The millions and the misery


2547 Memo Club 1 OK
Aboriginal organisations are likely to be challenged about their spending of tens of millions of dollars at the public meeting on Thursday, called to start a 24/7 Youth Club for the town’s most desperately poor children.
The project’s promoters, Steve Brown and Wayne Thompson, say the former Memo Club, at 127 Todd Street, is the ideal place for the club to be: It has a kitchen, dining rooms, indoor and outdoor areas for a variety of activities. There is space for bedrooms and the complex is at the edge of the CBD – not out of sight, out mind.
What’s more, it’s been empty for months.
The land and building are owned by the Centrecorp Aboriginal Investment Corporation Pty Ltd as trustee for the Central Aboriginal Charitable Trust.
The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress health organisation wants to buy the land, not to bring kids as young as eight, roaming the streets at night, into a safe place, but “to bring non clinical programs occupying leased premises around Alice Springs together into one location providing Congress savings on a significant leasing cost”.
Congress is a shareholder in Centrecorp, together with Tangentyere and the Central Land Council.
Centrecorp as a Pty Ltd company has limited public disclosure obligations. It invests Aboriginal money in real estate and businesses, throughout the town and interstate. It has long been secretive about what it does with the wealth it has amassed, beyond some philanthropic distributions.
Congress by contrast is registered by the Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations (ORIC) and its finances are on the public record: In the year ending June 30, 2017 Congress had an income of $45m.
Its receipts from funding bodies amounted to $38.4m, including $30.4m from the Australian Government and $2.8m from the NT Government.
2547 Congress Clinic 1 OKUnexpended grants included $905,740 for the Early Childhood Learning Centre; $82,158 for the Pre-school Readiness Program; $110,881 for the Intensive Family Support Service and $123,250 for the After Hours Youth Service.
In fiscal 2017 Congress had a surplus of $1m, as well as cash and cash equivalents to the value of $20.3m.
Congress now runs four or five neighbourhood GP clinics – we asked for the exact number but didn’t get an answer – in addition to the town’s private clinics and the huge hospital where Aboriginal patients are disproportionally represented.
Yet neither the hospital nor other public instrumentalities spending huge amounts from the NT and Federal budgets on Indigenous health are getting any kudos from Congress CEO Donna Ah Chee: “Apart from the many significant accomplishments of Congress, if we had to point to one key indicator of the success that Congress has led it would be that Aboriginal infant mortality has reduced from around 200 per 1000 live births when Congress began in 1973 to about 7.5 per 1000 for Alice Springs on the latest data.”
Congress has 333 “full time equivalent” employees whose benefit expenses gobbled up the lion’s share of the budget, $32.5m, of which $28.4m was paid in salaries. That is an average salary of $85,285.
Congress on May 22 was put on notice from ORIC that it wants to “examine” its books and was told that “authorised officers are entitled, at all reasonable times, to full and free access to the books of the corporation and any related body corporate.
“The authorised officers are also entitled to seek explanations on any matter about the compilation of any of the corporation’s books, or to which any of the books relate.”
p2355-donna-ah-chee-3-okThis came to the attention of the Alice Springs News Online today. We would have asked Congress CEO Donna Ah Chee (pictured) about it before publication, but as she has declined several recent requests for an interview that seemed futile.
All she said – in an email response to our request for interview on a range of matters – was that Congress has “previously described the work we are doing to strengthen families, reduce the harms of alcohol and promote healthy early childhood development all of which are key to preventing the problem of children on the streets”.
Both Mr Brown and Mr Thompson say the centre will be open to all kids, but the dramatic necessity is to provide immediate assistance to the unsupervised children on the streets late at night, some of whom are getting into, and causing, serious trouble.
UPDATE June 5, 2.10pm
Congress has five clinics registered, advises reader Sean. Thank you!


