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Government announces Townsville Specialist High Risk Youth Court to combat youth crime

The overall crime rate across the Townsville District from 2014/15 to 2015/16 increased by 13 percent to 32,859 offences. In 2015/2016 The Magistrates Court recorded that there were 2419 offences committed by 862 children offenders.

In response, the Palaszczuk government has announced a Specialist High Risk Youth Court. Premier Palaszczuk stated, “this is part of our broader, comprehensive strategy to address youth crime in Townsville, make young people accountable for their actions, and break the cycle of re-offending.”

The High-Risk Youth Court is based on the Specialist Southport Domestic Violence Court, where one Magistrate regularly sits, allowing the Court to familiarizes themselves with the repeat offenders, and the issues that defendants and victims are facing.
It is intended that Her Honour Deputy Chief Magistrate Leanne O’Shea will hear all matters for the first four to six weeks, before Townsville Magistrates take over in the long-term. Her Honour brings to the Court a wealth of experience having been appointed in 2001, and sitting as the Children’s Court Magistrate in Brisbane since 2012.
In a joint effort with the new Court, the Townsville Stronger Communities Action Group has been established to assist with resolving issues such as housing matters, absence of positive parenting, and complex mental health concerns.

The Queensland Law Society has backed the new initiatives with president Christine Smyth saying “The courts cannot solve societal problems on their own and this plan realises that a united approach between the police, courts, community sector and the broader community will deal much better with the factors driving youth crime,”.

It’s clear that the government is not interested in the “lock em’ up and throw away the key mentality”. The new court appears to have wide support from a number of community groups, and appears to be a step in the right direction to tackling this generational problem.
As the QLS President Christine Smyth noted “It takes a village to raise a child and a whole village to solve a problem like this.”

Tom Gardiner - Solicitor, Fisher Dore Lawyers


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