QLD_CP_NEWS_CBDCRIME_03APR19
QLD_CP_NEWS_CBDCRIME_03APR19

How FNQ youths are turning their lives around

YOUNG repeat offenders in the Far North have been given a major helping hand to break away from the cycle of crime with a new $1.5 million program set to begin.

The Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, based at Mossman, will deliver a four-year trial of the 'On Country' program across the region as part of the State Government's five-point action plan to help young offenders turn their lives around.

The intervention program will give the courts and police the power to refer high-risk 10- to 17-year-old indigenous offenders to the program for up to two months where they will be supervised, guided and mentored by elders and traditional owners.

A vigilante-style group began in February to patrol the streets of Cairns in reaction to a youth crime wave sweeping the city.
A vigilante-style group began in February to patrol the streets of Cairns in reaction to a youth crime wave sweeping the city.

Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation CEO Kupa Teao said the organisation looked forward to sharing a rich tapestry of cultural history and knowledge on behalf of the Yalanjiwarra Bama people with young people.

"Through Dreamtime stories, each participant will be able to reconnect to their identity and build on improving better relationships with families and communities," Mr Teao 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)."

Cairns Police Chief Superintendent Brian Huxley said the program's introduction "can only be beneficial".

"This goes towards helping people who have already put in extraordinary efforts to addressing underlying individual and family issues that lead children onto the path of crime," Supt. Huxley said.

"The police are happy to support the program and we have police officers, including in the cultural liaison unit, directly involved.

"It's very much a holistic approach. We've got community groups, schools, youth justice and a number of referral agencies coordinating a service like never before."

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The Mossman-based corporation was awarded the On Country programs contract after an open tender process.

Police conducted a major crackdown on crime in Cairns CBD called Operation Romeo Paso earlier this year. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN
Police conducted a major crackdown on crime in Cairns CBD called Operation Romeo Paso earlier this year. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN

Cairns MP Michael Healy said the trial followed extensive consultation with residents and community leaders on how best to support young people.

"We have made changes to the Youth Bail Act, in addition to the introduction to On Country learning for our troubled youth," Mr Healy said.

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said she was excited that the corporation had been awarded the contract. "These kinds of programs have the potential to engage young people in a range of activities ... while at the same time empowering them to take more control of their lives," she said.

Originally published as How FNQ youths are turning their lives around


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