  1. This was always going to get tasty. Not that I expect to learn much given the realities of commercial in confidence and corporate opaqueness. But still …

  2. What is the point of land councils amassing so much wealth? When aboriginal people are still struggling soo much?

  3. Perfect location, and if Congress really cares for the future Aboriginal generations it will come to the party. Unless it wants more racial tension and a second intervention.

  4. Amazing … $32m budget and $28m in salaries. They know who to look after, don’t they.

  5. @ Hal: Tasty or nasty, we haven’t had a decent ship slinging public debate for what seems like … minutes!

  6. Can anyone advise which buildings and land Centrecorp owns in Alice?
    The last rumour I heard was they owned a very large chunk on the town and they make a fortune.
    I would also be keen to see where they spend the money in town (if at all).

  7. So, “Aboriginal organisations are likely to be challenged about their spending of tens of millions of dollars at the public meeting on Thursday”.
    There’s nothing new in this, black bashing is an old sport in the Northern Territory. The tone of this article is another bit of the old sport.
    The article implies that Congress is in some way wrong to be employing so many people, and paying them money according to its EBA; that it is wrong to have so many GP clinics – not to mention other health services specialising in men’s and women’s health.
    And you didn’t get an exact number for the health services? Just look on the Congress web site and it will tell you.
    And the ORIC examination? It’s what ORIC does for and with the thousands of Aboriginal corporations around Australia, and does not imply anything untoward.

  8. @ Hal: I agree entirely. It’s about time they were audited and perhaps we’ll get some accountability for our many taxpayers dollars.
    Perhaps ORIC need some documentation to assist in their examination. I’m happy to help.

  9. @ Chiara Maqueda: The wordings from ORIC are very precise. Yep, audits are normal, but I’d be concerned as to why the wording is very specific.
    IMHO I think there may be a bit of a warning here. Hey, if all is good that would be great.
    Next will be Centrecorp’s books.

  10. Interesting article that this may be, I would not like to see discussion centred around the ins and out of funding to various Aboriginal organisations being conflated in anyway with our discussions around funding and locating our proposed youth centre.
    We are attempting to get a whole of community approach to this!
    That approach, if it is to be successful, will most certainly include the organisations mentioned.
    While we clearly share everyone’s enthusiasm for the Old Memo Club as an ideal site for our centre and have said so publicly on a number of occasions, the fact remains that this is the legally owned property of Centercorp and the only way that we could possibly acquire it for the centre is if these organisations believe in our cause and choose to come on board, something that I very much encourage them to do.
    My apologies Centrecorp and Congress if we have caused inconvenience, we were “dreaming” our best possible options for getting something off the ground, ASAP.
    We fervently hope in the interests of this community’s children you will give the promoted concept some very serious consideration and come to understand as many already have, the true value to the community, and all your investment in it
    It is having a happy, healthy, united community where kids know they are cared for and see exciting future prospects in front of them, with staff, volunteers and mentors from our new centre showing the way.

  11. The 333 “full time equivalent” employees who get an average salary of $85,285 get 100% free medical and dental.
    Non Aboriginal employees who have an average salary well above $85,285 also get free medical and dental.
    Several hundred Aboriginal residents of our town on very good incomes get the same free benefits.
    It may be perfectly within the rules of the CATSI act for Congress to spend our taxes in this way but it is morally wrong in my opinion.

  12. What many Alice Springs residents may not realise is that it has an amazingly complicated welfare structure for what is a small town.
    This is partly as a result of several religious denomination having had a mission around here. As well as the Catholics, Anglicans, Salvation Army and Lutherans, the Aboriginal sector has a suite of ‘head’ organisations, plus smaller topic-specific NGOs for Aboriginal client groups that perhaps weren’t getting what they should from the big players.
    And as well as that, there are some non-denominational non-indigenous topic-specific NGOs, e.g. for substance misuse and housing – though in fact these are a problem for most clients of all the other organisations as well.
    New NGOs, e.g. the Jesuits and Brotherhood of St Lawrence, have been getting involved relatively recently.
    All these NGOs compete for funding for similar issues, and their workers seemed a bit miffed if the clients shop around to other places.
    The welfare sector calls it ‘a silo mentality’, but it looked more like ‘owning the clients’. Perhaps a mainstream community approach might help to cut through the problem. Good Luck!

