LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – Minister John Elferink conveniently failed to acknowledge that a number of the children who appeared in court this week in relation to the recent [rock throwing and vandalism] incidents were already in care of the Department of Children and Families.
The current child protection service is itself failing many children. Minister Elferink might point the finger at families – but what about looking at the quality of care the Department is providing?
We are extremely concerned that the Minister’s comments are harmful in that they are not in line with Northern Territory child protection legislation. If the Government ought to have learnt anything from the disgraceful legacy of the Stolen Generation, it is that removal must always be the option of last resort.
We are outraged at comments such as “if parents don’t want to see their children in care then they need to get off the grog and head back to their home community”. These comments are disturbing and disgraceful. They are clearly directed at Aboriginal people and are dangerously generalised, reinforcing negative and untrue stereotypes.
The Northern Territory Government’s response comes at a time when they have defunded a number of youth programs in Alice Springs in the last three years. These include vital after-hours programs that give young people something useful and meaningful to do.
It is significant that there were no school holiday programs funded by the Northern Territory Government for the recent holiday period.
A more helpful and proactive response from the Chief Minister Adam Giles and Minister Elferink would be to work more proactively with local youth agencies.
We also note that it was widely known that a large number of families would be in Alice Springs due to school holidays, the football carnival and other events. Transport services back to communities have been limited and there was a lack of coordinated planning.
The Government needs to work with, and not against families and local services. Funding needs to urgently be provided to youth services in Alice Springs for youth activity and support programs, as well as transport services for key events.
Antoinette Carroll and Christa Bartjen-Westermann
Making Justice Work
Rock throwing kids were already in care, Minister told
LETTER TO THE EDITOR