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HomeVolume 29'Curfews don’t reduce crime' claim as youths aged 12, 13 and 17...

‘Curfews don’t reduce crime’ claim as youths aged 12, 13 and 17 alleged of violent attack

Letter to the Editor

We are calling for the NT and Commonwealth governments to urgently rethink their approach to recent crime in Alice Springs. A two-week curfew for children will not improve community safety nor address the drivers of contact with the justice system.

Research clearly shows that curfews are ineffective in reducing crime, urging the government to take an evidence-based approach instead of reaching for punitive quick fixes.

A curfew won’t meaningfully affect what’s happening in the lives of children who are out at night in Alice Springs, but is more likely to put them in contact with police and pull them deeper into the criminal justice system with lifelong repercussions.

As NAAJA has pointed out, this response is particularly misguided if it is intended to prevent events like that outside the Todd Tavern this week, as that incident is understood to have occurred during the daytime and primarily involved adults.

We need policymakers and police to work with Aboriginal leaders and support community-led organisations working on the frontline, as the evidence shows this is what actually makes a difference.

If there is going to be federal involvement, it needs to be around resourcing of community-led responses – not punitive crackdowns and riot police.

The Justice Reform Initiative, a multi-partisan alliance supported by more than 120 of our most eminent Australians, has previously called on the NT Government, in partnership with the Federal Government, to establish a $300 million Breaking the Cycle Fund over four years to boost community-led organisations and projects that are successfully breaking the cycle of incarceration.

Dr Mindy Sotiri, Justice Reform Initiative

UPDATE 11:23am Friday

Police arrested three youths after an aggravated burglary in Alice Springs overnight in an area of the town not covered by the curfew.

Around 10:30pm, while the curfew was in place in the CBD, multiple offenders unlawfully entered a residence on Standley Crescent, Gillen, which is not covered by the curfew, armed with various weapons.

According to a police media release one of the offenders allegedly threatened one of the residents with a firearm before the group stole the keys to two vehicles and fled the scene.

No injuries were reported.

Members from Operation Grimmel, Crime and general duties deployed into the area and recovered both vehicles abandoned just south of the CBD, police report.

A short time later, police located three males, aged 12, 13 and 17 and arrested them in relation to the alleged offending. They all remain in custody pending further investigations.

In the media release Detective Acting Superintendent Michael Schumacher said: “This was a violent, confronting attack on a vulnerable resident.

“Detectives are working swiftly to apprehend remaining offenders, as well as to confirm what weapons were used and to get them out of our community.”



  1. When will we open our eyes and see that our politicians don’t have the answer for what is happening in Alice Springs. Nor do our police have the answer. And neither do Aboriginal organisations or individuals have the answer.
    Try as you will, nothing will solve any of it but a true change of heart.
    It is spiritual at its core. And it is here that Jesus Christ is our only hope. For all of us; not just the children of Alice Springs.
    No God; no peace. Know God; know peace.

  2. Give us $300 million to boost (already well funded) community-led organisations and projects that are successfully breaking the cycle of incarceration.
    Which community-led organisations are breaking the cycle?
    Exactly what are the evidence based programs that work here in Central Australia?
    Where is the evidence of success?
    “Evidence based” is code used by the Justice Reform Initiative, CLP, Greens, NAAJA and others that means “we haven’t got a clue what works but this sounds convincing”.

  3. Someone’s got carried away this Easter, Trevor. Grace believes Jesus is the only solution.
    That’s worked well hasn’t it, many Aboriginal people confined to missions and indoctrinated over decades … and now confused, befuddled and angry.

  4. “A two-week curfew for children will not improve community safety nor address the drivers of contact with the justice system.”
    True. But Ralph is on the money when he asks what these evidence based programs are, where is the evidence of their success, and importantly, which of these myriad of programs are successful?.
    Clearly the government is clueless and knee jerk in the youth justice space. Community-led organisations need to demonstrate that their funded programs are effectively supporting the kids, and not simply propping up the organisation.

  5. Trevor, I grew up in Africa: “When the Missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the Missionaries had the Bible. They taught how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.” ― Jomo Kenyatta.
    Replace African with Aborigines!

  6. @ Ian Sharp. That’s a big call, Ian, almost as big as Trevor’s.
    The battle of belief has been with us for a long time, but even though, historically, Aboriginal people were confined to missions by governments, not missionaries, in many places during the Colonial period, extensive research reveals that in many cases, they would have ceased to exist without them.
    Whether they were indoctrinated is a moot point. Certainly, research suggests that in some places language and certain customs were repressed, including religious ritual, but over the long history of Christian Mission and evangelism, there is much evidence of acceptance rather than conversion.
    It’s possible to be confused, befuddled and angry over doctrine, some might say dogma, but I don’t think it’s possible to make a generalised claim for it.
    I know too many Aboriginal Christians whose stories attest to a life having been saved from confusion, befuddlement and anger, not to mention alcoholism.

