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Tragedy Strikes As Predicted

Filed under Editorial

May 30, 2019

by Anne Miller

Last October, I wrote an editorial urging courts to get tougher on young car thieves.

I understand there is an issue with not enough beds in youth detention centres, so magistrates feel compelled to release kids back to their families (or the streets).

Bail houses don’t seem to be the answer if there are no consequences for actually breaching bail conditions.

And keeping kids in adult watchhouses indefinitely is not the answer, either.

In that last editorial, I warned that if the pandemic of car thefts sweeping across Queensland was not curbed, children would die:

“Any of this year’s incidents in the South Burnett could have ended in a tragedy for either the young thieves, their passengers, the police or innocent bystanders.

For the safety of the public and emergency services – and the thieves themselves – we believe it’s time car theft was treated as a much more serious crime by Children’s Courts than it seems to be now.

The theft not only causes massive inconvenience and financial loss to the car owners, but there is also a real risk someone could die.

To ram this home, a term of detention should become mandatory for both the driver AND passengers in stolen vehicles.

The prospect of detention may be enough to stop some kids from hopping into a stolen car; and the lack of passengers to show off to may kill some of the thrills for the drivers.

A message to the parents of the young thieves … don’t protect them, don’t hide them, don’t lie for them. 

You will have done them no favours if they end up burned alive in a crash, paralysed in a wheelchair or doing a long stint in jail because they have killed someone.”

Sadly, this prediction came true yesterday in Brisbane.

Six young people in an allegedly stolen car slammed into another car and then wrapped themselves around a pole in Rothwell.

The driver was just 14.

No matter how skilled he thought he was, he wasn’t …

All six of the kids were trapped in the mangled wreck.

One died.

Imagine watching your friend die beside you while you’re trapped, in pain and helpless …

The driver and his remaining four passengers were rushed to hospital, at least one in a critical condition.

Fortunately – and by good luck, alone – the woman and children in the vehicle they hit were not injured.

So I repeat …

A message to the parents of the young thieves … don’t protect them, don’t hide them, don’t lie for them. 

You will have done them no favours if they end up burned alive in a crash, paralysed in a wheelchair or doing a long stint in jail because they have killed someone.

And a message to the State Government … you’re doing real harm to these young people with your inaction.

We are losing youngsters who could grow up to become responsible adults who make a real difference in the community if they were just given the chance to learn self-discipline and how to respect themselves and others.

Build more detention centres, or using an old-fashioned terminology, “reform schools”.

They don’t have to be cruel – or culture-destroying – but actions must have consequences.

Plus, and this is even more important, the State Government must provide over-stretched early family intervention services with extra support and ongoing funding that isn’t allocated from contract to contract.

The chopping, changing and uncertainty must stop.

And more emphasis has to be placed on providing long-term, live-in drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, especially in rural areas.

No one can get clean and sober with just a handful of sessions with a social worker or psychologist.


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