Queensland Government’s response to the December 2018 report by the Townsville Community Champion, Major General (Rtd) Stuart Smith, AO, DSC—Townsville’s voice: local solutions to address youth crime

The Queensland Government has welcomed the report from the Townsville Community Champion, Major General (Rtd) Stuart Smith AO, DSC.

The report contains 23 recommendations, all community-driven, that focus on a range of prevention, intervention and rehabilitation actions. The report is the result of comprehensive consultation with community stakeholders undertaken by the Major General over the past year.

The Queensland Government has accepted in-principle all 23 recommendations and will begin implementation activity without delay. In particular, the government commits to implementing the recommendations through the development of a community-driven Townsville youth plan (recommendation 20).

As an immediate step, the government has provided a further $100,000 in funding for The Lighthouse, an after-hours drop-in centre for children operated by the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service. The funding will enable the centre to increase its youth services over the next four months, including the summer holiday period, to keep more children off the streets at night. This measure responds to the need for more after-hours services as identified in recommendation 11 of the report.

Multiple government agencies will be tasked with implementing these recommendations. A coordinated implementation plan will be developed by relevant Queensland Government agencies, overseen by the Executive Committee for the Townsville Stronger Communities initiative. This Executive Committee comprises senior representatives of key agencies. The government will also take into account the directions from the Major General about ensuring Indigenous input into the Executive Committee, as well as considering how best to continue to communicate and engage with the community.

Across government, we are united and determined to successfully tackle this complex issue.

The report, developed by a respected and independent community champion, is an invaluable tool as government shapes its response to effectively address community concerns.

It affirms much of what Queensland Government’s current policy has established: that sustained long-term solutions have a strong prevention, intervention and rehabilitation focus. In this way, the report shares many similarities with the Atkinson Report on Youth Justice, delivered by the highly-respected former Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson.

The Major General’s recommendations were considered in the development of the Youth Justice Strategy and will also inform the detailed Action Plan that sets out the practical steps to implement the Youth Justice Strategy and recommendations from both reports. The government’s response will also build upon the existing significant additional investment in youth justice services in Townsville under the government’s five-point plan and the Townsville Community Youth Response.

A clear picture has been painted for government about what needs to happen. Now we must deliver for the community.

Engaging the Community Champion was not about deflecting responsibility for this matter—quite the opposite. Addressing community concerns and implementing evidence-based policy is how we will deliver sustained change.

This government is committed to ensuring a safer Townsville not just for the days, weeks and months ahead, but for future generations.