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Pop-up partiers creating anarchy

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 05 Mei 2013 | 23.08

Crowds at the Facebook-advertised Constitution Hill party on May Street. Source: Supplied

Braxton Desire allegedly hosted Round 6. Picture: Bill Hearne Source: The Sunday Telegraph

Police turn away partygoers in Kellyville at the "Round 7" party advertised on Facebook. Picture: Attila Szilvasi Source: The Sunday Telegraph

Victor Ramzy thought the Kellyville bush doof was "legit". Picture: Simon Chillingworth Source: The Sunday Telegraph

THEY'RE a breeding ground for wild behaviour, sexual assaults, violence and underage drinking - and they're as tough to control as your average 16-year-old.

In the events known as "bush doofs", hundreds of drunken teens descend on a vacant property for a night of thumping music, dancing and wild partying. Riot police were called in to shut down the most recent illegal parties.

Highly organised, experienced party planners go to great lengths to keep the events under wraps. Details of the parties are posted on Facebook for only 15 minutes to prevent authorities tracking down the location. The invite list is compiled by word of mouth. A $15 fee covers entry and other set-up costs.

The most recent bush doof at Kellyville was shut down by the riot squad a week ago on Saturday night when hundreds of drunken teenagers were caught trespassing on a property owned by Sami Fahd.

The week before, out-of-control partiers stormed through Wentworthville, overturning cars and causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. Three people were arrested.

Inspector Helen Dean of The Hills local area command in northwest Sydney, where the bulk of the parties are held, said: "Anything on Facebook for us is a nightmare because it is so far reaching.

"We are always worried something like this could get out of control, innocent people could get hurt and properties could be damaged. I appreciate they are kids who want to hang out and have a good time but we know what can go wrong."

Organisers refer to the events as "round" parties, an apparent taunt to authority to imply they are recurring, much like a boxing match.

The bush doof at Kellyville was "round 7".

Police received a tip-off about the Kellyville party on the morning it was due to take place, prompting them to turn to Facebook to obtain intelligence as the address was due to be uploaded at 3pm.

"We logged on to Facebook, made a few inquiries which led us to two Facebook pages which allowed us to monitor their updates in relation to the location," Insp Dean said.

By 3.15pm the officers were standing at the location. The bush doof on Glenhaven Rd, Kellyville, was shut down before it got started last Saturday. Insp Dean said they remain on alert for "round 8".

"What appalled me was parents dropping their children off. They were turning up with a car load of 16-year-olds and I would say to mum or dad, 'do you know whose party this is?' and they said 'no'. I don't know what goes through their heads."

Police believe one of the organisers of the Wentworthville party was also behind the failed Kellyville event.

"We have seen photos of him at both," said Acting Commander at The Hills district, Superintendent Gary Bailey. "In terms of charges, we are looking at least at trespassing on a house they didn't have permission to use. They are underage."

In Kellyville last week, the owner of the property could only stand by helplessly and watch as car loads of teenagers turned up to his newly built home which he is now considering selling.

"We had no idea. No idea," said the father of four who did not wish to be named. "I picture what could have happened to our home, which we have almost finished building.

"The thought of thousands of young guys having that address and a description of the property is scary.

"I am a tough man but my wife can't imagine herself going to that property now.

"My son and I arrived at the property at 7.35pm and there were police and riot squads in large numbers," he said.

The distressed owner said police have since established that two 17-year-old boys working as apprentice plumbers on the rural property had organised the party.

However, policing the new trend is difficult as addresses are spread on social media.

On April 27 at 10.50am, Nathan Duval posted "Round 7. Hecktik keen". He then announced the address and told his hundreds of Facebook friends that the entry fee was $5 if they arrived before 8.

Kamran Mohammed Safavi, who attended "round 7", is claiming to be organising "round 8".

"Host of Round 8 - with Joseph Makhlouf."

Source: The Sunday Telegraph

23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Hurt tourist gets compo for belly-flop

AN Irish tourist who "belly-flopped" into a Fraser Island waterhole and was rendered a partial quadriplegic will receive substantial damages from the State Government because it failed to adequately warn of the dangers.

In a decision in Rockhampton this week, Supreme Court Justice Duncan McMeekin ruled Evan Joseph Kelly, 22, would receive 85 per cent of any damages awarded against the Queensland Government after a three-day hearing in March.