  13. Mabel (“Bad location, won’t work.” Posted below on June 5, 2018 at 1:42 am) may well be right.
    Ten years ago we had major nightly problems with footloose neglected youth hanging about in the Stuart Park (opposite the Memo Club) and at the 24 Hour servo and the KFC (opposite the Melanka park site).
    We had more black on white violence then, with tourists and townsfolk being attacked regularly, and naïve backpackers being accosted and robbed in the vicinity.
    We had very young teenagers selling sex in exchange for grog or dope or money to some of the characters that spilt out of Bo’s, Monte’s and the Rock Bar late at night, buying illicit alcohol from the boots of cars and taxis, and brawling amongst themselves. Is it really such a good idea to attract youth back to this precinct?

  14. Who is footing the bill for all this? The taxpayers are, somehow, that’s who!
    The fundamental issue in all this, is the lack of respect, closely followed by the lack of accountability, not only by the youth but Government.
    There are no consequences for crimes against people or property. It’s just one big joke. Our insurance premiums go up, we have to take taxis at night when we go out, install alarm systems and we keep paying portions of our taxes to provide additional services.
    Why isn’t Congess taking on the responsibility of the youth? They provide health cover and some of the issues are certainly linked to health, either (and or) physical, emotional or mental.
    A word in the story “disproportionally” pretty much sums it up.
    Sure, build the centre but get Congress to fund it. What’s plan B though? Will the outcomes be results measured? Can we reduce funding if they don’t meet the KPIs? Are there any KPIs?
    Someone knows how much money is provided to NGOs. Let’s publish ALL the income steams and amounts including royalties, rent, dividends, everything and perhaps we can look at “disproportionally” with additional interest.
    I welcome ORIC’s investigation. I want to know that my money is being well managed. Taxpayers invest in the government and have the right to know where their investment is being spent.

  15. Has anyone asked the young people of Alice Springs what they would like? Is a one size fits all venue where they would choose to go? I personally like to choose where I go for my after hours recreational activities … are our young any different? Let’s ask them.

  16. A novel idea Jen, however history has proven and continues to prove, that getting the masses to agree, particularly on an issue like this, is like herding cats.
    The young people know what they want. They want to do whatever it is they damn well like and we are letting them do it. Now its out of control, some people are really shocked!
    Are we that naïve or stupid we didn’t see this coming and getting worse?
    How about enforcing the laws that we agreed on in the first place? Rules and punishment that (good or bad) produced results.
    It was only since the do-gooders stepped in with the “poor bugger me stories, I had such a hard life,” coupled with the Government’s weak policies that all this is coming to a head.
    To my simple mind, it’s really simple. Make the young people accountable for their actions. That’s it.

  17. For the peace of mind of Hal Duell (June 5, 2018 at 8:49 am), Michael Dean (Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:37 am), Surprised! (Posted June 5, 2018 at 1:40 pm) and others concerned about the CAAC’s financial wellbeing and accountability: It is public knowledge that CAAC was placed under administration by ORIC about six years ago, and subjected to a change of management, restructuring of its board, and thorough examination and reorganisation of its accounting and auditing procedures before it was released from administration a few years later.
    As with other organisations which are subjected to this process, ORIC maintains a watch over the affairs of the organisation for a period following the administration period. That is the normal process, which is occurring at the moment.
    It does not mean that anything untoward has occurred in recent years under the new management and auditing arrangements.

  18. @ Eugene’s mate, Posted June 6, 2018 at 1:34 pm
    Whoever you are (but clearly someone ashamed of your own name?), please rest assured that the financial wellbeing and accountability of CAAC in no way upsets my peace of mind.
    I follow stories in Alice Springs News Online because together they form the mosaic that is Alice Springs. Sometimes these stories are tasty and sometimes bland. Just saying.

