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New NQ youth justice team to help at-risk children

Six youth justice staff will soon start operating out of the Edmonton PCYC in Cairns to offer faster and closer intervention for at-risk young people.

Minister for Children and Youth Justice Leanne Linard said today a decision to provide the office was made following meetings with local MPs, the local council, youth justice staff, police, health and education staff, and First Nations stakeholders.

“We heard from the people on the ground, and we acted,” Ms Linard said. “Local authorities and local MPs made it clear we could do more to provide local support services and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

“(The town and suburb of) Edmonton is part of one of the fastest growing areas in Cairns. That’s why the area will soon have an office focused on getting at-risk young people back into education, training, and jobs.”

State Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said the city’s southern suburbs were experiencing rapid population growth.

“Setting up an office here will mean young people in the youth justice system who live in Cairns’ southern suburbs can more easily access their case managers, who play a key role in addressing issues that can lead to offending,” Mr Pitt said.

“This can include getting young people back into school, connecting them to drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, or putting a roof over their heads.”

The Member for Cairns, Michael Healy, said the Edmonton location would ensure youth justice staff were well placed to connect with nearby services and facilities.

“Several non-government organisations that offer services to vulnerable young people are located in the area,” Mr Healy said. “Services like these are vital as young offenders are often from fractured families, or have experienced mental health issues, drug and alcohol use, domestic violence, and child maltreatment and neglect.

“The office will provide an enhanced response to children and families in need of assistance, as well as young people on youth justice orders.”

Barron River MP Craig Crawford said the Government had implemented a range of initiatives in Cairns to tackle youth crime.

“This includes rolling out a co-responder team made up of police and youth justice workers, and continuing to work with young offenders and at-risk young people through Project Booyah, Cairns Safer Streets and the On Country program,” he said.

“As part of our Five-Point Action Plan on youth crime, police prosecutors are examining the merits of court-made bail decisions and launching appeals where appropriate. They have done that in Cairns, with outstanding success. But there is always more we can do.”

The leasing of office space at the PCYC comes as a new youth justice and child safety office in Mareeba is also set to be opened in the coming months.

The new services at Edmonton PCYC and Mareeba will add to the existing Youth Justice and Child Safety Service Centres in the Cairns CBD and Atherton.

Funding for Cairns-based youth justice services for the last financial year totalled $3.48 million. The services included cultural mentoring, behaviour management programs and Transition to Success, which provides alternative education and vocational training. 

There is also a multi-agency panel that works to respond to the complex needs of some individual young people, such as substance misuse, disability, education, child safety, wellbeing, or mental health and health issues.

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