Anderson on juvenile misery, delinquency: We’ll make a change

PHOTO: In 2007 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 (see report at the bottom of this story). 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.

 

The Minister with the hardest and most crucial task in the Giles government is Alison Anderson (at left). If she cannot turn around the inadequacies – some say failure – of the government systems of caring for children, and of keeping them under control, locals fear Alice Springs won’t have a future except as a dangerous slum run by welfare and the police.
There is daily evidence of people leaving town, having abandoned hope that tourism and other industries still have a chance: what’s the point of getting Tiger to fly to Alice Springs when tourists are told their lives will be at risk here? ERWIN CHLANDA spoke with the new Minister for Children and Families.

ANDERSON: The Office of Children and Families is always going to be a problem no matter where it is. Other states have the same problems. But I think it’s exciting times for this new government because we will do the reforms, reforms in out-of-home care. This is where we have a huge increase in the number of kids coming into our care.
NEWS: How many?
ANDERSON: A 10% increase in the past year in out-of-home care.
NEWS: From what number to what number in Alice Springs?
ANDERSON: I don’t know the ages. That’s the area we need to reform, to have a look at our legislation. We’re the only jurisdiction mandated by law to pick up kids for everything and anything, neglect, abuse, and so on. No other state has got that. We need to have a look at foster care, a look at the contracts we have with the NGOs, are they just ticking the boxes for us? Or are they doing the job right? That’s the things we’re starting to get into, in the next couple of weeks.
NEWS: What’s your best guess of the additional government effort needed? I’ll give you an example. Yesterday a tourist operator drove across the Stott Terrace bridge to pick up, from a restaurant, some people who are here for a convention. The bus was pelted with rocks.
After his pick-up the driver, now with his load of visitors on board, went across Tunks Causeway and was pelted with rocks again. It sounded like gunshots, one person we talked to told us. How many of these sorts of kids do we have in town?
ANDERSON: I don’t know the numbers. These could be just visiting kids from communities who are not necessarily in our care. We have to lift the bar, the standard of expectation of behaviour in this town. We need to get this message out to remote communities, saying if you come to Alice Springs this is what we expect of you. We will not have you throwing rocks at motorcars. We will hold your parents accountable if you are children, and if you are an adult, we will deal with you.
NEWS: But that’s been said to them for the last 20 years, in my observation.
ANDERSON: What they haven’t seen, though, is the change in expectation of the standard of behaviour. We have not lifted the bar. We are still complaining about anti-social behaviour without putting anything into place, saying this is what we expect of you now.
NEWS: How will you enforce this better behaviour?
ANDERSON: We can talk to the town camps and say, you can have visitors, but we cannot have the anti-social behaviour, the murders, and the neglect of children. We will start dealing with these issues.
NEWS: How will you enforce it? These kids do not listen to people, they hate the town, they disrespect the town. They are bitter. What are the sanctions, the measures of making your policies happen?
ANDERSON: We’ll have to start talking to their parents, to their communities. It’s your child we see in the streets of Alice Springs five days a week. We want you to start dealing with these issues or there will be ramifications.
NEWS: What are the ramifications?
ANDERSON: There are all sorts of laws. Police deal with these issues, with the same 30 kids all the time.
NEWS: Is it 30 kids?
ANDERSON: This is a figure, anecdotally, that is around. Some of these children come from town camps, they are not necessarily from the bush.
NEWS: We spoke to a social worker who’s left now but he’d been here for three years. He said there is no way in the world we can fix things in the short term. There are kids who will need care and supervision from birth to age 18. Do you have these resources? Where will these kids be taken? Your predecessor said a short term curfew for children would be considered as a last resort in the face of unabated anti-social behaviour and crime.  Where would you put those kids? Would you have an institution to put them in?

