Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Working with families to protect children

Joint Media Release with:

  • Karl Hampton MLA, Minister for Central Australia
    Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery

Early intervention services, which draw on kinship ties of Aboriginal people to build strong families and protect children, are being established in the Alice Springs town camps and surrounding areas under the Alice Springs Transformation Plan.

Through the $980,000 Family Group Conferencing program, families will be encouraged to work with teams of health and welfare professionals to develop their own plan to keep their children safe and healthy.

A Community Justice Centre mediator, a part-time Family Group Conferencing Coordinator and Aboriginal co-convenors will conduct conferences with parents and extended families to support them taking an active role in caring for their children.

This announcement was made while the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, the Northern Territory Minister for Central Australia, Karl Hampton, and the Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, visited the Little Sisters town camp in Alice Springs where a massive clean up is underway as part of the $150 million Alice Springs Transformation Plan.

Prisoner work gangs have already started working outside Hoppy’s Camp and workers from Ingkerreke are on the ground at Little Sisters as part of a major clean up and ‘fix and make safe’ program.

Skip bins have been delivered to the camps and the inspection of sewers has started in Little Sisters. Residents of little Sisters are helping contractors remove rubbish from their yards. Clean ups will commence later in the week in Morris Soak, Hoppy’s and Palmer’s camps

Ms Macklin said the clean up will pave the way for the construction of 85 new houses, essential infrastructure and significant rebuilds and refurbishments of existing houses that are in poor condition.

‘Work is finally underway to change the lives of town camp residents. Building houses and fixing infrastructure demonstrates the Governments’ commitment to an accelerated and concerted effort to deliver essential services and infrastructure to the children and families of the Alice Springs town camps,’ Ms Macklin said.

‘No child can be safe or healthy in a hopelessly overcrowded house where there is no stove or fridge in the kitchen, no running water in the bathroom and no sewage services.’

Mr Hampton said the Family Group Conferencing program would help build stronger families.

‘The independent Aboriginal convenors will engage in a respectful way to find solutions and develop formal agreements to what are often very complex problems,’ Mr Hampton said.

‘We need to work in new ways to reduce the number of children caught up in the child protection system and build the capacity of families to make sure the wellbeing of their children comes first.’

Mr Snowdon said the town camp cleanup together with the Family Group Conferencing program would help establish a well rounded approach.

‘We know that fixing housing and facilities alone won’t be enough, so we’re introducing this program to provide support for families so we can all share in healthier outcomes for the long term,’ Mr Snowdon said.

Through the Alice Springs Transformation Plan, the Australian and Northern Territory Governments have also committed funding for a number of projects, including:

  • A Communities for Children site will be established to deliver Family support services, receiving a total of $3 million over the next three years;
  • A joint Centrelink-Alice Springs Transformation Plan Case Management Project to link town camp residents and visitors with support services, especially for those who are homeless or sleeping rough;
  • $100,000 for an additional alcohol counsellor;
  • Over $1.5 million to the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress to enhance and expand the Targeted Family Support Program which provides intensive case management for individual families; and
  • Nearly $90,000 to continue the effective dog management program in the town camps.