Amidst the media focus on youth crime…positive youth programs & activities are in danger of being lost

With the imminent closure of 4 remote youth programs in central Australia and the banning of the remote community football league from being played in Alice Springs, remote Aboriginal youth now have even less to look forward to and little support and activities to engage with in their home communities.

Due to static funding with no indexing since 2017, youth programs in remote central Australia are preparing to close. Without additional funding, NPY Women’s Council youth programs in Imanpa NT, Irrunytju (Wingellina WA), Mantamaru (Jameson WA) and Papulankutja (Blackstone WA) will be forced to shut down in July 2023. While NPYWC has been propping programs up financially from savings, the ever increasing costs now make these programs financially unviable.

Youth programs in remote communities offer young people activities, engagement, case management and pathways for education and employment.

Without these programs,  community life can be fairly bleak. Young people are engaged and encouraged through youth programs with  sport, culture and bush trips, health and social programs, discos, pizza nights …all the things young people in urban and regional centres have ready access to.

Anangu youth worker Shalaylee Coombes expects that more young people will look to travel or move to towns like Alice Springs given the lack of options for sport, skill development and entertainment out bush.

“there are not a lot of options for us out bush, I think it will be really boring for us, more people will want to come to Alice Springs”

There needs to be an equal opportunity for all young people to access basic sports and social activities….

Football is such a positive focus in remote communities – the Alice Springs Town Council’s ban of remote community football being played in Alice Springs facilities is underscored by the lack of field and support infrastructure out bush to play these games. Many communities lack properly maintained ovals, properly accredited umpires and support staff to help run a smooth and safe competition in community. Even access to proper first aid/emergency services to deal with sporting injuries is not guaranteed.

Selwyn  from Amata Young Suns football team says:

There’s two things that I think can bring people of any background or colour together, sport and music. In the APY lands we have our amazing music that brings us together, and football. When the fellas set their mind on winning a premiership, they become driven and motivated. When they have that to focus on, and the feeling of being part of a team, they want to train and stay healthy. It brings them pride. Having that taken away has made us feel like we’re not worth it.

NPYWC encourages the equitable development of Football competitions on the NPY lands and with support from the AFL NT, NPYWC will be hosting a women’s tri-state 9’s competition March 30-31 at one of the few “comp ready” ovals out bush in Yulara, NT.

Without football comps in Alice Springs and the abrupt ending of youth programs, there need to be alternatives put in place for young people to engage with, be supported by and look forward to. As we all know, removing positive activities without putting alternatives in place will not reduce bad youth behaviour, it will only make it worse. There needs to be an equal opportunity for all young people to access basic sports and social activities.

Read more about the Youth Team