ANDERSON: As a government we have to talk about these issues. We have to get a government position on it, and the government does not have a position on this yet. We know that the Office of Children and Families will always be going to have  problems. Unless we start holding parents accountable to look after their children a lot better we will always have kids in care.
NEWS: How would it work on the ground?
ANDERSON: You have a two-prong approach – legislating to protect children and educating their parent to look after and love their children, a lot more than they are doing now, and understand that they are a human being you brought into life, not to give away to the Office of Children and Families but for yourself, and grow them up understanding that you love them.
NEWS: What about if the parents of those kids are drunks, they are dysfunctional, and the kids are in the care of an aunty or a granny who is getting very old?
ANDERSON: We’re going to have to look at kinship care. In Aboriginal society you have nieces and aunties, not just an 80-year-old grandmother. In this area you never get results quickly. In a couple of days, couple of months’ time, Erwin, I think you will come back to me and say, Alison, the Office of Children and Families is failing in this area. I might get a little, tiny win [she shows her forefinger and thumb a centimetre apart] and a big loss. You’re always going to have this inside this department because you have got it everywhere. It’s a sad reality because we’re dealing with children. Foremost, government will protect children.
NEWS: Should there be an institution where children can be taken so they are given a chance in life, where they are cared for, where they can sleep, are fed, washed, looked after?
ANDERSON: That’s a decision for the government. We’ll sit down as a [Parliamentary] wing, as a cabinet, and discuss all these issues. I think I’ve had the portfolio for 14 days in which I’ve done a lot of things, visiting the office in Alice Springs, going out with YSOS [Youth Street Outreach Services], going to Life Without Barriers, visiting greater Darwin, the Palmerston office, the Casuarina office, absolutely fantastic people I met in that journey.
NEWS: The Country Liberals have been in Opposition for a decade during which they had plenty to say about anti-social behaviour and juvenile delinquency. Yet, with respect, they have no idea how many problem kids there are, they have no precise plan of what to do about them, nor how much it would cost nor when it would start.
ANDERSON: We will reform the Office of Children and Families. First and foremost, we will protect children. We will have a look at out of home care, at foster care, at the contract system the government has with NGOs, to make sure they’re not just ticking the boxes for us. We will have a look at the cross-jurisdictions [adjoining states], at front-line practitioners. I absolutely love the challenge I am going to have. You can bet your bottom dollar that this government will do something about it.

 

Alice Springs News report in November, 2007:
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.
With her was her daughter, nursing her three year old son. At Easter she had been in a car accident.
“It all came back to her,” says Ms King.
She stopped the car and challenged about six children scurrying around the hillside, hiding behind bushes.
She says they were Aboriginal children, judging by their accent “and what they called me”.
She says it took police about 15 minutes to respond. They had also  received reports from other people who had rocks thrown at their cars.
On her way home Ms King saw other cars “braking and weaving to miss rocks”.
She went back to the police, telling them “someone is going to get hurt”.
Police Superintendent Sean Parnell said: “Police received a number of reports of rock-throwing around the Anzac Hill area on Thursday night and did extensive patrols of the area.
“The problem with these incidents is the offenders are usually on foot and run and hide as soon as they have thrown a rock at their target.
“They are often – but not always – young juveniles who obviously treat what is ultimately a cowardly act, as some sort of game.
“Police treat rock-throwing very seriously and regularly mount special operations targeting groups of juveniles who are often the main perpetrators.
“We would encourage anyone who sees this sort of thing going on to contact police.”
Five and a half years later and nothing has changed.

