority take their place on it as formal representatives of the council.
Control of town planning has long been a bone of contention in the Territory, the only jurisdiction where it is controlled at state level.
Mayor Damien Ryan’s request was the first of his specific points during his speech to the forum.
It followed his remarks about the “beat-up” of the previous two days – referring, without naming his colleague, to Deputy Mayor Murray Stewart’s so-called “Hate Darwin Day”.
Mr Ryan suggested that a person with their back turned to Darwin would miss seeing opportunities for the development of Alice Springs. 
Local resident Mal Crowley later in the day told Ms Lawrie that giving Alice Darwin’s money for 12 months would “fix all our problems”.
“I’m hearing you,” said Ms Lawrie, “that’s why I’m here.”
But at a press conference during morning tea she poured cold water on council’s DCA concerns.
She said the council has a very strong involvement with the DCA, through their nominees as well as through the participation of their technical officers and the advice provided to council about applications.
It’s a system that “has worked and worked well”, says Ms Lawrie.
She suggested that “any tension” that council may feel about the role that its nominees play on the DCA, they “can resolve themselves”.
Council’s concerns are to do with the fact that their nominees – historically always aldermen – are required to act within the DCA as individuals (without prejudgment of an application before it is heard) and not as representatives of the Town Council.
This was the grounds of a battle fought with the CLP Government in 1999 during a review of planning legislation. Then Planning Minister Tim Baldwin articulated his government’s viewpoint on local government involvement with planning in an interview with the Alice Springs News (Sept 29, 1999): 
“Where does the council’s mandate come from to say that they are the best representatives of the community on matters of planning?
“They may be the best to deal with matters of garbage, dogs, and all the rest of it, but on matters of planning, are they the only people who can have the say?
“I’m saying, let the community have a say. Let the community have a view on this.”
Pressure from local government and the community saw the government’s proposed changes boost council’s nominees to the DCA from one to two (with one alternative), still a reduction from the former three. 
The other two seats on the authority are for community members, who respond to a call for expressions of interest and whose appointments are approved by the Planning Minister. The chairman of the DCA, a permanent appointee, is common to all divisions. The current chairman is Peter McQueen, who was present at the planning forum.
David Koch, former alderman, has been on the DCA as a council nominee for seven out of the past 12 years. He says there has never in his experience been a decision of, or recommendations from the DCA “of any significance” that have gone against the thrust of council’s views.

Artifical park gets three times the funding of the real thing. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