Mr Kelly, an apprentice electrician from Kiljames in Ireland, suffered a C6 body fracture with spinal cord damage when he ran down a sand dune, tripped and fell into the water at Lake Wabby on September 27, 2007.

The hearing was told signage and warnings at Lake Wabby had not been upgraded despite some 18 people suffering serious injuries at the site between 1990 and 2007.

23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Ripping close up

This shark was snapped by Californian photographer Lesley Alstrand at Guadalupe Island, off the coast of Mexico. Source: Supplied

SHOWING ink-black eyes and teeth as sharp as kitchen knives, this is the picture that proves just why the great white is the most feared ocean predator.

The incredible photograph captures the shark during "snack time", chowing down on a piece of tuna in crystal-blue waters off Mexico.

Californian photographer Lesley Alstrand took the snap of the beast at Guadalupe Island.

It's among 320 images submitted as part of a worldwide competition to uncover the best landscape, wildlife, underwater and still-life pictures taken by amateur and professional photographers.

23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Knightley marries Mr Righton

Lovebirds Keira Knightley and new husband James Righton.    Source: news.com.au

ACTRESS Keira Knightley has married James Righton in the south of France.

RadarOnline reports that the Bend it like Beckham star, 28, wore a short white dress with a cropped white Chanel jacket and pale pink flats

Knightley and Righton, 29, who have been dating for about two years, chose the quaint town of Mazan, which is about 20 kilometres from Marseilles.

For a big Hollywood star the wedding was very low key with just 11 guests attending. However about 50 are expected to attend the reception, including Sienna Miller, who is one of Knightley's best friends.

Knightley had dated Homeland star Rupert Friend for five years before they split in 2011.

23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Waiting in line on Bali's death row

with Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran Meet The Press, Ep11, Seg 1

WE haven't thought much about them - except how stupid they were to smuggle drugs in Bali. But as these two men edge closer to the firing squad, CINDY WOCKNER tells the story of two young men who gambled away their lives and now realise that being sorry may not be enough

Convicted drug trafficker Myuran Sukumaran plays this scene over and over in his head. He is on a deserted Bali beach. A blinding floodlight breaks the night. Then suddenly everything is black.

A hood is bundled roughly over his head. He feels pressure on his chest - someone is drawing a target on his heart. Rope burns his wrists, which are tied hard to a post.

Beyond the darkness, beyond the mask, stand 12 paramilitary police. The breeze catches the clink and rattle of their rifles. In seconds - will it be three, will it be more - the firing squad will take aim and fire.

Sukumaran will only die once. In his head, on death row in Kerobokan Prison alongside his fellow Bali 9 drug smuggler Andrew Chan, he has died the same way every night for the past 2637 days.

It's been called a hellhole but these days Kerobokan jail is also a tourist mecca. Australian tourists - taking time out from beach and beer holidays - come to try to gawk at convicted drug traffickers like Schapelle Corby and the Bali 9. Of late, they haven't come as often. The novelty of Australian drug convicts in Indonesian jails has started to wear off.


Almost every religion and culture is represented. There is a Christian chapel, a mosque and a Hindu temple. At times the mix is uncomfortable - Andrew Chan's opponents on the played basketball courts sometimes included the terrorists behind the 2005 Bali bombing. They once encouraged Sukumaran to join the mosque, which at the time the terrorists used as a breeding ground for new recruits to the cause. He wasn't interested but Bali drug mule Scott Rush, 18 when arrested, went and was eventually circumcised in a secret mosque operation.

Death row isn't a row but a round block of cells called Super Maximum Security but known to everyone as 'The Tower'. Chan and Sukumaran live here in the same block that was once home to the smiling bomber Amrozi and the 2002 Bali bombers before they were executed. No-one gets to go home from here - even the Australian lawyers fighting for the two on death row know that a long life behind these bars will be the best outcome for Chan and Sukumaran.

Meet The Press, Ep11, Seg 2

It is 7am and - clink - the cell doors open. Small barred windows let in meagre light. The paintwork has seen better days. There are gas stoves and a tiny table top oven. Chan dreams about baking a honey-roasted ham. He knows the ham wouldn't fit in the tiny oven but that doesn't stop him thinking about the honey, the brown sugar and cloves... the smell of glazed ham.

