The townsfolk of Alice Springs in central Australia have been invited to take part in a meeting next Thursday (26 April) to try to sort out the town's racial problems.
GV PAN Alice Springs.
TRACKING SHOT Business area of Alice Springs.
CU Police Commissioner Grant speaking to reporter.
SV Policeman checking out Aboriginal woman's car PAN TO policeman talking to drunk man on grass.
SV Aboriginal youth with liquor walking along road and police car patrolling. (2 SHOTS)
SV Group of whites drinking. Man drunk on footpath. (2 SHOTS)
SV Aborigine picking up bottle of wine.
AV Aboriginal woman walking down street.
CU President of Aboriginal Congress Mr. Jeff Shaw speaking to reporter.
SV Aborigines playing cards and drinking.
CU & SVs Aborigines playing cards and drinking.
CU Alice Springs Mayor George Smith speaking to reporter.
GV PAN OVER Aboriginal camp, and litter. (2 SHOTS)
DIGNUM: "The cause of the latest flare-up in Alice Springs is a petition presented to the Town Council. The petition at no stage mentioned the word 'Aboriginal', but the target was obvious. The tersely worded statement branded Aboriginals congregating in the town's main business area as a 'brawling and obscene nuisance'. It was signed by virtually every business house in the area. The reaction from the Aboriginal community was immediate and scathing, and since the presentation of the petition there's a been a series of community meetings in a bid to come to grips with the problem"
GRANT: "There's 4,900 Aborigines in the Alice Springs police district and there's many thousands more that use Alice Springs as their main business centre. Of that great number only a few come into conflict with the law. However, unfortunately quite a number of those few are repeated offenders, repeat offenders, and swell the numbers of Aborigines who come into conflict with the law."
DIGNUM: "Well in the case of offensive behaviour are the offenders immediately arrested or are they given some warning?"
GRANT: "All depends on the circumstances. Where the offender is drunk as well obviously they've got to be taken into custody."
DIGNUM: "The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress says the high unemployment rate among Aboriginals and the lack of cultural and recreational facilities designed for them are the major reasons why they congregate in town. Congress President Mr. Jeff Shaw says the best way to get the Aboriginal population off the streets is to establish an Aboriginal club they themselves could run."
SHAW: "Everybody says that more people hang around down the main street and do their drinking down there but on a percentage basis more people go down and drink down in the Todd, Todd River, than they do in the main street because they relate to the river bed because nobody comes down and bothers them because it's their river bed and that's where they carry out their social life down in the creek because there's no other facilities for them."
DIGNUM: "Mayor Smith says the Council also wants to see the community brought together, and is quick to point out the Council doesn't believe the Aboriginal people are the only disruptive element in the community."
SMITH: "We do get bad behaviour from a certain section of Aboriginal people but we get bad behaviour from a certain section of white people also, so it's not completely isolated to Aborigines. Unfortunately you see, every time something like this flare up it is seized upon as an excuse to demand more and more money into the organisations who are of their own admission working for the betterment of the Aborigines. And I sometimes wonder whether money on its own can really solve the problem, I don't think it can."
DIGNUM: "The suggestion to establish an Boriginal community recreation club or centre has some support and is considered the main hope in the eyes of the Aboriginal people. But at this stage, that's only a proposal and a lot depends on whether finance will be made available, some of which the Aboriginal people hope will come from the traders who made the complaint in the first place."
REPORTER: SEAN DIGNUM
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The townsfolk of Alice Springs in central Australia have been invited to take part in a meeting next Thursday (26 April) to try to sort out the town's racial problems. Government departments and Aboriginal leaders have so far failed in their attempts to achieve harmony. The Alice Springs Police Commissioner, Mr. Grant, the President of the Central Aboriginal Congress, Jeff Shaw, and Mayor George Smith are all concerned at the situation. Sean Dignum of the Australian Broadcasting Commission reports.