Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Art of Event Staging

By Jeannette Button
Many people have a misguided view of PR people as champagne popping, event staging socialites. If only that could be closer to the truth. With over twenty years in PR I have had my share of campaign launches, Lord Mayor “dos”, community events and official openings. My Dad says I would go to the opening of an envelope – but that’s just not true.
I am currently organising an official opening for a client and my stomach is in knots. You would think by now I could do it with my eyes closed but every event is different and comes with its own idiosyncrasies or clients?
There are six things I am reminded of however with every event:
1. Have a clear purpose: What are we here for, announcing or opening and will anyone else be interested.
2. Be organised: There is nothing worse than pulling guests and suppliers together at the last minute. An event template works wonders for me while others prefer a more organic approach. The main thing is to try to think of every aspect of the event from the invitation to the closing ceremony and make sure you have it covered. Step though the event if it helps as it is amazing what we sometimes simply overlook.
3. Consider the timing: What other events will you be competing with? Is it just me or are the Christmas parties held earlier every year? No matter how devoted people are to your cause, be realistic about how much time we can expect of them and what other obligations they will already have.
4. Follow up invitations: RSVPs are not everyone’s strong point. Be prepared to follow up on invitations, especially if sent via email. Despite the benefits of an electronic invite, they are easily lost in the Inbox, are seldom printed out and are often overlooked as junk mail. And everyone in the Top End knows that Territorians are notoriously bad at replying to RSVPs.
5. Be flexible and creative: Even the best laid plans can go astray for one reason or another. Be prepared to reformat, revamp or reschedule an event so that it delivers the best outcomes for your client.
6. Relax and celebrate: Once the event is over take a deep breath, remind yourself that the knots in your stomach were worth it and maybe, in a few weeks or so, you may consider managing another plaque-revealing, champagne-popping event.
Twittercue: 6 tips for successful event staging #topend #events

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Too little, too late? Skilled workers a dying breed in Darwin?

More than 20,000 workers are needed in Darwin within the next five years according to one of Australia’s leading project management specialists.

Living Planit Managing Director Lesley Bentley says more than 50 per cent of skilled jobs aren’t being filled and that’s before Inpex and other resource projects start demanding workers.

Speaking at the Northern Territory Major Projects Conference 2011 today, Ms Bentley will give the dire warning to government officials and explain the impacts of a skills shortage on the delivery of major projects.

“Darwin has the slowest take-up of jobs anywhere in the country and we need to start tackling the jobs shortage now,” Ms Bentley said.

“Today I’ll be asking if already it’s too little, too late and paint a picture that Darwin needs to become a training hub for skilled workers.”

Lesley’s comments follow BHP Chairman Jac Nasser’s projection that 60,000 workers are needed in the Pilbara region alone to deliver the iron ore projects on time.

“With a lack of skilled workers, pressure builds and too few people try to do too much,” Ms Bentley said.

“Ultimately it affects timelines, teamwork, project quality and the bottom line. Without enough skilled workers the project will be a failure.”

Ms Bentley has more than 20 years industry experience and spearheaded the Project Office under then NSW Assistant Police Commissioner, Christine Nixon, on the Wood Royal Commission into police corruption.

Lesley’s address at 4pm today coincides with the launch of a Living Planit Training Centre in Darwin tomorrow.

Living Planit will offer workshops, short courses and more advanced training in project management to workers in Darwin.

Twitteque: Skilled workers a dying breed in #DarwinNT? #topend

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Five things to consider before you let #qantasluxury turn you off Twitter

One of the sad things that will emerge from the #qantasluxury Twitterstorm is that social media is likely to be accused of further damaging the Qantas brand.

For those who missed the commotion, Qantas launched a competition via its Twitter feed Tuesday morning offering a free first class pamper package – including Qantas pyjamas – to the Tweep who could come up with the most creative description of their dream luxury flight experience. Answers needed to include the hashtag #qantasLuxury.

Within minutes, the hashtag was hijacked by those venting their anger at Qantas for everything from the grounding of planes three weeks earlier to every frustration they had ever experienced while flying.

If you are not on Twitter yourself, just Google #qantasluxury for a peek at what has been going on.

Some commentators were quick to jump on the “failure” of Qantas’ social media strategy.

It would be a shame if this incident were to scare off jumpy executives already spooked about using social media creatively in their own companies. Facebook, Twitter and the multitude of other social media applications available today are a powerful way for them to engage directly with customers and the broader community.

