Former youth worker explores reality of child exploitation in debut film County Lines – Channel 4 News


They are children drawn into a dangerous, sometimes deadly world of drugs, crime and violence. County Lines is a new film which explores the reality of child criminal exploitation in all its grimness.

Fiction perhaps, but absolutely rooted in real life, as filmmaker Henry Blake draws on more than a decade’s experience on the frontline of youth work.

County Lines is released in cinemas and digitally on BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema on 4 December.



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Youth Hub out, Empowered Futures in


By KIERAN FINNANE

The Town Council is changing the focus of its plans for young people. The much-spoken of Youth Hub concept has been dumped in favour of a Town Council Youth Space. This does not seem to be, however, a drop-in centre.

Instead it will house council’s “Youth Programs team” and be the base for delivering its activities such as a Youth Employment Apprenticeship Program, the Phoney Festival, the YAG (Youth Action Group under a new format) and the “YEP”.

These details are included in a report to council by Director of Community Development Kim Sutton (pictured below) and apparently reflect the discussions by councillors and officers in the forum of November 9.

The “YEP” stands for Youth Empowerment Program about which Ms Sutton’s report contains no detail. Its name would suggest that this is the program associated with a Baha’i entity, which has caused Council CEO Robert Jennings, being also associated with the Baha’i community, to declare a conflict of interest in the matter.

In response to enquiries by the Alice Springs News in September this was how the program was described:

“The youth program was suggested by elders and community groups, as a proven program with strong community support.  It offers a world-renowned program that has been implemented both internationally and in Central Australia.

“With a fundamental purpose on [sic] empowering young people to improve, this program has many demonstrated benefits and is a fresh approach to the traditional youth programming run by Council.” [Emphasis added.]

Requests for further information have been turned down.

“Empowering”, “empowered” , the vocabulary suggests that the YEP’s principles will be pervasive of council’s whole approach, and yet the public continues to be kept in the dark, beyond this vague statement, about the program’s framework and credentials. 

The colourful policy document, including images pictured above, accompanying Ms Sutton’s report suggests that the YEP Pilot has been “completed”, incoherently adding in brackets “Covid-19 delays, TBA).

It is not clear whether a “Youth Council Camp”, also referred to as a “school holiday bootcamp”, is part of the YEP. The first such camp is planned for September 2021 school holidays.

The first intake for the Youth Employment Apprenticeship program will not be until January 2023.

Council is being asked to commit considerable resources to the plans, including the employment of a youth programs manager, to start in February next year, and two new youth programs officers, to start in June.

It plans to have the youth space “scoped” by June 2021 and opened by September, although this will depend on the location of a suitable space. The report talks about the former Tourism Central Australia building, the south-eastern corner of Traeger Park, the old Pool House building or a brand new facility as possibilities, estimated to cost between $500,000 and $2,500,000.

In the more immediate term, Ms Sutton recommends that council enter into an MOU with the Arrernte Community Boxing Academy and find them a suitable council-owned base in time for the summer holidays. The academy was formerly housed in the boxing shed at Traeger Park until it was condemned.

Ms Sutton also recommends that council approve an additional $75,000 from capital infrastructure reserves for the delivery of expanded youth programs and materials, and that council facilities be made available to local youth agencies and organisations, via the lnteragency Tasking and Co-Ordination Group.

Council’s existing (and by all reports successful) summer holiday programs will be delivered again, with some new features such as “Arrow Tag” on the grass fields at the Town Pool.

The various recommendations contained in the report will come before council in tomorrow night’s meeting. More then.

Meanwhile, Ms Sutton’s document says council supports the announcement of “a 24-hour Youth Hub” at 2 Railway Terrace, opened as a pilot project until March 2021 by the Territory Government. The Railway Terrace premises are the home for its Youth Outreach and Re-Engagement Teams (YORET).

According to Ms Sutton’s report, the facility will be open from 3pm Friday to 6pm Sunday, before running 24/7 during the summer school holidays: “This space provides fun activities after school and in the evening such as games and sports and quieter (less enticing) activities during school hours and overnight.

“They will coordinate with the Tangentyere night time buses (2:15am last departure). No accommodation is offered at this facility and those needing [sleeping] accommodation will be supported to be referred elsewhere.”



