Visitors who have boned up on Central Australia are likely to be expecting workers with black faces at the airport. They did – but none of these four were indigenous: Taxi drivers Harpreet Singh (from India) and Bruce Mahiangu (Zimbabwe), and security guards Gladys (from South Sudan but now – when asked where she's from – proudly saying "Australia") and Sam (Liberia). The town's cosmopolitan character has been enhanced by an injection of nearly 2,000 overseas migrants who had arrived in Australia during 2006 to 2011. They found The Alice to be a great place to find a job, a forum was told this week.
The population of Alice Springs, after a slow growth between 2001 and 2009, is now declining.
Old people are leaving. The proportion of working age people is on the way up.
There are gains in education. Many people from overseas are now working here.
Small bush towns seem doomed and the uncertain prognosis for our region is to have a non-indigenous population of just under 30,000 and an indigenous one of 20,000 by 2025. It's a mixed bag, reports ERWIN CHLANDA.
There are signs of council wanting to relinquish its role as trustee of the Todd River. In the last meeting of the Environment Advisory Committee, council was asked to take "leadership in the management of the Todd River". Jimmy Cocking, coordinator of the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) and a member of the advisory committee, says this wording is a "watered down" version of what he was seeking, which was that council take the lead in forming a working group of all relevant decision-makers with a view to better management of the river. However, when the issue was raised at the Town Council's subsequent meeting, Councillor Steve Brown, who chairs the Environment Advisory Committee, said council does not want to take a lead role in forming such a body; the river as Crown land is NT Government-owned and this should be their role. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: The river lapping the Wills Terrace footbridge: at all times it's a challenge to manage. Photo from our archive.
The Great Alcohol Debate: bring back BDR or similar, they say
Aboriginal peak organisations of the Northern Territory have called on governments to "base alcohol policy on evidence not politics" and to "bring back a system (such as the Banned Drinkers Register [BDR]) to restrict the supply of alcohol to problem drinkers without resorting to criminalisation". They have pleaded with governments "to heed our warnings about the risks of allowing more alcohol to flow into remote communities".
A shot in the arm for the watercolour movement ... and chance for visitors to have contact with Aboriginal people
It's an opportunity that will surely be the envy of many: the Ngurratjuta art centre has bought the gift shop at the Alice Springs Desert Park. It will be used to exhibit and promote the work of its artists, and provide an income to their enterprise from its trade in the full line of gifts and souvenirs. The Desert Park is also keen to have the artists painting on site and this looks set to happen from late March next year, as the cooler weather arrives. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Coordinator Iris Bendor installing the watercolour display at the Desert Park shop.
Darwin based CDU bosses who came to Alice Springs to gauge what the locals thought of their university got some robust messages about north-of-the-Berrimah-line decision making, the lack of meaningful co-operation with Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) and the failure to entice young people to do their tertiary studies in their home town.
Vice-Chancellor Barney Glover and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Sharon Bell (pictured), busy adapting to new online teaching opportunities and looking north to buzzing Asia for business, met with 30-odd representatives from education, academia and NGOs in Alice Springs, some of whom made it clear that Charles Darwin University will need to look a lot harder in the other direction as well. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
The Great Alcohol Debate: Most developed countries have long ago turned their back on forcing detox and treatment
"Forced detoxification" is neither "effective" nor "ethically acceptable" as a way of treating addiction, according to an editorial published under the name of 10 Australian and international researchers in the latest issue of Addictions, the top international journal of addiction studies. The editorial mainly takes aim at the compulsory detention and forced detox of drug users in developing countries but gives a brief overview of the approach in the developed world. Some of its points have relevance for the current debate in the Northern Territory on compulsory rehab for problem drinkers as proposed by the Country Liberal Government. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
"This is an exhibition about my home, Papunya, and my law and culture, and about my youthful years, when I sat with all my dear fathers and uncles and grandfathers, and watched them as they painted the first boards and early canvases in Papunya and its camps ... But it is also an exhibition about Alice Springs, the town that first saw and appreciated and loved western desert art ... This exhibition is a bridge between these two worlds: a precious bridge."
Alison Anderson, Papunya's most famous daughter and now NT Minister for Indigenous Advancement and Regional Development, today added her own "unique perspective" to the exhibition of that name, mostly drawn from local private collections, that she opened at the Araluen Arts Centre. She called on those who love the art to be happy with its "beautiful surface", to not try "to see behind the veil", to not delve into its "inner secrets". (Ms Anderson is pictured speaking with visitors to the show.)
Australia’s first underground rock salt mine is one step closer, with Tellus Holdings starting the environmental approvals process with the Territory and Australian Governments, including extensive community and stakeholder consultation, writes it managing director, Duncan van der Merwe.
Forty years ago to the day yesterday Papunya Tula Artists was registered as a company in the Northern Territory. Its cultural triumph over those decades barely needs restating. Right now master works from its founding years are the subject of a major exhibition at the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris. Two of its artists, Walimpirrgna Tjapaltjarri and the late Doreen Reid Nakamarra were featured in Documenta at Kassel in Germany earlier this year. Some of that brilliance is also there in the anniversary show that opened last night at the company's elegant gallery in downtown Alice Springs. Words by KIERAN FINNANE, video by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Pictured: Senior artist and past company chairman Bobby West Tjupurrula.