If the #qantasluxury debate is making you think twice about your own social media strategy, first consider five questions:
  1. Is there an advantage to bringing a debate about your brand out into the open where you can listen, respond and engage rather than allow the anger to fester in backyards and around office water coolers?
  2. If the “timing was bad”, as some commentators would have us believe, how long after a crisis should you wait until you creatively engage with your community again?
  3. Can the choice of words you use change the outcome? Would a word other than “luxury” have worked better?
  4. What’s really going on here? Customer backlash is not created by social media. Twitter simply provided the platform for customers to vent their spleen publicly. The fact that they are participating in the debate at all is a signal of something much deeper going on.
  5. Is this really damaging the brand? The jury is still out on this one. It’s easy to be spooked in the first few hours of the furore but as time goes on we’re likely to see more measured debate about how this social media exercise is really going to impact on Qantas’ reputation.

 Twittercue: 5 things to consider before you let #qantasluxury turn you off Twitter.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cars beat buses and trains in Northern Territory Brolga Tourism Awards

A small business offering digital audio travel guides for self-drive tourists in Outback Australia has won a prestigious 2011 Northern Territory Brolga Tourism Award in the category of Specialised Tourism Services at the weekend.

DIY Tourguide’s GPS triggered iPhone app, MP3 and CD audio tours are the first of their type and this niche product for the Northern Territory reinforced its acceptance by the marketplace by rising to the top of the Brolga Award category over national companies offering tourist products for buses and trains.
The Brolga Awards are the tourism industry’s highest accolade and recognises tourism businesses that strive for excellence in every area of their operation. Winners represent the best products and services in the Northern Territory.
“I am thrilled to receive the Brolga Award and see innovation and small products recognised,” said Alice Springs based Laurelle Halford, who is the director for DIY Tourguide and the only employee in the business. She is also Creative Territory's Alice Springs consultant.
“More and more tourists coming to the Outback are travelling independently in their own or rental cars rather than in a group with an on-board tour guide, meaning they miss out on vital information to help them fully appreciate the region.
“We wanted to better entertain self-drive tourists and help them to interpret the Outback landscape as they drive through it and not see the centre of our country as an empty, barren place.”
Along with CD and MP3 tours, DIY Tourguide’s unique iPhone application offers detailed, location aware audio commentary over a distance of hundreds of kilometres giving self-drive tourists a new appreciation of the region as they travel.
“For the tech-savvy tourist lack of mobile phone and internet coverage in Outback Australia no longer needs to be a barrier to accessing latest technology.”
Ms Halford says work is underway to expand the company’s self-drive routes beyond the West MacDonnell Ranges and between Alice Springs and Uluru to other routes across the Northern Territory and Australia.

DIY Tourguide is one of the many Brolga Award winners who will represent the Northern Territory in the Australian Tourism Awards in Cairns on 2 March 2012.

Twittercue: DIY Tourguide app helps Alice company win Brolga Tourism award. #alicesprings #topend #tourismnt

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Qantas' Twitter goes to sleep as passengers vent their anger

An extraordinary thing happened last night just hours after Qantas announced its unprecedented decision to ground its entire fleet. Its Twitter went to sleep.

Just five hours into a crisis which left thousands of travellers stranded throughout the world, Qantas decided its customers no longer needed to hear its voice and posted the following on its Twitter feed:

The Qantas fleet remains grounded until further notice. Twitter updates will resume tomorrow at 9am. Visit for info.

It was a move that could be likened to Christine Nixon’s decision to have dinner at a local hotel while Victoria burned a few years ago – although at least she left someone at the helm.

I accept there wasn’t much else Qantas’ Twitter feed could say over and above “sorry”. And responding individually to the Twitter storm that followed its announcement was nigh on impossible.

But to go to sleep? Take the night off? Check out while everyone else was desperate to check in?

Facebook and Twitter weren’t asleep. Neither were the thousands of passengers on the other side of the world who were just waking up to the news that they weren’t going home either.

I’m sure the person feeding the Qantas Twitter account needed some sleep. But surely the company has a contingency in place for keeping the communication going in a situation like this.

It is understandable that many companies have a “business hours” only approach to monitoring and participating in social media discussions – under normal circumstances.

But the extraordinary events of the past few days demanded more. Qantas should have known better. At the very least, its Twitter feed should have soundlessly drifted off the sleep rather than broadcast to the world that it was off to bed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cyclone Carlos study wins national award for CSR

A study looking at how Top Enders accessed information during Cyclone Carlos this year has won a Darwin company a national award for corporate social responsibility.

Darwin-based Creative Territory won a Highly Commended Award in the Australian Golden Target Awards announced in Sydney last night.

The award recognised work the company had carried out during and after the cyclone to communicate emergency information, collect data on how local people accessed information and subsequently set up an online portal for future emergency events.

Creative Territory Managing Director Tracy Jones said her work centres on the critical role social and online media is now playing in getting messages out to the community.

