Monday, September 28, 2020

The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide – Chicago Tribune.

Kieran Finnane

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The subtle transmissions of home

Coming
to this place has called up another for young artist and musician
Claire Wieland. It's not that she isn't seeing and listening to this one
– her Emu series and recording of local voices and songs are charming
testimony that she is.  But time spent in the western desert,
volunteering in the women's centre at Kintore, and then here in town
where she has rented a studio at Watch This Space and mounted an
exhibition in its gallery, have got her thinking about family and
home. The sense of those words for her stretches across the globe,
to the native Switzerland of her father. She was born in Australia but
the Swiss-German connection is strong, not so much through her direct
experience as she has only been there a few times, and only once in
young adulthood. It's more a matter of cultural osmosis, for instance,
through the kind of objects that were around her as she grew up. Pictured: Above – her 'family' of hand-made objects.  KIERAN FINNANE reviews. 

Safe spaces

After travelling alone overseas, including in southern Morocco, ESTELLE ROBERTS
returned to Alice, grateful for its relative safety. Her confidence has
been undermined by a near miss with an intruder and after learning of
the brutal rape of a local woman who had left a party that Estelle would
have gone to had she been here. Pictured: Sunset off
Morocco's Atlantic coastline – beautiful, but hard to appreciate when
you're being hassled by local men with their stereotyped ideas of
western women. Returning to Alice was a relief ... at first.

After three decades in Territory schools she's the best teacher in the country

What
does it take to be the best primary school teacher in Australia? To
have a warm and vivid presence might be part of it. Add imagination,
keenness, a strong sense of possibilities, interest in the world. Then
let's not forget experience, support from colleagues, and a school
environment where everyone is pulling on the same string to keep kids
happy and learning.

This teacher, Jo Sherrin, and this school, Bradshaw Primary, can be
found in west-side Alice Springs. Last Friday at a ceremony in Melbourne
Mrs Sherrin, one of two teacher-librarians at Bradshaw, was named the
nation's Primary School Teacher of the Year at the inaugural Australian
Awards for Outstanding Teaching and School Leadership. Pictured: Kaylana
Hagan (left) and Casey Lally with teacher-librarian Jo Sherrin, who's
been named the Best Primary School Teacher in Australia. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

Hot debate in council over youth curfew, public stays away

One
barometer of popular support did not augur well for Alderman Eli
Melky's youth curfew motion: the public gallery at last night's council
meeting was half empty. A few people from the youth sector had turned up
and Acting Commander Michael White from the NT Police was also there.
But the 1000 plus signatories of the petition circulated by Alds Melky
and Samih Habib Bitar, who seconded his motion, had stayed away in
droves. Perhaps its defeat had been accepted as a fait accompli.
Nonetheless, the issues were hotly debated by aldermen. Pictured:
Young opponent of a curfew, Gavin Henderson, who organised a petition
against the proposal, with supporters, counsellor and independent
candidate for Greatorex at the next NT election, Phil Walcott, and
Alderman Sandy Taylor, chair of council's Corporate and Community
Services committee.  KIERAN FINNANE reports.

Alice takes the NT lead for violent drunks but at least there are fewer of them than last year

Recorded assaults in Alice Springs
are down 13.2% for the period July to September this year, relative to
the same period last year.

This is better than the NT wide figure (down 9.1%) but not as good as
the decreases achieved in the Top End. In Darwin the assaults dropped
by 15.9%; Palmerston, 16.5%; Katherine, 19.2%.

Alice's drop is off a very high base relative to these centres. There
were 401 recorded assaults in Alice for the period last year, scarcely
lower than the total for Darwin (414), a city with three times the
population.

This year Darwin experienced 348 in the period, and Alice, exactly the same number.

The NT Government, releasing the preliminary data today, is linking
the decreases to the introduction of the Banned Drinkers Register.

Looking at the regional breakdown of people on the register, Alice
Springs towers above the rest, with a total of 208 on the register at
the end of September, compared to 98 in Darwin; 63 in Palmerston;
Katherine, 73. – Kieran Finnane

CBD revitalisation: consultation not over yet

In a process that began with the
Planning for the Future forum in June 2008, the (hopefully) final
consultation phase has arrived: the Town Council has put on display for
public comment the proposed plans, although they have already selected
the projects they want to implement with the $5m allocated by the NT
Government.

Says Mayor Damien Ryan: “Because much of the plans involves public
places we really wanted to get the whole community’s views on this. It’s
an opportunity to literally help shape Alice Springs!  So if you
have some constructive comments on the plans, we’re eager to hear them.”

And if the public doesn't like what they see or proposes something
quite different, what then? Back to the drawing board? That seems
unlikely, so why doesn't council simply get on with it?  – Kieran Finnane

 

The plans can be viewed at the Civic Centre or via council’s website. For full details go to the connecting @lice site.

All submissions must be made in writing, addressed to the Alice
Springs Town Council - Chief Executive Officer, PO Box 1071 Alice
Springs, NT 0871 by COB Friday 11 November 2011.

 

UPDATE: Realistically, revitalisation works could
begin in Todd Mall by the middle of next year, says Town Council CEO Rex
Mooney. Responses from the public to the current consultation will be
considered by Council possibly at its November 28 meeting and if not,
on December 12.

