$5m government owned youth camp still unused: Lambley


2460 Bushmob car chain OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Independent MLA for Araluen Robyn Lambley is questioning why the “$5m Loves Creek Station Youth Camp” is still not being used.
It was set up under the Giles Government as an early intervention youth boot camp and is owned by the NT Government.
Ross River Homestead is currently acting as the caretaker but the facility is empty.
Ms Lambley says it has been “left abandoned and unused for several years” but in fact the camp was operational until less than a year ago when NGO Bushmob terminated an agreement with Families Minister Dale Wakefield over inadequate funding and issues of security, such as car thefts.
Ms Lambley says in a media release that Ms Wakefield and CEO of Territory Families, Ken Davies, in last week’s Estimate hearings had described the facility as “not fit for purpose” and labelled the infrastructure as “old”.
“Neither the Minister nor the CEO have ever been to the Youth Camp and clearly they did not know what they were talking about,” says Ms Lambley.
She says she recently visited the camp with fellow Independent MLA and former NT Chief Minister Terry Mills, and youth worker and manager of Bushmob, Will McGregor.
“What we found was an incredibly well resourced facility including: Nine bunk houses (60 beds), a kitchen block, a dining block, laundry, two ablution blocks, three water tanks, a generator and diesel tank, a separate cabin for staff, a maze of shades, paved walkways and shelters.
“Most of the infrastructure was as good as new, just sitting in the desert.
“Our concern was that this is a complete waste of tax-payers money; a complete waste of resources; and a wasted opportunity. When asked what they would do with this very impressive facility, the Minister was only able to say that they are looking into it,” says Ms Lambley.
“This facility was built by the former CLP Government and moth-balled by this Labor Government.”
The camp is about 100km east of Alice Springs, near the Ross River Homestead.
The facility closed in July last year after five boys left it (the facility is non-custodial and cannot restrain youths), are alleged to have walked to Ross River, and stolen a vehicle, alcohol and cash.
We are seeking comment from Ms Wakefield.
UPDATE 3.30pm
Ms Wakefield provided the following response:-
The wellbeing of children and young people – including getting them onto the right path and away from a lifetime of crime – and ensuring safer and thriving communities, are at the heart of the Territory Labor Government’s top priorities.
The chaotic CLP Government’s broken youth justice system failed to reduce youth crime.  They introduced boot camps that did not work, where a number of young people escaped – which failed to turn their lives around.
In July 2017, the Territory Families contractor, BushMob withdrew from their contract to operate youth diversion programs at the Loves Creek facility, citing infrastructure concerns.
Territory Families agreed to the contract termination, with an exit strategy confirmed for BushMob to cease its operations at the site in September.
BushMob received $2.4m over an 18-month period to deliver their program from the site where 21 young people absconded over a 12 month period.
In November 2017, a consultant contracted to identify suitable future sites for youth diversion camps, found that Loves Creek was not a suitable site.  It is close to town, easy for young people to escape, has no access to portable water, and limited access to employment opportunities.
The Territory Government does not own the Loves Creek facility however it does own the infrastructure on the site. Alternative uses for Loves Creek are being explored (with the Aboriginal land owners) including moving the infrastructure to a more suitable site.
In Feb 2017 we invested a record $18.2m, doubling the amount of funding available, into youth diversion and programs aimed at breaking the cycle of crime – keeping kids on track and preventing offending and reoffending.  In the 2018-19 budget we boosted this by a further $9.9m. This includes $1.8m for youth rehabilitation camps.
The Territory Labor Government currently funds Operation Flinders, which provides eight day camps in the Flinders ranges for at risk young people.
To date four successful camps have been run for young people from Alice Springs, Katherine Nhulunbuy, and Darwin (for girls).
A fifth camp for boys in the Greater Darwin region will run in late June.
An independent evaluation found the previous boot camps did not work because they did not include follow up case management and wrap around support.
Young people on the Flinders Wilderness Camps are case managed and supported by Youth Outreach Workers from Territory Families, who also attend the camps. A number of the young people who attended the camp from Alice Springs have become role models for other kids, helping to run youth activities.


  1. This facility needs to be reopened again. It is offering troubled youth an opportunity to develop a lifetime skill and from that, a future.
    If some leave and steal cars etc then those are forfeiting their opportunity and should be sent to a stricter place.
    There would be quite a few young people who have gratefully received care from Will Mcgregor’s facilities over the years and gone on to a better life.
    It is fortunate that there are a few people with Will’s experience who are prepared to offer their lives to help these people – they should be given every assistance, and a lot more young people may find a way to usefully fit into today’s society.


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