“While traditional media will always remain important, they generally cannot compete with the speed and engagement that social media allows,” she said.

“People are increasingly turning to Facebook, Twitter and other online channels to stay in touch with what is happening.”

Creative Territory undertook research in the weeks following Cyclone Carlos that revealed a strong preference among Darwin residents to access information via the internet, particularly using mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet computers.

“Almost 3 in 4 people said they accessed information about the cyclone via the internet and even more say they will use the internet in the future,” Tracy said.

“The results also show very clearly that the more people go online to get their information, the more they feel informed about what is happening.”

Creative Territory shared its survey results with both local residents and the broader public relations community both nationally and internationally adding to a weight of global discussion about the role of social media in a crisis or emergency.

The national Golden Target Awards are awarded annually by the Public Relations Institute of Australia.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Leak Detectives Save One Bucket of Water per Second

A water pipeline that connects Alice Springs with its main water source at the Roe Creek borefield has undergone a leak repair, saving around 10 litres (about one bucket) of water per second.
The leak repair, four metres below the Tom Browne roundabout near Heavitree Gap has saved the equivalent of 300 Megalitres per year or half an Olympic swimming pool per day.

Power and Water Manager Sustainable Development Water Services, Mark Wiltshire said that whilst leak detection has always been a priority, there is now has a dedicated Leak Detection Officer for the town through the Alice Water Smart plan.

“Fixing water leaks from key piping infrastructure, households and businesses is paramount if we are to preserve Alice Springs’ precious water source and the extra funding through Alice Water Smart provides us with dedicated resources and detecting ability.”

Alice Water Smart is a two year project to help Alice Springs reduce its water use by 1600 million litres per year, equivalent to two months average water supply.

“The Leak Detection Officer will work with the community to help identify leaks around town, no matter how big or small”, Mr Wiltshire said.

“If residents or businesses notice unusual ground water pools or unusually high water bills they can contact Power and Water and we will send the Leak Detection Officer to investigate.”

“Alice Water Smart auditors have already conducted water audits on 19 tourist accommodation properties, detecting some major leaks that will save businesses large amounts off their annual power bills.”

“We are also working with owners and managers to help them become their own on-site leak detectives and the signs to look for should a suspected leak occur.”

For more information on Alice Water Smart visit or call 8951 7315.

Who is involved in Alice Water Smart?

Funding of $7.5 million is being provided under the National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns, a key component of the Australian Government’s long-term Water for the Future initiative. This was matched by Power and Water Corporation with contributions from consortium members, including Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport; Alice Springs Town Council; Arid Lands Environment Centre and Tourism NT.

AAco Food Processing Facility Community Update

Australian Agricultural Company Limited’s (AAco) development application to build a meat processing facility at Livingstone Valley is on public display and the community and stakeholders have until Friday 4 November to make submissions to the Development Consent Authority.

If you are seeking more information about the proposal, please do not hesitate to contact us for a briefing or to ask questions. Our information line is 8941 9161.

Individual and Stakeholder Briefings

Over the past two weeks we have met with neighbours, stakeholders, Litchfield Shire Council, MPs, Indigenous groups and other people interested in hearing more about the project. In meeting some of our neighbours, we have been able to hear their suggestions on how they would like the facility to operate if approved. For example, some neighbours have asked that trees not be planted adjacent to their properties while others had suggestions about operational hours for trucks delivering cattle. These valuable suggestions will be taken on board in our forward planning.

Community Stall at Coolalinga Markets

Last weekend AAco’s General Manager, Northern Australia Beef, Stewart Cruden, met local community members at the Coolalinga Markets. Many questions were asked on a range of issues including water treatment, how cattle will be managed and potential odour sources. Because of the importance of these questions, we have included additional information in this update.


All waste water will be treated on site before being used for irrigation of fodder production crops. The 600 hectare property is currently used for fodder cropping and cattle grazing.

The process for treatment includes:
  • All solids are removed from the waste water streams before treatment. This is a key aspect to successful effluent treatment.
  • Waste water is first treated for 14 days in an anaerobic pond. The pond capacity is 15 ML and will be covered to enhance the biological process and stop odours.
  • Waste water is then moved to an aerobic treatment pond with a capacity of 20 ML, for a further 20 days treatment.
  • Water then moves to a large holding dam (160 ML). At this stage the water is treated to an approved standard for irrigating the land. It does contain traces of nitrogen and phosphate.
  • The treated irrigation water is mixed with rain water collected in holding dams (200 ML) in concentrations (water balance) suitable for controlled irrigation for pasture production.
  • The Environmental Monitoring Program which includes soils, pasture and effluent water will ensure the control of hydraulic and nutrients balance, for the crops being irrigated.
There will be careful monitoring of ground water throughout the site and beyond to measure quality. This also includes ground water coming into the site.

