Urgent talks with NT government as organisation cannot pay its bills

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Hiccups in NT Government funding for ASYASS, an Alice Springs NGO providing emergency accommodation for young people, were given “urgent priority” in talks yesterday as the organisation was unable to pay some of its bills.

ASYASS director Brian Hayes said yesterday the problems had existed for five to six months but he was confident they would be fixed.

The News was unable to contact him today.

A spokesman for the government said: “Issues relating to payment of invoices were identified last week and are being resolved by the Regional Executive Director, Central Australia as an urgent priority.”

Meanwhile Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie fired a broadside at Minister for Children and Families, Robyn Lambley, saying she “has ignored experts and slashed jobs and funding in child protection.

“Following the tragic deaths of three children known to the Office of Child and Families in the last few weeks, the CLP Government must immediately reinstate the massive cuts that have been made to child protection.
“The lives of children in the Territory are too important to be subject to the continuing arrogance and incompetence of Robyn Lambley.

“Her decision to ignore the child protection experts, abandon the Growing them Strong Together Report and axe child protection funding puts children at risk and this must immediately be addressed,” Ms Lawrie said.
She says the government has:-

• Slashed child protection funding;
• Slashed jobs in the Officer of Children and Families.  Between August and October 47 jobs were cut and this figure has grown since;
• Cut funding to non government agencies at the frontline of protecting children such as NAPCAN, NTCOSS and SAFT;
• Acted against the recommendations of experts report, including Little Children are Sacred and the Board of Inquiry Report; Growing them Strong Together;
• Independent scrutiny of the CLP Government’s work in child protection has been removed with the disbanding of the Children and Families Advisory Board, and the Child Protection External Monitoring and Reporting Committee;
• Acted against the Board of Inquiry’s recommendation to have Child Protection as a standalone agency but merging it with Education;
• Sacked the Coordinator General for Indigenous Affairs;
• Opened the rivers of grog by scrapping the Banned Drinkers Register.

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10 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Bob Durnan
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 12:07 am

    Janet (Posted January 23, 2013 at 6:11 pm): Thanks for your calm reply.
    As slander is the act of saying something false that damages a person’s reputation, I don’t see how you can evade responsibility on this occasion. What you said about Delia is clearly false and damaging, and you should apologise to Ms Lawrie for having said it, or at least graciously withdraw the allegation.
    This does not necessarily mean it is legally actionable, as most slanders aren’t. But that doesn’t stop them from being slanderous in the everyday sense of the word, and it doesn’t mean that they should be tolerated or permitted to stand unquestioned in civilised discourse.
    I would appreciate it if you would apologise for making the clearly incorrect statement that I am “part of the systematic cause for the youth on the street problem growing.”
    Again, this is clearly untrue, and a slur on my reputation. I can’t imagine that you or anybody else can produce evidence that would prove any element of truth in that statement, and I strongly deny that it is correct.
    Further, your allegation that I “never say talk about the kids only those who work in the organisations” is clearly and demonstrably untrue, and should be withdrawn in the interests of enabling the maintenance of a forum in which reasonable discussion and debate is able to take place.
    Similarly, your jibe that “youth workers [are] only interested in their own ‘look at what I am doing’” is a grossly unfair generalisation to make about most youth workers, and amounts to slander of them as a group. You should apologise to the youth workers for slurring them too.
    In relation to your suggestion that I should read a particular Melky article, I have searched the ASN Online archive and there appear to be around 100 items which match the key words “Melky” and “youth”. I don’t have time to read all these and try to figure out which one you are talking about, so I would appreciate it if you could provide some detail as to date, title, web link etc.
    Finally, we need to at least try to be accurate when we make statements and use data in these debates, and to be willing to name our sources and identify the origins of our statistics.
    It may not seem important to you “whether there is 65 or 35 different organisations what does it matter”, but to anybody else seriously interested in understanding the situation and finding constructive solutions to key problems, it would matter a lot, as it would be necessary to look at what those organisations do, how well they perform, whether or not there is unnecessary duplication, and what the priorities for action are before proposing solutions.
    In this case I have been looking at these questions, and I believe that there are less than ten non-government organisations involved in providing relevant intervention and treatment services to the youth most at risk in Alice Springs. (I named them in one of my previous comments in this thread, so I won’t bother repeating their names here).
    It is also clear to me that not all these organisations are duplicating services or wasting resources or dealing with the same clients. Most of them clearly aren’t doing these things.
    That is not to say that there couldn’t be some improvements made in these areas in some cases, but knocking all these programs on the head just because you have somehow gained the impression that there are 35 or 65 of them and that they are all useless and not achieving anything would simply be a stupid thing to do.
    Talking about 65 youth organisations, just because somebody has told you that this is the case, or because you have guessed it or made it up, is dangerous and irresponsible. This kind of loose exaggerated gossip can seriously misinform readers of this site, and add to the unhelpful air of panic and cynicism which already pervades efforts to discuss this subject in an intelligent and constructive manner in Alice Springs.

