A Territory Families’ review of the 24-hour YORET Hub trial in Alice Springs has recommended its closure.
- A review of the YORET Hub found the service was increasing the number of young people in the CBD after midnight
- Young people are being drawn to it because it was a new place to hang out
- Minister Kate Worden says the hub will close, to be replaced by three drop-in centres in town camps
The review found the youth outreach and re-engagement team (YORET) hub had led to more young people being on the streets in the early hours and said the program would be better run by non-government organisations.
Operating 24 hours a day during school holidays and from Friday to Sunday during term, the hub was opened to curb youth crime in Alice Springs by moving young people away from the CBD at night.
However, the review found the hub — which cost more than $300,000 between November 2020 and March 2021— likely led to more young people being in the town’s centre late at night.
It said the hub “likely facilitated” young people being away from home for longer by creating a place where they could take a break, eat and use the toilet.
Before the trial period, very few young people were reportedly on the street after 3am but that changed after the hub began operating around the clock.
The review’s findings come as no surprise to Gap Youth CEO Michelle Krauer, whose service saw a dramatic reduction in attendance during the hub’s trial period.
Operating until 10:30pm during school holidays, her numbers halved this summer.
“Young people were coming here during the day and going there later in the evening.”
The review found the youth Hub attracted young people away from the other two existing, well-attended services instead of capturing young people who were unserviced by existing activities.
“It’s quite reflective of what we expected when the announcement came that it was going to happen,” she said.
The report found that Indigenous organisations already in the space were better placed to run drop-in centres than Territory Families.
It also reccomended that existing services be funded to operate additional hours.
Neighbours felt unsafe
Minister for Territory Families Kate Worden said the government wanted to act quickly to address anti-social behaviour in the town’s CBD.
“There was a spike in activity and there was also a large number of people that were in the CBD. That was unprecedented,” Ms Worden said.
“We had to be agile, we already had a space where young people were engaging [during the] day time.”
The report detailed on-going issues for residents of the area who complained of “yelling, screams … and hooning cars.”
Neighbours also reported “not feeling safe due to being yelled at by young people.”
Minister Worden said that residents were briefly consulted but said the government’s priority was to take action.
Youth hubs in town camps
The hub will operate 24 hours a day in the July school holidays, but Ms Worden said the government would change tack as a result of the report.
She said it would spend $500,000 to open three new drop-in centres in Alice Springs town camps, where more than half of the hub’s clients live, but did not give a timeline for those projects.
Member for Braitling Joshua Burgoyne welcomed the move and said the government was in talks with Tangentyere Council to run the new programs.
“This is something that really needs to be up and running by Christmas. That’s six months away.”
The report said these programs could facilitate the closure of the youth hub in the CBD.