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HomeIssue 4Torrent of toxic Facebook posts after Mall melee

Torrent of toxic Facebook posts after Mall melee

2558 Mall trashed pic 1 OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
On top of Anzac Hill, on Monday, the Aboriginal flag was flying after 30 years of campaigning for the Town Council to allow this: Everybody who’s anybody in the town’s Aboriginal establishment was there – with the notable exception of Jacinta Price, the Celtic-Warlpiri councillor and CLP candidate for Lingiari, who on council resolutely opposed the policy.
Right: Broken door at Wicked Kneads in the Alice Plaza. 
At the foot of Anzac Hill, in the CBD, just a few hours later, a horde of Aboriginal children, very much outside the Aboriginal establishment, were trashing shops and a car, stealing, and pushing over trees planted in protective cages, as well as breaking into a bar in search of alcohol and entering another business through an airconditioning shaft.
Equally disturbing was the way authorities and politicians dealt with the melee.
It seemed as though nothing had happened as far as the police and government figures were concerned: It took the police almost all day Tuesday to make a lame media release, and there is complete silence from the politicians, including Chief Minister Michael Gunner and Families Minister Dale Wakefield, who was on top of the hill, but apparently not at the bottom.
2558 Mall trashed FB 10 OKMeanwhile a torrent of abuse, some of it violent and racist, was unleashed on an Alice Springs Facebook site claiming to have 13,000 members and describing itself as “open” (see posts).
The Alice Springs News Online heard about the fracas from a reader who sent a comment to our report about the flag festivities. We published it at 8.07am on Tuesday, attached to the flag raising story the day before.
The reader, under a pseudonym, wrote: “I like the idea of it flying over NAIDOC week … what I don’t like is the fact that at night a gang of Indigenous youths went through the mall smashing windows and damaging trees and other items.
“It would be good if we saw a reduction in crime over the week instead of celebrating it with more crime. However crime has become part of the culture of this town and will never change.”
After ringing the number of the police media section in Alice Springs and no-one answering it, I emailed police media in Darwin at 8.29am, to corroborate the reader’s report: “Were the windows smashed overnight in Todd Mall or elsewhere in the CBD?”
PFES Media: “Are you able to provide some more information about your query?”
NEWS: “No … but we only have one Todd Mall and one CBD.”
2558 Mall trashed FB 11 OKAt 11:01am and 11:35am I made follow-up calls to the media person in Darwin, who seemed genuinely interested in providing the information but simply had not been given it.
During the afternoon I spoke with a senior officer in Darwin twice, following which a release was made, at 4.55pm.
It chided the public for not informing the police and suggesting some were being careless with their security arrangements: “It’s important that members of our community report incidents involving property crime or anti-social behaviour.”
It also said police are “seeking information about several property offences in Alice Springs overnight.
2558 Mall trashed FB 14 OK“Police are investigating reports of young people causing disturbances in the central business district and Todd Mall area.
“A number of unlawful entries in the same area were reported to Police overnight … in some instances the alleged offenders smashed glass to gain entry to the property before stealing a number of items.
“We’ve been told that electronic items, cash and vehicle keys were stolen during these incidents.
“We’d encourage people to ensure security alarms are working or switched on and to make sure they don’t leave their properties unlocked,” says the release.
“Police are following a number of lines of enquiry, including speaking to several persons of interest and reviewing CCTV footage.
2558 Mall trashed FB 9 OK“These incidents are frustrating for our whole community. It’s important to remember that they are caused by a very small minority of people within or who are visitors to the area.
“Police are working in partnership with other government agencies and youth service providers to engage with young people [who] are participating in antisocial behaviour or committing offences.
“We’re in contact with their families to identify support services and strategies to assist those youths in making better choices and divert them to more positive activities.”
The release says: “Officers from Strike Force Winx” – a name which appears to come straight from a comic book –  is engaged in “Operation Dawson” and will continue “to reduce anti-social behaviour and property offences in Alice Springs”.
2558 Mall trashed FB 7 OK
2558 Mall trashed FB 15 OK
2558 Mall trashed FB 13 OK
2558 Mall trashed FB 12 OK
2558 Mall trashed FB 8 OK
2558 Mall trashed FB 6 OK
2558 Mall trashed FB 17 OK


