By ERWIN CHLANDA
A Country Liberal Party Government would amend the Bail Act to ensure that repeat offenders face the consequences of their actions, say Bill Yan, MLA for Namatjira, and Joshua Burgoyne (Braitling) who have teamed up with Robyn Lambley (Araluen) to tackle rampant youth crime in The Alice.
The CLP Members would also reverse changes made by the Gunner Government which removed breach of bail conditions as an offence. Repeat youth offenders would not enjoy the presumption in favour of bail.
Mrs Lambley would immediately implement an “emergency youth curfew” for children, requiring them to be off the streets between 8pm and 6am.
She also wants to take children away “from the harmful influences” by taking them to bush youth camps while “Territory Families, the NT Child Protection authority, needs a shake up from top to bottom again.
“Child Protection is still one of the greatest shames in the NT. The number of children who continue to be abused and neglected in the NT is an absolute disgrace,” says Mrs Lambley.
The CLP wants to bring in a “Sentenced to a Skill” boot camp for Alice Springs – taking its cue from the “Sentenced to a Job” for adult offenders.
The three Members of Parliament were responding to a questions from the Alice Springs News, following their announcement of jointly tackling the problems: “If you three became the NT government right now, what would be the first five actions you would put in place, or initiate as processes, to deal with the youth crisis in Alice Springs?”
Mr Yan and Mr Burgoyne say youth justice must immediately be returned to Corrections which “is best placed to correct the behaviour plaguing our communities.
“Youth offenders who are placed in diversion will undertake community service.
“Victims will be put first,” they say. “Territorians have had enough of the Labor Government’s ‘offender first’ policies where the victim is forgotten.”
Community-centred solutions will be prioritised and there will be a curfew in Alice Springs “if supported by the Alice Springs community”.
There needs to be “rolling police recruitment and sufficient funding provided to ensure that multiple recruit squads can run at the same time”.
There need to be greater promotion opportunities for Territory-trained police officers in order to reward the commitment and local knowledge gained.
The CLP would “reverse the watering down of penalties for youth offenders and institute a system where each offence has a consequence including escalating consequences for youth offenders”.
Mrs Lambley says parents and carers would be responsible for ensuring their children do not breach the curfew.
“Like during the COVID-19 shut down in March and April 2020, the police would be tasked to confront people that are not adhering to the curfew.
“Territory Families would have a primary role in supporting families to comply with the curfew,” she says.
“All Government funded youth services would be required to assist in compliance and supporting the implementation of the curfew. If agencies decide they are ethically or otherwise opposed the curfew they may risk losing their NTG funding.”
Bail laws “need to be changed to ensure that the revolving door of juvenile offending stops. Laws must be amended to reinstate personal and parental responsibility.
“[Children’s] right to roam freely at night without adult supervision is a form of neglect. If children need to escape violence or abuse at home, then they are clearly ‘at risk’ and should be provided Child Protection assistance through Territory Families. We are continuing to fail children.”
Mrs Lambley says: “I do not believe the NT Liquor Commission is functional or effective. I would scrap it saving about $1m per annum and redirect those funds to put more police on the beat. The streets of Alice Springs need to be saturated with police sending a message of zero tolerance.”
The full statements are published here.
PHOTO (from left): Bill Yan, Josh Burgoyne, Robyn Lambley (ABC image).