Young crims could be taken camping with family
THE entire families of young criminals could be taken to a remote Far North "On Country" camp in a bid to curb their offending behaviour.
The Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, based at Mossman, was awarded the contract for the four-year $1.5 million program trial last month as part of the State Government's response to spiralling youth crime.
It is due to start taking offenders at the end of this month.
Far North police Chief Supt Brian Huxley revealed the program would have a "high degree of flexibility", allowing groups of either boys, girls or whole families.
"The important thing is if kids go to camps and get really good role models and outcomes, then go back to the same family situation, that doesn't change anything," he said.
The camps will be held on Eastern Kuku Yalangi land, which extends roughly from the Mulgrave Bridge to Black Mountain.
Eastern Kuku Yalangi mentor Richard Burchill will run the program and said families were an essential part of the process.
"We are looking at structuring it to start the healing process," he said.
"We will be looking at simple things like reconstructing someone's identity and show that they are worth it."
"Families have to be part of it; the breakdown of family structure has led to a lot of disconnect."
Crime figures spiralled in North Queensland earlier this year with many blaming a change by the state government in the Youth Justice Act which gave an exception to bail "despite unacceptable risk".
The state government has since committed to amend the legislation.
Crime dropped throughout Queensland during the COVID lockdown but has started to increase slightly as restrictions ease.
Latest police figures for June show a slight dip compared with May, but jumps in both assaults and "life endangering acts" which include multiple types of offences including the domestic violence charge of strangulation.
Chief Supt Huxley said there had been a surge of assaults at the start of June, propelled by a wave of juveniles attacking other juveniles.
But he believed a police operation targeting offending on local buses had helped quell many of the issues. "I would put it down to increased police activity which has been highly targeted," he said.
"We are seeing things start to return to normal which is a challenge at the best of times.
"But most areas have actually dropped off over the last few weeks."
Chief Supt Huxley said an increase in domestic violence during the COVID pandemic had also spurred on the assault figures.
Corporation chief executive Kupa Teao said in a newsletter that the organisation looked forward to sharing with young people a rich tapestry of cultural history and knowledge on behalf of the Yalanjiwarra.
"Through Dreamtime stories, each participant will be able to reconnect to their identity, and build on improving better relationships with families and communities," he said. "It is an intervention program that has to work and it will work - it will create a pathway that can lead to a better life and strengthen their Wawu (spirit)."
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Originally published as Family members might attend 'on country' camp