How this rural community beat youth crime in their town
THE Murgon community has been recognised as state leaders in their efforts to address youth crime in their town.
This comes after months of stolen cars and business break-ins by juvenile offenders, which led to a petition signed by 800 community members.
The petition for a 10pm curfew for unsupervised young people in Murgon was received by the Queensland Parliament during April, but a curfew has not been introduced.
Instead, the Murgon and Cherbourg community have worked together to implement various community-based strategies and youth programs such as the South Burnett PCYC's Restart program and the Barambah Youth Together Evening, known as BYTE NITE.
Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said the overwhelming response the programs have received from community members, businesses and young people was to be applauded.
"This is a great result and an example of a community coming to a good solution by looking at the facts, not the emotion,” he said.
"The people of Murgon should be congratulated for their excellent work, and the rest of the state can learn from this case.”
Mr Potts said implementing curfews were not new ideas and had a fairly poor record when it came to cleaning up crime.
South Burnett Regional councillor Kathy Duff said it was important for Murgon and Cherbourg to work closely together to address youth crime.
"It's a whole community effort and that's what is great about it and making a difference,” she said.
"It's become a key goal to try and reduce crime with the community working together to lessen crime and improve the situation,” she said.
Cr Duff said the community support needed to continue so the situation still improves.
"It takes a community to raise a child and to try and be part of a solution,” she said.
"The statistics show we are making a difference, youth crime has reduced and all of this effort is worthwhile.”
Cr Duff said the Murgon community were still in favour of a curfew if it was possible.
Police minister Mark Ryan said, in a response to the petition, the programs were providing the support needed to keep young people off the streets.
"Early results from the BYTE NITE program show that this initiative is having a positive effect on community safety in Murgon and Cherbourg,” he said.
The petition has now been referred to the Queensland Police Service.
"Police regularly conduct active patrols to ensure community safety at night,” Mr Ryan said.
"Local police are supported by neighbouring police districts, tactical crime squads, public safety response teams and the dog squad as required.”
He said various groups including the Queensland Police Service, the Departments of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Youth Justice and Education, as well as the South Burnett Regional Council, PCYC and South Burnett Community Training Centre (CTC) have worked together to improve community safety.
Nanango member Deb Frecklington said Mr Ryan's response was disappointing.
"Minister Ryan does not address any of the requests put forward by the Murgon and Cherbourg communities in regards to a curfew, extra policing or tougher sentences,” she said.
"We need long-term solutions to address the issue of youth crime.”