Mona Aboriginal Corporation will deliver a four-year, trial On Country program for young repeat offenders in Mount Isa.
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said the $2.25 million On Country trial for Mount Isa followed an open tender process which will allow young offenders to learn from their mistakes and contribute in a meaningful way to their community.
"Courts and the police will have powers to refer high risk, 10 to 17-year-old Indigenous offenders to an On Country program for up to two months under the supervision, guidance and mentoring of Elders and Traditional Owners," Ms Farmer said.
Mona Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Patrick Cooke said the On Country program in Mount Isa would seek to direct young Indigenous offenders towards more positive opportunities and experiences.
"This won't be a quick fix, but it will allow us to begin in the healing process and draw on our cultural links, particularly for children who have experienced trauma," Mr Cooke said.
"Cultural mentoring is about showing youth the right path, the right ways, and the Elders will play a key role in this.
"They don't always get that chance in their home life, which is why going on country is so important because it gives them time and space to connect with their Elders, their families, their culture and their country."
Ms Farmer said the On Country program, also to be trialled in Cairns and Townsville, would send a strong message to repeat young offenders.
"While there has been a significant drop in the number of young people committing offences we're seeing a hard-core group of 10 per cent of offenders responsible for 44 per cent of youth crime."
"On Country programs are designed to give high risk, repeat offenders the support they need to turn their lives around and return to work or education.
Ms Farmer said the open tender ensured all potential contractors were given a fair go, and senior community leaders on the tender panels had the majority say in determining who was successful.
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