What REALLY goes on in our streets: Youth worker

p2445 ram raid 3As Chief Minister Michael Gunner, Families and Children Minister Dale Wakefield and the police maintain an information black-out about summer crime, a youth worker with more than three decades’ experience in Alice Springs describes the offending in the streets of the town as the worst ever. The worker, known to us for that period of time, spoke to the Alice Springs News Online on the condition of not being named: “Please don’t. I would probably have my house burned down. I will lose my job.” This is the worker’s story, as told to ERWIN CHLANDA.

 

These children know what they are doing. These are premeditated break-ins. We were broken in. I went ‘round to see the parents and [asked] what’s going on here? They said, ah, well, no, you can’t blame our kids. I said I’m over this, I run a program that looks after children, that gets them into school, tries to do the right thing.

 

About a month ago two girls and a boy whom we really know well, from a well-known family, came ‘round home, said “I want a drink of water”. I gave her some. When they’d left we found money had been stolen. This is our home. This is ridiculous.

 

A business in Smith Street came under siege from a group of kids after stealing a car, says the worker.

 

[Name withheld] reckons they were going to ram raid. Definitely. They were in Smith Street, they ran into a tree. There was a big gang with them, chasing them. They all ran off. [Kids] told me exactly what happened. I said  did you hear the story or were you there? They said we were there. You were trying to break in? No, we were just watching from the side. There was a big gang. The girls gave me the names of the boys and a few of the girls that were in the car.

 

The youth worker says the names were passed to the police but no action appears to have been taken.

 

I’m just ringing you because I just think this is crazy. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen of [more than 30] years of living here. Kids totally disrespectful. And everyone goes, oh, but the kids don’t know what they are doing, they are young. And I say yes, they do. You’ve got to premeditate when you go and break into a person’s place.

 

[Name withheld] had two four wheel drives stolen around Christmas time. Totally trashed they were. I’m hearing it from the streets, I heard it from [name deleted] today. This 22-year-old put this thing up on Facebook … his daughter saw it … this guy is going “stole two 4WDs today”. Big frigging hero.

 

So [the owner of the cars] sends that to the police. But how much is not reported? Like, it’s every night. These girls I’ve spoken to, ah, it’s very night, they’re into this and into that, and don’t give a shit.

 

I don’t care if they are, eight, nine or 10, you premeditate your break-in, you are a criminal. They are little thugs on the streets, threatening people. There are probably adults among them and you don’t hear about them, too.

 

I like Alice Springs, I love the place, but everyone’s hiding it. No, we don’t have a crime wave. Do something about it! These kids need to be taken bush, flogged with a stick by the elders, and say “no more”. Twenty years ago they would have been taken out bush, in their community, and flogged for what they have done.

 

The town council needs to bring in the elders from the Lhere Artepe mob, those men who are saying, right, we’ll deal with this, too. Because they are really passionate about it. You think you run a safe venue for kids and you have these thugs there with a pocket knife threatening the staff.

 

So they didn’t do the disco on Saturday because we’ve had this threat thing on. They smashed pool cues, they smashed walls, they smashed doors off hinges. Thugs, that’s what they are. When people say they are just innocent children, I go, nah, if you break into someone’s home and you steal their car, or you threaten people, you’re not an innocent child any more. You’re a little thug. I’m just over the thugs!

 

You just get to a point, what do you do about this? Kids don’t even respect you and you’ve been working with them all these years.

 

I hear report after report after report. It would be really interesting to put up in your newspaper [and ask] how many people have been broken into? How many cars have been stolen? Everyone come forward.

 

[The kids] disrespect their families. Even the grandmothers I’ve spoken to, they say the kids don’t care, they try to steal my money. I think everyone needs to speak up. They don’t have to put their name to it, just send in the stats. You will be surprised of how many break-ins and how many people are sick of the [situation]. There would be lots of people who say “we’ve got to air this”.

 

Lock all the doors, check, check, lock everything, check everything, and go to bed. You’re worried you’re going to get done over again. How many other people would feel that way? They don’t feel safe in their homes any more.

 

The kids need to be in rehab, they need to be brought forward, [together with] those older thugs who are running those young kids around on the thrill ride.

 

We are spending mega thousands of dollars. Go past 3 Brown Street and have a look, the razor wire around the youth centre. It looks like a detention centre.

