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The NT Intervention

Sep 3, 2010

Stopping the Violence...and the traffic in Alice Springs

John Liddle: Like most Aboriginal males in Central Australia I am sick of going to funerals and seeing our courts, jails, health clinics and hospital filled with brothers and sisters who have been involved in family violence. It is time that Aboriginal males stood up both morally and culturally, taking positive action and a zero tolerance approach to stop the excessive violence in families, communities and towns, a crisis that is having a devastating effect on community members of all ages and genders, especially the children.

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Stop The Violence - the march up Gap Road to the Council lawns

Earlier today I witnessed the most powerful and (hopefully) effective public event I’ve yet seen in my short stay in Alice Springs.

Alice Springs is a town where men – particularly Aboriginal men – rarely make mass public statements that address the issue of greatest concern to most people living in Alice Springs – domestic and inter-personal violence. But thanks to the concerted efforts of a determined group of men that is changing.

The “Stop The Violence” march held today saw several hundred men and boys march through the centre of Alice Springs to join a large group of women and supporters to rally at the Alice Springs Town Council lawns. The march stopped the traffic in town and hopefully lifted just a little of the malaise and downheartedness that often seems to be the dominant sentiment in this troubled town.

John Liddle rallys the troops on the march
John Liddle rallies the troops on the march

Domestic and inter-personal violence pervades too many areas of life in the Northern Territory and the last week of the recent Federal election campaign for the two NT lower house seats was marred by an undignified spat centered on allegations of domestic violence against candidates from both sides of NT politics.

And in a horrible coincidence just yesterday the NT Supreme Court in Alice Springs sentenced Joachim Golder to life imprisonment for beating his wife to death in an attack that Justice Judith Kelly described in her sentencing remarks as:

…a cowardly and vicious attack on a defenceless woman who should have been able to look to you for protection. You have offered no explanation at all for attacking her, other than that your counsel says you were very drunk at the time. You have a lengthy criminal history, including a conviction for manslaughter in March 1993 for the unlawful killing of your brother and a conviction for unlawfully causing grievous harm in 2005, when you stabbed your then de facto wife. Both of these crimes were committed when you were intoxicated.

Darren Hayes from Santa Teresa community at the front of the march
Darren Hayes from Santa Teresa community at the front of the march

And just last night NT Police had been called out to a fracas at a local town camp:

Police were called to Walpiri Camp just before midnight following reports of a disturbance. When they arrived they found a group of up to 30 people involved in an argument, and a 21-year-old man with a stab wound to his leg. The man was taken to Alice Springs Hospital where police discovered another victim of the disturbance who had already been taken to hospital.

This Dingo vowed never to bite anyone ever again...
Moodjira the dingo vowed never to bite anyone ever again...

One of the key initiatives in the apparent reduction of the overall rates of violence has been the response of Aboriginal men living in central Australia. In June 2008 a large meeting of men met at Inteyerrkwe outside of Alice Springs and released the following joint communique after the meeting:

Inteyerrkwe Statement

“We the Aboriginal males from Central Australia and our visitor brothers from around Australia gathered at Inteyerrkwe in July 2008 to develop strategies to ensure our future roles as grandfathers, fathers, uncles, nephews, brothers, grandsons, and sons in caring for our children in a safe family environment that will lead to a happier, longer life that reflects opportunities experienced by the wider community. “We acknowledge and say sorry for the hurt, pain and suffering caused by Aboriginal males to our wives, to our children, to our mothers, to our grandmothers, to our granddaughters, to our aunties, to our nieces and to our sisters. “We also acknowledge that we need the love and support of our Aboriginal women to help us move forward.”

Alice Springs traditional owner Jan Edwards with Kerry Le Rossiigigual, Peggy Campbell, fellow TO Bubbo, Betty Carter & Donna Ah-Chee
Alice Springs traditional owner Jan Edwards with Kerry Le Rossingual, Peggy Campbell, fellow TO Bubbo with sign, Betty Carter & Donna Ah-Chee

The success of the 2008 meeting was followed by another earlier this year at the conclusion of which John Liddle, Male Health Manager at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress said:

“Like most Aboriginal males in Central Australia I am sick of going to funerals and seeing our courts, jails, health clinics and hospital filled with brothers and sisters who have been involved in family violence. It is time that Aboriginal males stood up both morally and culturally, taking positive action and a zero tolerance approach to stop the excessive violence in families, communities and towns, a crisis that is having a devastating effect on community members of all ages and genders, especially the children.”

Bruce Petrick of Palya Outstation
Bruce Petrick of Palya Outstation

Today’s march and rally follow on from those meetings and are the start of a schedule of events that will culminate on Australian Human Rights Day in December 2010.

Local blogger Dave Richards over at Alice Online reports that John Liddle told the rally on the Council lawns that:

“We need to get across to the world, our community, black and white, that we are against violence,” Mr Liddle told the crowd. “What these T-shirts are saying is we don’t want to condone it, we don’t to put up with it , we want to stop the bloody violence. “We’ve got very strong cultural men here today. they are our leaders. They are right behind this programme we’ve got going now.”