It seems unlikely that the Desert Park, for all its attractions, would entice Frau Huber in Frankfurt or Monsieur Dupont in Paris to pay for an international flight to Australia, fuel surcharge and all.
The West MacDonnell National Park, destined to be World Heritage listed, would be much more likely to – if properly resourced and promoted.
Yet the Desert Park, on a 50 hectare core site, has almost three times the funding of the West MacDonnell National Park, covering 205,563 hectares, and four times the number of staff.
Visitation to the Desert Park has grown by 47% in its first decade but it looks like most of that growth was achieved in the first few years.
It got 56,708 visitors in its first year of operation (it opened in 1997), peaked at around 110,000 in 1999-2000, dropping to 86,000 in 2001-02 – in the wake of September 11 and the collapse of Ansett.
But in 2006-07 it drew only 83,539.
This is scarcely more than the average visitation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service – around 80,000 a year; fewer than the 98,000 who went through the Visitor Centre in Gregory Terrace; and about a quarter of the number of visitors who came on holiday to the Alice Springs and MacDonnell regions (an average 330,000 a year between 2005 and 2007).
It is also significantly fewer than the 120,277 (close to a third of the holiday-maker numbers) who visited the West Macs in 2006-07.
Locals and other Territorians made up nearly 17% of Desert Park visitors in 2006-07 (some 20% of them were school children), with 41% from interstate and 28% from overseas.
In the most recent data available on the West Macs park (a survey of travel parties in April 2002) 13% were Territorians, 58% were from interstate and 29% were from overseas.
What seems to be relatively low visitation to the Desert Park is surprising given the efforts to expand its attractions.
These include an increasing emphasis on a cross-cultural experience: a drive in recent years to recruit Indigenous staff has been fairly successful, with eight out of 45 full-time positions at the park now held by Indigenous locals – four tour guides plus two positions in zoology, and two in botany.
On most days visitors to the park would have the opportunity to talk with an Indigenous person, says manager Gary Fry (at left).
“A lot of people find the Indigenous contact one of their richest experiences at the park. It’s a need people have and we try to meet it,” he says.
Apart from their own programs the park also hosts tours offered by the NPY Women’s Council: a one hour experience with Tjanpi basket weavers or a richer, four to five hour experience of sitting down with the women over billy tea.
Desart in the Park – displaying and selling work from Aboriginal art centres – is now a twice yearly feature: the last one drew a crowd of more than 900 and returned $50,000 to the art centres (that’s $55 per visitor).
Nature observation experiences have also been expanded, with the introduction of early morning bird tours and evening mammal / bush tours.
The intention is to have a rich palette of activities celebrating Central Australia. 
“The region can be interpreted at different levels,” says Mr Fry.
“We can’t distil what we do and who we are to a couple of snapshots “
The new activities are obviously additional to the park’s long-standing attractions, such as the birds of prey and nocturnal animals displays,  as well as the beautifully maintained gardens – including year round wildflowers – and its stunning natural setting.
The park does more than tourism – its role in captive breeding programs and other research into endangered species is well known. 
Perhaps not as well known is its part in coordinating seed collection in the dry lands of the Territory for the Millennium Seed Bank run by the Kew Botanical Gardens in London. This is to safeguard plant diversity against a possible future cataclysmic event.
Nonetheless tourism is the Desert Park’s primary focus. Yet it seems that not a lot is known about how well it is contributing to the industry in the region.
Mr Fry says they know about their own visitors – how long they stay in the park, what they like and don’t like (“The satisfaction rating is really high”) – but they don’t know about where they’ve been before or where they’re going afterwards.
Nor do they know if a visit to the park is adding an extra day to people’s itineraries, although the early morning and evening timing of some tours would suggest that visitors who take them are over-nighting.
There’s an expectation that events like Desart in the Park, as it becomes cemented into calendars, may offer a reason to spend another night in Alice, with benefits flowing in terms of the accommodation, food and so on.
But it seems that there’s no analysis of this.
In 2002 the Alice News reported then general manager of Central Australian Tourism Industry Association (CATIA), Craig Catchlove’s concern that the park had not added an extra day to people’s stay.
His counterpart today, Peter Grigg, general manager of Tourism Central Australia (TCA, the re-badged CATIA), says that the visitor centre’s advice to tourists is, “Don’t just do the Desert Park and leave – use it as an introduction and then go to the West Macs, the East Macs, to Uluru.”
Says Mr Grigg: “If the Desert Park brings people to our part of the world, we should use it as an asset, like The Rock.
“For example, if they learn something about our snakes there, then they might like to go to the Reptile Centre where they’ll actually be able to handle snakes.
“If they love the spectacular ranges, they might like to take a balloon ride over them.”
Yet nobody seems to know if or how consistently these links are made.
In some displays at the Park– for instance in the “fieldbooks” of the various aviaries –  visitors are pointed to where they can see things in the wild, but this advice doesn’t jump out at you.
And, not unexpectedly given that the park is a government-funded and operated entity, there do not seem to be any links made to commercial tourist attractions. 
Mr Fry compares the presence of a lot of competing attractions in Alice, of which the Desert Park is one, to competing car yards that congregate in certain areas of the capital cities:  Alice Springs is enhanced by a large number of tourist attractions and the attractions enhance one another.
“We work with each other through Tourism NT and TCA,” he says.
Likewise with parks and reserves, which are a separate division of the same department (NRETA) that oversees the Desert Park.
“The Desert Park is funded separately and managed separately from parks,” says Mr Fry.
“But we are constantly in touch, I don’t feel any sense of competition – we’re all on the same side, with the same aims.” 
Nonetheless the Desert Park gets almost three times the funding of the West MacDonnell National Park – $5.186 million compared to $1.850 million – and has four times as many staff – 45 compared to 11, one of whom, the Chief District Ranger, also oversees Finke Gorge and Owen Springs.
(The Desert Park has generated $837,147 in entry fees this financial year.)
Despite this, the incomparable landscapes of the West Macs are still working their magic to draw more visitors than the Desert Park.
And while a visit to the Desert Park on average takes four hours and it is not known whether or not it adds a day to people’s stays in the region, it would seem a visit to the West Macs for almost a third of its visitors lasts one to three days.
Data appears to be rather skimpy and old but a visitor survey in July 1998 showed some 30% staying two to three days, while in April 2002 26% stayed between one and three days.
How many more would venture into  the West Macs and spend more time there if more resources were put into improving facilities  – such as upgrading access roads – is an interesting question and surely one that tourism interests would want to have answered.
TOP: A quandong tree in fruit at the Desert Park.  BELOW: A  “fieldbook” shows visitors where to look for birdlife east of Alice. 

