(The sadness of Alice Springs)

What was:

A gentle breeze is blowing by,

Wafting clouds across the sky,

Birds fluff their wings in gentle breeze,

Sing joyful songs with happy ease.  

Men playing cricket on the green,

Their noses polished with sunscreen,

Bowl, bat and field the ball,

Contentment reigns for one and all.

Neighbour dozes ‘neath his house,

Spouse tiptoeing like a mouse, 

Buffing windows so they gleam,

Partners for life they are a team.  

What is:

Sad it is the wider world,

Shuns the good with spite unfurled,

Alcohol floods – infusion reigns,

Too many people with addled brains.

Lifted bans mean free for all,

Thefts and threats as people brawl,

People there are losing heart,

As the Alice tears itself apart.

Government’s in an awful bind,

Because the system they did unwind,

Shops are shut, the mall a mess,

Night fighting only adds to stress.

Residents have been sold a pup,

The city’s going belly up,

Almost  too late to hear their cry,

Alice Springs about to die.

The nights once quiet,

Watched o’er by  stars,

Now  ears are burnt,

By hooning cars.

Governments it is time to wake,

How much more can people take,

The city abuzz with crime and sin, 

With citizens entrapped therein.




A diary is a daily record of experiences or events. The idea or concept of a diary is somewhat ‘old hat’. These days, many people prefer electronic devices for recording, whereas a diary was traditionally a notated (by dat and date) book into which people wrote. Paper diaries used to be quite expensive but these days their price has come down a lot – no doubt because they have competition from electronic versions.

I have over the years developed the habit of keeping a paper diary. While doing a fair bit of electronic record keeping, I find that writing by hand into a diary enables me to think and to reflect on things in away that doesn’t happen when writing onto paper.

Another point is that electronic recording can be quite indelible and it may be things you want to keep as private thoughts and reflections, get to be shared by face-book, twitter or by email.

One of the things I like about a paper diary is that if I am feeling a bit uptight or twitchy, the act of writing by hand, which takes time, tends to settle me down. It is important to think clearly about things you do and to write by hand can help that clear thinking.

Diary writing does not have to be painful, long winded or torturous. You can spend as long or short a period as you like in writing thoughts and reflections. I always think it a good thing to spend a little time reflecting on the day, not only noting things to do but successes you have achieved. It is important as a student and a teacher to note successes and to self-congratulate. A diary is a tool that helps.

When writing in my diary I sometimes use pencil, also pens of different colours.

Pencil is for when I am shaping thoughts. These can be gone over in pen at a later time.

Different colours ‘stand points out’ so they hit you in the eye when you re-read. Red for ideas, blue for celebrations, black for things needing to be done might be a simple code. I also run a highlighter pen through points I really want to remember or emphasise.

Part of keeping a diary is to periodically flick back through its pages and recall things you have written. This recall helps when it comes to remembering and reflection.

Teachers of course keep records highlighting children’s progress. This essential record keeping is a part of school programming requirements. A diary is an extra but it is worth the time taken to complete daily entries. It is a device that helps with personal reflections – ever so important to teachers and indeed to all professionals.

I commend to you the thought and the habit of keeping a diary.


I was working as an educator in the NT when the outstation movement started in the mid 1970’s. My schools at Numbulwar (1976 – 78) and Angurugu on Groote Eylandt (1979 – 1982) serviced outstation schools.

Outstations were established clan and family groups who wanted ‘out’ from the more established communities and a return to more traditional life, moved to these localities. The stated desire of the groups was to live simply and without what were deemed to be European type interferences with life. Living in isolation was relished, with support from a visiting outstation teacher (who would take mail and requested supplies) deemed sufficient.

Fast forward to 2023: Realise that in the intervening years, those on homeland settlements and outstations have generally upgraded their expectations and now want the facilities supporting a more western style of life in place.

Changed expectations are a challenge to governments and place a huge burden on treasury.




There are increasing moves toward establishing quotas. These have to do with roles at occupations in business, industry, commerce, politics, and in all aspects of life. It has to do with the fact that seemingly women under represented in key areas of leadership and decision-making.

