ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
April 9, 2009. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Night of crime. By ERWIN CHLANDA and
The night Finke Race identity and family man Edward Charles Hargrave,
37, was stabbed to death outside the Keith Lawrie Flats on the corner
of Bloomfield Street and Musgrave Street was a busy night for police –
but not unusually so.
Between 6pm on Friday and 6am on Saturday police say they attended to
91 “jobs” including three assaults, eight domestic disturbances and 36
An assault and robbery was committed in Warburton Street when a
48-year-old man was walking home around 3am.
On Friday evening police had deployed “on the beat” a large number of
The evening shift, 2pm to 11pm, had 18 officers “on the road”.
They were supplemented by 10 police engaged in a special operation in
the CBD and the town camps.
Four traffic officers were on the beat between 2pm and 10pm.
The night shift, 11pm to 7am, had eight officers on patrol.
Police say the events culminating in Mr Hargrave’s death appeared to
have started with a “disturbance” involving two groups of three people
at the Memorial Club. The call was made at 10.22pm and police were
despatched “almost immediately”.
However, the two groups involved in the “altercation” had moved off and
could not be found.
The alarm was raised about Mr Hargrave’s stabbing at 11.35pm and police
say they were on the scene three minutes later.
Mr Hargrave was taken to hospital but was dead on arrival.
Police said earlier this week that three men aged 21, 22 and 25
had been arrested and were being interviewed about the killing.
One has now been been charged.
A 21-year-old man was released without charge on Monday.
Police are appealing to anyone with information about the incident to
come forward by phoning 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Police say the man robbed in Warburton Street was approached by a group
of up to seven youths.
“He told police they threatened him with a knife and assaulted him
before stealing his wallet and mobile phone” says the police media
“They then fled and the victim went home and was later taken to
“The victim was treated for cuts and bruises to the head and arm,” says
the police media release.
“The offenders are described as being males aged in their
mid to late teens and of Aboriginal appearance.”
Meanwhile, statistics for the fourth 2007 quarter released this week by
the NT Government show commercial property crime in Alice Springs was
on the rise.
However, the numbers of overall alcohol related assaults which include
victims, offenders or both have decreased to 747 in 2008, compared with
848 in 2007, after a relentless climb from 466 in 2004.
The figures show 67% of incidents recorded in 2008 had alcohol
involved, 10% had no alcohol involved and 23% were unknown, yet
suspected of having alcohol influence.
The decrease in alcohol related assaults is partly due to increased
management programs, controlling liquor supplies and restrictions of
money and supply of alcohol since the intervention.
The number of break-ins recorded in 2008 was nearly three times as high
In the last 12 months the number of break-ins into commercial premises
has risen from 334 to 504.
Police Commander Bert Hofer says limited availability of alcohol,
income management under the intervention and limited accommodation in
town are thought to be some of the reasons why commercial property
crime in Alice Springs is on the increase.
Commander Hofer says during the last six months there has been a
significant rise in the numbers of people coming into town: “You just
have to look around to see that,” he says.
He says Alice Springs still remains as the service centre for more than
280 communities. People are becoming increasingly mobile, and this is
difficult to cope with.
Because of limited accommodation and town camp houses being over
crowded, visitors are over staying their welcome.
Police have recently been serving trespass orders to remove them.
However, more camps are appearing in the rivers.
The December quarter always has higher crime numbers because of the
warm weather: The winter cold usually slows down crime.
A recent straw-pole conducted by police found that of the 16 to 17
camps in the Todd River between Gap Road and Stott Terrace, most are
filled with people who have nowhere else to go.
Others say they are visiting friends and family, whilst some say they
are here for medical reasons.
The majority of commercial properties are being targeted for alcohol,
mostly pubs and clubs.
Motor vehicle theft and related offenses were up in 2008 by 8% from
House break-ins also increased – a 32% rise since 2003.
In 2007 243 property offenses were recorded compared to 245 in 2008, a
House break-ins from 2007 to 2008 have increased 2% but they are down
29% over the six-year period.
There was a 4% decrease of assaults during the 12-month period ending
December 2007 compared with the same 12-month period of 2008.
However, over a six year period assaults have increased by 32%, from
826 to 1112.
Sexual assault has also seen a decrease of 4% from 2007 and 2008,
showing a 3% drop overall in three years.
Commander Hofer says this increase is primarily because of enhanced
methods of crime prevention and recording under the Violent Crime
Reduction Strategy introduced in 2004.
The number of recorded assault offenses has decreased from 1182 in 2007
compared to 1112 recorded throughout 2008, drop of 90.
The bulk of recorded assaults continue to be from domestic violence
issues, women remaining particularly vulnerable and violated.
Sacred trees must go, says
alderman. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Alderman Murray Stewart, now chair of the Town Council’s Technical
Services Committee, says protracted negotiations with the Aboriginal
Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) over the fate of two sacred trees in
Traeger Park that are now dead must be brought to a conclusion.
Ald Stewart (pictured above with the trees) says the trees must be
“If they fall they will kill someone, and it’s not a matter of if but
“And that’s unacceptable at a major sporting oval, with major sporting
fixtures, and that’s in regular use by the town’s children and
Ald Stewart had a family friend in Hunter Valley, NSW, killed by a
falling tree; he remembers going to his funeral when he was young.
He says he doesn’t want to be going to a funeral in Alice Springs of
someone killed by a falling tree.
At present a safety fence surrounds the trees, but Ald Stewart says it
“You can step over it.”
This is down to council, according to Dr Ben Scambary, CEO of AAPA.
“The height and perimeter of the fence around these sacred sites is
solely determined by the Alice Springs Town Council for public safety
reasons,” says Dr Scambary.