U-mine under looking glass. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Alice residents urged the Town Council to “listen to both sides of the argument”  on the issue of a uranium mine opening up 25 kms south of the town, during public question time on Monday night.
Council was scheduled to receive a deputation from Cameco, who together with Paledin, have been given the go-ahead by the Territory Government to apply for an exploration licence over the Angela-Pamela deposit.
Resident Donna Cross, a “born and bred” local,  said it was “cutting” for council to be receiving the Cameco deputation when they had refused to discuss a motion from Greens alderman Jane Clark to support the recommendations of a recent public meeting on the issue.
Alderman John Rawnsley, chairing the Technical Services committee meeting, said all aldermen are gathering information as individuals. The issue has yet to be discussed and debated by the council as a whole, he said.
Ms Cross suggested that the Cameco deputation would put a “positive spin” on the issue, and “propaganda” had already been seen in the newspapers.
“I implore you to listen to both sides of the argument,” she said.
Ald Murray Stewart said he had received hundreds of pages from the “environmental side”, which he is endeavouring to read.
He said council has also had a private breakfast meeting with a geologist [perhaps he meant Dr Gavin Mudd, a civil engineering lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne, see Alice News, May 8] presenting environmental concerns.
He said council was endeavouring to meet with people “on both sides of the fence”.
He applauded Cameco for their “transparency” in attending a public meeting of council.
Mayor Damien Ryan said council will be meeting with a delegation from the Central Land Council later this week: “We’re still learning,” he said.
Resident Rod Cramer asked aldermen if they were aware that there was no legal requirement for companies carrying out minerals exploration to”abide by land management issues on pastoral leases”.
Ald Clark commented that exploration “is not just looking around”, it involves drilling and is “quite invasive”.
Jimmy Cocking, coordinator of the Arid Lands Environment Centre, asked aldermen to consider the environmental record of Cameco in Canada, referring to contamination by radioactivity of Lake Ontario.
Tom Keaney, a doctor who works at the Emergency Department at the Alice Springs Hospital, asked how the council will ensure that the public is adequately informed of the risks to health associated with uranium mining.
He also asked whether the council had received a guarantee that uranium mined at Angela-Pamela would not be used in weapons or would not allow other uranium supplies to be freed up for use in weapons.
Mr Ryan replied that the council is still collecting information.
The Cameco deputation arrived late (due to a delayed flight) but head of operations in the NT, Jennifer Parks, seemed familiar with the residents’ concerns.
Water is “the main issue”, she said, acknowledging people’s worry about impact on the aquifer, not only potential contamination but the quantity of water to be used in mining processes.
“We’ll have a lot of work to do to determine how we can protect the aquifer,” she said.
Dust, dust storms, overall concerns about radioactivity, transport of samples and products, rehabilitation of country, benefits to the community such as jobs, Indigenous economic development, heritage issues owing to the presence on  the tenement of a section of the Old Ghan railway and the Finke racetrack, and the reputation of Alice as a solar city, were all community concerns that she listed.
“We are not saying you should become a nuclear city,” said Ms Parks.
Ald Jane Clark asked about Cameco’s uranium mine at Cigar Lake in Saskatchewan, Canada, containing 17% of the world’s known deposits.
It was flooded on October 23, 2006 and has been shut since.
Ms Parks said the company is still “remediating” the situation.
She said the company does not fully understand why the mine had flooded, apart from the fact that it is 400 metres under a lake – “very wet above”.
Ald Clark also asked about the suspension of operations at Port Hope Nuclear Plant in July, 2007, due to concern about a leak and suspected contamination of Lake Ontario.
Ms Parks said Lake Ontario is in an industrial area and “is not as pristine a lake as we would like”.
She said the company has identified the leak and advised authorities and the community. 
The company’s computer modelling also suggested that there may be “a plume” going into the lake but “now we don’t think so”.
“We learn from our mistakes,” she said.
“There will be steps in place” so that the same mistakes are not repeated.
Ald Samih Habib asked how much processing would be done on site at Angela-Pamela?
“A small bit,” said Ms Parks. The ore will be converted to “yellow cake” – “still pretty low grade”.
Ald Sandy Taylor returned to the Cigar Lake situation, wanting to know “what kind of studies you can do to ensure” that the same mistakes won’t happen.
“I’m not sure I could be satisfied,” said Ald Taylor.
“I’m not an environmental scientist,” said Ms Parks, but she suggested that technical failures could be contained. At another mine a leak was contained in a matter of a week.
Ald Taylor asked how it was possible in the first place when all the studies had been carried out?
“I’m not sure,” said Ms Parks, adding “I think they’re still investigating.”
Ald Stewart asked if it would be a fly in, fly out  operation.
Ms Parks said it would be hoped to base most people in Alice – “one of the beauties” in having the mine close to town.
Ald Liz Martin asked what sort of mining methods would be used.
Ms Parks said that was still being considered.
Cameco will be opening an office in Alice on July 1 and will have a booth at the Alice Springs Show.
Once approved, a mine would not be constructed until 2014, said Ms Parks.

US wide open for Centre art. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Mainstream North America represents an “amazing untapped market” for Australian Aboriginal art.
So says Peter Molloy whose gallery in La Jolla, California, specialising in Central and Western Desert Aboriginal art, opened three years ago.
In the first year it sold 400 paintings and has grown by about 50% each year since, yet still some 80% of the business effort goes into education, he says.
There are a few important collections of Aboriginal art in the US – including that of the Kelton Foundation in Santa Monica, California, and the Kluge-Ruhe at the University of Virginia – but the mainstream North American market “has yet to actively embrace this art”.
His gallery has participated in all the major North American art shows  – the New York and Toronto Art Expos, Art Chicago and its satellite shows, Art Basel in Miami, the Armory Show in New York.
It was the only gallery specialising in Central and Western Desert art to do so.
The sales justified the investment of time and money, says Mr Molloy, but more importantly his participation contributed to a greater exposure of those markets to Australian Aboriginal art.
He says many people who come into his California gallery “love the art”, but making a significant investment in it is difficult when the art is so unfamiliar to them.
However, broadly there is a growing interest in “culture-based” art – African, African-American and Australian Aboriginal – and his gallery manager, Katie Heffelfinger, says the narrative content of much Australian Aboriginal art gives it an advantage.
Molloy Gallery’s range goes from small $200 paintings up to collectable works at $30,000, but Mr Molloy says increasingly their focus will be at the higher end – investment and museum quality work.
“It takes the same effort to sell one $20,000 painting as to sell many $200 paintings.”
He says he positions the Aboriginal art he sells as “contemporary fine art”.
He describes art from Arnhemland and the Tiwi Islands as tending to be “much more ethnographic”: “I can’t build a sustainable business on that in the US, where the demand is for contemporary fine art.”
Mr Molloy and Ms Heffelfinger took part in a recent tour of 20 art centres, in the desert and the Top End, organised by Austrade and the NT Government.
The sixth of its kind but only the second to involve US collectors, academics and dealers, the tour was designed to help the local art industry increase its profile and sales in the multi-billion dollar US arts market. 
Austrade’s Joel Newman, based in Los Angeles, says “the simple maths” made the tour a success: he guestimates sales at between $250,000 and $300,000.
“That vastly clears the investment of $40,000 to $50,000.”
And he expects further sales to be made, worth tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, as a result of relationships developed during the tour.
A similar tour last year returned $550,000 in sales – “an eleven-fold return on investment”. 
Mr Molloy describes his own purchases as “modest” but he has taken home images to reflect on and he is likely to buy more.
Previously he has made all his purchases through dealers in Alice Springs.
“The value of this trip was in being able to build relationships with art centres beyond Alice, so they can become future suppliers and we can expand our offerings in the US – some artists who paint for art centres don’t paint for other suppliers.”
That’s good news for art centres, but perhaps not so good for local art dealers? 
Mr Molloy was careful in his reply:
“Whether this will significantly change the volume of purchases from Alice Springs sources remains to be seen.
“But anything that gives a wider range of choice will help develop the American maket and that ultimately will be of benefit to Aboriginal artists.”
Mr Newman says the tour was designed to take buyers to the source – the art centres, mostly on remote communities.
In Alice Springs the tour also visited Tangentyere Artists and Papunya Tula and there was free time for people to “connect with relationships they already had”. 
Mr Molloy visited the Aboriginal Desert Art, Mbantua and Gondwana Galleries.
Mr Newman says there was no pressure that he observed for tour members to not visit private dealers, but  the ethics of the market was a constant subject of discussion.
Says Mr Newman: “I don’t believe in a ‘binary world’ – everything is not black or white, good or bad.
“In the art trade there are certainly some rotten dealers, and some are wonderful, with the vast majority being somewhere in the middle.
“But for us, as government instrumentalities, to choose one dealer over another would be seen to be making a statement about them and we could find ourselves in murky waters.”
There is also the issue of price: buying from source should allow a better margin for re-sellers in the US.
Of the desert art centres Mr Newman says Warlukurlangu Artists at Yuendumu and Kayili Artists at Patjarr were favourites for the group: this was based on the quality of the work available at a price on which the dealers could still make a profit, and work of a kind that their markets would like.
Another “big factor” was the ease of the relationship with the art centre: “Dealers were asking, will we be able to work together in the long term.”
Another plus arising from the tour was that four gallerists decided to form an association to work together to promote Aboriginal art in the US.
Says Mr Molloy: “It makes sense when the market is at the small, emerging stage to work cooperatively, building awareness, rather than competing for market share.”
The four may look at cost-sharing at art expos and coordinating buying trips to Australia: “It’s an amazing untapped market but without support it is challenging. Together we can share the risk.”

