Parents of children who rob, steal cars and break into homes are breaking the law which requires them to "provide the necessities of life" to their offspring. Should they be prosecuted? ERWIN CHLANDA spoke with Families Minister Dale Wakefield. She is pictured (at right) with Mayor Damien Ryan and COTA NT CEO Sue Shearer cutting the birthday cake as the NT Seniors Card turns 20 and the Council on the Ageing, 50.
A strong law and order platform greatly helped to secure victory for the Country Liberals on August 25, 2012. Today, 156 days later, nothing substantial has been done by the new government about Alice's most troublesome problem: out of control crime and vandalism by young people whose parents – with impunity – are running away from their responsibilities. Robyn Lambley (pictured), the Minister for Children and Families (and Central Australia!), seems to be doing little about it. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
UPDATE Jan 29, 2pm
Minister Lambley has issued a media release following the publication in the Alice Springs News Online about Cr Melky's initiative, saying she "has ruled out the introduction of a blanket curfew for Alice Springs.
"A multi-pronged approach is the most effective and preferred way to manage law and order issues in the town," Ms Lambley said.
“I have been on the record many times stating a short term curfew for children would only be considered as a last resort in the face of unabated anti-social behaviour and crime."
"Meanwhile, aldermen also resolved to write to the Territory Government, requesting implementation of a Night Time Youth Strategy, which would see taken into protective care unsupervised children 15 years and under on the streets between 10pm and 5am.
"The model being proposed by Ald Robyn Lambley is similar to the one in operation in Northbridge, Perth which has an emphasis on accompanying support services for the young people and their families."
A councillor has described the new government's plans of spending $2.5m on refurbishing the youth centre, announced in the dying days of the election campaign, as "another short term token gesture," suggesting the project should be deferred pending a closer look.
Cr Steve Brown renewed his call to spend up to $40m for a new centre, possibly on the Memo Club or the Melanka sites, and featuring a string of facilities and services for young people and the general public.
In a discussion paper he will present at tonight's town council meeting, he is also making a call for regular questioning by the town council of local departmental heads about the activities of their instrumentalities, such as it is carried out at Port Augusta. Cr Brown also wants, for young people who are neglected, homeless or in trouble with the law, a bush camp with cattle and horses, modeled on initiatives by long-time youth worker Graham Ross, possibly at the government owned Owen Springs reserve. Photo: Mr Ross (left) and Cr Brown inspecting a possible site for a youth camp west of Alice Springs, five years ago.
The One Punch Homicide law was proposed by the Country Liberals following community concern arising from the tragic and violent death of Sgt Brett Meredith in Katherine. However, the trial of Michael Martyn, the man who caused Sgt Meredith’s death, resulted in a conviction for manslaughter. As a result, Mr Martyn is now serving a lengthy prison sentence. If that case illustrates anything, it is that the current law works. If Mr Martyn had been sentenced under the law now proposed by the Country Liberals, he would have been convicted of a much less serious offence, and in all likelihood would have received a lesser sentence. See Letter to the Editor from Russell Goldflam, president of the Criminal Lawyers Association NT.
It has 1143 members and local Police Senior Sergeant Michael Potts is the administrator.
Frustration and anger are the hallmarks of many of the posts: "id rather be in America cause while they can sue me they have to live to do that. Its legal to shoot them as they break in. Now thats really what we are coming to. no kidding. people are sick of being broken into by kids that are untouchable."
Or: "do we get a government rebate on security devices and guns i got it for my solar panels to help the future of the town." ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
What do Aborigines want and what do policy makers think they need? There's more to those questions than meets the eye, says WILL SANDERS (at left) in this week's Alice News summer feature, Food for Thought. He is a frequent visitor to Central Australia and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the Australian National University in Canberra.
To illustrate what he sees as "complexities of Indigenous affairs policy and practice which intrigued me thirty years ago and intrigue me still" Dr Sanders tells about this old lady (pictured at top). She lives on the edge of small open highway town in the Northern Territory. Within 500 meters of her camp, or walking distance, she has access to an old peoples’ day care centre, a health clinic and a roadhouse which sells food and alcohol – but only beer to "drink in" and only a couple of hours a day. At the national policy level, she would be included in government statistics as a homeless person and as part of the justification for building more housing in Indigenous communities.
But she wants to live right here, with her dogs, on public land, paying rent to on-one – getting some help with her water supply and meals on wheels from the aged care day centre 500 meters away.
"All I can really do is tell you what it has been like to work in Indigenous affairs for thirty years and how I have come to think of it in terms of balancing competing principles in both ground-level practice and high moral rhetoric," writes Dr Sanders.