Lambley: Gunner Government gives away $5m youth camp

Sir – As youth crime has never been worse, the Gunner Government has decided to give away to the Aboriginal owners of Loves Creek, near Ross River, east of Alice Springs, $5m worth of infrastructure and equipment from the only government owned boot camp in the NT.

Management of the camp had its challenges.

The Loves Creek Station Youth Camp was established by the former NT CLP Government in 2015, designed to provide up to around 30 juvenile offenders with the opportunity to learn the skills of working on a cattle property and living in the bush.
The site was specifically chosen because of its relatively close proximity to Alice Springs, coupled with its remote bush setting.
The camp was constructed by NT Corrections officers and prisoners. It was a unique NT Government project that involved several years of planning and construction.
The camp was promptly mothballed by the Gunner Government in early 2017 citing problems with children absconding, lack of access to the internet and no onsite water supply.
Asked in Parliament Question Time today about the Government’s plans for the Loves Creek Boot Camp, the Minister for Territory Families described the camp as “not fit for purpose”. In her 3½years as the Minister for Territory Families, Dale Wakefield has never visited the camp.
The government has been paying about $30,000 per year to have the camp maintained. The whole camp can be up and running within hours if required.


Lack of potable water is a common problem in Central Australia. Many small communities and outstations are serviced by water trucks. The camp has access to satellite communication. Internet access is not necessary.
In June 2018  I visited the camp with the Member for Blain , Terry Mills, and well-respected manager of Alice Springs youth service, Bushmob, Mr Will McGregor. What we saw was an incredibly well resourced , well maintained, fit for purpose facilities with nine bunk houses (60 beds), kitchen block, dining block, laundry donga, two ablution blocks, three water tanks, generator and diesel tank, education donga, separate cabin for staff, A maze of shades, paved walkways and shelters and a satellite dish and communication.
The camp remains fully equipped with beds, washing machines, kitchen equipment, office equipment and everything necessary to live and work on site. From our observations the infrastructure remains in good condition.
The NT Government, through the Minister for Territory Families, apparently recently informed the traditional owners of Loves Creek Station that the whole camp will be gifted to them in May 2020. The precise details of this transaction are not known , but questions need to be answered.
Have other options been considered, for example; moving the equipment to a site that is deemed suitable for a youth camp; selling off the equipment to recoup some funds; or giving the equipment to other government or non-government services that might be able to use it?
This is a shameful waste of taxpayers’ funds and resources. Above all it is a wasted opportunity for kids who could be using this facility to sort themselves out. With youth crime at unacceptably high levels, this is not the time to be closing the only Government Youth Camp in the NT.
Robyn Lambley MLA
Independent Member for Araluen


  1. This is an absolute outrage!
    Mr Gunner, giving away a $5m youth facility to traditional owners on Loves Creek is criminal.
    It is akin to the decision to provide $12m to the Darwin Turf Club!
    Minister Dale Wakefield and Chancey Paech, if you have any comprehension about the impact this could have on youth you would be best to talk to a person in your family, your uncle, who knows about this project and can help make changes so it can operate effectively.
    Please, before it is too late.
    Chancey, as the Member for Namatjira you need to stop this from going ahead!
    Talk to your uncle who was involved in the project. I truly hope you can see that Minister Wakefield is absolutely wrong in her decision.

  2. “Minister for Territory Families, Dale Wakefield has never visited the camp.”
    When challenged about this during today’s radio interview Minister Wakefield said she did not waste time on things that did not work. Her time was spent on programs that did work. Have I missed something? Brimful of arrogance and conceit.

  3. Is it April fools already.
    Don’t worry, when and if they choose to do something about the crime around Alice they will just spend another five mil somewhere else. And so on.

  4. Dale Wakefield “never been out there”: What the hell is she doing in this position?
    Oh, that’s right, concentrating on wasting a load of taxpayers’ money on her pet project, the women’s shelter on the highway.
    Loves Creek operated fine for two years (from what’s been reported in the past) and has been empty for nearly four years. Bring on the election.
    Oh, and Mr Paech has turned into all talk no action – except for pet projects.


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