  19. @ Jen Standish-White: I believe that the problems we have with the youth our days (all across the world) are issued from the fact we ask them what they want!
    Remember your youth and tell us if you had the choices you want for the young of Alice.
    They have to learn that in life you do not always get what you want, and you have to learn to do with what you have.
    I raised four children in Alice, all started working at 12 years of age, like a lot of their friends, some of them Aborigines, and learned the value of money and that you could not always buy or have want your mates have.
    Even if you have the means to build three or four youth centres you will still not be able to please everybody.

  20. Re Michael Dean’s mean minded aspersion against the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) staff (Posted June 5, 2018 at 11:37 am: “Amazing … $32m budget and $28m in salaries. They know who to look after, don’t they.”)
    Michael, you need to stop and think a bit before you make statements like that.
    Consider that the 333 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions on the Congress payroll include about 20 FTE doctor positions, covering seven town clinics (at Gap Rd, Sadadeen Shops, the Diarama Village shopping centre, the Alukura Women’s Clinic on Percy Court, the male health Ingkintja, the youth mental health service at headspace, the after-hours service for the whole community at the hospital), plus a clinic at Amoonguna and four remote clinics (at Mutitjulu, Utju, Ntaria and Ltyentye Apurte).
    Most of the rest of the staff are nurses and other health and allied health practitioners, working over these same twelve sites, as well as doing outreach into other services and agencies.
    If you deduct the salary packages and on-costs of the doctors from the total, you will see that the average annual wage packages, including on-costs, of the 313 FTE non-doctor staff is around $75,000 per annum.
    This is not excessive, considering their skills, the difficult jobs that many of them perform, and the remote locations in which many of them work.
    In the last 20 years this workforce has contributed greatly to improving the life expectancy of local Aboriginal people and reducing the gap with other Centralian residents.
    Considering the continuing shorter average life expectancies of Aboriginal people, and the gap between their health and the average health levels of other Australians, do you really think that this expenditure is not warranted, Mr. Dean?

  21. Jen, how many failed programs have you been employed with?
    This is not about giving young people a voice this is about giving young people a safe space.
    With people who care about their safety. Not a government program that employees robots who perform for the wages.
    This project is about people supporting kids and ensuring their safety. Relax. Revive and not be throw on the street after the place closes.
    Empathy and real compassion will be the base of volunteers.
    Not a government position in a high needs spot. People who care. That is why we will succeed.

  22. Eugene’s mate: You claim that “in the last 20 years the Congress workforce has contributed greatly to improving the life expectancy of local Aboriginal people and reducing the gap with other Centralian residents”.
    One would expect some positive outcomes from the expenditure over 20 years of perhaps half a billion dollars.
    But there is very little hard evidence for it.
    Congress annual reports are full of colourful pics of projects being carried out but the hard data on outcomes is almost always missing.
    The focus of much of their spending is preventative and most of this has been wasted.
    For example, very few Aboriginal clients with diabetes go to Congress to have their blood sugar levels checked.
    Most have uncontrolled diabetes with raging blood sugar levels that damage every organ of their bodies.
    Most keep drinking.
    Diets do not change.
    Very few turn up for dialysis until their headaches drive them to do so.
    Congress has not changed any of this.
    The only “success” is extended lifespan but this is due to medical intervention, people can live longer with chronic disease these days.
    Another “success” is the survival rate of babies but once again this is due to medical intervention.
    Congress takes credit for Alice Springs Hospital successes.
    Congress shows very little success for the tax dollars it has received.

