The iconic central Australian city of Alice Springs has become a lawless outpost where up to 200 children are roaming the streets at night, breaking in to houses, stealing cars and setting them alight.
Locals say they’re living in fear and forced to hide indoors as children – some of them as young as five – run riot.
And when police are called, no-one answers or officers are too busy elsewhere to attend.
Other outback towns like Tennant Creek are also reeling from a wave of violence and armed break-ins by teenagers, with the common factor being the lifting of alcohol bans.
Problems were ‘immediate’ when the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act ceased on July 17, 2022, meaning alcohol was suddenly legal and available for the first time in many of the Territory’s indigenous town camps since 2007.
An Alice Springs man posted this video of the five children who broke into his Tennant Creek house, where they spent 30 minutes trashing the place before leaving
The owner’s security camera caught this person carrying a knife when the kids broke in, unperturbed by the alarm and ate his food and watched Tv before trashing the place
Wearing a football jumper as a mask, this young man tried to break in to Alice Spring’s oldest pub, the Todd Tavern last weekend by doing a running jump at the metal shutter.
The Australian newspaper and Radio 2GB have reported that kids are drinking alcohol, ‘sometimes in the form of hand sanitiser diluted in soft drinks, or consuming deodorant, petrol or glue’.
The soaring crime rate in Alice Springs in particular has come into sharp focus with a campaign by local man Darren Clarke and his Action For Alice Facebook page.
In a 2GB video posted on his page, Mr Clarke begged PM Anthony Albanese to ‘get up here mate, it’s so bad, you do not know how bad this is.
‘All the violence and abuse that happened to children in the Northern Territory on remote communities, in homes in this town, the violence on our streets.
‘It’s not a racial problem, it’s a behavioural problem. The whole town is suffering. It doesn’t matter what colour you are.
Youth caught on camera fleeing after breaking into the Red Centre Office Technology premises in Alice Springs
Cars are regularly stolen, broken into and torched in Alice Springs, meaning residents cannot leave their vehicles unattended in the street
A female on a street in the middle of Alice Springs wielding a metal pole is caught on camera after reports of a person attacking cars opposite McDonalds with what appeared to be a star picket
Incidents posted on Mr Clarke Facebook page just in the 48 hours until Monday morning included a woman threatening cars with a star picket or metal pole on a main Alice Springs street across from McDonalds and a service station.
Another video showed a young man with a football jumper covering his face trying to break in to Alice Spring’s oldest pub, the Todd Tavern, by doing a running jump at the metal shutter.
‘They don’t discriminate. They attack you. These kids are crying for help. They’ve got no mentors,’ Mr Clarke said.
‘I’ll take you round to some of these kids and have a sit down with them mate . Listen to the kids.
‘Listen to what they see in their homes. The blood splattered on the walls, the cries their aunties bashed on the ground.
‘It’s time, people. You want a voice Albo, you want a voice? Come up here.’
Indigenous radio station, the Central Australia Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) posted images of its second break-in in a week and fifth in 12 months writing: ‘We are all victims in this town. We join the long list of victims in this town.’
Another poster described their terrifying experience when shutting up shop at the Cignall tobacco store when ‘6-7 kids entered the shop’ and started grabbing things.
When the man screamed at them and pushed the last kid out, they started banging on the glass windows.
He posted: ‘How long do we have to live like this, scared to hell even to go to work?
‘They were still there in front of Pizza hut… I was fearing they will notice my car n do some damage later on or follow me. I had to wait till they went out of sight.’
One post on Sunday read: ‘Beware. Rock throwers, Billy goat hill’, referring to a location near the town’s K-Mart and KFC stores.
One post on Darren Clarke’s Action for Alice Facebook page warning residents last weekend simply read ‘Beware, rock throwers, Billy goat hill’
The five children who broke into Pietje Span’s home in Tennant Creek seemed unfazed by the alarm or being caught on security camera and brazenly lounged about the house before leaving
One post showed a photograph taken last Thursday evening of police vehicles parked outside a bottle shop with two mounted police on horseback, with the comment: ‘Have we ever seen this number of police at one place when no emergency?’.
