Sunday, May 26, 2024

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HomeIssue 5And now, your friendly neighbourhood prison

And now, your friendly neighbourhood prison

2565 Gap prison 5 copyBy ERWIN CHLANDA
UPDATED 3.31pm, see at bottom.
A prison appears to be under construction in the middle of an Alice Springs suburb, The Gap.
It is corner Gap Road and Kempe Street, opposite a service station and surrounded by residential blocks.
The complex of eight former residential units is surrounded by a green metal wall about three metres high and studded with CCTV cameras mounted on poles with spikes discouraging climbing.
The units have windows covered with heavy aluminium mesh.
The complex is being built by Territory Families which have taken over detention facilities from Corrections.
There have recently been several break-outs from the juvenile facility next-door to the adult gaol and some inmates were transferred to the Don Dale facility in Darwin.

The ABC has reported, quoting an independent monitor, that the youth detention centre in Alice Springs is at “crisis point” due to overcrowding and appalling conditions. It should be be shut down, or up to 10 of 24 youth detainees be immediately relocated.

2565 Gap prison google OKWe asked Territory Families the following questions at 7.53am today. We will publish the replies when we receive them.
Who will be kept there? For what purpose?
How many inmates can be kept there?
When will it be put into use?
What was the cost of acquisition / construction / modification?
Are there / will there be other detention facilities similar to this in residential areas of Alice Springs? If so, where?
What was the ultimate cost of the refurbishment of the juvenile detention facility at the Alice Springs gaol?
What will be the cost of the proposed new juvenile detention facility in Alice Springs?
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UPDATE 3.31pm (received 1.49pm)
A Territory Families spokesperson provided the following statement:
The facility identified is a Territory Families’ bail support accommodation set of units which is managed by Saltbush Social Enterprises. Bail accommodation is a residential service that is provided to support young people who have been bailed by the courts to the facility.
Bail support is not a neighbourhood prison. Surrounding properties to the facility were consulted prior to it being established.
The privacy, safety and health and wellbeing of young people is Territory Families’ highest priority.
Territory Families works with families, individuals and stakeholders to create stronger communities by focusing on early intervention and support.
Our Youth Outreach and Re-engagement Teams (YORETs) play a fundamental role in the services provided by Saltbush through dedicated case management and the provision of integrated support, working alongside a range of government and non-government agencies.
Onsite Senior Bail Support Practitioners provide clinical oversight, guide case management and provide trauma-informed, therapeutic interventions for young people to help them make more informed life decisions.
Practitioners work collaboratively within a multi-agency and multi-disciplinary team to support young people engaging in bail support services and therapeutic programs that are consistent with evidence-based research.
Territory Families has expended $2.85m on “fix and make safe” works in both Don Dale and Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre to improve the facilities for young people in detention. These works involved significant improvements to the accommodation rooms and security systems to increase surveillance and security in the detention centres.
The Northern Territory Government has committed $70m to replace both Youth Detention Centres with fit for purpose facilities that meet the needs of young people and the community.  Planning is already underway to achieve this.


  1. And just down the same street, on the north corner of Kempe Street and South Terrace, is the original juvenile detention facility in the NT, first called Giles House (later Aranda House). The land was acquired by the Whitlam Government in 1973 but the facility didn’t officially open until Universal Children’s Day in October, 1977 (which, incidentally, was the final year that Child Care Week – of which Universal Children’s Day was a part – focussed on children in care or in institutions in Australia).
    Giles House was built in response to the alarming rise in numbers of children being held in jail in those times; however, the new facility got off to a troubled start because it was chronically under-staffed.
    Sound familiar?

  2. Yes, Alex Dromornis Stirtoni is back in the Mall and Giles House will be reopened what ever its name will be
    “What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.”
    Especially for the longtime residents.

  3. James, maybe in fact they will be living in the safest area, because if a “resident” escapes he/she will go as far as possible (hopefully).

  4. This facility is on my morning dog walk, so I’ve watch it go up.
    The first clue as to its purpose was when contractors came in to cut down all the trees. What’s going on here?
    And then I realised they were removing any branches that could overhang the inner fence. Then came the security cameras and, voila, a neighbourhood prison.
    All good, I guess.
    Except this morning the gate was open and swinging in the breeze. It looks like someone didn’t need those overhanging branches after all.

  5. This will be fantastic for the parents of these kids.
    They will now be able to visit them by just stumbling over their sleeping companions adorning the footpath and crossing the road so calmly in front of oncoming traffic, before purchasing their daily rations of Chardonnay stored in an ethylene polymer vessel, from that classy purveyor of high-end liquor conveniently located right next door.