But Ald Stewart says: “So long as I am on council I would never
instruct officers to erect fortresses around unsafe trees.
“Not only would they be aesthetically ugly but also a monument to a
An arborist’s report on the state of the trees is due at the end of the
Ald Stewart says he is not expecting the report to reveal that the
trees are in imminent danger of falling but that’s not something
council should wait for.
And he says in a recent meeting with council representatives, AAPA CEO
Ben Scambary and regional manager Andrew Allan indicated that no matter
what the verdict of the arborist’s report, the board would only consent
to extension of the safety fence, in height and perimeter.
Not so says Dr Scambary.
“It is not possible to pre-empt the outcome of the report or any action
that may arise.
“Once the safety assessment has been received the Aboriginal Areas
Protection Authority will consider the implications of the report
together with the Alice Springs Town Council.”
“I would like to see a solution where we go forward together, “ says
“I don’t want to tread on traditional rights. I’ve got a great deal of
respect for all manner of traditions and cultures. But no tradition in
modern times should perpetuate beliefs that put lives in danger.
“I believe there has been a precedent for resolving these issues in the
“I have 100% respect for the sacred trees. I’ve spoken to Indigenous
people. I believe there are ways around this from a cultural
perspective. I see no reason why the trees’ sacred aspect could not be
transferred to another tree, with an appropriate ceremony.
“Black and white could possibly come together at such a ceremony.”
Says Dr Scambary: “There is no precedent of custodians agreeing to the
removal of sacred trees, or damage to other sacred sites, in return for
“On occasion, compensation has been paid to custodians for damage to
sacred sites, but such damage has not been sanctioned by custodians.
“There are instances of protective measures being placed on seedlings
of sacred trees that have died.”
Unfortunately there are no such seedlings in this instance.
All costs associated with dealing with these trees, including the
safety fence, and the liability from any mishap will be borne by the
“I think that’s rich, AAPA have all of the care and none of the
responsibility,” says Ald Stewart.
He contends that resistance to removing the trees comes from a senior
member of the 10-member board. (The board is made up of five male and
five female Aboriginal custodians of sites nominated by NT Aboriginal
Land Councils, together with two government appointees.)
“The nine others might as well go home,” says Ald Stewart.
He suggests that the “totally hierarchical” structure of AAPA is
inappropriate for dealing with “modern situations”.
“I don’t see why senior status comes into play on an issue of safety,”
says Ald Stewart.
However Dr Scambary says none of the AAPA Board members have custodial
rights in relation to these trees and have not made decisions “of the
nature” that Ald Stewart suggests.
“The request by the Alice Springs Town Council for an Authority
Certificate to remove the trees was refused by custodians of these
sacred sites. The Board of the Authority respects the decision of the
custodians,” says Dr Scambary.
It appears that the trees were deliberately poisoned.
“If the trees were poisoned it occurred while the NT Government, not
council, were in control of the grounds,” says Ald Stewart.
Dr Scambary says an investigation revealed that the trees at Traeger
Park had died as a result of poisoning.
“The investigation failed to identify the person or persons responsible
for the poisoning.”
If the issue is not resolved, it could go to the Minister who could
possibly over-ride the decision of the board.
Dr Scambary confirms that Division 3 of the Northern Territory
Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act is a provision for ministerial review.
“The AAPA has regularly met and will continue meeting with the Alice
Springs Town Council to discuss this issue with a view to resolving the
concerns of all parties,” he says.
Centrecorp shares: Did land
council mislead Parliament? By ERWIN CHLANDA.
The Central Land Council (CLC) is apparently “beneficially” holding
shares in the secretive Aboriginal investment company, Centrecorp,
while telling the Senate that its shareholding is merely as a trustee.
A “beneficial” holding of a share means the holder has all benefits and
obligations flowing from it.
This would place the CLC in conflict with the NT Land Rights Act which
says it must not “incur financial liability or receive financial
benefit in assisting Aboriginal people with commercial activities”.
The Federal Office of Evaluation and Audit has recently revealed that
Centrecorp, in turn, holds shares beneficially in four companies,
including Yeperenye Nominees Pty Ltd, which operates one of Alice
Springs’ large shopping centers.
A spokesperson for Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said this
week: “The Central Land Council does not have beneficial shares in
But a company extract obtained from the Australian Securities and
Investments Commission (ASIC) says the CLC is holding three of the five
Centrecorp shares – a majority.
The document notes about the shares: “Beneficially Held: Yes.”
The Alice News confirmed this by telephoning ASIC this week.
ASIC said the CLC’s beneficial shareholding dates back to at least 1990
when the Federal ASIC, and its predecessors, assumed its current
responsibilities from the states.
The CLC is a Commonwealth statutory body for which Ms Macklin is
Embattled IAD under microscope
– again. By ERWIN CHLANDA.
The Federal Government has appointed a firm of accountants, Ernst and
Young, to “undertake an assessment of [the] financial and business
systems” of the troubled Institute of Aboriginal Development in Alice
A spokesperson for the Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, says:
“The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations is
aware of the difficulties faced by the Insitute for Aboriginal
Meanwhile the institute, subject of a bitter faction fight for several
months, is tight-lipped.
How many students are attending courses, whether mediation is going
ahead, what the authorities are saying about the current situation, are
all “private matters” that will be worked through “within the
boundaries” of IAD, says chair of its management committee, Janice
“IAD does not want the issues to be played out in the media,” an angry
Ms Harris told the Alice News.
She asked whether the Alice News has a code of conduct for reporting on
She was told we work in accordance with the journalists’ code of ethics
which apply to all issues equally.