Every prisoner does something to make their four walls special. Chan has a collage of family photos, a poster of Jesus and a world map to remind him that there is a life outside. Sukumaran loves art and his walls are crammed with postcards, artworks and his own paintings. His precious family photos have pride of place in a small album on a table next to his bed.

The Bali 9 have a special bond. Like a family that doesn't always get on. Friendships wax and wane. They swap cells, depending on who is getting on and who has fallen out. These days Chan, Sukumaran, Si Yi Chen and Matthew Norman are close. They share the passion for running rehabilitation courses and art.

"We all have to live together. All of us sit here and we have a talk and we have a laugh," Chan says.

But there's still plenty to drive them apart. Both Chan and Sukumaran say the both feel responsible for the others. "Yes, I kind of feel responsibility for everybody," Sukumaran says. "It is not just the others, it is their families ... I try to avoid seeing their families."

It's so easy to say you are sorry. Sorry I cut you off on the road this morning. Sorry I pinched your paper. Sorry I didn't say thank you.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are very sorry for what they did as young and stupid punks from western Sydney. But they know that sorry isn't likely to be enough. They weren't the absolute bottom-of-the-chain drug mules in the drug-running operation. Indonesian police once described Chan as 'The Godfather', though he was living at home with his parents at the time. They didn't immediately plead guilty and or express remorse.

None of that went down well in Indonesia. It didn't go down any better here. The two admit they are unsure whether Australians will ever care about the plight of two drug smugglers on death row in a Bali jail.

Their lawyer Julian McMahon, part of a team which has represented them since 2006, is convinced that they've changed. The men he met seven years ago were young punks - unrepentant, brash and stupid. Today - he says with warmth - those punks have emerged from the fire as generous and caring young men. McMahon passionately believes they deserve the chance to live.

 Bali Nine Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran inside the workshop of Kerobokan jail in Bali. Picture: Bintoro Lukman

Chan wants to show how much he has changed. "I'm not trying to minimise what I did," he says. "For the last eight years you get to reflect on these things, that it did happen and how many lives I could have destroyed and the only way to prove how sorry I am is not just showing it by saying sorry with words. Anyone can say sorry. For myself, it is about actions."

As drug operations go it was neither sophisticated or clever. Nine young Australians decided to try to export heroin from Bali by strapping it to their bodies and going to the airport - where signs scream death for drug traffickers.

That they did it for as little as $5000 each is testament to the crazy invincibility of youth. And when the bravado ran out, the price was very high: six sentences of life in jail, one 20-year term and Sukumaran and Chan facing death by firing squad.

The death row residents went to Homebush Boys High School but, with Sukumaran four years older, didn't know each other in their school years. They met in 2002 at a mate's house.

When the drug plan was hatched, they were at its core. Chan's workmates in Sydney - Matt Norman, Martin Stephens and Renae Lawrence - were part of it. Three others - Tan Duc Thanh Ngyen, Scott Rush and Michael Czugaj - were from Brisbane.

They went out sightseeing and drinking for a couple of days in small groups while they waited for the drugs. Under the plan Lawrence, Stephens, Rush and Czugaj would fly home to Sydney with heroin strapped on their upper thighs and around their waists.

The drugs were strapped on in a Kuta hotel. On April 17, 2005, Rush, Lawrence, Stephens and Czugaj were arrested at Bali's Ngurah Rai international airport with 8.2kg of heroin - with a street value at the time of up to $4 million - strapped to their thighs and waist.

Chan, the supervisor who wasn't carrying drugs, was caught separately at the airport. Sukumaran was nabbed with three others in a hotel with the remnants of the heroin and the tape used to strap it on.

Chan admits that the effects of the drugs they planned to import to Australia - lives lost, families ruined - never crossed his mind.

EXCLUSIVE access inside Bali's Kerobokan Prison with Bali 9 members Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, living day-to-day on death row. Adam Taylor

"I definitely didn't think of the impact," he says. "I was probably selfish and obnoxious. Everyone thinks it's a big pay day. You do feel invincible".

Sukumaran was equally blasaacé. "When you are young, you think about how much you would have made. It seems like a lot ... When you are young you think money is the only way to get happiness."