  1. It is apparent that Mr Gunner and cohorts including Seldom Seen Snowden have tapped out on law and order.
    So petrified that Aunty ABC and the journalist who bought about the royal commission will butter up for a second serve, Gunner hides and denies that Alice is a bee’s whisker away from anarchy. Where do we go from here?

  2. I agree with Mabel. GO back NORTH.
    Lhere Artepe since it was taken over by the so called new Acting CEO and directors even themselves do not what goes on.
    Some directors saying a new $80,000 plus Toyota for the acting CEO was never passed through the directors of Lhere Atepe.
    The old 4×4 was given to a director of Untuye when it should be for the use of every estate group for meetings. NEVER.
    Lhere Artepe should be the leaders in dealing with the crime spree that is happening. It is happening again. This so called native title organisation was formed to help all Arunta people and not the chosen few.
    ALL ABOUT NEPOTISM and mates on the so-called board. This is not the only black organisation on the way it is run – they are all the same.
    I shudder to see when these people get hold of the moneys handed out by the Government in the near future.
    The Government should do a investigation on all the organisations – YEARLY – to see how the money is spent.
    WHAT A JOKE. These so called traditional men when they speak to people they stab each other in the BACK.

  3. Mr Gunner would do well to remember that the last NT Chief Minister to lose control of the streets in Alice was Martin, and the Intervention followed. Turnbull might have a smoother smile, but he is cast in the same mold.
    And Where’s Warren will again wring his hands and cry shame, but the only shame is that he is still there. Go Jacinta! I don’t know if you will be any more effective, but remember this: You cannot do worse.
    Also, consider this: There has recently been a national Angst over all the kids in detention in the NT being Indigenous, but then think how many priors each of those kids had to have had before they finally earned detention.
    CM Gunner’s answer to the collapse of Alice seems to be to ignore the clearly stated preference of the majority regarding the art gallery and to work with them, but to instead indulge in a swinging big-dick moment. He wants to get real while there is still an Alice to get real over.
    And the TOs and their families and friends? To be honest, I think they are scared of their own children. Or perhaps they are scared of each other.
    Either way, they sure as hell aren’t doing anything.

  4. @ Hal, you cannot keep blaming the government for this. There is more money spent on the Indigenous people than any other in Australia.
    We need to review what the Aboriginal corporations are actually doing for their people and spending their funds appropriately. Not hoarding the funds for their own use.
    It’s time the Indigenous people and corporations take some responsibility for their children’s actions. Our police force and the law e.g. judges need to enforce far greater punishment. Puttitng them in a detention centre is a holiday to them.
    Alice Springs has the most police per capita, come on what’s the problem?
    Do they need more training or are they there just for the money?
    This is not a new problem. People are just taking care of their own pockets and do not want to solve the problem or it might mean a loss of jobs.

  5. Asylum seekers should work three years in Alice Springs – to see what anarchy brings.

  6. Governments are to blame. It’s government that determines and enacts policies that affect Aboriginal peoples, a constant shifting of the goal posts, shifting sands policies.
    The Intervention is a huge failure. All it did was turn the clock back 50 years on all advances Aboriginal people had strived for.
    The Intervention took away self-determination, silenced Aboriginal people, took away their control of most things they did control.
    Sure, lots of things were not perfect, but what is? Aboriginal people are not listened to anymore. A huge message, a plea went out from a gathering of Indigenous leaders and people at Uluru to the Turnbull government that rejected the call outright.
    And, without actual proof, the Intervention demonised (all) Aboriginal men as evil child abusers. Perhaps there is a hint in all that as to why Aboriginal people are not speaking up now when they should. Perhaps they believe government knows better.

