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Fixed Response Segment

In this segment of the field study subjects were asked to respond to each of twenty statements. Responses were restricted to one of five categories in the range from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree." The statements were predominantly related to everyday activities and their adequacy of convenience, such as provision of dental services, suitability of shopping or office hours, etc. The simplest summary of the fixed response segment appears in table 4.7.

The most persistent view presented was that there are unreasonable difficulties and delays in obtaining spare parts and in having essential repairs done. From the open-ended prompts outlined above, it appears the costs of freight and communications and the poor transport facilities are contributory factors to this condition. There is a strong sense of both commodity and service deprivation, especially among people who have recently migrated to Alice Springs from the larger urban centres of Australia.

Although we have claimed elsewhere that Alices Springs is an urban and technologically advanced settlement, it was surprising to find that there was such a unified view of the danger of walking about on the streets, especially after dark. Such an image fits the environment of the world's largest cities but would not be likely to bear much resemblance, we imagine, to other Australian "country towns" of similar permanent residence size. There was a seasonal variability in the perceived incidence of danger, the hot season months between November and March inclusive being most frequently mentioned. A majority of respondents also related this condition to pay weeks and welfare payment times, implying an association with drunkenness, but our studies have not pursued this issue. Recent reports (August,1981) in the Australian news media draw attention to increased crime and disorder including street safety in the large Queensland coastal tourist resort of Surfers Paradise; a similar tourist-related behaviour may be operating, but we have no empirical support for this conjecture.

With rapid population growth and a consequent expansion of the built-up area, including the fringe settlements occupied by many of the Aboriginal population, and the southward extension of the settlement through such facilities as the airport, CSIRO laboratories, radio stations, Arid Zone Research Unit of the Northern Territory, Department of Primary Industry, racecourse, Yirarra Aboriginal College, Senior Citizen's village, and tourist attractions at Emily Gap, etc., the need for a public transport system is strongly felt. While 85 per cent of respondents had access to a private car, this still leaves a large number of disadvantaged people among the young, the old, and often, the Aboriginal people. Seventy-five per cent agreed that there was now need for a high frequency public transport system; only 14 per cent disagreed. Walking and cycling are healthy pastimes, but climatic factors do militate against this mode of movement for the six hottest months of the year. Reasonable expectations of fulfilling quite simple daily projects are made that much harder or even impossible. A particular burden is probably placed on those with young children, those with limited incomes or physical disabilities, and older people who feel the heat stress more than the young.

TABLE 4.7. Summary of Attitude Scores of Fifteen Items Scored between 5 and 1

Variable Mode
(% disagree in parenthesis)
(% agree in parenthesis)
Statement: strongly agree 5, strongly
disagree 1
1. Dental appointment 5 3.9 There are unreasonable difficulties in making
(18) (70) dental appointments.
2. Professional services 2 2.9 The office hours of most professional services
(43) (30) are not suitable.
3. Shop opening times 2 1.9 Shopping hours do not allow me to shop at
(86) (4) convenient times.
4. Daylight saving 4 3.7 Daylight saving has no advantage here in the
(19) (63) territory.
5. Spare time 2 1.8 I have too much time on my hands in Alice
(84) (9) Springs.
6. Family centred 2 2.7 Little happens beyond my home and family to
(57) (31) which I can look forward every week.
7. Recreation 2 2.6 There is little opportunity for the satisfaction of
(61) (26) my recreational needs in Alice Springs.
8. Activity clash 3 2.8 Too many things which I want to do are arranged
(40) (21) to occur at the same time.
9. TV evening 2 2.5 Without TV the evening here in Alice Springs
(63) (23) would be unbearably long.
10. Tourists in Alice Springs 2 2.7 Tourists should be encouraged to spend time in
(43) (23) Alice Springs and less in the surrounding region.
11. Repairs service 5 4.3 Getting essential repairs done...involves unreason able delays in relation to spare parts.
(7) (87)
12. Public transport 4 3.9 As Alice grows there is clear need for the development of a high frequency public transport system.
(14) (75)
13. Safety walking 2 1.9 It is always safe to be out walking on the streets
(83) (11) in Alice Springs.
14. Preservation of Alice 4 3.9 Tourists...welcome...but great care must now be taken that Alice Springs does not end up looking like any other tourist town.
(10) (74)
15. Multi-racial opportunities 2 2.5 European "Australian" culture and Aboriginal
(53) (25) "Australian" culture have a better chance to grow into a truly multi-racial community, here in Alice Springs than anywhere else.