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  2. Janet Brown
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Again Bob I did not slander anyone. And what has come through very strongly from your view point is that you never say talk about the kids only those who work in the organisations
    And defending failed policies of Labor. And again the article put together by Eli Melky. In this online link. Whether there is 65 or 35 different organisations what does it matter it still represents over supply in youth agencies that hack big time into funding for assisting and helping kids.
    And by the way, it was the Labor government that set up the Hub to arrange effective and efficient services to kids. They just failed to follow through and do what is needed to help the kids.

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  3. Bob Durnan
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Janet (Posted January 23, 2013 at 1:50 pm): you made highly inaccurate allegations about Delia Lawrie’s government record, which amounted to a vicious attack on her personal integrity (at your comment Posted January 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm). You also slandered the organisations and people working in the youth sector (at your comments Posted January 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm, January 23, 2013 at 8:17 am, and Posted January 23, 2013 at 1:50 pm).
    Many of the things you say display continual exaggerated criticism of organisations you don’t like, and verballing of your victims, whilst some of your statements are accurate or at least defensible. I am not criticising everything you say, just the things which are wrong.
    Perhaps you think you should just be allowed to get away with making unwarranted attacks and making highly inaccurate accusations without being challenged?
    By the way, you still haven’t named the “65 youth organisations” which you claim are responsible for all the “waste”, just as you choose to ignore other challenges to your inaccuracies.

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  4. Janet Brown
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Bit rich coming from the leader of the pack for insults Bob.
    I was accused of not understanding the plight. Not being part of the “look what I am doing, aren’t I amazing cult”.
    I was putting it out there I know what it is like being a lost kid in Alice.
    What is so confronting to you Bob the fact that I know what I am talking about or the fact that you are part of the systematic cause for the youth on the street problem growing.
    You see youth issues I see kids in trouble. You see $ signs to try and fix it. I see money squandered in pay packets. And the problems of the youth keep growing.
    And whilst your all justifying your role kids lives are being lost and destroyed. The kids need to come first, not justifying your positions and continued wages.
    Erwin with Eli Melky did an article on the wasted monies on the over serving of youth issues by youth organisations in Alice. You must have missed it.

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  5. Bob Durnan
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    My advice to Janet (Posted January 23, 2013 at 8:17 am) is this: if you don’t like criticism, then start being more careful before you write wild, unfounded accusations and assertions against individuals and groups with whom you disagree.
    We could all advise others to try to see things from our point of view and “walk a mile in my shoes”. However this would work out better for you if you started taking a bit of care to think before you blurt things out.

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  6. Janet Brown
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Jo. In answer to your wealth of knowledge I was one of those kids on the street. I was under welfare due to the same reasons these kids are on the streets.
    And back then like now youth workers were only interested in their own “look at what I am doing” just like your comment of did I set up the holiday program.
    If anyone knows what it is like ask those who have been there and before your next irrational question yes here in Alice Springs. We all hated your paternalism then and I know the kids hate it now. The current system is like the foster care system handed around and nowhere for stability.
    To ensure structure kids need to feel they can trust and know that there is hope.
    Whilst you all fight for funding and some much of the pie is shared in costs not related to monies to actually help the kids there will not be trust or hope.
    So Jo, Bob and others with all the great wisdoms as they say in the classics. Walk a mile in my shoes.

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  7. Jo Green
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    I agree with Bryan and Bob in discussion of the specialisation of youth services in Alice Springs, and heretofore increasingly co-ordinated co-operation of services providing positive results for some of the most disadvantaged and at risk youth in Alice Springs, many of whom known to the Office of Children and Families, many of whom are even in their “too hard basket”.
    These are the young people the CLP Government has failed in the recent budget cuts announced in December.
    These are the young people serviced by organisations like ASYASS, providing pathways to housing options for all youth at-risk, organisations like Congress After Hours Youth Service in providing a central Drop In Service, Recreation Programme and Youth Patrol, organisations like Tangentyere in providing structured youth activities for children and younger teens living in Town Camps.
    Janet talks of the need to, “stop dawdling and start[ing] real positive action for our youth” – which makes me question how well she knows the service sector in Alice Springs, and whether she was involved in the provision of the school holiday programme this summer which consistently attained numbers of over 100 young people in their activities – and consistently transported those young people home and off the streets once the activities were finished.
    I also question whether Janet has worked on the streets at night and witnessed for herself the fine balance of co-operation that is needed between YSOS, the statutory government out-reach service operating out of the Youth Hub, and the Congress After Hours Service, which, due to its status as a voluntary service, and due to the relaxed atmosphere at the Drop In Centre, is able to engage with some of the most difficult to reach teenagers in a way that a statutory service does not, and cannot.
    I agree that the time has come to, “get it right” when it comes to the young people of Alice Springs, but no government will, “get it right” when operating in isolation of on the ground professionals who have worked long and hard with their clientele, or when operating in isolation of established, researched and evidence-based reports.