Cattle Management
Around 50-100 cattle will be allowed to graze on the property as a means of keeping vegetation under control in areas that cannot be cropped for fodder. Currently up to 1000 cattle are free-range grazing on the property. The wetland area on the property will be fenced off so that cattle cannot reach it as this area will be managed as a conservation zone.
Cattle for meat production will be held in holding yards (not feeding yards) immediately adjacent to the facility. The plan is to bring cattle into the yards on the day or day before they are to be processed. The cattle yards are on hard stand to reduce dust and for “dry cleaning” management practices. The manure will be collected and composted, further improving the raw waste water quality that needs to be treated. The holding capacity is up to 2000 cattle but average hold numbers will be around 1000 cattle at a time.
Halal Processing
AAco has confirmed that the plant will be Halal. There are a number of requirements to meet this standard, including the employment of two qualified Halal slaughtermen on each shift. Cattle will be electrically stunned as is best-practice animal welfare management.
Vehicle Movements
All vehicle movements to and from the proposed facility will be via the Stuart Highway. No access is required from other local roads. Truck movements will be limited to “sociable” hours – likely to be from around 6am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 9am to 5pm on Sundays. We are discussing these times with local neighbours. All roads and driveways within the site will be sealed and speed will be controlled to limit noise.
No Plans for Worker Accommodation
There are no plans to house workers on site during either construction or operations. For the construction, we are planning to contract work to Northern Territory companies. Our preference during the operational stage is to employ local people, as this will give us a more stable and committed workforce. A training program will be necessary to help us achieve this.
Compost at the site will consist of paunch content and manure. This will be held in a compost pile at least 1km from the closest boundary. Current best practice dictates the compost heap should be 100m from the closest boundary. We will be using best-practice management to minimise odours from the pile.
The pile will be occasionally turned and this is the time when odours may occur. However, we will be undertaking this task when prevailing breezes are able to carry any smells away from nearby properties and at times that will least affect residents and recreational activity.
A number of people have asked how they can get jobs at the facility. If the project goes ahead, we will be posting this information on our website.
Stay Up to Date
If you would like to receive regular updates on the facility as we progress through the approvals process, please join our email list by visiting our website at or phoning our information line on 8941 9161.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Alice Springs Getting Smart with Water during National Water Week

It’s National Water Week this week and through Alice Water Smart, there has been a tidal surge of activity to help Alice Springs businesses and residents save water.

Alice Water Smart is a two year project that will help Alice Springs reduce its water use by 1600 million litres per year, equivalent to two months average water supply.

Power and Water Manager Sustainable Development Water Services, Mark Wiltshire said, “Alice Springs has a finite underground water source in Alice, so together through the Alice Water Smart project we can help to protect our water source into the future.”

“Everyone can start by doing one less laundry wash per day, or get a leaking tap fixed or installing smart irrigators in your garden.”

“National Water Week is a fantastic opportunity for residents and businesses to find out more at our lunchtime display stand at the Alice Plaza Shopping Centre.”

Already, through Tourism NT, 19 large tourist accommodation properties have completed water efficiency audits, and other large commercial businesses such as the Alice Springs airport and the hospital are working with Alice Water Smart to develop their water saving plans.

Water efficiency consultants are ramping up to conduct hundreds of home and business consultations to offer practical advice and financial rebates to help people save water in their homes and gardens.

The Alice Water Smart Homes and Businesses project team is also looking for homeowners who consider their garden to be water smart. People can nominate for their garden to be a showcase to others in the community in future public open days.

Power and water's Leak Detection Van has been out identifying leaks saving potentially 300 Megalitres per year.

The Alice Springs Town Council is preparing to install smart irrigation technology in over 70 local parks and ovals.

“The average Alice Springs person uses 564 litres per person per day in their home which makes us among the highest water users in Australia, and Alice Water Smart provides a great opportunity to save water through all the incentives and rebates on offer.”, says Mark Wiltshire.

“Many of us believe our water supply will last forever, as it is drawn from the ancient Amadeus basin. However our water is precious and must be used wisely. Alice Water Smart aims to preserve our finite groundwater source and secure the long term sustainability of Alice Springs.”

For more information on Alice Water Smart visit or call 8951 7315.
Who is involved in Alice Water Smart?

Funding of $7.5 million is being provided under the National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns, a key component of the Australian Government’s long-term Water for the Future initiative. This was matched by Power and Water Corporation with contributions from consortium members, including the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport; Alice Springs Town Council; Arid Lands Environment Centre and Tourism NT.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Beat the Christmas rush at the Waterfront Craft Fair

The final Waterfront Craft Fair for 2011 will be held this Friday, 14 October from 2 – 8pm.

