Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Zuccoli hot property

The Darwin property market continues to defy national property trends with land selling at record speed.

The Warbird release at Zuccoli Village, which hit the market last week, has sold out.
Fringed by savannah bushland, the release featured 13 residential blocks ranging in size from 612 to 915 square metres.

“We had a strong response, which is promising for the local community,” Urbex Project Director Andrew Bartington said.

“Many people are looking to own their own home and have discovered that buying a block and building can be more affordable than purchasing an existing home.”

Mr Bartington said Urbex works with people to find a home design that’s within their budget and built by local builders.

“We have a range of designs for people to choose from and we are with them every step of the way.”
Zuccoli is a master planned community developed by Urbex in partnersip with the Northern Territory’s Land Development Corporation.

When complete the suburb, located just off the Stuart Highway off Lambrick Avenue, will be the largest in Palmerston and will incorporate schools, sporting facilities, commercial/retail centres, community facilities and an extensive range of walking and bicylce tracks.

People wanting more information on life at the Village can visit www.zuccolivillage.com.au or call Janzey Pratt on 1300 556 950.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Six top online and social sources for Top End cyclone information

By Tracy Jones

With the cyclone season now upon us, all of us in the Top End need to be prepared. With your cyclone kit packed, your insurance updated and your family emergency plan updated, you need to think about how you will access the information you need to get through.

Our research at Creative Territory has shown us that up to 90 per cent of Top Enders are now using the web and social media to find out what is going on. The problem is, the social media space is now so overcrowded with “experts” it is hard to know who to trust.

Here’s our advice on where to go, depending on the type of information you are looking for:

1.       For official weather information go to www.bom.gov.au The Bureau of Meteorology issues all official cyclone watches and warnings. It is also the place to watch the latest radar information. You can also see radar images by downloading the Rain? app on your mobile phone or tablet device.

2.       For official updates on government information and services, go to www.secureNT.nt.gov.au This site aggregates information from all NT Government agencies in one place. It also includes useful tips to help you get ready for the season. You can also like secureNT on Facebook (www.facebook.com/secureNT) or follow them on Twitter (www.twitter.com/@secureterritory). This is a trusted source for official information.

3.       If you are looking for more colour and interest but still want to have a reasonable level of trust in the information, use local traditional media outlets. ABC regularly updates its website with the latest information. ABC Darwin, The NT News and Nine News Darwin have very active social media channels through both Facebook and Twitter.

4.       A number of websites provide great professional and para-professional commentary on weather conditions as they change. Try www.northauschasers.com , the Weather Channel or Weather Zone.

5.       In Twitter, do a search for hashtags that will help you sift through information. For example, in the Top End, search for #topend which is used by many locals to help index their Tweets. Once a cyclone is declared, many Tweets will use the appropriate hashtag – for example, during Cyclone Carlos in Darwin many people used #Carlos or #TCCarlos  Just be aware that not all this information can be trusted – not because people are trying to fool you, but because not everyone has accurate information.

6.       Watch out for what your friends are saying and see what people you follow are saying. They’ll provide you with a very local weather forecast right from their own home.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Love leads to Mission Australia Katherine

Michelle Kudell took a chance on love and is now the new Regional Services Manager for Mission Australia in Katherine.

The former Manager for Indigenous Health at Darling Downs and South West Queensland Medicare Local reconnected with her high school sweetheart, whom she’s known for 28 years, and followed her heart north.

As fate would have it, Mission Australia was looking for someone with her experience, passion and enthusiasm to lead their Katherine team and manage delivery of its regional programs.

Ms Kudell has more than 10 years in the health welfare and education industry and a strong interest in Indigenous health. 

At GP Connections in Toowoomba she headed up the development of the Be Proud card, which helps aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people access mainstream health services, and was instrumental in organising an Indigenous Health Committee for the Darling Downs region.

“I love to work creatively and hope I can inspire my team to achieve new and great things in their field,” Ms Kudell said.

“I aim to continue to build our current programs and look for ways to make them sustainable and relevant to the community.”

Mission Australia run a variety of programs in Katherine and surrounding remote communities including money management, housing support, early intervention programs for youth homelessness and dedicated case management.

“I’d also like to be proactive in helping the homeless and be part of community task forces that achieve real results,” Ms Kudell said.

When not at work, you’re likely to see the visual artist (and her sweetheart) trying to land a barra or exploring the natural wonders in the region.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

AACo appoints project management and construction companies for Meat Processing Facility

Australian Agricultural Company Limited (AACo) today announced it had appointed the Project Manager and Managing Contractor for the construction of the meat processing facility at Livingstone Valley, 50km south of Darwin.

Locally based Project Management specialists Thinc and construction company Sunbuild have been contracted to manage the building of the facility.

AACo General Manager, Mr Stewart Cruden said that the expertise both companies will bring to the project was of the highest standard.

Thinc has extensive experience in major property and capital works projects while Sunbuild has established an excellent reputation in the Territory with award winning projects such as Evolution, the Darwin Rail Terminal and Darwin Airport Resort.
“AACo welcomes both companies on board, their appointment is a significant milestone and with earth works already underway, we can now start to see how the facility will actually take shape,” he said.

“After months of careful planning it’s all systems go.”
Construction of the meat processing facility will create around 230 jobs. It is expected much of the workforce will be accessed from local contractors, with some specialist skills sought from outside of the Northern Territory as required.