 

You get kids coming to a safe venue and they trash it. They need to get rehabilitation all right. They need to be held accountable. They need to be put in front of the people [whose property] they have damaged, with their families, in a court [setting], where you go, this is what you did and you’re going to be held accountable for it. And they are not. Some of these kids are habitual criminals.

 

Kids running off from Bush Mob. They don’t give a shit.  Politicians have to be responsible. There are Darwin police here [dealing with the siege of the Smith Street business].

 

They said we’ve never seen crime like this. Chasing kids all night. We don’t have what is happening in this town in Darwin. We’re just flat out all night with kids running amok, chucking rocks, smashing things.

 

And businesses go, another business broken into. Another lot want to leave town. I’m really over it.

 

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Aftermath of a ram raid by juveniles last year.

 

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14 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. Local 1
    Posted February 4, 2018 at 11:33 am

    @ Evelyn: You mention evidence of the government being racist when the army was sent into communities and basics cards being introduced among other things.
    The army is regularly used in times of emergencies to assist communities that need it, being disaster relief from cyclones, flooding etc. mainly because they are the best equipped to do so.
    The Intervention was exactly that, the government needed to intervene because a state of emergency had been declared in these communities with sexually transmitted diseases in kids under 10 years old at epidemic proportions (that is not normal for any society).
    There were cases of preventable eye and ear disease and houses in chronic states of disrepair.
    The Federal government needed to act and their biggest asset that is Federally controlled is the army. Despite some of the images promoted by the protesters, they didn’t roll in in tanks with M16s slung over their shoulder.
    They came in Land Cruisers with the specialist equipment that was needed and were probably the only workforce with the capacity to do the job.
    They comprised medics, engineers and logistics specialists. We need to ignore the rhetoric of the critics who paint a picture of a racist government sending in soldiers to round up all the blacks.
    Instead we need to read the Little Children are Sacred report again, and remind ourselves of the reasons we not just wanted to, but had to do something for those kids, five year old kids playing out sexualised behaviour on each other, and then seeing pornography freely available in these houses. Coincidence?
    Chronic overcrowding, peadophiles being reported and arrested for the first time because the women and community members had faith that they would be listened to and having the oportunity to give evidence without fear of retribution.
    I was friends with police who worked on these cases and they said that what the public heard was the tip of the iceberg.
    Billions were poured into the SIHIP program for housing as a result of what was identified. Was it done as well as it could be? No. But we all know that now. Was it needed? Well yes it was, for the government not to intervene would have been criminal.
    Naturally the Act needed to be changed to allow this response to occur, it would not have been legal otherwise, the ability to do this can be traced back to the 1967 referendum.
    As far as applying to any other race? My home town of Bundaberg is about to be, if not already, the next town for the basics card to be rolled out, and it is already being trialled in other areas applying to all races. It is not solely for aboriginal people.
    Once again, spend the time, download and really read the LCAS report, your opinion then may change.
    Many people cry foul about the Intervention, unfortunately the voices of the ones who are grateful something was done, are drowned out by the ones with the funds and contacts and reasons to make it about themselves, not the ones who need the help.

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  2. Paul Parker
    Posted February 4, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Evelyne Roullet Re: Posted January 18, 2018 at 4:49 pm
    “Apartheid refers to a political system where people are clearly divided based on race, gender, class or other such factors.” Evelyne Roullet
    By this the NT has always been, and remains, an apartheid state.
    To resolve this we need to recognise the clear blame is resting with the Commonwealth.
    The majority of Australians who created our Commonwealth sought NO “racial discrimination” between Australians.
    Australians particularly were concerned about legislation imposing such upon Australians.
    “Aboriginal” appeared in our Constitution to resolve then unknown numbers of potential voters “traditionally” roaming away from, outside, the wider Australian community.
    The Commonwealth’s ongoing maintenance, and promotion, of racism upon Australians creates or maintains the problems.
    Only elimination of racism in legislation will resolve the problems, removing opportunities to practice racism.