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Senior youth detention centre manager stood down following rape allegations, Parliament told


A senior manager at Ashley Youth Detention Centre in Tasmania’s north is among three staff stood down pending investigation into “hundreds” of serious allegations, including rape, the state’s Parliament has heard.

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor revealed the bombshell allegations in a fiery Question Time focused on the abuse of Tasmanian children in state care.

According to Ms O’Connor, the detention centre employee was the subject of serious complaints.

“There may be other staff working at Ashley today who have serious allegations against them,” Ms O’Connor said.

Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch confirmed three staff members had been stood down, describing the allegations as a “very serious matter”, but would not provide further detail.

“I can confirm that a staff member has been stood down pending allegations being investigated fully,” Mr Jaensch said.

“I’m not going to provide any more detail regarding the identity of the person or the nature of the matters.”

He said he wanted to reassure Tasmanians that Communities Tasmania took any allegations of abuse against children in care or detention seriously.

In a statement released after Question Time, Mr Jaensch said historic allegations had been referred to Tasmania Police.

“The employees were stood down and an independent investigation is now underway, in addition to the police referral,” Mr Jaensch said.

“The Government needs to allow this process to take its course before commenting further.”

Leader of the Tasmanian Greens, Cassy O’Connor, Leader of the Tasmanian Greens, revealed the allegations in questions time.(ABC RN: Emma Lancaster)

Labor MP Michelle O’Byrne and Ms O’Connor said Ashley was the wrong model for troubled children.

An average of 10 to 15 children are in Ashley at any one time at a cost of more than $3,000 per person per day.

A 2016 paper commissioned by the State Government recommended Ashley be replaced by two new 12-bed facilities in the North and South and that the Government reframe its approach to youth detention.

The Government has instead committed to a more than $7 million upgrade of the existing Ashley Youth Detention Centre building, which is expected to begin soon.

Tasmania Police said it was “assisting Communities Tasmania with an internal inquiry” but that “no formal complaint has been received”.

The state’s children’s commissioner and the custodial inspector have been contacted for comment.

Questions raised over alleged paedophile nurse

Labor has also quizzed government MPs on alleged paedophile nurse James Geoffrey Griffin’s involvement with the Northern Tasmanian Netball Association.

Sports Minister Jane Howlett falsely claimed a police investigation was ongoing into the allegations, meaning she was not able to comment, before later correcting the record.

James Griffin deceased Launceston paedophile nurse.
James Geoffrey Griffin died just after police laid child sex abuse charges against him last year.(Supplied)

The police investigation ended when Mr Griffin took his own life last year, but the State Government has announced an independent inquiry into the handling of the issue.

The nurses’ union and the Greens have also called for a commission of inquiry, which would have similar powers to a Royal Commission.

Franklin Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff noted Mr Griffin had worked at Ashley Youth Detention for five months as well as the Launceston General Hospital.

“It’s been alleged written complaints were made [over several years],” Dr Woodruff said.

“Allegations include the reports that were written on paper … and subsequently found ripped up in the rubbish bin.”



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A coronavirus survivor and leading Australian youth advocate took on cyber bullies peddling conspiracy theories and won.


“Gotta try and find out where this little squirt lives,” said one post seen by The Age.

“If anyone sees him kick him in the head,” read another.

As the trolling escalated into daily hate-filled posts and videos, he was accused of being a political puppet and of being paid to lie about his illness as a staged “crisis actor” set up to instil fear in Victorians.

“These conspiracy theorists, they were creating online accounts about me and writing ‘he’s a traitor and a paid actor’; that’s how it started out,” he said.

“Then it all went viral.

“They even said they were going to launch a freedom of information request into my hospital records.”

Mr Hassan’s colleague, Youth Activating Youth chief executive Ali Ahmed, was also recovering from COVID-19 and also received threats and abuse.

As part of their advocacy work, Mr Ahmed and Mr Hassan had met and been pictured with politicians including Premier Daniel Andrews. Now these pictures were used to further fuel the conspiracy theorists’ claims that the pair was lying.

“How much did dictator Dan pay you to say you had the fake coronavirus? Better get yourself acting classes,” one woman messaged to Mr Hassan.

Others posted online: “He needs to be held accountable” and “#AHMEDGATE”.

Then, as Victoria’s second coronavirus wave gained momentum, the two young men’s personal contact details were posted online.

