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5 April, 2022

Initiatives aimed at reducing crime

A NUMBER of positive actions aimed at reducing crime and helping disadvantaged youths were outlined by Mareeba Mayor Angela Toppin at the town’s chamber of commerce luncheon last week.

By Robyn Holmes

Photo | Dreamstime

While she recognised Mareeba was experiencing rising incidences of youth crime and anti-social behaviour, the Mayor was adamant that authorities, including her council, were doing what they could to rein it in and revealed a number of initiatives were underway or planned that she hoped would make a difference. 

“Mareeba Shire Council is not ignoring the issue. We are doing everything in our powers and we are working with the relevant bodies to effect change,” she said. 

She said council had conducted meetings with Assistant Commissioner Police Cheryl Scanlon who is head of the Youth Justice Taskforce, Minister for Children and Justice Leanne Linard and the Office of Liquor and Gaming. 

“I refute the suggestion that council has embarked on a series of ‘talk fests’. Quite the contrary. These meetings have allowed council to advocate ferociously and to seek commitments and actions from those who can make a real difference,” Mayor Toppin said. 

At a meeting with Ms Scanlon and community service agencies, discussion had centred around pooling resources by community services, government agencies and other local stakeholders to fill gaps, especially for night-time diversionary programs. 

“The services are currently reviewing their staffing arrangements to allow for paid workers to be available after-hours which is when many critical youth incidences are occurring,” Mayor Toppin said. 

To that end, she also commended the PCYC and Mareeba Community Church for delivering night-time programs in response to the youth crime issue. 

“There was also a commitment to share information about the responses available to defuse potential incidences involving young people by QPS, the Justice Group and the youth working party which is being set up by the Aboriginal community – this will have a real impact on our young people,” Mayor Toppin said. 

Work was also continuing between council and the PCYC to find suitable land and secure government funding for a purposebuilt facility and night-time program for atrisk youth. 

During her address, Mayor Toppin revealed the new Mareeba office of the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs had opened and that Police Minister Mark Ryan had confirmed he would be visiting the town soon to speak with council about issues related to law and order. 

The strongest message pushed throughout the luncheon from the Mayor, Chamber president Joe Moro and representatives of police and Crimestoppers was the importance of citizens reporting incidences of crime, no matter the seriousness of the offence. 

This was important for many reasons, but particularly to the town’s bid to have cask wine sales restricted until 4pm daily. Council has requested the Liquor Licensing Commission to restrict the sales but Mayor Toppin said “it was clear that this type of change must be supported with strong data regarding the potential impact on crime”. 

Council’s offer to help businesses in Byrnes Street with funding CCTV and security lighting had also attracted interest, and its funding for young people to produce murals on public buildings was also working, with no graffiti on those public artworks. 

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