By ERWIN CHLANDA
As the second summer of juvenile offending is unfolding on her watch, Families Minister Dale Wakefield is disclosing that a trial program, started in November “to get children on the right path, to stop them ending up on the streets and into a cycle of crime”, won’t be evaluated until March.
“The aim of the pilot program is to assess the benefits of extended child protection capabilities outside standard office hours,” said Ms Wakefield in a media release yesterday.
“The program will also look at the reasons why young children are on the streets, and work with their families to address potential safety concerns at home.”
Ms Wakefield makes no reference to any involuntary removal of troubled and troublesome kids from the streets, and has not responded to requests from the Alice Springs News Online for comparative December crime figures.
“We will conduct a comprehensive internal evaluation at the end of the pilot period before we commit to any future spend or rollout across the Northern Territory” of Operation Tjupi-Tjala, as the initiative is called.
Its team is made up of existing Territory Families child protection staff (pictured). Key operational responsibilities are seeking to provide a “more agile response to child protection concerns,” according to the media release:-
• Working with the police to identify and engage with young people in need of support or who may be causing anti-social issues in Alice Springs.
• Working with the high-risk young people and their families to identify why their behaviour may be occurring and what alternative services or responses would be best suited to support them in the long-term.
• Supporting court work, child protection orders, and the fast-tracking of case closures.
• Completing Foster and Kinship Carer assessments and processing interstate transfer orders for children in care when required.
The media release says Operation Tjupi-Tjala is named after one of the main Aboriginal Dreamings in Central Australia, the Honey Ant dreaming: “Tjupi and Tjala are the Luritja and Pitjantjatjara words for Honey Ant respectively. The name was chosen to reflect its meaning of creative development, adaption and transformation.”