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HomeIssue 31Spend big on a youth centre, says councillor

Spend big on a youth centre, says councillor

UPDATE Aug 21: Comprehensive comment below by Councillor Steve Brown.
A massive complex welcoming young people of all races, those on the edge of the law and those who are not, in the centre of the town, possibly the defunct Memo Club or on the still vacant Melanka site, is a proposal Councillor Steve Brown will be putting before the town council.
“We need to reduce the us and them thing,” he says.
“There would be no alcohol, of course, and it would be the coolest place in town.”
The project would cost $30m to $40m and require funding from the Federal and NT Governments.
Facilities would range from a milk bar to an indoor sports stadium, a venue for discos, a hostel for young people getting their first job (a function Melanka used to provide), to a hairdresser and a shop where girls can make clothes or have their nails done.
It could be a place for music band practice, martial arts classes and accessing the internet.
There could be supervised emergency accommodation for kids who have nowhere else to go at night.
“The centre would put substance into the concept of harmony and inclusion,” says Cr Brown.
“Adults have a string of clubs, but little is being done for young people outside school and sports.”
He says the current Youth Hub is unsuitable because it is too remote from the town’s centre where kids prefer to hang out.
The new centre could house some of the many youth services in town, government and NGOs, contributing an ongoing income stream for the project.
On other council business, Cr Brown says the “Port Augusta solution” will get further attention in the near future, in an internal council forum.
He says especially the current meetings where departmental heads give account of their activities need to be held once a month and they need to be under the auspices of the town council.
And the dialogue with the Aboriginal Tangentyere Council should to be enhanced: Issues such as the council rangers working together with the Tangentyere night patrol, and the tidying up of town camps, need to be looked at.
Cr Brown, who topped the vote for councillor in the election earlier this year, says a possible result, over time, could be that The Alice has just one council, not two which are structured on racial grounds.
Image: Regional youth centres are common in Australia. For example, the Coomera / Oxenford Youth Centre on the Gold Coast partners with the Northern Gold Coast Communities for Children program, the Rotary Club of Coomera Valley, Gold Coast City Council and the Nucrush Good Neighbourhood Program.  It opened its doors in November 2004 and now facilitates programs for more than 4000 people a month.


  1. Brilliant idea that would be worth every penny to materialise. It will benefit the young people of their generation and would be a fantastic long term investment for long term social capacity of Alice Springs.

  2. One of my election proposals is to create a Community Youth Precinct around the Anzac Oval site. The precinct would incorporate the current Anzac Hill Youth Centre (health and fitness), the former Anzac Hill High School (current school and Youth Hub), Totem Theatre (young people learn significant skills through this medium) and Over 50s Community Centre (for mentoring programs with older people and young people working together). There is a car park for event parking and the oval and pavilion for a variety of uses including concerts and football.
    We already have enough “bricks” … we just need more “mortar” to glue it all together. The proposal would cost considerably less that the one proposed by Cr. Brown and would be a partnership funded project. Young people who have the requisite trade skills could be involved along with commercial sponsors including organisations being invited to attend.
    Clearly, the young people of town need to be consulted before any proposed project proceeded. Adults making decisions about youth without consultation doesn’t work. Partners in the project, including Alice Springs Town Council, NT Government and the local community would also need be included in any consultation process.

  3. Hey Phil, Just think how much we can save if we do nothing at all! Perhaps that could be your platform, or maybe not I suppose, the Labor Parties already have taken that particular one haven’t they? Believe it or not, my intention isn’t to save money rather it is to gain for the town of Alice Springs much deserved infrastructure that hard working tax paying Territorians are owed after years of neglect, in case that has escaped your attention.
    Since the intervention and for the next dozen years, billions, have and are to be spent in an endeavor to assist Aboriginal Aussies into a wealthier happier more included position in our society. I believe this PCYC is an essential piece in the road to inclusivity. Would I accept the broken down, dated, poorly positioned old buildings and infrastructure that you are recommending, Phil. Would I attempt to shove the kids in the back blocks once again, in the bit of old time squalor that you are recommending? The answer is “No I would not”!
    I think that it has been very clearly demonstrated that as a community we have no trouble at all in attracting a few miserly dollars to give a few old buildings a lick of paint rather than spend on new buildings. Time and time again our northern government has demonstrated its willingness to give us less than second best. You or anybody else sticking their hand up to represent us need to fight for the very best for our community, not to bow scrape and submit to whatever drivel is begrudgingly sent in our direction!
    The facts are a project of this size would be enormously beneficial for our town in very many ways to many different sectors. When you get to see the proposal you’ll hopefully understand that, so perhaps it would be wise to wait a little while before casting judgement. Remember Aim High, Fall High. Aim Low and you get what Alice has been handed over past years: Nothing!

