Tag: Port Augusta
Whatever happened to the Port Augusta model? Since Councillor Steve Brown (at right) produced a report to council on what he has drawn from that southern city's approach to "community harmony", the public has heard not another peep. Back in May, when his and like-minded councillors were focussed on having a council body monitor the effective delivery of government services in Alice Springs, there was sense of urgency in the discussion. Now, says Cr Brown, council is waiting for the right moment to talk to the new Territory Government about what is on its mind. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Above: The Country Liberals' major promise of their election campaign was $2.5m to upgrade the Alice Springs Youth Centre, a long way behind Cr Brown's proposals for Alice's Port Augusta-inspired responses to social problems, which include a new youth centre. Then prospective Chief Minister Terry Mills talks to the Youth Centre's Marie Petery and June Noble. With them are Braitling MLA Adam Giles and Araluen MLA Robyn Lambley, now Minister for Central Australia.
Cr Brown adapts Port Augusta solution to Alice Springs, calls for closer look at youth centre proposal
By ERWIN CHLANDA
A councillor has described the new government's plans of spending $2.5m on refurbishing the youth centre, announced in the dying days of the election campaign, as "another short term token gesture," suggesting the project should be deferred pending a closer look.
Cr Steve Brown renewed his call to spend up to $40m for a new centre, possibly on the Memo Club or the Melanka sites, and featuring a string of facilities and services for young people and the general public.
In a discussion paper he will present at tonight's town council meeting, he is also making a call for regular questioning by the town council of local departmental heads about the activities of their instrumentalities, such as it is carried out at Port Augusta. Cr Brown also wants, for young people who are neglected, homeless or in trouble with the law, a bush camp with cattle and horses, modeled on initiatives by long-time youth worker Graham Ross, possibly at the government owned Owen Springs reserve.
Photo: Mr Ross (left) and Cr Brown inspecting a possible site for a youth camp west of Alice Springs, five years ago.
While he was "really impressed" with the many "community harmony" initiatives taken in Port Augusta, and with their apparent success reflected in the town's general appearance and atmosphere, the consultant reporting back to the Alice Springs Town Council was at pains to point out the "very significant" differences between the two towns.
Alice has twice the population, said Craig Wilson of Craig Wilson Consultancy, formerly an employee of the Alice council, now based in Mt Gambier.
Port Augusta has only one Aboriginal community on its periphery, Davenport, in contrast to Alice's 18 town camps.
Davenport, which is not a dry zone, has a population of around 200, compared with the 2000 to 3000 living in Alice's camps.
Around 1300 people from outlying areas use Port Augusta as their regional hub, as opposed to the 11,000 to 12,000 for whom Alice is the regional centre, said Mr Wilson.
Key among the initiatives have been the Port Augusta Aboriginal Community Engagement Group and the City Safe Program. The engagement group's enquiries into budgets and outcomes of various government departments and agencies were initially seen as "threatening" but are now well accepted. City Safe is in the hands of a private contractor whose personal qualities seem to account for a good deal of his success. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
PICTURE: Port Augusta's ACEG in session. From left – Khatija Thomas Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement, Aaron Stuart, Katy Burns, Alwyn McKenzie and Corey McKenzie.
As police continue their law and order blitz in Alice, the Town Council stumbles towards a bigger picture approach.
At last night's meeting councillors appeared to vote for something they did not want.
Instead of a report on how the Port Augusta council calls governments and bureaucrats to account for their policies and actions in that town, councillors instructed, by formal vote, the Director of Corporate and Community Services to engage a consultant to evaluate the Port Augusta Alcohol Management Group and its community alcohol management plan.
This is despite their determination in the committee meeting a fortnight ago that what they wanted to understand about Port Augusta went well beyond how that town manages alcohol issues. At that committee meeting Councillor Liz Martin said she was looking for something far more "holistic". Cr Steve Brown, who originally got the ball rolling on the "Port Augusta model", also made clear a fortnight ago that his interest was not specifically about alcohol, but rather the overall management of the town. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Sweetness and light continued to prevail in Monday's meeting of the town council committees, with not a hint of belligerent factionalism.
The jolly consensus allowed councillors to breeze through a big agenda probably in record time – at least so far as the meeting open to the public was concerned. Even wild man Eli Melky didn't pick a single fight, instead – "wearing his Rotary hat" – effusively thanked the council for supporting the hugely successful Bangtail Muster parade, and the council technical staff for their efforts, well beyond their call of duty, to keep the re-opened pool running.
The councillors asked for more than is contained in a report about Port Augusta's successful fight against anti social behaviour.