She accused the Alice News of being disrespectful to Aboriginal culture
in the way we had reported on the issues at IAD.
She said the reporting had inflamed tensions and not benefitted IAD at
all. The News put to Ms Harris that as a publicly funded institution it
should be accountable to the public.
Ms Harris says IAD’s accountability is to their potential 400 students
and more than 30 staff.
She says IAD’s business is carried out in an ethical, open and
transparent manner but “there is no need to be transparent in the press
when you are transparent in your operations”.
She accused Neville Perkins, who has been extensively quoted by the
Alice News, of “turning up muck”.
She said the issues he has raised are old and there’s no need to bring
them up when “we are trying to do positive things”.
A government source says in 2007-08 IAD had complied with all
conditions but all this financial year the organisation had been on “a
temporary funding agreement”.
Burping beasts new task for
innovative cattlemen. By BEVERLEY JOHNSON.
Managing and decreasing methane levels from burping beef may be the
answer to reducing agricultural carbon emissions, according to research
by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) presented at last week’s Northern
Territory Cattlemen’s Association 25th Anniversary Conference.
Future concerns for the Northern Territory cattle industry lie mainly
beyond the gate. This was the overall conclusion of the conference’s
wrap-up panel. If the Australian cattle industry is to survive it
is imperative that the industry secures its place in an international
market by addressing its ability to offset carbon emissions.
The Federal Government’s Emissions Trading Scheme, set to come into
practice by 2010, is causing some controversy within the agricultural
NTCA say that the current methods used by scientists to calculate
agricultural emissions need to be improved and made much more accurate,
taking in the full cycle, not just part of it. NTCA argue that
current carbon accounting methodology does not take into account the
CO2 that is absorbed into the soil. Because of this there are growing
fears that cattle producers may end up carrying the heavy burden of a
carbon emission tax by 2015.
MLA’s Beverley Henry, Manager for Environment, Sustainability and
Climate Change, spoke about tackling climate change through reducing
methane emissions. Three key areas of research include measuring
emissions from individual ruminants, breeding new cattle to evaluate
whether cattle burping is genetic, and managing the diet of cattle.
This Reducing Emissions Livestock program, a collaborative venture of
various industry specialists and government, has attracted $11.25m in
government funding and a further $4.25m from industry.
According to the Australian Greenhouse Office the percentage of
greenhouse emissions belonging to agricultural practice makes up
approximately 18%, significantly lower than energy from stationary
engines at 47.3% and transport at 27.4%.
MLA cannot be certain at this point by how much emissions could be
Other concerns expressed in the panel discussion included the impact on
cattle feed as temperatures rise due to climate change, causing the
soil to no longer produce enough nutrients.
At present a limited amount of research has been conducted on savannah
burning and ways to reduce C02 emissions. More work is expected
on keeping nutrients in the soil via bio-char (burying the charcoal
There has been some testing in Queensland but it’s a costly process.
The Northern Territory pastoral industry was estimated to be worth some
$205m during the 2007-2008 financial year, employing around1800 people
along the production chain.
NT cattle numbers, however, fell significantly last year due to a
number of reasons such as huge de-stocking in the Barkly area because
Overall some 300,000 cattle had to be moved interstate from the NT last
Ironically the early rains of 2009 left the Barkly region suffering
from huge flooding through much of January and February.
With worldwide population predicted to grow to nine billion in 15
years, the greatest economic growth is expected to come from Asia.
The panel made it clear that the cattle industry now needs to work hard
at increasing purchasing power and setting policies for international
markets such as Japan, Korea and China in order for it to survive and
compete with the changing demographics and world consumer behaviour.
In November 2007 Australia re-opened its live export market with
Vietnam. A memorandum agreement was signed. Australian beef is now
being shipped from Darwin to the Vietnamese province of Khanh Hoa.
MLA says some 600,000 cattle were exported between 2007 and 2008 and
live export has increased by 17% since early 2007.
Trade is expected to grow to one million in the next five years.
Industry forecasters predict that even with the global downturn the
outlook for future trading seems positive.
Another issue raised from the floor concerned Brazil entering the
Indonesian market for frozen beef and the threat this could hold for
bio-security, for instance from Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
Nothing has been approved as yet, the conference was told, and the
threat from Brazil is limited: it can only produce frozen beef for this
market that is too far away for chilled fresh meat.
Breeding beef clean and green.
By BEVERLEY JOHNSON.
The NT Cattlemen Association (NTCA) says its members were shocked when
they learnt the Australian Government could possibly approve live
strains of virus, including the notoriously fatal Foot and Mouth
Disease (FMD) for scientific testing in Victoria’s Geelong Veterinary
NTCA says Australian cattle could be at risk if FMD gets out.
With global food consumers becoming ever more aware and conscious about
where their purchased produce originates, the agricultural industry in
Australia needs to be able to deliver assurance of the health of its
The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) can be used to
trace forward and backwards any stock movement if required and
count the number of beef cattle that have a Radio Frequency
Indentification Device (RFID) attached to the ear via computer
technology. A microchip embedded with the RFID, contains a 16 digit
code that is registered to that property and this information is
captured as the cattle go past the reader then the information is
processed through the National Livestock Indentification System (NLIS)
As cattle entering the Bohning cattle yards near Alice Springs must be
identified with a NLIS device the NTCA and CAWD Livestock have been
testing an upgraded system at the Bohning yards that will assist in
finding cattle entering without a NLIS device attached to their
Cattle which have lost or had their tag removed are separated through
an automatic air draft where they can be tagged with the NLIS device
registered to the Bohning yards.
CAWD is responsible for developing the technology in partnership with
NTCA. The technology here is a modification of a similar system CAWD
has been working on with the research organization Desert Knowledge,
which measures weight of cattle to determine whether they fit into
certain market criteria.