  23. You are being perverse, Jones (Posted June 8, 2018 at 7:18 pm), and you are not nearly as well informed as you seem to think that you are.
    Being a provocateur perhaps, just for the sake of it?
    I pointed out that Congress (Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, or CAAC) has helped to greatly increase the average length of Aboriginal life expectancy in our region.
    CAAC has played a leading role in achieving this increase in average life expectancy, not just by medical interventions, but also by fostering social and behavioural changes, such as by helping to ensure that when children are quite sick that they are brought to Congress by their parents, and are referred to hospital when needed.
    You are possibly unaware that before Congress started providing health services in 1973, many sick Aboriginal babies were not being treated in the hospital, for a range of reasons.
    Most important was the fact that the hospital was only desegregated in 1969.
    Added to that was the fact that the hospital had also formerly played a key role in informing the Native Welfare Branch about the presence of mixed race children in the hospital, or where they were living, and this often lead to their removal.
    Thus there were some powerful legacy issues.
    In this context, many parents had been very reluctant to take their children to the hospital.
    Although you agreed with me about CAAC helping to greatly extend the average rate of Aboriginal life expectancy in our region, you then went on to condemn CAAC for not preventing diabetes, and for allegedly not taking effective steps to intervene in its progress.
    These are clearly unreasonable accusations on your part, based on a simplistic understanding of the complexity of the relevant issues, and the history of the situation with diabetes.
    Much of what you say about this matter is factually untrue.
    It is clear that you have not looked at the CAAC annual reports carefully, otherwise you would know the proportion of Congress diabetic patients who have their blood sugar tested regularly each year is quite high. Further data shows that a high proportion of patients have excellent sugar control.
    These figures and many other key performance indicators (KPIs) are published every year in Congress’s annual reports.
    This is in stark contrast to most other general practices, which rarely publish such data in their annual reports.
    Please have another, more careful look at the CAAC annual reports, which are available on line.
    You will find a wealth of information which you and other interested members of the community can use to judge the success of Congress.
    As for prevention of diabetes, it has a very long development period.
    Most of the CAAC diabetes prevention programmes are also long term by their very nature, and begin with trying to ensure healthy pregnancies, healthy births, and good early childhood health and emotional wellbeing programmes.
    CAAC is now providing these services to many of its clients.
    However, some of these programmes have only been funded in the last 10 years, some of them only starting quite recently. Several of them are not yet funded in many remote Aboriginal communities.
    As you may be aware, the diabetes epidemic is a massive global health crisis that has been caused by what is known as our “obesogenic” social environment, which is rich in high fat, high sugar, high salt, high carb ultra-processed foods, and increasingly sedentary, inactive lifestyles.
    Congress alone cannot be expected to change this.
    There is much that is still needed to be done in public health terms.
    For example, Congress has been advocating for a sugar glucose tax of 20% for more than a decade.
    Congress has long advocated that funds raised by such a tax should be hypothecated, or reserved, to be spent solely on a subsidy to ensure fresh fruit and vegies are affordable in all remote communities.
    This key position and advocacy has been Congress policy well before the AMA and other peak medical groups around the world adopted it.
    Congress removed soft drink machines back in the late nineties, something that most of Australia’s public hospitals and major medical centres are only starting to do now, 20 years later.
    Another key endeavour, where CAAC has had some success in recent years, is in the area of reform of the NT Government’s regulation of alcohol consumption and sales, in order to reduce the average level of consumption amongst problem drinkers and those at risk of becoming problem drinkers.
    This is widely acknowledged to be a necessary pre-requisite before many further advances in the preventative programmes area can be expected to take place.
    You can’t have it both ways, Jones.
    You should admit that Congress has long been a leader and good practitioner in prevention and early intervention strategies and practices.

  24. Eugene’s Mate: Let’s cut to the chase.
    The result of a failure of type two diabetes prevention and control programs is often end stage renal disease.
    So the incidence of this terminal disease is a good measure of the success or failure of diabetes programs for which Congress has responsibility.
    The NT has the highest incidence and prevalence of kidney disease in Australia.
    The 2014 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Health Survey showed the prevalence of disease markers amongst Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory was 40% and non-Indigenous of 9%.
    According to Menzies School of Health research “demand for dialysis has been sustained and incidence rates have not plateaued”.
    In other words the incidence of end stage disease is out of control despite the tens of millions of funding provided to Congress.
    Tens of millions now have to be poured into dialysis treatment.
    Soon it will be hundreds of millions as the numbers of patients is soaring.
    I am unable to agree that Congress has long been a leader and good practitioner in prevention and early intervention strategies and practices.