Batchelor’s plans under a mantle of ‘cultural safety’. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

As the Batchelor Institute prepares to move to the Desert Peoples’ Centre – part of the Desert Knowledge complex south of Alice Springs – it is also taking steps to turn itself into a university.
This expanded role will not see a change to its policy of taking enrolments on the basis of race – possibly the only university in the western world to do so.
The 34 year old, $40m a year educational facility, operating in more than 100 locations, will maintain a policy of not bringing “non-Indigenous students into programs that are running on our campuses as workshops,” says Vice-Chancellor Jeannie Herbert. 
She says non-Indigenous students can take online courses, or courses that are delivered off-campus.
“It’s always going to be an Indigenous university.
“Our council wants cultural safety on our residential campuses.”
Batchelor University would cover a “specialist niche market, Indigenous students from around the country”.
Says Deputy Vice-Chancellor Tom Evison: “We’ve always had a policy of enrolment for Indigenous people only.
“Where delivery is taking place outside of the two main campuses, if a community wants to have a mixed group studying with us, then that’s fine, with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together.”
University status would apparently position Batchelor well for getting non-government funding for research, and some projects are already underway. 
Prof Herbert says the relocation of the facility to outside the main township will be no disadvantage.
She says the $30m Desert People’s Centre, a joint venture with the Centre for Appropriate Technology, will be “not crowded, custom built.
“I’m talking now as an Aboriginal person – there is a sense of place, of belonging, simply because of the location.
“People look out into the country.
“That gives a very strong sense of reassurance of identity for Indigenous people.
“In terms of cultural safety I think that those aspects of engaging in education will be very strong in that particular location,” says Prof Herbert whose title indicates “positioning ourselves in terms of our academic structures, including titles from the university structure”.
The institute went through a major shake-up three years ago.
On March 23, 2005 the Alice News reported chairwoman Rosalie Kunoth Monks as saying the institute would place greater demands on its students, emphasise English and maths, and become a bridge to the “dominant culture”.
She said the institute needs to become more “efficient and get closer to our [Indigenous] core client group.
“To make life worthwhile and to find some kind of sustainability, people have to have education to compete with the rest.
“Indigenous people must become responsible for obtaining education from the dominant culture.”
Profs Herbert and Evison say the strategy is paying off  “for many of our students, but obviously not for all”.
Says Prof Herbert: “We can’t be all things to all people.
“Some people are still locked in the past, in the welfare mentality.
“You’ve got to consider the size of the bridge.
“You come from people who don’t have any English.
“They come to us for spoken and written English.
“Others still need a lot of literacy and numeracy before they can actually kick into training and education programs.”
Prof Evison says of the 3125 enrolled students, about 200 are studying spoken and written English, a catch-up on inadequate earlier education.
He says around half of the institute’s students are in Vocational Education and Training (VET), and contrary to recent claims from Professor Helen Hughes, of the Economic Society of Australia, all graduates are able to read and write.
However, it’s difficult to assess to what extent the institute has implemented the policy outlined by Ms Kunoth Monks three years ago.
Prof Evison says about 500 students graduate every year and most if not all gain employment.
“I would say most of them would be employed in government positions.”
Some go to land councils or other Aboriginal organisations.
Some pursue creative writing, or work as teachers, in environmental health, or in the “corporate world”.
In what proportions is not clear.
Prof Evison says Batchelor has just started an ongoing “employer satisfaction survey and a graduate destination survey which is a national program”.
Prof Herbert says these surveys have been done in other universities for at least 10 years “but it has never been done here”. 
And a new Federal grant for the Desert Peoples Centre of $380,000 is used for “transitioning students from study into employment,” says Prof Evison.
“All of the courses we offer represent a bridge into the dominant culture,” as Ms Kunoth Monks put it, says Prof Herbert.
How is this happening?
“At the earlier level you acquire those basic skills, such as the English language” which ideally will lead to further studies, up to undergraduate degrees.
“You’ve empowered yourself in terms of engaging.
“That’s the critical issue, being able to engage with mainstream Australia.”
But what form does it take? How many graduates step out into the big wide world, get a job in private enterprise or start a business, buy a house, get a mortgage ... all that?
Replies Prof Herbert: “It depends where you choose to live your life whether you get a mortgage, and it depends whether you actually want to do all the things that mainstream Australia thinks are the most wonderful things in the world.” 
Mainstream Australia is paying for it at the rate of $40m a year.
(All students except those in VET contribute through HECS, as in all universities, which amounts to about half of the budget.)
What does the taxpayer get for that?
The News put it to Prof Herbert that this is a blunt question but a lot of people may be asking it.
“The taxpayer, for his $40m, is getting an institution that is focussed on undoing what has been done to Indigenous people through colonial history,” says Prof Herbert.
And how does Batchelor do that?
“Through the programs we’ve just been talking about, which give those people the capacity to move up.”
Says Prof Evison: “They have the qualifications to make the choice.
“For people from remote communities choices are very constrained.”
What choices do they make?
Prof Evison points to the institute’s “both ways philosophy, the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and cultures, improving the quality of education by incorporating different world views and ways of learning.
“It also creates an area of cultural and intellectual safety which, we have found, is a much greater predictor of success in this level of education for many Indigenous people.”