The Processing Facility will be developed at a capital cost of around $85 million.
Tender documents will also be released for drainage, concrete, steelwork, insulated panel and specialised equipment.

Facility construction and equipment installation is expected to be complete in the third quarter of next year, with commissioning beginning immediately.

Once operational, the facility will create 260 direct and a further 530 indirect jobs, including substantial new opportunities for indigenous and female workers in the region. It will inject $126 million a year into the local economy, will be efficient from a carbon emissions standpoint, and improve animal welfare outcomes.

Monday, November 19, 2012

No need for court for construction complaints

A leading Northern Territory lawyer says builders no longer need to feel powerless against developers when construction disputes arise.

Alistair Wyvill SC of William Forster Chambers said builders often feel they have to discount their invoices to get paid, even when they believe there’s no foundation to the developer’s complaint.

The Darwin barrister said subcontractors and suppliers also take this approach when owed money by contractors. They feel that their only other option is an expensive and drawn out court case.

Mr Wyvill says that builders and subcontractors do have a viable alternative to costly court proceedings by using adjudications under the Construction Contract (Security of Payments) Act.

“Adjudication is a fast and cost effective way of forcing payment under construction contracts. It normally takes about four weeks and if successful results in a judgment enforceable by the courts,” Mr Wyvill said

“There is no limit to the amount which can be awarded. It is the big stick that every builder or supplier should know about.”

The Security of Payments legislation is in place to promote the use of good payment practices and to help resolve building contract disputes without drawn out and costly court cases.

Under the process an independent and qualified professional reviews each party’s case  and determines the competing claims on a strict timetable.

Determinations cannot be appealed and if not complied with can result in companies being subject to a substantial court judgment and even winding-up proceedings.

“It is highly likely that the Northern Territory will see an increase in construction industry contract payment disputes in the expected building and mining boom,” Mr Wyvill said.

“It is vital for members of the construction industry to understand this legislation, be aware of the opportunities it creates and but also to understand its pitfalls.”

William Forster Chambers will be conducting a seminar on Security of Payments Adjudication directed to builders and developers on Tuesday 27 November 2012 between 4.30pm and 6.00pm at William Forster Chambers, 26 Harry Chan Avenue, Darwin.

For further information go to www.williamforster.com  or call Megan White on 89824700.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sherwin Iron and NLC reach historic agreement for mine

Sherwin Iron Limited and the Northern Land Council have reached an agreement on the terms under which Sherwin may mine the Roper River Iron Ore Project.
The agreement, ratified at a full council meeting of the NLC today, is a critical milestone in securing the future of the mine as well as providing substantial benefits to the traditional owners and native title holders of the mine.

The Roper River Iron Ore Project, which is 500km south east of Darwin, has a current resource of 488 million tonnes. The project includes several major deposits including Hodgson Downs, Mount Fisher, Sherwin Creek, Mount Scott and Yumanji.

The NLC agreement is subject to Ministerial approval.

The agreement covers mining and exploration over all Sherwin tenements and includes royalty payments and Indigenous employment targets.

Sherwin Iron Executive Chairman Barry Coulter paid tribute to the NLC and traditional owners for their commitment to the project.

“There has been a real spirit of openness and trust throughout the negotiations,” Mr Coulter said.

“We are all committed to achieving an outcome that brings benefits to the traditional owners, local people and the broader Territory community.”

Up to 200 people will be employed during construction of the mine, with 400 jobs created once fully operational. At least 200 million tonnes of ore will be produced over the mine life, including initial 40 million tonnes of high value Direct Shipping Ore.

Direct investment in the mine is estimated to be $800 million over the life of the project, which includes mine infrastructure, beneficiation facilities, camp, transport infrastructure and environmental control processes.

In broader Territory terms, assessment by Perth-based Prime Research estimates a boost of between $2,500 million and $2,900 million to the economy over the next eight years.

Sherwin Iron is currently moving through environmental assessment and community consultation ahead of lodging a Notice of Intent with the Northern Territory Government later this month.
The project was granted Major Project Status by the Northern Territory Government earlier this year. Work is continuing on completing an Environmental Impact Statement and working towards receiving regulatory approval.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Creative Territory shortlisted for international social media award

Creative Territory has been shortlisted for an international award for social media.

The Darwin-based company has been named as one of three shortlisted entries in the Public Affairs Asia Gold Standard Awards, which recognise excellence in public affairs throughout the Asia Pacific region.

The company is up against campaigns by global companies Adidas and IBM in the Social Media Communications category, the winner of which will be announced in Hong Kong on December 6.

Creative Territory has been recognised for its use of social media during Cyclone Carlos in February 2011, including the provision of information through Facebook and Twitter during the storm and its research into community information sources afterwards.

Managing director and social media commentator Tracy Jones said her company’s work has led to a greater understanding of how people in the Top End access information during emergencies in the social media age.
“Our research has shown that Territorians are increasingly switching to their smartphones and computers in an emergency,” Tracy said.

“When Cyclone Carlos hit Darwin, Territorians were looking to Facebook and Twitter to find out what was going on but few local organisations were there with them.

“We’ve seen an amazing turnaround since then, with authorities and the media now providing a complete social media service that not only provides information but engages Territorians in the recovery process.