With over 30 stalls of beautifully crafted and handmade jewellery, glass ware, macramé, soaps, garden ornaments and clothing the Craft Fair is a wonderful diversion to the build-up and a great opportunity to get ready for Christmas.

Shine Gifts offers Darwinites the chance to get in early for Christmas gifts and trinkets with a wonderful display of Christmas decorations and gifts, including freshwater pearls, opals, bohemian crystal, glassware, lamps and art.

Designed in the Territory, Slappa Thongs are made from recycled foam, they come in a range of colours and are a great addition to the Territory wardrobe. Why not buy two pairs, one for everyday wear and one for going out!

Miranda’s handmade clay flowers are exquisitely crafted and ever-lasting, a wonderful gift for someone who loves orchids and exotic flowers.

New to the Waterfront Craft Fair is Batchelor Bees locally produced honey, come and meet Ian and tempt your taste buds.

Pure Selection is offering a range of all natural mozzi and midgie repellants in tropical strength and ultra sensitive, a must in the current Territory climate.

Ropes, Rags, Baskets and Bags provides the perfect solution to the ban on plastic bags with wonderful handbags and tote bags ready for any shopping excursion.

For those who are feeling the pressure of end of year stresses, or working too hard, visit the magical hands of Tony’s Healing or look into the cards of Linda Tate’s tarot readings.

Local musician and singer, Brooke Barnett will perform soulful jazz accompanied by Kadek Hobman on keyboard from 4pm.

The Darwin Waterfront Craft Fair offers something for everyone.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

NT Social Media Statistics for September Quarter

The growth of LinkedIn throughout the Territory continues to outstrip that of Facebook although still has a long way to reach the same number of users, according to statistics compiled for the September quarter by Creative Territory.

LinkedIn Northern Territory membership grew 18 per cent over the past three months. If this growth rate continues, LinkedIn will have almost 17,000 members in the NT a year from now.

Facebook membership also continues to grow, with now 72,240 members in the NT. Growth across the Territory was 4 per cent in the three months to 30 September, with biggest growth in Tennant Creek at 12.8 per cent. Around 46 per cent of people in Darwin and Katherine are on Facebook, with a total Territorian Facebook population of around 33 per cent.


Tennant Creek and Nhulunbuy led the growth in Facebook members this quarter, up 12.8 and 7.8 per cent respectively. The number of members in Alice Springs recovered from dip in August to reach 10,260 members.

Source: These statistics were sourced using Facebook’s advertising tool, setting parameters for state and town and includes all age groups. Be aware that while Facebook works hard to understand the true demographics of its users as its advertising model depends on it, it still relies on individual account owners to name their home town. Many users do not.


Around 4.4 per cent of Territorians in major centres are now connected via LinkedIn, with Nhulunbuy continuing to lead the pack.

Source: These figures were prepared by using LinkedIn’s advanced search tool. We searched for accounts within 80km of each major centre in the Northern Territory. Tennant Creek is not shown in this table, as our search did not reveal any users. Again, we need to remember that account holders self-identify their location and research shows a large number of people never visit their profile again after the initial rush of excitement.


We have to wonder about the accuracy of search tools when Twitter numbers remain exactly the same as the previous month at 642 members. Instead, here is a snapshot of where Territory Twitter users live.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sherwin Iron appoints new Chairman

Well-known Territorian Barry Coulter has been appointed Chairman of Sherwin Iron Limited (ASX: SHD) effective 1 October 2011.

Mr Coulter, a former NT Cabinet Minister who has lived in the Northern Territory for 35 years, replaces Mr Terence Smith, who is retiring after five years as Chairman.

Mr Coulter was appointed to the Board of Sherwin in July this year and will oversee the relocation of the Sherwin head office from Perth to Darwin as the Roper River Iron Ore Project moves closer to production.

Mr Coulter has been a Chairman of public, private and government corporations including AirNorth, International All Sports and Darwin Port Corporation.

He was a member of the Northern Territory Parliament for 16 years and served as Deputy Chief Minister,
Treasurer and Minister for Mines and Energy. He spearheaded the Darwin to Adelaide railway project for 13 years.

