SNAICC in the News – Mparntwe/Alice Springs curfew

A two-week curfew for all children and young people has been imposed on Mparntwe/Alice Springs, banning anyone under the age of eighteen from entering the city’s CBD between 6 pm and 6 am.

In an attempt to reduce youth crime, the Northern Territory government declared a fourteen-day curfew for children in Mparntwe/Alice Springs, which went into effect on Wednesday, 27 March. The curfew has been imposed after hundreds of people were involved in altercations in the city as family tensions rose following the death of a teenager.

Speaking on the situation and the ongoing developments, SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle has, over the last week, engaged with the media and published an opinion piece through The Guardian on the situation. Catherine is an Arrernte/Luritja woman whose home is Mparntwe and is uniquely positioned to speak specifically on the issues affecting the safety and wellbeing of the children and young people of Mparntwe.

Catherine has said that the community’s top priorities should be to make sure that the children are safe, that they have places to go and that families who are vulnerable are supported. She has urged leaders at all levels and representatives from businesses and organisations to work together and find common ground on short, medium and long-term solutions so Alice Springs is a safe place for children.

UPDATE: 8 April
The curfew could be extended throughout the school holidays.

Catherine Liddle and Police Commissioner Michael Murphy will join other stakeholders to decide whether to extend the date until children return to school on April 15. They are due to meet this week to discuss extending the curfew, which was originally planned to end on Wednesday, 10 April.

UPDATE: 9 April
Following meetings between Northern Territory authorities, the curfew imposed on youths in Mparntwe/Alice Springs has been extended for another six days.

Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Eva Lawler announced the extension on Tuesday afternoon, 9 April, to coincide with the remainder of the Territory’s school holidays. The curfew, which was originally imposed for two weeks, prohibits anyone under 18 from being in public in the town between 6pm-6am.

UPDATE: 17 April
The youth curfew has been lifted in Mparntwe/Alice Springs.

The Alice Springs youth curfew came to an end on Tuesday morning, 16 April, after 20 days. Children and young people can now visit the CBD at night.

Catherine Liddle spoke on the curfew on Tuesday, 16 April, acknowledging that the circuit-breaker solution needs to now be pivoted to focus on community-driven medium and long-term approaches to the youth crisis. Catherine called on all three layers of government to step in and listen to the community on what services are needed and to ensure that safe points are available for families and children. 

UPDATE: 24 May
According to reports, The Northern Territory government has not engaged with Alice Springs Aboriginal leaders to discuss long-term strategies to address the root causes of youth crime, one month on from the end of a controversial youth curfew.

Catherine Liddle talked about how small, practical solutions could make a big difference in Alice Springs. One such solution would be the introduction of a community hub in the town, where families could engage with representatives from all key services as well as early education and care. She stated that more immediate measures were desperately needed to address long-term solutions to the curfew’s underlying causes.

For complete coverage, read the news and media stories linked below.

News Story: Youth curfew declared in Alice Springs after unrest – 7.30 (ABC News) (broadcast 28 March)


“… we are a community in distress, we are a community that needs some healing, we are a community that really needs the next two weeks to think about how we move past short-term solutions into long-term solutions.
… what we’d like is for all of those dollars [a 250-million-dollar Federal Government pledge] to line up, what we’d like is for all of those policies to line up and what we’d like is an opportunity for our community to heal and get past this extraordinary distress.” – Catherine Liddle

Watch the full segment

Op-ed: Right now our Indigenous children are not safe – but locking them up is no solution – Catherine Liddle – The Guardian (published 29 March)


“But my primary concern has to be the safety of our children.
And right now our children are not safe. They are being exposed to levels of violence that are completely unacceptable and are putting themselves at risk.
This is not our way. It is not our culture. My culture has more than 60,000 years of successfully raising happy, healthy, thriving children and that experience must be recognised and valued.”

Read the full piece

Article: Alice Springs, Australia: A town has imposed a curfew on its children as it grapples with youth crime – CNN World (published 29 March)


“…Catherine Liddle, CEO of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), said Indigenous children are being exposed to unacceptable levels of violence.
“We cannot arrest our way out of this,” she wrote. “Alcohol and substance abuse is a symptom as well as one of the drivers and it is not the only one … It is no accident that we are seeing youth crime escalating as rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child removals grow.”

Read the full article

Article: NT Police makes more arrests over Alice Springs unrest as youth curfew continues – ABC News (published 29 March)


“What we’re hearing on the ground from our communities is that we need a circuit breaker,” Arrernte and Luritja woman Catherine Liddle said.
… the government has to get out and talk to the services about what’s going wrong, talk to all elements, and that includes police, social services, health services — it’s everyone that has skin in the game on this,” she said.”

