Community Youth Response under way in Cairns

Published Thursday, 27 February, 2020 at 01:12 PM

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

The Palaszczuk Government is rolling out a community driven program in Cairns that has proven success in reducing youth crime, backed by a half million dollar investment.

The Cairns Community Youth Response (CYR) is now up and running with two local organisations, Wuchopperen Health Service Limited and Youth Empowered Towards Independence (YETI), receiving funding to roll out diversion and cultural mentioning services in Cairns for 10 to 15-year-olds.

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the Cairns CYR is modelled on the successful Townsville CYR and is one of five new CYRs being rolled out across Queensland as part of the Government’s $332.5 million in youth justice reforms.

“We’ve seen solid successes in Townsville with the CYR model, especially the young people who are most likely to reoffend – we’ve seen a 25% reduction in reoffending in that group,” he said.

“We’ve looked at what works with the Townsville model, and we’ve tailored it to Cairns, building on the strengths of local organisations who have a strong track record in getting these kids back into education, training and culture.

“YETI and Wuchopperen will work closely with police and youth justice workers to support young people in Cairns who are at risk of offending and need help to turn their lives around.

“Young people who commit crime often come from tough backgrounds, but if we intervene early and re-connect young people with their communities we will have the best chance of breaking the cycle of crime.”

The Cairns Community Youth Response is part of the government’s historic $332.5 million investment in Youth Justice initiatives in Queensland and was one of six responses to be delivered across the state including Townsville, Logan, Ipswich, the Gold Coast and broader Brisbane area.

Wuchopperen, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, provides holistic health and wellbeing services, with a cultural lens, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Cairns.

Executive Director Toni Tapim said the $271,000 annual funding her organisation received ensured the cultural mentoring services were available in Cairns.

“Wuchopperen aims to empower young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make informed decisions in their lives leading to health, wellness and connection to culture,” she said.

“We work with young people to develop their confidence to become the decision makers in their own lives.

“We connect our young people with the people and experiences they need to heal, make positive change and make the best of the second chance this program is offering.”

Youth Empowered Towards Independence (YETI) CEO Genevieve Sinclair welcomed the $325,750 annual funding.

“Our diversion services make sure the causes of offending and anti-social behaviour are addressed in culturally appropriate ways,” she said.

“We work in response to requests from police to provide alternatives to charge and remanding young people in custody.

“And we’re mobile – we have an outreach bus available during high-risk times to respond to needs as they present.”

Youth Justice Minister Di Farmer said the Palaszczuk Government’s investment in addressing youth crime was starting to work, but there are no quick fixes.

“We are committed to long term solutions like the CYRs as part of a whole of community approach that includes parents, families, and community leaders,” she said.

“With our investment we are seeing that our initiatives are starting to work.

“However, there is also a very small number of young people who continue to commit the majority of youth crime - around 10% of young offenders commit almost half of youth crime.

“Initiatives like our Community Youth Responses are a way we’re working intensively with those young people to break the cycle.”