queensland mayor says just keeping kids in detention won’t do
The mayor of far north Queensland says “nothing will work” to break his cycle of re-offending Unless juvenile delinquents are placed in rehabilitation programs without distraction.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill shows her lesson on this. She supports the state government’s plans to criminalize breach of bail for children. The government wants to increase the jail term for crimes committed by children.
Detaining them will help limit reoffending, the mayor says, but the cycle won’t be broken unless detention facilities provide children with effective rehabilitation programs.
If you suddenly become detained as a government, you are also able to put these children through programs at Cleveland (Youth Detention Centre), and I know you run some excellent programs there. “Some of you have broken the cycle for some of these kids,” she told a parliamentary inquiry into the proposed laws on Thursday.
If they are sentenced to three months at best, nothing will work until they are in those programs.
As the state government admits, the legislation will limit children’s rights, and in effect override the Human Rights Act that was passed in 2019.
Legal groups, social service providers, and human rights watchdogs have widely criticized the proposed laws and the short deadline for submissions.
According to evidence cited by the state’s human rights commissioner, pre-trial detention of children triples their chances of reoffending, thus aggravating the youth crime problem.
Townsville’s mayor, however, said the bill should go further by mandating sentences for certain crimes and offering alternatives to detention, like remote, military-style accommodation where offenders cannot access social media.
Furthermore, it should be appropriately managed. Ms. Hill told the inquiry, sitting in Townsville on Thursday, that many of these kids come from tough environments, and a structure, a good solid structure around them, could help them understand and value what it’s like living in society.
Currently, children are placed in care homes in the middle of Townsville that “aren’t managed very well” by external providers.
The mayor said it was more about profit-making than caring for children.
When you take them out of their environment, you have an opportunity to educate and support them without distracting them. When you bring them back to a place like Townsville, all the distractions, all the friends, and all the social media are there.
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