A remote community where all
adults work & kids go to school. By KIERAN FINNANE.
By KIERAN FINNANE
A remote community where all able-bodied adults work, where children go
to school every day, where the community raises most of its own food,
where people are strong in their own language and culture while also
speaking English and interacting with ‘the mainstream’: this community
exists ... it’s the Papunya of memory for Alison Anderson, now the
Territory’s Indigenous Affairs Minister, and her-sister-in-law Linda
Anderson, a teacher.
It’s the place where they spent happy childhoods but where today, as in
many other remote communities, they fear for the futures of the
Alison lived her first years in Haasts Bluff, born, like so many of her
generation and those before her, in the bush – under a tree in the
There was a ration depot at Haasts Bluff and a Lutheran mission.
Aboriginal people initially lived in humpies across the creek. They
would get their water from a soakage.
After a while the missionaries moved people into “sheet of iron
“They were nice houses compared to humpies. We felt really proud, they
were like little mansions!” says Alison.
She was eight years old when her family moved to Papunya. A ration
depot had been established there; the community was closer to her
family’s country; there were more job opportunities.
At first they lived again in a humpy on the west side of the
settlement. For shade her parents planted a bean tree that is still
Her mother, who adopted the English name Beverley Anderson, taught in
the pre-school. She had learnt to speak English when she was working as
a “house girl” for non-Aboriginal families. She had also been to school
in Hermannsburg for a while but she couldn’t read or write.
Her father, Yama, was a grader operator, responsible for road
maintenance in and around the community. He would be away from Papunya
for three to four months of the year, working on the roads to Yuendumu
and Glen Helen.
Alison (pictured at right, making a case for the Federal intervention)
had started school at Haasts Bluff, and continued at Papunya.
Parents were keen to send their children to school, she says. She
discusses with Linda the right English word to describe their attitude:
they were “excited”, she says, willing to “push down the barriers to
send us to school”.
“The siren used to go off in the community, letting us know it was wake
up time, time for our parents to go to work, and for us to go to
“They’d wake us up, ‘Run to school, run to school’.
“We would go first to school for a shower. We each had a pigeon-hole
with our toothbrush and a comb in it.
“Our school uniforms, a different colour for each class, were kept at
“We would shower, hand over our camp clothes to be washed, put on our
“We weren’t allowed pituri [a native tobacco plant whose leaves are
chewed] – teachers would check our mouths and behind our ears to make
sure we didn’t have any.”
When they were ready, they’d go to the communal kitchen for breakfast.
After classes they would change into their clean camp clothes.
“We never had scabies or any kind of skin disease.”
Both Alison and Linda attended school regularly, as did most children.
If a child missed a day, the principal and teachers would visit their
family to find out why.
They remember their teachers with fondness, naming among them, Tom
Bonner (principal), Miss Gowdy, Terry Perry – “a good music teacher”.
Teachers would see that some children were making good progress – they
were put into a multi-grade class and given intensive literacy and
The two women point to themselves as “evidence” that the schooling they
Lessons were given only in English. They could speak their Aboriginal
languages in the playground and after school but not in the classrooms.
Both women speak several Aboriginal languages.
Alison’s command of English, her ability to coin a phrase, to
articulate thoughts through a telling or poignant image, to tell funny
stories, is legendary.
Linda speaks English fluently though more quietly and carefully.
I put it to them that there is a widespread assumption that the mission
times at Papunya were harsh, that at best Aboriginal people in this era
were bossed around from pillar to post.
They have no memories of harsh treatment.
They say they were treated with love and compassion.
They look back on these times as good times.
They talk about old Pastor Petering – “he’s passed away now, poor
Every Saturday he would pick them up to take them to clean the church.
They say they were pleased to do it.
At Christmas time they would go out with Pastor Petering to get “a
proper Christmas tree” (a native pine).
They would decorate it and on Christmas Eve it would be lit up; they
would receive presents from the missionaries – “dollies, teapots,
umbrellas”; “the ladies would get scarves and purses”.
They remember all this with pleasure.
Do they not see it as another way of being inculcated with western
“We grew up in that time and we still have our language and our
“We appreciate what was given to us – the ability to live in both
worlds,” says Alison.
Religious instruction was a “core function” of the school, but “they
didn’t tell us our way was wrong”.
“They were very kind and loving people.”
Alison searches for an example of kindness and tolerance. She laughs as
she remembers ‘Old Darky’ coming to church stark naked.
Mrs Petering would take him up to the house to put clothes on him but
by the time they got back to the church he had taken them off again.
At church the children used to sit at the front, their parents at the
After the service the children would go to Sunday school, “drawing
Christian pictures, listening to little Bible stories”.
The Christian religion is “still strong in both our lives”, says
“It sat with us, we didn’t notice it was there, it happened naturally.”
But there was time too in the community routine for Aboriginal ways and
Every school holidays, the different family groups would be assisted
with transport to go back onto their country.
“Our country was out past Mount Liebig, past Warren Creek,” says
“We’d get a bag of rations to take but we’d go out there and live on
the country again, hunting, eating bush tucker.”
Alison remembers travelling in a truck.
Linda’s family had a camel, a “cheeky one, called Lofty”. She’s written
a book about these childhood times, in which Lofty features.
Holidays were also a time to visit family members. Alison’s mother’s
mother lived in Hermannsburg, her father’s mother in Yuedumu.
Sometimes Alison would go to stay with her maternal grandmother, for
six months, eight months, and during this time would go to school at
Linda interrupts and speaks to Alison in Luritja.
