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    Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
    The Honourable Di Farmer

    Bob Atkinson report to guide new Youth Justice strategy

    Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
    The Honourable Di Farmer

    Friday, July 13, 2018

    Bob Atkinson report to guide new Youth Justice strategy

    Early intervention to stop young people going off the rails is the key to cutting youth crime, according to a new report on Queensland’s Youth Justice system.

    Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said the report by former Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson found the issues facing troubled young people were complex but early intervention could make the difference.

    Ms Farmer said the report would lay a foundation to build on significant Youth Justice reforms already carried out by the Palaszczuk Government and the investments made in breaking the cycle of youth offending.

    “Bob Atkinson’s report shows that we are a much better chance of changing a young person’s behaviour when they are 12 than when they are 27,” Ms Farmer said.

    “We need to be tough on the causes of crime, and we need to do it as early in a child’s life as possible, to have a serious impact on youth crime.

    “To do that we need to further integrate our Police, Child Safety, Health and Education responses with other key services to solve problems before they become Youth Justice issues.”

    Mr Atkinson’s report will contribute to a new Youth Justice Strategy that will be developed by the end of this year in consultation with stakeholders, community leaders and high-risk young people and their families.

    Mr Atkinson, as well as Townsville community champion Major-General Stuart Smith, will be joined by other eminent Queenslanders on a taskforce to examine the report’s recommendations and contribute to the strategy.

    Ms Farmer said this new strategy would aim to cut youth offending and give troubled young people the hope and opportunity of a better life.

    “We cannot keep doing the same things we have been doing and suddenly expect the results to be different,” Ms Farmer said.

    “We have had promising results already from our early intervention programs, and the recommendations in Bob’s report will help us to get the right balance between reducing crime, holding offenders to account and building a better future for young people.”

    Mr Atkinson made 77 recommendations to overhaul the way Queensland deals with young offenders and engages with disadvantaged young people.

    Recommendations in the report included:

    • Continued investment in early intervention to prevent youth offending;
    • Intervention and support for parents as early as the pre-natal stage;
    • Greater collaboration between the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women, the Queensland Police Service and the Children’s Court;
    • More alternative and flexible schooling options for young people at risk of disengaging from education;
    • Keeping minor offences out of the court system;
    • Reducing the number of young people in youth detention; and
    • Options to divert young people away from the Youth Justice system.

    Former Commissioner Atkinson said there were no quick-fix solutions.

    “The issues underpinning youth offending and the ability of the system to respond are many and complex,” Mr Atkinson said.

    “The report outlines many causes of offending, including family dysfunction, domestic violence, neglect, poor school attendance, mental health issues and the impact of alcohol and substance abuse.

    “My hope is that this report will help to reduce crime and at the same time help troubled young people to overcome these issues and live healthy and productive lives.”

    Minister Farmer was encouraged by the report’s focus on early intervention.

    “We can’t have a Queensland that gives up on young people when instead we could lift them up and give them hope for something better,” Ms Farmer said.

    “We know that early intervention can happen at a number of different touchpoints in a young person’s life, and this must start as early as pre-natal care for mothers, making sure their children get the best possible start in life.

    “But it is also possible to intervene during their school years, and as part of this, schools need to become focal points for early intervention.”

    The full report is available at www.csyw.qld.gov.au/youth-justice

    ENDS

     

    Media Contact:                      Ron Goodman            0427 781 920

     

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    • Dominique Lamb - National Retail Association – Ph 0410 180 157
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    • Debbie Kilroy – Sisters Inside – Ph 0419 762 474
    • Damien Atkinson – Youth Advocacy Centre – Ph 07 3210 0551

     

    Bob Atkinson AO APM

    Bob Atkinson served in the Queensland Police Service for 44 years, including as Police Commissioner from 2000 to 2012. In 2013 he was appointed as a Royal Commissioner for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.