Youth leaders Ahmed Hassan and Ali Ahmed.Credit:Luis Enrique

“I’ve got pretty thick skin but it was having a serious mental toll on Ahmed (Mr Hassan); he wasn’t sleeping, he’d come in and say ‘there was another video out overnight, I haven’t slept’,” Mr Ahmed said.

“If it wasn’t for COVID maybe we would have booked him a ticket out of here, but we were in lockdown, you couldn’t leave.”

It led Mr Hassan to consider taking indefinite leave from his job in a desperate attempt to escape the torment as the mental stress reached tipping point.

Mr Ahmed and Mr Hassan had fallen sick in mid-June. They both said they felt in good health when they went to play a social game of soccer with friends in Melbourne’s north but within hours, they were hit with waves of exhaustion.

Then came the shakes and what both describe as unbearable pain.

While Mr Ahmed was able to recover at home with the support of his family, Mr Hassan, who has type-1 diabetes, spend two stints in the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s isolation ward.

But both men say that the mental health impacts and the anxiety that the online trolling caused have been more excruciating than the illness.

“The young people we work with and who observe our social [media], they were being exposed to this stuff. And our staff, they were answering all these hate calls,” Mr Ahmed said.

“The problem for us then became how do we protect the people around us?”

Youth Activating Youth executive Ahmed Hassan, left, and operations manager Richard Deng, speaking on the South Sudanese community in December 2017.

Youth Activating Youth executive Ahmed Hassan, left, and operations manager Richard Deng, speaking on the South Sudanese community in December 2017.Credit:Joe Armao.

The pair reached out to police and then lawyers who began to track down those behind the defamatory and false information.

Inside the hate-spewing online conspiracy groups, behind the covers of fake profiles, they found doctors and lawyers and even members of their own multicultural communities.

“I think the most frightening part though was that the young generations were believing what they were seeing,” Mr Hassan said. “People close to me were calling up and saying ‘hey, is this true’? “

In the end, the pair decided to launch legal action to try to stop the spread of misinformation.

On the eve of Mr Hassan’s next television appearance, on the ABC’s Q&A program on August 24, legal letters were issued to the two most active trolls.

Ahmed Hassan speaks in July in response to recent negative comments in the media regarding the Sudanese Community

Ahmed Hassan speaks in July in response to recent negative comments in the media regarding the Sudanese Community Credit:Darrian Traynor

And, late last month, the youth leaders finally got the justice they’d worked so hard to achieve.

Two Melbourne-based anti-lockdown campaigners agreed to issue an apology video online retracting their claims against Mr Hassan.

“We wanted to pave the way for future generations. Especially when it comes to online cyberbullying which has fast become the alternative to physical bullying,” he said.

As Mr Hassan flicked through the barrage of messages on his phone in a coffee shop in the city’s north, the impact the online abuse has taken on him is clear.

His face is slimmer and while the brightness has returned to his eyes, the exhaustion clearly lingers.

“The mental impact of it, it took me to the brink.”

If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline on 131 114, or Beyond Blue’s coronavirus mental wellbeing support service on 1800 512 348.

Start your day informed

Our Morning Edition newsletter is a curated guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald’s newsletter here, The Age’s here, Brisbane Times’ here, and WAtoday’s here.

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A coronavirus survivor and leading Australian youth advocate took on cyber bullies peddling conspiracy theories and won.


“Gotta try and find out where this little squirt lives,” said one post seen by The Age.

“If anyone sees him kick him in the head,” read another.

As the trolling escalated into daily hate-filled posts and videos, he was accused of being a political puppet and of being paid to lie about his illness as a staged “crisis actor” set up to instil fear in Victorians.

“These conspiracy theorists, they were creating online accounts about me and writing ‘he’s a traitor and a paid actor’; that’s how it started out,” he said.

“Then it all went viral.

“They even said they were going to launch a freedom of information request into my hospital records.”

Mr Hassan’s colleague, Youth Activating Youth chief executive Ali Ahmed, was also recovering from COVID-19 and also received threats and abuse.

As part of their advocacy work, Mr Ahmed and Mr Hassan had met and been pictured with politicians including Premier Daniel Andrews. Now these pictures were used to further fuel the conspiracy theorists’ claims that the pair was lying.

“How much did dictator Dan pay you to say you had the fake coronavirus? Better get yourself acting classes,” one woman messaged to Mr Hassan.