After Melbourne gigs, The Moxie launch EP.

The Moxie sing about a tough world – not the Alice Springs kind of tough, rather the tough experience of young men and women losing their innocence.
Their debut CD to be launched this Friday at The Lane is titled Behave Yourself, but instead of an admonition the title is a recognition that how you behave is not obvious.
“People aren’t who you think they are all the time – everybody is supposed to conform but no one really does,” says drummer Jack Talbot, reflecting on the lyrics of “Red Heels”, penned by the band’s singer, Tom Snowdon.
It’s about a girl whose father is a cross-dresser by night. It’s a crowd favourite, says Talbot, one that a lot of listeners in Alice will recognise, but it’s been “under the knife” in production, together with the three other familiar songs on the EP.
A new song, “Guns in the Sky”, is about “people standing over you, putting a gun to your head, forcing you to act the way society wants you to”. 
Production was done in town at Huge Sound Studios, with Matt Byrnes, who used to work as a drum technician with INXS.
“He got the best from my kit,” says Talbot.
“I just used my basic acoustic kit but I’d never heard it sound anything like this.
“All our songs are a lot more radio friendly thanks to Matt.
“They’re tightened up – they had unnecessary riffs, stuff that they didn’t really need.”
The band will be working to get their CD listened to by distribution companies and radio stations around the country.
They managed to get a couple of gigs in Melbourne recently – at the Noise Bar in Brunswick and The Bang night club in Burke Street in the city.
“There were about 200 people at The Bang and we got a really good response,” says Talbot.
“We even sold a couple of CDs and apparently that was a good effort.
“A local guy said you hardly ever sell any.”
But the trip was a learning curve: “We started organising it a couple of months ago but we discovered we would have had to start four to five months ago to get a good run of shows.”
Apart from their CD launch, coming up are appearances at the Alice Desert Festival, the Darwin Festival and at the closing ceremony of the Masters Games.
At the launch The Moxie will be supported by Leon Spurling and his band and old friend Eddie Alexander, who lives now in Melbourne where he performs in an acoustic duo known as Southerly (but on Friday he’ll be going solo).  – K. Finnane

Like a ride on a decommissioned see-saw. Pop Vulture with CAMERON BUCKLEY.

Everybody`s favourite split personality disorder is having a conversation with himself about The Incredible Hulk.
Dr Jeckyll:  It`s great how this film kicks off at action point. We find protagonist Bruce Banner (Ed Norton, Fight Club, American History X) in exile following a laboratory mishap. He quests to find a cure for the raging beast that resides within him, threatening to surface if his heart beat reaches a certain level.
Mr Hyde: This movie was a spectacular, over-budgeted disappointment. How can director Louis Leterrier of the Transporter franchise fame fail to utilize the casting skills at his disposal. Tim Roth spends the bulk of the film acting as though he was entirely in a different movie.
Liv Tyler looks like an extra walking about the set with a Liv mask on. Sad. Wasted.
Dr Jeckyll: I have to agree with myself. Although I did appreciate the cameo appearance from Robert Downey Jr.
Mr Hyde: Ahhhh, yes ... The Avengers. Will this be the next instalment in the Marvel avalanche of late? Occasionally filmmakers get right the recreation of superheroes on the silver screen, but it is a dramatic miss here.
Dr Jeckyll: The CGI and action sequences are directed and choreographed well and most scenes involving the green man become engrossing.
Mr Hyde: Yes, I`m right there! But you can give a lemon a new paint job, and that still doesn`t make it a Rolls Royce.
Dr Jeckyll: What?
Mr Hyde: Forget it.
Dr Jeckyll: I do appreciate these conversations with myself. I`m assured of intelligent conversation and witty banter. What`s my final verdict?
Mr Hyde: With no real soundtrack to mention, a plot that rides like a decommissioned see-saw, and acting talent squandered on effortless dialogue? And the picturesque scenes found in the favelas of Brazil do little to make me want to sit through this again. 431/1000.

New moves on plight, so easy to fix. By KIERAN FINNANE.

