Thursday, June 20, 2024

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HomeIssue 5Council to take charge of street kids at night

Council to take charge of street kids at night

p2339-Brown-De-Brenni-1By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Town Council community services committee last night resolved to take charge of the fragmented efforts to control the children roaming the streets at night, all of them clearly at risk and many of them committing offences.
Their number is not known to the town council but its Youth Patrol gave 1149 lifts home to people aged under 18 last month.
The debate was frequently spirited, but in the end the factions buried the hatchet and unanimously agreed to create a place where young people are “fed, entertained and put to bed, a drop-in centre not a drop-out centre, an overnight boarding house,” as Cr Steve Brown put it.
And the CLP candidate for Araluen said at this point in our “election cycle” this is a good issue to raise with the government.
Cr Eli Melky – prone to lock horns with Cr Brown – agreed: “The council needs to step up and be the leader. It’s time to move from talk fests to action. We are the leaders of today.”
Mayer Damien Ryan was absent from the meeting on personal leave.
Cr Brown said some of the children roaming the streets at 1am or 2am are girls aged eight or 10. They would need to be retained over night and be released to a responsible adult and into an environment where they are safe.
The night safe house, as the facility was called in a motion passed unanimously at the end of the debate, should have a lock-in and lock-out policy, said Cr Brown.
He had substantial support from Cr Jamie de Brenni who said the initiative – currently mostly a pick-up service run by the council in partnership with the NT Government and Congress – should be widened and include participation of businesses because they stand to gain from reduction in the wave of petty crime.
Cr de Brenni said there needs to be a “distribution of risk” with money coming not just from the public purse. There are suitable premises in town which are unoccupied.  The council should “invite new partners, local businesses … get the initial concept moving. Let people know”.
Cr Chansey Paech suggested the council should broaden the scope of its Youth Patrol: “Congress would welcome it,” he said.
Cr Melky said it’s necessary to create a home environment where children are safe, where there is food and medicines.
“They are in and stay in, lights out,” he said. “They are not allowed to go out.”
When a suggestion for a similar initiative was put to Chief Minister Adam Giles by the Alice Springs News Online in May, quoting a suggestion from a reader, Mr Giles described it as “draconian”.
Cr Melky said last night children should be released only into a safe environment. Dangerous homes should be identified, and so should domestic violence perpetrators.
“We cannot allow this to go on,” he said.
p2339-Melky-Paech-Price-1The issue was not on last night’s initial agenda and was raised by Cr Brown in general business.
He said the problems with many youths who are “not criminal but bored” had changed: Youth camps and Bushmob initiatives are successful for male teenagers, but not enough is being done for the children who are in the streets now.
Cr Jade Kudrenko, who chaired that part of last night’s meeting, said an after-hours drop-in centre is already on the wish list the council has presented to the NT government. Does Cr Brown want more that that?
He replied that the council needed a larger role in the process: “We need decent facilities.”
At that point crackers went off in the street outside the meeting chamber.
“Young people are celebrating your request, Cr Brown,” quipped Cr Kudrenko.
Cr Brendan Heenan said the current initiatives are not working. Kids are dropped home by the council pick-up service, which operates seven days a week, and “next night they are out again”.
They need beds, food. Perhaps volunteers or retired teachers could be asked to help. With additional funding the YMCA and Bushmob could play a bigger role.
Long term education opportunities need to be provided, said Cr Heenan: “A whole generation could be lost if they don’t go to school next day.”
The council should push the issue at the current election time, ask for a budget. It could “start slowly, get off the ground and then build on it. Do a trial,” said Cr Heenan.
Several councillors said these issues have been raised frequently in the past with no results.
CEO Rex Mooney said a public forum late last year had an “attendance a little under expectation”.
He said information collected by the Youth Patrol (in June giving 679 lifts to “females” and 470 to “males” as stated in last night’s report) are passed on to “all relevant authorities. It is shared”.
p2339-Mooney-Kudrenko-1No details were given about what they do with that information.
Both Cr Kudrenko and Cr Paech suggested the youth issues are a matter for the government, and that existing services could work more successfully if their funding were increased.
Cr Paech said there had been discussions with the NT Government and the police about a drop-in centre prior to 2012. It did not work.
He said there is already a youth refuge, ASYASS (Alice Springs Youth Accommodation and Support Services Inc) and multi million dollar upgrades to the Youth Centre are under way.
“We have a youth sector out there that can do it,” said Cr Paech.
And Cr Kudrenko asked who pays for it? We have capable agencies but they don’t have enough money.
“We are discussing this every couple of months but we need to identify who pays for it,” she said.
Cr Jacinta Price also said the town had a youth refuge and cautioned against re-inventing the wheel.
“Ask them what they need,” she said, agreeing that the business community should also be involved.
Tensions rose when Cr Kudrenko suggested Cr Brown was asking council officers to do something without giving them a budget, “the elephant in the room”. She suggested holding the NT Government to account which is failing to provide sufficient funding.
Cr Brown said: “I completely disagree.”
Nobody has been doing any coordinating, this has gone on for years, “it’s time we did act”.
He said a night safe house is a logical extension of the existing service.
“We need an agency, not agencies, not funding applications left right and centre,” he said.
We need an agency that “helps, feeds and looks after” these children.
“Under what authority could we direct an agency?” asked Cr Kudrenko.
Cr Brown insisted the facility is needed, this is a first step, costs need to be determined.
“Do we provide the funds? Do we ask the government?” he asked.
In the end the meeting carried unanimously this motion: “That Council engage with existing partners and invite new partners to be part of the process of developing a night safe house that caters for children who are involved in Youth Night Patrol.”
This recommendation will now go for ratification – and possible further debate – to the full council meeting on July 26.
PHOTOS from top, at lest night’s council committee meeting: Councillors Steve Brown and Jamie de Brenni • Councillors Eli Melky, Chansey Paech and Jacinta Price • CEO Rex Mooney and Cr Jade Kudrenko.