Others posted online: “He needs to be held accountable” and “#AHMEDGATE”.

Then, as Victoria’s second coronavirus wave gained momentum, the two young men’s personal contact details were posted online.

Youth leaders Ahmed Hassan and Ali Ahmed.Credit:Luis Enrique

“I’ve got pretty thick skin but it was having a serious mental toll on Ahmed (Mr Hassan); he wasn’t sleeping, he’d come in and say ‘there was another video out overnight, I haven’t slept’,” Mr Ahmed said.

“If it wasn’t for COVID maybe we would have booked him a ticket out of here, but we were in lockdown, you couldn’t leave.”

It led Mr Hassan to consider taking indefinite leave from his job in a desperate attempt to escape the torment as the mental stress reached tipping point.

Mr Ahmed and Mr Hassan had fallen sick in mid-June. They both said they felt in good health when they went to play a social game of soccer with friends in Melbourne’s north but within hours, they were hit with waves of exhaustion.

Then came the shakes and what both describe as unbearable pain.

While Mr Ahmed was able to recover at home with the support of his family, Mr Hassan, who has type-1 diabetes, spend two stints in the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s isolation ward.

But both men say that the mental health impacts and the anxiety that the online trolling caused have been more excruciating than the illness.

“The young people we work with and who observe our social [media], they were being exposed to this stuff. And our staff, they were answering all these hate calls,” Mr Ahmed said.

“The problem for us then became how do we protect the people around us?”

Youth Activating Youth executive Ahmed Hassan, left, and operations manager Richard Deng, speaking on the South Sudanese community in December 2017.

Youth Activating Youth executive Ahmed Hassan, left, and operations manager Richard Deng, speaking on the South Sudanese community in December 2017.Credit:Joe Armao.

The pair reached out to police and then lawyers who began to track down those behind the defamatory and false information.

Inside the hate-spewing online conspiracy groups, behind the covers of fake profiles, they found doctors and lawyers and even members of their own multicultural communities.

“I think the most frightening part though was that the young generations were believing what they were seeing,” Mr Hassan said. “People close to me were calling up and saying ‘hey, is this true’? “

In the end, the pair decided to launch legal action to try to stop the spread of misinformation.

On the eve of Mr Hassan’s next television appearance, on the ABC’s Q&A program on August 24, legal letters were issued to the two most active trolls.

Ahmed Hassan speaks in July in response to recent negative comments in the media regarding the Sudanese Community

Ahmed Hassan speaks in July in response to recent negative comments in the media regarding the Sudanese Community Credit:Darrian Traynor

And, late last month, the youth leaders finally got the justice they’d worked so hard to achieve.

Two Melbourne-based anti-lockdown campaigners agreed to issue an apology video online retracting their claims against Mr Hassan.

“We wanted to pave the way for future generations. Especially when it comes to online cyberbullying which has fast become the alternative to physical bullying,” he said.

As Mr Hassan flicked through the barrage of messages on his phone in a coffee shop in the city’s north, the impact the online abuse has taken on him is clear.

His face is slimmer and while the brightness has returned to his eyes, the exhaustion clearly lingers.

“The mental impact of it, it took me to the brink.”

If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline on 131 114, or Beyond Blue’s coronavirus mental wellbeing support service on 1800 512 348.

Start your day informed

Our Morning Edition newsletter is a curated guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald’s newsletter here, The Age’s here, Brisbane Times’ here, and WAtoday’s here.

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Young workers now eligible for the $200 a fortnight JobMaker youth wage subsidy



The $4 billion JobMaker hiring credit was one of the more controversial aspects of last month’s Budget.

Despite some political argy-bargy along the way, the legislation has now passed Parliament. So what does it mean for businesses and young workers?

How will it work?

The hiring credit provides eligible employers with $200 a week for each additional staff member they hire between the ages of 16 and 29 years old, if that person has been receiving the JobSeeker, Youth Allowance (Other) or Parenting Payment.

Workers between the ages of 30 and 35 will also attract a subsidy of $100 a week.

The money will be paid to the business, rather than the worker, and the staff will need to have worked an average of at least 20 hours per week over their employment period.

How many jobs will it create?

The Government estimates the hiring credit will support 450,000 jobs, although only around 10 per cent of those positions are expected to be created as a direct result of the program.