“The use of Facebook and Twitter during Cyclone Carlos was 22 per cent. Just 10 months later during Cyclone Grant that had jumped to 38 per cent. More importantly, Territorians feel much better informed about what is going on as the use of social media grows.”

Creative Territory has shared its research with the local community, media and government as well as interstate and international colleagues. This work has contributed to creating a better understanding about how people access and use information during emergencies and recovery.

For more information about the awards: http://www.publicaffairsasia.net/goldstandard/index.html.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

NT Homelessness Summit to hit high note

Gabby Wright performs at Urban Quest

The NT Homelessness Summit will hit a high note today when up and coming local singer Gabrielle Wright performs an original track about life on the streets.

The Palmerston Senior College student, who recently took out the Telstra Road to Discovery, co-wrote Blind Eye and will perform the song for the first time in Darwin.

“The song tells a story,” Ms Wright said. I hope it touches everyone who hears it and sends a message about those who are alone in this world and perhaps in need of a little help.”

The lyrics ask ‘can anybody see me now’ and encourages listeners not to ‘turn a blind eye’.

The 17 year old soul singer said Mission Australia Case Manager Kellie Streeter approached her with the song idea after she won the charity organisation’s Urban Quest in April.

“I was surprised and honoured that Kellie asked me. She just wants to help people,” Ms Wright said.

Ms Streeter, who works with homeless people on a day-to-day basis at Mission Australia said the song was helpful in her work.

“My vision for the song is to advocate for those that are silenced in our community,” Ms Streeter said.

“I’ve played it for some of my clients and they relate to it. They’ve walked that path.”

The pair went to Melbourne to have the song produced and met  up with Urban Quest judge and music industry guru Mark Holden for his seal of approval.

Gabrielle will perform Blind Eye at the NT Homelessness Summit at SkyCity Casino from 3pm today and Mission Australia staff will assist in the facilitation of workshops.

The NT Homelessness Summit is hosted by NT Shelter for delegates across the Territory who work in the homelessness sector.  

For more information visit www.ntshelter.org.au/

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Facebook just keeps growing in the NT

By Tracy Jones

Following a dip in Northern TerritoryFacebook membership post Christmas, membership has surged again to increase by 32 per cent over the past 12 months.

There are 95,320 Territorians on Facebook, up from around 72,000 on 30 September last year and well ahead of the previous peak in December of 84,580.

Most interesting is where that growth is coming from. While teens and those in their thirties and forties have left Facebook since June, people in their twenties and those aged 50 and over have flocked to the social media network.

The green and red bars in the graph below shows the current break-up by age and gender of Facebook users as at 30 September 2012. The blue line shows total Facebook members in each age bracket as at 30 June 2012.

Perhaps it's all the new parents in their twenties sharing baby photos with their parents.

While the number of LinkedIn members remains relatively small, it has maintained its place as the fastest-growing social media platform in the Northern Territory with an annual growth rate of almost 60 per cent over the past 12 months. In Katherine, growth was 72 per cent as shown in the graph below.

It's a shame we are unable to produce reasonably reliable statistics for Twitter. Anecdotally, it appears to have experienced steadt growth, particularly among opinion makers and shapers.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Local construction company wins state employer award

Nortruss Building Supplies has taken out the Mission Australia Employer Awards for the second year running.

The NT construction supply company won the award for ‘going above and beyond’ to hire and work with struggling job seekers.

Nortruss won from a field of businesses that Mission Australia’s Employment Solutions Team works with to find employment for people who’ve been out of work for a long time, may require additional training or need extra support.

“We’ve had a great relationship with Nortruss over the last three years and in that time they’ve given six workers a go – three of whom still work for the company today,” Mission Australia Employment Solutions Manager Dean Proctor said.

“Nortruss shone out from the rest because of their willingness to give just about anyone a go and look at the skills that each individual can bring to the business.”

Mr Proctor said Nortruss also provides flexible start and finish times for its workers and training in welding and warehousing for example.

“Any small business that commits to hiring job seekers with significant challenges or who require extra support, deserves recognition,” he said.

“Nortruss has not only made a difference to these workers lives by helping them turn around their circumstances, but the whole community and we congratulate them.”

Job seekers are referred to Mission Australia from Centrelink and other health providers.

Nortruss Building Supplies will now go in the running for the national award to be announced on 27 November.

The national winner will be recognised at a gala dinner in Sydney with a prize to the value of $5000.

For more information visit www.missionaustralia.com.au

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mission Australia gets cool with esky art

A colourful collection of brightly painted eskies has taken over Mission Australia’s Youth Connections office in Malak.

The eskies were painted by students of the Yirrkala School in east Arnhem Land as part of the 2012 Darwin Fridge Festival, which launches next month.

The Festival, which celebrates the humble fridge and esky, also aims to empower and provide art to some of society’s most vulnerable people.

It’s the second year Mission Australia has teamed up with the quirky Festival and coordinated painting workshops in remote communities across the Top End.

Operations Manager Jillian Smith said the exercise builds on the good work of their Youth Connections team.

“The Festival is a great initiative and provides a fun way for our team to engage with and help kids who are at risk of dropping out of school,” Ms Smith said.

“The students who’ve participated in the workshops have loved them and really embraced the opportunity, which is a great success.”

As part of the remote workshops, the Fridge Festival in collaboration with Darwin Community Arts sent out professional artists including Janie Andrews and Marita Albers to inspire and mentor the young students.