Chan had been using drugs since the age of 16. Sukumaran, who had dropped out of university and drifted with a crowd of old school friends who were into petty crime. For both the deal was about quick cash.

Ken and Helen Chan don't live far away from the Sukumarans.

A photograph hangs on the wall of a little boy - smiling and fresh-faced when in kindergarten. Nearby is another photograph - a family portrait taken four years ago when Andrew's sister graduated. The whole family is there - Ken and Helen, big brother Michael and his now wife and the two sisters. One person is missing - son Andrew was already in jail.

Ken Chan came to Australia in 1955 as a 20-year-old from China. His father and brothers were already here but he had stayed behind with his mother in China. After she died, he took a 21-day boat trip to Australia to join the rest of the family.

Initially he worked in his brother's fruit shop and the fruit markets. He was working in a Chinese restaurant when he fell in love with Helen. For 40 years Ken and Helen ran a string of Chinese restaurants. They worked seven days a week for decades.

Andrew is the youngest of their four children. Their youngest was a cute and likeable, his mum remembers. A bit of a larrikin. Somewhere along the way, this streak became more like a problem.

In 2003 Ken and Helen finally retired. It was to be a time they could finally relax after so many years of work, look forward to weddings and grandchildren. But then came a knock on the door.

Andrew Chan inside a workshop at Kerobokan Jail in Bali. Picture: Bintoro Luckman

For Ken, the day of his son's arrest was like a bomb going off.

Helen doesn't speak much English so her eldest son Michael translates from her native Cantonese. "Ever since this has happened she is always in pain," Michael translates as his mother speaks and weeps.

"She hasn't had a proper sleep in seven or eight years in the sense of, every second, it is on her mind".

Chan, who doesn't speak Cantonese, has always had a language barrier with his mother. The gulf gets wider the longer he is in jail. Ken is unwell so travel is difficult. Chan knows he may never see his parents again.

"I have only ever seen my parents three times since I have been here and my Dad's health is not so well," he says. "This is one of the things that affects me, their health. You don't think about those sort of things when you do (the crime)." Of course, you think about nothing much else as you do the endless time.

Raji Sukumaran remembers April 17, 2005 like yesterday.

Sukumaran is her eldest son and it was his 24th birthday. On holiday in Bali, he was due back in Sydney the following day. She had made his bed with fresh sheets, went to the market and bought seafood, her boy's favourite.

But approaching dinner time on April 18, her son hadn't shown.

Raji started to worry. Had he been in an accident?

Andrew Chan's brother Michael speaks for mum Helen, who has little English but her agony is painfully clear - no parent should outlive their child.

Hair wet from the shower, she went out into the street to look for his taxi.

Inside the house her youngest, daughter Brintha, saw the 6pm television news. Nine young Australians arrested in Bali.

It was the T-shirt one of the smugglers was wearing she recognised first. Then a familiar tattoo visible under the sleeve.

When Raji tried to get back into the house, the door was locked. Only after furious knocking did a shivering Brintha answer.

"Myu, Bali, arrested," she blurted.

Raji fainted. "I felt the whole chill run through me from top to bottom."

Moments later her middle child, son Chinthu, arrived home and the Australian Consulate was on the phone. Myuran could get at least 10 years in jail, they said.

The family prayed together until 2am, then left their home.

Raji didn't return for a long time. "I couldn't face the neighbours, I couldn't go there", she remembers.

Myuran Sukumaran inside Bali's notorious jail Kerobokan Jail. Picture: Adam Taylor

On the third day, they flew to Bali to see her son. She was in a rage.

"The first thing I wanted to do was go and slap him, I was angry. I really wanted to slap him, honestly. But I just couldn't, I hugged him, I cried," Raji says.

She had no idea her son, who lived at home with the family, had any involvement with drugs. He had been the son who always complimented her cooking, gave blood and had a calendar in his room with the days marked when $30 a month would be deducted from his bank account for UNICEF.

"I have never known anyone in prison, I don't even know anybody talking about anybody in prison, " Raji says. "When he got the death penalty I didn't know how things worked, I didn't know whether they will just take him one day and shoot him and kill him, I didn't know the procedures.

