Mayor Calls for Youth Strategy

Better co-ordination of existing youth service providers is critical to better address the needs of Alice Springs youth said Mayor Damien Ryan.

Speaking at a public forum in Alice Springs on Thursday, the Mayor joined a panel of local leaders to discuss key challenges facing the town. He stressed the need for an overarching body to better service the town.

“It’s disappointing that there are so many youth service providers in town but there is no overarching plan” he said.

Alice Desert Leadership Program participant and local Indigenous woman Donna Lemon echoed the Mayor’s comments and stated that many young people lacked role models to teach respect.

“The thing that’s missing from this generation is respect and programs like Clontarf and Girls at the Centre are perfect for our young women and men,” she said.

She raised concerns that many young people were ‘falling through the gaps’ and had no role model to teach discipline.

Another Desert Leadership Participant, Fionn Muster, said the community as a whole needed to take ownership of the problem.

Aboriginal leader and commentator, Bess Price, talked about the changes in Aboriginal communities over the years and called on the whole community to get behind parents and children so that they could grow up well.

The Q&A style panel was hosted by local ABC radio personality Stewart Brash. Key focus areas of audience interest were how the town could support young people and the role of leadership tackling some of the seemingly intractable challenges in Alice Springs.

Desert Knowledge Australia CEO and organiser John Huigen said the forum highlighted a range of public concerns and the importance of leadership in helping to address them.

”The Alice Springs Desert Leadership program has taken on 19 local and ambitious people who are all keen and contributing to tackling these issues” he said.

The forum was organised by Desert Knowledge Australia and hosted by Charles Darwin University, who last night announced $100k sponsorship of the Alice Springs Desert Leadership Program. It featured an intercultural panel of local leaders consisting Mayor Damien Ryan, senior Walpiri woman Bess Price and Alice Springs Desert Leadership Program participants Lyndon Frearson, Donna Lemon and Fionn Muster.

Desert Knowledge Australia is a national organisation headquartered in Alice Springs that aims to help build a stronger and more sustainable society and economy in the desert.

Media contact: Rebecca Farrell, 0418 210 981,