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4 December, 2020

Multipoint plan addresses youth crime

A whopping 68% of Cairns residents do not feel safe due to crime according to Cairns Regional Council’s recent Our Cairns survey, prompting calls for high level changes to address the issue.

By Nicole Gibson

The results come as no surprise to the Crime and Justice Action Group (CJAG) who saw support swell from 11 members at the time of founding in March this year, to more than 8500 presently.

CJAG was formed when a group of neighbours on Cairns’ Southside banded together after increasing crimes rates left them fearing for themselves and their families.

Recognising contributing factors across multiple areas, they devised a 12-point integrated plan which focuses on accountability at all levels.

Points one and two of the plan are focused on parent and public administration service accountability which CJAG spokesperson Aaron McLeod said provides the foundations for the long-term success of the entire plan.

“If the integrity of delivering accountability for parents who are on the frontline and the administrators such as justice, the police and agencies, if they’re not made accountable with systems to ensure accountability then what we do is have a failure in the other areas,” Mr McLeod said.

The plan also calls for the definition of a serious youth offender to be added to the Criminal Code.

“The change of definition at a high level is key because it picks up those serious offenders a lot earlier than what they’re currently being picked up,” he said.

Mr McLeod said early identification of serious youth offenders meant intervention and rehabilitation, which is also a key part of the groups plan, could occur much earlier and was key to reducing crime rates long-term.

To address rehabilitation, CJAG are calling for the construction of an education and employment sentencing academy for serious youth offenders.

“Locking kids up is not the answer,” Mr McLeod said. “This is a long-term specialist academy that has a connection to the youth corrections system where youth that have come from the youth justice system are being managed, especially if they’re serious offenders particularly.”

The academy will offer offenders a prescriptive diagnosis targeting the cause of an individual’s offending then provides programs including mental health, nutrition and wellness, skills building and education, with pathways into employment, training and entrepreneurship.

“The core focus of the facility is around health, employment and being able to achieve work discipline.”

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