“I think that’s been one of the highlights for both the students and the artists,” Ms Smith said.

This year the Festival has visited the Nhulunbuy, Yirrkala, Milingimbi and Maningrida with workshops to be held in Gunbalanya, the Tiwi Islands and Ngukurr next week.

The students’ work, which features Territory icons including crocodiles and sunsets and symbols of love and peace, will eventually join fridges and eskies painted by community groups, families and professionals at exhibitions across Darwin.

The works will be on display during October at venues including the Darwin International Airport, Malak Shopping Centre, Darwin Waterfront, Casuarina Shopping Centre and local schools and libraries.

For more information visit www.darwinfridgefestival.org.au.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Vista Gold announces resource update for Mt Todd Gold Mine to over 7 million ounces

Vista Gold Corp. Grows Mt. Todd Estimated Measured & Indicated Gold Resources to over 7 Million Ounces

Denver, Colorado, September 4, 2012 - Vista Gold Corp. (TSX & NYSE MKT: VGZ) (“Vista” or the “Company”) today reported the results of an updated mineral resource estimate for the Batman deposit at the Company’s Mt. Todd gold project in Northern Territory, Australia.

The updated mineral resource estimate includes 18 drill holes (13,036 total meters) from the Company’s ongoing resource conversion drilling program at the Mt. Todd gold project.

The Batman deposit is now estimated to contain 7.01 million ounces of gold in the Measured and Indicated categories and 2.09 million ounces in the Inferred category. The drilling program is ongoing and new results are expected to be included in a further updated resource estimate that will be the basis for a feasibility study, which the Company expects to release in early 2013.

Frederick H. Earnest, President and CEO of Vista, stated, “I am very pleased with the continued growth in the estimated gold resource of the Batman deposit and we have not yet completed our drill program. This updated resource estimate represents an increase of over one million ounces in the Measured and Indicated categories since our last resource estimate in September 2011 and an increase of over 1.8 million ounces of Measured and Indicated categories since the completion of the January 2011 preliminary feasibility study.

These estimates support the decision to evaluate a project larger than the 30,000 tonnes per day operation contemplated in our January 2011 preliminary feasibility study (the "PFS"). The results of our past and ongoing drilling programs combined with technical evaluations currently in progress support my belief that Mt. Todd is becoming a world-class gold project in one of the world’s more favorable mining jurisdictions.”

Highlights of the updated mineral resource estimate include:

• 17% increase in contained gold ounces in the Measured and Indicated categories (+1,024,000 ozs) compared to the previous resource estimate (September 2011); and

• 37% increase in contained gold ounces in the Measured and Indicated categories (+1,882,000 ozs) compared to the PFS.

For full details on the new mineral resource estimate for the Batman deposit refer to Vista Gold Release http://mttodd.com.au/news

Monday, September 03, 2012

TIO Case Manger shines at Australasian awards

If it weren’t for the secret nomination of a colleague this Territory worker wouldn’t be holding the gong for one of Australia’s top case managers and personal injury management consultants.

TIO Team Leader Bianca Portelli-Reidy won the Personal Injury Management Award for Excellence in Customer Service at a ceremony in Brisbane last week. 

The mother of three is the first Territorian to win at the prestigious Australian and New Zealand awards, which recognise excellence and innovation in the industry.

“I was quite speechless and humbled,” Ms Portelli-Reidy said.

“It’s a really big honour and demonstrates what TIO does for their injured clients and how we try to go out of our way to make sure they get all the necessary help and support they need to return to work and health.”

The quiet achiever took out the award for her dedication to her clients and the job, which included overhauling how TIO helps people who have suffered from brain injuries and trauma at work.

“When I help people who have suffered and have the opportunity to experience their success at the end, it is very rewarding,” Ms Portelli-Reidy said.

“I’ve worked with people who’ve been told they’ll never paint again and after two years, are back at it.

“Sometimes the journey can take a long time, but I’m very proud of the work we do at TIO.” 

The Personal Injury Management awards are held every two years.

For more information on the awards visit www.pief.com.au.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New research shines light on economic impacts and success of Alice Solar City project

New research has revealed that Alice Springs has benefited from a $100 million injection into its economy in the last five years through the Alice Solar City project.

The research is one of two studies released today by Alice Solar City which also reveal the impacts on the town’s carbon footprint, the social and tourism impacts, and the high level of support (90%) for the project to continue into the future.

Alice Solar City General Manager Sam Latz says that the reports demonstrate the enthusiasm the community has had for solar technologies and energy efficiency.

“As we move towards the end of Alice Solar City in its current form, these findings are invaluable when looking at models for what could come next.”

The first study, a review of the Alice Solar City project was undertaken by Charles Darwin University as part of a memorandum of understanding with the university.

“The research highlights that the project has been successful in its design and operation, with its design considered to be best practice and ‘worthy of emulation’ and its operation targets being exceeded”, says Sam Latz

“Its impact on energy awareness and conservation has been substantial, and we are particularly pleased to see the impacts on the community spirit and profile of Alice Springs.”

Key results from the study include:

• Over 4,300 tonnes of greenhouse gas savings are being made each year from the installations supported by Alice Solar City – equivalent to the emissions generated from electricity consumption by 730 typical Alice Springs homes.

