Council, parents should do more about street kids: Giles

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Mr Giles is pictured at the Show, on the podium, white shirt, clapping.

 

By RACHEL McFADDEN

 

A letter from the Northern Territory Police to the Alice Springs Town Council has revealed alarming figures of youth “disturbances and rock throwing” during the Easter school holidays.

 

But Chief Minister and Minister for Police Adam Giles, whose government has dramatically reduced funding for youth services, yesterday said councillors who fear there could be similar events in the current holidays should take action themselves, including giving street kids a lift home. He also said parents should show more responsibility.

 

After the government cut two premier youth services and programs earlier this year, youth disturbances increased up to five-fold during Easter.

 

According to police, in February there were 18 recorded youth disturbances and 12 rock-throwing instances, totaling 30 recorded instances. In the Easter holidays, disturbances skyrocketed to 108, with 33 rock-throwing incidents, bringing the total to 141 for April.

 

The letter from the police suggests that the peak in April can be explained, in part, by “limited youth activities scheduled for the Easter school holidays”. Other explanations offered were the CAFL carnival and heavy rains stranding people [from remote communities] in town.

 

Councillors have expressed concern at the limited number of school holiday programs, and youth advocates are worried that rates of disturbances will be repeated these school holidays, especially during peak periods such as the Alice Springs Show this weekend.

 

The Alice Springs News Online spoke with Mr Giles at the Show yesterday (see video below) to ask him whether his government was concerned about these numbers, and what should be done.

 

Mr Giles responded that his government wants more parental responsibility, but youth advocates have said this model is flawed, as there is a “hybrid of factors” at play.

 

“We do have a duty of care towards the safety of not only the youth but the wider community,” said Alice Springs Councillor and adviser to Labor Senator Nova Perris, Chansey Paech. Mr Giles accuses him of pursuing a political agenda.

 

Mr Giles’ comment that “youth activities is not going to stop a kid from throwing a rock” has also been contested by youth workers, who suggest that there is ample evidence that even small diversions are effective in turning kids away from anti-social behaviour and that a preventative rather than punitive approach is needed.

 

The News will publish a comprehensive overview on the health of youth programs in Alice soon.

 


	
	
	
	
	
	
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3 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Matty Day
    Posted July 11, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Very concerning comments and attitude shown by the Chief, who is the parent / guardian for all the young people taken in to care by the NT Government.
    I would like to call on the Chief to start listening and caring for our young people before more lives are lost and wrecked.
    A child doesn’t choose its parents, but all too often they pay the price for them.

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  2. Paul Lelliott
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Melanie, I think what the Chief Minister is getting at is that he wants parents to take a greater interest in what their kids are doing. Across the country it’s apparent that parents do not engage with their kids.
    As a former CEO of Football in Central Australia I can tell you that 99% of parents do not get involved. Speaking with those in similar groups interstate confirms to me that parents generally are leaving the recreational activities their kids need to structured government programs often supervised by volunteers all of whom should have current Working with Children clearances.
    Families need to get involved. In an effort to get this happening in the Western suburbs of Sydney highly a successful multicultural program was established with UNiNSW funding and the team heading this up actually door knocked the homes of the kids turning up to the program.
    As for the Alice Springs Youth Centre it is one of many facilities that are not utilised during the school holidays.
    With regard to youth programs which have had funding cuts I think there is a strong case for going to the Minister and putting a case.
    I can tell you he will not entertain submissions which do not guarantee a marked improvement in parental responsibilities.

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  3. Melanie Ross
    Posted July 5, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Chief Minister, you can’t seriously be advocating for kids to get a lift home from strangers? And can you explain why you decided to cut funds to youth programs that were making a difference, but give more than $2 million to the Alice Springs Youth Centre that isn’t even open during the school holidays?

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