Home > Uncategorized > Crime in Alice Springs – part 3

Crime in Alice Springs – part 3

A fight breaks out amongst a small group of people on a street. A woman pulls a knife and takes a few swipes at the man she’s arguing with. At this stage at least one of the many witnesses dials 000. The call is routed to Darwin and it takes nearly 15 minutes for the emergency call to be switched to Alice Springs. By this time the fight has begun moving down the street, across the road and finally into one of the busier shopping centres, Yeperenye.

Eventually the arguing men move off and the woman with the knife makes her way back to her office.

Police do not attend the scene.

(The difficulties getting through to local police in Alice Springs in an emergency are well known to locals.)

Late at night in Alice Springs? Sadly, no. It was around 9.15 this morning.

It began on Gregory Terrace, near Alison Anderson MP’s office (right in the CBD). There were numerous witnesses to this incident, including two candidates for the Alice Springs Town Council by-election, Eli Melky and Steve Brown.

I did not witness the incident but arrived not long afterwards. Later I heard a number of people discussing the incident, it sounded quite a ferocious fight. I’m pretty hardened to what I see in the town but wielding a knife in the early morning on a main street sounds kind of frightening. No wonder candidates for this Saturday’s by-election are mentioning lawlessness as a major issue in their campaigns. No wonder groups such as “Action for Alice” are gathering a bit of a following.

Alice Springs has been in the news again. An editorial in The Australian yesterday mentions the dangers young, Indigenous women & girls face.

The TV ads made by Action for Alice are being queried by the NT Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.

A community meeting was held in town last night. Whilst organisers were stipulating people had to join Action for Alice in order to be allowed in it does sound like it was a productive meeting, if a little heated at times.  Reports from the meeting reveal there are some very angry, frustrated people in this town. But also some good suggestions that are worth considering:

– floodlighting the Todd River at night

– providing community buses for people to travel in to Alice Springs to do their shopping and then return home to their communities

– the youth campaign Tell ‘em That’s Enough campaign (have a look at this site, what a terrific idea!)

It was also good to hear that an older Indigenous man spoke at that meeting. His name is Lindsay and he was accorded great respect as he spoke and suggested a couple of those ideas.

The NT Opposition spokeswoman on child protection Robyn Lambley told the NT Parliament that children are soliciting for sex. I have personally heard young Indigenous girls suggesting sex-for-sale but given there were lots of giggles and followed by running off I assume they were just having a laugh, being provocative. Still, it’s sad.

Then we have our mayor, Damien Ryan saying law and order is the responsibility of the NT Government and he wants candidates to understand the Local Government Act.  Is the mayor suggesting Alice Springs Town Council cannot do ANYTHING about law & order in our town? Don’t some of our by-laws deal with law & order issues?

The NT News also ran a story on Alice Springs today. Whilst I don’t agree with them that violence has “gripped” the town, I do believe we, the residents of Alice Springs have become quite used to seeing incidences of such violence & general lawlessness.

I don’t know that the answer is. But I do believe we need to increase numbers of police in the town.  We all deserve to feel safe living in Alice Springs.

Politicians need to increase funding to those programs that are working successfully. We need more, a lot more beds in the sobering up & detox shelters. (Note to NT & Federal Governments: talk to groups such as DASA, they will let you know how much more money and beds they need.) We need to help the Indigenous children who are abused, who are suffering from addiction, who are wandering our streets late at night, who are committing crimes.

Maybe we do need regular community meetings to give all residents & community organisations a forum in which to speak up and/or suggest ideas?

So much of what happens in Alice Springs is highly politicised by various groups. I wonder if the hard headedness of some groups (this includes serving politicians) prevents a spirit of successful co-operation in easing the problems faced by this town?

For tourists & visitors to Alice Springs (and I would encourage Indigenous Australians from other states to also come see), I fervently believe Alice Springs is a safe place to visit! Staying at any of the major hotels, caravan parks or B&Bs you will be able to enjoy a very pleasant walk into town. Admire the leafy eucalypt trees and wildflowers down by the Todd River as you meander along the well-built shared pathways. Notice the many & varied birds – eagles, kites, galahs, mistletoes, the list is almost endless. Gaze at the majestic MacDonnell Ranges and take in the achingly beautiful desert landscape from atop Anzac Hill.

Visit Mbantua Gallery & Cultural Museum and learn a little about Indigenous culture & recent history. Listen to Indigenous languages being spoken on the street. And when you return home, think about all that you’ve seen in Alice Springs, both good and bad.

I’ll finish up with a link to cartoonist First Dog on the Moon’s cartoon in Crikey on that racism survey. 🙂

*Edited to correct spelling of Lindsay’s name. *

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