Whatever happened to the Port Augusta model?


Whatever happened to the Port Augusta model? Since Councillor Steve Brown (at right) produced a report to council on what he has drawn from that southern city’s approach to “community harmony”, the public has heard not another peep.
Back in May, when he and like-minded councillors were focussed on having a council body monitor the effective delivery of government services in Alice Springs, there was sense of urgency in the discussion. It was the kind of development that called for early morning meetings; progress on it was supposed to be “vital” and “immediate” in order to address the  “considerable anxiety” in the community over the decline in law and order.
Now, says Cr Brown, council is waiting for the right moment to talk to the new Territory Government about what is on its mind.
Has there been any direct contact on the issue? No, only courtesy meetings.
Will council be seeking direct contact soon? Not until after the government brings down its mini-budget, promised for December 4.
And we all know what happens after that – Christmas and the summer holidays, not a good time for getting the wheels of government turning while also a time when social tensions can be heightened.
Cr Brown’s plans, including a new youth centre and other youth-focused projects, now come with a considerable price tag, and at this point, with lots of belt-tightening messages coming from the new government,  he is not liking his chances of getting those plans up.
As for the watchdog role – his proposed “Heads of Departments Harmony Monitoring Committee” – although it would be essentially cost-free, he is politely waiting to be heard.
And meanwhile, the community is in the dark on the whole council’s attitudes towards Cr Brown’s proposals. When will we hear that debate in a public forum?
Pictured above: The Country Liberals’ major promise for Alice during their election campaign was $2.5m to upgrade the Alice Springs Youth Centre, a long way behind Cr Brown’s proposals for Alice’s Port Augusta-inspired responses to social problems. In our photo the then prospective Chief Minister Terry Mills talks to the Youth Centre’s Marie Petery and June Noble. With them are Braitling MLA Adam Giles and Araluen MLA Robyn Lambley, now Minister for Central Australia.


  1. It is understandable that not a lot has happened on the ‘learn from Pt Augusta’ front yet, as much of the urgency has been taken out of the situation by the excellent initiatives of the police (Operation Marathon) and the Youth Hub (the YSOS youth workers and the Daybreaker Program) to address disorder and crime.
    These initiatives have developed strong linkages and working partnerships with other government agencies and community organisations, leading to a lot of progress having been made in preventing much of the youth crime and misbehaviour that was plaguing the town six months ago.
    These advances have recently been somewhat undermined by the new government’s de-activation of the Banned Drinkers’ Register. Time will tell, over the next few months, whether the police and youth workers are able to continue to contain the problems.

  2. Hi Bob, can I ask what relevance the removal of the BDR has in relation to this topic being discussed? The Youth Centre initiative I thought was for “youth” aged below 18? The BDR should have no relevance in this instance.
    Just to add, there is still a lot of truancy happening which requires attention and a lot of youth crime is still happening.
    On the positive side the police have been far more proactive. Good to see they are getting some much needed equipment to help them. You never know in a couple of years time their equipment levels may approach mine! I have been forced over the years to buy a substantial amount of surveillance equipment just to protect my property, something I should not have to do.

  3. Rex (Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm): always happy to help!
    The banning of 800 problem drinkers in Alice Springs meant it was much more difficult for these people to buy alcohol and share it with, or supply it to, under-age drinkers.
    When the BDR reached large numbers, it also freed up police to pay more attention to keeping control of problems presented by the youth, as they didn’t have to spend so much time worrying about adult drunks and their crimes, as there were less of these to worry about.
    These same factors also benefitted the YSOS workers, making them more efficient and effective in their efforts to manage youth problems on the streets late at night.
    When you have less crime, less drunks, and less kids running wild late at night, the urgency of a “Port Augusta solution” is not so great.