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  3. Surprised!
    Posted January 19, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    I see a hell of a lot of passion in these threads.
    It’s good being having their lives ruined by the pollies and other impotent government departments.
    Unfortunately we breed a society of no blame or accountability and the pollies only endorse this by their own lack of accountability.
    Send the pollies to the boot camp and boot them up the arsenal in the literal sense.
    They can be accompanied by the do gooders and we may have a chance.
    I note in Queensland there is some stupid law about assaults on persons over 60, so they must be condoning assault on younger people.
    Good thing I’m over 60, so when I’m walking alone any potential perpetrator will know magically, that I’m over 60 and seek out a less vulnerable target.
    Really! FFS, we need to super chlorinate the gene pool and sponsor the Darwin awards.

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  4. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    @ Paul Parker: “Clearly the NT has become an apartheid state, where the rights, responsibility and accountability of residents appears first determined by racial tags”.
    Apartheid refers to a political system where people are clearly divided based on race, gender, class or other such factors.
    The NT became an apartheid State when the Federal government scrapped the Racial Discrimination Act so that they could implement three specific rules: The right to send the army into Aboriginal communities, the establishment of non-Aboriginal managers within Aboriginal communities, and the supervision of people’s social security payments!
    If they done this to another ethnic group there would have been a revolution.
    But the topic is out of this discussion!

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  5. David
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 7:44 am

    At one time misbehaving kids were sent to a community west of Alice Springs, a sort of boot camp run by a man who knew how to deal with these kids to straighten them out with tough love style ways of dealing with them – old style.
    They even acquired some useful skills in the process. Authorities sent the kids there and as I understand it, the courts sent them there.
    After having success over so many years, it only took some kids to lodge a complaint and as I understand it, the man was dragged through the courts.
    It appears the rights of the child prevailed and the rest is history.
    I am not aware if this boot camp style rehabilitation place operates anymore.
    Gunner and his government along with the rights of the child advocates, need to come up with something better and effective then, besides the Tactical Response Group on the streets.
    The destruction of Alice Springs is deliberate and perpetrators know they won’t be subject to harsher measures to deal with them.
    It has been offered, but Aboriginal people don’t seem to be brought into the equation to help deal with their mob.
    Cr. Price may have some points but is not the answer to everything.

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  6. Paul Parker
    Posted January 18, 2018 at 7:23 am

    There is little need to change the criminal code.
    There already exists a process used to determine whether parental responsibility is failing or working, and what needs to be done.
    Even the best of parents may find themselves in court with their children following a single act of youthful irresponsibility.
    Any parent can find themselves with youths no longer prepared to follow their reasonable instructions.
    The need is for clearer policy dealing with parents who are irresponsible, and more assistance for responsible parents before they become a minority.
    The need is for the responsible “Docs” department aka “Territory Families” with Minister Dale Wakefield and CEO Ken Davies to start attending public meetings with media present in Alice Springs to answer questions then respond to address raised issues, on how these problems are being addressed.
    Clearly the NT has become an apartheid state, where the rights, responsibility and accountability of residents appears first determined by racial tags.
    Racial tags are the responsibility problem, so not part of the solution.

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  7. Chris2
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Mr Gunner: For the sake of the future of Alice Springs, and the safety and sanity of its law abiding hard working citizens you, Sir, need to provide leadership now.
    As I predicted in previous correspondence we have a perfect storm of crime in this town right now.
    Anarchy is a real possibility here. Over-worked hard pushed police do their best but without laws that actually punish the reoffending criminal youth and older habitual criminals there will be no order.
    Surely you are informed of what is happening: Kittles hit again. 40 plus break-ins over the last few days. Trucks rocked. High speed stolen cars followed by police who can’t go fast enough to apprehend.
    And so it goes while you talk up a cricket game and tell us how lucky we are to hear 60,000 year old dialects spoken in the Mall. Rome is burning.
    More and more good people I speak to have an exit plan. What is your plan to stabilise the situation?
    Head in the sand and coffee with spin doctors will not work for much longer. Do something.

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  8. Laurence
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    What, wait. No, I’m confused, somebody advocating parental obligation?
    Ouch!! I just pinched myself it turns out I’m not dreaming, but I must be because we mustn’t foist the burden of responsibility on children’s parents.
    Oh, how I love to hear the poor hand-wringing “denizens of the politically correct swamp” (thanks Hal) remind us that raising a child is a whole of community responsibility. Hahahaha.
    The children whom my wife and I raised never roamed the streets in gangs, didn’t assault anybody and certainly won’t face a future of zero employ-ability and almost certain incarceration.
    And, Chris, it seems you are part of the problem, naturally we must blame someone else.