Mr Coulter thanked Mr Smith for his contribution to the company, saying his leadership had seen Sherwin Iron develop the Roper River Iron Ore Project to potentially become a world-class development.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Darwin local wins state award for cyclone communication

Creative Territory Director Tracy Jones won a state award for excellence at the Northern Territory Public Relations Institute Association (PRIA) Awards last night.
The crisis-communication expert took out the Corporate Social Responsibility category for improving communication in cyclones and other natural disasters in the NT.
Tracy, who has more than 20 years experience in crisis and emergency communication, gathered a body of research which led to the development of a community website and social media plug-in called EmergencyNT.
She said the work was borne in the aftermath of Cyclone Carlos, which hit Darwin without warning in February and brought down thousands of trees, flooded homes and blacked out power.
“At Creative Territory, we saw the community was confused by the mass of information being put out by various sources including government, emergency services, private business and the community.
“People were asking basic questions such as, ‘are the buses running, should I go to work, will my house flood and should I go to an evacuation centre?’. We participated in the conversation and undertook research on how it could be improved in the future.”
The research found only 54 per cent of people felt fully informed about the storm and 95.5 per cent would prefer a single online source for information.
Creative Territory has made the EmergencyNT tools available free of charge and shared the concept of a Twittercue, a set of pre-packaged words added to a media release, that enables Tweeters to accurately tweet a media release.
The Darwin boutique agency shared their findings with more than 250 businesses and public relations professionals to inform best practice and improve communication before, during and after an emergency.
“Cyclone Carlos taught us a lesson, not only about communicating in a crisis but also about our own social responsibility to our community,” Tracy said.
The 2011 State Award for Excellence is Tracy’s eleventh Northern Territory PRIA award.

AAco Food Processing Facility proposal moves to next stage

Australian Agricultural Company Limited (AAco) today announced it is moving to the next stage of proving the potential to build a state-of-the art food processing facility at Livingstone Valley 50km south of Darwin.

The proposed facility would create around 230 jobs during construction and 270 ongoing jobs, with a capacity to process up to 1,000 cattle per day for export to markets in the US, Europe and Asia.

Producing manufactured boxed beef, hides and rendered products, the facility would become one of the largest employers in Darwin’s rural area and generate new industries in the Top End.

Community consultation has begun today and approval applications are being prepared for submission to the Northern Territory Government by the end of the month. A final board decision to proceed is contingent on a number of factors including planning approvals, Government support, carbon farming initiatives and project viability.

AAco is seeking Australian and Northern Territory Government support in the form of upgrades to public infrastructure which would both facilitate this project and also be available to broader industry and the community.

Subject to government approvals and government infrastructure funding being granted, the Board will be in a position to consider the appropriate capital structure and to ultimately consider project endorsement. Construction could commence in early 2012 and commissioning by the end of next year.

“A project of this size and scope means upgrades to or new infrastructure such as roads, transport facilities, essential utilities and community services,” AAco Northern Territory General Manager, Northern Australian Beef, Stewart Cruden said.

“AAco has calculated a need for 134 new refrigerated container points at the Port of Darwin, new railway sidings, improved rail crossings and upgrades to electricity, water, gas and telecommunications access.

“There is a need for new local community facilities including health, child care and training services.

“We are looking to further discussions on how the public infrastructure can be provided as we work through our due diligence process.”

Mr Cruden said the company’s intention was to create an alternate market for AAco and all Northern Australian cattle producers.

“The only markets for cattle at present are via live export or transport to southern processing facilities. Both mean long journeys for cattle and result in significant transport costs and carcase weight loss,” Mr Cruden said.

“While this facility will not completely replace these options, it will open up new opportunities and markets for cattle producers.”

As a state-of-the-art facility, the project will employ the latest in processing, compliance, traceability, data capture, animal welfare and environmental technologies, including a commitment to a low carbon footprint and to recycle virtually all waste on site.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vista Gold Australia invites local community to have their say

Vista Gold Australia will hold a number of community information sessions regarding the Mt Todd Gold Project, 50 kms north-west of Katherine, starting next week.

Ray Iacono, Managing Director Vista Gold Australia says that the information sessions will enable Vista Gold to update the community on their progress to date and provide opportunities for the public to comment on aspects of the project.

“To date, we have received very positive feedback from the community based on their support for the potential local and regional economic benefits. We encourage the communities of Katherine and Pine Creek to participate in these information sessions so that we have a clear understanding of the issues that are important to them,” Mr Iacono said.

Vista Gold has engaged independent consultant, GHD Pty Ltd, to undertake an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to identify potential environmental, social, transport, accommodation, cultural and economic impacts associated with reopening and operating the gold mine.

“The EIS will recommend ways to reduce or remove potential negative impacts and enhance potential positive impacts from the mine project.”

The community information sessions will be held on:

• Saturday 24 September, 9am – 12 noon, at the Woolworths Shopping centre, Katherine

• Monday 26 September, 6.30pm – 8.30pm, at the Pine Creek Community Hall

• Tuesday 27 September, 7.30am at the Katherine Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast

Since acquiring the Mt Todd project in 2006, Vista Gold has taken an orderly, methodical and conservative approach to determine the future of the site.

