Memo Club for 24/7 youth centre?


The proponent for a 24/7 youth centre, Steve Brown, says a key issue for the public meeting discussing it on Thursday next week will be to canvass suggestions for a location.
He says “without preempting a decision”that “by far the most suitable” building would be the old Memorial Club (pictured) in Gap Road.
“It is close enough to the CBD for our purposes, as I see it,” says Mr Brown.
The complex, apparently currently unused, has both internal and external spaces that could be used for youth activities, plus a kitchen and a dining room.
The building is owned by the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress which is reportedly planning to turn it into a medical facility and staff car parking. Congress has recently set up several clinics around town.
Congress is already active with young people as a partner with the Town Council in a bus service transporting youths home at night.  The Alice Springs News Online is seeking comment.
Mr Brown, again stressing he his is expressing his own opinion and the meeting may have different views, doubts that the old police station, currently empty, is suitable, because it has many “poky rooms and hardly any open spaces” and would need to be bulldozed and re-built.
He says a facility is needed immediately.
The old Anzac Highschool has been suggested but it is subject to government plans and the active support from the government is essential for the youth centre plans.
“This should not become a political issue,” Mr Brown says.
In any case, the building’s location is completely unsuitable, being in a “dark corner of the town”.
Mr Brown says the proposed youth centre would be for all young people, irrespective of their race.
The meeting on Thursday next week will seek to form a management committee, says Mr Brown, who is promoting the project together with Wayne Thompson, the manager of a local coach company.


  1. This could be a good idea, certainly for starters. Hopefully enough volunteers will be available to staff the proposed facility, keep an eye on the kids while they are there and make sure they stay for the night or longer.

  2. As you observe Jack, there are already youth centres in our town.
    The Alice Springs Youth and Community Centre near Anzac Hill is fully occupied by the Multicultural Centre’s offices and other facilities used pretty well full time by a multitude of private clubs and sports, which pay their way and serve the exercise needs of many of the working people of the town and their relatively well cared for children.
    The type of activities and uses, and the target client group, espoused by Wayne Thompson, Steve Brown and many other advocates of activities for the often neglected, marginalised, sometimes abandoned, disenfranchised, alienated, undersocialised and economically deprived youth of the town, require their own time and space in a different style of building. The two purposes would not sit easily together.
    The second existing youth centre is the Gap Youth and Community Centre near Piggly’s mart. It is poorly designed and not fit for purpose for even its current level of activities, let alone an expanded role.
    It needs demolishing and redeveloping in an expanded form to continue to perform its important work. The Gap YCC has sometimes suffered from very poor governance, and is not well funded. Its funding has recently been reduced by both the Commonwealth and NT Governments, for unknown reasons.
    In no way can it meet the needs of many of the town’s disaffected youth.
    There is also Tangentyere’s youth recreation facility on Brown Street, which can hold around 150 young people at maximum. So overall there is an urgent need for more youth facilities, staffed by well trained and experienced youth workers, in this very troubled town.

  3. Congress does not own the Memorial Club although we are in the process of trying to purchase it so that we will no longer need to rent premises in different parts of town.
    The purchase has not been able to proceed due to legal action outside of our control which we hope will be resolved soon so the purchase can go ahead.
    If the purchase can go ahead the site will be used primarily for social and preventative programs.

  4. We were always aware that Congress had intentions for the Old Memo Club and our project certainly doesn’t hinge on being able to get our hands on those premises.
    I put it forward as a potential location so that everyone would understand the desired CBD location, building size and layout that our proposed Centre requires, large open areas, dining and kitchen facilities – very much like the Memo Club.
    This of course would have been ideal if it were available.
    So if you change your mind Congress, there’s a lot of kids who would greatly appreciate it.
    In the meantime I imagine we will be looking for temporary premises to get things underway while we raise the funds to build to our design.

  5. Maybe the perfect site is the old Shell Fuel Depot, so well described by Kenneth (Posted May 10, 2018).
    The money the government is willing to spend for the art gallery could be put for a better use: Fixing our youths problems.
    Only then only then could we talk to attract tourists.

  6. We need to open asap. We need showers, toilets, kitchen open areas. All this is in the Memo.
    The Memo is the only place in town. I ask Donna to please support this. This is for our kids.
    We hope to raise enough money to build a purpose centre. Right now we need the Memo club for this project to go ahead. For the sake of our local kids and the community.
    Donna, we ask that you find time to talk to Steve and Congress work with us for the sake of our town. And their future. Please.

  7. What about 18 Warburton Street East Side which is for sale?
    This property currently has an exceptional development permit for educational / training establishment and in the past has been a hostel.
    The premise comprises of 11 individual rooms, an office, two large lounge rooms, a smart central reception area, a kitchen and two separate ablution areas.