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25 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. Paul Parker
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Re where Bob Durnan (Posted April 10, 2013 at 10:19 am) suggested:
    “It is not just the responsibility of Land Trusts to consider these issues. In fact, many Land Trusts have no assets to speak of, and certainly not sufficient resources to extend sewer and water mains, power supplies and roadworks into new areas and then build houses at the costs currently applying in remote communities.”
    I disagree.
    Such rationale is a perfect example why so little development occurs in these communities.
    Most landowners find their land provides them a significant and sufficient resource to extend sewer and water mains, power supplies and roadworks into new areas as well as construct houses, even in rural environments.
    If these Land Trusts lack sufficient disposable funds (generated from tax free royalties or otherwise) they need do the same as other landowners, consider the usage of their land to earn incomes, consider providing conventional leases with sufficient duration to encourage others to take leases which contribute to the income or provide a guarantee for needed developments.
    It is the responsibility of Land Trusts to consider approaches, as the landowners these Land Trusts have significant assets, some of the largest land-holdings in Australia.
    Along with financiers, solicitors, I find most Australians who own or are seeking to purchase their homes or other assets can explain basic principles for loans and securities.
    This is not a complicated approach, or are those advertisement misleading ?
    What is the unimproved capital land value for the entire Haasts Bluff Land Trust landholding?
    As sale of the land requires amending the Act, leases are rational – where they are of adequate length and reasonable value.
    Earlier obstructive suggestions – or was it advice – apparently was that IF the Haasts Bluff Land Trust was asked to enter into lease agreements with NTG concerning 50 “quarter acre” blocks to be made available for public usage for public services like the school, the powerhouse, the clinic, NT Housing Commission housing, the doing of this would cause the loss of all the ALR(NT) Schedule 1 Haasts Bluff Land Trust area, which is around 39,610 square kilometers.
    Ignoring the benefit to the community of approximately 200 serviced house-blocks in Kintore would be retained for community uses.
    Recently I heard short to medium term leases sought by Commonwealth and NT Government were valued in similar range as those few remaining free-hold vacant yet serviced blocks around Alice Springs.
    That is well beyond their reasonable market value.
    If such rubbish still represents “the understanding” clearly a lot of educating still needs be done !

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  2. Gary Beauglehall
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    In relation to the kids of Alice Springs. We lived in Alice for over 17 years. When we first went there, the Aboriginal kids were reasonably respectful and welcomed us there. 17 years later the situation was different.
    We retired and felt we had to leave as we were forever being humbugged for money in stores, shopping centres and the like. It was not by the kids – but their drunken parents.
    Many of the parents can’t or won’t look after their kids. The kids have no chance. Yes, Aranda house was a great place. Pity the NT Government of the time closed it down.
    In relation to jobs. Many people in mainstream society have to shift around because of their jobs. Teachers, bankers, railway workers, police and many others. And we all have to find our own housing in Alice or any other place we have to go to for our work.
    Personally, I was very sad to have to leave Alice, it is a really great place. It is sad that a minority of a great race of people give everyone else a bad name.
    To describe the situation I used to tell visitors it was only a few hundred that gave the 1000s of people in Central Australia a bad name.

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  3. Paul Parker
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Re Bob Durnan (Posted April 10, 2013 at 10:19 am)
    I’m not overlooking the fact many people desire migrate from bush communities to mainstream communities like Alice Springs.
    Many make such moves direct results from refused developments in bush communities, consequences of direct decisions purportedly made by relevant private corporate land-owners.
    Certainly difficult for those wishing relocate to Alice Springs who find unable to afford due high private rental accommodation costs in Alice Springs, reflecting ridiculous pricing of conventional house blocks, with absence of vacant blocks affordable to middle and lower income families or those developing and supplying affordable rental market.
    Well known how long waiting lists for longer-term hostel accommodation and government-supplied housing became longer day by day.
    Some benefits when many public housing tenants enabled to purchase their rental homes, with NTG’s rental-purchase plans.
    Yet NTG failed develop new suburban land to replace public housing sold off, ignoring needs to meet then known need list and population growth forecasts.
    Elsewhere however government is able to resume land with (Australian Constitution’s) required “just compensation” paid to land-owners, to enable development.
    Why NOT the same around Alice Springs and bush communities ?
    Significant influence around Alice Springs is Commonwealth legislation; Then NT government and mostly corporate landowners decisions, with result NO available residential land.
    Well none affordable by middle and lower income families.
    Out bush similar decisions result in no land available for housing or commercial developments within communities.
    Commonwealth amending sections of the ALR(NT) are essential to enable resumptions with “just compensation” where the relevant corporate land-owners fail to negotiate “reasonable” agreements.
    Meanwhile such decisions by corporate land-owners rejecting “reasonable” agreements is why NO public monies should be made available for housing and numerous other purpose developments in many communities.