  4. Wakey, wakey Rex Neindorf! Bob Durnan is hardly off topic here … in fact Bob’s response was restrained and balanced. Open your eyes to a few of the little changes which have undeniably occurred with the changing of the guard.
    One of these is the number of empty glass bottles being left around Alice Springs. This was bound to happen as the Country Libs made it easier to buy an alcoholic beverage and it was bound to become more obvious as summer rolls on. Fair to say that the unimaginative and traditional crackdown by the authorities on errant behaviour will again, not work.
    I have picked up many thousands of bottles around the Alice. Many have laughed at my efforts but it was my passion and understandably, an unbroken bottle is one of my favorite things.
    The BDR policy and what Labor tried to do has much to do with those under the age of 18. I believe it was about, in the long run, creating a better town along with far greater awareness of positive and negative effects of enjoying alcohol.
    As you know Rex, some u18 are involved in some pretty heinous crimes, not just the odd bottle being smashed on the black top as a form of summertime entertainment or out of frustration.
    It is hardly alarmist for me to say that in a bad summer the kids really do run the town and Christmas 2010 was the last time that happened.
    I have just had a wonderful two weeks in the Centre and know in a visceral sense, how the town feels as things warm up a bit.
    This article, “Whatever happened to the Pt. Augusta model?” by Kieran Finnane, could be seen as timely warning to those like Steve Brown to not let the town down as Labor did a few short years ago.
    Cheerio Rex, from do-gooder. Dave Chewings aka THE lone dingo.

  5. I remember your clean-up efforts, David. You used to deposit large orange garbage bags against the fence across the road from my house. I spoke to you about it and came to the opinion that you were worth supporting, rather than complaining about the sight.
    Broken glass sends its own message. Recently, a five year old Anmatyerre boy who is a dear friend, suffered a deep cut to his foot which hospitalised him. I salute your efforts to draw attention to the problem.

  6. Let’s not forget the importance of role models in an under-aged person’s life. Whether drunk or sober, elder brothers and sisters, fathers and uncles, mums and aunties remain elder brothers and sisters, fathers and uncles and mums and aunties. I think it’s absolutely fair to say that a sober role model is better than a drunk one.
    About the broken glass, and our Town Council deserves credit for forcing the issue of container deposit legislation in the NT. And once Darwin came on board, but without including spirit and wine bottles, Council again filled the gap by paying for their return as well.
    Being lucky enough to live near the rail corridor, I take a few shopping bags with me when I walk my dog. I reckon I haven’t paid for dog food in some time now. Thank you Alice Springs Town Council.

  7. “… an unbroken bottle is one of my favourite things.” That must be one of the best quotes of the year. I agree totally, David. I will never look at an empty whole bottle in the same way again.
    Good arguments fellas, I enjoy reading them, but where is Steve’s rant, I mean contribution. Or has he run out of puff already, or maybe being in the real world he has found out that there are constraints on all levels of government.

  8. I should add a PS to my previous comment re Steve Browns apparent silence.
    I don’t want Steve to remain silent or run out of puff. I believe he has some good ideas and his aspirations for the town are spot on. How he will go about implementing these ideas and acheiving his aspirations is another issue entirely.

  9. Out of puff? Not living in the real world, hey?? Let me issue a few home truths. Firstly whether or not we ever see the implementation of the Port Augusta Report or my own suggestions deriving from it is entirely dependant on those in power, our newly elected Government!
    Will there be a need under the new government for some or all of the recommendations; will we be able to afford it? Before these questions can be answered I think our new Government needs a little time to asses, don’t you? Only fools rush in.
    I personally have invested a great deal of time and energy over the past years doing the only thing I can do to bring these things about, put up the ideas and lobby like hell to achieve them. I can’t do that successfully on my own, it takes community pressure to attract our pollies’ attention and determined intention on the part of the community to bring them about, so if you like some of what I am proposing don’t just blame me if it fails to get up, maybe ask yourself a question or two about what you did to help!
    Meanwhile I am doing my damnedest. I like the rest of you are rather impatient to see things happen and I like you am fully aware that our new Government needs time, so you just like me are quite simply going to have to be patient, which as my mother always tells me, is a virtue. Practise it!
    As for living in the real world, apart from being a lobbyist and Councillor I am a self-employed working Electrician/ Builder. As a Sub contractor I undertake the Electrical Maintenance on Our Housing Homes, I cover the length and breadth of our Town on a daily basis. I know not from hearsay, but from first hand observation all the issues that beset our Community. I come from a large Local family with 9 siblings. I have, including my step children, 9 of my own and fifteen grandchildren. I think my feet are pretty firmly on the ground. You want to see the real world come and live in mine for a while. The reason I am often silent, is not because I wouldn’t like to respond to many of your comments, or that I have something to hide, it’s simply that I don’t often find the time. My apologies for that, I will however do my best to keep the conversation going and respond ASAP.

