Declaration a necessary circuit breaker

Declaration of Emergency Situation is a necessary circuit breaker

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress today responded to the major announcement from the NT government on Alice Springs to restore public safety to our beautiful Mparntwe.

“It is sad that we have got to the point where an Emergency Situation is declared to protect public safety,” said the Congress CEO, Donna Ah Chee.

“The emergency situation is a required circuit breaker that will lead to an immediate improvement,” she continued.

“This emergency situation has been immediately caused by a family dispute due to recent tragic deaths in Alice Springs. However, these deaths have occurred on a backdrop of the decision by the Police Minister to walk away from full coverage of the take-away outlets with PALIs which has again led to an influx of remote people to town. It has further been caused by many years of lack of investment by successive governments, especially out bush, on the broader social determinants of the unacceptable behaviours we have seen from young people and related adults over recent days.

“We need to ensure that if young people being taken home do not have a safe home to return to that Family Responsibility Agreements are utilised coupled with a Targeted Family Support Service. Parents need to take responsibility.

“These Family Responsibility Agreements in some cases require supportive measures such as child protection income management and placing parents on the BDR when alcohol is an issue.  This targeted approach for families in need addresses the concerns created when these policies are applied to everybody,” she added.

“Congress has previously welcomed recent announcements of unprecedented levels of investment in education, remote housing and remote employment. Over many years these investments will make a real difference in addressing the social determinants of the unacceptable behaviours we are witnessing amongst some young people and their parents at present in Alice Springs.

“It is really unfortunate that a decision was made to not target the $40 million announced for education in Central Australia only on the Aboriginal children and young people who are at the centre of our town’s social concerns. Amongst other unmet needs, there is a vital need to ensure there is access to long term, secure care rehabilitation for young people who are only likely to respond to this type of service.

“Congress welcomes the leadership of the Central Land Council in calling for respect for cultural authority, especially amongst young people, as this is part of what is needed to move beyond the unregulated and unacceptable behaviours that were witnessed recently in Alice Springs,” she continued.

“Congress does not want to ever see full coverage of all take-away liquor outlets by PALIs or their equivalent removed in the foreseeable future,” she concluded.