28 Aug QLD ON PRECIPICE OF YOUTH CRIME CHANGE AS VICTIMS RAGE
Queensland is on the precipice of long-overdue youth crime reform with the release of an alternative sentencing model that would send recidivist offenders to the bush to complete intense, long-term rehabilitation programs coinciding with hundreds of angry residents marching on Parliament House today.
Earlier this week, Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) launched its Relocation Sentencing – the case to “send ‘em out bush” policy document detailing its long-touted third sentencing option for repeat juvenile offenders.
Under the policy, kids aged 10-17 who are deemed eligible by the courts would be divided by age and sex and sent to remote, purpose-built facilities that would be limited to 30 kids and where they would be immersed in an agricultural and rehabilitative environment.
Yesterday, KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter – who on Monday arranged delivery of the party’s 16-page policy document to every Queensland Minister and Shadow Minister – asked the Premier during Question Time whether she would consider the plan.
She, and her Labor colleagues, had previously refused to even consider the alternative sentencing option.
Mr Katter said the Premier’s response, which thanked the KAP for its proposal and indicated a willingness to consider the document, was a breakthrough.
“It finally feels like we have had breakthrough with the Palaszczuk Labor Government and that’s a radical change from their previous position of not even giving our idea a second thought,” he said.
“The voices of desperate Queenslanders, over many years through ongoing advocacy and also today during this rally, has meant the Premier and her Government really are now cornered on this issue – enough is enough and they can no longer ignore the will of the people.
“What I say to the public is, ‘keep up the fight!’
KAP Deputy Leader and Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said it was fantastic to hear the roar of the crowd as they descended on the front steps of Parliament House.
“It was great to see a crowd of hundreds gather in support of youth justice changes here in Queensland,” Mr Dametto said.
“The fact is youth justice laws are not working to keep Queenslanders safe right now; it didn’t matter who you were, everyone there today was in support of seeing the state government change legislation.
“A lot of people I spoke to had heard about KAP’s Relocation Sentencing Policy and since the full document was formally released on Monday, a lot of those people had already taken the time to read the policy in full.
“The policy aims to send children out west to a remote location to serve out their sentence and that is for two reasons, to act as a deterrent but also to rehabilitate and retrain these children so they can reintegrate into society.
“Yesterday when the Premier was asked if she would consider adopting the policy, her response was different to the flat out ‘no’ she gave earlier in the year.
“The Premier indicated that she was willing to have a look at the policy and see what could be done to align our policy with the current youth justice legislation.
“The support the policy has garnered these last few days has really turned the tide.”
KAP Hill MP Shane Knuth said Queenslanders wanted immediate change.
“I spoke to a lot of people at the massive youth crime rally at Parliament House and there was an overwhelming positive response to the KAP’s Relocation Sentencing policy,” he said.
“Queenslanders demand an alternative approach; you cannot keep throwing money at the problem and do the same thing over and over again to get the same results.
“The KAP Relocation Sentencing is backed up by data and will make a difference in reducing the rate of repeat offending.”
Former Director General of Queensland Corrective Services (1988-97) Keith Hamburger attended the Voice for Victims rally and re-iterated his calls for policy reform in the youth justice space.
“It’s a great turnout but it’s very sad it had to happen because the (State) Government’s had very clear recommendations to address this going back many years and particularly in 2019 when they didn’t implement the key recommendation of the Queensland Productivity Commission’s report – now we’ve got to have victims marching in the street to try and get justice and reform,” he said.
“I’ve seen (the KAP’s Relocation Sentencing) policy and, in fact, some months ago when it was being first created Robbie (Katter) was on the ABC Drive Show and he spoke about it and I followed him speaking about things I’m working on – it’s a great initiative and hopefully the Government will get behind it.
“It’s in line with many of the things we’ve (Mr Hamburger and Indigenous communities and experts) been pushing for years too, to get First Nations people to get some control of their destiny and get involved in the actual healing and rehabilitation of their own people.
“I really hope this is (a turning point) and that this rally adds weight to that.
“I mentioned earlier the Queensland Productivity Report which really identified the (current) fragmented approach to dealing with social breakdown and how it all leads to crime and they recommended a Justice Reform Office, which has been ignored.
“We’ve proposed that there should be an all-party parliamentary committee to oversight that Justice Reform Office – it must be created and we need to get this happening now to break down all that fragmentation and to give the Government objective, independent advice about the best way to reform this mess.”