A Townsville youth worker claims Queensland’s Department of Children is asking staff not to report crimes being committed by juveniles in care. Townsville has recorded more than three thousand break-ins over the past year, many of those at the hands of youth offenders. In this final part of our Sky News series, Queensland, and it had been, Murphey reveals the claims of concealment being made and explores some of the suggested solutions, including a bold proposal to send young offenders to the outback.
Many of Townsville’s troubled kids live in residential care homes or raises as they’re more commonly called, up to six kids occupy one house with staff rostered on to supervise.
Sometimes we see the stolen property. Sometimes they’ll show us footage of them in stolen vehicles, of them committing crimes.
Monica’s identity has been changed, but she’s a youth worker in one of Townsville care homes and claims Queensland’s Department of Children advises carers not to report certain crimes.
If we know that a child will have suspicions that a child has committed a crime, we get our management to inform the department. The department then tells us how we’re supposed to respond, and a lot of the time they tell us not to call the police. They’ve instructed us not to report bail breaches and curfew breaches.
In a statement to Sky News, the department says if there is significant damage or assault on staff or other young people, then reports are made to police. The department does not instruct youth workers in residential care providers not to report breach of bail. Residential care workers are often blamed for the ills of the children they’re charged with taking care of, but sometimes they can become the victims themselves.
There’s been workers sexually assaulted, beaten, having their cars destroyed, having their cars hijacked from them on shift.
So how can this crisis be solved? Right. I can drive like this. The state government has a reverse presumption of bail for youths facing serious offenses to keep them locked up longer. They’re also trialing ankle bracelets for some repeat offenders aged 16 and 17.
We need to give that child a chance to work, but we have many other measures that are on the ground that are working.
The LNP believes that breaching bail should be made an offense for youths and changes made to the Youth Justice Act to make detention, not a last resort. Give the power back to the magistrate. Katter’s Australian Party are pushing the most radical solution, setting up a youth facility in the outback to teach offenders life skills, everything from trade skills through the literacy skills, to make sure that when they finish their detention, they’re going back into society with the skill set to to do better.
They’d want the juveniles detained for six to 12 months. Some locals featured in our Sky News series think it’s worth considering. What do you think of an idea like that? I think that’s a wonderful idea. So you’d happily go out and go out there and teach about that happening and teach you how to cook and clean because nobody’s teaching them the tangible solutions that could help this city turn a corner on you to crime. Shane Murphy, Sky News, Townsville.