A rare opportunity to turn around youth crime in Queensland has been missed today following the release of “an extremely disappointing and concerning” state parliament report.
QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh said the Economics and Governance Committee report on the Strengthening Community Safety Bill further committed Queensland to the introduction of laws that would make communities less safe.
McVeigh said the Palaszczuk Government’s approach to youth justice was missing the keystone to reduce crime.
“That’s funding diversion of children under 14 from the legal system to services,” McVeigh said.
“Ten to 13-year-olds represent less than 10 per cent of all children sentenced for offences in Queensland, and most of those sentences are for property offences. We know that the earlier a child interacts with the youth justice system, the more likely problematic behaviour will continue. Addressing the root causes of problematic behaviour is the key to getting it to stop.
“As a bare minimum, every child should have access to a safe roof over their head, food, and the health, education, and social supports they need.
“Over the course of a year in Queensland, fewer than 500 children aged ten to 13-years-old are sentenced. If we can’t, as a state, help these children and their families to address the root causes of crime, there is something seriously wrong.
“The fact that the Queensland Government has not committed to this already defies belief.
“It’s not too late for the government to consider funding an alternative system in which community services, which are on the front line working with children, are properly funded on a state-wide basis to work intensively with the 10 to 13-year-olds interacting with the legal system.
“The current piecemeal funding from the Palaszczuk Government is severely limiting the support that can currently be provided.
“There are solutions and evidence on the desks of Queensland politicians that support this approach right now – the Government just needs to fund it.”