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$5.8m to help troubled First Nations young offenders in NQ

Three community-led organisations have been granted $5.8 million by the Queensland Department of Youth Justice to trial culturally designed programs to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth offenders.

Youth Justice Acting Director-General Phillip Brooks yesterday said organisations in Cairns, Townsville and Mt Isa had been awarded four-year contracts to deliver trials of ‘On Country’ programs.

“On Country is a community-led response, designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples using advanced cultural knowledge, skills and support of community for young offenders with complex needs,” Mr Brooks said.

“The program aims to give young offenders the best opportunity to turn their lives around and positively contribute to their communities.

“This includes individualised case work responses and work with partners and other community-led responses to help get young people back to school, a trade or into work.”

He said ‘On Country’ programs awarded to Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation (Cairns), Mona Aboriginal Corporation (Mt Isa) and Gr8Motive Aboriginal Corporation (Townsville) would begin taking referrals from courts, police and youth justice workers immediately.

“We expect that intensive work with the child will take place initially after a referral to establish a solid relationship before the young person will be taken ‘On Country’ for any length of time,” he said.

“I am confident the ‘On Country’ program will make a significant difference for many young people in Cairns, Mount Isa and Townsville.”

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