Local forum to tackle youth crime

RESIDENTS craving a real solution to stopping the plague of youth crime engulfing North Queensland are being urged to attend an innovative forum in Townsville next Thursday.

To be chaired by Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto, the Relocation Sentencing Forum will feature an experienced and engaging panel comprising of Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter, Palm Island Mayor Alf Lacey, Townsville City Councillor Russ Cook and local community advocate Mike Abraham.

“If we want to stop crime, offenders must do the time,” Mr Dametto said.

“You’ve got to have a deterrent factor and quite frankly, Labor’s softly, softly approach to young offenders has been a complete failure.

“Residents have had enough of forums that simply discuss problems with youth crime. We’re offering a real solution that will work.”

Under Katter’s Australian Party’s policy, magistrates would be given the ability to effectively banish young offenders from the community in which they committed the crime.

They would be sent to an approved property in a remote location where they would work on the land to learn life skills to become contributing members of society.

Ankle bracelets would be used for added security, but security would be mainly through distance and isolation. An incentive system, based on points and certificate awards, would allow the offenders to feel a sense of achievement. This would include qualifications towards things such as a windmill technician, master butcher and stockman.

Mr Katter said relocation sentencing offered a viable third option to the existing status quo.

“At the present moment, there are only two options to child safety workers and the magistrates – probation, which is a bloody joke, or prison, delightfully referred to as “detention”,” he said.

“The young prisoners, juveniles, cost us around $560,000 a year and incarceration produces nothing except for the three months or six months that they are off the streets.

“Relocation Sentencing ensures offenders will not be left to run riot in towns like Cairns, Mount Isa, Ingham, Mareeba and Townsville. They will be 500km away and they won’t be costing you $560,000 a year. They will be taught to build their own houses and will come back skilled and better behaved.”

Mr Dametto said he knew residents across Hinchinbrook were desperate for a solution to curb youth crime.

“It’s important to remember that this issue is not just affecting Townsville but the entirety of North Queensland,” Mr Dametto said.

“I know towns in my electorate, such as Ingham and Cardwell, are suffering as much as anywhere else. Car thefts and break-ins are becoming too common. We have even had a ram-raid at a local supermarket in Ingham earlier this year.

“It’s time the State Government sat up and took notice of what we’re proposing.”

Mr Dametto said each panellist would bring a unique perspective on how to solve the youth crime crisis engulfing the region, through the prism of youth relocation sentencing.

“We’ve brought together a group of individuals from different sectors of the community who all offer their own experiences in dealing with this issue,” he said.

Members of the public will be encouraged to give their feedback on relocation sentencing in a question and answer session towards the end of the night.

The Relocation Sentencing forum will be held on June 7 at St Anthony’s Catholic College along Joanne St, Deeragun from 6pm to 8pm.

All members of the public are urged to attend.

Nick Dametto MP