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  4. Bob Durnan
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 10:25 am

    For Ralph (Posted April 10, 2013 at 7:49 am): By using the term “dangerously overcrowded” in this context, I mean a situation where it is physically unhealthy to have so many people living in such close proximity, dependent on limited access to toilets / showers, with wet areas that are often poorly maintained and unhygienic, thus placing the more vulnerable amongst them at great risk of frequently catching scabies, skin sores, ear infections, colds, influenza and other contagious diseases which threaten their present and future health.

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  5. Bob Durnan
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Paul (Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm), when you assert that “Mainstream society remains willing to assist people, where they wish to live” you overlook the reality that many people wish to migrate from bush communities to places like Alice Springs, but are unable to do so because the private rental costs in places like Alice are way beyond their means, and the waiting lists for long-term hostel accommodation and government-supplied housing are many years long and getting longer by the day.
    If Mr Jabanardi from community X receives an offer of the job of his dreams doing court interpreting or performing health work in Alice Springs, chances are that he won’t be able to afford to accept it unless he and his dependents are fortunate enough to get permission from relatives to further overcrowd an already dangerously overcrowded house on a town camp.
    When these poor people aren’t able to migrate to where the jobs are, it creates an enormous and costly problem for the whole of society.
    When they and their children and other relatives are also forced by circumstance to live in their grandmothers’ living rooms at places like Areyonga, Titjikala, and Atitjere, then we are witnessing a serious social, health and economic policy failure.
    It is not just the responsibility of Land Trusts to consider these issues. In fact, many Land Trusts have no assets to speak of, and certainly not sufficient resources to extend sewer and water mains, power supplies and roadworks into new areas and then build houses at the costs currently applying in remote communities.
    Land Trusts which do have disposable funds generated from royalties are often using large portions of these funds to build education, youth and sporting facilities, as has occurred in the last few years at Lajamanu, Yuendumu, Willowra, Nyirrpi, Areyonga, Kaltukatjara, Mutitjulu and Imanpa.

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  6. Ralph
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 7:49 am

    @2 Remote community Aboriginal people are prefectly capable of living together with their relatives in close proximity without this being ‘dangerous’.
    Most households are, in practical terms, ruled by the older women and while the living arrangements may look chaotic they are well ordered in the terms of their own culture.
    The most crowded living situations are sorry camps and travelling ceremonies, are these examples of dangerous overcrowding?
    Conversely, I’ve lived in a community that had plentiful houses, fences etc where people lived in a nucleurised uncrowded family situations relatively isolated from each other.
    They no longer lived their lives in public and that was dangerous.

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  7. Paul Parker
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Mainstream society remains willing to assist people, where they wish to live.
    Wherever you live, always with conditions attached, when unable reach acceptable agreement, you look elsewhere.
    When you own the land you stand on, is up to you to build what you want with either your own money, or money you are able to borrow – with all the strings attached to that!
    Or is it now the governments responsibility on land we own to build us all houses free of cost?
    These corporate Land Trusts, with their shareholders (aka “Traditional Owners”), need accept their responsibility to alleviate dangerous levels of overcrowding in their houses.
    Why these corporate Land Trusts NOT prepared commit their funds to fixing their problems on their property?
    Responsibility the shareholders (aka “Traditional Owners”) of these corporate Land Trusts is to demand answers as to why their corporate Land Trusts refuse to alleviate their dangerous levels of overcrowding in their housing.
    IF shareholders (aka “Traditional Owners”) of these corporate Land Trusts NOT prepared challenge their own corporate land management, why involve the wider public?
    Ongoing irresponsibility of using public funds to maintain privately owned houses large part of the problem.
    Public responsibility is to require these private corporate land-owners to answer in court as to why their tenants live in deplorable conditions which remain their the land-owners responsibility.
    Failing to address this, Commonwealth recognized it needed resume land to build and repair housing with public monies, which it did.
    The ignorant abusive commentary of stealing land, was largely result of Commonwealth exempting these corporate land trusts from being held accountable, thus promoting ignorance.
    Commonwealth continues to refuse tenants of these Land Trusts their otherwise held rights as Australians.
    Disgrace upon the Commonwealth for these racist actions and results.
    With equal rights, equal opportunities, things shall improve.
    Without equal rights, without equal opportunities, why remain as exhibits in these private zoos?