Raji is a gentle softly-spoken woman. Two weeks ago - as she has done every year since the arrest - she was in Bali on April 17 for her son's birthday. With her were her aging parents - her father, 83 and mother, 80, her brother and niece. After one visit she complained her son ate too much fatty food and not enough veggies. Funny the things mums still worry about.

The family inhabits a permanent grey zone. They can't grieve for their lost son while they are still alive, yet every time they kiss him goodbye they know it might be the last time. But despite everything they still don't live without hope. Those same fresh sheets are still there, ready to make his bed if he comes home.

As the family said goodbye at the end of this trip, Sukumaran's granddad cradled his grandson's face between his wrinkled hands, looked into his weeping eyes and said: "Come home soon."

The two's last hope of survival is in the hands of the Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Sentenced to death in 2006, four appeals have failed. The country's most senior judges have decreed their crime so serious they deserve to die.

Myuran Sukumaran inside Bali's notorious jail Kerobokan Jail. Picture: Adam Taylor

The Indonesian political climate change has shifted in recent weeks.

Authorities have announced plans to execute up to 10 death row prisoners this year. An African was executed in March - the first execution since 2008. There are now more than 100 people on death row in Indonesia.

Chan and Sukumaran's cause suffered after a female prisoner who recently got clemency from the President and was found soon after to be dealing drugs in jail. The President was condemned by all sides of politics for going soft on drugs.

Chan and Sukumaran watched the story with dismay.

Their clemency pleas were lodged a year ago and no-one knows when the President will make a decision.

It is hard to describe what it is like living with a sentence of death by firing squad. Sukumaran puts it like this - living under the shadow of the death penalty is like the cold metal of a revolver pressed at your temple for seven years and never knowing when it might go off.

"It is like the gun has been there for a long, long time so you get used to the feeling. It comes as a shock having a gun being pointed at the side of your head but it has been there for a long, long time and at any time it could just go off," he says.

You've got to wonder whether any of us would have the will to change when hope is almost gone. When the best you can hope for is life behind bars.

Death row does many things to people. It can strip people of their will to live and destroy their faith.

Kerobokan jail in Bali. Picture: Lukman

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have had endless time to think about their existences and their limits. They can't change what they've done. But they can mould the hours to a degree of each day they have left in jail. They can, if they so choose, feel like they can make a difference. Chan - an atheist before he was jailed - has found God. He is studying theology and runs the church inside the jail, including a daily support group and Bible study for prisoners. With other current and former prisoners he is in the process of setting up a half-way house for freed prisoners when they are released. There are also plans for first aid courses so that inmates can save lives instead of watching people die in front of them.

Sukumaran's transformation is even more remarkable. Every day from 9.30am to 3pm you'll find him in the jail's workshop. It looks like a mini TAFE college. One room is full of computers. The walls of another are plastered with paintings.

This is the home of prisoner art, Mule Jewels and the Bali Nine clothing label. It is the brainchild and passionate endeavour of Sukumaran. It began several years ago with the donation of some computers and his idea to run computer and English classes for inmates, to give them skills to go out in the world and break the revolving door cycle of crime and jail. It evolved into painting classes. The endeavours are now self-sustaining. The art is sold and the money used to expand the workshops. The jail recently won first prize amongst Indonesian jails for its programs.

Sukumaran is passionate about his painting and is now doing a Fine Arts degree. Australians, including Archibald prize-winning artist Ben Quilty, have visited the jail to teach the 15 art students. Sukumaran runs workshops like a strict headmaster.

You'd expect the two's lawyers and families to promote the sincerity of the two's changes. But even guards and other inmates say they believe the changes are genuine.

It didn't just happen. Rather a gradual realisation that denials were not helping their cause and that they needed to make amends for those they had hurt. Two bad boys needed to find a way to come back from the brink and learn to become better men.

What they saw in jail - over all those years - changed them too. Chan woke on another birthday in jail to find a dead body outside his cell. "When you are selfish and on your own you don't think about these things... but now it is in your face, it is something I think about... how sorry I am that I could have destroyed other people's lives, families especially."

Other people have lent weight to their campaign. The then-governor of Kerobokan jail took the extraordinary step of supporting the two's last appeal, testifying they deserved a second chance.

When British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, 52, was sentenced to death she sank deep into depression, refusing to leave her cell. It was Chan who was sent by the jail's governor to talk to her. Former prisoner Arif Mirdjaja says Chan helped him get off drugs and clean up his life. He now comes to the jail regularly for visits and to attend the monthly English church service.