In November 2010, The Northern Territory Government renewed its agreement with Vista Gold for the care and maintenance of the site, demonstrating both the Government’s and Vista Gold’s commitment to assessing the feasibility of developing the site.

With an improvement in the gold price, Vista Gold Australia is working towards getting the site back to production, with approvals and permits expected to be in place during 2012.


#Vista Gold 2 hold community info sessions in Katherine & Pine Creek re Mt Todd Gold Mine Project #topend

A fresh start for Katherine Youth

Mission Australia is giving young people in Katherine a fresh approach to living healthy with a community garden.

The project aims to reconnect Katherine and surrounding communities’ youth with nature and sustainable food production.

Mission Australia Youth Services Coordinator Ruth Cardier said, “The project provides a positive environment of learning and alternative recreational activities for local youth.

“We created the garden in Mission Australia’s Katherine Office Car Park. We turned a space that was a weed infested wasteland into a vibrant veggie patch.

“There are over 50 youth aged 10 to 16 years who have participated in the project so far. They come in small groups of five to eight a few times a week.”

The community garden started five months ago in collaboration with the Katherine’s Department of Health (DOH) and Katherine High School.

DOH nutritionist Kate Robertson has taught the teenagers in the project ways of living healthy and how to cook food using produce from the garden.

Katherine High School is helping the participants make the step from community garden project to the school’s Horticultural Program by providing space for Mission Australia to extend their program onto the grounds of the High School.

“We are really trying to help more youth re-engage with high school and getting them interested in gardening is just another way,” said Ms Cardier.

“The youth love watering the plants and enjoy planting and eating the garden produce.

“We had our first veggie harvest of eggplants recently, which we cooked up, under the guidance of Kate, in an eggplant and pasta dish.”

Young people in the project are from Katherine, Kalano, Binjari and Rockhole communities.

The Community Garden is growing corn, silverbeet, tomatoes, peas, beans, squash, watermelons, a variety of herbs and lots more.

“We incorporated the ideas from the young people of what they would like us to grow.”

For more information or how to get involved in the project please contact Ruth

@missionaust gives a fresh start to Katherine Youth with a community #garden project #topend


Media Contact: Anita Brabham on 89419169

Photo caption: Rockhole Youth enjoy fruits of Mission Australia’s Community Garden From left to right: Joyce Herbert, Victoria Pamkal, Samantha Brown, Brittany Barroway, Tyronia Miliyan and Nikita Andrews.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Social Media Growth Continues in the NT

Social media participation in the Northern Territory continues to grow, particularly the number of Territorians now connecting via LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has seen a massive 12.4 per cent growth in the two months from 30 June to
31 August, up from 8277 to 9303 members. If this growth rate continues, we could see more than 16,000 members in the NT by this time next year.
Facebook achieved just 3.3 per cent growth over the same period, up from 69,620 members to 71,900.
This growth is mirrored in a recent recruitment campaign we implemented on behalf of a client, which saw a much higher response rate from LinkedIn advertising compared with Facebook.
Twitter remains notoriously difficult to measure but even so appears to have achieved less than 1 per cent growth.

Katherine and Batchelor led the growth in Facebook members, up 5.3 and 10.3 per cent respectively. The number of members in Alice Springs actually decreased.
The percentage of population on Facebook is now 32.7 per cent, with a much higher usage in Darwin at 45.2 per cent and Katherine at 46.3 per cent.
All NT
Alice Springs
Tennant Creek

Source: These statistics were sourced using Facebook’s advertising tool, setting parameters for state and town and includes all age groups. Be aware that while Facebook works hard to understand the true demographics of its users as its advertising model depends on it, it still relies on individual account owners to name their home town. Many users do not.
Just over 4 per cent of Territorians in major centres are now connected via LinkedIn, with Nhulunbuy continuing to lead the pack with a whopping 12.8 per cent of residents holding an account, up from 11 per cent in June.

All major centres
Alice Springs

Source: These figures were prepared by using LinkedIn’s advanced search tool. We searched for accounts within 80km of each major centre in the Northern Territory. Tennant Creek is not shown in this table, as our search did not reveal any users. Again, we need to remember that account holders self-identify their location and research shows a large number of people never visit their profile again after the initial rush of excitement.

Twitter remains difficult to measure, and our analysis showed less than 1 per cent growth over the two-month period.

Estimated users
Please note we have adjusted our estimate downward for the month of June based on using a more advanced search process through TweetAdder.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

New partnership to help Indigenous job seekers check into the hospitality industry

Leading Australian employment service Mission Australia is teaming up with IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) on an innovative new program to help boost Indigenous employment in Australia’s hospitality industry.