• Solar and energy efficiency improvements to homes are now being recognised by the Alice Springs real estate market as expected features for home buyers

• Increased labour productivity of energy efficiency suppliers and installers has led to a degree of skills specialisation; a valuable asset in a town with skilled labour shortages

• Alice Springs homeowners have spent $9.86 million on energy efficiency measures

• A positive contribution to the ‘brand value’ of Alice Springs as an attractive tourist destination, with most visitors noticing the presence of solar and being very interested

• A positive contribution to the community spirit of the town with 20% of the population participating; the contribution to emerging debate about sustainability issues and the project’s influence on organisations such as the Alice Springs Town Council to become more active in environmental issues

The second study, a telephone survey of Alice Springs residents revealed 90% of people thought there was benefit in a similar service being offered into the future, 78% thought Alice Solar City to be an important to very important initiative for the town and over 90% were satisfied with the services they had received through the project.

Sam Latz said, “Both studies made suggestions for improvements and alternative models for Alice Solar City to continue into the future and the Consortium is currently looking at ways to make this happen”.

The full research documents can be found at www.alicesolarcity.com.au/research-and-reports

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lesson from Wivenhoe Dam - emergency response only as good as the manual

As someone involved in emergency and crisis communication, I often have to work with company emergency manuals.

Some of them are great and provide a logical and easy-to-follow guide to how to cope with the emerging situation.

But some of these manuals have been written simply to comply with legislation or policy then promptly placed on the shelf.
When something goes awry they are pulled out, dusted off and handed out to the team specified in Chapter 3, Section 2, Subsection 11.4. And that’s when everyone realises that something is very wrong.

Today’s report by the Crime and Misconduct Commission into the failure of processes surrounding the Wivenhoe Dam water release and subsequent downstream flooding in Queensland is a clear and compelling example of how bad the consequences can be.

Put simply, the Commission found conflicting information and flowcharts in the manual for a series of failures and cleared the three engineers involved.

In other words, the people putting the plan in place are only as good as the plan itself (read the ABC online story about the case here).

This is a timely reminder than emergency plans are not documents designed to simply tick a box – they are living, breathing manuals that should provide a guide to those professionals at the coal face when the worst comes to pass.
Whatever your business and whatever the risk, your emergency manual will only get you through if you observe the following:

1.  Write your manual based on best practice. Allocate the task to someone who knows what they are doing, not the person with the most time to spare.

2.  Test and test again. Only through testing will you discover if the thing actually works.

3.   Train your team. Make sure everyone knows what to do and has the skills and experience to do it.

4.  Practice, practice, practice. Handling an emergency is not something most people do every day. People need to practice to gain experience.

5.  Learn and grow. Practice and testing on a regular basis will also allow you to adapt your manual for changing circumstance.

6.  Update contact lists. When an emergency happens you need to be able to contact people. If you can’t reach them, you need to contact the next person in line. That’s pretty hard when your contact list is two years old. Make it someone’s responsibility to review contact lists monthly.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DSO East Arnhem journey great success

Darwin Symphony Orchestra General Manager, Guy Ross reports that the Symphony’s recent trip to Nhulunbuy was a great success.

“Over 1200 members of the Nhulunbuy community packed out the Nhulunbuy High School oval on Saturday 11th August for Darwin Symphony Orchestra’s Sunset Symphony.

Armed with picnic blankets, chairs, tables and in one case a candelabra, audiences were excited to see the DSO onstage alongside a large number of local performers,” he said.

Hosted by country star James Blundell, the concert included the premiere of a work for didgeridoo and orchestra called Birrka! Mirri. Featuring local artist Dj Marika on didgeridoo, the improvisational piece was a favourite of the audience.

Students of all ages from Arafura Dance Association joined the DSO on stage, performing pieces such as Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies and the Toreadors March from Carmen. Their skill and amazingly detailed costumes won the crowd over. Another highlight of the evening was a rendition of The Lion Sleeps Tonight with Nhulunbuy Christian School’s Ukulele Group, who had the crowd swaying and singing along.

The Sunset Symphony was proudly supported by Gove Operations Pacific Aluminium and Airnorth to mark the 40th anniversary of the town and Gove Operations.

A Gove Operations spokesperson said they were “thrilled to be able continue their commitment to the community through bringing such a significant live event to celebrate 40 years of Gove Operations and the town.”

“The concert topped off a busy visit to Gove for Concertmaster Tara Murphy,” Mr Ross said. “Tara spent two days prior to the concert visiting schools in the area (Nhulunbuy Primary School, Nhulunbuy Christian School, Nhulunbuy High School and Yirrkala School) and performing with a string quartet for students.

By the time DSO left on Saturday night, there’s a good chance that every kid in the region had seen at least some of its members perform!

The orchestra members travelled to Gove at 4:30am and returned to Darwin at midnight the same day. A huge day demonstrating the wonderful commitment of the volunteers who make up the orchestra and their continual effort to make every concert a success.”

Sherwin Iron granted NTG Major Project Status

Sherwin Iron Limited’s Roper River Iron Ore project has taken another step forward after being granted Major Project Status by the Northern Territory Government.

The decision is a major milestone for the company, which has a current resource of 488 million tonnes within its Roper River Iron Ore Project 500km south east of Darwin.

