14 September, 2023
‘Send ‘em bush’
A PROPOSAL by Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) leader, Robbie Katter, to explore alternative methods for rehabilitating juvenile offenders has come under the spotlight.
During his visit to Mareeba last week, Mr Katter, along with Member for Hill Shane Knuth, engaged with locals regarding the policy, garnering support from one of the "target areas" for youth crime.
The 14-page proposal delves into mandatory relocation sentencing and its benefits, particularly for reoffending youth.
Under the policy plan, a relocation “camp” would be set up by the State Government in remote areas and would hold no more than 30 youth at a time.
Since presenting the proposal to Parliament, KAP has been informed that the Premier will “look into” the policy, and Mr Katter is urging locals to “stay angry” and persist in advocating for change.
“I am encouraging people to stay angry, and I know that sounds negative, but we need action on this and as a politician, agitation and anger is the only pathway to action in government,” he said.
“It’s not just the frequency (of crimes), it’s also the level of violence and level of boldness from offenders.
“I think there are a few elements where the system is failing, like where, at the moment, any rehabilitation is done outside of Cleveland Detention Centre.
“If you think about it, you’re asking these high-level offenders, heavily disengaged offenders, to opt into rehabilitation programs… this is why we fail because they are not going to participate.”
Member for Hill Shane Knuth said he was told several criminals re-offended to gain entry to Cleveland, which he characterised as a “holiday” for them.
He hopes that the prospect of being sent to a remote area without access to a phone or TV to engage in work will serve as a deterrent for offenders and ultimately reduce the overall crime rate.
“We acknowledge that there must be something wrong with the current youth justice system if there are repeat offenders continually committing crimes to get into detention centres,” he said.
“Detention centres are supposed to be determined, but the relocation sentencing, not only is it mandatory, but it sends them out in remote locations and teaches values and skills so that when they come back with those skills… they can later become leaders in their communities.”
This is not the first instance of relocation sentencing being proposed, with Mareeba Shire Mayor Angela Toppin putting the idea last October at to the Local Government Association of Queensland annual conference and receiving substantial support.
Driven by her commitment to ensuring that relocation sentencing is a viable option for judges, she wholeheartedly supports the policy put forth by KAP and hopes it will yield positive outcomes throughout the state and the shire.
“Council is pleased to see support for this motion from Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) and their Relocation Sentencing Policy looks promising,” she said.
“The State Government is responding to a youth crime epidemic, and this crisis does require a targeted response. In some cases, the courts are dealing with hardened, recidivist offenders whose crimes are escalating, and, in those instances, tougher sentencing options are necessary.
“Not all young offenders would suit being sent to a remote facility for training.
“Hardened criminals who do not want to change should still be incarcerated in detention facilities, and it appears that this is where the State's youth crime reforms are directed.
“Community safety is a complex issue and, unfortunately, many of the perpetrators are suffering very high levels of disadvantage.
“I am very concerned to ensure that any policies and reforms will lead to better outcomes for individuals and that the supports are in place to give our young people a chance to change.
“It is my hope that as a community, we continue to focus on solutions, on positive change and on long-term outcomes that benefit everyone. We are not alone. The challenges that are being faced by the Mareeba Shire are common across Queensland.”
To sign the KAP relocation Sentencing petition, visit kap.org.au/sign-our-petition-bring-in-relocation-sentencing