Mission Australia Employment Solutions Project Manager Natalie Therese said the new joint Indigenous Employment Program (IEP) aims to help tackle Indigenous unemployment by placing 60 Indigenous job seekers in roles within IHG’s InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels across Australia within the next twelve months.

There are four IHG hotels participating in the Northern Territory: the Holiday Inn Esplanade Darwin, Holiday Inn Darwin, Crowne Plaza Darwin and Crowne Plaza Alice Springs.

The initiative funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations is the first nation-wide IEP partnership Mission Australia has entered into, following the success of a number of local IEPs in individual states.

“This partnership is about opening doors and creating opportunities for Indigenous Australians to get a start in the hospitality industry,” Ms Therese said.

“According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate among Indigenous Australians last year was more than three times higher than that of non-Indigenous Australians.

“Across the country right now, Mission Australia has more than 3,700 Indigenous people registered as active job seekers.

“We see this nation-wide IEP as a step in the right direction towards tackling Indigenous unemployment right across Australia and we’re delighted to be working with one of the world’s leading hotel chains to do so.”

According to IHG chief operating officer Australasia, Bruce McKenzie, the Mission Australia initiative sets an example of the level of commitment required to create more education, employment and career opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

“We set a clear target of ensuring at least three percent of our Australian workforce is made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders within three years, when we introduced the hospitality industry’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) late last year. Our partnership with Mission Australia will help us make tangible progress toward realising that commitment.

“We know from experience that the real impact in closing the gap in opportunities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians happens at a community level. Working alongside Mission Australia, we’ll be providing sustainable training, education, employment and career opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and their communities across the Country.

“It’s initiatives like this that will make the strongest impact in the ongoing call for sustainable opportunities for indigenous Australians. We can’t wait to get started,” Bruce said.

Ms Therese said Mission Australia will be working with IHG’s hotels to help place the right people in the right roles – targeting both job seekers registered with Mission Australia Employment Solutions services, as well as those who express an interest through their local community.

“Mission Australia will screen potential candidates and provide them with work ready training ahead of an interview with the local hotel,” she said.

“Successful candidates will then be signed up for a traineeship with IHG to achieve a Certificate III in Hospitality Operations, with training to be provided by leading training organisation Untamed Group.

“Mentors will also be assigned to the candidates to help them succeed in their new job and manage the challenges of their traineeship.

“This is about providing lasting employment opportunities for Indigenous job seekers, and helping to build a fairer Australia.”

Mission Australia Employment Solutions’ Nathalie Therese is in the NT until Friday, 9 September and is available for interview.

Mission Australia Employment Solutions is one of Australia’s largest providers of the Federal Government’s Job Services Australia (JSA) program, and in 2010 assisted more than 50,000 Australians into long-term employment.

For further information on the IEP and Mission Australia Employment Solutions, please contact Mission Australia on 13 11 24.

Media Contacts:

Mission Australia: Jeannette Button (08) 8941 9169 or 0407 727 080

IHG: Nicole Campbell (02) 9264 4411 or 0423 965 025

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Special week raises literacy and numeracy awareness

This week has been declared National Literacy and Numeracy Week by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Scott Wassman, Katherine Regional Service Manager of Mission Australia says the week highlights how central literacy and numeracy is to be successful in everyday life.

“Poor literacy and numeracy skills are one of the many barriers to jobseekers in finding long term employment,” Mr Wassman said.

Mission Australia operates the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program in Katherine. It provides training in speaking, listening, reading and maths to adult students to help them achieve their goals whether it is pathways to sustainable employment, further study or even the skills to obtain their drivers license.

“We currently have over 30 students in Katherine participating in the program” he said.

“The program is individually tailored to each student’s need. We assist them in making a plan that helps them achieve their goals of employment, further education or overcoming other challenges affecting learning outcomes that they may face,” he said.

“For example, we noticed about three weeks ago one of our newest students Moses fiercely squinting in class. We quickly got him a consultation with a local optometrist who fitted him with his first ever prescription glasses”.

Local Member Willem Westra Van Holthe said this type of program was vital to the community.

“Reading and writing are often taken for granted but unfortunately these essential skills are not shared. These skills form the foundation from which so many aspects of our lives are formed,” said Mr Westra Van Holthe.

Mission Australia is one of the national leading providers of support services and training to jobseekers. Nationally Mission Australia has helped 1847 participants through the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program to equip them with the fundamental literacy and numeracy skills they need for life.

The program is available through Mission Australia in New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia and is free to all eligible students.

The initiative is in partnership with Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).

Twittercue: @missionaust highlights #Katherine #topend program during National Literacy and Numeracy week #nlnw2011

Media Contact: Anita Brabham 89419169