GUEST COMMENT by STEPHANIE HARRISON
My family and I left Alice Springs at the start of the year to see what life was like living near the ocean.
Two days before Christmas our house was broken into, wallets taken from the kitchen bench (classic mistake), both sets of keys taken, and one car successfully used as a getaway vehicle.
Being robbed by strangers in the night wasn’t the reason we wanted to leave town, but I know for many Alice Springs residents who decide to leave, crime is a contributing factor.
Luckily, we have some really great social safety nets we can access when times are tough and some generous public servants to help get through the process, that’s if you’re ninti enough to fill out the paperwork.
The changing climate is another factor for leaving.
I grew up in Alice Springs (my family has lived there for 30 years), and I started a family of my own there.
When I came back to Alice 10 years ago after my “wanderings and wonderings” I’d never seen the desert so green (hello buffel grass). The waterholes were full, wildflowers were everywhere, the river flowed more than once a year.
I know the river still flows, but it seems this event is becoming more and more infrequent. Summers seem hotter, longer, drier.
The waterholes (what’s left of them anyway) are either depressingly low or spoiled by cattle muck.
Our skin gets itchy and we spend weeks on end during summer inside with the swampy on, watching movies while the kids bounce off the walls.
Not to mention the thirst, that dusty thirst that town water just cannot quench. We resort to drinking soda water out of bottles and beer out of cans that we cash in knowing full well they won’t be getting recycled anytime soon.
It’s such a shame you can’t recycle the plastic wine containers that litter the sidewalks and creekbeds. You could get good money for those.
Having three children in a town like Alice awakened me to another reality of life in the desert (and pretty much the whole of Australia once you start digging into it). Educational inequity is a thing.
Lots of our kids are missing out – missing out on quality classroom resources because their school is underfunded; missing out on a diversity of friendships because their parents send them to a school where they can buffer their kids from the harsh realities of existence (hello?).
How can you live in a town as small as Alice Springs and not go to school with the kids that live in your neighbourhood? And don’t forget to include town camps as part of our neighbourhoods, thank you Priority Enrolment Area.
I personally think the Northern Territory is a great place to live.
It has relatively unspoiled natural beauty, is home to some real true-blue types, and is pretty much the only place I’ve been to in Australia where you’re totally surrounded by the truth of living in a post-colonial society.
Heaps of people have well paid jobs in really important areas, even with next to no actual qualifications (you can get that while you’re working).
There is so much to work on, as a community, but there’s only so much “self-work” we can do. The rest comes down to really strong legislation and leadership from governments that have the guts to boldly rewrite the history books of the future (and not just line their pockets from the companies of the present).
My challenge to the next NT Government is this – do you have what it takes to protect the people you have sworn to serve?
You need a solid, tangible, funding-proof plan to decarbonise our economy before 2050 (and I’m sorry, but propping up the Fracking industry while trying to implement heat-mitigation strategies to make our urban centres more “liveable”? It just doesn’t make sense).
The year 2050 is a long way away. But the election isn’t. And you really don’t have much time once you get into power before we’ll be voting again.
You either have what it takes, or you have not. I guess we’ll have to vote either way. Will you hit the ground running?
GUEST COMMENT by STEPHANIE HARRISON