The Palaszczuk Government is backing local Townsville service The Lighthouse into the future with funding of almost $7 million through until 2023.
Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said more than 300 young Townsville people, often with nowhere else to go at night, had found safe harbour at an after-hours emergency accommodation and outreach program.
“The Lighthouse service is really one of a kind,” he said.
“It’s a place where young people in need can stay overnight and receive immediate support.
“That support is designed to get them off the streets and divert them from risky behaviours that place them at high risk of offending and potential harm to themselves.
“I’m really proud to have secured a total of almost $7m funding through to 2023 for The Lighthouse.
“It will provide security to the service, so they can plan for the future – and at the same time support young people to also build a positive future for themselves.”
Mr Harper said $500,000 of this funding would be used to establish similar services in the Upper Ross area.
“The community has told me that although the services The Lighthouse provides are much needed in the Upper Ross area, it’s just a bit too far for kids to access when they need it,” he said.
“I’ve spoken with Minister Farmer about it, and I’ve secured funding to bring the service out here.
“I’m looking forward to working closely with The Lighthouse and the local community to get it up and running.”
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said the Lighthouse was part of the Townsville Community Youth Response, a multi-agency initiative to address the complex needs and challenging behaviours of at-risk young people.
“Recommendation 11 of Major General Stuart Smith’s report into youth crime in Townsville is talks about enhancing after hours services, which this funding will enable for The Lighthouse.
“The Lighthouse has been doing some really fantastic work in this space, and what we want to do with this continued funding is to support them to build on that success, to get more young people re-engaged with education, training and employment.
“Over the coming four years we have invested $18.5 million to continue and enhance Townsville’s Community Youth Response, which has already reduced the rate of offending in the highest risk group of young offenders by 25 percent.”
Jenny Savage, the Acting CEO of Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service that operates the Lighthouse service, said the service’s grassroots approach often yielded positive results for young people.
“Take for example the situation of a young boy who was brought to the Lighthouse by local police concerned for his wellbeing,” she said.
“Disconnected from family and disengaged from school, the young boy was given a place to sleep, food and a shower.
“The next day the Lighthouse workers began a 10-month journey with the young boy that has resulted in him addressing substance misuse, returning to school and better managing conversations with his family and guardian.”
Ms Farmer said a number of services apart from the Lighthouse had received funding from a total investment of $4.8 million to continue and expand their services including:
- Burragah Flexi schooling program
- High Risk Youth Court
- Intensive Case Management
- Cultural Mentoring
- Restorative Justice, and
- Transition to Success
Ms Farmer said the success of Townsville’s approach has led to community youth responses being rolled out across the state.
“Often we find the most effective responses to local issues are local responses, where the community can take ownership and lead solutions that work,” she said.
“And that’s what Townsville has accomplished – a response that engages community, business, schools and government departments to work together in a whole range of different ways to reduce youth crime.”