Curfew that targets teenage Aborigines is criticised as racist

A group of Aboriginal youngsters wanders past a row of cafés in Northbridge, Perth's nightlife district, glancing covetously at the plates of alfresco diners. The street lights cast shadows across their faces. It is curfew time: if they are not home soon, they will be picked up by police under a policy criticised as wrong-headed and racist.

The crackdown has been ordered by Geoff Gallop, the state premier, who says he is alarmed by the sight of unsupervised children - some as young as five - in Northbridge at night. But critics say the curfew targets black youth and raises uneasy echoes of the 1950s, when Aborigines were banned from Perth city centre after 6pm.

The number of young people descending on Northbridge - particularly at weekends - has doubled in the past two years, and most are Aborigines. Local businesses accuse them of stealing food, sniffing solvents and intimidating customers.

The curfew requires children under 13 to be home by dark and sets a 10pm deadline for under-16s. Those who flout it are detained by the police, even if they are not causing trouble. Most are passed to a charity, Mission Australia, which contacts their family or finds them a hostel bed.

Mr Gallop, a Labour politician, insists that he only wants to protect vulnerable children. "It is simply not acceptable to have youngsters on the street unsupervised," he said. "They are in an environment that is a danger to themselves. To do nothing would be a dereliction of our duty."

But opponents dismiss the curfew as a political stunt, pointing out that charities have long worked with police to remove children deemed at risk from Northbridge streets. Similar work is done by the Nyoongar Patrol, an indigenous voluntary organisation. Midge Turnbull, executive officer of the Youth Affairs Council, said: "Curfews only exacerbate young people's feelings of alienation." The Chief Justice of Western Australia, David Malcolm, said the curfew was a "Band-Aid solution". "Instead of merely targeting youth, we should be investing in our youth," he said.

Nearly 300 children have been picked up since the curfew was introduced two months ago, and 85 per cent are Aboriginal, mostly from the local Nyoongar community. Many are girls aged about 14.

Welfare workers say the curfew does not address the reasons why young people are roaming the streets at night. Ann Russell-Brown, state manager of Mission Australia, said: "For many, it's safer to be on the streets than in a house where there's excessive drinking and associated violence."

Mr Gallop has promised long-term solutions for children who have dysfunctional home lives. But so far most have simply been detained.

When five Aboriginal boys crashed a stolen car during a high-speed police chase in Perth, killing a 12-year-old occupant, Mr Gallop blamed the boys' families. He dismissed the idea that juvenile crime was rooted in historic injustices. "Finger-pointing at government agencies, finger-pointing at the past is simply not on when you see the consequences," he said.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments