New specialist multi-agency response teams (SMART) have begun working with the local Children’s Court in Brisbane and Townsville to help make sure young people can access support services to stop them re-offending.
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said over the next four years the government will invest $5.6 million to establish eight SMART teams across the state to address the causes of youth offending.
“Some of the young people who come into contact with Youth Justice have multiple complex needs like intellectual disability, substance abuse issues including ice, or mental health issues,” he said.
“These complex issues can make it harder for these young people to engage positively with the community and break the cycle of offending and reoffending, and that’s what the SMART teams aim to address.
“The SMART teams are made up of specialist staff and case workers from at least four different government agencies, and they also link up with non-government organisations who can also provide the right kinds of support.
“The teams work with the local Children’s Court to assess what services are most appropriate to help support a young person, and come up with a plan to support them.
“It could mean help with schooling, it could be mental health support, or it could be help with substance abuse issues for example.
“The SMART teams then let the Court know what that young person needs, which the Court can then take into account when making decisions about that young person.”
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said reducing re-offending was one of the four pillars of the Youth Justice Strategy to deliver real change, safer communities and positive futures for young people and communities.
“There’s no one thing that will stop youth crime, so we have to try everything – if we keep doing the same thing over and over we can’t expect the results to be any different,” she said.
“Importantly, we need to try initiatives which address the root causes of youth offending, which is what the SMART teams do.
“Working together across government agencies and with non-government organisations, we can change the story for our young people and break the cycle.”
SMART teams are currently operational in Townsville and Brisbane. Next year services are expected to roll out in Mount Isa, Cairns, Ipswich, Logan, Moreton Bay and the Gold Coast.