“Don’t worry about audiograms, assume everybody has an issue.”
That’s the message to teachers going to work in remote community schools in the Territory – assume that your students will have some hearing loss, says hearing advisory teacher, Dick Sheehan, member of the Hearing Team in Student Services in Alice Springs.
In the past three years staff on the team have gone from four to nine, responding to the Education Department’s new resolve to combat the “debilitating issue of conductive hearing loss”, says Mr Sheehan.
Even without recent technology that is now being trialled, there is a lot that teachers can do to improve their students’ capacity to hear, he says.
The department accepts 2004 research by the Menzies School of Health which showed that in 29 communities in 2001 91% of children (0-14 years) and in 2003, 88% did not have “normal” ears. 
But this is not a deafness life sentence.
Conductive hearing loss (resulting from Otitis Media or middle ear infection) is a fluctuating condition. Audiograms of the same child taken at three month intervals are likely to show different levels of hearing each time.
Building into the school program an intensive routine of “breath-blow-cough” and treatment with “ear spears” can significantly reduce hearing loss.
A class at Ntaria (Hermannsburg) School, in which 13 students needed hearing aids, has recently trialled such a routine over three months: at the end of that time the students had achieved normal hearing.
The “breath” part means doing some physical activity to get respiration and body temperature up. This causes mucous to flow in the Eustachian tubes (the canals between the middle ear and the pharynx), which is where the “blow” and “cough” come in.
But mucous can also clear through the ears, making them infection-prone, and infections can result in burst eardrums. This is why the ears need to be cleaned with the “spears” – cones of tissue – and then hands washed and tables cleaned. 
If all this is done regularly enough, keeping the ear dry and less infection prone, perforations in the eardrum can heal quite well, says Mr Sheehan.
The problem then diminishes at around the ages of 11 and 12, when the Eustachian tubes, which till then have been flat, grow down, giving better drainage.
Teachers in the bush have long been aware of and have practised “breath-blow-cough” but now there’s a case study that says yes, if it’s intensive, it really works, says Mr Sheehan.
Other simple classroom strategies involve decreasing ambient noise, for instance by putting stoppers on the legs of tables and chairs, rugs and carpets on floors, and avoiding the traditional “desks in rows” set-up.
Students with conductive hearing loss need to be within 1.2 metres of the teacher and the teacher needs to be at their level.
Many of the affected students get through everyday life using signing.
Mr Sheehan says signing should to be used as a strength: “You can quickly use the signed alphabet for language learning.”
And “multi-sensory approaches” – using music, chant, rhythm and rhyme – can’t be under-estimated.
“You don’t need to be a trained music teacher to do this – $50 spent at the ABC Shop will give you three years’ worth of language work.
“There are great examples of teachers in schools doing these things.”
But there is also recently developed technology to boost students’ chances even further and it’s being trialled in four Central Australian schools.
This is infra-red amplification in sound field systems.
Formerly FM sound field systems amplified all sounds in the room, so students were really no better off.
The infra-red system, costing around $2500, amplifies only the human voice.
However the systems need to be installed in “advantageous classroom environments”, explains Mr Sheehan.
After acoustic treatment works, six systems were installed – four at Ntaria School, one at Watiyawanu (Mt Liebig) and one at Haasts Bluff – plus a further two in the Top End.
The acoustic treatment involves reducing ambient noise, for example, replacing evaporative air conditioning with split system units (achieving a reduction of 25 decibels).
“Non-education noise” from students also needs to be reduced.
And critically, reverberation needs to be eliminated.
Carpets and curtains are a starting point, but it has been discovered that the area in the room above head height is the most critical, says Mr Sheehan, drawing on work done by South Australian colleagues.
Two thirds of the ceiling working out from the centre needs to be covered with acoustic broadband tiling, and a band around the walls of 1.5 metres from the ceiling also needs to be treated.
Two classrooms, one at Haasts Bluff and one at Watiyawanu (Mt Liebig) were entirely covered in the tiling: the difference in the acoustics was “astounding”, says Mr Sheehan.
“It was like stepping into a sound booth.”
But the total treatment is expensive – about $20,000 for each classroom – and is not necessary.
Partial covering gives an acceptable result.
The department allocated $.5 million last financial year and again this year to begin treating classrooms in existing schools, with priority being given to 15 schools which have entered into community partnership agreements with the department.
And the Department of Planning and Infrastructure has agreed to build new schools with attention to acoustics – “where possible and subject to budget and tender considerations, constructing new modular classrooms on solid concrete slabs as opposed to the elevated method of construction”, according to a spokesperson.
“The Hearing Team’s recommendation is to start with the most remote schools, likely to have the greatest need, and to work in, and to start with the early year level classrooms,” says Mr Sheehan.
“If we aren’t linking children to language by the age of seven or eight, it becomes increasingly difficult for teachers to backfill.”

Shopportunity: It’s Not OK Mart! By DARCY DAVIS.