  1. “Do we provide the funds? Do we ask the government?” Steve Brown asked.
    No Steve Brown, forget party politics, you ask the government.
    And if they say no you hold them to account publicly. With the election on the way this is a good time to apply pressure and get a commitment.
    This proposal is not a normal function of a council.
    Rate payers have had enough of this big spending council.

  2. Don’t drop the baton councillors. Keep running with it.
    This is the one issue that haunts me from my council days. A unanimous decision is a great start.
    Thank you all.

  3. Words fail me but here are the only ones I have in G-rated language.
    Can somebody please explain why critically at risk children are only an issue “at this stage of our election cycle”?

  4. Provide beds and food eh?
    Negligent parents will applaud.
    “Don’t ask me for dinner, go down to that Council place.”
    Create a home environment where they are safe and can’t get out?
    The volunteers will soon let them out no matter what the rules are.
    The alternative will be for the place to be trashed.
    Kids will periodically drop in for food and perhaps to sleep for an hour or so and then will be back with their mates on the street.
    The centre won’t change them but the operation of the centre as proposed by councillors will certainly be changed.
    Ultimately the centre will enable the problem behaviour.

  5. Raring people’s children is not a role of the Council. However roaming lost and wayward children are not ideal for the community or their own safety.
    Council, Congress and NT Government already have combined to provide a “Night Youth Patrol” returning children to their homes as your article states. What if their home is out of town? Where are the useless irresponsible parents? As Jacinta says, beware not to reinvent the wheel.
    An overnight dormitory style refuge could provide sustenance and a bed at the “Youth Hub” at Anzac Oval or at the Youth Centre and use their services to facilitate this.
    Everyone is always after Government funding, I say take some contributions towards the costs from the parent’s Centrelink and let them pay.
    But, how long before the “refuge” becomes a permanent home with breakfast and buses to school, after school care all requiring more funding and Government bodies growing up other peoples kids?
    Hints of the next Stolen Generation, all for their own good.

  6. This initiative driven by local Council in cohort with the NTG and other community partners should deliver some positive outcomes for the youth involved and the local denizens of Alice Springs.
    Similar could be adapted for Tennant Creek, Katherine and Darwin.
    This is about working together with each other to be the “whole village” looking after each child in a shared capacity. Clearly, parents and care-givers should be the prime supporting base but in situations where that capacity is eroded of some reason, having a safe place for kids to be should be created.
    Which areas in particular around town are being considered?
    Phil Walcott
    Alice Springs

  7. Phil Walcott. no doubt you are well intentioned but you are not street wise.
    Notice how these who are like Jacinta have not embraced this.
    For a start most of these kids run in gangs, formidble gangs even if members are quite young.
    There is no picking or choosing among gang members to find the vulnerable child who needs the village to look after him.
    They are ganged up, you take one and you have an obnoxious and potentially dangerous gang on your hands.
    Who will take care of them?
    The police will get many urgent call outs to the Council’s centre, the costs of that centre will grow and grow.
    It will cost hundreds of thousands but will always be criticised for not doing enough, for tolerating bad behaviour, for disempowering parents, for taxing police resources, for not taking duty of care.
    Forget this crazy idea.

  8. Since when has negligence by parents been a council issue? Does the Youth Patrol report these children as being un-cared for by their parents to the appropriate authorities?
    Generally if a child was not being properly cared for, the authorities would remove them from their homes and place them in foster care. Why is this not happening?
    These children have no respect for others, property or themselves. Why do you think a drop-in centre is going to change the values they have had instilled in them from birth?
    Staff will be at risk of harm and violence, as well as the damage to the premises and then family members coming to try and get them out of a locked premises. Because I’m sure the parents will not be happy about their children being cared for by non-family members, without their consent.
    The beginnings of the next Stolen Generation!
    When are the parents going to be made accountable?

  9. In the end the meeting carried unanimously this motion: “That Council engage with existing partners and invite new partners to be part of the process of developing a night safe house that caters for children who are involved in Youth Night Patrol.”
    Thank God Erwin reports on what is happening inside our Council.
    If not we would hear little about it and ask questions only after our rates soared again to pay for the centre.
    Have to say that Cr Brown is a problem.
    Being politically aligned with the CLP he appears to think that rate payers should foot the bill for this, not Government.
    As for acting first and determining the costs later?
    What the hell!

  10. Government, Council, businesses, residents, parents have to work together to fix (at least diminish) the problems caused night time by children. Negativity will take us nowhere.
    • Parents and or family should be made accountable, because kids on the street equals child neglect. Therefore or withdraw all social benefits to the parents or withdraw the children for their own safety.
    • Before talking of night safe-house, the community should be canvassed to work out which businesses and residents are willing to support it: donations, volunteers (I do not agree with Jason statement: “The volunteers will soon let them out no matter what the rules are,” unless he/she explains the basis of this comment). Of course Volunteers and other workers will have to have an ocher card.
    • Suitable location / accommodation must be found.
    • Cost of running the Center must be evaluated.
    • Put the proposal to the Government for funds.

  11. I agree that something needs to be done. Youths are throwing rocks at cars, damaging people’s cars will cause a bad accident one day.
    Parents need to take responsibility for their kids.
    Council to supply food and accommodation overnight, hmmm, there goes my council rates while parents keep their family payments to buy grog or drugs and not worry about kids because my rates will be paying for it.
    My suggestion, yes it’s a good idea, but parents have to pay for it. Arrange to have the money taken off the parents or whomever if their kids are the ones involved, to pay for the service.

  12. The Council unaminously initiated development of the facility.
    One would imagine they would be vigorously defending their decision on these pages.
    The silence is deafening.

  13. Can we fine the parents for the cost of “entertaining / feeding” these kids?
    Maybe they might then take an interest in bringing their kids up?
    The Government needs to grow up and do what needs to be done and stop acting like it is the Government’s fault that these kids are out late at night, and up to no good.

  14. With the Royal Commission into Institutional Care currently being played out in the media, has anyone considered the Duty of Care, Public Liability Insurance, Building Regulations and Carer skills / qualifications required to protect these youths being placed into ASTC’s proposed care facility?
    Shouldn’t this type of facility be a Territory Government responsibility?
    Don’t we already have such a facility in Kempe Street?
    If so why isn’t it being used?

  15. Let’s give the extent of this problem a historical perspective with a couple of examples I have to hand; first I quote the following: “There were 1267 juveniles apprehended last year. [The Chief Minister] said according to the police the apprehension rate reflected the actual crime rate in most cases – so crime was not necessarily on the increase at this stage.
    “The figures show the average age of juvenile offenders is 14 years … however, the majority of offences in which juveniles were involved indicated boredom as a primary factor in kids turning to crime, coupled by a lack of parental supervision.
    “The major areas for juvenile crime in the Territory over the past couple of years have been breaking [sic] offences and larceny, illegal use of motor vehicles and malicious damage.
    “The Government is doing what it can through support of sporting groups and youth activities to cut down the hours of unproductive time which many kids seem to have on their hands, and which can breed boredom” – so said Chief Minister and NT Attorney-General Paul Everingham, reported on May 2, 1982, in a story which was headlined “Youth crime down”.
    Let’s fast-forward a little: “Peer pressure is the main driving force for the kids who trash the Alice. Money comes a close second … the buyers (of stolen goods) are usually distant relatives or friends. There doesn’t seem to be any organised “fencing” of stolen goods in Alice Springs … however, there is a sub-culture that tolerates stealing on a casual basis.
    “The majority of kids are on soft drugs and alcohol. They do it all together, it gives them a feeling of being safe.
    “Sport – mainly Aussie Rules – seems to be an effective alternative to petty crime [but] the presently available entertainment for young people isn’t enough. You go to the basketball stadium and play, but it shuts too early. Then the kids walk the streets, looking for something to do – and that something is often thieving.
    “There’s nothing to do on weekends, you’re bored, so you go ’round and leave your mark on the town.”
    A 16 year old wrote “down his reasons for going on crime sprees. He wrote: Youth crime in this town mainly boils down to boredom. Sometimes it is peer-pressure when everyone else is doing it.
    “The current public attention, far from acting as a deterrent, is stimulating the young hoodlums to ever bolder acts: We hear about the stuff we’ve done on the radio and the TV. For someone knowing what they’ve done and then reading about it in the paper – well, they’re talking about us, but they don’t know who we are. We’re the unknown rebels … the thrill is to avoid getting caught.
    “Everybody’s talking about it, the school council, the [town] council, the government, but no-one talks to us. They’re going around talking to everybody else but they’re not talking to us.”
    “What would the kids want: A big rec hall – basketball, squash – it wouldn’t be hard to find out. Why don’t they make a survey. The kids would soon tell them.”
    I’ve quoted extensively from the lead story “The kids who trash Alice” published in the first edition of the Alice Springs News on March 4, 1994. In the penultimate paper edition of the Alice Springs News, before going online exclusively, published on March 4, 2011 – exactly 17 years later to the day – the front page story featured a report on local angst at a public meeting held at the Civic Centre over what to do about youth crime.
    And so on it goes…