PHOTOS: Top - The town council got a gong for its assistance to the Bangtail Muster parade. Middle - the photo councillors have in
their wallets these days: Tough Port Augusta Mayor Joy Baluch. The Alice town council is taking a hard look at her grog and crime control measures. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Public gets the polite rehearsed version
Councillor Steve Brown's move to create a Town Council body to monitor the effective delivery of government services in Alice Springs inched forward at last night's end of month meeting.
The concept is similar to one operating in Port Augusta, reported on by the Alice Springs News Online in the wake of the council election campaign as part of an interview with outspoken Mayor of Port Augusta, Joy Baluch.
The concept was promoted in the campaign by candidate John Reid.
Removal of standing orders last night allowed a mild-mannered discussion of the subject, with no sign of 'gangs' of four or five. The end result was that councillors will put their heads together with Corporate and Community Services Director Craig Catchlove, pooling the information they have gathered. At the urging of Cr Geoff Booth, it was decided that this will start at an early morning meeting in the coming week.
He, Cr Brown and Cr Eli Melky all wanted it to be seen that council is doing something "urgent" (Booth), "immediately" (Melky) to address the "considerable anxiety" (Brown) in the community over law and order issues and economic decline.
Apart from questions to a deputation from the National Trust (about which we will report separately) this subject was the only one discussed in the open section of the council meeting, during which everyone was on their best behaviour, with the meaty business of council finances and budget priorities having been dealt with in an early morning (closed) meeting. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Cr Geoff Booth during his swearing-in with Local Government Minister Malarndirri McCarthy. He wants immediate action, but will it come at the expense of transparency allowing public input?
OPINION by ERWIN CHLANDA
I'm going to borrow for this opinion piece from the comments – around 100 – which our readers posted on occasion of the town council election.
The Alice Springs News Online is proud to host an increasingly lively forum for readers' views, many of them also contributing a wealth of relevant facts. The forum provides an interesting window onto the community for the nine elected members of the 12th Alice Springs Town Council.
Among our most responded-to stories relating to the election was the interview with Port Augusta Mayor Joy Baluch, explaining her success in fixing problems in her town to which Alice Springs still doesn't have an answer.
Douglas Pearce wrote: "Please, please, please can we have her?"
The report prompted retired Alderman Jane Clark to comment that she didn't agree with Ms Baluch's public drinking ban, and saying: "I also wonder which of her initiatives has not been implemented here?"
And that leaves only this question: If they have all been implemented here as well, how come they work in Port Augusta but not here?
That was only just one of the disagreements of spirited election campaign ...
PHOTOS: Port Augusta Mayor Joy Baluch (above left) was a shining example – for some – of how to tackle problems. But she and retiring alderman Jane Clark (above right) were not on the same page.
Under the no-holds-barred Mayor Joy Baluch, the Port Augusta council drives the local state and federal agencies, not the other way round. They are held to account in monthly meetings. This has gone a long way towards a solution of what was a near-terminal anti-social behavior and alcohol crisis. Could it be the template for the councillors and Mayor taking the reins in Alice Springs on Monday? ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
"Port Augusta is alcohol free. You cannot drink in a public square. If you want to drink you go home, to a pub or a club. You will not drink in the streets and you will not sit on the beach and consume alcohol.
"And you will not create havoc and unsocial behaviour. You piss off back to Alice Springs to the Todd River. That's where you go because in Port Augusta, City Council rules and regulations must be complied with."
What about people who contravene that regulation?
"They are dealt with appropriately, are put on a bus and sent somewhere else."
Who puts them on the bus?
"Our Safety Officer does."
And that person plays a very major role in the town.
Nancy Joy Baluch – her friends call her Joy – doesn't mince words. She has served as the Mayor of Port Augusta from 1981 to 1993 and from 1995 till now. That she's battling cancer wasn't at all evident in our telephone conversation yesterday.
"In 1981 we had a town square. It would have drunken whites, drunken blacks, fornicating in public, in the presence of tourist buses," she says.
"Our tourist trade went down to zero. Port Augusta became a place not to be seen in.
"Today we are a tourist destination. We have turned our image around.
"People who lived here some 30 years ago, are just overwhelmed by the transformation."
But don't expect results overnight, says the feisty Mayor.
PHOTOS: Top – Once a dirty recess, a haven for vagrants and drinkers, the beach and foreshore are now the town's playground. Above right – Mayor Baluch. Photos courtesy Port Augusta City Council (the Mayor) and The Transcontinental Port Augusta (aerial shot).