  25. @ Eugen’s Mate: Do you know about HTLV-1 (the devastating health crisis afflicting Central Australia) and do you know how much Congress contributes for research and cure?
    In five communities around Alice Springs, more than 45% of adults tested have the virus, a rate thousands of times higher than for non-Indigenous Australians.
    HTLV-1 is endemic across Central Australia.
    But testing takes six months and is not freely available.
    Researchers say HTLV-1 is more widespread across central and northern Australia than previously thought.
    Dr Lloyd Einsiedel is an infectious diseases clinician with the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute based at Alice Springs hospital.
    Arrernte man Joel Liddle is a senior research officer with Baker.
    He spends much of his time talking with people in their primary languages (he is learning Arrernte language), taking blood, measuring lung capacity and delivering feedback (test results) as kindly and respectfully as he can. When he is not on the road, he is writing research papers or he is in the lab, prepping blood samples.
    The HTLV-1 blood test is not covered by Australia’s medical benefits scheme (MBS).
    It costs $169 each time it is performed, there is only one HTLV-1 laboratory in Australia and results can take six months to come back because, at present, these are done as part of a research program.
    All the testing Einsiedel and his team have done so far – more than 900 people – they have paid for using an NHMRC project grant (National Health Medical Research Council).

  26. Yes Evelyne Roullet, I have heard of HTLV-1. It would be hard to not have, given the recent publicity.
    But no, I don’t know how much Congress, or anybody else, contributes for research and cure of it.

  27. Evelyne, the research to quantify the extent of HTLV-1 was carried out years ago and the results were scary for Aboriginal people.
    There will be a large death toll in coming years.
    Very little is being done to discover a drug to treat it.
    Your question has broader implications.
    Should the taxpayer keep funding preventative programs to the extent we do when they are not working?
    Wouldn’t Aboriginal health be improved far more by putting the money into the development of medical responses.
    For example, there is an urgent need for implanted insulin delivery devices that require diabetics to do nothing.
    There are several life threatening diseases, HTLV-1 being just one, that urgently need medical approaches such as drug treatments for prevention and/or cure.
    Aboriginal health would be improved far more by redirecting at least some of the tens of millions wasted on Congress to researching new treatments.

  28. I looked up HTLV-1 and it told me “The most important routes of HTLV-1 transmission were found to be from mother to child and predominantly through breastfeeding, sexual intercourse, and blood contact, including the transfusion of infected cellular products or sharing of needles and syringes.”
    I am not a doctor, but it sounds like transmission can be prevented.
    In one of the articles I read, it says that this virus affects 40% of the people in Central Australia.
    This is clearly alarming.
    What I fail to understand is, that the Taxpayer is paying for the Funding for all NGO’s, so in essence the Taxpayer is paying for the tests and research into the virus.
    The Taxpayer is also paying for the Methadone Programs, which are usually the result of self inflicted addiction.
    Apparently in 2013, 44,0000 people died from cancer in Australia, BUT the PATIENTS, have to pay for their own cancer treatments!
    This does not make sense to me.
    Given that the population of the Indigenous population is only 4% of the total population, the amount of money “given” by the Taxpayer to fund these NGO’s, seems disproportionate to me, the numbers just don’t add up.
    This seems politically motivated healthcare as different from compassionate health care.

