Four staff, special facility, for one kid on the street a fortnight

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By ERWIN CHLANDA

The location of the facility in Alice Springs for children at risk, which between its opening on November 27 last year and January 10 has been used by just five youngsters, is a secret.

So is its cost.

There is no record of it in the government’s Quotations and Tenders Online website. There is no answer to questions we emailed yesterday.

“The program will provide expanded temporary accommodation for young people who are out at night unsupervised, considered to be at risk, and who have nowhere safe to go,” announced Families Minister Kate Worden last year.

The new program “provides an additional layer of protection for children and the community,” says the Minister, which is the only hint that she is talking about the out-of-control children who have been behind some of the recent crime spike experienced in Alice Springs, which has triggered a national media feeding frenzy.

Yet the facility is not set up to keep these children off the streets: They “are not required to stay” there, says a spokesman for Territory Families, Housing and Communities, when we asked last week.

The Safe Place Accommodation and Support program is run by the NT Government and Saltbush Social Enterprise, “a not-for-profit organisation that was developed in response to the critical need for grassroots opportunities that create prosperity parity for marginalised Territorians” according to its website.

“A Child Protection Practitioner, an Aboriginal Community Worker and a male and female Saltbush staff member will operate from the accommodation,” says Ms Worden.

She obviously overestimated in her media release last year, repeated by a departmental spokesman last week, the abilities of the referring personnel involved: “Youth Outreach and Re-Engagement Officer foot patrols, Aboriginal community organisation Tangentyere’s night patrol, and NT Police patrols provide a strong network to identify at-risk children.”

The laughable average occupancy of one child every two weeks puts that in doubt.

So what is the cost to the public? We’ve received no answer.

However, the government tenders site lists another tender won by Saltbush: “Darwin and Alice Springs – Provision of Supported Bail Services for Territory Families for a period of 36 months” accepted in November 2017 for a cool $12.3m.

PHOTO at top: The bail accommodation in Gap Road, Alice Springs.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Funny, I had a male in his twenties steal $60 dollars from me over the past two nights. He was not the youth. He knew what he was doing. After I awoke and confronted him he ran off only to return my wallet, less the $40 cash I had inside it, 10 minutes later after I went looking for him.
    The crime in Alice is not what people think it is. It is much bigger then that. This is part of the fight for reconciliation.
    Those with bright shiny things thinking that these items are a measure of their success are the underlying problem with the Indigenous Australians in many states.
    We gave them the Katita land claim and put in a clause to restrict the Indigenous from the claims they wanted. Unalienated land. We handed back Uluru only to enforce a 99 year lease so that white man could continue to make money.
    The crime wave throughout Australia is about broken promises and not youth crime.
    It is time the majority pulled its head out of its own bum and take their halos off.

  2. Erwin, I’ve just checked out their website. In the past I’ve checked out many websites.
    They have this in common: A “donate now” button, and a photo gallery of happy staff and happy Aboriginal children.

  3. Kids belong on country not in custody. True, but Gap Road is not “on country”. It is virtually the crime scene.
    On country in my mind would be at the Loves Creek facility, out of town, where if these kids decided to leave, which they can do in these touchy feely centres, they are free to create the same havoc that got them taken there in the first place.
    A free feed, a meal, then back into it. The Loves Creek station project failed because the government failed to heed the warnings of the people running it, who wanted security, cameras, and secured areas.
    The government’s response was we don’t want it looking like a prison.
    Well sorry, full on security has now become the norm by which the normal law abiding citizen has to do now just to feel safe, it is they who have to imprison themselves with high fences, security cameras and the like.
    A place out bush, that is adequately resourced by people like Saltbush, Kings Narrative and the grandmothers group who always seem to protest but never seem to be part of a solution.
    Kids would still be free to come and go, but a 50km walk would deter them.
    And they could stay there until their parents collect them the following day, and asked to explain why they failed to provide parental supervision and the necessities of life, including a safe home, nourishment and an education.

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