Home Youth service COVID-19 staffing shortages hamper rollout of Alice Springs City Camp Youth Program

COVID-19 staffing shortages hamper rollout of Alice Springs City Camp Youth Program

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Staffing shortages have delayed the rollout of a new youth development program at camps in the town of Alice Springs.

The municipal camps of Karnte and Nyewente (Trucks) were chosen last year as pilot sites for the scheme, designed to provide “safe spaces” for young people away from the Alice Springs CBD.

It came in response to a review which found that a 24-hour youth drop-in center in the Alice Springs CBD likely led to more young people ending up on the streets at night.

The replacement scheme, implemented by Tangentyere Council with funding from the Northern Territory Government, was due to start during the summer holidays and run seven days a week for six months.

Tangentyere council said residents of Karnte and Nyewente municipal camps had requested a minimum of indoor activities due to the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Tangentyere Council chief executive Walter Shaw said COVID-19 had also caused “unavoidable delays” in the full staffing of the programme, with the Nyewente youth center operating four days a week and the center for Karnte open five days, both until 9 p.m.

Mr Shaw said around 300 young people signed up for Tangentyere’s youth program over the summer holidays, including 78 children from the two tryouts in the town.

An average of 56 young people attended the territory’s family-funded youth services on Gap Road and Brown Street each day during the school holidays, according to a Northern Territory government spokesperson.

Blair McFarland has lived in Central Australia for over 30 years and has worked primarily in the youth sector trying to tackle substance abuse. (ABC News: Melissa Mackay)

Advocates say youth services need more funding

Central Australia Youth Link-Up Service (CAYLUS) operations manager Blair McFarland said he was not aware that any youth programs run by the Tangentyere Council had started until mid-January.

He also argued that there was a direct correlation between well-funded youth programs and a drop in juvenile delinquency.

“Before, there was more money floating around in grants and things like that, but it’s really dried up,” Mr McFarland said.

“Besides a reduction in funding, there is no real plan for what is happening with young people in this region.”