The youth centre gets a new name and millions of dollars, but election promises notwithstanding, "youth" is becoming an afterthought. The place where young people of all races forged friendships over decades has become a monument to the view that bricks, mortar and corrugated iron can solve complex social problems. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
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.
Country Liberals leader Terry Mills pledged $2.5m "to transform the Anzac Hill youth centre into a Police and Citizens Youth Club".
It will "have access to youth workers and other appropriate support networks as well as organised activities and sports infrastructure," he said during a whistlestop visit to Alice Springs today.
"The existing centre will be re-developed in stages [no time frame is given] and the upgraded facility will include a cafe operated by the PCYC."
Asked how many blocks at the new Kilgariff suburb will be sold and at what price, he said the market would set the prices.
Will there be an amalgamation of prison and alcohol rehabilitation farms?
Mr Mills said these facilities would be for people failing to seek help.
"But if that is not sought [that would be] a breach of a court order and then there would be the intervention."
But Russell Goldflam, president of the Criminal Lawyers Association, says this is tantamount to re-criminalising drunkenness.
Mr Mills said there would be 20 extra police in Alice Springs permanently, "not just when some problem arises that causes embarrassment for the government."
He could not answer what new infrastructure the tourism industry could expect because the proposed new tourist commission had not yet been set up.
PHOTOS: Country Liberals leader Terry Mills and MLA for Araluen Robyn Lambley this morning, with reporters. A sketch of what the refurbished centre would look like.
As there was no opportunity for asking Mr Mills further questions this morning the Alice Springs News Online has emailed him these:-
• Would a CL government provide two more lots of $5m to the Alice Springs Town Council, as it requested, for the revitalisation of town centre? (The Labor commitment is for just $2.5m).
• What plans, if any, does the CL have for the development of horticulture and agriculture in remote areas to soak up the massive number of unemployed there?