July 25, 2018
Youth Justice Minister Di Farmer travelled to Cherbourg on Wednesday morning to announce a new $280,000 bail support program for the town to help keep local young people charged with offences out of youth detention centres.
Although the money will be allocated soon, the programs won’t start until next February.
“We know the majority of young people people who are in detention centres are there on remand,” Ms Farmer said.
“They are there because they don’t have a stable or safe home to go to.”
She said the capacity of Queensland youth detention centres was “extremely manageable” but said 83 per cent of children in detention were on remand.
“The average in Australia is just over 50 per cent … that’s not something that Queensland can be proud of,” she said.
Ms Farmer said the State Government wanted to direct this latest funding to keeping young people people out of detention, find them accommodation and channel them “to do some more constructive activities like education and training, and involvement in the local community”.
She said the evidence was that if young people were put into detention they were “almost 100 per cent guaranteed” to re-offend.
“We know that the community wants young people to be accountable for their actions, but they also want young people not to be re-offending,” she said.
She said the extra funding for bail support would move young people through the justice system more quickly and channel them into more positive activities.
It would also help young people comply with the conditions of their bail.
“We are going to be working with the local community here to determine what those activities should be; what is actually right for Cherbourg.”
Ms Farmer said efforts would be put towards “things that work”, that will break the cycle of offending.
“We just can’t keep doing the same things we’ve been doing over and over again and expect the result to be different,” she said.
“Naming and shaming, and locking kids up and throwing away the key don’t actually stop re-offending.
“In fact, they increase – almost absolutely guaranteed – the chances that kids will re-offend.”
Ms Farmer said evidence-based strategies would be put in place.
She suggested a program such as “Transition To Success“, which had been implemented successfully at other locations, could be considered.
“Getting these kids back to school is going to be a huge part of what we’re going to be doing in Cherbourg,” she said.
A restorative justice conferencing program – where offenders must confront their victims and be made to apologise – could also be implemented.
Ms Farmer said the Cherbourg funding was part of almost $17 million that the State Government would spend across Queensland over the next three years to support young people charged or at risk of being charged with offences.
The Minister met with Cherbourg Mayor Arnold Murray and councillors, representatives from local youth support services and local police during her visit to Cherbourg.
Opposition Leader and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington described the $280,000 funding as “a joke”.
“This government has no idea about how they are being so soft on crime and the actual effect it is having on our communities,” she said.
“This money is not even being released until February next year. What a joke!
“Our community needs to feel safe right now.
“They need boots on the ground. They need resources. And our community wants to feel safe and secure.
“The Labor Government can’t just throw money at this problem and hope it goes away.”
Queensland Police say Cherbourg and Murgon community leaders are taking a stand on youth offending and restoring community safety, and have already gained considerable traction.
“Extra specialist police officers, including detectives and Tactical Crime Squad officers, have been deployed to Murgon and Cherbourg and have had an immediate impact in terms of reported crime,” a spokesperson said.
“Police Liaison Officers from Maryborough and Cunnamulla, along with the local PLOs, are working with at-risk youth and their families to reduce crime.”
The QPS released the following statement:
The Queensland Police Service vision is to stop crime, make the community safer and strengthen relationships with the community.
Our purpose is to provide timely, high quality and efficient policing services in collaboration with community, government and non-government partners to make Queensland safer.
We have listened to the Murgon and Cherbourg communities about your concerns and this is what we are doing to help make you safer: