By ERWIN CHLANDA
How many street kids are there in Alice Springs? Don’t ask. It’s a secret – apparently.
At Monday’s town council meeting it was disclosed that during June the Youth Patrol gave lifts home on 1149 occasions to children under the age of 18.
The Alice Springs News Online was later told by the Council that some were transported more than once, and that the council records the names, gender, location of pick-up, home address and age of these children, as well as the circumstances under which they were given the lifts.
Over the years there has been a huge amount of guessing about the number of street kids in Alice Springs. The current Youth Patrol statistics are clearly a useful indicator.
There are three partners in the Youth Patrol: The Town Council, the NT Government and Congress.
We put the question about numbers of individual children – not any other details – to the Town Council’s CEO Rex Mooney on Wednesday morning, and added: “When possible, please let me know how many reports were made to child welfare authorities about the reasons for the lifts that may have been reportable circumstances, such as neglect or abuse.”
On that day the following email exchange took place:–
Mr Mooney: “The male and female statistics for June are as reported in your article. Releasing information about referrals to the Department of Children and Families will need to be authorized at a joint meeting of the agencies (every Thursday). I have asked the Manager Rangers (Kevin Everett) to raise this at tomorrow’s meeting.”
The Alice Springs News Online emailed: “Can we just have the numbers of individuals, please, not the other circumstances?”
Mr Mooney: “Sorry, but I am not in a position to release this information until the approval is granted by the joint agency meeting which will take place tomorrow. I will contact you after the meeting.”
Cut to Friday. Mr Mooney emailed us: “The joint agency discussed this issue and has indicated, as the information is confidential, it is not prepared to publicly release the statistics. Sorry I am unable to assist.”
Email from the News to the Council, the Chief Minister and Congress: “How did your representative vote, at yesterday’s meeting of the joint agency, for or against release of the information I have requested?”
Reply from a spokesman for Adam Giles (pictured): “The Chief Minister has no objection to the number being released.”
So clearly it wasn’t the NT Government representative at the “agency” meeting who voted against releasing the number.
We received no reply on the vote from Congress nor the Council. Do one of them want to keep the public in the dark? Or both?
Stand by for more.
PHOTO: Mr Mooney and Cr Jade Kudrenko, chairperson of the Town Council Community Services Committee which on Monday passed a unanimous vote for a comprehensive approach to the problem of street kids.
By ERWIN CHLANDA