Where has Cr Melky been all these years?


Repeated calls from Councillor Eli Melky for a youth curfew are a sham.
Firstly, the success of a curfew depends on the resolve and ability of the parents to make sure their kids are at home. By their absence the parents of our problem street kids have made it abundantly clear that they couldn’t give a hoot about what they are doing.
Secondly, a curfew would require the kids to have respect for laws and rules. Has Cr Melky not yet worked out that they don’t? The kids would have a wonderful time playing hide and seek with the cops. And when they catch them – a Mission Impossible in many cases – where would they put them? Take them to the parents who don’t care?
There is no need for a new set of rules because we have some eminently suitable ones in place already: As we have pointed out several times in these pages, there is Protective Custody.
Absurdly, we apply it to adults (who are taken to the police lock-up) but not to kids at extreme risk of harm.
Where would such custody take place? In a place where they would find safety, food, a bed to sleep in and, yes, love from a town renowned for its kindness and community spirit displayed in many ways. There is no reason to doubt that these would be extended to children – so long as the initiative has a prospects of success.
And no, the kids would not be at liberty to leave until they can be released into the care of a competent person.
We don’t have such a facility? This is something Cr Melky could be putting his mind to, instead of harping on about a curfew.
On the other hand, it is gratifying to see a new government initiative, a helpline, “called FACES (Family and Children’s Enquiry and Support) … available to any Territory family experiencing difficulties, whether these are parenting problems, family relationships … a further critical early intervention to help prevent children and families entering the child protection system,” according to Territory Families.
One can just imagine: “Ring, ring. Hello, this is Freddy. I am eight years old. I feel this irrepressible urge to steal a car, do a 100 kilometres an hour and torch it somewhere on the outskirts. Can you please propose some alternative activities for me?”
Perhaps the acronym should be FAECES.


  1. You are correct Erwin. So it’s the whole family that needs treatment and being held responsible for the kids they receive payments for.
    Start withdrawing welfare monies and very quickly there will be a quantum attitude change.
    Here’s a novel idea: do the same for the school truants! The town is awash in truants and truant officers. Please explain Pauline?
    Can I propose the old Anzac Hill High School as a protective custody centre for a good shower, some grub and a long sleep in time for a delivered trip to school?

  2. I totally agree with you Mark and I think a lot of people who have been trying to help youth in our community would.
    I have talked to hundreds of youth in this town and the majority don’t want to be walking the streets and getting into trouble but they have nowhere safe to go and sleep and more often than not much to eat.
    I don’t think that blaming families etc does much good as nothing really changes. I think as a community we need to realise this is what we have happening we need to as a community deal with it.
    I have been involved with youth for the best part of my life and what is happening with our youth is something that can’t be hidden and shouldn’t be.
    I would happily volunteer hours of my time to assist to support young people have a safe place to be and supervise them.
    I have opened up my home to young people here for the past eight years and have had a lot of what are deemed the bad or most troubled kids crash at my place and eat from my fridge.
    These kids would definitely have been in serious trouble if I hadn’t done this. The thing is they are pretty good kids, they show me respect and know I’m there for them.
    They know I am honest and straight with them and as long as they tow the line they are welcome.
    I wish more pope in our community would do what I am doing.
    I know other mums and dads that do the same as me but it would be good if some of the harsh critics of our youth did more hands on with these kids.
    It takes a village to raise a child so we should all do our part.
    I am not soft on crime or youth crime. I was a correctional officer for 10 years and have been working with youth justice kids for years.
    Quite often kids unfortunately need to go to detention and I don’t believe in rehabilitation.
    I do believe in capacity in a person and the truth is that some people young or old just don’t have capacity to fit in to our everyday society.
    The ones that do have capacity need to be encouraged to by all of us.
    I also don’t believe in endless chances and no consequences. Youth have to own their behaviour, just like the rest of us.
    The sad thing is what you have suggested has been spoken about for years and has been done in part previously, but then the funding for this type of set up gets pulled and here we go again.
    I don’t believe that the government really wants to put money where it needs to be, they would sooner spend money on a new art gallery or widening he Gap Road access to town for that once a year traffic jam at show time that lasts for 15 minutes.
    The more things change the more they stay the same – sad but true.

  3. You can’t stop kids from violent neglected backgrounds with rules, threats of dire consequence or incarceration, an outcome for them that is probably much better than being at home. All you will achieve by such an approach is greater division, greater hostility.
    Clearly, we must take a different approach to the usual threats of a consequence of which these kids have no fear.
    Ask ourselves, what would it take to change that hostility into friendship?
    Make these kids feel included, appreciated, part of the community!
    I believe this can be achieved by providing something that recognises and acknowledges, their existence, something they will value, something they will not put at risk by behaving badly!
    And the answer to achieving that outcome lies in the form of a very large centrally located community owned and operated youth centre.
    It must operate 24/7 and become the coolest place in the town to hang out!
    The centre must be many different things, operated by professional youth workers alongside community volunteers. It must become a place of safety, a centre of constant activity focused round street cultures of music, dance, sports, food and relaxation, which in combination create a feeling, an ambience, a place of light and warmth, of genuine care and concern, of community recognition and upon achievement, congratulatorily respect, for many their first experience of the guiding encouragement expected of the parental role.
    If we can succeed in creating this culture of inclusion we will bring enormous and lasting change to the issue of youth upon our streets, change not only for the kids of the centre, but for the very foundations of our community.
    I have raised the potential of this centre on previous occasions in the Alice Springs News Online. On those occasions I was looking for government support which wasn’t forthcoming.
    However on this occasion I am looking to raise community awareness of this concept.
    I am seeking genuine committed support for the creation of a Community organisation which will bring this concept to life and begin the process of putting this community back together, making it a happier safer place to live. As we lift and improve the lives of these street kids so to in turn will we lift and improve the lives of all Alice Springs people.
    Ps.: Please don’t in protest distract from this concept by putting forward Anzac Hill School as a base for it. Apart from it being already committed to another project, it is absolutely the wrong place for this one. It must have CBD street frontage. Both the old Memo and police station have been suggested, also possibly as part of the Flynn Church Project.
    Central is an essential part of this concept!

  4. Cutting welfare may not be so successful as you imagine Mark.
    Quite a few people I know have chosen to not take welfare, and hope for help from their families.
    It may lead to futher problems, definitely more poverty and all the issues that that brings.

  5. Steve, I am 100% behind you for this idea. When you raised the potential of this centre on previous occasions in the Alice Springs News Online, I canvassed young adults in our community who said they will be willing to get an ocher card to volunteering in centre.
    I think the old police station is a good position because workers and volunteers will feel more secure. Our community must forget political allegiances, councillors’ disagreement, prejudices and other hurdles if we want to fix our terrible problems before they get worse.


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