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Elders have slammed Queensland's new youth justice measures as 'punitive', 'outdated' and a 'knee-jerk' reaction that doesn't address the root causes of juvenile offending.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
11 Feb 2021 - 9:01 AM  UPDATED 11 Feb 2021 - 9:01 AM

Queensland's tough new justice measures targeting juvenile offenders have been slammed by advocates and Elders, who say they will disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services CEO Shane Duffy told NITV News on Wednesday that the measures were a knee-jerk reaction that do not address the root causes of why young people offend.

"They're not dealing with the reasons why these young people have slipped into the position they're in," he said.

The measures include the reversal of the presumption of bail for offenders who commit serious offences.

Parents and guardians will also have to provide assurances that bail conditions can be met before young people are released.

A trial will also roll out in several communities, including north Brisbane, Logan, the Gold Coast and Townsville, with courts able to order 16 and 17-year-old repeat offenders to wear a GPS tracker.

Townsville Elder Gracelyn Smallwood said the use of GPS trackers may not be effective.

"GPS trackers does not decrease crime," she said.

Dr Smallwood said the measures as a whole are "punitive" and "outdated". 

"Criminologists have said it can be a badge of honour for young people. We are grateful that it's only 16 and up because little 10-year-olds are also being locked up," she said.

"It's a violation of human rights for 10-year-olds to be locked up. They're little babies."

'Community has solutions'

The new measures come just months after the Queensland state election last October, where youth justice was a hot policy point.

The LNP Opposition promised to trial a strict curfew for children in Townsville and Cairns. 

The Labor Party also took a 'tough on crime policy' to the election, announcing a boost to the police force with more than 2000 police personnel to be added over the next five years.

But the QLD Premier did not endorse the curfew idea put forward by the LNP at the time.

Mr Duffy said while this approach may win elections, it was not the way to tackle youth offending.

"Tough on crime wins elections," he said.

"But they're faced to the wrong end of the spectrum. We need to focus on the access of all Queenslanders, but particularly our mob, to services."

Dr Smallwood agreed, saying governments needed to invest in community-led solutions. 

"Every community has their own solutions," she said.

"All the Elders here are in favour of justice reinvestment and if you go to any community, they've got local solutions to local problems but they're not being funded."

'It's very colonial': LNP curfew plan criticised by crime researcher and Indigenous community leader
Queensland Opposition leader Deb Frecklington's plan to enforce youth curfews in Townsville and Cairns criticised as a "very colonial" and uninformed approach to tackling youth crime in the region.