I went hop scotching through town to find the top notch crop of op shops.
Straight to the Saltbush where I found Claire Bastin.
“Kmart is way more disorganized than any of the op shops,” said Claire, nonchalantly.
 “They singular variety! Why they wanna unify us entirely? No fashion … one fit, that’s it.
“I tried to find one thing in my size and nearly cracked the shits, they just didn’t have it.  “So I bolted down to the Saltbush, got active and interacted with racks quick and found this most mega of style Tjala Arts kick ass t-shirt.”
Melbourne op-shopper Bridget thinks Alice op shops are even cheaper than Melbourne’s.  “There is quite a high demand [in Melbourne] for second hand clothes – franchises like Savers buy clothes from the Diabetes Foundation for 20 cents a kilo and re sell them in store. There’s a lot of scouting and re selling.”
So there are more potential pockets of gold in Alice …
Quinta Vanwik has been styling op shops since pop tops were hot and she had a lot to tell me about.
“I reckon op shops are way better, you can get the same stuff for cheaper. Like this Canada shirt was only 50 cents, it’s from Supre but they send the slightly damaged goods to op shops.
“Saltbush is my favourite op shop – they’ve got the best belts and shoes.”
I went to the Cockatoo Second Hand Store and even before I got in the door saw four things I could easily buy. One was a pleasing delight of Alice musical merchandise, a Nights Plague autographed t-shirt (Nights Plague are now living in Melbourne and are working on a new album).
Inside I said hello to Anneka at the counter – she works on weekends for op shop items. “Today I’ve worked for this kimono, some red and white striped salt and pepper shakers, a vintage Beatles songbook, and these little hanging chickens. I haven’t bought but would love to buy that Army hat, this leather jungle jumpsuit, and I would buy that Head Hunters shirt.”
“One guy came in the other day and saw these bull horns outside and said ‘I need these’ and I thought, good for you mate,” said Cockatoo owner, Ali.
“Bought a nice shirt and a dress, 30 bucks for four items, pretty happy, mum bought it for me,” said happy op shop hopper Jess Mooney.
Sam Salmon likes his op shops “organized, well marked, clean, within context of being second hand”.
His favourites are Salvos and Vinnies.
Central Second Hand attracted me with its giant hand finger graph on my map.
“The emo goth hippies come in and they love buying vinyl records and furs,” said owner Carmel.
“But all types come through – we once had a busload of Japanese and they were putting hats on the manikin, dressing them in Aussie attire, taking photos.
“They love that strange endurance stuff, they like to be seen around different stuff, fascinated by the weird and wonderful.
“Once this gorgeous beautiful lanky Norwegian backpacker came in – she’d travelled all around Australia and wanted a pair of stitched knee-high Aussie boots. She came in and was hysterical, she’d gone around town looking for her perfect pair and they were four to five hundred bucks but when she came here found two pairs perfect fit – some people just get the jackpot.”
So recycle your clothes, and buy other people’s clothes too and buy new clothes as well to keep the swirl in style, then donate them when you’re done and put them into use. And free the world of slavery and climate change and sexual abuse.

Mere Rumbal still has the moves. By EMMA HURLEY.

When I first approached Mere Rumbal for an interview about her life, she asked, “Why? My life isn’t that interesting.” I beg to differ.
Mere has been teaching dance for 59 years, starting in New Zealand at the age of 15, after dancing herself since she was two and a half.
She studied ballet, tap, character and modern jazz as well as eccentric dancing and acrobatics.
She went on to choreograph various shows in New Zealand and Australia and has served as a dance adjudicator all over New Zealand.
She has taught thousands of students and intends to keep teaching for as long as she can.
“I cannot imagine my life without dance,” she says.
A well known identity in Alice Springs, Mere originally came to town because her son, Darran Rumble, told her of a job vacancy.
She had taught at Central Dance Theatre in New Zealand which she says was “one of the top schools”.
She has had quite a few successful students over the years including Gayle-Anne Jones who danced with the Danish Ballet Company and Frankie Snowdon who is in her second year with the Victorian College of the Arts.
Mere has also had been awarded Life Membership to the British Ballet Organization. 
Performance obviously runs in the Rumbal blood as Mere’s four sons have also found success in the entertainment industry.
Darran, who owns Rock City Music, has been an international adjudicator as well as a disc jockey.
Darran’s son, Zanerin, who is only nine years of age, was awarded a jazz and ballet scholarship whilst he was on school holidays in Sydney.  
Mere observes that dancing has changed over the years, noting new forms such as hip hop and break dancing.
She believes television shows such as ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘So, you think you can dance’ have increased the popularity of dance. 
As for Central Dance Theatre, Mere says with luck her talented students will carry on her legacy and continue to teach dance to people of all ages.
She says she’ll only stop dancing when she “drops dead”.
I hope that when I’m her age I’ll still be dancing and showing such an amazing outlook on life. 

[Emma Hurley was a year 10 student from OLSH College, doing work experience with the Alice News last year.]

LETTERS: OLSH students help East Timor.

Sir,-  I am a year eleven student at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College.
Later this year I and six other fellow members of my grade will be visiting East Timor for our yearly East Timor Immersion.
During our stay in East Timor we will be donating a certain amount of money to one of the Marist Teaching Colleges in Bacau and painting schools as well as assisting in other projects.
During our stay we will also be immersing ourselves into another culture and way of life. 
As one of our main focuses is to fundraise enough money to complete these projects, we are holding a number of fundraisers.
These include our popular “pave the mall in gold” as well as numerous barbeques and a lawn sale.
To help us in our fundraising efforts we would greatly appreciated if you would be able to donate an advertising column and even write a report on our upcoming trip.
We would greatly appreciate this as it would boost our fundraising and help us encourage Alice Springs to suppport our efforts and East Timor.
Olivia Rose
Alice Springs

Sir,- Ill have what Mark Jones from South Australia is having! (Alice Springs News, June 12, “Rainwater Tanks”).
We live in the driest part of the country, and he wants us to all have rain-water tanks! 
And what’s more, he wants the government to subsidise them!
Mr Jones, if we actually had rain in Alice Springs, then we would all have rainwater tanks. 
In fact, they aren’t sold as rainwater tanks here, they are sold as “Fill up with your garden hose” tanks.
Mr Jones, when you were in Alice Springs, you may have noticed that none of our rivers or creeks for about 700km in any direction have any water in them - this is why Alice Springs residents dont bother with rainwater tanks.
Mick Gallagher
Alice Springs

Sir,- The complex deliberation process for the 2008 Alice Springs Town Council budget is complete and the proposal is now open for public comment. 
Money has been set aside for Public Art, for a future land fill site in 15 years time, for footpaths, the Traeger Grandstand and much more.
Following my election campaign call for a freeze on Mayoral and aldermanic allowances, for the first time in quite some years, a decision was made not to increase allowances, although the financial cost of being an Alderman is far more than the remuneration received.
Unfortunately, we have a small number of ratepayers compared to the large area we maintain, along with the pressures of being a service centre for the region and this is why the work of LGANT in lobbying the federal government for greater funding is critical into the future. 
As the budget is now available for public comment, I urge residents to look at the budget as a whole and make comment.
Jane Clark