Well some organisations have “seen the light“ and established quotas that have to be filled by ladies, This is by no means universal. In order to introduce fairness and parity more and more people are saying quotas need to be put in place in order that women fill positions in key roles.

I recall that many years ago a quite prominent politician who had travelled to America and then came visiting us at a Angurugu on Groote Eylandt, hoped that Australia would never get to the point of filling positions by quota. He felt the position should always be filled on the basis of merit and the gender should not come into the picture.

In the 30 odd years since , we have moved more and more toward a quota driven system of filling positions in all walks of life. The emphasis on political preselection offering a percentage of positions to women is just the latest In the long saga that is ever gaining momentum.

A number of years ago I was asked to talk to a group of Country and Liberal Supporters on women in leadership positions. I came up with the following and have kept that in mind ever since.

Interestingly, when I’ve published about the subject online, I’ve usually be been canned and generally by women for being “patronising” and not meaning what I’ve written. The suggestion has been that I have absolutely no proof of what I’ve written and I’m therefore just pandering to a fashion. I’ve been told what I’ve written is insincere and not meant.

It’s not my place to be the judge and jury on how people may think or feel about what I’ve written or said. However, over many years I worked with both men and women in leadership positions in my schools. A good deal of my perception is based on the evidence of my experience with people in these positions.


To have the respect of others.To do your very best at all times

To rejoice within at your successes. To rejoice with others over their successes. To always put others before yourself and not to operate in a way that causes your advancement to be at the putting down of others. to feel good at the end of each day about what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished – and not to think only about the things still to do or challenges that still present. Leave that until tomorrow – just rejoice in today.


To me, January 26 is Australia Day. It has been is and will continue to be Australia day. It is the day when everybody can come together and rejoice in where we’ve all come from where we are and where we may go in the future.

It is not a time for recrimination and it is not a date to be toyed with for the sake of those who for whatever reason want it changed. Leave it as it is.

Food for the Bin


Feeding one’s kids,

It seems like a sin,

You go out and buy,

Food for the bin.

Chips, yes please!

And chicken too,

On a plate the brow pluckers,

Tears tumble, “boo hoo”.

Plates pushed away,

Is it a sin,

To transfer good food,

From the shop to the bin?

“Sit there and eat it”!!

Kinds whinge and whine,

But refuse like mules,

For eons of time.

Minutes drag by,

Like hours it seems,

Food stays untouched,

What happens are screams.

“Take it away”,

Steadfast to the last,

They refuse like real martyrs,

To break their long fast.

The fast lasts as long,

As the food on the plate,

But once in the bin,

Young voices grate ..

“We’re hungry, we’re starving,

Feed us real quick,

Our tummies are empty,

With hunger we’re sick”!

What do you do?

(This you’ll regret),

Give lollies and sweet things,

Then peace you will get –

It’s only a breather,

Until the next meal,

Then it starts all over,

The next squawk and squeal.


Sometimes, you have to accept that things are going to turn out in a particular way, that actions are going to leave to particularly unfortunate outcomes, that you can only do so much and no more to make things turn out optimistically and in a wholly rewarding way.

It may not be what you want but there’s nothing that you can do to change the predictability of particular outcomes.

And sometimes the inevitable just has to be; as one of my valued members of staff one said when looking at the way things were unfolding over a particular issue when that wasn’t the desired outcome

“That is just the way it is.“


Vocational Education and Training is so important and for a long time has been overlooked by systems. It seems that for the last decade or two the focus has been on having students go to university and earn degrees. Trades training has been played down and been described as second rate. It is the fault of the education system of Australia that we are in a position of being desperately short in trades areas.

We may need people with degrees but we also need people who are qualified in the area of motor mechanics, Plumbing, carpentry, electrical provision and so on.

Our own university in the Northern Territory thanks to the focus of the vice chancellor and university board is now upping the focus on vocational training and trades qualifications. Hopefully this will continue and with the university branching out into regional areas (again) this training may be offered in places where people are living rather than having them come to Darwin.

Hopefully and in time as people train in these occupational areas, the present deficits, created by a system that went away from VET will be reinstated and overcome.