The Palaszczuk Government will take further steps to address youth crime in Townsville, with new funding to improve community safety announced today.
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said the additional investment of $19.2 million over four years would improve the safety of the Townsville community through additional initiatives to cut youth offending and reoffending.
“The Townsville community has a right to feel safe, and expects young people to be accountable for their actions,” Ms Farmer said.
“The best way to keep the community safe is by preventing young people from offending and reoffending in the first place.
“Our Youth Justice Strategy is about changing the story for young people.”
Member for Mundingburra Coralee O’Rourke said the reforms were the next step in implementing both the Palaszczuk Government’s Youth Justice Strategy and the recommendations of Major General Stuart Smith’s report which was released last year.
“We will be funding a new after-hours safe place and diversion services in the Upper Ross area so children have a safe place to go at night,” she said.
“We’re also funding a new after-hours support number so families and young people can contact either of Townsville’s two after-hours safe places.
“Two really significant parts of this new funding are for the continuation of the Townsville Community Youth Response (CYR), and to progressively implement the report by Major General Stuart Smith on local solutions to youth crime.
“The CYR is a great example of what we can achieve when we work together with the Townsville community. For example, young people who are highest risk of reoffending have seen their reoffending rates drop by a quarter, with our Intensive Case Management program especially making a huge difference.
“The Townsville community can feel proud that our model is being rolled out in three more locations across Queensland.”
Funding will continue to the CYR including the High Risk Specialist Youth Court, a cultural mentoring program, the Lighthouse Diversion Service, Intensive Case Management by our youth justice staff and the Burragah Flexi schooling which is re-engaging Townsville kids in education.
Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said another $100,000 would support the development of the Townsville Youth Development Strategy, which was one of Major General Stuart Smith’s recommendations.
“One of the things the Major General stressed in his report is that every part of the community can help reduce youth offending, not just government,” he said.
“We’re putting together a Board who will oversee the development of the Townsville Youth Development Strategy, which was one of the Major General’s recommendations.
“We know that kids who are engaged with their community, whether that be going to school regularly, getting involved with their local sporting clubs and learning how to be part of a team, or learning how to turn up to a part time job, these kids have a much better chance of staying out of trouble.
“This Youth Development Strategy will help bring together different parts of the community – businesses, community and sporting organisations, professionals and families – to support young people to participate in their community and take responsibility.
“This shows we are putting every resource available into supporting youth in Townsville. However, my message is if you offend, you will be held accountable.”
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the Government was also building on the success of existing Townsville programs that were achieving solid results like Transition 2 Success, the Youth Justice Restorative Justice Conferencing and the Conditional Bail Program.
“There is some really solid evidence to show that these programs work to prevent re-offending,” he said.
“Of the young people who go through Transition 2 Success programs, almost 6 out of 10 don’t go on to reoffend.
“Seventy-seven percent of young people who go through Restorative Justice Conferencing don’t reoffend, or they reduce the magnitude of their reoffending, and that’s important to improve community safety.
“But even better, we’re seeing young people moving away from the youth justice system and into education and jobs.
“These programs are literally life changing for young people, and that’s the outcome the Townsville community wants to see.”
Another more than $700,000 will go to boost Family Wellbeing Services in Townsville to help keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people away from crime, as well as $320,000 per year over two years to local Townsville services to employ extra case workers to work intensively with families and support them to be able to better support their children.
The Townsville funding is part of a more than $320 million investment package to keep Queensland communities safe while steering at-risk young people away from crime, resulting from the Queensland Government’s Youth Justice Strategy, announced late last year in Townsville.
An action plan to support the strategy is scheduled to be released mid-year.