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  8. Bob Durnan
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 7:35 am

    In reply to Ralph (Posted April 9, 2013 at 6:52 am): you are absolutely correct about teenagers and international trends.
    Nonetheless most of their parents and grandparents (and in time, many of the teenagers themselves, as they attempt to raise their own children) find themselves needing and wanting to raise their families in remote communities, for a variety of reasons.
    In large part this has to do with the unwillingness of mainstream society to invest in vast amounts of welfare housing in places like Alice Springs; but if mainstream society is unwilling to assist people to live where they wish to (in the relatively affluent, well-serviced, job-rich and exciting regional towns), then it must do something to alleviate dangerous levels of overcrowding in remote communities, or risk even more expensive and insoluble consequences.

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  9. Ralph
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 6:52 am

    @3 So the average hip hopping, iPod and iPhone devoted Indigenous teenager, like all Australian teenagers these days, wants to live quietly on a remote outstation? Slip on the Nikes and head off to get some bush tucker? Absolutely not and this is not a new development.
    Even in the 1990s outstations around places like Kintore were deserted even though many had very good facilities at that time.
    Now the communities themselves are the outstations with residents spending a lot more time in town and this trend will continue irrespective of housing issues.
    This is a worldwide trend, a choice that Indigenous people are making and we need to work with it.

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  10. Paul Parker
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Zelig (posted April 8, 2013 at 6:01 am) is in error, there has been no decision to never again build a new house on outstations, homelands and excision communities.
    Bob Durnan (posted April 8, 2013 at 8:14 am) contributes to this error.
    Both write about private land, with communities mostly upon lands owned by Commonwealth established corporate Land Trusts.
    There do exist standard legal requirements for legal landowners agree to developments on their land, with few exceptions.
    Commonwealth has long exempted these Land Trusts from being held accountable as landlords.
    Finally the Commonwealth and NT governments are tired of funding developments on these lands without leases.
    Still wait to see tenancy leases for houses.
    Where leases are not issued, ALL issues concerning housing are responsibility of relevant Land Trusts with any concerns needing to be directed through their Commonwealth appointed agent the Central Land Council.
    Certainly these places have functioning stores, schools, clinics, shire-based administrative capacities, power stations, sewerage systems and water supplies, all funded with public monies.
    Yes they are still discriminated against by befuddled bureaucratic thinking and lack of realistic planning by the corporate Land Trusts owning them.
    Certainly there is no excuse for this continuing neglect of these communities by the corporate Land Trusts owning them – except where valid leases issued.
    IF we are serious about wanting the communities to improve, then END exemptions from responsibilities these corporate Land Trusts hide behind.
    Require they be treated like other landlords.
    Require they issue valid leases, or their tenants be automatically covered by NT standard lease.
    Changes required all from Commonwealth.
    These issues have long been main contributors to the lack of developments on these lands.
    Certainly no new housing should be constructed using public monies until such leases are provided.
    These corporate Land Trusts are welcome to start investing their wealth to improve their houses on their land.
    “Traditional Owners” as shareholders in these corporate Land Trusts need raise their concerns at their next Land Trust / Land Council meeting.
    Change is up to them.
    Until they change the results of their apartheid policies shall continue.