  7. If crime has become part of culture in this town as one reader writes, why then are we wasting tax payers’ money in services to the Indigenous, such as police, hospital, ambulances etc.
    Let’s reduce the services! Save money. The problem is they are getting TOO much!

  8. I’m as concerned about these obscene and racist posts as I am about the kids they describe. Anti-social behaviour on both sides is disturbing.

  9. @arrente … it’s pretty quiet on the Lhere Artepe front. They are quick to throw stones, now those people have to be accountable.

  10. We need to stop and think about why these young people are so angry, and ask, where is the support and social cohesion necessary for them to make a way forward (in 2 world’s), into education, jobs, a stable life?
    Many are bearing the scars of generational trauma, racism, alcohol abuse and domestic violence.
    The only way forward for this town is to invest in children and families, build a stronger community from the bottom up.
    The approach must be strengths-based, giving young people the chance to address this trauma and marginalisation, and to access the kind of education and training that will link them to jobs.
    If we don’t invest in healing, strengthening and skilling up young people, nothing will change.
    So come on Dale, lead the way.
    This is the time to get it right for young people in Alice.
    We can’t go on ignoring what they need, and polluting the environment with blame-the-victim, racist vitriole.
    Come on Gunner, Wakefield. Come on Alice.

  11. Rosalie, we should all be concerned about these posts, but why are they racist? They very accurately describe the problem. As the article says, there is concern that 100% of the inmates in the detention center are Aboriginal, all of the kids in the mall rampage are Aboriginal. Unless we are prepared to call the issue for what it is, we are blindsiding ourselves to acknowledging what the real problem is.
    Unfortunately, it has a flow-on effect to all the wonderful hard working Aboriginal people in town who keep their kids at home and send their kids to school. That is the norm.
    Unfortunately, unless we identify the issue it cannot be addressed.
    It’s like a farmer calling a meeting and talking about the dingo killing his newborn calves, then a greenie pipes up and says “hang on, not all dingoes are responsible”.
    The farmer says OK, “a type of dog is causing problems”, once again, “you can’t blame all the dogs for the actions of the few”.
    The meeting is called and the farmer explains that some type of animal is killing his livestock. “What kind of animal do we need to control,” says the decision maker.
    Poor old farmer can’t be specific lest he is labeled racist. Decision maker says we can’t do anything because there is no evidence of what the farmer says. Decision maker goes away, the farmer goes broke. The end.

  12. @ Sue Fielding. Posted 14/7/18. 8:46AM: In my opinion you have correctly identified generational trauma, racism, alcohol abuse and domestic violence as some of the reasons for anti-social behavior among the young people responsible.
    Anger and frustration are two of the motivational issues, apart from mindless vandalism which is existential for many kids. I did it occasionally at that age, without really knowing why.
    With regard to “the support and social cohesion necessary for them to make a way forward (in 2 world’s), into education, jobs, a stable life”, you are essentially discussing giving them direction.
    Motivating the kids to take an interest in their surroundings (town) begins in family life and then in the school environment, but when this is dysfunctional, then special treatment is warranted as is the case with case management, but more than one-on-one is required, because that only attends to the electrons whizzing around the nucleus.
    Perhaps, the kids sense that the town lacks direction.
    Who could blame them for reacting the way they are out of frustration?
    If you look at the local economy as tourist-based, at least for six months of the year, then getting kids focussed on how they might contribute to that opportunity through education, innovation and the kind of ideas which Trevor Shiels often posts at this site, e.g., Yirara students training for the proposed art gallery and/or a culture centre, then perhaps that could be a direction.
    The problem, as I see it, is that Mr Shiels’ posts often seem to go unremarked.
    You call for local MPs and Alice to focus, along with the support providers. All of this appears to lack direction.
    Alice Springs is a town that has the makings of a recovery, but without the ability to help itself out of the problem.
    Could this be a form of self-inflicted vandalism brought about by ennui, i.e, stunned like the rabbit in the headlights?
    Maybe, it’s a Pavlovian impotence, where the dog keeps getting an electric shock, but doesn’t want to or can’t get out of the box?
    Perhaps, Alice as a town is the Pavlovian dog.
    It will keep on receiving these toxic social shocks as long as it lacks direction, or the will to get out of the box.