Kerobokan jail in Bali. Picture: Lukman

Older brother Michael had a tough love message for Chan when he first visited his brother in jail. "I was very clear with him from day dot," he says. "If he wasn't going to help himself, don't expect me to come back."

He says he knows now that his younger brother heeded the words and says the family is now proud of how he has turned his life around.

Sukuamaran is a cell block leader - trusted by the governor and the guards. A year ago when prisoners rioted he stood guard at the jail's armoury to ensure the prisoners didn't get their hands on the guns.

Kerobokan senior prison officer Hermanus has worked in Indonesia's jail system for 28 years. "I have never had a prisoner like Myuran. He is the best prisoner I have seen in my career. I pray that he will have his sentence reduced."

One of Sukumaran's biggest supporters is Ivar Schou, from the Nordic Centre for International Studies who conduct computer and philosophy courses in the jail. "When I met him he was a really, really kind person, constructive, creative. He is an exceptional person." Peter - a German who says he is serving only one year in jail - says Sukumaran gave him hope and lifted him from depression.

Sukumaran and Chan put their case simply. "We are sorry for what we did," Sukumaran says. "We were young and stupid. I would ask please forgive us and give us a second chance, a chance to make up for what we have done. Clemency is not a get out of jail free card."

The men and their lawyers know they deserve to spend a long time in jail for their crimes. The question is do they deserve to die? Both men know they have little or so no say in the answer.

They relinquished control over the manner of their life - and death - when they carried out a dumb idea to make some bucks. They may be doomed to be judged by what they did wrong, not by what they do right.

And so they may die on a deserted beach, as they have in Sukumaran's head every night for the past 2637 days.

23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Darwin's ruthless sex trade

Picture: Daniel Hartley-allen Source: news.com.au

THE Aboriginal woman, aged about 40, attractive with an easy smile, explains how it was for her when she lived on the streets of Darwin for six years, until she entered public housing last year: she traded sex with white men.

"It was every day," she says. She and other women would hang out by the beach, waiting for men to drive by.

"The man comes up and points out what woman he wants," she says. "I've done it plenty times, to get alcohol, food and everything, and the drugs as well. I was hooked on it. I needed it. I was getting food and I felt good. Now I've stopped."

The woman says she considered herself a prostitute. The woman's sister, aged 45, did too.

"I used to go looking for men, for grog and smokes," she says. "For a box of moselle. It was every morning, every day. White men, Greek men – all for a box of moselle."

It has been part of life in the north since frontier times: Aboriginal women used as sexual commodities.

Now men cruise Darwin's streets and parks targeting homeless Aboriginal women, known locally as long-grassers, whose lives are mired in poverty, social exclusion, stigma, hunger, trauma, violence, deteriorating health and addiction.

Picture: Daniel Hartley-allen Source: news.com.au

Men still pay the equivalent of handfuls of sugar, tea and flour.

Until now, no researchers have ventured into the long grass and asked Aboriginal women to tell their stories of this common but unspoken sex trade.

What has emerged from the work of Dr Catherine Holmes and Dr Eva McRae-Williams, working through the Batchelor Institute, is a visceral insight into the dangers and desperation of the lives of long-grass women.

The women appoint "Captains" among their groups to take turns having sex with cruising white men.

"All kinds of cars pick up the girls, V8s, hiluxes, flash ones," one woman told the researchers.

The women felt excluded from society and saw trading sex as an opportunity to earn cash, grog, cigarettes and ganja for their groups, and also looked forward to travelling in nice cars or, on rare occasions, being taken to private homes, with stocked fridges and showers.

It was a temporary escape, and a better deal, than the routine rape they suffered at the hands of their own men.

One woman said: "The blackfellas sneak up on you when you are passed out, alone, and do their thing and leave. Then another one comes and climbs on. And another."

The researchers interviewed 89 women. They carried knives to protect themselves when sleeping in long grass groups at night.

Some women regarded what the researchers label "transactional sex" (TS) -- or as the women call it, "selly--welly" - as a positive opportunity, because they got something in return.

The report, "Captains" and 'Selly-welly': Indigenous Women and the Role of Transactional Sex in Homelessness", was commissioned by Families and Housing, Community Development and Indigenous Affairs as part of national research on homelessness.

