Plans to overhaul youth detention, child safety
A former top cop has pitched a radical plan to help steer Townsville children away from a life embroiled in drugs and crime, saying locking them up was a "complete failure".
Former Northern Territory Police Commissioner Mick Palmer said the only way to be tough on crime was to fund initiatives to change and prevent bad behaviours, including a proposed Street University.
Mr Palmer said his time in the police force proved to him that the traditional methods were not working.
"As a police officer, I spent decades dealing with and sometimes prosecuting young people embroiled in drugs and crime," said Mr Palmer.
"It sadly took me a while to work it out, but the strategy was a complete failure."Mr Palmer said detention was not designed to help child offenders.
"Too many walk free only to fall into the same destructive cycle and get locked up again, because they weren't given the support they needed to rebuild their lives."
The campaign is an initiative of the Ted Noffs Foundation, the largest provider of drug treatment services to young Australians, which has been pushing to expand its non-residential Street University program to Townsville for years.
Acting CEO Mark Ferry, said southeast Queensland Street Universities have seen amazing outcomes helping young people turn away from drugs and crime by helping them build their skills in music, dance and other creative pursuits that interest them, as well as access to counsellors, social support and treatment.
"The good news for Townsville is its struggles with youth crime are not unique," he said.
"North Queensland deserves the same initiatives to tackle this issue as the south. Townsville needs its own Street University to get its young people off the streets and support their journey to a more fulfilling life.
"The 'lock them up' approach has failed. It's time to try something we know works and help Townsville's youth thrive and give back to their community." LNP Townsville candidate John Hathaway said there was a huge correlation between youth in child protection and youth caught up in crime.
He said the LNP planned to overhaul child protection to help protect vulnerable kids and improve transparency and accountability.
"Simply, 80 per cent of offenders under the Youth Justice Act are cases or subjects of Queensland Child Safety," he said. "This damning statistic speaks volumes for the need to improve the protection of the Queensland children.
"Fixing child safety upfront will also reduce the number of children entering the youth justice system." In August the Queensland Audit Office found the state's child protection system was under pressure and recommended a number of changes.
At the time, Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said the state government was continuing to improve and strengthen the child protection and family support system.
She said it was the second report to say the system was under significant pressure.
"Nearly 40 per cent of children who came into the care of the department in the 12 months to 31 March 2020 had a parent using methamphetamine or a previous record of use," she said.
Originally published as Plans to overhaul youth detention, child safety