Margaret Quirk

Margaret Quirk

Minister for Corrective Services; Small Business

    New scheme for young Geraldton offenders

    1/08/2007 1:37 PM
     
    1/8/07

    Juvenile offending in the Mid-West and Gascoyne region will be tackled by a new multi-agency strategy, developed by the Department of Corrective Services in conjunction with the local community.

    Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk said the new Geraldton Youth Justice Service would tackle the issue of juvenile offending at all levels.

    “This new approach has come about after 18 months of research and work by a Geraldton community reference group chaired by local MP Shane Hill,” Ms Quirk said.

    “I want to thank the group and Mr Hill for their hard work.

    “The new services will target young people who are at risk of offending, as well as the high-end, repeat offenders, by working with them and their families.

    “There is no quick-fix solution to the cycle of juvenile offending, but the community members we have spoken to are very supportive of these new services to address the causes of juvenile offending at the grass-roots level.

    “We are taking a new approach for Geraldton with things that have been proven to work. The outreach services will be run out of the one office at Leedham Cameron House and deal with the areas of meeting bail conditions, intensive supervision of hard core offenders, juvenile justice teams to divert new offenders from the formal justice system and family support services.”

    The Geraldton Youth Justice Service programs would include:
    • an after-hours seven-day a week service to help police find a responsible adult to post bail for an offender. Often a young person granted bail had to be held in the police lockup or transported to Rangeview Juvenile Remand Centre in Perth because a responsible adult could not be found. This tied up police resources in monitoring or transporting back and forth from Perth;
    • contracting local service providers to supply short-term accommodation as a last resort for young people who had been granted bail but did not have anywhere suitable to go;
    • an after-hours outreach family support service for youths who had come to the attention of the police, to help their families tackle any problems before they became serious;
    • an expanded juvenile justice team office to target young people who were in the early stages of offending and steer them away from the formal justice system; and
    • the Intensive Supervision Program, which had produced outstanding results with some of the State’s most difficult young offenders and their families in the metropolitan area.
    “Geraldton will be pioneering these successful metropolitan-based services in regional Western Australia, which is very exciting for this community,” the Minister said.

    “Once these services are sufficiently established in Geraldton, we will be extending some of the services to satellite towns in the Mid-West and Gascoyne regions.”

    Ms Quirk said that some members of the community had initially wanted a juvenile remand centre in Geraldton.

    “People have become supportive of this juvenile offending program once it is explained there are more effective ways to address juvenile offending than locking kids up," she said.

    “This is a wonderful opportunity for Geraldton. The new youth services will boost local employment opportunities, including offering a number of positions for Aboriginal people, and have a real impact on improving community safety by providing support to the police.”

    The Minister said the services would also provide much-needed support to families of young people at risk and reduce the number of young people from the Mid-West and Gascoyne regions who were held in custody when they had been granted bail.

    The Geraldton community reference group would continue to provide input to the department during the implementation of the services.

    Minister's office - 9213 7000