Issue 4 - May 4, 2010 enews home

Alice Springs growth ‘key to closing the gap’

Associate Professor Dean Carson

By Jason McIntosh

The expansion of Alice Springs is critical to improving the many communities surrounding it, according to a leading population researcher.

Charles Darwin University Population Researcher Associate Professor Dean Carson said these “bush communities” were hampered by the lack of staff available in Alice Springs and were forced to recruit from interstate.

He said if Alice Springs reached a critical mass where it could offer staff to the remote communities, they would not have to recruit from interstate.

“The cycle of recruiting people from the other side of the country takes a huge commitment and effort but they have no choice,” he said.

Dr Carson also said the population growth and demographics of smaller communities varied greatly and he urged the Northern Territory Government to consider this as part of its future growth strategies.

“Our data show huge differences in many small bush communities with some experiencing strong population growth and others where the young people are leaving, so the right needs must be met,” he said.

He also said improving roads and transport links to Alice Springs was another crucial link in improving outcomes.

“Easier mobility for staff will increase retention because they can have their few days off in Alice Springs and local Indigenous people can be easily connected to services and resources.”