  6. The saddest part (for the town’s image) of this story is the location.
    I’m just thinking of those tourist passing through or staying in town arriving through the Gap and driving into town via Gap Road, they go down the road that most locals know as “the Bronx” and see these prison like dwellings, not a good image and this doesn’t help the town.
    The people coming up with these brilliant ideas not doubt have no vested interest in making Alice Springs great again (not a Trump reference).

  7. Sir Humphrey Appleby would be proud of that statement from Territory Families. A lot of words, short on specifics on what they are actually doing.

  8. Kids regularly abscond from this placement as well .. basically anything run by Territory Families is an absolute joke.

  9. What is happening at the buildings near fire and ambo station previously used as a women’s refuge / hostel?

  10. As Alex Nelson points out, in the (not so) long term, things can go around in one big circle. Going back another generation before Whitlam’s optimism – but still within living memory – Kempe St in The Gap was the site of another epic planning battle, but this time one which the neighbourhood nay-sayers [“neigh-sayers?”] won.
    Albert Namatjira purchased about five acres of then farmland from Len “Snowy” Kenna in early 1951. This land was along the entire north side of Kempe St, with the exclusion of a farmhouse at 7 Kempe St, which Kenna had previously excised and then sold-off (to an Italian immigrant) in 1947.
    It thus ran all the way east-west from Gap Rd to the Todd (well before South Terrace existed), and as far north as the present-day boundary between Mpwetyerre [Abbott’s camp] and the former Bowling Club.
    Famously – except for the actual location of his block, which is little-known – Albert Namatjira was denied official permission to build a house and then live on his block. This was for a host of enunciated reasons, including (of course) that such a move would lower property values in the area.
    What happened next should be a salient reminder of the potential blowback of NIMBY-ism over the longer term.
    First, consider that in 1951, Albert Namatjira had not exactly set his sights on moving to a choicer part (or indeed any built-up part) of Alice Springs – although had he chosen to make such a provocation, he could have afforded it.
    Thus, when the big guns came out to kill off his attempt at a modest toehold in Alice Springs real-estate and to invest money that was otherwise lying idle in government bonds, the next move was instinctive: He moved, but not far (about 3 km NW to Morris Soak) – and left Kempe St for the whitefellas, with himself in a spectator seat of sorts (which is the best real-estate of all, if you ask me).
    To his credit, he seems to have correctly wagered that his eviction would leave a bad taste in and on the disputed land.
    Subsequent developments on this land, and its immediate area, to the present-day amply show that the Battle of Kempe St in 1951 – when it was won by and for white-men without a glimmer of what would happen next – was a hollow war-spoil indeed.

  11. @ Mal Crowley (Posted August 2, 2018 at 8:16 am): The women’s refuge on Telegraph Terrace is undergoing a major upgrade (it has been at this site since 1981).
    The refuge is temporarily operating from the former police station in Parsons Street but will return to Telegraph Terrace when the work is completed.

  12. Interesting that the department has said the welfare of young people is its number one priority.
    That means a cohesive community, ratepayers, workers, functional families and residents are way, way down the list of who they care about.
    Remember who is in charge of all this rot when the next election rolls around.

  13. Why not get the elders at the town camps to take these kids into their care? All of the talk from 12 months ago has resulted in nothing changing.
    Make the elders do what they said they would. Over to you Shane, let’s start.

  14. The mention of Giles house and its former benevolent dictator, struck fear into the hearts of wayward students when I frequently mentioned it, because they had rules which were strictly adhered to – and consequences which were enforced.
    Nowadays these are a rarity.
    How about a commissioner for human responsibilities instead of a commissioner for human rights.
    I once brought this up with Dame Roma Mitchell, but it passed unnoticed, and still is so.

  15. Heather, the stuff Shane Lindner is talking about is rubbish. The elders have no capability or capacity to train young people to behave.
    Kids are not going to learn to be upstanding citizens by a few visits to elders.
    Blaming problems of society because kids don’t know their language or culture is bullshit.
    I have many Aboriginal friends who work, look after their houses, lead productive lives and they are not cultural.
    Aboriginal people are blaming this and that. If they want to know something Aboriginal tell them to contact CLC and ask about getting some information on Sid Ross (passed away).
    Those Aboriginal people who are not related have a similar status to white fellas, they don’t belong.
    Most real TOs are happy to work and live with the new generation of Alice residents.

  16. @ Trevor Shiell (Posted August 3, 2018 at 2:34 pm): In the late 1980s Giles House became notorious for its poor conditions and frequent break-outs.
    No worries – the NT Government constructed a new, modern, purpose-built facility in Darwin to cater for all juvenile detainees in the Territory, officially opened in 1991 – and named it in honour of former Health and Community Services Minister (which included Correctional Services), the late Don Dale …


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