  7. Fair comment Russell, I over-egged the pudding, but there is some truth in my claim. Many young Aboriginal people no longer respect their elders’ authority and beliefs.

  8. @ Russel Guy: The missions were established by religious individuals or churches and they were controlled by those churches and missionaries with limited government involvement.
    Missions, reserves and stations were designed to erase peoples’ cultural identity. People were separated from their land and their families, and were not allowed to speak their languages, continue their cultural practices or teach them to their children.
    What happened to Aboriginal children in missions? They were placed in over 480 institutions, adopted or fostered by non-Indigenous people and often subjected to abuse.
    Impacts of this are still being felt today.
    In the 19th century, British concern regarding the treatment of Indigenous people in its colonies underpinned the establishment, in 1835, of the Aboriginal Protection Society (APS).
    Although the APS had humanitarian goals, including equality before the law, it did not seek the preservation of Aboriginal culture. Instead, it promoted the protection of a “dying race” through assimilation with white Australia.
    Scientists at the time knew that the Aborigines would soon be extinct. It was taken for granted as a self-evident truth.
    James Barnard, vice president of the Royal Society of Tasmania, opened his paper at the 1890 meeting of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science with the assertion: “It has become an axiom that, following the law of evolution and survival of the fittest, the inferior races of mankind must give place to the highest type of man, and that this law is adequate to account for the gradual decline in numbers of the aboriginal inhabitants of a country before the march of civilisation?”
    Did the missionaries (knowing God) object? “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).
    “For there is no partiality with God.” (Romans 2:11, NKJV).
    I do not intended to preach, but the truth is the truth.

  9. @ Evelyne Roullet. Some of your statements reflect a general bias, e.g., “not allowed to speak their languages, continue their cultural practices or teach them to their children.”
    This is the perception caused by generalised claims about a complex movement that spans almost two and a half centuries, but in my experience and research, some published, it was not true of all. Missionaries and their supporting organisations learnt from their mistakes. In her most recent book, “Mind the Gap”, Aimee Glass, who co-translated the Scriptures into Ngaanyatjarra writes: “Unfortunately some earlier missionaries, being drawn into the Government’s plan to remove children from their families, believed that by evangelising the children they could change the whole group.” The Presbyterian Church and Dr Duguid’s accusations of racism in the Australian Inland Mission, resulted in the former rebuffing the latter’s claims, whilst accepting that they were not always perfect in their dealings with Aboriginal people, viz.: “In 1973, the matter came to the attention of the General Assembly after the Governor of South Australia, Sir Mark Oliphant raised Duguid’s claims, but the Assembly upheld the 1936 GAA minutes.”
    These are just two accounts among many people groups and individuals from colonial times to the modern era.
    I suggest that there are others if you were prepared to look for them instead of condemning all Missions.

  10. Russell Guy, I always love those sort of comments: “I suggest that there are others if you were prepared to look for them instead of condemning all Missions.”
    You appear to be better informed than me, so could you tell me why Aboriginal history and culture have never been part of the curriculum of our schools?
    Examples: Home economics the foods and medicines, arts painting, dance, manual arts, the making of glue and utensils, languages. Australian schools teach all sorts of foreign languages, but not a single native one.

  11. @ Evelyne Roullet. The information that I refer to is readily available if you want to avail yourself of it.
    The Alice Springs Library reference room is a good place to begin where there are a multitude of primary source documents.
    The answer to your question is complex, just like the Mission history, relations between the Indigenous and the colonisers. Aboriginal people were marginalised in the main.
    They were not thought to possess religion and the language differences were a barrier to an understanding, much less accommodation, which even today is fraught.
    Schools are beginning to include that history, but we are a young country and the pangs of our birth are not only still felt, but difficult to navigate.
    The Arts are a good example. I have experience in Aboriginal contemporary music. You can find some of that in my novel, Dry Crossing (pub. Boolarong Press. 2015) or my history of the Daintree Mission, Baptised Among Crocodiles (pub. Qld Gov’t. 2000/Boolarong Press. 2015).
    The latter is a specialist field, but extensively published. I believe there are schools in Alice Springs that teach Aboriginal languages.
    Bess Price and possibly Ralph Folds might know more about it. As you are a long-time resident, you could begin with these suggestions and inform yourself.

  12. Thank you Russell, like you said I am a long-time resident, I know about the town library and your books (they are on my shelves).
    I wonder what do you know about me, whom I know and what I know. With due respect, I will stop my conversation with you, a conversation that is a one way street.

  13. PS Russell: When you were still broadcasting for Triple J FM, I was looking after the family and relatives of my friend and neighbour Wenten Rubuntja when he was away in Canberra.

  14. @ Evelyn Roullet. Your initial comment concerned Christian Missions. I have tried to respond to that in good faith. All the best.


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