On Country programs for young offenders in North Queensland are moving ahead with tenders open for the delivery of the new programs in Mount Isa, Townsville and Cairns.
The trial of culture-based On Country programs was announced in March as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s five-point action plan to tackle youth crime.
Minister for Youth Di Farmer said $5.6 million had been committed to the trial of the programs in north Queensland and she expected them to be up and running in July.
On Country programs will target repeat offenders and will be delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations.
“The Palaszczuk Government has listened closely to residents across North Queensland about what they believe is best for their communities and their young people,” she said.
“Trials of On Country programs are a direct result of discussions we have had with community leaders who want kids to be held accountable, to learn from their mistakes and contribute in a meaningful way to their communities.
“The tender process is an important step in getting these programs off the ground.”
Minister Farmer said courts and police will be able to refer young people to spend up to eight weeks enrolled in a program that includes time spent ‘on country’ and under intensive supervision.
“This program will give young offenders – especially those who have lost connection with their culture and communities – an immersive cultural experience led by Elders and community leaders,” she said.
“Community safety is at the heart of everything we do and these new trials aim to reduce re-offending, re-connect young people with culture and get them back to school or into a job.”
The Palaszczuk Government has committed $1.5 million over four years for the program in Townsville, $1.5 million over four years for Cairns and $2.25 million over four years for Mount Isa.
In the 2019-20 budget, the Palaszczuk Government committed a record $332.5 million towards new programs to reduce youth crime and to increase capacity at youth detention centres, including the construction of a new $150 million youth detention centre at Wacol.
“Increased funding has led to a reduction in young offenders across the state, so now we are focusing attention on hard-core repeat offenders,” Minister Farmer said.
“Many of those young people require more intensive support to turn their lives around and that is what this trial of On Country programs is all about.”