  4. I think this is a great idea! I think it would work well! Although, the only way to make it work and to make it work well, is to get young people to make it their own, though them deciding what goes where etc. This way, the young people take ownership of the space and it is less likely to become a dump.
    To be honest, somewhere like the Memo club would be fantastic. Right in the middle of town, heaps of space that can accommodate a Headspace doctor (as an example) and also have a huge space if young people want to hang out. With a space like this, young people will have a place to go, instead of being on the streets.
    Like I said earlier. If this is going to work, young people have to be consulted with, to make the space their own.

  5. I see no problem with utilising the old Anzac High School for this project … Why build again when there are suitable venues already … Try something first to see if it works, then pour money into it if it is a success … Need to widely consult the youth, and the community of Central Australia.

  6. I’ve always liked the potential I see in the Anzac area, but whether or not it becomes our eventual youth precinct remains to be seen. There is diversity there, as Phil points out.
    Malanka has Greenfield potential, but the Memo could probably do with a bulldozer and a re-build. Both look more like future flats to me.
    All three sites enjoy a similar centrality to the CBD, with none having much of an advantage over the others in that regard.
    Consult with the youth, by all means, but remember that by the time anything is built, we will probably be dealing with the teenage children of the youth we are consulting with today.
    And be sure Cr Heenan is on board. I think he was instrumental in revamping the BMX and skate board area next to the Aquatic Centre.
    The proposal of Cr Brown’s that I really like is the amalgamation of Tangentyere Council and the Alice Springs Town Council.
    Integrate, and achieve economy of scale. There are too many of us for each to provide their own essential services. We do all live in the one town, using one rubbish collection, one street system, one postal delivery system, one power and water, etc.
    Social agendas might be a different matter. Already we read of an African spokesperson elected yearly (?) by the newly emerging African community, to name just one.
    All our diverse ethnic groupings have teenage children, all of whom would probably enjoy and benefit from a youth precinct. Establish if well, and we can change the probably to definitely.

  7. Why not give part of the $$ to the Alice Springs Youth Centre, they are already there and always struggle to get funding? Utilise what we already have, maybe?

  8. What is needed more than bricks and mortar is mentors, youth workers and responsible parents who can put in the quality time with the youth. Government dollars would be able to fund the mentors and youth workers, but good responsible parenting is another matter. Governments generally are good at funding bricks and mortar, but not ongoing money for the workers required to make the finished building functional for its stated use into the long term. Governments come and go and consequently funding waxes and wanes, but the issues of youth go on from generation to the next. Yes build a new centre or renovate or extend an existing one, but unless it is staffed adequately, the outcome for the youth and the community that might or might not use it will be in question.

  9. Right Dax, let’s just drip feed and never have what we really need. Let’s start a new and build bigger than we need now so that we have what we need in 10 years. Our kids deserve a new place with a future and bigger and more opportunities. Time to put kids first and penny pinching last. You may not think we may not need a new central youth centre in Alice but the kids would disagree with you.

  10. @8 – Steve. Neither of the major political party “machines” have given The Alice any real consideration for the 19 years I’ve lived here.
    Your CLP mob arrogantly believe they have all urban Alice Springs seats safely “in their pockets” so they do nothing. The ALP don’t give us due consideration because they don’t hold the seats.
    It’s time to have positive local IndependeNT representation that reflects the will of the people; not the parties.
    Darwin dominated politics around 3 or 4 seats that “flip and flop” ignore the reality that we are a “whole-of-community” society that needs to be represented beyond party politics.