"Study participants confirmed that women, usually under 40, would be sold by choice or coercion, although not a lot of pressure was necessary," says the report.

"They say, 'Your turn to be Captain', or 'I was Captain last time', or 'OK, I will be Captain again'."

Picture: Daniel Hartley-allen Source: news.com.au

The report said some women coveted the role of Captain, because it gave them a sense of power and control when they returned to the group, distributing the grog, ganja or cigarettes.

"The flip side of this, however," says the report, "is that a Captain who does not come back and share with the group will be stripped of their leadership rights and ultimately punished through violence or exclusion."

Some women we spoke to disagreed with the researchers – they said the captain was the man, not the woman. "He's the person who gives you what you want," said one.

Some felt "shame" going with white men, but this was quickly "neutralized when they returned to the group and enjoyed some authority and the resources; usually $20 to $40 in combination with wine and cigarettes, but maybe up to $100."

The report states: "When asked whether women did anything to prepare for TS, one mother explained about her daughter: "She good looking as she is. She has shower every day. She OK. Men like her".

Respondents told the researchers TS was occurring "'all the time, everywhere'. One young woman explained that 'all people in the long grass do it! Everybody does it ... I do it sometimes, too.'"

The women the researchers spoke to did not see themselves as sex workers. Rather, it was viewed "in the context of gathering resources".

The researchers state: "The fact that sex was being exchanged appeared to be unimportant."

Picture: Daniel Hartley-allen Source: news.com.au

NT Attorney—General John Elferink said while the activities of the women might meet the technical definition of sex work, prostitution was not illegal in the Territory and nothing would be gained by criminalizing the behaviour.

Mr Elferink said he found the report disturbing and agreed the women were vulnerable both in Darwin and their communities. But he claimed their lifestyle was a choice.

"Transactional sex is the thrust of this report," he said, "but I can tell about the violence, the homicide the sexual crimes, and a large slice of it is a direct product of people sitting around doing nothing."

Dr Holmes says the women suffer a high prevalence of post—traumatic stress syndrome, which she defines by exposure to threats or violence or death, or being witness to it. Most of the exposure came from their own men.

She says it made sense they carried knives: "They need to be hyper-vigilant to survive and they have very clear evidence that the long grass is a dangerous place."

The report does not pass judgment on the activity but Dr Holmes says: "It's disturbing that people's lives in their communities can be so bad that they see spending time in the long grass as a better option."

One woman related a typical exchange this way: "The car comes up and we [the group] go up to it and he picks which one he wants. Or we say, 'Which one do you want?', and he points... If the girl doesn't want to go, she will say, 'I already got a boyfriend' and will walk away."

Men often targeted younger women, offering not just money, tobacco, ganja, but phone cards or bus fares.

"Private cars and a non-indigenous male companion also gave women temporary access to a mainstream world that their group did not generally inhabit," says the report.

Sourcing alcohol rules long-grass existence, and the study found if a group had grog and food, they were less likely to engage in sex transactions until the supplies ran dry.

Picture: Daniel Hartley-allen Source: news.com.au

The women expressed low concern for their safety in sex encounters with white men. One woman said: "They know not to hit a woman, not like black men who will give you the biggest hiding for nothing. They [women] will jump in any car. It's not a problem".

Rates of certain sexual infection are reported as higher in the NT than anywhere else in Australia, and especially among indigenous people.

"Sometimes use them [condoms]," a woman told the researchers, "but not all the time. The girl might be shame to push it on. They not worry about that. They get smokes, grog and sometimes ganja or maybe money. Not care.

"They just get in the car. Go with anyone. Aboriginal or Balanda (whites). It doesn't matter... The man drives up and says, 'you want to come for a drink?' and the Captain gets in."

The rate of homelessness in Darwin is higher than anywhere else in Australia. The researchers cite figures of 234 homeless per 10,000 people, compared 41 per 10,000 in Melbourne, and 47 per 10,000 in Adelaide.

Long grassers are seen by some in Darwin as a public eyesore, as human rubbish. Dr Holmes acknowledged many long-grass had anti-social behaviours which reasonable people shouldn't have to tolerate, but said people should try to see it another way.