Sherwin Iron Executive Chairman Barry Coulter said the company has been continuing to build the case for the project including ongoing discussions with representatives of traditional owners and working through the environmental approvals process.

“This is another important milestone and gives us the confidence to move forward with our project,” Mr Coulter said.

The granting of Major Project Status ensures a Government team is established to help facilitate the appropriate environmental, heritage, mining and safety approvals the project will require as well as ensure maximum benefits to the local community and industry.

“We’re proud to be a local company and are committed to Territorians gaining the maximum benefit from this project,” Mr Coulter said.

“We’re delighted with the progress to date and the level of confidence shown by the Northern Territory Government.”

Sherwin Iron is working to lodge a Notice of Intent, the first step in the approvals process for the project, with the Northern Territory Government later this year.

Meat processing facility offers economic benefits in the north

An independent report commissioned by the Australian Agricultural Company Limited (AAco) signals enormous benefits to local industry from the Livingstone Valley food processing facility.

The report, by respected economic consulting firm ACIL Tasman, shows the average cattle producer could double their profitability by selectively sending older cull culls from their herds to the abattoir.

The selective removal of cull cows allows pastoralists to improve their herd profile in terms of age profile and fertility.

The facility also has broader economic benefits, with the impact on the northern economy calculated to be $126 million a year once fully operational.

The facility will create more than 800 direct and indirect full time equivalent jobs, including 270 at the plant itself.

Report author Mark Barber said northern beef producers presently have no regional market for cows surplus to requirements, or which are no longer productive (cull cows).

The 350kg live weight cap on live export cattle to Indonesia also means that there is no regional market for heavy steers and bulls.

“By providing a regional market for cull cows, the impact of the AAco abattoir on the profitability of northern beef producers is substantial,” Mr Barber said.

“This is because older cows can be sold and younger more robust and fertile cows retained in the herd. This reduces the mortality rate of the herd and increases the number of calves produced.”

AAco is moving ahead with its plans for the facility, with the first tenders in market now for civil works at the Livingstone Valley site.

AAco General Manager Northern Australian Beef Stewart Cruden said the purchase of the land had been completed and the company is finalising the conditions precedent in the Government’s development and environmental approval documentation.

The company plans to process 179,000 cattle a year at full production, with box beef exported by refrigerated containers to the US, Asia and Europe.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Serving up a spicy dose of success through social media

I was fortunate to speak with our local ABC Radio’s Kate O’Toole this morning about how businesses can get started in social media. She said what prompted her to talk about the topic were the words of Saffrron chef Selvam Kandasamy on winning the Telstra Business Award for small to medium businesses last month.

He credited his success to engaging with customers and potential customers through online and social media channels.

I checked out Saffrron’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages to see what the fuss was about, and I think I know the reasons for Selvam and his wife Joanna’s success.

1.     Their website provides insights and access to their business. From the website you can browse the menu, read reviews, book a table and order online. That’s just what I would expect but so few restaurants actually do this.

2.     Links to Facebook and Twitter are included on their website. I don’t have to go out to separately find them because they have thoughtfully integrated their accounts.

3.     Their Facebook page has personality. Sure, they do talk about the food but they also talk about staff happenings, their new baby and social events. Their presence tells me this is more than just a restaurant - it has a personality that makes people want to interact with them.

4.     They are involved in social media without being consumed by it. There re plenty of other social networking tools they could be using and lots more they could post. But they seem to have the balance right, keeping their involvement to a level that is manageable and doesn’t divert their focus from the main game – serving up great food and service.

5.     They have put their efforts into the things that count. 86,000 Territorians are on Facebook. I know there are lots of new and cool tools coming along every day but none of them yet enjoy the level of engagement that Facebook does – more than a third of all Territorians are there. It also appeals across a very broad demographic. While there is a peak of usage among Territorians in their 20s, Around 23,000 Territorians aged over 40 have Facebook accounts.

Go online and spend a bit of time getting to know Selvam and Joanna. Better still, visit their restaurant and enjoy some of the best Indian food you’ll ever eat.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

One month left to register with Alice Solar City

Alice Springs households need to register with Alice Solar City by 31 August if they wish to access incentive funding vouchers to help with energy efficiency activities.

After four years of helping Alice Springs residents to become more energy efficient, this is the last chance for homeowners to access funding, and they need to register for a home energy survey if they are not already a customer.

Alice Solar City General Manager, Sam Latz says that he expects a rush of bookings for the energy surveys and encourages people to join the queue as quickly as they can.

“Our funding for incentives will finish at the end of this year, or earlier if funding runs out. We have to put a deadline on registrations so we have time to conduct home energy surveys before we issue vouchers.”

“It’s first come, first served and there are many existing customers who hold valid vouchers or will request new vouchers, so new customers need to register by the end of August.”

“Even though we are still in the middle of winter, now is the perfect time for homeowners to consider how they are going to get their home ready for summer with financial support from Alice Solar City.”

Funding is available for over 20 different measures, including painting the roof white, insulation, energy saving pool pumps, shading, window tinting and much more.

To register for a home energy survey, call Alice Solar City on 8950 4350 or email info@alicesolarcity.com.au or visit the Smart Living Centre at 82 Todd Street.

For full details and deadlines for accessing funding visit http://www.alicesolarcity.com.au/

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sydney van is on a new mission in Central Australia

Mission Australia staff have driven 2800kms over 3 days from Sydney to Alice Springs to give their service vehicle to the tenancy support programs that Mission Australia’s Alice Springs office delivers.