“She’s remembering how our life was strict in the Aboriginal way,” says
“When we were adolescents we would live with our grandmothers.
“Now young girls live anywhere, go into any room, there’s no
“Young men used to live with their grandfathers and uncles in men’s
quarters; young women with their grandmothers and aunties in women’s
“It was a time to teach the young people how to behave.”
“And a way for them to be safe,” says Linda.
Ceremonial obligations were and are a once-a-year thing, says Alison,
around Christmas time.
“It always started when school was finishing, people had respect for
kids going to school,” she says.
“There was no going inside classrooms, interrupting lessons as happens
now,” says Linda.
“If a mother wants to go to Kintore or Hermannsburg, she just comes
into the classroom and picks up her kids and takes them,” she says.
Both women talk with enthusiasm about the highlights of their young
lives – the “Black Olympics”, held annually at Yuendumu, the swimming
and music carnival at Areyonga.
Alison recalls photos of herself and other girls at the carnival, in
sailor hats and little green dresses – “Deadly!”
Amos Anderson, Alison’s brother and Linda’s husband, and Sammy Butcher,
playing ukuleles, won the first Rock Eisteddfod in Darwin, back in 1971
or ‘72, remembers Linda.
The population at Papunya was much bigger then – 1700. Now it’s 600.
There were 17 teachers at the school and though all able-bodied
Aboriginal adults were working, there were also a lot of non-Aboriginal
people in the community – the superintendent, plumbers, electricians,
builders, all lived there.
There was a very active building program. Alison describes the
community as “really interactive”.
Aboriginal people did fencing, wood-chopping, butchering, baking,
worked in the school, in the classrooms and in the yard, on the
community’s farms, and on neighbouring cattle stations – Narwietooma
“There was a multi-purpose centre, where all the young fellas were
taken out of school once a week to learn manual arts and trades.”
Both women emphasise how clean the community was – there were lawns,
hedges, an orchard, a piggery, a small farm in the community, a larger
one five kilometres away, where Sid Anderson’s outstation is now.
This was run by Alison’s grandfather, Ukinyi. He grew melons, cabbages,
carrots, tomatoes, raised chooks, all fenced in by a border of cactus.
Ukinyi had two wives, Watjala and Ukamba.
Alison has vivid memories of herself and her sisters and brothers
walking from Papunya to the farm to get a good feed.
The “old ladies” would go hunting for goannas which they’d cook up for
Afterwards the children would relish the watermelon and rockmelons from
the farm. There was a dam nearby where they’d go for a swim.
The girls of the family were older; they’d carry their little brothers
on their backs when they got too tired. They’d let them down in the
cool places, pick them up again when it was hot.
If it was very hot they’d make themselves grass shoes to protect their
feet from the burning sand.
Alison recalls that her uncle, Timmy Jugadai, kept horses at Papunya.
She and other children would sneak up and unhobble the horses to take
them for a ride.
The piggery was where the football oval is now: “You can still see the
The chookyard, run by the pastor and his wife, was where the council
building is now.
The community was producing most of their fresh food themselves, though
there were still ration trucks delivering “sugar, flour and tea”.
Linda recalls a meat truck as well, but there were also butchers in the
community who would slaughter and prepare their own meat.
I asked the women what their favourite foods were?
They mention bushfoods straight up but also remember good food cooked
at the communal kitchen.
“My old aunty, Francesca Malbunka, got up every morning at five o’clock
to bake bread,” recalls Alison.
Linda remembers “stew and hot damper” in the evenings as well as “apple
pie and custard”.
“And rhubarb pie”, says Alison.
People had to line up for their servings and then sit down to eat at a
table, with a knife and fork.
“They taught us how to eat food in a social context,” says Alison.
It was towards the end of the ‘seventies that everything started to
change – “going backwards”.
Alison describes community life up till then as like a “see-saw in
“Then all of a sudden it went one way and Aboriginal people all came
tumbling down at the bottom.
“People thought, without talking to us, that we were badly treated.
“We were not.
“Our parents and we were well treated.
“We were educated so that we can live in both worlds.
“They told our parents that they shouldn’t have to do things like
gardening, they should sit down, do carving, make spears. They told
them things they wouldn’t tell their own children.
“I say this and reiterate the fact that we have not lost our law and
“Now we look around us and see the hopelessness of our nieces and
nephews who are not able to live inside the world of opportunity that
is the non-Indigenous world.
“Only this can do justice for our people.
“There’s fear about creating another stolen generation. But look at the
Yirara College model.
“Those kids still have access to their parents.
“Their parents can come and take them out on weekends.
“The kids can go to their community events and have that contact time
If it’s good enough for rural kids in Victoria and South Australia to
catch the bus for long journeys to school each day or else to go to
boarding school, why not for Aboriginal kids, she asks.
Alison herself was sent into Alice Springs for further education.
At first she lived with an aunty. She was sad to have left her family
and friends and did “run amok” during the first couple of months: “On
the way to the school I would divert down to the river to sit with the
old people painting.
“My aunty soon said, ‘You have to go to school’.
“Later Alison was sent to board at St Philip’s when it was still
only a residential facility.
“After a while it was OK – I adapted, I made new friends.”
There were 20 to 30 Aboriginal kids there, from as far afield as
Ernabella in South Ausralia and Borroloola on the Gulf of Carpentaria,
living alongside station kids.
“We all communicated really well,” says Alison.
“We lived in a house parent structure.
“They were really beautiful people, just like our mums and dads. We
never got homesick, their love filled that gap.
“We all had a duty of care towards the juniors, we would take them
under our wing, teach them how to use the washing machine, how to make
their beds and polish their shoes.”
