Bush the only beacon of hope for besieged Qlders
21 August 2023
The sparse and lonely outback may be the only beacon of hope left for Queensland communities and residents besieged by youth crime, Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) MPs have said.
The North Queensland-based party has today released a 16-page document stating their case for change; a copy, alongside a brief two-pager, will be provided to every Queensland Minister, Shadow Minister and minor party in the hope of addressing the youth crime crisis once and for all.
The document, titled Relocation Sentencing – a policy to address youth crime is being described by KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter as the “comprehensive case to send ‘em out bush”.
He said the policy was a ground-up rethink to address Queensland’s youth crime problem.
“It is based on four main pillars, which assert that effective detention-based sentencing options for recidivist youth offenders must be: 1. Remote, 2. Mandatory, 3. Fixed term, and include 4. Intensive rehabilitation,” the outback MP said.
“The purpose of the policy is to address the high incidence of recidivist offending by introducing a new sentencing option to deter re-offending and address the shortfalls in current rehabilitation programs.”
Mr Katter said the KAP was imploring all parliamentarians to heed the collective calls of Queenslanders who have asked for alternative, and stricter, sentencing models for recidivist youth offenders.
He said the policy was as much about protecting the community as it was about genuinely attempting to rehabilitate and provide hope for a future for vulnerable, criminalised children.
“Queensland is under siege by child criminals, and our youth justice system is fundamentally broken,” Mr Katter said.
“Despite incarcerating more young offenders than any other state or territory, Queensland also has the highest re-offending rate.
“At the Cleveland Youth Detention Centre in North Queensland – the region we would argue is ‘ground zero’ when it comes to youth crime – the re-offending rate is around 95 per cent.
“This situation is a blight on all of us, and is the source of rising political and social unrest – we cannot continue this way any longer.”
The Palaszczuk Labor Government recently floated the idea of spending what could be up to $1 billion to build two new youth detention centres across the State.
A figure of $500 million has been “put on the table” for a centre at Cairns while a new kid jail is planned to be built for an unspecified sum (assumed to be upto $500 million as well) opposite the high-security adult prison at Woodford.
Mr Katter now wants a pause on all spending until the formal Relocation Sentencing policy is genuinely considered, and asked that the Palaszczuk Labor Government commences community consultation on bush-style sentencing that incorporates KAP’s key policy pillars.
KAP Deputy Leader and Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said residents suffering under the plague of youth crime deserved better than what was currently being delivered.
“The severity and prevalence of youth crime continues to grow but instead of looking for alternative solutions the Palaszczuk Government has doubled down on their position and stood by their ‘toughest laws in the country’ tag-line,” Mr Dametto said.
“Current youth crime methods carry a dismal failure rate and in Townsville we know that 95 per cent of offenders at Cleveland Youth Detention Centre re-offend within 12 months of being released.
“Some of the worst crimes, that have resulted in the loss of people’s lives, have been committed by kids who were not first time offenders which clearly shows detention in the current form is not working to rehabilitate and curb those criminal behaviours.
“KAP has repeatedly urged the Palaszczuk Government to consider Relocation Sentencing but the idea has always been strongly rejected without a second of consideration.
“This is a policy that has strong community support all the way from Indigenous elders through to academics who have invested time and understanding into the causes of youth crime.
“That’s why we’ve put our resources into developing this policy from an idea through to a comprehensive document that supports remote sentencing and rehabilitation.
“The Western Australia Labor Government have adopted a similar policy and we would encourage the Queensland Labor Government to follow suit.”
KAP Hill MP Shane Knuth said addressing youth crime was not a matter of money for the Palaszczuk Labor Government.
“It is absolute madness to keep throwing money at the same thing over and over again to get the same results,” he said.
“The people of Queensland deserve better, particularly the thousands who have been victims of youth crime across the state.
“The KAP Relocation Sentencing policy is evidence-based and provides a sentencing alternative that can break the youth crime cycle and help bring the rate of re-offending down.
“What is being done is not working.
“The State Government must put aside party politics and put the safety of Queenslanders first by adopting relocation sentencing as part of the solution.”
Queensland’s Michelle Liddle, whose son was tragically murdered by young offenders with long criminal histories, has supported the KAP’s policy.
“I think Relocation Sentencing could be a useful tool in trying to divert young offenders away from a life of crime if used in conjunction with an overhauling of detention as we know it,” she said.
“It could be used to re-engage youth before they are placed into our failed youth justice system with an inevitable outcome.
“Building self-confidence, esteem and skills could give them the ability to reconnect with their community and society, and keep them away from career criminals and the more violent serious offenders, who would only encourage them further into a life of crime.
“At this point the Government really needs to accept what they’re doing now is just not working or is worth wasting more tax dollars on.”
Follow this link to read the full Relocation Sentencing Policy: https://kap.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/KAP-Relocation-Sentencing-Policy-2.pdf