The vehicle, which was formerly used by the Sydney Mission Australia team to provide support services to people sleeping rough in the Sydney CBD, was packed with toys, playstations, sporting equipment, sheet sets and blankets to be donated to Alice Springs accommodation centres and families in need.

Missionbeat Manager Daniel Strickland said he was wrapped that they could pass on the van to the Central Australian support service and this was a great opportunity to take it personally to Alice Springs.

“This visit has been extremely worthwhile,” he said.

“The Alice Springs team and I have been able to share stories and ideas on the challenges in working with homeless people and the contribution we can make regardless of an urban or remote setting.

Most of the Alice Springs work is in supporting people to sustain their government housing. Mission Australia helps people with the myriad of enquiries and challenges that come from moving into Territory Housing and becoming good neighbours and happy tenants,” he said.

Alice Springs Operations Manager, Lyanne Kerr said she welcomed the new addition to their services.

“We assist our tenants learn how to deal with rent and money management, home care and maintenance of property, all vital stepping stones to keeping their homes so that they can have the stability most of us take for granted. Once you have stable and long term housing you can plan for the future – getting the kids to the local school, learning skills and training, receiving regular mail and eventually gaining employment.

We are so grateful to our NSW colleagues for supporting us and taking time from their busy schedules to come to Alice Springs and help us with the valuable work we do here. It really is a team effort and together we can be a real force for good,” Ms Kerr said.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Urban Quest finalists shine on The X Factor Australia

Two finalists from Mission Australia’s Urban Quest are through to the next season of The X Factor Australia.

Singers Shiane Hawke, 14, and Peter Rautoka, 19, are the first Territorians to make it through to the TV auditions for  popular Channel 7 program.

Shiane, who sang Duffy’s Mercy, left X Factor judges speechless at the TV audition -  the same song which earned her a Mark Holden seal of approval at the 2011 Urban Quest finals concert.

This year, the Dripstone Middle School student was second runner-up at the Mission Australia finals event.

Peter Rautoka also received Holden’s trademark touchdown at the 2011 Urban Quest finals concert with his rendition of Hallelujah.

The young Territory hopefuls, who auditioned at Darwin and Cairns earlier this year, were flown to the Gold Coast for the TV auditions earlier this month.

“It was an amazing experience,” Mr Rautoka said.

“It was pretty scary singing in front of the four judges - Mel B, Guy Sebastian, Ronan Keating and Natalie Bassingthwaighte - and about four thousand people, but it’s given me a whole new confidence in myself and my singing.”

NT Mission Australia Operations Manager Jillian Smith said she was very proud to see the Urban Quest finalists doing well on the big stage.

“Mission Australia is very proud to have seen these talented young singers shine at Urban Quest, and continue to grow and follow their dreams,” Ms Smith said.

“Urban Quest is a celebration of young people, which aims to improve confidence through music. Hopefully the mentoring they both received from Mark Holden helped them believe in themselves and realise their true potential.

“I encourage everyone to support Shiane and Peter on their X Factor journey.”

Territorians will have to wait and see if the young Territorians make it past The X Factor Bootcamp in Sydney and onto the live TV show.

The next season of X Factor airs on Channel 7 in the coming months.

A sneak peek of Shiane’s TV audition can be seen here: http://au.tv.yahoo.com/x-factor/video/-/watch/30023977/sneak-peek-is-shiane-next/

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vista Gold Australia invites local community to come say hello

Vista Gold Australia invites the Katherine local community to come say hello to staff from the Mt Todd Gold Mine project at the Katherine Show tomorrow and Saturday.

Ray Iacono, Vista Gold Australia Director said that the Show provided a great opportunity for the company to keep in contact with the community.

“We welcome people from Katherine and beyond to visit our stall at the Show for an update on the project.

Both the Environmental and Site Managers will be available to talk to the community and answer questions on the progress of the project to date,” he said.

Vista Gold recently announced that the company had revised the scope of the Feasibility Study on the Mt Todd gold project to incorporate a larger processing facility, a redesigned open pit and plans to recover gold from the existing heap leach pads.

The Company is now targeting the release of the Feasibility Study in late 2012 or early 2013.

“If you have ever wondered what the gold actually looks like in the ground, come and have a look at our display. Our mining experts will have a drilling core sample on show and be able to answer questions of how the gold is processed,” Mr Iacono said.

“Community sentiment has been very supportive of reopening the mine, it is very important to us to stay in contact with the community so that we have a clear understanding of the issues that are matter to them.”

Vista Gold’s Mt Todd display will be located in the Commercial Building at the Katherine Show.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Mission Australia swamped during the dry season

An influx of teenagers are roaming the streets of Darwin, Mandorah and Adelaide River these school holidays.

More than 32 students aged between 10 and 18 years are seeing the sights of the Top End after Mission Australia's school holiday program booked out.

Running to the end of July, the teens are attending activities and tours that include the Adelaide River Queen Cruise, Lake Leanyer, Duck-About-Tour to Mandorah, Palmerston Water Park, Fishing Charter and Crocosaurus Cove.

Youth Service Manager Adrian McCann said the activities help young people build confidence and connect with their local community.

"We've had a great response to the program and are really pleased with some of the outcomes," he said.

