By ERWIN CHLANDA
Families Minister Dale Wakefield appears not to be ruling out a process for delinquent children similar to protective custody for adults, where they are detained to keep then out of harm’s way.
The Alice Springs News Online put the following question to Ms Wakefield today: “We have protective custody for adults at risk. Why do we not provide similar and appropriately structured protection to the most vulnerable people in our community, with the same involuntary nature included?
A spokesperson replied: “There are processes for children to enter the child protection system. It is, and should be a last resort for kids.
“The Territory Government is introducing Dual Pathways – a strategy aimed at working with families to keep kids out of the child protection system.”
Will she get the kids off the street?
The spokesperson: “Ministers, departments, police, NGOs, Aboriginal organisations and the Alice Springs Town Council are all working extremely hard to tackle the issue of youth crime. This is a long term problem that will take more than the work of one Minister or department to fix.”
Will the new Youth Outreach Centre be open 24/7, if not, what will be the hours?
The spokesperson: “That is being worked through at the moment and there is absolutely scope to be open when most needed after-hours. The centre is for services, not activities, so it will work alongside after-hours activities.”
How much access does the problem cohort – delinquent street kids – have to the Youth Centre, recently refurbished at some $3m of taxpayers’ money?
The spokesperson: “Hours and operational questions of the Youth Centre should be directed to the Department. However, the Territory Government – including the new Youth Outreach Workers – are having discussions with the Youth Centre about opportunities for coordinating services and activities.”
Bearing in mind the $1.3b deficit, how come yet another building is being adapted and paid rent for? In what way are the Youth Centre and the former police station not suitable for the purpose?
The spokesperson: “The Youth Outreach Centre is for youth services, not activities – as is the case with the current Youth Centre. The former police station would have also required refurbishments.
“The Youth Outreach Workers are not taking the place of police, nor are they intended to.
“They are there to ensure everything possible is in place to prevent kids from getting into trouble, and to put them on the right track if they do – being the link between all services for kids that we’ve previously not had. They are one important part of fixing a broken youth justice system.”