Sir,- In response to your article (June 5) “Native holders have no worries with uranium mine”.
I can potentially understand that people might not have worries when they are not given correct information.
When they are not told about radon gas that is carried on the wind, not given incorrect information about health effects of radiation from doctors brought in by the mining company, not told about the history of leaks, accidents and spills at uranium mines across the world (current, highly regulated world standard uranium mines in Australia included).
This mine would have a devastating impact on our community health, but due to the nature of the genetic effects, it may only begin to show in years to come once the companies have made their big dollar and walked away.
There are no guarantees on the safety of our water.
If our new council aldermen do not take a public stand opposing the exploration of these sites, then they should step down immediately as they do not have the community’s interests at heart.
Jarrah Lockey
Alice Springs

Sir,- Prime Minister Rudd has called for politics to be taken out of radioactive waste management, and to “make sure that any advice to Government is based on science” (ABC June 16, 2008).
Clearly, the Prime Minister should then reject the four proposed dump sites in the NT left decaying from the Howard era of Decide-Announce-Defend politics.
None of these sites were short listed in a scientific study undertaken to site a national dump (completed 1997).
Howard’s plan was to find the site of least political resistance, then try and make the science match.
To differentiate from this process, and find an equitable solution to a very long-term problem, Rudd must act on ALP election commitments; repeal the draconian legislation forcing a dump on the NT and undertake thorough and genuine community consultation over this important national issue.
Natalie Wasley
Beyond Nuclear
Alice Springs

Sir,- The Territory Opposition will spend this week in Parliament forensically examining how the Labor Government managed to blow a $330 million windfall in just one year.
This Government’s financial performance is the equivalent of winning the lottery and frittering it away on baubles.
With Territory taxpayers carrying a $1 billion debt, before calculating unfunded superannuation liabilities, an excellent opportunity to ease the burden of interest repayments on future generations has been lost.
As a consequence of Labor making inconsequential inroads into Government every man, woman and child in the Territory owes $4761.
By way of comparison each Victorian owes just $460.
Had the Territory Government been better budget managers that $330 million could have put an additional 100 police on the streets right now, made our teachers the best paid in the land and still shaved a respectable amount from our debt.
This wasteful Government lacks the discipline to save whilst the economic sun in shining.
Ordinary Territorians will be the ones to suffer when the rain comes.
Terry Mills
Opposition Leader

ADAM CONNELLY: Bats about tats.

Alice Springs goes by many monickers. The pet names and tags all tend to say a little something about the place.
There’s The Alice, Central Australia, Mbantua, the Red Centre and any and all combinations on that theme. Of course due to some of the media coverage of the past few years we are either the “murder capital” or more affectionately the “stabbing capital” of Australia.
There are others too, but the beauty of a pet name or a slogan is that none of them are gospel. We can change them anytime we want.
For example, last year I swear Alice Springs could have been dubbed the Camel Capital of Australia. Sure, there’s a feral camel problem but remember going out to a restaurant last year? Every eatery of note played with the idea of camel on the menu. From Ship of the Desert Stir Fry to Camel Canapés the chefs across the town were nutty for some dromedary delights.
With the popularity of camel on the menu, maybe we should be putting some sort of tax on camel. The money raised could then pay the insurance bill for the Camel Cup. Genius! Another problem solved by yours truly. Who needs Darwin anyway!
My campaign to have Alice Springs dubbed the sporting capital of Australia, to be honest, hasn’t really been that well received down south. Melbourne is whingeing that they have that claim sewn up.
Sydney is saying something about the Olympics. And Adelaide, well who knows what Adelaide says? They generally have their gobs full of pie floater and iced coffee.
Sure some people in other parts of the country might be a bit miffed that we call ourselves the sporting capital of Australia or the desert racing capital or the whatever capital.
There’s more than a few places in Australia that call themselves the beef capital. A few places that claim the pineapple capital tag. But Alice Springs does hold one tag that cannot be refuted.
We are the tattoo capital of Australia. How many people have tattoos here? There’s more tattoos in Alice Springs than on a Maori bikie gang full of sailors. 
If you are one of the uninked reading this column, you are in the minority. From hard nut miners to librarians, Alice is full to the brim with people tattooed.
I know a quite demure and well dressed young lady. A woman of impeccable class. She has a tattoo. I know an executive of a local company. Under the sleeve of his Zegna suit  is an arm full of tattoos.
I’m not about to go on a rant about tattoos. In fact, when done well, I think they look good. However I’ve never been brave enough to get one. And it’s not the pain that’s holding me back.
You see I’m a compulsive channel surfer. Self confessed, I’m atrocious to be around if I have a remote in my hand. In fact in most aspects of life I change my preferences and favourites as often as I change channels. 
I’m certain that the first thing I’d do once the scab healed from my tattoo is want to change it.
I know people get marked with significant symbols or a word of import in a mystical language. The problem is I’m not sure I’ll really be into celtic knots by the time I’m 35.
I don’t know if I’ll want the ancient Peruvian word for wisdom on my buttocks next week.
And I don’t really trust the bloke in the tattoo shop – I’m pretty sure he said his name was Smudge, and that he’s up on his ancient Peruvian.
You are all braver than I think I could ever be. And most of you are still quite happy with the ink you’ve got. 
So whaddaya say Alice? The Tattoo Capital of Australia. We could make a big deal of it. Run Tattoo Week after Finke.
Hey, we could have a Tattoo Tattoo.

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