Cairns co-responder team helping to break youth crime cycle

Published Thursday, 19 May, 2022 at 03:24 PM

Minister for Children and Youth Justice and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
The Honourable Leanne Linard

A crime prevention initiative that has brought together a dedicated team of police and youth justice workers to patrol the streets of Cairns this week marked two years of operation.

The city’s co responder team is working to improve community safety by riding together in specially marked vehicles and engaging with at-risk youth and young people on court orders. 

Member for Cairns, Michael Healy said the Queensland Government began rolling out the joint police and youth justice co-responder program in May 2020 as part of a commitment to reduce youth crime. 

“Ensuring agencies are working together to engage young people is important and that’s what this co-responder team is about,” Mr Healy said.

“In all, we have eight co-responder teams in the state, connecting and communicating with young people.”

“Anything we do to tackle youth crime also needs to consider the causes of crime, which is exactly what the co-responders are doing.”

Speaker of the Queensland Parliament and Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt said a multi-faceted approach was important in to break the cycle of youth offending. 

“As a government as we’ve seen great results from the program,” Mr Pitt said.

“Early intervention is essential to breaking the cycle of crime and having police officers and youth justice staff working together is an important tool to do this.”

“The Queensland Government has invested $43.2 million in delivering youth justice programs and from 2021-2023 we’re investing more than $17.3 million in programs and services responding to youth crime.”

Minister for Children and Youth Justice, Leanne Linard, said since the team started in Cairns in May 2020, the co-responders had engaged young people nearly 7,500 times.

“We know that stopping crime before it occurs is the most effective way to break the cycle of youth offending, which is why the co-responder teams are so important,” Ms Linard said.

“This is why they speak with young people at the local park or shopping centre, on the street and in their homes, so they don’t have to meet them in the courthouse or the watchhouse.

“Their work includes checking on young offenders to ensure they’re complying with their bail conditions.”

Youth co-responder team leader, Lily Palmer, said the team patrols all Cairns suburbs, with a focus on areas where young people often congregate. 

“This has been an innovative way for us to divert young people from committing criminal offences and ultimately reduce youth crime in our area,” she said.

“It allows us to build rapport with young people in a different way and provide support by connecting them and their families with community programs, sports clubs and other services that can meet their needs.”

The 2021–22 budget allocated $11.9 million for the co-responder initiative.

Co-responder teams also operate in Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Moreton, Brisbane North, Logan, and the Gold Coast.

Ends

Media contact: Catherine Baker, Senior Media Advisor, tel: 0498 844 783