Above: A dinner and ceremony was held mid-November at Ross River Resort for three graduates, the first, from the Bush Mob program held at Loves Creek. Whatever its scale and scope, the new facility and its programs will link in with this program. This photo and below, courtesy Bush Mob.
By KIERAN FINNANE
Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield and CEO Ken Davies will travel interstate to visit youth detention facilities ahead of the design work on a new facility in or near Alice Springs.
Minister Wakefield has announced a $7m allocation for the new facility on a yet to be identified site.
“Our preference is that it not be at the gaol site,” Mr Davies told the Alice Springs News Online.
He said it will have a “different look” from current facilities though its full scope and scale is yet to be determined. The focus will be on it being a place where constructive rehabilitation programs can be offered to youth, but it will also have to have a “capacity to detain”.
It needs to link in with the programs presently run by Bush Mob at Loves Creek and be a place where families can attend.
Left: Young people at work on constructing a pig pen at Loves Creek.
Young people will be kept “as close to their families as possible”, said Mr Davies, although some may still be sent to serve sentences in Darwin. He said sometimes youth request this, to get away from peer and family pressures.
All these issues will be the subject of community consultation, including with the local youth sector and legal services – that’s “very important”, said Mr Davies.
Construction is expected to start early in the new financial year.
Planning and budgeting for a new (and much bigger) facility in Darwin will await recommendations by the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT, but “we want to get ahead of the game in Alice Springs”, said Mr Davies.
“It’s a very positive opportunity to really reframe the way youth justice is delivered in the southern region. A new face will give us a good start in delivering new programs and providing good pathways for youth, that will help keep them out of the adult system.”