Retail service times are seen as convenient, opening hours often extending over seven days and into the evening. Such time management facilitates many aspects of everyday living which might otherwise be more difficult in the absence of public transport. When asked if they had "too much time on their hands," 84 per cent of respondents disagreed.Generally speaking, residents were able to satisfy their spare time wants and needs, but there are some aspects of the recreational environment that do not cater adequately to specific socio-demographic groups. Other single variable features of the attitude responses can be interpreted by the reader from table 4.7.

Apart from such summary statistics (table 4.7), we undertook a range of multivariate analyses in order to identify correlated items that might improve ability to isolate some of the key factors felt to be operating in the socio-demographic environment.

Figure 4.7 presents the linkage tree from a cluster analysis. It can be interpreted as follows:

One cluster consists of variable ( 11 ) focus on family recreation, the eleventh variable listed in the tree. It has an absolute correlation of 53 with variable (12) recreation opportunities and joins with this variable, which is immediately below it in the tree, to form a cluster of two variables. The new cluster is indicated on the tree by intersection of the dashes beginning above variable (11) focus on family recreation, with the slashes starting next to variable (12) recreation opportunities.

This cluster joins with the cluster below it consisting of the variable (14) evening television. The new cluster is indicated on the tree by the intersection of the dashes beginning above variable (11 ) focus on family recreation, with slashes starting next to variable (14) evening television.

This cluster joins with the cluster above it consisting of the variable (10) spare time. The new cluster is indicated on the tree by the intersection of the dashes beginning above variable (10) spare time, with the slashes starting next to variable (14) evening television.

This cluster joins with the cluster below it consisting of the variable (13) activity clashes. The new cluster is indicated on the tree by the intersection of the dashes beginning above variable (10) spare time, with the slashes starting next to variable ( 13) activity clashes.

Each of the five clusters above has joined into a single cluster which indicates a set of responses related to non-work activities. Responses to the statements presented in table 4.7 which related to spare time, activity opportunities, and lack of alternatives to watching television in the evenings were closely associated and in the expected pattern.

In other words, there was greater consistency of response in relation to these items than to those that form later clusters.

The last cluster outlined above joins the cluster above it consisting of the three variables from (6) availability of dental appointments to variable (8) retail hours and including (7) office times of professional services.

This cluster identifies a dimension of daily life related to the accessibility of services. As a single cluster, recreation and service accessibility includes all variables from (6) to (13) on the tree.

Variables ( 17 ) public transport and ( 16) repairs and services are next to join, but both of them join as individual variables, indicating that they are dimensions of interest or concern in their own right.

Referring to the top of the tree, the variable (1) age joins with variable (5) length of residence to form a new cluster, indicating the association between these variables and another cluster of two variables relates safety on the streets (18) with attitudes to Alice Springs and its future in relation to multiracial harmony (20). The last two variables in the tree, which also form a cluster of two, are (15) tourists in Alice Springs and (19) preserve Alice Springs. Respondents with children at secondary school and those with preschool age children (variables [4] and [2]) joined the cluster related to age and length of residence as might be expected but also the cluster relating to safety on the streets and attitudes to multiracial harmony.

Further clustering forms weaker and weaker groups, of course, and in the end all twenty items form a single cluster. This analysis has allowed the preliminary identification of a small number of sociodemographic environmental dimensions in Alice Springs and therefore also the area where there is need for policy decisions about provision of public transport; adjustment of freight rates or improvements in transport services bringing spare parts into the settlement; recreation-related capital programmes such as the artificial lake, indoor cinema, and improved library services; and access to professional services, which are generally seen as inconvenient.

FIG. 4.7. Clustering of Minimum Distance Correlations and Linkage Tree for Attitude Responses: 1980 and 1981

Summary statistics for each of these twenty variables are shown in table 4.8. The first five variables relate to attributes of the sampled population of 233. For the variables (6) to (20) inclusive the scores had a range from 1 to 5. The mean score for variable (6), dental appointments, is 3.9. From table 4.7, where the survey statement is presented, this can be interpreted as a high level of agreement, which in turn implies that there are "unreasonable difficulties in making suitable dental appointments." Dental services were picked as a surrogate for a range of medical and paramedical services, but more specific attention to service provision is discussed by Burnley in chapters 8 and 9 and by Walker in chapters 6, 7, and 8.