"I'd like (Darwin people) to look at it and understand what they're seeing is a symptom of a deeper socio-economic issue affecting people in the Northern Territory," she says.

"It's not OK that these people are vulnerable. Regardless what you think about drunks, itinerants and sex, having women vulnerable to rape is unacceptable and there should be more shelter available to protect women while they sleep.

"Clearly the existing services are at capacity and the hospital and police watch house are not the most suitable options."

John Elferink said the idea they could not help themselves was wrong. "The assumption is that these people are too useless and the state's got to step in and help," he said.

"I don't subscribe to that at all. There is nothing that decays self--worth as some of the lifestyle choices these people make, backed up by a welfare system that does nothing to offset the negative and decaying effects on their spirits and well--being.

"If anyone in these circumstances wants to lift themselves out of these circumstances, the best form of welfare is a job."

Mr Elferink said "rescuing" people with welfare-based models would only create more vulnerability among the women.

"The transactional sex component and exposure to rape component is a direct result of policies which do not place any expectation upon the person who is engaging in self-destructive conduct," he says.

Yet if communities are viewed as places of violence and sexual abuse, is there is an argument that the Aboriginal women, at least, are entitled to some form of asylum?

"When we look at meeting the needs of this group of people we, as a society, fall short," says Dr Holmes. "There are opportunities to make their life better, and therefore the whole of our society will become healthier."


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Fiery Delta clashes with Seal

Delta Goodrem and Seal took the showdown phase literally clashing openly over Michelle Martinez performance. Courtesy The Voice, Nine Network.

THE Voice coaches Delta Goodrem and Seal took the showdown phase of the reality TV competition literally, with the rival superstars clashing openly over one of his contestant's performances.

The pop diva had told Team Seal singer Michelle Martinez her sassy rendition of Lloyd's hip hop hit Dedication To An Ex was not up to her usual vocal standard, feedback which was later rejected by her coach Seal who attempted to "respectfully disagree" with Goodrem describing the performance as "flawless".

Goodrem was visibly angry at being chipped and when filming continued during the ad break, involving all four coaches and destined for The Voice's website, she took Seal to task over his public critique and defended her opinions.

The heated exchange left Ricky Martin and Joel Madden looking for the exits, while a calm Seal continued to back Martinez and Goodrem attempted to set the record straight and argued "she can do better".

Producers stepped in to play peacemaker, with Goodrem impressing her TV bosses by "gathering herself quickly and getting over it".

After Ben Goldstein delivered a rousing performance, Delta Goodrem had no option but to flirt with him to get him in her team. Courtesy: The Voice, Nine Network.

In some judicious editing, Goodrem's immediate reaction to Seal's correction, as well as the full debrief after the performance (which was also caught on film) was not put to air.

It is not the first time the two have had words, with Goodrem left to cringe after Seal misunderstood her use of the word "brother" which he interpreted as being a reference to his skin colour as they gave American-born singer Steve Clisby feedback.

A more intense moment in the blind auditions - when Goodrem challenged Seal over his post-show coaching of last year's winner Karise Eden - also hit the cutting room floor.

The coaching battle was only overshadowed by stunning appearances from Team Ricky's Karen Andrews aka Miss Murphy and Team Seal favourite Harrison Craig.

Channelling the powerhouse alter ego that allows her to overcome behind-the-scenes nerves, Andrews was at her best with an emotionally raw rendition of Elton John's Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.

See Delta Goodrem's on air blunder after Steve Clisby's rendition of Barry White's 'I Can't Get Enough Of Your Love'

Melbourne's title contender Craig, who remains the iTunes chart leader to beat this year, was praised for his "spell-binding" performance of Michael Buble's Home.

Four singers from Team Ricky and Team Seal sang for survival, with viewers now given the power to vote their favourites through to the finals.

The artist with the highest public vote will advance immediately to the finals, while the lowest will be eliminated during Tuesday's live results show. The two left standing will then sing for their coach's vote.

Monday night's show will feature Team Delta's Rob Edwards, Jackie Sannia, Josh Kyle and Steve Clisby; as well as Team Joel's Danni Hodson, Adam Garrett, Kiyomi Vella and Michael Paynter.  

The Voice contestant Kiyomi Vella has been told by Seal that there should be no safety net when going for your dreams. Credit: Nine

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