Linda, who is younger, came in to Yirara College towards the end of the
A lot of other Papunya children at this time went up to Kormilda
College in Darwin, says Alison.
“Our parents went from being people who were working, to seeing their
children on welfare.
“The old people, my aunties and my mother, they look at the younger
generation and say, you are not like us, we worked hard. “
Alison has made sure her children have received a good education –
“their foundation to live in this other world of opportunity, to open
doors, to be able to move around in this country”.
Generations of school children have seen Linda working, teaching them.
Hasn’t this been an example for them?
“They get the message a little bit,” says Linda, “but it has got to be
from the parents too.
“Like our parents in the early days – they had education in mind.”
But many of today’s parents “lie under the welfare tap with their
mouths open”, says Alison. “And if we don’t turn that tap off we won’t
get them to see the rivers of opportunity.
“People of the past did achieve employment outcomes, had a work ethic,
took up the opportunity to live in both worlds.”
She describes the situation now as “frustrating and hurtful”.
The fight to get land back, culminating in the Aboriginal Land Rights
Act (NT) of 1976, had to happen.
“But where to from now?” asks Alison.
“All we’ve got our land for is to die on.
“There’s no economic growth, no opportunities.
“Our cultural life will always be there.
“I don’t need a piece of paper called the Land Rights Act or the Racial
Discrimination Act to say that I am linked to my country – I was linked
to it at birth.
“Our land has become a cultural museum for us. We’ve got to change that.
“In the early ‘seventies there was room for the left of the left in the
fight for land. Now we have to move to the centre left, grow people and
communities, match people to the opportunity of the land mass that we
Basketball bashing must stop.
By BEVERLEY JOHNSON.
Security patrols are needed at the basketball stadium, according to
coach Natasha Watkins, speaking out after a violent incident two weeks
An argument between two teenage girls started inside the stadium,
became a fight and moved outside. One girl’s head was smashed against
the concrete ground before Ms Watkins and a parent succeeded in
separating the two.
One of the girls involved was not a member of the Basketball
Association and apparently has been banned from the courts.
A group of youths watched on, some recording the action on their mobile
“The association needs to pay for security to protect those who belong
to the club,” says Ms Watkins.
“What if one of these kids gets seriously hurt one day, what then?
“The groups that hang outside the stadium each night don’t even play
basketball. They are just here to cause trouble.”
Wednesday, 6.45pm: The Roaring Ramblers under 16 team have just
finished their game at the Traeger Avenue stadium.
Coach Watkins stands outside patiently, waiting to ensure each girl
makes it to her ride safely.
The team almost had to forfeit the game this week, two players are on
holiday and a third has decided she will no longer play for the team
after the attack last week.
“This is ridiculous. It shouldn’t be the coach’s responsibility to act
as a babysitter,” says Ms Watkins.
“The stadium needs security to keep these delinquents away.
“Both black and white kids are involved,” she says.
“A parent and myself had to jump into protect the girl, this shouldn’t
be the coach’s responsibility.
“We volunteer to teach these kids basketball. The basketball
association should take responsibility to protect the players.”
Tanya Dodds is the Roaring Ramblers club secretary. She says the club
has written to the association’s management committee about the fight
and security issues.
“There used to be a court supervisor responsible for looking after
spectators and players, making sure they are following the rules, but I
don’t think I’ve seen one around,” she says.
“The groups of teenagers
that are causing trouble out the front of the courts have been getting
“An argument that started in the stadium should have been stamped out
and settled in the stadium before it even reached outside.”
Raging Ramblers player Shaylee Fly says she saw the girls fighting but
it was “just a fight and not that big a deal”.
This seemed to be the general opinion of young people outside the
courts. No one was particularly phased.
Some of the teenage boys were laughing about the incident, and spoke
about watching the footage on their mobile phones, yet no one was
willing to show the footage to the Alice News.
Mixed stories came from a group of girls, none of whom play basketball
but have their parents drop them off outside the courts so that they
can hang out and “radar” – check out what’s going on.
None of them wanted to give their names, but they thought the fight
between the two girls started over a boy. The girl fighting who was not
a player was actually fighting on a weaker girl’s behalf, they said.
The Raging Rambler who was involved is known by most of the group. They
say she doesn’t go to school.
Ms Watkins says she has heard the player “can be troublesome”.
“But she was really good at sport, the stadium should protect her. Now
she won’t come back and play.
“When I was younger playing basketball
used to be so much fun. Now it is so stressful for them.
“We are trying to keep them active, healthy. It’s hard when they are
not happy because everyone is concerned that there will be a fight.”
The Roaring Ramblers Basketball Club is an old team that was brought
back to life by Ms Watkins and her sister about two years ago.
“We just invited anyone who wanted to play. We mainly got kids off the
We were looking left right and centre for team players.”
Godwin, association president, says the committee is aware of the
situation and the groups of youths “loitering” around not only the
basketball courts but also the neighbouring tennis courts and hockey
“It’s a sad state of affairs.”
Soon the football season will begin and it is likely that more youths
will want to congregate.
The basketball association has over 500 members.
The stadium is run mainly by volunteers, who “work really hard”.
Mr Godwin says the police have been informed of the incident.
The Town Council, who own the basketball facility, have been informed
and now intend to monitor Traeger Avenue as part of the regular town
Tangentyere Council youth patrol have been informed and may run
Mr Godwin says the basketball association is currently approaching
people about taking on a court supervisor come administration role.
This person can then “keep an eye on youths, do regular patrols and
usher trouble makers on, making sure they are removed from the
However, Mr Godwin says the “overall responsibility lies with the
parents who continue to bring their children down to the courts and
drop them off, knowing that they are not playing basketball.