Some job seekers, including people over the age of 35 and those who do not qualify for income support, are worried it could make it more difficult for them to find work.

Others feel like they are already being discriminated against by employers advertising exclusively for workers who will qualify for the subsidy.

The Government has defended the program, arguing young people have been disproportionately affected by the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and need extra help.

Have any changes been made to the program?

No. Labor moved two amendments in the Senate, with the help of the crossbench, aimed at making the scheme more transparent and preventing businesses from accessing the subsidy if they fire or cut the hours of another worker in order to obtain it.

The Government rejected those changes when the bill went back to House of Representatives, arguing they were unnecessary because the subsidy is not available to employers who fail to increase their headcount and payroll.

It also said existing safeguards in the Fair Work Act will continue to apply.

When the bill came back to the Senate it passed with the support of One Nation … without the amendments.

How quickly can the subsidy be accessed?

The wage subsidy will apply to new workers hired from October 7 onwards, although employers will need to wait until February 2021 to claim the money back.

Some businesses wanted that process to be sped up, but the Government defended it as an integrity measure.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg previously said the Australian Taxation Office would update its website on how businesses can claim the credit once the legislation has passed.



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$4m for youth mental health services in Tasmania after report ‘lays bare many gaps’


The Tasmanian Government has accepted all seven recommendations from an independent review into the state’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), after it found the services were overburdened and in need of significant systemic and cultural change.

Mental Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff detailed the review’s findings in state Parliament on Tuesday, after a draft copy of the 100-page report was obtained by the ABC in September.

The Government has confirmed the final version does not differ from the draft, which detailed issues such as children and teenagers with severe and complex needs “generally not being accepted” by CAMHS.

It found funding did not approach the amount required and that two of CAMHS’ three sites were not fit for purpose and should be replaced.

It also found that acute services were effectively unavailable outside business hours.

Mr Rockliff said the “warts and all” review found child and adolescent mental health services were inaccessible to those needing specialist care, were inconsistent around the state and were unable to adequately respond to young Tasmanians with complex mental health needs.

‘We could do a lot better’

He said the Government acknowledged the longstanding gaps in the system.

“I was only interested in a report that truly reflects the current nature of adolescent mental health services in Tasmania, so then we could respond appropriately to exactly the needs of our young people across Tasmania,” Mr Rockliff said.

“The report is critical of past practices and it needs to be for there to be serious intervention, serious investment.

“We could do a lot better, and we will. As Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing I will be held accountable to these reforms,” he said.

Mr Rockliff said the issues were not a reflection on the hard work of staff, who had instead been hampered by an out-of-date system.

The Government has accepted all seven recommendations, including establishing a statewide service, and has allocated $4 million over two years in the state Budget, to be handed down on Thursday, to begin the implementation.

The money includes:

  • $500,000 for a new tiered senior management team to unify services
  • $1.8m for a dedicated service for children in out-of-home-care
  • $1m for a youth early intervention service
  • $500,000 to increase the capacity of the perinatal and infant mental health service to cover the north and north-west

“What I’ve announced today is a fundamental shift in the delivery of child and adolescent mental health services in Tasmania, with a focus on integration, and changing models of care to enable CAMHS to respond to demand, particularly in relation to severe and complex cases,” Mr Rockliff said.

“Addressing service gaps by developing new programs, and building better links and partnerships with other services and government agencies under a new organisational structure to drive and maintain meaningful change.

“We are committed to getting this right.”

Connie Digolis says the Government will be held accountable to ensure the system is improved.(Supplied)

Mental Health Council of Tasmania chief executive Connie Digolis welcomed the review and its recommendations.

“This provides us an opportunity to be able to hold the Government accountable in actually achieving this, but it also provides us with a clear idea of where the opportunities are for us as a community sector to also be able to integrate and come up with a more comprehensive and contemporary child and adolescent mental health service,” she said.

Labor health spokeswoman Sarah Lovell said the system had been left underfunded and completely under-resourced.

“That’s resulted in a delivery of services that is extremely flawed,” she said.

“What we will really be looking for is adequate resourcing, funding, and real action from the government to ensure that these recommendations are implemented.”



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Town Council on youth: immediate action or look to longer term?


By KIERAN FINNANE

Councillor Marli Banks wants what the public is clamouring for but our governments seem incapable of producing: an immediate practical step to curb the antisocial and criminal behaviour of some young people in Alice Springs.