There is a lot more to come in this movement and I look forward to having a closer look at this quite remarkable movement and the work of people like John Liddle of the Ingkintja Male Health program at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and Baydon Williams of Ingkerreke Outstation Resource Services based in Alice Springs.

Baydon Williams of Ingkerreke Outstation Resource Services
Baydon Williams of Ingkerreke Outstation Resource Services
Men, boys, black and white - marching to Stop The Violence
Men, boys, black and white - marching to Stop The Violence
Warren Snowdon, MHR for Lingiari
Warren Snowdon, Labor MHR for Lingiari - proud to march
CLP candidate for Lingiari Leo Abbott
CLP candidate for Lingiari Leo Abbott

NT Police Commander Anne-Marie Murphy
NT Police Commander Anne-Marie Murphy

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15 comments

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15 thoughts on “Stopping the Violence…and the traffic in Alice Springs

  1. Cd Accounting Alice Springs | International Tax Accountant

    […] Stopping the Violence…and the traffic in Alice Springs – Earlier today I witnessed the most powerful and (hopefully) effective public event I’ve yet seen in my short stay in Alice Springs. Alice Springs is a town where men – particularly Aboriginal men – rarely make mass public statements that address the … […]

  2. Hundreds of men rally against violence in Alice Springs | Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria

    […] Crikey blogger Bob Gosford’s The Northern Myth Earlier today I witnessed the most powerful and (hopefully) effective public event I’ve yet seen […]

  3. Elan

    Bouquets to CAAMA!! Thank-you.

    To the Centralian Advocate;-brickbats to you.

    A balance;-just a balance of coverage of the two matters, would have been fair.

  4. Bob Gosford

    Oops! I got this wrong so big apologies to CAAMA Radio staff for overlooking their coverag, particularly as before the march I spent a few minutes sitting on the steps of CAAMA sharing a gasper with CAAMA staff while we waited for the march to make its way up Gap Road.
    The following comment is from Erica Higgins of CAAMA Radio in Alice. As she notes in the comments & corrections section of today’s Crikey email edition:

    “Men’s March to Stop the Violence: Erica Higgins, CAAMA Radio 8 KIN fm, writes: Re. “Stopping the Violence … and the traffic in Alice Springs” (Monday, item 11). Bob Gosford wrote:”…apart from brief coverage on local ABC TV and radio and a short grab on the Nine network via its local affiliate station Imparja, the event received no coverage in any print or electronic media anywhere.” In regard to coverage of the Men’s March to Stop the Violence in Mparntwe Alice Springs it was covered by the Indigenous Media here at Caama Radio and you can always check our website for news on Indigenous issues.”

    And I note that the local Centralian Advocate (http://www.ntnews.com.au/centralianadvocate/) failed to give even the barest mention – and I’ve looked – thrice! – of the march and rally. And this despite the march passing right by the Advocate’s offices on Gap Road and the rally being a few hundred metres up the road at the Council lawns. Perhaps someone might ask the Advocate to explain their lack of coverage of the march and rally while splashing coverage of the Under-17’s Footy Grand Final brouhaha across the front and 2 inside pages…

  5. Elan

    I know what you mean Mark Duffett.

    We had a march against domestic violence a while ago now. That very day a chap at the end of my street gave his wife a black eye.

    Our hopes were not dashed by this despicable act of gross violence. We will continue to attempt to condemn this behaviour..

    It was the same with the anti fox hunting group my friend has told me. They marched- and yet the next day in that same area the Hunt was out. It was a despicable act of gross mass violence. At least for the two foxes that were ripped apart.

    But their hopes were not dashed; fox hunting was eventually banned.

    My next door neighbour Shimon, has told me of the loss of his entire family (in what WAS a despicable act of gross mass violence).

    Such a definition is in the eye of the beholder isn’t it?

    Unless you have marched for a cause-you will never know why ‘powerful and effective’ is used, and without a shadow of a doubt the focus of marching for a cause, IS to ‘lift malaise and downheartedness’.

    I, and thousands of others felt that when we marched against the Iraq invasion. We failed. Do you think that deterred us? Were we silenced? Were there no further attempts to stop that incursion?

    “A despicable act of gross mass violence.”
    “Obvious irony and dashing of hopes, crying out to be highlighted.”

    Such interesting terminology. (Though I was equally impressed with my reference to covert v overt racism..).

    I’ve read nothing here that changes my view.

  6. Mark Duffett

    1) What has that march to do with the incidence in Traeger Park?
    2) The only connection I can make is: that they were Aborigines!

    That might be the only connection you can make; it wasn’t the one I made. My line of thought was simpler, and went like this:

    1) A march against violence took place. Bob Gosford expressed the hope that this would be ‘powerful and effective’ and ‘lift just a little of the malaise and downheartedness’.

    2) The very next day, and within a few metres of the march’s route, a despicable act of gross mass violence occurred.

    The obvious irony and dashing of those hopes cried out to be highlighted, and I’m glad Bob included this extra context in the version appearing in today’s Crikey.

    Who’s introduced all the ‘categorising’ comments here? That’d be you, Elan. Where did I even insinuate race as a factor?