  11. Through all the trauma and mayhem of the past few years I think that it was pretty evident to all that the community of Alice Springs has some pretty major issues that required some serious attention, the breakdown in Law and Order being the major contender.
    Analysis of criminal and Anti-social activities makes it pretty clear that we have two groups who contribute most of the mayhem, those being adult itinerant drunks, and the other a problem of growing proportions, with dislocated, disaffected, and very often neglected youth.
    In putting together my proposal for council I will be concentrating on the latter group as I see it as more urgent and of greater and growing social consequence. I also see the adult group as more of a Territory Government issue.
    As with all of these issues, the problems are multi faceted and quite complex. Simplified for easy explanation there are two basic groups of youth. Those who do the right thing, the big majority who go to school, work hard, do the chores, get jobs, etcetera. They take the hard road, the right road and these kids deserve recognition, respect, reward and encouragement.
    The first goal of our Youth Centre is to give them some reward, recognise their place in the community.
    Those who make up the other group, the neglected, the isolated, those tinkering on the edges of the law, on the edge of making life changing often life destroying decisions.
    They must see and want what the others have. See the reward, see a clear demonstration of the benefits of taking the right road. Our Youth Centre’s role is to bring these two naturally opposed groups together, give our neglected kids a way in, help them find ambition, set life goals and achieve those goals.
    At present our problem group gathers in the centre of town because they want to be seen to be “cool”, to be in the middle of what’s going on, just like kids have for eternity. Unfortunately, these gatherings are seen as threatening by the wider community which leads to a continuing confrontation with police and youth services, which in turn exacerbates the feeling of isolation these kids feel from community, and contributes to a heightening of hostility which often spills over into unlawful and antisocial activities.
    This new Youth Centre will be the community’s way of both rewarding our struggling hard working youth, and reaching out to the neglected.
    At the very first step it gives them something to do and some legitimate reason to be right in the middle of things. Given that they now have a reason and a place to be, the potential for conflict is immediately reduced, which will in turn lead to a lessening of hostility.
    The Youth Centre will provide music, dance, beauty, fashion, indoor sports, martial arts, boxing, a trendy internet cafe, all the youth services, career and schooling advice, emergency accommodation. It will simply be the busiest, coolest, place in town to be. It will be a police citizens youth club, very well run, firmly monitored and disciplined.
    Our two groups will mingle and learn from each other through music, sport and dace kids who have been on the outside will no longer feel so isolated which will help them take the right steps to a happy life which in turn will bring about our own community goal of harmony.
    Why a new central centre? Well I have explained “central” above but it’s not only to ”be central”, what we want is “new”. Our present ramshackle effort for youth is some 50 years old and shows it! In showing it we send a very strong message, unintentional perhaps, but nevertheless there, that we don’t care! Look at the disastrous decline in our community, over the past 15 years. It’s time we sent a strong message of change! To set up the institutions that will bring us through the next 50 years successfully, remember the kids we are trying to support and rescue will make up tomorrows community, the price tag might be high today, but the gains for tomorrow are enormous! So let’s dare to dream a little, let’s get off our backsides and build something for our kids and for tomorrow. My proposal is to piggy back this large youth complex on the back of other facilities that will both contribute to the overall buzz / ambience and activity that will make this “the place to be” and will also help to make the complex affordable, both to build and run.
    If for instance either the old Melanka site or something similar was available, perhaps the Memo Club, I would see the centre incorporating a transit centre, a number of cafes and specialty shops fronting that space, with a large hall to be use for Blue Light Discos and other community functions, opening into the cafe area. Further behind that again I would see a large auditorium that would house the various activities such as music, beauty and dance classes. The second floor would house backpackers’ accommodation, balconied over and accessible by the transit area and would also include office space for the various youth services.
    The next possibly three floors would contain youth hostel accommodation that provides room and three meals a day for young workers.
    The rest of the complex could be made up of strata titled town houses, for sale or rent. This complex would put a mass of people, life, activity, excitement, into the one area and bring a whole new “buzz” to our town!
    The sounds of frivolity, laughter, as opposed to the screams yells, sounds of breaking glass and violence. Some have raised the question, “why not stay with what we’ve got? Why build a new centre?” Well, I think I’ve given you a few good reasons and now ask you a question in return. “Why not build a new centre?” If we as a community can get this project designed to the concept stage, we can go out and seek funding from a number of sources, just imagine what this project could mean for our town if we can achieve that funding! So let’s get out there and do it! Make it happen! Yes, it’s up to us!

  12. Steve Brown, through his alter ego, talks about sending “a very strong message of change” to youth, yet he advocates seven days per week take-away alcohol sales and extended trading hours.

  13. Your continual claims to have the interests of the community at heart, Russell, simply aren’t borne out by your continual attempts to sabotage discussion on subjects of great interest and importance to our community with parrot like comments that are unhelpful outside the subject, clearly not in the interest of the community.

  14. Steve, if you would debate as a public official instead of slamming, you might be more impressive. Your simplistic comments are becoming easier to engage than your earlier tortured claims, but your ability to form coherent policy and present it in these posts is wasted by your defensive attitude to the “Loopy Left.”
    Your youth centre idea is essentially sound, but the detail is seriously wanting. Slamming counter arguments is not helping the community. Take a leaf out of Phil Walcott’s book and, while we’re on the subject, I think Phil’s idea re a youth centre in the Anzac Hill precinct has merit, economically, historically and culturally.
    I’m yet to see you try to accommodate anybody else’s ideas in these posts, leaving me with the opinion that Steve Brown is really only about himself.


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