Alice Springs

Suffer the Little Children of Alice Springs

4 May 2022

3 MINS

In the town of Alice Springs and surrounding communities, there are children in need, not always receiving the things we consider basic human rights.

In our Sunday service recently, a couple of young boys worshipped Jesus, singing with all their hearts, and two little girls around the age of four danced with actions in worship! It was so glorious!

Neglect

Also recently, a three-year-old boy went missing, from his remote community one evening. He was found the next morning, but soon after died due to injuries incurred by camp dogs (the mixed breed dogs that roam freely around most communities.) A four-year-old girl was flown into town from a remote community, needing all her baby teeth removed as they had rotted from having too many sugary drinks.

We see lots of children who don’t always have adequate food and hygiene. We have seen very tiny babies and children with problems such as failure to thrive, and heart problems such as rheumatic heart disease, flown to the capital cities for treatment.

The parents of these little ones are indeed grown-up children who suffered the same neglect and poverty, facing many barriers to health, education, and meaningful occupation, now lost in addictions to alcohol, gunja, and gambling. It’s often the grandmothers who do the parenting and caring, despite their own failing health.

Nightlife

My husband recently drove through town at 2am in the morning. He was shocked at how many children were roaming the streets of Alice Springs, ranging from teenagers down to young ones around the age of eight.

His passenger, an Aboriginal Pastor, explained that since the Intervention, the children’s reply to any form of discipline was “we’ll call the police”.  There is a lack of respect from young adults for their parents and elders, and a lack of parental authority and discipline by the parents. We know of cases where adult children steal money from their own parents who are less technologically aware.

During the night, adult family members drink together, while their children roam the streets together in groups, and the reputation of Alice Springs continues to dive as people get weary of the repeated vandalism of their businesses and property.

The neglect and abuse of children, which goes so strongly against our natural God-given desires to love and protect our offspring, is evidence of shattered and broken parents.

Trauma Upon Trauma

Levels of domestic violence and sexual abuse are very high here, and the little ones are witnesses. We have heard about some cases of very early sexualisation of children. We see many very young mothers. Then there is the high rate of youth suicide and the highest rates in the country of sexually transmitted diseases. The prison here holds hundreds of young men.

Similar problems are widespread in the communities in Central Australia. So sad and shocking — we ask, how can this be in modern Australia? Problems that no one seems to have solutions for. Money has not, so far, been able to pay for solutions.

There are many wonderful people here working hard to help, in the hospital and health system, and in social services, easing the pain and symptoms, while not addressing the causes. Change is slow. But please let us not say it’s all too hard.

Without a vision, the people perish — I think this is at the heart of the matter. There is very little vision for a future for the next generation, caught between two cultures. When there is no meaningful purpose for life and for suffering, bitterness, anger, and destructiveness follow, as the youth of Alice show us.

Attempts to change (not a traditional value) can leave people open to accusations of wanting to be like whitefellas, and means to be different from family, which means everything to Aboriginal people.

But God

God, interrupt the cycles that begin when little ones are open books and are being so damaged emotionally and physically, that they are being set up for all the problems and addictions of their parents. We know how crucial the first five years of a child’s life are.

Instead, through the power of the gospel, the gift of Christ, bring forgiveness and peace, freedom from addiction, fear, violence, and trauma. Instead, bring safety, and change, to the heart, and good fruit will follow.

We are excited to see a few more men coming along on Sundays, asking for prayer to be strong, and sharing their testimonies in our meeting, saying “it’s all about Jesus”. Like the cloud on the horizon, we are hopeful that it’s the beginning of real change, one family at a time. Please pray, especially for the children. God can do what may seem impossible to us!

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3 Comments

  1. Ruth Young 4 May 2022 at 6:49 am - Reply

    This story opens my eyes to horror & devastation amongst indigenous communities. Praying for this church – may more men be raised up; their lives transformed like Saul who met the living God, who can minister to their people.
    May the little children continue to come & be healed & set free. Also can you let me know which church this is, as we will be in Alixe in Jukly.
    Thanks

    • Robyn Murray 5 May 2022 at 1:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Ruth, feel free to email me robynannemurray @gmail.com

  2. Maria Mason 5 May 2022 at 6:07 am - Reply

    Awesome article Robyn. Such a great reminder to keep this need ever before our Father. Lord – please bring unusual wisdom to this dire situation.

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