We may need to take kids away from parents who can’t or won’t allow them to learn, and take them out of communities that are unable to support a school, and place them in an environment where daily school attendance through the long years of childhood is not optional.
The wish list of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, for whomever will gain power in Canberra, contains not what it wants to get, but what it doesn't want taken away. In a swirl of rumored spending cuts, where will the money come from to drive the newly chosen direction? The 40-year-old NGO that has a budget of $38m a year, for both town and "auspiced" services. More than 70% comes from the Feds. Congress has 300 employees, half of them Aboriginal. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
IMAGE from the Congress annual report 2010-11, as published on the web.
In November 2007 we reported that Debbie King, a ward clerk at the Alice Hospital, drove her car on Wills Terrace past Anzac Hill (in the background of the photo) when a rock thrown from the hill crashed into her windscreen. Five and a half years later, pelting cars with stones is a rampant as ever. Last week a tourist bus was attacked twice in the space of one hour, the second time when it was ferrying visitors from a restaurant to their hotel. ERWIN CHLANDA spoke with the new Minister for Children and Families, Alison Anderson (at left).
After more than three years on the frontline of child welfare and protection Fred – not his real name – is leaving town. He's taking with him corporate knowledge, which he says has been dwindled worryingly, about matters that are uppermost in the public's mind.
He says he isn't bitter nor angry, rather feels privileged to have developed relationships with a part of the population that is raising profound concerns, both as victims of abuse and neglect, and perpetrators of crime: some four fifths of Fred's clients were Aboriginal.
He spoke in person with editor ERWIN CHLANDA, for an hour and a half, but on the condition of not being named.
A youth curfew during periods of period of "high social unrest," grappling with how to make parents pay for the damage done by their kids, an institution for young people out of control or with special needs, the government paying up to half a million dollars a year for some children in residential care services, massive cuts in Federal funding for child welfare and protection – these are some of the waypoints on the long and lonely road of the Minister for Children and Families, Robyn Lambley (pictured with constituents, photo supplied by her office). She spoke with editor ERWIN CHLANDA.
The Office of Children and Families has admitted that legal action is being taken against it over the alleged failure to disclose information to children's representatives but the minister, Robyn Lambley (pictured), still refuses to be interviewed about government child protection issues and other matters. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
The Office of Children and Families has shut down vital communications with agencies and people representing children under protection orders.
The children are exposed to inadequate care because the system is no longer open to the independent scrutiny provided for by law.
And Minister for Children and Families, Robyn Lambley (pictured), is either unaware of the turmoil in her department, or is condoning it: either way she is failing in her portfolio, says an insider. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Some 200 Central Australian children bound up in the child welfare system are victims of policies that are arguably based on race politics and implemented often by inexperienced and overworked staff of the NT Department of Children and Families (DFC), according to sources with long and intimate connections with the system. Robyn Lambley, the Minister for Families & Children Services of the new NT government, says: "Our aim is to identify and support kinship carers on communities to care for Aboriginal children rather than bringing kids into town and placing them routinely with non-Aboriginal families." ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Alice Springs folk turned out in their thousands, as participants and spectators, for the annual Bangtail Muster this morning, as though to show the world that the community in the heart of Australia is alive and well.
The town once again has had devastating world wide publicity after the alleged rape of two overseas tourists, and a string of other brutal crimes.
But on this May Day holiday, blessed by the town's trademark magnificent weather, young and old turned out to celebrate the achievements of Alice Springs – its great sporting clubs, child care, schools, music and above all, community spirit.
There was also a sprinkle of trade union members to mark Labour Day.
"Our Community" was the theme picked for this year by the organisers, the Rotary Club of Alice Springs. 40 floats were entered.
The Muster is their annual fundraiser for the local Youth Centre and is one of the Centre's major events.
The story behind the Muster goes back to the old days when cattle production was the main industry of the Centre and stockmen would cut off the ends of the tails to record the number of cattle mustered.
Pictured is Celine Ociones, 17, carrying a statue of Santo Nino, the holy child, Little Jesus.
She leads 21 dancers and musicians from the Mabuhay Multicultiral Association which has about 60 local families as its members.
Meanwhile, the Rotary Club of Alice Springs this year ran the Bangtail Muster parade at a loss, probably the first time in its 50 year history, because of NT Government requirements for a traffic management plan and licensed staff to implement it. Story and video by ERWIN CHLANDA.