By ERWIN CHLANDA
Steve Brown (pictured), a prominent figure in the town’s conservative politics, and a former town councillor and CLP candidate, says the Alice community must start having a major role in finding solutions for problem kids.
They and meeting their needs must be central to the town’s endeavours, in terms of focus as well as geography, with a 24/7 youth centre somewhere in the CBD.
“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,” says Mr Brown.
“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.”
Mr Brown says let’s “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,” says Mr Brown.
“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.”
He urges the public not to “detract 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,” says Mr Brown.
UPDATE May 26, 5.40pm: Steve Brown will be calling a public meeting. See readers’ comment box.
By ERWIN CHLANDA