The Palaszczuk Government is well on track to implementing all the recommendations contained in Major General Stuart Smith’s report into Townsville youth crime within the recommended timelines.
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said the government had already implemented six of the recommendations in the December 2018 report, and was on track to implement nine more by the end of the year.
“The Major General’s report laid out a timeline for implementation, which proposed we commence work on 17 recommendations by the end of this year, and commence another six in 2020,” she said.
“We’ve commenced work on all 23 recommendations, including the six not due to be commenced until 2020, and we’ve already implemented a further six.”
Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said the government had wasted no time in getting started.
“We acted immediately to begin implementing the Major General’s recommendations, by providing funding to The Lighthouse to extend after-hours activities for at-risk young people,” he said.
“I was also proud to announce recently that I’d secured further funding for The Lighthouse, with $7 million over four years including half a million for a new satellite service in the Upper Ross area.”
Member for Mundingburra Coralee O’Rourke said a further recommendation had been implemented with the formation of the Youth Offender Accountability Board.
“The Board is tasked with giving the Townsville community ownership of decisions about where and how young offenders should be doing community service in ways that benefit the community,” she said.
“It’s not just about giving back to the community, it helps help prevent reoffending by teaching young offenders basic job skills – and we know the best way to prevent young people from reoffending is by helping them to get a job.”
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the government had implemented two more recommendations through extending the role of Police Liaison Officers.
“Police Liaison Officers are now offering greater support to victims of crime, including taking part in restorative justice conferences between affected residents and young offenders,” he said.
“Restorative justice conferences see young offenders face up to the impact their actions have had on victims, and this is having a powerful effect on reoffending rates, with 77 percent of young offenders either not reoffending, or significantly reducing the level of their reoffending.
“The Major General’s report emphasised the importance of early intervention to prevent youth crime, which is why these officers are also building rapport and trust with students at primary schools through the new ‘Adopt-a-PLO’ program.”
Minister Farmer said the actions being taken by the Palasczcuk Government in Townsville are things the Townsville community has said they want to help break the cycle of youth crime, while holding young offenders to account.
“We are already seeing positive results from the actions we’re taking in Townsville to implement the Major General’s recommendations and our statewide Youth Justice Strategy.
“For example, the Community Youth Response, established in 2017, has seen a 25 per cent reduction in reoffending by high-risk young people who are subject to intensive case management, and overall, offences for 10 to 16 year olds in Townsville have also reduced over that time period.”
Remaining recommendations designed to prevent youth crime, and provide intervention and rehabilitation for young offenders, have been partially implemented and will continue to be progressed.
Recommendations in the Townsville Voice report also include early childhood wellbeing screening, actions to reduce truancy, allowing offenders to complete community service while in detention, and involving Elders in the operations of the court system.
Ms Farmer said the actions implemented from the report would complement initiatives already in place under the Community Youth Response, which commenced in February 2017.
“There is certainly more work to be done, however a multi-pronged approach through early and intensive interventions, a specialist High Risk Children’s Court List, after-hours and cultural mentoring services, and re-engaging young people in education, training and work is showing promising results.”
Ms Farmer said $19.2 million would be invested in Townsville over four years as part of the government’s $332.5 million ‘Working Together, Changing the Story’ package to reduce youth offending and improve community safety.