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  8. Bryan Hains
    Posted January 21, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    I am writing to thank Alice Springs News for highlighting the issue of unpaid invoices owing to Alice Springs Youth Accommodation and Support Service (ASYASS).
    I would like to inform your newspaper and your readers that this issue has now been resolved in the positive for our organisation. Thank you for showing interest in this issue.
    Also I would like to comment on Bob’s letter below and say well written Bob. It is a common misconception that Alice Springs has an oversupply of services to young people. ASYASS at times deal with some of the most disadvantaged young people in our community and although some may be involved with other agencies, most are not.
    We are quite often the only youth agency actively involved with these young people at the time. As a result of clients using our service we may then refer them to a more specialised agency such as a mental health or health service and stay involved until specific issues may be dealt with.
    This is called cooperation amongst agencies and should not be seen as duplication.
    Bryan Hains
    Manager, ASYASS

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  9. Bob Durnan
    Posted January 20, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    More baloney, presumably sautéed in that good old Adelaide-sourced sherry, brought to us by Janet, the master chef of cooking up verbal tripe (Posted January 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm). Ms Brown makes the ridiculous, totally untrue assertion that “when Labor [was] in charge [Delia Lawrie] ignored the plight of vulnerable children in the Territory.”
    The Martin and Henderson Labor governments resourced child welfare services more than 300% above the wretchedly neglectful level that the previous CLP government judged appropriate.
    To this day child welfare workers are still struggling to cope with the dysfunctional child welfare culture that had been allowed to fester Territory-wide during the 23 years of CLP governance.
    Delia Lawrie fought long and hard to gain extra funding and set in place a catch-up effort. Delia was the one who genuinely cared about “the plight of vulnerable children in the Territory”.
    Janet is just being her usual nasty and obnoxious self – she simply cannot cope with the truth that Lawrie built up the government’s child welfare capacity, and greatly strengthened youth services, only to find that now the CLP is tearing them down.
    By the way, if Janet can supply us with the names of the “65 youth organisations” she claims operate in Alice, I would be more than astonished: I would probably join Janet in her state of what often resembles catatonia.
    It is ridiculous for her to claim that “Here in Alice we had over 65 organisations which all had the same kids on their books.” This is a completely misleading claim.
    I think Janet will find that there are actually only a handful of dedicated “youth organisations” in Alice Springs – the Alice Springs Youth Accommodation Support Services (ASYASS); Bush Mob; Incite Youth Arts; and Central Australian Youth Link-up Service (CAYLUS), if you overlook the fact that many more CAYLUS clients live in remote communities rather than Alice Springs.
    There are a couple of organisations that function for the benefit of general community members as well as having strong youth programs (Alice Springs Youth and Community Centre, and the Gap Youth and Community Centre). Perhaps you could throw in the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides if you want to be pedantic, but most people would see these as being more focused on children.
    Separate to these primary or specialised youth organisations there are quite a few individual programs run by organisations that are not primarily “youth organisations” – e.g. some by the Salvos and other churches, some by Aboriginal organisations like Congress (which provides a mental health service for all young people) and Tangentyere (which has a range of programs for town camp youth), some by sports clubs.
    Most of these are specialised programs provided to address specific functions, meeting real needs in particular settings, but it is misleading to call them “youth organisations” per se.
    Does Janet really think that the Youth Hub should also run the Scouts, Guides, church youth groups, mental health services, youth choirs and the Under 14s footy competition?
    However Janet’s primary point – that “To correctly and effectively deal with the child safety in Alice we need one department” is undeniable.
    That is why Delia created the Department of Families and Children, which the Mills Government has unfortunately now abolished as a stand-alone department, and confused the focus on child welfare by folding it into the enormous and problematic Education Department.

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  10. Janet Brown
    Posted January 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Ms Lawrie appears to be such an expert in what is wrong but in her term of office when Labor where in charge she ignored the plight of vulnerable children in the Territory.
    What the CLP is very aware of is the over staffing of youth organisations. Here in Alice we had over 65 organisations which all had the same kids on their books.
    And all the kids, whilst handed around, never found a place to find hope. To correctly and effectively deal with the child safety in Alice we need one department. One organsiation, less money wasted on quadrupling of same services. And that saved money spent on improving the lives, safety and well being of those kids. Keep it going CLP, clean up this mess and put the kids first.
    A one stop shop that cannot pass the buck when they fail. Let’s get it right and give our kids hope for a future.
    The youth hub was designed to be a one stop shop. Let’s make it so. Stop dawdling and start real positive action for our youth. Those in need and those who are not.
    We cannot change those who receive Federal funding but for NT government funding. The youth hub gets it all. And all services come from there. Get it right the first time – we do not have the luxury of half right.

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