  8. While I share the enthusiasm for getting our priorities right and dealing with our Youth issue first up, projects such as the art gallery are equally important in building a successful community … no economy, no people, no funds or assistance for a centre.
    So we aren’t looking to swap one for another, we are looking to do both and more!
    Importantly I can report to you that I am running into a great deal of support for the youth centre project from all sectors and I don’t think we are going to have to many issues funding this project, even with the art centre going ahead.
    The cross community support I have encountered so far leads me to believe we are going to be successful in getting the project off the ground.
    My real concern at this stage is the amount of time it will take to do that!
    Obviously if we can’t find an existing facility of the right size and location i.e. the Memo Club there is likely to be a period of at least a couple of years before we can build and be operational.
    This is a really urgent issue, requiring immediate action, especially when you think of those two years through the eyes of an eight year old child virtually living on the streets.
    Two years is a lifetime, and for that matter for a town being battered by a street kid crime wave, two years is also an eternity!
    So clearly we need to act and act now! All ideas are welcome but we must have large open space kitchen and dining, multiple toilets / bathrooms to cater for several hundred kids in a central well lit location.

  9. With respect, emergency beds in safe places is not the urgent issue.
    Nearly every night over the recent summer, police, social or youth workers employed by NGOs, Territory Families Dept YOREOs (Youth Outreach Re-engagement Officers), and Territory Families (TF) child welfare workers, provided emergency accommodation for some of the kids who were out on the streets and who really did not have somewhere safe to stay that night.
    It is often a hard slog for those involved, but there are always beds found in properly supervised accommodation for the youth who have no safe accommodation of their own.
    These vacant beds may be in TF’s own residential homes, or in other homes run by NGOs; and there are very often unused beds in the bail support houses or at places like Ampe Kweke.
    There are other kids who may claim that they have nowhere safe to go, but on investigation it often turns out that this may not be entirely accurate.
    Life may not be exciting, or perfect, or exactly as you would like it at your parents’ or grannies’ places, or in the residential care home that the courts or your case worker has arranged for you to stay at, but that does not mean that it is unsafe or inappropriate that you stay there at night instead of wandering the streets.
    Please remember these facts, Wayne and Steve, when you are planning new services.
    On the other hand, there is a large and gaping hole in fundamental services for youth in this town, in the areas of drop-in centres and youth activities, of the kinds that you have described in your statements and interviews: compared to the demand, there are nowhere near enough places in the after school / early evening / weekend supervised activities centres for our under-privileged young people.
    On a number of days of the week and weekend, there is virtually nothing of this nature available.
    The Gap Youth and Community Centre (GYCC) is not funded to provide much in this domain, and the Tangentyere / ASYASS youth recreation complex in Brown Street is not funded to provide much more.
    The Alice Springs Youth and Community Centre (ASYCC) near Anzac Hill receives no funding to provide free and accessible general activities under the supervision of trained youth workers for the alienated kids who wander the streets.
    All this was brought to the attention of the relevant officers in TF 12 months ago, following a two day workshop of stakeholder services and organisations and departmental agencies in the Witchettys Room at the Araluen Arts and Cultural Centre.
    There was consensus amongst the forty odd delegates present that free, general access, out of school hours activities centres, open seven days per week, and supervised by properly trained and experienced staff, was by far the most needed programme.
    Such activities, and the skilled staff that deliver them, are absolutely key to the engagement and prevention work that is needed to deal with truancy and prevent much of the youth crime and other risk-taking behavior.
    There was also seen to be a need for a peak committee to plan and co-ordinate provision of programmes in these activities centres, which could include boosted provision of activities at the GYC, ASYCC and Brown Street, but should also include some activities in under-serviced suburban neighborhoods, such as Larapinta and Sadadeen.
    This committee could also organise and co-ordinate transport for the youth taking part in the activities. This would avoid duplication, and maximize integration of the services, ensuring that they are comprehensively available to all the youth who most need access to them.
    TF, which contributes close to $1.5m to such services in Alice already, seems to take the attitude that it does not have the funds to meet more of these needs, since it is apparently contributing a disproportionate amount of funding already to Alice for these purposes; far more than it contributes per head in Tennant, Katherine or Palmerston; but it is sometimes intimated that were the Federal government and the Alice Springs Town Council able to put some money on the table to meet these needs, then it may be possible for TF to see if it could do likewise.
    12 months later, we have less activities at the GYC, a bit more coming up at Brown St, nothing at the ASYCC, and nothing in the far flung suburban areas where many deprived youth live in places like Sadadeen or Larapinta.
    Little wonder that there are kids wandering the CBD looking for something to do and somebody to concern themselves with their needs at all hours of the day and night.

