Queensland Young Offenders May Be Sent to Regional Communities

“We’ve heard ... also from elders, from community leaders, from others that they believe they can deliver better on-country programs,” Mr. Miles said.
Queensland Young Offenders May Be Sent to Regional Communities
Protestors are seen during a Voice for Victims community group rally in Brisbane, Australia, on Aug. 23, 2023. (AAP Image/Darren England)
2/13/2024
Updated:
2/13/2024
0:00

The Queensland government is considering relocating young offenders to regional areas, in light of the public stabbing death of a grandmother.

A grandmother was allegedly stabbed to death in front of her granddaughter at a shopping centre carpark in Queensland on Feb. 3.

Premier Steven Miles said young offenders may be sent to regional communities following a suggestion from Katter’s Australia Party, which has been advocating for it since 2017.

Under the proposed measure, juvenile offenders would be relocated to regional areas to work on the land and learn life skills.

“We’ve heard ... also from elders, from community leaders, from others that they believe they can deliver better on-country programs,” Mr. Miles said.

“That can help young people to connect to country, to change the context that’s causing their offending, to take them away from the triggers of that offending and to give them intensive supports to break that cycle.”

While welcoming tougher action on youth crime, Mrs. White’s daughter Cindy Micallef said the proposed changes do not go far enough.

“It’s too little, too late, unfortunately. I know people that have been campaigning for this for a long time and it should never has come to this,” she said. “If this is [the] catalyst for change, they'd better move quickly and get it done.”

‘Transparency is Important’

Additionally, the government is considering allowing the media and victims access to court hearings when a child has been accused of a violent crime

The issue was highlighted recently when media were barred from attending the first court appearance of the 16-year-old boy charged over the death of grandmother Vyleen White, 70, in Queensland.

“The government will support amending the laws to allow reporters into courtrooms where appropriate,” Mr. Miles said.

“And we will go further, to allow victims’ families to go to court as well. We believe that kind of transparency, that kind of scrutiny, is important and is appropriate.

“I’ve indicated that we have listened to the media and we have listened to victims and we will make sure that they have greater access to the courts,” he said.

Journalists Rarely Granted Access

Currently, the law says that any youth matters heard in front of a magistrate are to occur in a closed court.

Journalists can apply to attend a particular hearing, but are rarely permitted as they must be able to convince the court their presence will not be prejudicial to the interests of the child.

The Children’s Court was once open to the public—but only for matters involving repeat offenders—unless the magistrate ordered otherwise when the then-LNP government amended youth justice laws in 2014. But that was repealed two years later by the Palaszczuk Labor government.

Queensland Government Bans Knife for Minors

The stabbing of Ms. White has also led to the banning of the sale of knives to minors.

Premier Stephen Miles said he believes no one should carry a knife in the community and has lifted the penalty for publicly carrying a knife to 18 months, up from 12 months.

“Today we’ve resolved to bring forward the banning of the sale of knives to minors. We also agreed to increase the penalty for having a knife in public,” Mr. Miles said in a video posted to X.

“Every Queenslander deserves to feel safe in their home, at the shops and on the streets. I certainly want my family to feel safe when they go to the supermarket.

“There is no reason why anyone should have a knife in public. A weapon that can be used for violence in public is not acceptable.”

However, some retailers have questioned the effectiveness of any such law, pointing out that most homes have a drawer full of sharp knives from which a young offender could take a weapon.