  29. @ Surprised: Our services target the social, emotional, cultural and physical well being of Aboriginal people [says Congress].
    The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory [AMSANT, the peak body of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services] says that for the health of our peoples to improve, Aboriginal health must be in Aboriginal hands.
    My point exactly! IN ABORIGINAL HANDS.
    If the virus has a rate thousands of times higher for Aborigines than for non-Indigenous Aborigines. It makes sense that Congress should contribute more than the taxpayers.
    In fiscal 2017 Congress had a surplus of $1m, as well as cash and cash equivalents to the value of $20.3m. How much did they contribute to the research, and how many tests did they pay for?

  30. Jones (Posted June 10, 2018 at 12:46 pm), you display an unreasonably negative and incorrigibly antagonistic attitude towards the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and its considerable achievements in the health field.
    You may have heard the old adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing? This certainly applies to you. You continually use your ignorance as a cloak for confidently, and very unfairly, maligning Congress.
    For your information:
    1. The primary causes of most renal disease are very long term, and are mainly associated with poverty. The impacts of the chronic stresses from living in poverty begin in utero, then early childhood, with kidney stones and infections much more common. The stress burdens and infections contribute to weaknesses in organs such as the kidneys. These experiences are all imprinted on a person in ways that may lead to renal disease in later life, irrespective of what health service a person attends. As already discussed, a great deal of the global obesity / diabetes epidemic is socially determined, and health services can only do so much on their own.
    2. The rate of end stage renal failure requiring dialysis amongst Congress’s own long term resident clients is vastly less than the rate in the rest of remote central Australian Aboriginal communities. The rate in remote areas is generally more than eight times greater than the town. If you are going to use data, you should use it correctly.
    3. There is no basis for your statement that “the [overall] incidence of this terminal disease [i.e. renal failure] is a good measure of the success or failure of diabetes programs for which Congress has responsibility”. The situation is much more complex, as explained above, and health services can only do so much.
    4. In light of the above facts, there is no validity in your statement that “the incidence of end stage [renal] disease is out of control despite the tens of millions of funding provided to Congress.” Rather, it would appear that Congress’s funded programmes have contributed to the rate of end stage renal disease being much lower in the long term Alice Springs Aboriginal population than it would have been without those programmes.
    Jonesy, it is now incumbent upon you to relinquish your pathological denial of Congress’s achievements, and “agree that Congress has long been a leader and good practitioner in prevention and early intervention strategies and practices.”

  31. Eugene’s Mate: “Unreasonably negative and incorrigibly antagonistic attitude towards Congress pathological denial of Congress’s achievements? Very unfairly, maligning Congress.”
    Any organisation that gets more than $40m a year of taxpayer money, has $20m unspent and has a stake in CentreCorp with assets of more than $50m absolutely needs to be held accountable.
    It worries me that you fall back on excuses such as saying that poverty is the main driver of renal disease (and of course Congress can’t change that).
    How about, a sedentary lifestyle, living in squalor, poor diet, alcohol and smoking, all of which Congress should be able to do something about.
    But they haven’t despite all the millions.
    A new approach is needed.
    Take diabetes:
    Although there are other factors, diabetes is a major cause of end stage renal disease. Many of us have watched the progression from diabetes to end stage over the years.
    I’ve personally seen it a dozen times or more.
    Uncontrolled diabetes is rampant in our community and the deaths are mounting.
    Congress has largely failed to stem the tide so we need to try something else.
    That is a medical approach.
    Instead of expensively trying to change behaviour and failing we need new drugs and medical devices.
    That means more money for research and probably less for Congress.
    Of course that is confronting and will get the reaction we see from you.
    But Aboriginal health is bigger than Congress and is the priority.
    A medical approach has the potential to save many hundreds of millions of dollars and improve Aboriginal lives on a large scale.
    That claim cannot be made about Congress.

  32. Couldn’t have expressed it better, Jones. If the taxpayers see more than anecdotal results for their hard earned money, they will be more inclined to be positive about their money being spent on organisations like Congress.
    Where there is political spin, the taxpayer becomes cynical.
    I am still bewildered as to how the hell can they (Congress) can have a $20m underspend?


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