Council's decision to call for further public comment is in line with
its public consultation policy, says Mr Mooney. He acknowledges that
there has been consultation on the proposals but says when that happened
Council had not yet indicated its priorities for implementation – that
is, to open the northern end of Todd Mall to traffic and to develop the
'biodiversity corridor' in Parsons Street. (See Mike Gillam's creative
brief for Parsons Street, this issue.)

Amnesty rhetoric fails to show the way forward for homelands

The one-day visit last Saturday by Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, to the Utopia homelands generated the usual round of headlines: conditions are "devastating", comparable to those in the "Third World", policies amount to "ethnic cleansing" (this last from Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Utopia resident and Barkly Shire President).
What the so-called "fact finding mission" did not do was shed any light on the challenges facing governments and Aboriginal people about the future of the homelands at Utopia and elsewhere. This was done incisively by the outgoing Northern Territory Coordinator General for Remote Services, Bob Beadman (at right), in May of this year. His few pages of analysis provide far more insight into the situation than all of Amnesty's rhetoric, either in Mr Shetty's pronouncements or Amnesty's report, The Land Holds Us, released in August.
Mr Beadman also recommends some immediate (catch-up) steps for governments to take. There's no sign of the Northern Territory Government doing so. Minister for Indigenous Development Malarndirri McCarthy declined to answer the questions put to her by the Alice Springs News. Amnesty also declined to be interviewed by the Alice
Springs News.

However, a spokesperson for Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says her government "respects the rights of Indigenous Australians to live on their traditional lands and acknowledges the profound connection which many Aboriginal people have with their homelands" but "housing investment is currently focussed on larger Indigenous communities where more Indigenous people live and which are faced with poor housing and overcrowding".

And the spokesperson says Canberra has provided to the NT Government $80 million for provision of basic municipal and essential services to homelands in the Northern Territory over the past four years but "future funding from July next year will be discussed with the
Northern Territory Government." KIERAN FINNANE reports.

PHOTO ABOVE: Lenny Jones, 73, and Albert Bailey, 79, Chairperson of  Urapuntja Health both from Soapy Bore, speak with Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty. Photo courtesy Amnesty International.

On the road again

Outback
roads and roadhouses have cast their spell on the alt-country rock
band, Rustflower. After their Outback tour in 2008, they are taking the
music "further and wider" with a "Big Country" tour –  13 gigs, 18
days, 4000 kms.
Playing their own brand of infectious Aussie country rock, Rustflower
tell the stories of the characters and land, mixing them with the rhythm
of the road. They're always open to a “guest” vocalist or tambourine
player, creating an atmosphere where everyone is part of the night.
They're in the Alice area this week, performing at Ti Tree on Thursday,
October 13, and then at the Glen Helen Resort on Friday, supported by
Alice muso, Barry Skipsey – under the stars in the venue provided by
nature.
Rustflower’s Big Country Tour is supported by the Australian Government's Contemporary Music Touring Program.

Alice, working its power

On
a crisp and beautifully serene late Febuary morning in 1988 a young
couple ventured up a rocky climb on the outskirts of town. While both
were fit, healthy and familiar with the land, theirs was a particular
challenge, given that one was 36 weeks pregnant.

She was my mother on her way to the very top of the MacDonnell
Ranges, on the eastern side of Emily Gap. Knowing that I was not far
away, both she and my father wanted to fasten an image to my birth. That
they certainly did! Within a few hours of reaching the peak my mother
went into labour with your honest author.  MOZZIE BITES reflects on
the ties that bind her to this place, even though for now she is taking
up residence in Melbourne.

Pictured: That's me not long after, getting a
big cuddle from Denis Neil. His family's friendship with my family is
part of what will always keep me connected to Alice.

Will Alice Plaza businesses turn around?

 

 

Owners of the Alice Plaza would welcome the re-introduction of
traffic to the northern end of Todd Mall. Their representative, Tony
Bruno, says they have always believed that the mall was too long and
that traffic and some convenient, short-term parking would help bring
life back to the northern end.

If that were to happen, would the Plaza consider re-orienting its business towards the street?

"Anything's possible," says Mr Bruno. "If the landscape changes that could be looked at."  

UPDATE, posted October 7, 2011, 9.40am : Steve
Thorne, of Design Urban Pty Ltd, who headed up the design team behind
the proposals for revitalising Todd Mall, is "hugely encouraged" by the
responses of Alice Plaza interests.
"Unless there is a response from retailers and other businesses adjacent
to the mall, it is not worth spending millions on bringing traffic back
in."
Revitalisation can't be done "half-heartedly", he says. "There's got to
be a dramatic change in the environment. The mall has suffered 'death by
1000 cuts', through a  lack of transparency, activity, vibrancy.
"Without those things then what you get is the anti-social behaviour that people don't want."

While Mr Thorne's role in the CBD project has finished for the time
being, he has been engaged by the NT Government to chair its Urban
Design Advisory Panel and will be keeping a watching brief on what
happens in Alice.

Pictured: Top – Musicworld with its back turned to Todd Mall. At left – Could this lively frontage, inside the shopping centre, face the Mall? KIERAN FINNANE reports. 

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