Pollies on Alice youth: he said, she said


Sir – Central Australians yesterday celebrated the official opening of a new and improved gymnasium at the Alice Springs Youth and Community Centre (ASYCC) to which the government committed $2.5m.
The new facility will bring to the people of Alice Springs sports such as Shotokan, Eskrima, Aikido, Gymnastics, Circus, Roller Derby and Boxing which will have this fantastic new facility to call home.
I would like to thank the volunteers at the Centre who make it possible for the ASYCC to provide important social and recreational activities to the diverse community of Alice Springs.
The Country Liberals Government is committed to building Alice Springs and is investing heavily in the local economy through community projects like this one and the redevelopment of Anzac Oval.
The newly completed work includes a new gymnastics / sports hall, administration centre, new entry, forecourt, linkage to the existing structures, car park and landscaping.
The facility has been named in honour of Agnes East who was one of the founders of the Centre.
Adam Giles
Chief Minister
Sir – I am shocked to learn of the CLP Government’s short sighted decision to shut down the Alice Springs Youth Hub.
It was set up as part of a bipartisan approach to youth issues in Alice Springs with support from the community and youth sector non-government organisations (NGOs).
One of the issues the Alice Springs community identified was the need to have a co-ordinated approach from the different youth sector agencies to ensure young people weren’t falling through the gaps.
The Youth Hub was a central youth-friendly space where services were co-located, providing an integrated supported approach to youth issues – a one-stop shop.
This partnership approach was working and supported by the youth sector.
We’ve just seen the Chief Minister, Adam Giles, open a new multimillion dollar facility at the Alice Springs Youth Centre, right next door to the Hub.
Moving services away from spaces where kids are makes no sense and does nothing to make sure services are targeting those who need them most.
But the CLP Government’s approach seems to be making sure our juvenile detention facilities and jails are full, rather than focusing on approaches that might keep kids out of the criminal justice system.
Delia Lawrie
Opposition Leader


  1. The investment of $2.5 million into the Alice Springs Youth Centre and the closure of the Youth Hub is possibly the straw that will break the camel’s back.
    The Youth Hub and Youth Centre are two different creatures by nature and design, they have two different purposes and it is obvious that the CLP government has never quite grasped this.
    The Youth Centre is simply a conventional pay to use recreation space that services one particular cohort and the Youth Hub is fundamentally a “one stop shop” for youth services with a school attached which has proved it can reengage young people back into the education system.
    The Youth Hub is a neutral place servicing the most disengaged and vulnerable young people in our community. If it was not performing satisfactorily it is most likely that is merely a staff performance issue. It is negligent to our community to can Youth Coordination and it is a waste of prime space to use it for any other purpose than to nurture the future of our community.
    I write this letter from the experience as the former Youth Activities Coordinator of the Youth Hub and also as the Project and Administration Coordinator of St. Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre.
    At the end of two and a half years’ work at the Youth Hub with both the NTG and Edmund Rice Education Australia, I would like to think that at the time of my departure from both projects, that they were in good shape and serving our community effectively and sustainably.
    In the summer 2011/12 in a climate of anti social behavior when the CLP were in opposition the Youth Hub demonstrated how Youth Coordination could directly reduce crime by young people through engagement. This year without support from the Youth Coordinator and NTG we see that crime is up.
    The Chief Minister might strategically deny that crime escalated this summer, but local social media demonstrates the opposite. Break-ins, window smashing, vandalism and violence increased through summer and the NTG allowed it to happen by turning its back on the very solution that they had at their finger tips.
    The choices the NTG made added extra pressure on police responses to mop up the damage. While Police officers stood out the front of bottle shops selectively asking people for ID, property and personal crime was happening around the corner.
    The decision to defund the Youth Coordinator position as well as the Youth Hub space, now allows the remaining youth services that are still funded the option to take the summer off, the period when engagement is needed most. No checks or balances are in place to ensure that the youth spaces are even open during hot summer days and nights and the ones that are obviously aren’t hitting the target market. The bar must be raised and there must be accountability for tax payer funded projects.
    The NTG know this all too well, it’s not that long since they were in opposition demanding accountability for summer crime and youth services, now they deny its existence and shamefully avoid taking the responsibility or action. We as community pay a higher price for this type of gamesmanship but it is not responsible government.
    The investment in the Youth Centre is double the $1.1 million amount the Labor government set aside for the upgrade of the former Anzac Hill High School site.
    To be crying poor one moment and then spending big on pet projects only 100metres away the next will not go unchallenged.
    This government is nearly two years in now and is still sounding like they are in opposition; it is inexperience that will leave them a one-term government.
    Ministers that talk big and tough, but in practice steam roll, ignore and intimidate the very people they need and rely on to deliver the solutions is short term thinking. It appears to be a symptom of an immature government.
    I must admit they made a very good and mature opposition though. Maybe that’s where they are best placed.
    The camel may still be alive but its back is now broken halfway from its final resting place.
    The questions I would like to raise regarding the government’s ability to continue to offer effective youth services and manage public money responsibly are:-
    1. What performance checks were carried out in the last two years to guarantee the Youth Hub was managed effectively?
    2. Was the option explored to tender out the management of the Youth Hub to a non-government agency?
    3. Why didn’t the NTG collect rent from the non-government tenants?
    4. Where will the Flexible Learning Centre and other tenants be relocated?
    5. Will the building be bulldozed and when?
    6. Will the site become town houses?
    7. How has this decision improved youth service provision in Alice Springs?
    8. How will this decision ensure youth at risk are diverted from the criminal justice system?

  2. The decision to close the Youth Hub at Anzac is an extremely disappointing one for Alice Springs.
    What is the CLP Government’s alternative plan for youth in Alice Springs? Particularly those that live rough and find themselves on the streets at night?
    Many reports done over the years identify the need to centralise many of our youth services in Alice Springs and get those youth providers working together.
    This was one of the key objectives of the Youth Hub model.
    All I can see this decision doing is forcing those kids in need of help back onto the streets.

  3. Gobsmacked when I heard Giles say on ABC Radio that Alice Springs ‘cleaned up’ now – crime not an issue apparently.
    And he thinks the Youth Hub services victims of domestic violence!
    Seriously, how out of touch is this bloke?
    Please Alison Anderson, tell your boss some home truths. You were involved in the setting up of the Youth Hub and talked a lot about the kids on the streets a few years ago. You know these kids are still at risk and even more will drop through the cracks with services not working together.

  4. I congratulate the Alice Springs Youth and Community Centre for the refurbishment of their facilities. I do believe that this facility offers good resources for fee paying clients, who have the capacity to contribute to a vibrant centre.
    I do question the closure of the Hub centre, just down the walk way. The Hub had a different approach to youth work and offered many youth services the opportunity to co ordinate information, allow for services to work together on often complex issues, and became a focus point or agencies small and large to contribute to local networks making a deliberate effort in wanting to work together.
    While the Hub was a “work in progress”, it offered the best (at this stage) opportunity for a combined community focus on the many youth and community issues that exist with in Alice Springs.
    What is needed here, is the opportunity for agencies to work together outside of their “silos” and to become a combined voice, rather than looking backwards, at only focusing on funding piecemeal approaches to individual services.


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