  13. Rural Projects via CLC and NLC and Federal Government will provide a work future for people in detention.

  14. Russell Guy (Posted below on July 14, 2018 at 2:07 pm), as you and Sue Fielding (Posted below on July 14, 2018 at 8:46 am) both posit, “generational trauma, racism, alcohol abuse and domestic violence [are] some of the reasons for anti-social behavior among the young people responsible [for much crime and disturbance in our town]”.
    What you and many others fail to recognise is that Chief Minister Michael Gunner, Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield, and most other NT Cabinet members share this analysis. They are collectively taking serious steps to address these problems as quickly as possible.
    They are doing this via several important measures, including by working in partnerships with Aboriginal community groups, organisations and remote communities to establish and support new out of home care and rehabilitation services; designing and building new therapeutic and educational rehabilitation institutions; as well as by assisting Alice Springs and other regional centres to develop positive directions and strategies.
    As you observe, “Anger and frustration are two of the motivational issues, [as well as] mindless vandalism, which is existential for many kids”. However, anger, frustration and mindless vandalism, when permitted to flourish during the child’s development phases, can themselves become a driving habitual mode of operation and subconscious rationale for living.
    These ingrained compulsions may be so strong that they become a huge obstacle to rehabilitation, and a powerful force undermining workers’ attempts to undertake generalised prevention strategies and early interventions with other young people who may be shaping up to replicate the patterns set by the dominant role models in their peer groups.
    It is ignorant and patronising to suggest that [the politicians] are not completely aware of the need for investing “in healing, strengthening and skilling up young people”, and that they are not committed to achieving this as soon as possible.
    The Chief Minister is providing strong support for both a national Aboriginal art gallery, and a national Indigenous cultural centre, in Alice Springs. He is also funding extra development of regional art centre facilities and staff accommodation in remote communities to help attract international tourists to spend time in Central Australia.
    He is doing this to help provide direction for the town and region, responding to the requests by Indigenous leaders over many years.
    His vision will extend the tourist season to year round activities, as these facilities will be air-conditioned and enable comfortable extended holiday breaks for Asian, European and North American visitors during the northern winter.
    Trevor Shiell has some fine ideas, but he fails to see that the art gallery needs to be at the heart of the town, where it will maximise involvement not only of tourists, but also of townspeople on a daily basis, particularly local Aboriginal people, via jobs, training, social and cultural activities, and family events. A place to be very proud of, in a town that is providing futures for our youth, including Aboriginal youth.

  15. @ Eugene’s Mate. Posted July 15, 2018 at 6:42 pm.
    Thanks, “Eugene’s Mate”, for standing on Sue and my shoulders and posting your information, which I’d like to believe is informed and reliable, but I haven’t failed to realise anything about the Gunner Government’s intentions.
    In fact, I have made a point of supporting their alcohol reform.
    I’m glad that “most other NT Cabinet members share this analysis”. I’m not cynical in doubting that they are taking the initiative.
    I’m also glad that you share my analysis of frustrated motivation. I worked for decades with youth, both when I was one and more recently. It’s not rocket science, but please permit me to set you straight over your claim of “ignorant and patronising” suggestion.
    You teeter on the edge of reason with the rest of your post in terms of the art gallery / culture centre and the government’s consultation process.
    I’m also not sure what you mean about Mr Shiell’s failure to see that the gallery should be at “the heart of the town”. As far as I understand, a section of the Aboriginal community have suggested it be south of the Gap, which aligns with his suggestion.
    Thanks for the directional inspiration.

  16. Don’t fly the flag again if it provokes destruction and vandalism such as happened. They don’t understand the opportunity they had to engage with the community.
    Take it down.


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