The post referred to the fact that the Northern Territory Police Minister Kate Wordern and NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker had flown in to Alice Springs to launch a crime blitz as a result of media pressure.
Officers arrested locals for drinking in a public place and put in police trucks a number of children who were taken back out to their town camps.
Alice Springs and Tennant Creek have about 25 of the Territory’s 43 town camps in their vicinity.
The Facebook post on Action for Alice 2020 mocked the visit, saying both officials should ‘resign in shame or be sacked’, saying the show of force was ‘almost comical… after a week of screaming, fighting and no police attendance when calling 000’.
This club was broken into at 1am and alcohol was stolen, and when police were called they were ‘too busy’ to attend the incident
Indigenous man Marcus Casey-Kirkman said when incidents like the liquor theft occur that’s ‘why young fellas like me who are working get looked at bad’. Above (right) PK Crash Repairs shop broken into in Alice Springs
On Sunday, educational community liaison officer Pietje Span posted a video of children breaking into his house 500km north of Alice Springs at Tennant Creek, after midnight on January 19.
The video recorded by his Eufy security system at 12.14am clearly shows five children, one armed with a knife, setting off the alarm as they entered his house.
Mr Span said the children spent ‘about 30 minutes inside’, had something to eat, watched TV, made ‘a huge mess’ and stole his belongings.
He said he posted the footage ‘for the families of these children – I am hoping you will see this and be ashamed of their actions.
‘The police had been notified the same morning as the break in, but have not shown up for reasons unknown.
Locals were not impressed when the NT police minister and commissioner flew in, saying the police presence was almost comical compared to incidents when police didn’t respond to triple-0 calls
Smashed wall (left) at the indigenous radio station in Alice Springs and back windscreen of a car (right)
‘To the families of these children – I would like you to talk with them. Do whatever is needed now to stop this, to stop them going down the wrong path.
‘I have cared for and guided Aboriginal youth in the NT for a number of years, I am aware of the issues that face these kids but if anything is to change, it must come from the families of these children.
‘Please do not post hateful or racist remarks/comments, they aren’t helpful – this is purely for the families of these children.’
A young Aboriginal man, Marcus Casey-Kirkman, posted a comment on the Facebook page below a report about a break-in and theft of alcohol at an Alice Springs club writing, ‘Yeah nah that’s fu**ed that’s why young fellas like me who are working get looked at bad when we go there on our lunch breaks from work.
‘These mob wrecking it for all of us because we getting painted with the same brush.’
A Caucasian woman posted on Tik-Tok an expletive-ridden rant about the violence and lawlessness, saying ‘if you are the parents of f***ing kids, under 16 and they’re out f***ing running amok, and trashing the streets, you’re to f***ing blame.
‘I don’t want to hear about f***ing colour and race, it’s got nothing to f***ing do with anything.’
This woman recorded an expletive-laden video on Tik-Tok , saying it was not about race, but admonishing parents who let their children ‘run amok’ on the streets
Violence in the streets, cars stolen and burnt, children roaming Alice Springs on alcohol and drugs are al caught on the video made by local Darren Clarke who has begged the PM to visit
Local Alice Springs MP Marion Scrymgour (above with Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney) said said the removal of the grog ban had led to a level of violence she had never encountered
Local MP, Marion Scrymgour, member for the federal seat of Lingiari, said the removal of the grog ban with the Stronger Futures law lapsing had led to a level of violence she had never encountered.
‘I just find it unacceptable in this day and age that the violence against Aboriginal women in this town raises very little urgency from anyone – it’s appalling,’ Ms Scrymgour told The Australia.
‘There’s the issue of young people and the level of lawlessness and disrespect amongst those young people.
‘They don’t respect law or culture anymore and then there’s the adults and the level of violence, and it’s not just male on male or male on female, there’s a really bad level of violence of female on female and particularly under the influence of alcohol.
‘I’ve seen some horrific fights in and around the town area of Alice Springs where women are just drunk and just stomping on (other women’s) heads.’
The Alice springs radio station CAAMA issued a statement pleading for ‘leadership and government accountability here on the ground to work to listen to our people … in restoring law and order so our towns and communities are safe’.