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  11. Bob Durnan
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Zelig (Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:01 am) is on the money, as far as he goes.
    But it is not only outstations, homelands and excision communities which are missing out on new housing: the thousands of people living in badly overcrowded circumstances in long-term small to medium towns on Aboriginal land (such as Areyonga, Kintore, Nyirrpi, Willowra, Mt Liebig, Ikuntji, Urapuntja and Docker River) are also excluded from any expectation of new housing being built in their communities under the present policies of both political parties.
    These places have functioning stores, schools, clinics, shire-based administrative capacities, power stations, sewerage systems and water supplies, but are still discriminated against by befuddled bureaucratic thinking and lack of realistic planning.
    There is no excuse for this continuing neglect of these communities.

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  12. Zelig
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:01 am

    Once again we are seeing the consequences of a decade of policy failure, particularly at the Commonwealth level. The deliberate decision to never again build a new house on outstations, homelands and excision communities has fostered a population drift into Alice and other urban centres. This has been a deliberate and amazingly stupid policy. It is time to start reinvesting in bush communities and make them again viable places with a positive future. The Commonweallth has just poured money down the drain with its emphasis on town camps and a few arbitrarily chosen “growth towns”. Do they want to turn Alice into a new Soweto?

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  13. Russell Guy
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    @ Ray.
    I think you were given some pretty fair advice when it was suggested that you “man up” and referred to the Alice Springs News Online policy re submitting your surname.
    My point is that there are a multitude of parents who, because of alcoholism, can’t supervise their children.
    Bonita makes a very cogent argument about alcohol as a non-racist drug: the socially acceptable, highly addictive substance that is also sold in North Korea and no doubt, cheaply as I haven’t heard that they have a floor price, but perhaps you have.
    The right to drink claimed by many Australians militates against the vulnerable in so much as an ID check at a grog shop is too difficult, opposing the BDR, an effective prohibition which works in favour of social liberty, as has been explained in these posts ad nauseum.
    Their logic, like yours, is to downplay the disastrous effects of alcoholism in our society, beginning in the womb.

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  14. Ray
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Here we go again, tie alcohol into any argument. I am waiting for Russell to make a connection between the North Korean nuclear crisis and the availability of cheap grog. Russell, Bonita was saying that their is a perception that parents who want to discipline their child cannot legally do so. My argument was that the criminal code does allow for parents to impose domestic discipline. Russell, Bonita sounds frustrated, not drunk.

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  15. Russell Guy
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 5:52 am

    What good are rights when the right to drink prevails over all?

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  16. Ray
    Posted April 6, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Bonita@1, It may be worth Googling “NT Criminal code” and looking at section 11 and 27, that sates that parents still do have rights, particularly in relation to imposing domestic discipline. Here you will see that you have protection under the law to impose domestic discipline, as do teachers.

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  17. Bonita Liddle
    Posted April 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    I do agree that some parents, whatever race, aren’t being responsible by looking after their children, but when you take the rights of discipline away from the parents, and it could just be yelling at your child to get up for school as an example, you open the doors for the kids to do whatever they want, behave so badly that they are putting others at risk.
    What do you expect?
    Then Joe Public always blames the parents, how do we stop these kids running amok?
    I am from Alice Springs and years ago they had a great place called Arande House, run by great people, sometimes without a decent wage, but still they went to work every day to care for kids who were in crisis for some reason or another. The NT Govt in power then, we all know who the party was, closed the place down.
    It may have been in financial trouble, but more assistance could have been given. It was a place with rules, but safe for kids. An example of going beyond the staffs’ duties, is I remember stories about the night patrols by Aranda House, how they would drive around and pick up kids who were on the streets, and take them back to the shelter, feed and clothe them and give them a warm and safe place to be. Instead of out on the streets causing trouble and hurt to others. A lot of the children were being picked up by unsavoury characters, well to do local men so the story goes, on the banks of the Todd River and many a time the big hearted staff of Aranda House would intervene.
    Now this is a story I heard when I lived in Alice, whether the part about the unsavoury characters is true or not, the truth is plain to see. Have a successful program running which is in financial trouble but doing a great job, close them down, have no where else the kids can go, and then reap what you sow.
    Stop taking kids from their parents when a parent disciplines, and I don’t mean discipline as belt the living daylights out of them but, give the power back to the parents and who knows maybe it will make a difference. Kids do have rights but not the right to say to their parents, you can’t tell me what to do or smack me or yell at me anymore, I will get the welfare or police for you.
    WHAT TO DO?
    From a concerned responsible parent who is afraid of the consequences to her family if I am not allowed to discipline my children and teach them respect for themselves and others.