Read the full article

Article: Calls for long-term solutions in Alice Springs after two-week youth curfew ends – ABC News (published 31 March)


“Ms Liddle said now was the time for the government to talk to services on the ground, including police, social services, health services and “everyone that has skin in the game”, especially children.
“More importantly it includes children that are affected, families that are affected and the broader community who live and breathe this every single day,” she said.”

Read the full article

Radio Story: Calm in Alice Springs following youth curfew – ABC News (broadcast 1 April)


Catherine Liddle: There is no evidence to suggest that curfews by themselves work but what we do know is that there has been an extraordinary effort out there in the community to work with children. I believe 127 children have been engaged with and what does engaged mean? It means they’ve had a chat with social workers or been advised of the curfew from police and that’s meant significant follow-up so that families are getting support that they need.”

Listen to the full report

Article: Alice Springs youth curfew extension on the table – The Canberra Times (published 8 April)


“The two-week youth curfew was imposed on March 27 when the NT government declared an emergency following escalating violence in the red centre.
The curfew covered the Easter period and the start of the school holidays, but concerns have been raised over the end date.
Catherine Liddle, who runs [SNAICC], and Police Commissioner Michael Murphy will join other stakeholders to decide whether to extend the date until children return to school on April 15.”

Read the full article

Article: The Alice Springs curfew has been extended – NITV (published 9 April)

“The curfew imposed on youths in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) has been extended by six days, following ’emergency meetings’ between Northern Territory authorities.
Originally imposed for a two-week period following unrest in the town, the curfew prohibits anyone under 18 from being in public in the town between 6pm-6am.
The extension coincides with the remainder of the school holidays in the territory, and was announced by Chief Minister Eva Lawley on Tuesday afternoon.”
Read the full article

Article: Australia is obsessed with a ‘youth crime crisis’ in Alice Springs, but we risk ignoring the root problems – ABC News (published 12 April)


“The response to the curfew has been mixed.
Some residents want it to be in place indefinitely.
It underlines the seriousness of the situation to see some Aboriginal organisations support the curfew as a temporary circuit-breaker, although some do so reluctantly.
For others — including the lawyers who represent Aboriginal kids in court on a daily basis — this is a damaging knee-jerk reaction.”

Read the full article

Radio: Youth curfew lifted in Alice Springs. – The World Today (ABC Radio) (broadcast 16 April)


“The way we’ve all been looking at the curfew is that it was part of a circuit-breaker, so that’s multiple things working all at once to give everyone a break.
What we saw was a collision of extraordinary events and I think the circuit-breaker was well needed.
I think people have had a chance to catch their breath, everyone’s now looking forward to how we move forward as a community and ensuring that we do, absolutely, have a real focus on community-driven medium and long-term approaches to our youth crisis.”

Listen to the full interview

Radio: Radio interview with Stewart Brash – Alice Springs Breakfast (ABC Radio) (broadcast 16 April) (timestamp: 1:13:21)


“…governments – that’s all three layers of government… have to step in… and go ‘okay, are those services missing? Are we listening to the community? Those people that we are set up to serve and ensuring that those safe places – those safe points of access – are available.’
Certainly, one of the things we’ve put forward… is a hub where families can go to, particularly… families who are really experiencing severe marginalisation, and that is a hub where services are actually there.
So, [people] are accessing them, [people] don’t need to go looking for them…”

Listen to the full interview

Radio: The curfew in Alice Springs is over; but did it work? – SBS News (broadcast 17 April)


“This particular curfew is significantly different [from the Intervention] in that we’re talking about 300 square meters for a very short period of time. Like any tipping point, you need a circuit breaker, and I think this is a circuit breaker that was needed, and curfews by themselves don’t work. But what it gave the town was a bit of breathing space, a bit of time for organisations and businesses to come together, for government to say, ‘how do we do these things differently?'” – Catherine Liddle.

Listen to the full report

Article: Alice Springs leaders struggle to meet with government as it prepares to pass controversial curfew bill – ABC News (published 21 May)


Arrernte and Luritja woman Catherine Liddle is the chief executive of SNAICC, the national peak body for Indigenous children and families.
She said while the recent NT budget had delivered $100 million for education and $223 million for remote housing, more immediate measures were desperately needed.
She suggested the introduction of a community hub in town, potentially on the town council lawns, where families could engage with representatives from all key services as well as early education and care.
“[The curfew] unearthed the 100 little things that could actually be being done right now, to ensure that we never have to walk into an environment where we’re even talking about something as draconian as curfews ever again,” she said.

Read the full article

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