By KIERAN FINNANE
MODIFIED to correctly attribute a quote, 4.48pm, 1 August 2017.
It was the final meeting for the 12th Alice Springs Town Council before going into caretaker mode from Thursday. A few boxes were ticked and a letter will be written to the NT Government.
Councillor Eli Melky tried again to get a youth curfew into this letter – tried but failed.
Nonetheless, he drew to everybody’s attention that a curfew is still on council’s books as part of a standing motion moved and carried in November 2006.
Its wording was crafted by then Alderman Robyn Lambley, later a Minister in the CLP Government that came to power in 2012 and now the Independent Member for Araluen.
It was all about getting the NT Government (Labor at the time) to implement “a Night Time Youth Strategy whereby ‘unsupervised’ (means not in the care of an appropriate adult) children 15 years and under are taken into protective care and custody, if found on the streets of Alice Springs at night between the hours of 10pm and 5am.”
This was to be a means of “addressing the need to protect” the said unsupervised children “wandering the streets of Alice Springs at night” and “of addressing the increasing levels of youth crime and youth violence in Alice Springs”.
The strategy included “the establishment of a holding and processing centre where children can be taken and cared for while the Police and youth workers are able to establish a safe place for these children to be accommodated”.
(The need for such a facility was also mentioned by Karina Akarana, founder of the FOCAS group, at the recent meeting called by senior Arrernte men.)
Trouble is, council gained no traction with this Youth Strategy at the time, as CEO Rex Mooney pointed out to the meeting last night; and even when she was in government, Mrs Lambley did not pursue such a strategy, as Mayor Damien Ryan commented. (The latter comment was previously wrongly attributed to Mr Mooney.)
Councillors had no appetite to revisit these ideas and no one came forward as Cr Melky’s seconder. They did however support a motion from Deputy Mayor Jamie de Brenni, addressing some of the same issues.
It called for funding to be allocated to immediately deploy youth workers onto the streets at night, while details are finalised for the reintroduction of the Youth Street Outreach Service (YSOS).
This service was infamously defunded by the Giles Government in early 2014 without anything to go in its place.
And so the 12th Council drew to a close. Mayor Damien Ryan made some remarks of farewell, acknowledging all the councillors who had served in the term, even Cr Geoff Booth who departed somewhat ignominiously 18 months into what turned out to be a five and a bit year term for council.
While Mayor Ryan also gave special thanks to CEO Rex Mooney and acknowledged the new directors, he did not mention directors who resigned in the recent term after long years of service, Craig Catchlove and Greg Buxton.
Cr Melky singled out for special thanks Director of Finance Dinesh Pillay, who he said had had “a fair bit to put with” from Cr Melky over council’s Civic Centre loan. This earned a big smile from Mr Pillay.