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  18. Leigh Childs
    Posted April 2, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Hello again Ralph. Yes I see what you mean and I am certainly aware of all the instances that you give. And I certainly do not know / appreciate the complex situations on communities. But, Ralph all communities / societies are complex.
    I suppose what I want to encapsulate in my argument is the, seemingly, total disregard by a lot of Indigenous to our education system and what it has to offer. And an adherence to destructive behaviours in the name of Culture.
    I will say no more, as we could to and fro until the cows come home!
    But I do appreciate your measured response and not giving way to abuse as some on this site do.
    Cheers.

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  19. Ralph
    Posted April 2, 2013 at 6:31 am

    Leigh, to take up the practical proposal you make, that parents who constantly break the law by not ensuring their kids are at school must be held accountable; the situation on the ground in remote communities does not easily lend itself to that.
    Typically, an entire community will set off to another community for a sports weekend, most families will return within a week and kids will resume school, some will not return for up to a month.
    Meanwhile, “sorry business” somewhere else will see a number of families head off, and perhaps a few days or weeks later most will return and their kids will return to school, meanwhile the odd family with their kids will be in town etc etc.
    As opposed to a situation where a defined group of parents are flaunting the law, the remote community situation is much more complex and isn’t easily addressed. That’s why schools have few options and generally strive to make themselves places where kids want to be.

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  20. Leigh Childs
    Posted April 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Ralph I hear what you are saying and I do not wish to denigrate good work happening out on communities to try to get children to school.
    But nothing is going to change while soft options, by that I mean trying to convince the children that school is a good place, with food handouts etc, until the parents start taking responsibility.
    It is the parents’ job to SEND their child to school not the child waking up in the morning, going gee wiz, I’ll go today ’cause I get breakfast or whatever.
    Children under a certain age MUST go to school; it is the law. The L-A-W.
    Parents who constantly break this law should be held accountable.
    And to say that education has little value if you don’t get a job is just rubbish. For example, the UN has loads of stats that say the more a girl / woman is educated the more likely she will be a successful mother.
    Ralph, education of itself is the goal. To broaden and introduce the wider world to children is the goal. To challenge young minds to think, explore and gain information is the goal. Education is the goal.
    When I travel overseas I see constantly how valued education is and to what lengths parents will go to send their kids to school. And when I get back here … well.
    I hope I haven’t offended you Ralph, that is not my wish but I am offended when I see soooooo many Indigenous kids in town traipsing around after adults who see no value in education and who are flagrantly flouting the law. Those kids have no future. They won’t be in a position to choose what their life will be. And their world will be very small.

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  21. Ralph
    Posted March 31, 2013 at 9:52 am

    @1 Living in communities where there are few if any examples (role models) of an education leading to a job, where even those with an education, for example teacher qualifications, are unemployed it would seem reasonable to conclude that football is more important than school.
    So schools are in a constant round of trying to make attendance more and more attractive.
    So far we have nutrition programs (breakfast / lunch), children picked up in small communities or they won’t attend, yearly interstate excursions at the expense of the school, prizes for attendance, even cash for attendance etc etc. Many teachers think this is ridiculous but what is the alternative?