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  9. Local business owner
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    The suggestion: Royalty moneys.
    I’m sure if the kids, let’s say, Tom, Dick and Harry caused $5000 worth of damage and are linked to the families that receive this money it should be removed before allocated to them and explain that the money removed is going to the victims to whom Tom, Dick and Harry caused.
    I’m sure the families would stop this crop goining on very quickly if they lose their royalties.
    This financial year I’m out of pocket $2,600, this is just my car. Many owners are in the same place.

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  10. Hal Duell
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 9:43 am

    As happens so often these days, Jacinta Price stands tall as an example of a concerned Australian talking common sense. Family responsibility seems to be her mantra when discussing the social ills bedeviling Alice.
    And we all know she is right, all that is except for those denizens of the politically correct swamp who would rather further fracture as opposed to heal. They remind me of nothing so much as baby chicks still in the nest, impotent little wings flapping, beaks open and a chorus of gimme gimme gimme gimme.
    Walking around town, especially through the shopping centres and the hospital, and the conclusion that this is an Indigenous town is inescapable.
    No problem there, but what this means is that the way forward not only has to come from them, but it can only come from them.
    Our Town Council would do well to recognize this. Otherwise they risk being consigned to the status of an irrelevant elite watching from behind their fences as our town burns.
    And let’s not even talk about Darwin. They may hold immense power over us, but without question they are as useless as teats on a bull.

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  11. Local 1 has the answer.
    Posted January 16, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Well said, Local 1. Bring back the red headband mob: “It is common knowledge about the kids being taken out to communities and having respect knocked into them back in the 70s, and it worked.”

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  12. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted January 16, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    The age of criminal responsibility acts as the gateway to the criminal justice system – under a certain age you are kept out.
    Australian criminal jurisdictions have a modern approach, with two age levels of criminal responsibility: A lower one under which a child is always presumed too young to ever be capable of guilt and can, therefore, never be dealt with in criminal proceedings (currently under the age of 10); and a higher one where the presumption that a child is incapable of crime (termed the presumption of doli incapax) is conditional.
    Children in the higher age group, between 10 and 14 years old, can be convicted of criminal offences only if the prosecution can refute the presumption of doli incapax.
    This can be done by proving the child understood that what he or she had done was wrong according to the ordinary standards of reasonable adults.
    We need to remind teenagers of a sobering reality: “You are no longer boys and girls, you are men and women. You are an adult when your body says so, but you don’t get the perks and privileges that adults enjoy until you earn them.”
    The last point goes for any age.
    Teenagers are at an age of life when their focus should be on taking on the responsibilities of adulthood.
    Alas, we live in a society that clings tightly to extended adolescence, the banalities of youth culture, and the choice of older people to refuse to act their age (grandparents who do not want to be called Nana and Poppy “60 is the new 40” or whatever).
    This said I believe that most children aren’t born innately good or evil; rather, they learn what is acceptable behaviour (or not) from the adults around them.
    We should introduce the concept of parental responsibility into our criminal code.
    Imposing legal and financial responsibility for kids’ criminality on parents will force grown-ups to become better parents.
    And for those mums and dads who lack the financial capacity to meet their delinquent children’s obligations? Start docking their welfare payments.
    Nothing focuses a lazy parent’s mind like the prospect of losing taxpayer funding for their lifestyle.
    Why should those of us who work for a living subsidise adults who fail to raise their own kids properly?

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  13. Chris
    Posted January 16, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Time for someone to get into a new line of work.

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  14. Local 1
    Posted January 16, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Thankyou for this report, it takes guts to come out like this at risk to yourself and your family.
    Politicians have the staff and experience to pull the will over people’s eyes.
    Media managers have the unique ability to convince us all that is really possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.
    It is common knowlege about the kids being taken out to communities and having respect knocked into them back in the 70s, and it worked.
    Maybe we need the men with the red headbands to be on they job at night. I have absolute faith they would clean it up in no time, unfortunately the dogooders would object and prevent it happening.
    I remember talking to a building manager 12 months ago, who did a lot of concrete pours and work during the night.
    He told me that they would regularly see up to 200 kids at night, many carried knives, and some of the worst were young girls, and yet now we have high ranking fat cats telling us that the age of criminal responsibility needs to be raised.
    As this writer said, these kids know exactly what they are doing, probably more so than our so called leaders.

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