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27 November, 2020

Practical solutions to youth crime

Despite a lack of commitment from major parties at the recent Queensland State election, the Crime and Justice Action Group (CJAG) are pushing forward with their 12-point plan to tackle youth crime, with a focus on rehabilitation.

By Nicole Gibson

Section four of CJAG’s plan outlines a proposal to fund the construction of an education and employment sentencing academy and programs targeting serious youth offenders.

The academy will focus on identifying the cause of a youth’s offending and provide rehabilitation programs targeting mental health, nutrition and wellness, skills building and education, with pathways into employment, training and entrepreneurship.

Two local men who have experienced first-hand what a program of this nature can do are CJAG spokesperson Aaron McLeod and Almaden local Alwyn Lyall.

Both men were students at the Petford Training Academy, which the CJAG model is based on, and credit the program for giving them a solid foundation to become self-sufficient and create success in their lives.

Mr McLeod said he was sent to Petford at 15 by his father after he decided to leave school.

“My father said if you don’t go to school and you don’t get a job, you’re going up to Norma who was Geoff Guest’s wife,” McLeod said.

Petford’s rigorous program included teaching students horsemanship, mustering cattle, farming and growing food.

Having forged a successful career in government and business, McLeod said the routine, discipline and respect he learnt at Petford gave him the confidence he needed to pursue education and employment opportunities.

“I had a lot more respect for my parents, for my home and getting an education which subsequently I went on to do and I went on to get employment,” McLeod said.

From here, McLeod said the flow on effects of the what he learnt carried him throughout his life, even giving him the resilience to recover and continue onto business success after a serious car accident left him an amputee.

“It’s a matter of being able to make decisions and problem solve, for us to make the right decisions as adults, then we can become independent, we can become resourceful,” he said.

“We can not only protect ourselves, we can develop the skills, the knowledge, the characteristics to be able to help other people and contribute to causes and a purposeful, meaningful life.”

Almaden man Alwyn Lyall also knows first-hand how early intervention can change lives.

Mr Lyall said he was on the brink of getting into trouble as a youngster when he started attending Petford.

He now manages a land trust in Cape York exporting timber and passes the knowledge he learnt onto others.

“I’m lucky enough to use Old-Man’s (Geoff Guest) stuff throughout my whole life,” he said.

“We’ve just started exporting to China and I have eight boys from Mareeba started up there working and they’re doing really well.

“The foundation of anybody, man or woman, is you’ve gotta know how to work, you’ve gotta know how to live your life and not depend on anybody.”

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