Mt Isa On Country program awarded

Mona Aboriginal Corporation will deliver a four-year, trial On Country program for young repeat offenders in Mt Isa as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s crackdown on youth crime.

Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said the $2.25 million On Country trial for Mt Isa followed an open tender process.

“The Palaszczuk Government has listened closely to residents and leaders in Mt Isa about what they believe is best for their community and young people,” the Minister said.

“They want young offenders to learn from their mistakes and contribute in a meaningful and positive way to their community.

“Courts and the police will have powers to refer high risk, 10 to 17-year-old Indigenous offenders to an On Country program for up to two months under the supervision, guidance and mentoring of Elders and Traditional Owners.”

Mona Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Patrick Cooke said the On Country program in Mount Isa would seek to direct young Indigenous offenders towards more positive opportunities and experiences.

“This won’t be a quick fix, but it will allow us to begin in the healing process and draw on our cultural links, particularly for children who have experienced trauma,” Mr Cooke said.

“Cultural mentoring is about showing youth the right path, the right ways, and the Elders will play a key role in this.

“They don’t always get that chance in their home life, which is why going on country is so important because it gives them time and space to connect with their Elders, their families, their culture and their country.”

Ms Farmer said the On Country program, also to be trialled in Cairns and Townsville, would send a strong message to repeat young offenders.

“While there has been a significant drop in the number of young people committing offences we’re seeing a hard-core group of 10 per cent of offenders responsible for 44 per cent of youth crime.”

“On Country programs are designed to give high risk, repeat offenders the support they need to turn their lives around and return to work or education.

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to addressing youth crime and integrating local solutions to local circumstances.”

The On Country program follows a record investment by the Palaszczuk Government of more than half a billion dollars in early intervention programs, new youth detention centre beds, new co-responder strike teams and community-based crime action committees.

Awarding the contract for On Country programs in Mt Isa was part of open tender process to ensure all potential contractors were given a fair go, and senior community leaders on the tender panels had the majority say in determining who was successful.

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