TABLE 4.8. Summary Statistics of Sample Population and Response Scores

  Mean Standard
1. Age 36.0 10.0 15.0 -2.1 71.0 3.4
2. Pre-school children 0.4 0.7 0.0 -0.5 3.0 3.7
3. Primary children 0.6 0.9 0.0 -0.7 4.0 3.5
4. Secondary children 0.3 0.6 0.0 -0.4 2.0 2.7
5. Years resident 9.3 8.9 1.0 -0.9 61.0 5.7
6. Dental appointments 3.9 1.1 1.0 -2.5 5.0 1.0
7. Office hours 2.9 1.1 1.0 -1.7 5.0 1.8
8. Retail opening hours 1.9 0.7 1.0 -1.2 4.0 2.8
9. Daylight saving 3.7 1.2 1.0 -2.2 5.0 1.1
10. Spare time 1.9 0.9 1.0 -0.9 5.0 3.3
11. Family focus recreation 2.7 1.2 1.0 -1.3 5.0 1.9
12. Recreation opportunities 2.6 1.2 1.0 -1.2 5.0 1.9
13. Activity clashes 2.8 0.9 1.0 -1.9 5.0 2.4
14. Evening television 2.5 1.3 1.0 -1.1 5.0 1.9
15. Tourists in Alice Springs 2.7 1.0 1.0 -1.7 5.0 2.2
16. Repairs and spares 4.3 0.9 2.0 -2.7 5.0 0.7
17. Public transport 3.9 1.0 1.0 -2.8 5.0 1.0
18. Safety on streets 1.9 1.0 1.0 -0.9 5.0 3.0
19. Preserve Alice Springs 3.9 0.9 1.0 -3.0 5.0 1.1
20. Multi-racial future 2.6 1.2 1.0 -1.2 5.0 2.0

The cluster analysis reported in figure 4.7 above was based on the absolute value of the correlation between pairs of variables, the higher the correlation the more similar the behaviour of the variables, irrespective of the direction of the correlation, as positive or negative. Using the same variables as are presented in table 4.8 and presenting them in the same order, table 4.9 illustrates the computed correlations which were greater than r = 0.1, including the direction of relationship. If we assume that the population correlation coefficient (p) is zero, except for the obvious example of age and length of residence or age and number of children at schools of different sorts, then any correlation r >= 0.1 is just significant at the 5 per cent level for 233-2 degrees of freedom having a t-statistic of 1.60.

The precise value of t.95 is actually 1.64. As we have no theoretical or prior experience base for estimating any population correlation coefficient sizes greater than zero, the assumption that p = 0 is a useful guide to the inter pretations of significances of the sample coefficients, r.

In order to determine what some of the underlying dimensions of the entire set of twenty intercorrelations might be, a frequently adopted screening device, principal components analysis, was used. As we had no a priori theoretical model to determine likely structure, this technique was the simplest of the factor analytic models to adopt. However, correlations were low and the resultant structure, illustrated in table 4. 10, only provides us with a misty image of the major dimensions. Readers familiar with multivariate methods of this sort will appreciate that the initial set of items determines the content of the components or dimensions that can be obtained. On the other hand the screening does allow some clarification of factors and an opportunity to relate back to the open-ended prompts and the issues discussed above.

The first factor (I) to emerge from the analysis is recreation activity. Dissatisfaction with recreational opportunities was felt by people who found that the family was the inevitable focus for their free time activities, there being little else to look forward to from one week to another. These attitudes would also be associated with a sense of unfilled spare time and the dependence on evening television programmes as an escape from boredom. Retail hours were not inconvenient, but activity classes frequently occurred, further aggravating the situation.

