Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003
Parliamentary Record 11
Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 1 May 2003 town. And they respond; they are great. They get out there and patrol and they move people on and, within a day or two, that so-called hot spot has cooled down. I get great cooperation from them and I enjoy a very good relationship with the police. I have my problems the same as everyone else in this town, but if you do not dwell on them and do not let them frighten you, as we keep being told, then you cope with them. We know these kids in this town. This morning, I presented a petition. This is how it came about. Last week, we had a public meeting about a program Tangentyere was going to set up in public houses in a private subdivision. The residents came to me and said: Hey, we think this is wrong. I went public and the public meeting was held and Tangentyere backed off. This is where a member can be seen in one or another camp. Tangentyere issued a fairly strong press release about me which contained some words resulting in me feeling as though I should go and get a legal opinion, because they did say some pretty tough things such as: on numerous occasions I released incorrect information - which was not true; I labelled young people as criminals - that was not true; I contributed to a climate of fear - that was not true; at no time did I approach Tangentyere Council - that was not true; this climate o f fear dominated the public meeting - that was not true. I was one speaker, there was about 18 others. I certainly do not think I did as claimed. However, Tangentyere have backed off. The reason I went in to bat for the citizens in that area is because that program was inappropriate for there. In fact, I believe that program is inappropriate for what they are trying to do. Our problem in Alice Springs at the moment is the 30 to 60 juveniles that the Youth Night Patrol pick up every night they operate. What do they do with them? In many cases, they cannot take them back to the camps where they live, or the home they live in here in town. Some o f them are from out of town. They tell me the story of one 15-year-old who was drunk. They took him to DASA, our sobering-up shelter. DASA cannot take him; he is under 18. The police do not want him; they do not want a 15-year-old. So what do they do with him? On Tuesday night, I met a grandmother down at the education event. She said to me: Loraine, keep pushing the opening of Aranda House. What happens to those children? The grandmothers of the town have to look after them; they are dumped on them. She said: Quite frankly, I am tired. I am sure they are tired, because too few are caught too many times to do too much. It is time this government, started looking realistically at what to do with these juveniles. Then perhaps we will not have the rock throwing, the window smashing, the break and enter looking for food - all the things that we have heard about over the last few days. Aranda House sits side by side with Giles House, the remand centre. But let me make it quite clear: the remand centre is not part of Aranda House. The remand sector is where children stay for the short time before they go to court. In this town, it has only been up to a maximum of five days so far - 1 believe that is going to change - and then they are taken up to Don Dale Centre and brought back here in time for their trial or hearing. Aranda House at the moment is leased by CAACCA. I put on everyones table this morning for their information, the Central Australian Aboriginal Child Care Agency letter from their Vice Chairman, Eddie Taylor. We are all well aware that, in the past, Aranda House has had its problems with management. But you have to put that in the past. Like many organisations, they have their quarrels and their problems and they have had some misappropriation of funds. However, that is over. This is a new committee which is trying to work very hard to set up this centre for young people. But, they do not have the funding. They have done some good work, the CDEP people, down there: they have painted it; there are dormitories; there is a kitchen; and there are recreation facilities. However, the story I get from the people who oppose it is that it is next door to the remand centre. I will get back to why I presented the petition. On Tuesday night, this grandmother said to me: The children say to me: Why cant we go to Aranda House? They know it. They have been there, they feel safe and secure there, it is familiar to them. So I said to her on Tuesday night, just a day-and-a-half ago: If you can get me some signatures on a petition, I will give it the Minister for Central Australia for him to look at and to take note. Just in that one night, the juveniles they picked up with their night patrol signed that petition that I tabled this morning. If we had gone for weeks, it would have been immense. I just want to demonstrate to this parliament that there are children out there who know what they want, who see Aranda House as a safe place, and would like us to really consider setting it up. So I say to the Minister for Central Australia: I know you have grand visions, but this program at Tangentyere that you funded, to me does not meet this need. What that program was talking about was four to five children in a house, and a family in another house next door to it. They have all had to be referred under the FACS system. It does not cope with all these children that we are worried about at the moment. I am trying to get the message through to government that we have a community resource that 3979
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