BushMob shuts doors due to safety concerns
The Northern Territory's only remote youth detention alternative has shut down, blaming inaction by the government on security and safety issues leading to breakouts.
BushMob's sentenced youth boot camp pilot program had been running at Loves Creek Station, 90km east of Alice Springs, for more than a year.
But the rehabilitation centre says the government failed to fix inappropriate infrastructure that has led to escapes, including the five teenagers who absconded from the facility and went on a crime spree last Friday.
"Territory Families expected us to run their trial program for high risk young people without a reliable phone communication system, lighting, security cameras or basic fencing nor access to adequate water and power supply," BushMob Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Will MacGregor said.
"This is unacceptable by anyone's standards."
Mr MacGregor said the facility lacked the infrastructure to respond in emergencies or overcome problems like blind spots at night.
"It is extremely sad that these issues have overshadowed the good work of the dedicated BushMob team, local Indigenous people, and the traditional owners running the camp and the efforts of the many young people who benefited and excelled during the pilot," he said.
But Territory Families Minister Dale Wakefield says the department has given significant support to BushMob, but will partner with a new group to deliver diversion schemes.
"They have been provided with $2.4 million over an 18-month period to deliver the program, and I'm disappointed that they feel they can't effectively run (it)," she said.
The department says over the previous 10 months it has invested $110,900 into infrastructure upgrades including universal locks and steel lock plates, air- conditioning to all rooms, road-grading and a new generator. Additional works to the value of $180,000 are planned this financial year.
The NT has the highest rate of youngsters behind bars, and Territory Families is working on an exit strategy to ensure that the kids referred to BushMob are able to complete the initiative.
IMAGE/16 year-old Iasha poses for a fashion photoshoot outside Alice Springs, Friday, May 29, 2015. Iasha, who wants to become a model, is taking part in a 16-week program at BushMob, an organisation that takes in young people at risk, between the ages of 12 and 25 for aiming to combat petrol sniffing, alcohol and marijuana abuse. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)