  7. Bob Gosford

    Correction: Over dinner this evening I have been informed that, in addition to the coverage of the “Stop the Violence” march & rally by the various arms of the ABC and the Channel Nine news noted above, that on Friday 3 November the same footage screened on ABC News in Darwin was also picked up and broadcast by ABC24.

  8. Elan

    MARK DUFFETT: Each to his own opinion. We still have a democracy of sorts.

    I thank you for your disclosure-you did not need to add it but you did.

    I think it fair to add mine. Given that is apparent that I am supportive of the initiative taken, it is fair to say why I give that support.

    It may seem to have no bearing, but I assure you it has. The issue is identical.
    My mother was Pakistani-my father British. I am the youngest of four. The ‘colour’ seemed to leech out as time went on!

    I pass for White;-lucky me.

    Because of that colour; and ONLY because of that colour, I watched my two older brothers called niggers (no distinction in those days..’dirty Paki’ was yet to come). I watched my gentle Uncle abused,-watched them refused service/accommodation.

    We don’t do that nowadays do we? No; that was overt;-what we do today is covert. We have had to be covert in our views, because we are ‘enlightened’,-and besides there are laws…

    So we resent being unable to express ourselves freely, and we refer to that which stops us from our ‘ Freedom of Speech/Expression as;…Political Correctness!!

    Why the lecture from me? Try it. Try having members of your family being treated as if they were less than human. Freedom of Expression did nothing for the Jewish nation in WW11.

    (DON’T give me the example of abuse to the White man. I know it. I do. But when Indigenous Australians are running society, and everywhere you and your family go-you are looked down upon,-then I will understand how you feel. I know it well).

    SO: you mention the incident in Traeger Park. I cannot defend that. I know that well too. I should do. British soccer fans wrote the book on such behaviour.

    Do you believe that those soccer hooligans ALL went home and abused their wives and children. I’ll bet some of them did;-I’m a realist;-but all?

    My point by all the above is:

    1) What has that march to do with the incidence in Traeger Park?
    2) The only connection I can make is: that they were Aborigines!

    So the unavoidable conclusion is: Indigenous Australians are incapable of good behaviour.

    That is grossly unfair.

    Because IF that is the case then it presupposes that White people cannot hold a march because the next day/day after that, some of them might be involved in an altercation!

    Or do you suggest that it is OK for Whites because they do not behave badly, and there is no child abuse or domestic violence in White society?

    I’m sure you are not suggesting that. But look again at the ‘categorising’ comment you have made.

    I have a foot in the Coloured and White world. I don’t give one damn for targeting a culture-I’m interested in targeting the problem.

    When the problem in a culture/in a race-are not restricted to that race/culture-but they are still targeted…what do you call that, Mark?

    I know what I call it.

  9. Mark Duffett

    Maybe this march should have detoured just a few metres to take in Traeger Park, and so make the point that violence there isn’t acceptable either.

    What a pity that whatever positive publicity this event may have generated was undone a thousand times over by the disgraceful events of the very next day.

    It would be interesting to know how many people who took part in the march were also at Traeger Park the following day, and what they did there. I’d hope the answer is positive, but I still can’t help wondering.

    Sorry, Bob, but if that’s what results from a ‘powerful and effective’ event, I’d hate to see what eventuates from something weak and ineffectual.

    Disclosure: My views may be coloured by the fact that I umpired footy at Traeger Park for several years up to a few years ago.

  10. Congress male Health

    Thank you Bob for the extensive and positive coverage

    John Liddle project manager on the STOP the Violence Campaign can be contacted at Congress Alice Springs

    on 0419 862 647 or 08 89 514 567

    Colin

    http://www.caac.org.au/stoptheviolence/

    1. Bob Gosford

      Colin – unsure if those numbers are correct – can you check and advise again – perhaps contact me by email at bgosford@gmail.com. I would like to speak to John today, Sunday, if possible.

  11. Elan

    Done. Cheers Bob.

    I’ll also send an email to our local ABC brekky boys David Bevan/Matt Abraham, and refer them to your article.

    If I can talk to them on air; I’ll do that to!

    I understand your disappointment only too well..

    But when the mainstream media have an image to preserve………..

  12. Bob Gosford

    Elan – by all means send the link to the good Senator – and also on to anyone else you think may be interested – and thanks for your kind words – I was/am somewhat disappointed that none – apart from the local ABC and Radio – picked up on this…

  13. Elan

    This is magic!
    I know that has a slightly patronising ring to it, but the only way to stop this culture of violence is to tackle it from within.

    Bob, I would like to send this article to Senator Nick Xenophon, the Independent Fed MP from SA.

    I have met with Nick (who I know well), and was highly critical of his support for NT ‘intervention’ eg: Income Control, and to its roll out next year. In his statement of support to the House, he rationalised this by referring to the culture of ‘victimhood’ as is defined by Noel Pearson.
    I want Nick to see more than the one side that I believe he went looking for.

    I saw nothing of this march on our news in Adelaide. But I see plenty about violence and child abuse in Indigenous communities..

    Only one picture is deliberately (in my view) given.

    Bloody well done to all involved in this-and go your hardest!

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