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18 March, 2021

Youth Crime Solution presented before inquiry

THIS week residents had their say on the State Government’s tough new youth justice law reforms when public hearings reached Cairns.

By Nicole Gibson

This week residents had their say on the State Government’s tough new youth justice law reforms when public hearings reached Cairns.

A parliamentary inquiry by the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee is undertaking public consultation throughout Queensland seeking feedback on the new measures.

These include the fitting of GPS trackers as a condition of bail for high risk offenders, parent accountability and stronger anti-hooning laws.

The Cairns sessions heard from youth crime campaigners, the Crime and Justice Action Group (CJAG), former One Nation Senator Len Harris, youth rehabilitator Geoff Guest OAM and other community members.

In relation to the use of GPS trackers, CJAG spokesperson Aaron McLeod told the committee that with network limitations in remote and regional areas the use of trackers could put the community at further risk.

“The application of GPS trackers in remote and regional centres with limited infrastructure is impractical and unlikely to mitigate serious offending,” Mr McLeod said.

Amendments to bail laws that seek assurances from parents and guardians that conditions would be complied with were not strong enough, Mr McLeod also told the committee.

“Our suggestion would be that you create an accessory to the offence, an in common offence, where by parents and guardians are actually charged separately and independently,” he said.

Some other recommendations to the committee included rehabilitation programs which focused on behavioural change and nutritional programs over detention.

Former One Nation Senator Len Harris told the committee that one of the issues that was not address was peer pressure.

“They see an older brother go and steal a car and that becomes a badge of honour,” Mr Harris said.

“What needs to happen is that these young offenders between 12-16 need to be taken out of a community then placed in an area away to break that condition.”

Mr Harris also told the committee he supported Geoff Guest’s statements regarding the importance of diet and that a high priority must be placed on the link between food and behaviour.

Hearings were also held in Mount Isa and Townsville this week ahead of sessions in Brisbane and the Gold Coast next week, with the Committee’s report due next month.

Prior to this week’s hearings, CJAG accused Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk of snubbing the Far North after she announced changes to the youth justice act ahead of this week’s Cairns public hearings.

“It is a bit disrespect of people how the Premier can be so insensitive to victims by snubbing the Cairns community this way,” CJAG spokesperson Mr McLeod said.

However, Member for Cairns Michael Healy said community concerns were constantly addressed.

“We have a number of constituents who contact my office to raise their concerns and issues regarding Youth Crime,” Mr Healy said.

“These constituents are encouraged to put these concerns in writing which are then forwarded onto the appropriate Ministers and Premier’s office for their information.”

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