  10. There are existing youth service providers that have over many years provided excellent after hours diversionary and other recreational facilities for the young people of our community.
    Successive NT governments have funded and defunded depending on their political whim and priorities.
    The infrastructure and experience is there. The funding as always is insufficient or lacking.
    The young people in our community are being set up to fail and while I applaud Steve Brown for his commitment to offering a possible solution, another venue, when there are already a number of viable alternatives, if funded adequately, is merely another political stunt at the detriment of our young people and our community.

  11. The question I have concerning this proposal, and I in no way mean it as a criticism of Steve’s initiative, is do we really need another big money infrastructure project, or would adequate funding of existing infrastructure and their programs suffice?

  12. I really am not surprised by the responses by people who have been part of these failed programs.
    And still are part of them. You all yell loudly the amount of agencies who are doing something.
    Yet our you problems continue. These places are all individual pieces of the puzzle. Never to join up and offer real security and safety. Peace meal titbits.
    What we are dissucissing is a community centre that is open and operating 24/7. Were kids have a place. The current supports while well meaning miss the big picture. Kids want security and safety. Couch surfing is not what I would call safety.
    This will be a place to call into to relax. Get a feed and relax. Similar to a home environment one that will give opportunities to kids to make life choices on their voice.
    I watched for the first time last night blind side. What a story. A story to reinforce the need for a place and people to care for our kids.
    Those people who want to pat themselves on the back and protect themselves is the real shame of failing our kids.
    We are taking a stand to provide safety and security to these kids. And you want to knock us for standing up for these kids. Really. I really do not care about your failures. I care about the kids.

  13. @ Evelyne: No, definitely too far from CBD and don’t think the neighbours would be to keen.
    The bed requirement part of the concept is “emergency bed requirement” only, as per “Careful’s” comment probably not a large demand for it. We could manage with temporary facilities and grow after assessing demand.
    I imagine that most kids would catch the bus at the cessation of evening activities. The most important part of this centre will be kitchen, dining and activities which would also clearly encompass such things as after school care.
    As for existing facilities: This is not a petty competition nor are we interested in the petty politics of those more interested in protecting their own backsides than looking after children.
    Let’s deal with the basic facts: Governments of all persuasions have struggled with this issue for 50 years or so. They have funded and de-funded all manner of organisations in the process!
    And they have failed.
    Yes, there are existing organisation who have cross over interests.
    However, we still have the issue.
    In fact it is a large growing generational issue, at times literally hundreds of kids hanging about on our streets, growing crime and increasing isolation, increasing division, increasing us and them, increasing have and have not and increasing community anger and resentment.
    The concept of bringing kids and community members, not just street kids into a central location, is not just about food and activities, it is about containing the hanging out to a really “cool” location and it is about cross community interaction.
    Breaking down the division!
    It is about rebuilding a community out of a rapidly growing divide that threatens its very foundations.
    The issue is far greater than the petty self interests of a few professional youth workers who feel someone is intruding on their turf!
    If your a genuine committed professional youth worker you will know the value of the community interaction too which I refer and you will get on board.
    This is not a government initiative, it is a community movement, the only ones in the end who can really make a difference.
    And not just for neglected kids, not just for underprivileged kids, but for all the kids in our community, which in the end means a difference for all of us!
    We envisage that those centres already working in this area would come on board and work with us, probably moving their services into the central complex or maintain offices there, or doing pick ups and drop offs so that everybody’s together, part of the activity and excitement, of things going on: That is what we want to create.
    We have said all along, while we are looking at a community youth centre driven by volunteers it would also incorporate professional management and youth workers.
    This is about everybody in the sector putting aside selfish interest and uniting to bring about effective change.
    It’s about making a massive difference to a whole lot of young lives and making our community a whole lot happier place to live for everybody.

  14. When adding to the 14 comments below which I value, I would very much concur with and encourage these comments of Steve Brown, “… this is not a government initiative, this is a community movement”.
    Everyone’s contribution is valuable, we are all affected.
    The first step or stage is to come together, to listen, to participate, to accept that everyone has a history or a story to tell about being young.
    Express ideas that may somehow spark this movement into a way forward.
    Let’s all take the first step by being prepared to help each other, by being prepared to hear great community sense and by just turning up on the day to the forthcoming forum.
    An invitation to the youth of Alice Springs needs to be encouraged for this initiative to move forward as one.

  15. This has become a community issue because of inept and impotence by Government.
    Whist I’d like to see success with this initiative, may I suggest you all remember the driver of this, when you’re next at the polling booth.


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