As soon as you enter the gallery at Watch This Space, you are transported: it’s a sunny day full of the cries of players and supporters, team action on the field, and community in action on the sidelines, a community of women. KIERAN FINNANE reviews.
Amoonguna forms company to regain control over repairs, maintenance, the local shop and to get a 99 year lease over its own land, but CLC wants to control the process, says community elder. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Resident despairing over neglect torched his home last year.
"When we're all alone 'cause our family's gone drinking, we get bored 'cause there's nothing to do.
"We're not excited about tomorrow, every day's the same, we got to find a new way, a new direction to break the cycle."
Their names are (from left) Danielle Breaden, Katrina Drover and Shania Austin, aged 14, 13 and 11 years; they live at Amoonguna, some 20 kms south of Alice and part of MacDonnell Shire; and these are the lyrics of a song they wrote and performed as part of the "Stay Strong, Live Long" project conducted by the shire council's youth development team.
So, how do the girls think the cycle will be broken? Not by "going into town and roaming around, looking for some trouble". They say they've got to "think about the future, got to work and stay at school, got to make a change". – Kieran Finnane.
UPDATE July 30, 2012: See the fruits of this project for yourself.
The new rule prohibiting shire employees from standing for election to the shire council will have a big impact in MacDonnell Shire, with at least five of the 12 councillors opting to stay in their jobs and not run again in the March poll.
In the Rodinga Ward – covering the communities of Amoonguna, Santa Teresa, Titjikala and Finke – this is the case for all four councillors.
The rule seems like a 'no brainer' if you think about conflict of interest issues, but as ever, conditions in remote communities put a different slant on things.
Councillor Joe Rawson lives at Titjikala. He works as an essential services officer (ESO), and will not run again. The rule will "put a big hole in the Rodinga Ward", he said. Does he think other candidates will come forward in the ward?
"It comes down to employment – 99% of employment comes through MacDonnell Shire. To try to get others to nominate who are not on the MacDonnell Shire payroll is very hard ... if they don't have motor vehicles, the shire won't supply motor vehicles. You have to maintain your own vehicle to get to and from the meetings.
"We get an allowance – sitting fees, travel allowance every time we travel , but ... if you do a diff, you might get $700 to come to a meeting but it'll end up costing $1400 to fix the diff." KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured, from top: Councillors Joe Rawson and Roxanne Kenny – he will not stand again but she will.
Senior Station Fire Officer in Alice Springs, John Kleeman, says he would welcome the assistance of prisoners in reducing the fire fuel load south of the Gap, as is being pushed for by the Town Council.
Aldermen passed a motion last night to write to the Department of Lands and Planning "regarding engagement of Correctional Services" to help with this task "south of Heavitree Gap to the Municipal Boundary, incorporating the river and parklands".
Mr Kleeman says the fire service has been doing control burns in the area – including around Amoonguna "where a lot of people have been throwing matches" – and are continuing to do so today, as well as north of Emily Gap.
He says government contractors have also done a major slashing job along the river from John Blakeman Bridge to Colonel Rose Drive. The "trusties" (prisoners) could help to do more slashing, especially in areas where it's hard to get front-end loaders in to clear firebreaks.
While with slashing the fuel remains on the ground, having the grasses lie flat reduces the intensity of a fire that may go through.
Mr Kleeman says the town has been lucky so far to not lose property or life, but the situation could go "pear-shaped" at any time. He encourages the public to prepare their properties and report to police anyone acting suspiciously with fire. KIERAN FINNANE reports.