"I believe this is a great way for students to be active within the community and encourage all young people in Darwin and Palmerston to get involved in our programs."

Mr McCann said parents should get in early for the wet season school holiday program.

Activities offered as part of Mission Australia's school holiday programs are organised by local staff who encourage and inspire the young teens to make informed lifestyle choices.

"We provide a safe atmosphere for them to grow and learn important life skills," Mr McCann said.

Mission Australia contributes heavily to the lives of young people across the Darwin and Palmerston region with several programs for teenagers to be more involved with their communities.

Anyone interested in Mission Australia's school holiday program is encouraged to register their interest by calling 08 8935 0900.





Friday, June 29, 2012

Juggling youth affairs

Once he belted out ballads and performed circus tricks to help kids beat petrol sniffing.

Now Adrian McCann will juggle his biggest role yet as Mission Australia’s new Youth Services Manager for Darwin and Palmerston.

The laid back father of two, has more than ten years industry experience and developed the highly successful Desert ED project, which brought music, circus and positive health messages to young indigenous people in communities across Western and South Australia.  

“It was a great program that engaged young people in healthy living in a fun and entertaining way,” Mr McCann said.

Born and raised in Northern Ireland, his childhood memories full of frosty mornings are poles apart from the hot and humid weather that Territorians experience for most of the year.

With a double degree in Social Science and Community Development, Adrian’s passion for working with young people stems from teaching placements and creating youth development projects.

“I’m really looking forward to working with my new team and other youth service providers across the region to identify what areas and programs need improvement or expansion.”

Mission Australia has offices in Darwin and Palmerston and run a range of programs that help young people engaged in dangerous behaviour or at risk of homelessness, stay on the straight and narrow.

They also manage popular singing competition, Urban Quest, which aims to help young people build self esteem through music and mentoring.

“I want to be proactive, and make and contribute to programs so they count and help the lives of young people.”

Whether or not that means circus acts for Darwin and Palmerston kids, we’ll have to wait and see.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Young Territorians wanted for national survey

Mission Australia is calling on young Territorians to help highlight important issues in their lives by taking part in the charity’s 2012 Youth Survey – the nation’s leading annual stocktake of the views, concerns and values of young people between the ages of 15-19.

In launching the 2012 survey, Mission Australia’s NT Director, Phillip Leslie, said it gave young people a voice across a range of issues with the information being used to help community groups and governments plan and develop youth services.

“Mission Australia’s annual national youth survey is a ‘temperature check’ on what young people are feeling, what issues concern them, what they think are the main challenges facing the nation and how optimistic they are about the future,” said Mr Leslie.

“Responses to the survey help governments, youth agencies and ourselves improve and develop programs and strategies that are shaped by the voices of young people themselves.”

When asked to rank their personal concerns from 15 issues, NT participants in last year’s survey believed school/study problems was the most pressing issue, placed in the top three by 33.0 per cent of respondents.

This was followed by body image at 28.6 per cent and family conflict at 28.1 per cent.

Concern for school/study problems among young Territorians increased by more than 17 per cent since the 2009 survey.

“Young people’s concerns can be quite volatile – moving around from year to year – so it’s important we conduct this survey annually to obtain an accurate picture.

“The range of concerns – from school to stress, family conflict and body image – also suggest young people are facing increased challenges as they make the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

“We’ve also taken the opportunity to refresh the survey – now in its 11th year – and make it more relevant than ever.

“In addition to the questions we’ve asked every survey, this year we’re also asking young Territorians for their thoughts on their financial situation, family connectedness, neighbourhood safety and health,” said Mr Leslie.

Mission Australia’s 2012 Youth Survey can be completed online: www.mayouthsurvey.com.au.

The survey closes on Friday, 27 July with the results to be published later this year.


Monday, June 04, 2012

ZUCCOLI - master planned community goes on sale

The first release of land in the new suburb of Zuccoli will be made available to the market this week.

The land forms part of a new master planned suburb in Palmerston that will eventually contain over 2,300 dwellings for more than 6,000 Territorians.

Stage 1 of the suburb, to be developed by Urbex in partnership with the Northern Territory Government’s Land Development Corporation, is on track to deliver more housing as the Territory prepares for an increase in demand as a result of recently announced major projects.

Urbex Project Director Andrew Bartington said that over 100 registrations of interest in the land had already been received to date.

“Zuccoli lots will enable Territorians to choose from a variety of housing options, from acreage lots through to duplexes, and unit style developments.

“We will encourage purchasers to choose designs that are energy efficient, considerate of the topography and the natural aspect Zuccoli offers,” he said.

More than 30 per cent of the first stage of Zuccoli will be dedicated to parks and conservation.

Boardwalks and cycle paths will traverse the native bushland and Mitchell Creek that fringe the suburb.

Zuccoli will be well serviced with public transport and education facilities, including the recently opened Mackillop Catholic College, and includes plans for a village centre and commercial hub.

“We invite Territorians to be part of the village life,” Mr Bartington said.

Zuccoli is located to the south of Lambrick Avenue between the Stuart Highway and Mitchell Creek.

Residents looking to buy land in Zuccoli can visit Urbex Realty, Sales and Information Centre at 18 Cavenagh Street, Darwin.

For further information visit www.zuccolivillage.com.au or call Janzey Pratt on 1300 662 746.