Her focus – prompted by the death of hit-and-run victim Shane Powell and as foreshadowed in these pages yesterday – was on the much discussed, long awaited 24-hour drop-in service for youth.

What would be the constraints on council, including its finances, to fit out a building for this purpose? she asked, giving the former police station as an example.

The building was used as the temporary women’s shelter while the new shelter was under construction and is thus likely to already have some of the necessary features – ablutions, cooking and sleeping areas.

The community needs to hear from council on this, a clear communication that “we stand beside them”, urged Cr Banks (pictured during a council meeting by Zoom earlier in this pandemic year).

Not surprisingly, given council’s budget allocation towards a youth hub ($400,000+), and the prominence of a region-wide approach in the CARGO submission to the NT Government, of which council was a key proponent, there is already a lot of information about the possibilities.

What is surprising is that the elected members of council seem to be ignorant of them – and this includes the four, Cr Banks among them, who contested the recent NT election in which crime, and youth crime in particular, was a hot button issue.

No one in last night’s meeting seemed to be across the research and detailed discussion behind either their own budget for a youth hub and the CARGO submission, in which support to youth was the number one priority, in the form of a 24-hour purpose-built youth hub, with satellite services, staffing and programs to all major sites in the region, with links back to the core services in Alice Springs.

CARGO is made up of multiple organisations, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, with the Town Council and Chamber of Commerce in the lead and the submission was made under the signature of Council CEO Robert Jennings.

To date, there has been no adequate explanation beyond the circumstances of the pandemic of council’s failure to pursue a youth hub, or at least get a start on it in Alice Springs. (A youth program based in Larapinta seems to have taken priority.)

The upshot of last night’s debate is that councillors will get to see the information held by Mr Jennings and discuss it at the next council forum on 9 November.

These forums are not open to the media or public. But we can expect that after 9 November some councillors at least will be pushing to bring the public into the picture.

There was talk last night of the need to tackle the issues more broadly.

Cr Jimmy Cocking spoke of the way that a community tragedy in Tennant Creek (the rape of a two-year-old) had triggered a  “whole of government approach” in the Barkly and of the need for council to lobby the federal government for “a regional deal”.

Council should send “our two best’ – Mayor Damien Ryan and Deputy Mayor Jacinta Price – to Canberra to start that conversation.

We need “to think big”, he said, about stimulating the local economy and achieving long-lasting benefits for not just youth, but adults too and to address the division in the community.

This approach was backed by DM Price, Cr Eli Melky, who saw what is required as a “multi-million dollar effort”, and Cr Jamie de Brenni, who extolled the experience that council could bring to the conversation – 12 years on council of “our leader”, the national profile of the deputy mayor, the lived experience on a remote community (Hermannsburg) of Cr Glenn Auricht, the nine years on council of Cr Melky, the “traditional people in this room” (presumably meaning Cr Catherine Satour and DM Price).

Cr Matt Paterson also seemed less bent on immediate steps, wanting council to write to the Chief Minister Michael Gunner and Territory Families Minister Kate Worden to invite them to discuss “a joint response” with council, taking Mr Gunner up on recent comments in the media that he would love to see council as part of the solution, working alongside the NT Government. (Haven’t we been there before – the back and forth of invitations, comments in the media, and no meetings, let alone a joint response?)

A motion to this effect was carried.

Cr Auricht, however, urged council not to put off action for the “bigger picture stuff”. Getting all the parties together would take too long, “we need to do something now”.

At the forum, council should focus on what they can do in the more immediate term to initiate a 24 hour drop-in centre, he urged.

Cr Banks appreciated his support, saying again that “we can’t wait around”, and that raising the idea in public was important, so people can see we are “not sitting silent”.

Photo at top: Councillors standing for prayer at the start of last night’s meeting.



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Council must lead on youth crime, fund drop-in centre: Marli Banks


By ERWIN CHLANDA

A councillor will challenge the town’s local government tonight to not only to become a leader in the fight against juvenile crime, but to put money into outfitting a building as a 24/7 youth drop-in centre.

Cr Marli Banks says she was moved to act by the death of Shane Powell (at right) who was the victim of a hit and run by youths in a stolen car.

She says not only should the Town Council offer its sincere condolences to the family, but move beyond talk to practical action, and establish the centre to be run in collaboration with the police and publicly funded Aboriginal organisations.