These parents should be taking responsibility.”
Mr Godwin says he was not aware that one of the girls in the fight a
fortnight ago had previously been banned from the courts.
“When we identify the trouble makers we make sure they understand they
are not welcome,” he says.
Pop Vulture: Homegrown
In the tradition of Phantom comics, for those who’ve come in late ...
Putting aside the interstate acts penned in to attend the Wide Open
Spaces music, arts and desert cultural gathering to be held at the Ross
River Resort, on May 1-3, there will be an appealing line up of home
• One of the festival’s organisers, Dj Mustaphaa, has enjoyed great
success recently, having supported the launch of Melbourne Dj
Spoonbills’ recent release, Zoomorphic, with a performance that
generated rave reviews, amongst peers and critics.
Mustaphaa creates an ambience of electronic beats that marries itself
with the crowd’s energy.
• Many residents of Alice will be familiar with the whimsical stylings
of singer and cello player Mei Lai Swan, playing alone or often
accompanied by keyboard and double bass. Her songs are heartfelt and
deep thinking, exploring both conscious and sub-conscious thought.
Mei Lai recently relocated to Melbourne, but frequently returns to the
Centre, filling the musical hole that is created in town during her
• The Papunya-based Tjupi Band are a major draw card on the Bush Bands
Bash bill. The ultra tight unit deliver a smooth Reggae sound with a
hauntingly calm precision. This will be a treat for overseas and
• A couple of festivals deep, the Doctor will again be in the house.
The ever evolving sound of the Alice-based quintet Dr Strangeways is
living proof that exploration is key. The group transgress the basic
rock beats, and delve into pools of Reggae, Ska Dub step and Hip Hop.
Their song “Reggae Racehorse”, featuring MC Audio Grill, is a
demonstration of musical maturity and also of what can be achieved when
interbreeding musical genres.
• Shon has spent a lot of time around the red Centre. She’s an Africa
drum, rhythm and percussion instructor whose raw energy on stage is
rivalled only by her compelling personality. Filling the other half of
the percussion goblet is Svet, the long time musical director of Circus
Oz. The monstrous combined percussive force is sure to breathe and beat
in a pulsing kinetic symphony.
• Newly formed and eager to showcase, Los Banderos is a local
rhythmic octopus, at times with as many as 11 members, exploring the
world Latin through improvisation, losing themselves to a realm of
There’ll also be film screenings, Cats Meow Cabaret shows, art
installations, talks and loads more.
LETTERS: Whose life is a
Sir,– Last week you wrote of “the public drunks who make our life a
misery”. Let’s face it, dear Editor, my life is not a misery,
yours either, I would hazard a guess.
The lives of the ordinary people going to work and to play in this town
are not a misery. For those of us reading your paper, we send our kids
to good schools, we enjoy our recreation time, we eat well, we visit
the doctor when we need to and we get listened to when we speak. Our
lives are not a misery.
Their lives are a misery. The lives of these “public drunks”, a life in
which people resort to losing it and to losing their minds, their
people, losing their life or taking someone else’s. Many lives are
taken because of this misery, and yes, sometimes some of the vulnerable
are of our own skin. I do not condone it.
Here in Alice Springs we recognise the effects of this misery on our
streets, our grassy verges, on sandy rises under a tree.
This is the tragic reality of the dispossessed, the recently colonised,
many of whom are without language in which to operate effectively in
our increasingly bureaucratised world, rendering them more and more
without power, making them more and more miserable.
I draw to the readers’ attention recent figures from the Sunrise Health
Service which covers 112,000 square kilometres of the NT: since the
beginning of the Federal Intervention rates of Indigenous children with
anaemia have risen dramatically from 20% to 55%, threatening the
physical and mental health of more than half the area’s children.
Low birth weight in infants has risen from 9% prior to the Intervention
to 19% in December last year.
Diabetics are going without food.
For my own part, not working in the health sector or the media and not
always privy to such information, I observe other people’s misery every
I see it when I am at a supermarket and someone has to strip back their
trolley of essentials, put back the vegies, the fruit and the washing
powder and make do with bread and meat, if they are lucky.
I see it when people find there is no money after waiting in the queue,
only then to spend hour after hour in Centrelink, faced by a worker
often overwrought, many times uncaring, mostly without the comfort of
shared language, to come away with nothing.
I see it as I struggle day by day in my classroom to overcome barriers
such as hearing loss; loss of mental health; loss of family or the more
basic and more pervasive loss of sleep. “Didn’t you sleep well
“Nah, too many people, too much grog, too much ganga.”
They are not talking of themself.
“What happened to your watch?”
“My nephew, he took him for card game.”
My life is not a misery, dear Editor.
Why were residents not told?
Sir,– I received an email from Rod Cramer from the Rural Area
Association in Alice Springs regarding the 20 metre towers that are
proposed for Ross Highway, Palm Circuit and Len Kittle Drive.
I would like to know why the residents and businesses were not notified
of this construction in the area affected.
I as a business operator with MacDonnell Range Holiday Park in Palm
Place and a resident on Palm Circuit object very strongly to the
decision to build these 20 metre high towers along a residential and
This is 2009 not the ‘50s and ‘60s when power lines were put above
In any private subdivision the power lines are required to be put
underground. So why can the NT Government go against its own
Is there a different policy for Darwin to Alice Springs?
To build these unsightly 20 metre high towers as a backdrop to the
entrance to our beautiful town will spoil the view of the ranges for
our visitors and residents alike.
Our town relies on tourism and to have these 20 metre high towers
so close to the ranges [is unacceptable], especially when people
are taking photos of the Ghan train as it comes through the Gap – they
will have the towers in the background.
