By OSCAR PERRI
The Town Council, like many other local organisations, is struggling to fill vacant job positions, with a 17% of positions vacant at the start of last month.
Reports to council in last night’s ordinary meeting from council’s Library Services, Alice Springs Aquatic and Leisure Centre (ASALC), Youth Programs, Ranger Unit all outlined that they are being affected by staffing shortages, though managing to deliver most services expected of them.
Acting CEO Sabine Taylor told council that vacancy rates were “at average”, saying ASALC were most affected, having to close the pool for a day last month, as they were not able to find enough lifesavers to operate.
The Rangers Unit report notes low activity levels from January through to June.
Mayor Damian Ryan and other councillors congratulated council officers on their “pretty impressive” effort to meet most KPI’s while operating short staffed.
Today Cr Jimmy Cocking, who raised concerns about the staffing issues in the meeting, said that the struggle to fill vacancies is compounded by the housing shortage in Alice Springs.
“It’s a bigger planning issue that needs to be looked at, and there’s also factors that are impacting on that too with significant changes in the housing market that are going on.
“There seems to be a lot of transition, of people moving and changing jobs a lot in Alice at the moment …
“The response that [the acting CEO] gave was satisfying at least that they’re obviously very much aware of it, and working their way through it.”
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Council also received a report on the 16 week “Rough Sleeper Program” trial, which occurred from January to March this year. The program involved rangers and Police Aboriginal Liaison Officers “monitoring the number of people sleeping rough in and around Alice Springs”.
Only 144 people, including children, were spoken to, none of whom were identified as rough sleepers but instead choosing to camp in the Todd river “as a convenience.”
As it is an illegal place to camp officers asked people to “move on” from the area or allow them to stay for a restricted period of time.
Due to the low number of people the program engaged with, the report recommended that it be absorbed into the Traditional Owners Foot Patrol, which has no funding committed beyond the end of the trial period in the coming weeks.
In the meeting Cr Banks questioned what the purpose of the trial was, and what the information collected would be used for.
She noted that sleeping outside in rivers was a very old practice for Aboriginal people in the area.
Ms Taylor said that the trial was created due to a request from traditional owners to respond to the amount of litter that was being left in the Todd, which is a council responsibility.
After discussion about possible alternatives like reinstating lockers and improving public toilet facilities, council moved to request a review of the program with the inclusion of a future plan including costings.
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There is movement on the skatepark issue, with representatives of Convic, the Melbourne based skatepark building company conducting an assessment of the slippery surface that caused council to close the skatepark.
They met with a group of skatepark users who have been pushing to see a solution. Developments Manager Dilip Nellikat told council that he is expecting a report from the consultants in the next week.
PHOTO: Three of the growing number of contestants for the position of Mayor in next month’s local government elections (from left) Councillors Paterson, Melky and Banks at last night’s council meeting.