Given the lavish provision of recreational facilities in The Alice, mostly publicly funded, you'd be inclined to think that playing sport is a great way to build a harmonious, happy and healthy community.
You'd be wrong – in at least one case: the Alice Springs Tennis Association.
It has about 200 members, mostly white and middle class.
Amongst them is a part-Aboriginal 12-year-old boy, Zoltan Ross (pictured), who wants to be a tennis star. He's happy to train hard and has some runs on the board in interstate competitions. But that's no thanks to the club nor, apparently, to its manager and coach, Craig Gallagher, who is said to have told Zoltan, in front of other children, that his "feet stink" and refuses to give him singles coaching.
Mr Gallagher's partner Pat, allegedly said to Zoltan, also in front of other children: "You smell." This prompted the boy, described as shy by his parents, to withdraw from all junior club activities. So says Zoltan's mother, Angela Ross, a school teacher and a member of a prominent local Aboriginal family.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – I cannot understand why this young man has been subjected to the shame and unacceptable behaviour of the coach. Great to hear Matt Roberts is returning - he will sort out the association and continue of the fantastic work he did years ago. Zoltan stay strong and ignore the ignorant people.
A "callous, calculated, vicious joint assault" in which the victim suffered "serious harm" earned the perpetrators, Jason Corp and Benjamin Gaff, sentences of three years and nine months imprisonment from Justice Judith Kelly last Friday.
The "sustained, unprovoked and unexplained" nature of the attack, aggravated by the two perpetrators being in company and by the use of a weapon (a shovel), put the offending in the "middle to serious end of the range for offences of this nature", said Justice Kelly.
In her judgment, the perpetrators bear criminal responsibility for the violence they personally visited on the victim, and for the violence visited on him by one another. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Offering more for visitors to do: nocturnal tours are regularly booking out at the Desert Park. A guide helps visitors spot any of the following creatures of the desert night: the Bilby, Mala, Spectacled Hare-wallaby, Burrowing Bettong, Brush-tailed Bettong, Stick-nest Rat, Short-beaked Echidna, Bush Stone-curlew, Golden Bandicoot. Photo courtesy Desert Park.
By KIERAN FINNANE
The current tourist season may be "a bit flat" but it's a cyclical business and it will "come back".
That's the view of Michael Toomey, manager of commercial and retail operations at the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Alice.
He believes big picture national and international factors are a much greater influence on the current flattening than specific factors such as the Tiger grounding and negative publicity about the town's social problems. Violent incidents and anti-social behavior in town get "blown out of all proportion" in the media, says Mr Toomey, and are "insignificant" compared to what happens in the capital cities.
There must be two airlines into Alice Springs and Mr Toomey wants to see the NT Government working on persuading another operator to service the town. But if people were intending to visit, the Tiger grounding would not have been enough to stop them coming, he says.