  16. I raised the issue of children on our streets at Monday’s Council meeting as constituents had expressed their rising concerns about rock throwing and anti-social behaviour, mostly by kids at night.
    I am demanding that our community tackle this issue once and for all. When I looked at Council’s report from the previous month on the activities of the joint Alice Springs Town Council, Congress and Territory Government pickup service it tells me that the service took home mostly very late at night some 700 children with a majority of those children aged between eight and 10 years! That I believe this is a shocking indictment on our community!
    Now it might feel good to get on your high horse and grandstand in social media about parental responsibility and the like, trying to deflect cost and personal responsibility, but after all that is said and done, there still exists the cold hard reality, that no matter what the reasons, or who’s at fault, these kids are on our streets.
    Their lives, our lives, our loved ones’ lives, are in danger as a result.
    Yes, of course, there are contributing social issues such as alcohol at home. Yes, of course, this is neglect! Yes, of course parents should be responsible for their children as some are saying, arguing that it’s not our role to take on! So how long do we wait? How many generations? How many smashed windows? How many lives do we sacrifice to this self-righteous stance?
    Some express concern about the cost of taking action.
    Would you like to weigh those concerns against the cost of not taking action? The cost in human lives. The cost to our community through damage, loss of business, affecting tourism, quality of life?
    I think you’ll find the greatest cost to all concerned is doing what we are doing now: Nowhere near enough.
    The facts are we have enormous social issues to overcome. Those issue have been about for generations and unless we take up the cudgel and do something about them they’ll be there for further generations!
    So, yes, it is up to us, to help change their lives!
    Give them a chance of making it on their own in the world. We are not talking about criminalised children here, we’ll leave them to the police, courts and youth camps. We’re talking about children at risk, neglected children who if left long enough will inevitably end up in the ranks of the criminalised.
    It is not these kids’ fault that their parents are either irresponsible or incapable or both.
    These are our community’s children! Yes, they are our responsibility.
    I congratulate councillors of the Alice Springs Town Council who on Monday night demonstrated a willingness to shoulder some responsibility.
    Councillors from all political backgrounds offered their unanimous support in backing a move by Council to bring together partners from the pickup service along with other interested organisations and individuals who wish to be involved, to thrash out the creation of a community owned and driven place of non-judgemental care for these children, a place of safety, a place of fun and activity, of mentoring and education of interaction with a wide cross-section of the community, a place kids will find more attractive than the streets.
    We are not talking about spending a fortune more about what we can cobble together from existing community facilities and youth services, professionally run by professional youth workers, aided by community volunteers, mentors and sponsors.
    We are talking about a huge community plan aimed at saving young lives.
    So let’s give it a chance, don’t be a nark standing in the way, get on board and help.
    It was put to me at Council that I should use my role as Country Liberal candidate for Araluen to lobby the Territory Government for support.
    I am pleased to say that Council’s action in expressing a willingness to take up a greater role in dealing with this issue has been welcomed by the Chief Minister who has agreed to meet with me in order to discuss the matter further. Watch this space for further news on that front later next week.

  17. Steve Brown. You are a genius!
    Pretend in Council that ratepayers may have to fund a safe house.
    Get a huge backlash from ratepayers.
    Force the CLP Government to defend you as one of their candidates in a tight election.
    Probably commit funds as part of the rescue operation.
    Write your reply for you (actually a downside because your own writing is amazing).
    Well done!
    Could the same method in your madness extend to buffel?
    Once again your outrageous posts proclaiming the invasive weed as the best thing since sliced bread draw political ire from voters.
    Government has to rescue you by funding buffel research?

  18. @ Jason: Who cares about the reasons behind the action of Steve, if we get some positive result out of it!
    Do you have another plan? If yes give to us and if not stay put.
    PS: I took note than you have not yet explain your comment: “The volunteers will soon let them out no matter what the rules are”.
    As a volunteer / educator / ocher card holder I took offense. Spoken words fly away, written words remain.

  19. A couple of things. Some of these kids roaming the street are already living in care. The care houses are unable to or not funded enough to provide proper care.
    Does the council take over DCF?
    And, as Nr Nelson has pointed out, this is a long term issue. Any plan needs to have long term adequate funding.

  20. @ Maths: Apparently many of these kids are in care, or so I’ve been told. This being an issue that within itself raises a whole lot of questions that need to be answered. Not, however, by Council, and not at this time. We must not be distracted by peripheral issues from the main goal of providing safe space for the kids who are clearly the victims of these other issues.
    We have to begin somewhere!
    Let’s not procrastinate!
    Priority one … a safe comfortable place that gets kids off the streets and into bed so that they will be ready to attend school the next day.
    We work our way backwards from this point tracing the child’s story dealing with the complexity of social issues that led to that child’s presence on the streets.
    Let’s stop the cycle first, save these kids first!
    This of course is going to take a willingness from all of us to put aside our cynicism and to work enthusiastically and constructively towards our goal, making the Alice a place that loves and cares for its children first.
    The responses to date from right across the political spectrum have been heart warming and encouraging showing a genuine willingness on the part of our community to grapple with the issue.
    I believe council and government are listening, so let’s seize the moment!

