A new multi-agency strategy championed by Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk will tackle youth offending in the Goldfields region.
Ms Quirk said the new Kalgoorlie-Boulder Youth Justice Services, which operated with the participation of non-Government agencies, would tackle youth offending at all levels and provide after-hours support to families and local police.
“This new approach has come after two years of research and is endorsed by the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community Reference Group chaired by Mining and Pastoral Region MLC Vince Catania,” she said.
“There is no quick-fix solution to the cycle of youth offending, but the community members we have spoken to are very supportive of these new services to address the causes of youth offending locally.
“It also has the potential to identify youth at risk at a much earlier stage. We are taking a new approach for Kalgoorlie-Boulder with services that have been proven to work.
“The mostly outreach services will operate from one office at 337a Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie, providing a comprehensive and collaborative approach to youth justice issues in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
“Research has shown that one regional remand centre will service on average 50 young people per year, whereas the proposed alternative model operating in one region will service approximately 890 young people per year.”
The Kalgoorlie-Boulder Youth Justice Services will include:
· an after-hours outreach family support service for young people who are the focus of police attention, to help their families tackle problems before they become serious;
· an after-hours seven-day-a-week bail service to help police identify responsible adults to provide bail for young people. Currently, if no suitable adult can be located, young people are held in the lock-up or sent to Perth even though they have been granted bail. The new service will release police from monitoring youths or transporting them back and forth from Perth;
· contracting a local service provider to supply short-term accommodation as a last resort for young people who are granted bail but do not have anywhere suitable to stay before their next court appearance;
· an expanded juvenile justice team to target young people in the early stages of offending and steer them away from the formal justice system; and
· the Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) which is producing outstanding results with some of the State’s most difficult young offenders and their families in the metropolitan area.
“Some of these services are already successful in the metropolitan area,” the Minister said.
“Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Geraldton are now pioneering them in regional Western Australia.”
Ms Quirk said the intensive supervision program was already running in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. The other services would be rolled out progressively in the next few months.
“Once these services are sufficiently established in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, we will extend some of them to satellite towns in the Goldfields region,” she said.
The Minister said some members of the community had initially wanted a juvenile remand centre in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
“However, people have become supportive of this innovative youth justice strategy after recognising it is a better and more complete way of dealing with young offenders than locking them up," she said.
“The new youth services will boost local employment opportunities and have a real impact on improving community safety by providing support to the police.
“In addition to staff already undertaking the ISP and bail support programs, extra staff will be recruited for the new service.
“About 11 new positions will be available including a number of positions specifically for Aboriginal people.”
Ms Quirk said the services would provide much-needed support to the families of young people at risk and reduce the number of young people from the Goldfields region held in custody after gaining bail.
She said the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community Reference Group had provided valuable input in the planning of the strategy and would continue to be consulted during the rollout of the new services.
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