“This family’s extreme loss is felt by the community as a whole,” says Cr Banks (pictured at the Old Timers fete in 2017).

“We need to stand by their side and against these extreme acts of violence.

“We need community resolution which is tough.

“The leadership in council, especially the Mayor, needs to step up in this space, ensuring a coordinated effort.”

Cr Banks says there needs to be more clarity about much debated constraints on the police to act, given the “silence and absence” of the government: “It is now the council’s role to step up. Directions need to be given. The community is looking to the council.

“Issues of discrimination and human rights must also be clarified.”

The council will need to get up to speed on dealing with the social issues involved, and get advice from established groups, but it already can “look at resourcing infrastructure”.

The time has come for the council to “move beyond rates, roads and rubbish” and work more closely with local groups, says Cr Banks.

“What we need is leadership. We are passing the buck. What I’m hearing loud and clear from people is the leaders are not doing enough in this space.”

Who are the leaders she is referring to?

“Where is the Mayor on this? I am disappointed that I have not seen a position of the council on this.

Phil Alice (foreground) addressing the council in November, 2017, seeking collaboration.

“When I first came to council there was an approach by members of the Indigenous community to work with them, which was rejected by the majority of council.

“I voted for it. I worked to ensure that [issues of] anti social behaviour get tabled.”

Can the council afford to outfit a building as a drop-in centre?

“That has never been discussed in the first three years of this council. There is not an appetite by elected members to address crime and anti-social behaviour.

“We have a year left of this council. I don’t have all the information to say, yes, we can afford it.

“But I know the council is financially stable.”

Asked whether she would raise the issue at tonight’s council meeting, Cr Banks said: “I am compelled to raise it. Absolutely. I am going to ask the question, what is our ability to support a drop-in centre, in response to the family tragedy our community has been witness to.

“We have an obligation to work towards a solution.”

PHOTO at top: The Alice Springs police station (at left in the photo) in 2008. The building is now empty. The police have moved across the road. Could the vacant building be repurposed as a youth drop-in centre?



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Support Active People, Healthy Nation by Empowering Youth to Get Moving


The Active People, Healthy Nation initiative from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a mission of helping 27 million Americans become physically active and “creating an active America, together.”

There are three distinct elements involved in reaching that 27 million milestone: (1) inspiring inactive individuals to perform at least one 10-minute session of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, (2) motivating people who are already somewhat active to perform enough physical activity to meet the minimum aerobic physical activity guidelines and (3) empowering youth to be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day.

The third of those three elements addresses an age group that has seen consistent declines in physical activity participation in recent decades, for various reasons. In most of the U.S., youth have been negatively impacted by the decline in physical-activity requirements in schools. Around the globe, this is coupled with an increase in sedentary recreational activities like viewing social media and streaming video, computer gaming, and watching television.  

Youth can achieve substantial health benefits by performing bouts of moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity that add up to 60 minutes or more each day. This should include cardiorespiratory activities as well as age-appropriate muscle- and bone-strengthening exercises. Bone-strengthening activities are especially critical for children and young adolescents, because the greatest gains in bone mass occur during the period just before and during puberty.

Behaviors established at a young age have a high probability of persisting into adulthood. Of course, this cuts both ways. While it’s true that physically inactive youth are likely to remain inactive into adulthood, the opposite is also true, as active youth are likely to remain active as they get older. This is why it’s so important for adults—including health coaches and exercise professionals, as well as parents and other caregivers—to model enjoyable and consistent physical activity.

Inspiring children to be more active requires understanding the child and their interests and motivations. While recreational and competitive sports are a great way to provide opportunities to be active, for some children, especially those whose motor skills are less developed or who have overweight or obesity, the competitive atmosphere can be defeating. You can have a positive impact on a child’s perception of exercise by ensuring that activities are fun for the child and appeal to their unique interests. For example, a child interested in science may enjoy a hike to collect flower or rock specimens, while a child with a high sense of adventure may enjoy bouldering or rock climbing. Activities like dancing, bouncing on a trampoline and riding a bike or skateboard are all fun ways to increase cardiorespiratory activity.

Encourage children to try new modalities and experiment as they look for activities they find pleasurable. It is important that children understand that exercise involves simply moving the body and that everyone can enjoy movement.



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