  21. Steve Brown: Amazing that you know so little about the kids on our streets at night and yet know how to deal with them.
    Many of the kids on the streets are not there because they lack a a safe comfortable place nor do they value being ready to attend school the next day.
    Nor are most of them hungry.
    All the safe comfortable places with food and a bed in the world will not get kids off the street, although these facilities will be used by the kids on occasion, usually when hiding from other kids on the street to avoid being bashed.
    These kids are on the streets because it is exciting and their mates are on the streets.
    Catch up with their gangs, smash something, drink some alcohol, smoke some dope, perhaps mug a drunk walking home late, steal bikes, fight other gangs, meet girls, listen to music.
    These things are the bread and butter of street kids lives.
    A comfortable bed and a safe place?
    Leave this to the experts who know the kids on the street, Steve.
    This is not your area of expertise and nor is it Council’s.

  22. @ Jason: Have you ever been one of the kids on the street? Answer is more than likely a big NO!
    You and your ilk are the reason that nothing positive happens to assist the kids. A little empathy is a good start to help the kids who are mostly escaping drunk abusive parents or are in care homes with lots of issues also.
    It is clear that most of the responses come from people who have no idea what it is like to not have a safe place to sleep or just hang out.
    And why do I think I know? Easy one to answer: Because I was one of those kids and thanks to local families like the Presleys and Turners I did have a safe place to camp when I needed it.
    When welfare stepped in and placed me in what they said was a safe place it was every thing but safe.
    So what is your comment now, Jason?

  23. Janet: Why do you think the number of reports made to child welfare authorities about the reasons for taking street kids home that may have been reportable circumstances, such as neglect or abuse is top secret?
    It’s because there are actually very few such reports.
    Child protection reporting is mandatory and failure to do so can lead to prosecution so the absence of reports is a legal risk.
    And an embarrassment when agencies claim funding based on high risk.
    Overwhelmingly street kids are not escaping drunk and abusive parents.
    Most parents of the street kids care for their kids as much as any other parents.
    They are up against powerful peer pressures that impact all Aboriginal kids in this town.
    That’s not to say there are no street kids escaping abuse.
    But it’s a small minority.
    The majority of street kids can benefit from youth workers and mentors that can relate to them, understand their issues and can talk to them and their parents.
    That is really valuable even if the kids dismiss it at the time.
    But this idea of a safe house offering a feed and a warm bed with the kids locked in so they can get a good night’s sleep before heading off to school in the morning?
    The world of the street kid is a lot more complicated than in your day, Janet.

  24. Its going to cost a lot of money. Can the council afford it? Who are these other interested parties who may support it financially? Steve? Are you chucking something in. If the kids are locked in that amounts to detention. Is it legal?

  25. @ Jason Quote: “They are up against powerful peer pressures that impact all Aboriginal kids in this town.”
    Only Aboriginal kids?
    I remember years ago when Alice High School was regularly broken in, vandalized by someone signing “The phantom”.
    This phantom was in fact the son of the headmaster!
    Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders accounted for 27% of the total Australian prisoner population in 2014 but were only approximately 2% of the Australian population aged 18 years and over.
    Prisoners in Australia, 2014. Australian Bureau of Statistics.,%20Australia

  26. A good point was raised by @ Maths Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:54 pm.
    If the kids are locked in, won’t that be detention and is it legal? From other posts scattered throughout this online newspaper, I know legal minds follow the debates found here.
    A thoughtful legal opinion could be informative.
    Also, “Under what authority could we direct an agency?” asked Cr Kudrenko.

  27. Disappointing that more Councillors have not been prepared to defend their decision to take this initiative.
    Every one of them agreed to it.
    While I don’t agree with him, at least Steve Brown had the courage to publicly back up his argument in Council.
    Quite frankly, the rest of them are big talkers in Council and have gone to water as soon as there is opposition.
    Ratepayers have every right to expect sensible decision making using our rate payments and the courage to defend their decisions.

