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Work has begun on the Alternative to Custody Centre on Groote.

The centre will not have any fencing – but it is being built in a remote spot on the Marble Point

Track, which means anyone leaving on foot will have a long way to walk through the bush to

reach Umbakumba.

“Nobody will be contained,” says Anindilyakwa Land Council infrastructure and development

manager Matt Houston.

Specially-designed accommodation will house up to 25 residents of all ages, plus staff, with

plenty of room for expansion.

“It’s an alternative to sending people to Darwin for juvenile detention or prison,” says Mr


“People offending on Groote are being locked up in Darwin then sent home, where they often


Residents will undergo skills training and cultural education to help them rediscover pride in

belonging to the oldest continuous civilisation on earth

“We want to provide a facility that can build skills and help people become rehabilitated,” says

Mr Houston.

The Alternative to Custody Centre is costing $2 million, potentially increasing to $6 million if

expansion goes ahead.

The Territory Government reiterated its support for the centre in the Budget.

Territory Families Minister Kate Warden says residents will be involved in:

● community service – picking up rubbish and gardening;

● pathway opportunities – training and work experience; and

● community engagement – on-country cultural activities.

“These programs aim to reintegrate young people into training and work experience

opportunities to steer them away from future offending.

“Community Youth Diversion aims to direct young people away from the formal youth justice

system, by helping to build strategies so they don’t reoffend and providing services that improve

their chances of a positive future.

“Supporting young people to participate in youth diversion facilitates an avenue to take

responsibility for their actions and behaviour, while supporting them to learn new skills and get

back on the right path for a brighter and safer future.”

Ms Warden says community-led solutions are the best solutions – the Alternative to Custody

Centre was the idea of the Anindilyakwa Land Council.

“Creating more on-country youth diversion will provide better outcomes for our young people,

while also making productive immediate consequences available.

“By providing youth diversion, we aim to divert children and young people away from the youth

justice system, intervening early and providing opportunities for these young people to

understand the consequences of their actions and repair the harm their offending may have