By ERWIN CHLANDA
A councillor has described the new government’s plans of spending $2.5m on refurbishing the youth centre, announced in the dying days of the election campaign, as “another short term token gesture,” suggesting the project should be deferred pending a closer look.
Cr Steve Brown renewed his call to spend up to $40m for a new centre, possibly on the Memo Club or the Melanka sites, and featuring a string of facilities and services for young people and the general public.
In a discussion paper he will present at tonight’s Town Council meeting, he is also making a call for regular questioning by the town council of local departmental heads about the activities of their instrumentalities, such as it is carried out at Port Augusta.
In a comprehensive response to the report, commissioned earlier this year by the Alice Springs Town Council, about the “Port Augusta solution”, Cr Brown also claims that more harmony and fewer rules is the way to tackle Alice Springs’ problems.
He says there are too many rules creating bitterness and resentment, resulting in “anti social and criminal behaviour almost to a level that could be described as general civil disobedience”.
By contrast in Port Augusta there is “a sense of cooperative togetherness” creating a “a nice clean law abiding place that cares about its citizenry”.
He also calls for –
• a Police Citizens Youth Club “similar to those found along the East Coast” to be incorporated in a new youth centre;
• for young people who are neglected, homeless or in trouble with the law, a bush camp with cattle and horses, modeled on initiatives by long-time youth worker Graham Ross, possibly at the government owned Owen Springs reserve;
• structured collaboration with other councils, including Tangentyere, and cooperation between council rangers and night patrol;
• council stimulation “by any means available, including that of acting as a developer” of more affordable housing;
• removal of “racist” provisions such as the one preventing town camp residents from drinking in their own homes;
• Federal and NT government funding to pay for return travel on the Bush Bus so that people from communities don’t get stuck in town.
• “Welcome to Town” staffed visitor centres at the northern and southern entrances with two functions, welcoming tourists and informing them about tours, attractions and accommodation, as well as an “Op Shop style outlet providing inexpensive clothing” and “toilet, ablution and change of clothes facilities for our bush visitors who often find it difficult to access these services on what may be a day visit to town.
“Tolerance, respect, cleanliness and good manners go hand in hand with harmony,” says Cr Brown.
“Recognising that many tourists and bush visitors don’t have access to ablution facilities when arriving in town, perhaps after days of travel and camping” these facilities would allow visitors to achieve “a personal cleanliness and dress standard” suitable for a stay in town.
Cr Brown says his aspiration is “to achieve a clean, law abiding, safe, citizen and visitor friendly, vigorous, fun, prosperous and growing community that accepts, respects and provides for all its citizens and visitors equally”.
The public has the opportunity of asking questions at the beginning of tonight’s council meeting.
Photo: Mr Ross (left) and Cr Brown inspecting a possible site for a youth camp west of Alice Springs, five years ago.