TABLE 4.9. Correlation Coefficients above r = 0.1, Attitude Scores 1980 and 1981(refer to table 4.8 for variable names)

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
1 1.0                                      
2 -0.2 1.0                                    
3     1.0                                  
4 0.3 -0.2   1.0                                
5 0.3       1.0                              
6   -0.2 0.2     1.0                            
7   -0.2       0.3 1.0                          
8           0.2 0.3 1.0                        
9   0.2         -0.1 -0.1 1.0                      
10 -0.2     -0.2       0.1   1.0                    
11 0.1           0.1 0.3   0.3 1.0                  
12 -0.1         0.1 0.1 0.2   0.4 0.5 1.0                
13   -0.1       0.2 0.2 0.1 0.2   0.2 0.2 1.0              
14           0.2   0.1   0.4 0.4 0.4 0.3 1.0            
15 0.1           0.1     0.1       0.1 1.0          
16   0.1   -0.1   0.1 0.1       0.2 0.1     0.2 1.0        
17       0.2   0.2 0.2 0.2     0.1 0.1       0.2 1.0      
18   0.2 0.1         0.1                   1.0    
19 -0.1     -0.1         -0.1               0.2 0.1 1.0  
20 0.1   0.1 0.2 -0.1     0.1   -0.1 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1           0.2 1.0

TABLE 4.10. Ranked and Rotated LOADINGS, Attitude Scores 1980 and 1981



Recreation opportunities 0.8            
Family focus recreation 0.8            
Spare time 0.7            
Evening television 0.7 0.3          
Dental appointments   0.7          
Pre-school children   -0.6          
Professional office hours   0.5     -0.5    
Activity clashes 0.3 0.5          
Years resident     0.8        
Age     0 7     0.4  
Daylight saving       0.7      
Retail hours 0.3 0.3   -0.6      
Repairs and spares         0.8    
Public transport         0.7 0.4  
Secondary children           0.8  
Primary children             0.8
Safety on streets       -0.4   0.4 0.5
Tourists in Alice Springs              
Preserve Alice Springs         0.3 -0.3  
Multi-racial future   -0.3 0.3       0.4
Variance explained 2.4 1.8 1.5 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.3

However, for the majority of residents this would not be an acceptable interpretation of their life-style. In general, recreation opportunities were satisfactory and were not overly centred on the family; spare time could usually be filled satisfactorily; evening television is not an essential means to pass time; and activity clashes were not a problem. The longer the period that respondents had been in Alice Springs the more likely they were to disagree that life-styles in Alice Springs were associated with boredom and inactivity. However, as this group was less likely to be made up of never-married single people and of those in the early phases of childrearing, it is likely that the dissatisfaction component in this dimension of attitudes to life-style in Alice Springs is associated with the recent arrival who is young and single or young and married and in the early stages of the family building cycle.

The second factor (II ) is service accessibility. FamiIies with preschool children, especially, expressed dissatisfaction with access to such professional services as dental appointments (by implication also to other medical and paramedical services). Access to professional offices (legal, real estate, and local, Territory, and Federal Government departments, etc.) was also considered poor.

The third factor (III) is age and length of residence in Alice Springs. One other variable composes this dimension and that is attitudes to the future of Alice Springs as a multiracial community. The older a person is, the longer he/she will have been in Alice Springs and the more likely therefore to agree with the last statement in table 4.7.

The fourth factor (IV) is not at all easy to name. It is once again drawing attention to service facility access, but the association with safety on the streets and the need for daylight saving has no obvious explanation.

The fifth factor (V), services and public transport, relates attitudes to lack of adequate services for repairs and spare parts with the lack of a public transport system in Alice Springs. From the correlation matrix in table 4.9 it is clear that people who agreed that repairs and spare parts were poorly serviced also agreed on the need for a high frequency public transport service. Tourist industry development should also be treated with care so that the traditional outback-town character of Alice Springs is not destroyed.

The sixth factor (VI) is secondary school children and transport, and the most significant association of variables is between families with secondary-school-age children and the need for a high frequency public transport system. This view was also expressed in the open-ended prompts.

The seventh factor (VII ) is primary school children, safety in the streets, and multiracial future. Here we find that younger respondents, those who had primary-school-age children, expressed agreement that it was safe to be out on the streets in Alice Springs, and they also expressed agree" ment that there was a bright future for the development of a truly multiracial community in Alice Springs.

The survey results presented in this chapter have pointed to a number of features in the everyday ecological setting of Alice Springs. The results from the open-ended prompts segment of the survey provided the most useful insights. The results presented in this chapter are generally supported by the field studies undertaken independently by Burnley and Walker for more specific objectives. They form the basis of the following six chapters.

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