  28. @ Jason: You spend so much time commenting, what a shame you don’t add anything useful such as an occasional solution to the debate!
    Any nark can hide in the corner and throwing mud, trying to appear all wise with “Nah it’ll never work”! “Nah you don’t know what your talking about”!
    Yeh, thanks for a really useful contribution on just about everything, Jason.
    Hal: You’re getting way ahead of everything. At this stage we are simply having a discussion with all relevant parties about the kids, the rock throwing, the issues of neglect.
    We will look at what is already available, how we can tie services together and what we can add, which may or may not be an actual building, which may or may not be a dedicated building.
    The important thing here is that Councillors have decided that we will force a permanent solution to this issue.
    The issue is children gathering on our streets from early in the evening to very late at night. These children are too young to be on the streets unsupervised, the very fact that they are there raises the issue of neglect.
    There is no justifiable excuse for this! All children of all races are subject to peer group pressures.
    Fortunately most children have strong responsible parents to aid them … these kids clearly do not!
    I don’t wish to see small children who should be a school the next day being taken home at 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning! Out of this exercise I am hoping to see the emergence of a place of safety, care and activity, similar to a PCYC that they will be interested in attending without hanging about on the streets.
    What I meant when talking about a lock-in centre was that the centre should operate just as shelters do everywhere, once your in, your in.
    Clearly any child wishing to return home would be taken home, just as any responsible adult would be allowed to pick their child up.
    In nother words it would operate just as any other responsible institution that looks after children.
    We are well aware that most children would be returning home at some stage during the evening, not staying over. The provision of beds will be for those who do not have a safe place or a home to go to.
    As for the actual numbers, that too will emerge during our consult. We know Councils pick up numbers and we know that there is usually a hundred or so kids hanging about the Civic Centre in the evening.
    As for the money, way too early for that to be given. We don’t know the requirements as of yet, but let’s keep in mind just what this community stands to lose if we don’t deal with this issue.
    Finally @ Peter: I know this is going to be a bit of a shock for you but politics is actually about raising both issues and solutions!
    The idea being that people vote for the solutions they want! This surprisingly means that during election cycles people tend to raise vexing issues, looking for solutions, which means they do come up in election cycles, completely unsurprisingly.

  29. Steve Brown: You stated in Council that the facility is a safe house that helps, feeds and looks after these kids.
    Intriguingly you now say this may or may not be an actual building.
    You have clarified that once inside the safe house the kids will be locked in until staff can take them home.
    After a feed the kids will want to go back to their mates on the street and won’t say where they live.
    Let’s say a large group of kids tell staff bluntly what they think of them and that if don’t release them they will cause damage and do harm to staff.
    Staff feel threatened and call the police.
    The Police arrive and tell the kids to calm down but then they ask staff by what authority they are being held against their will?
    A couple of older kids tell the police they want to press charges against the staff.
    Parents of high status and influence in our town arrive at the police station with their kids to lodge a formal complaint and want charges laid.
    Aboriginal Legal Aid is involved to protect the rights of the kids against arbitrary detention.
    How would you respond to this?

  30. No worries, Steve. I’m all for the initiative shown and look forward to Council filling in the blanks.

  31. Jason: I imagine such “parents of high status and influence in our town” would be told by the police that their foremost obligation is (a) to ensure the safety and well-being of children, and (b) that they will consider laying charges against the parents for failing to provide the necessities of life for their children.

  32. @ Jason: For me it is simple:
    1. you take the young children off the street for their own safety (duty of care). I cannot see why this could be illegal, it is the same as the Safe House ***
    2. You do not take them back home but to a safe place (Youth center / refuge).
    3. You contact the parents to tell them were their children are, and ask them to come and collect them.
    If they cannot be contacted or refuse to come, the onus is then on them (child neglect).
    4. Yes, the kids can rebel and try to trash the place, but it cannot be worse than the vandalism they cause or somebody be hurt / killed by rocks.
    *** What is a Safety House?
    The Safety House Program is a community based network of safe places in a local area. Safety Houses can be a house, a shop or a business. They provide help to children should they feel unsafe, threatened or unsure, primarily when traveling to and from school. The program also aims to play a preventative role in community safety, providing safer neighbourhoods for our children.
    In the Northern Territory the program is managed by a Northern Territory Police Coordinator in Darwin and Alice Springs.
    Applicants need to fit certain criteria and be willing to obtain a working with children clearance e.g. the ochre card.

  33. Set in place a curfew for all kids under 17. If located on the streets after 9pm, take them home and issue the parent with a fine.
    For goodness sake – it’s time to make the parents responsible.
    Not the Town Council, not the rate payers of Alice Springs – the parents!


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