I would request that the power lines be put underground for
at least three kms before the entrance to Heavitree Gap.
I presume that the reason that the power lines are being put
underground along Bradshaw Drive is so as not to spoil the view, but
[it is also in keeping with] NT Government and Power and Water
The 20 metre high power line will be visual pollution to our town’s
A visitor to our town once said arriving in Alice Springs is like
driving through a painting by Albert Namatjira. It is a great place to
So why is there a different policy if you live on
the town side of the ranges to the southern side of the
Do the overhead high voltage power lines affect mobile phone
reception? Have health problems in the future [been considered], with
people living underneath these high voltage lines?
I am sure the residents of Alice Springs and visitors don’t want
these ugly 20 metre high power lines at the entrance to our beautiful
MacDonnell Range Holiday Park
Where are the budget documents?
Sir,– The Treasurer has not followed normal budgetary processes by
withholding updates on the Territory’s budget changes from Parliament.
Each year the Treasurer tables in the Assembly ‘Transfers of excess
Allocation’ documents and historically they have been tabled in a
In the current financial year none of these documents have been tabled.
In the previous financial year these transfers were available for
inspection before midway through the year.
These documents reveal how much the Government is overspending its
Their absence from the public domain is a concern because Territorians
are unable to assess how the Government is tracking with their money.
In the current environment the Treasurer should be open and honest with
Territorians – not withholding information.
The Treasurer is struggling with a $200 million dollar black hole in
her budgets over the next 15 months and this secrecy is giving nobody
If the Treasurer wants to restore confidence in the Territory budget
then she can release these documents now to the public and still comply
with the law by tabling them in Parliament in April.
Sir,– The Alice Springs Town Council Environment Advisory Committee
welcomes the announcement by Minister Delia Lawrie that a Sustainable
Building Code could be introduced in the NT this year.
The committee recently wrote to the Minister stating that the we
believe that to achieve significant improvements in energy and water
efficiency, these regulations should be introduced Territory-wide and
focus not only on the building envelope (ie, five star or equivalent),
but also include hard-wired appliances (such as water heating,
air-conditioning and lighting) and key water consuming appliances (such
as toilets and taps).
Comprehensive measures are already in place in other jurisdictions such
as Queensland and we believe that for environmental and economic
reasons, the Territory should follow suit.
The proposed new lands for housing development near Alice Springs are
welcome, but we must make sure that appropriate planning occurs in
terms of public transport, a roads infrastructure that does not
disadvantage some suburbs during flood episodes, and that we plan for
affordable, family friendly communities.
Ald. Jane Clark
Chair, Environment Advisory Committee
ADAM'S APPLE: To the moon,
We are the
Territory boys, We are Territory Thunder,
black and white, We are out for plunder.
on our mind, We’ll tear our foes asunder,
We are the
Territory boys, We are Territory Thunder.
These are the lyrics for the new club song for the Territory Thunder.
Penned by Ted Egan, I’m fairly certain that the tune ticks all the
boxes in relation to what is a successful footy tune.
Australian Rules football has a tradition of turn-of-the-last-century
style ditties reminiscent of the ironically light-hearted tunes sung by
diggers in World War I. Rugby League football tends to steal
popular rock tunes sung by rock stars, set to a montage of sweaty
shirtless blokes running on a beach.
Ted Egan was the man for the job. A founding father of Central
Australian football and the writer of many a classic Aussie tune, Ted
was able to rhyme the word “Thunder” without resorting to a lie I, a
lesser songwriter, might have chosen. Nowhere in the new song is the
line “We’ll make those banana benders chunder”.
Our boys in yellow, ochre, black and white start a new chapter in
Territory football. We (don’t you love the Australian proclivity of
inclusion in sporting teams by using the term “we”) now play in the
Queensland competition. It’s a big step forward for Territory football.
Some would have liked it to be a bigger step, however. We can’t forget
that we were knocked back by the stronger SANFL and WAFL competitions
and some members of the community feel as though we have settled for a
competition that isn’t as strong.
There is a sizable subsection of the community that I think might just
have an over-inflated opinion of the capabilities of Alice Springs.
I have had conversations with these people who firmly believe that
having just 30,000 people living in a town 1500 kilometres from any
other town or city of note is merely a detail. Not a hurdle, but a
detail to be factored into the logistics.
There are people we all know – perhaps you are one of them – who swear
that Alice Springs deserves an AFL game played for competition points
at Traeger Park.
They are firm in their conviction that Alice Springs would be a perfect
place to host a Test Cricket match and swear like sailors when games
are occasionally played in Darwin. “How dare they!” they scream into
their schooners at pubs around town.
I used to think these folk foolish. As if Alice Springs a small town in
the middle of the desert is a primary choice for a major event? But now
I’m coming around to its absurdity.
We already host the Masters Games and we have more infrastructure than
most towns of a comparable size. We are a tourist town with hotels to
bed a truckload of people, we have sporting centres the envy of many
and we have a population not averse to volunteerism.
Most importantly we have people who believe that it can happen.
So I say why stop with sporting events? Let’s dream big Alice Springs.
Let’s aim for the stars …literally. Think about it. We live miles
from any other centre in a relatively flat desert. We live close to an
installation we all call the Space Base. Is it too ludicrous to imagine
the Alice Springs Space Agency?
Is it beyond the realms of the imagination to picture in our minds a
manned flight to Mars or the Moon or heck, let’s dream a little, the
outer realms of space?
Imagine the tourist dollars if a Cape Canaveral style outfit was built
at the old drive-in. It’s time to stop living in the ALFQ of our
lives, Alice Springs.
It’s time to dream. Time to go to the moon, Alice!