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  22. Leigh Childs
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    In the Advocate recently [sorry Erwin] there have been at least three good news stories regarding Hermannsburg [Ntaria]. One particular article tells us that now there is 100% attendance at the primary school, because the kids want to learn and indeed are excited about learning. Nowhere in the article does it say how this turnaround [miracle] has been achieved.
    When I was going to primary school and high school for that matter, I don’t remember being thrilled by the prospect of more learning. I went because according to my parents there was no other choice and I was never asked if I wanted to go or not. We went and that was the end of the matter. And we went every day, regardless of football matches.
    I asked a couple of well dressed Aboriginal men about the recent big football matches and they agreed that there were a lot of people coming into town for that. I pointed out that it was a school day and why weren’t all those kids [there must have been at least 100] accompanying those adults in school. I won’t say what one of then said but they walked away. The message for those kids is … football matches are more important than your future.
    So I would like to know what Ntaria school is doing right and could that methodology be transferred to all other remote schools.

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  23. p shanklin
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 9:58 am

    I just wonder if there are certain parts of the population who are more prone to this kind of anti social behaviour!

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  24. Paul Parker
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Police, the courts and other relevant groups will keep dealing with such offenders as best they can.

    Where incidents show offenders who run away and hide, obvious solution is to install and make use of remote control videos to collect suitable photographic evidence.

    When incident reported, recorded video footage scanned, remote control cameras target collecting evidence.

    Offenders identified, collected and dealt with. Whether immediately or later, deterrent is probability of this happening.

    Change thinking from run and hide, into either not offending, or, accepting consequences for actions.

    Operational cameras may be turned on / off, or moved from location to location, as required, leaving empty containers still mounted and contributing to deterrence.

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  25. Hal Duell
    Posted March 27, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    I wonder how, or if, Minister Anderson plans to tackle the racism rampant within the indigenous community. It is always informative listening to the words children use. The verbal abuse Debbie King was subjected to after having been “rocked” was learned at home by the children involved. They learned it from their parents, and it is racist.
    There are no exemptions allowing for racial vilification in one instance and not in another. We all know that, even if some among us choose to ignore it.
    And now sexual harassment is becoming common. Those who are so willing to excuse inexcusable behaviour because of the race of those involved – another instance of racism – might ask their nubile teenage daughters how safe they feel shopping at, say, the Eastside in the late afternoon. Or ask young mothers carrying toddlers how safe they feel when getting into their cars in the underground car park late in the afternoon, especially if no one but indigenous teenagers are around.
    And it serves no purpose at all to point out that the same or similar dynamic awaits those shopping or driving in other jurisdictions. There is not where we live. Here is.
    Too often many among us walk in fear. So I would ask the Member for Namatjira, what do you plan to do about that?
    The other questions I would ask is (1) what is wrong with you lot that you cannot see the real damage being done by your insistence that the Banned Drinkers Register was / is no good. Fortunately, or so I’ve been told, the hospital is keeping statistics that will be presented to you at some time in the future. I only wonder if you will listen. And (2) why did you sack the liaison officer who dealt with domestic violence, preferring to lump that job onto an already overworked nursing staff? Now not only do the nurses have extreme inebriation to deal with, but also domestic violence and, after Briscoe, the police are dumping anyone even slightly intoxicated onto their plate. You could break our hospital through your poorly thought out policies. I wonder if you know that.
    I am aware you have your supporters. What I didn’t know was that in addition to the Ayn Rand right there are shushers on the left who don’t want the BDR back because it had a disproportionate number of indigenous people on it.
    Well, duh! Who did they think would be on it? Aside from the younger ones, most whitefellas are drinking themselves into liver damage behind their locked front gates. They are not a menace to the general society. And the young ones who are chronic offenders are as liable to being put on a BDR as anyone else. So, please, let’s not play the race card on that as well.

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