By ERWIN CHLANDA
A councillor will challenge the town’s local government tonight to not only to become a leader in the fight against juvenile crime, but to put money into outfitting a building as a 24/7 youth drop-in centre.
Cr Marli Banks says she was moved to act by the death of Shane Powell (at right) who was the victim of a hit and run by youths in a stolen car.
She says not only should the Town Council offer its sincere condolences to the family, but move beyond talk to practical action, and establish the centre to be run in collaboration with the police and publicly funded Aboriginal organisations.
“This family’s extreme loss is felt by the community as a whole,” says Cr Banks (pictured at the Old Timers fete in 2017).
“We need to stand by their side and against these extreme acts of violence.
“We need community resolution which is tough.
“The leadership in council, especially the Mayor, needs to step up in this space, ensuring a coordinated effort.”
Cr Banks says there needs to be more clarity about much debated constraints on the police to act, given the “silence and absence” of the government: “It is now the council’s role to step up. Directions need to be given. The community is looking to the council.
“Issues of discrimination and human rights must also be clarified.”
The council will need to get up to speed on dealing with the social issues involved, and get advice from established groups, but it already can “look at resourcing infrastructure”.
The time has come for the council to “move beyond rates, roads and rubbish” and work more closely with local groups, says Cr Banks.
“What we need is leadership. We are passing the buck. What I’m hearing loud and clear from people is the leaders are not doing enough in this space.”
Who are the leaders she is referring to?
“Where is the Mayor on this? I am disappointed that I have not seen a position of the council on this.
Phil Alice (foreground) addressing the council in November, 2017, seeking collaboration.
“When I first came to council there was an approach by members of the Indigenous community to work with them, which was rejected by the majority of council.
“I voted for it. I worked to ensure that [issues of] anti social behaviour get tabled.”
Can the council afford to outfit a building as a drop-in centre?
“That has never been discussed in the first three years of this council. There is not an appetite by elected members to address crime and anti-social behaviour.
“We have a year left of this council. I don’t have all the information to say, yes, we can afford it.
“But I know the council is financially stable.”
Asked whether she would raise the issue at tonight’s council meeting, Cr Banks said: “I am compelled to raise it. Absolutely. I am going to ask the question, what is our ability to support a drop-in centre, in response to the family tragedy our community has been witness to.
“We have an obligation to work towards a solution.”
PHOTO at top: The Alice Springs police station (at left in the photo) in 2008. The building is now empty. The police have moved across the road. Could the vacant building be repurposed as a youth drop-in centre?