  10. Whatever happened to the Port Augusta model Steve?
    @ Steve Brown Posted November 5 2012 @ 8:55pm.
    Already I find that you are making up excuses Steve on this matter which is plainly contradictory to your obsession with “laura norder” issues which made up a large part of your successful and populist ASTC campaign earlier this year.
    You have gone soft and I think it fair to ask why this is so? i.e. what has changed since 2/5/12 when in response to an article by Kieran Finnane titled “Council debate happening in closed meetings” you said of this very topic: “Our next step is to put this concept together with every bit of information we can glean from the Port Augusta experience … We are well aware that it is ABSOLUTELY urgent?” (My emphasis)
    In your latest spray you carry on about how busy you must be. The major change has been the election of the Country Liberals. I have already stated that a good Liberal government would be good for the Alice.
    You Steve Brown are not matching your previous rhetoric and are letting the Country Libs off very lightly so far and that is a real concern.
    Do gooder David Chewings aka THE lone dingo.

  11. Gees Dave. I don’t know how many different ways I have to say the same thing before you get it, or is it a case of, “there is none so blind as those who will not see”!
    I’ll try again. “We have a new Government”! “Yipeeee”! They are however following on the heels of the most inept, neglectful and just plain idiotic government this nation has ever had to endure.
    There is much to win back, to re-establish, to pay for! All of these things have to be weighed up before we can step forward. My personal opinion is that the new government will need some time to asses and prioritise. I am quite simply giving them some space in order to do just that. In the meantime getting in their face will not achieve anything so I am urging patience! Take a rest, put your feet up, cool your heels, count the stars Dave, and as I said in the article after the December 4th mini budget we’ll rekindle the fires.
    Lets not forget, however, that the Port Augusta report and my response to it were drawn up while our community was suffering the agony of neglect inflicted on it by Territory Labor. Under the new government with a re-established interest in the regions there is likely to be a whole raft of new initiatives that have an effect on many of the ideas an conclusions I put forward in my discussion paper “Alice Springs Town Harmony A New Dawn”. The Alice Springs News published extracts. You could try reading those while your are waiting, Dave, maybe add a few ideas of your own.
    You may also contemplate the twin facts that Law and Order are the basis of our civilization. Populist – popularity is the basis of democracy, a system of government where up until now the majority rules!
    Further to Bob’s earlier comment, I completely agree that Operation Marathon and its continuance has made a huge difference to our Law and Order situation. What a terrible shame that despite our cries for help the bashings, the rapes, the property crimes, the destruction of our tourist industry, our town’s economy, that it took a full two terms of Territory Labor, who even then only finally acted just a few short months out from an election that they thought they might lose! Territory Labor what a calamity for our town! What a disaster for the Territory!

  12. Gee wiz, Steve, don’t get so hot under the collar ? Calm down lad.
    We all want the same thing for our town.
    My response to your litany of excuses regarding funding, is that [to my understanding], the most important aspect of the Port Augusta model is the role of the Town Council in drawing together the different government agencies. That the Town Council oversees programs and initiatives with the intention of keeping everyone on the same page and avoiding duplications and/or gaps in services.
    How much does that cost?


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