Queensland's Youth Justice Minister has said Mount Isa's newest team of youth co-responders are having a "positive impact" as the state government continues its efforts to break the cycle of youth crime.
Youth Justice Minister Di Farmer used a trip to the north west on June 21 to launch the state's 10th team of co-responders, this time for Mount Isa.
"We're strongly committed to expanding our early intervention and diversionary programs because we know they can be critical in helping turn young lives around," Ms Farmer said.
The co-responder program has become a key part of the state government's ongoing attempts to tackle youth crime, having recorded more than 62,000 interactions with young people since the program began in 2020, according to the Youth Justice Minister.
The program integrates police and youth justice workers into teams who patrol the streets, engaging with at-risk young people and their families to deter offending and prevent more youths entering the state's already bloated youth justice system.
At 266, Queensland has the highest number of young people in detention on average each day compared to any other state or territory in Australia, a Justice Reform Initiative report revealed in November 2022.
By focusing on interactions with at-risk and high-risk young people, Queensland's Youth Crime Taskforce Commander George Marchesini said police can "build rapport and maximise early intervention opportunities".
"We have seen terrific outcomes from the youth co-responder program in other parts of the state and I'm confident this initiative will make a real difference here in Mount Isa," he said.
"Our youth co-responder teams are connecting with young people in a positive way.
"We're continuing to see positive relationships being built and high engagement rates that are sustained due to the joint approach."
Mount Isa youth co-responder Renae Carson said her team had hit the ground running.
"Teams in other parts of the state have already demonstrated the importance of their work, such as helping young people grappling with domestic violence or drug addiction," Ms Carson said.
"I know we can play a similar role here in Mount Isa in putting young people on to a better path," she said.
"It's clear that community safety is of key importance to Mount Isa residents and businesses.
"We hope that by engaging with young people on the street, in their homes, at a local park or a shopping centre, that we can prevent them from heading to the courthouse."
The Mount Isa team is one of five additional co-responder units being established throughout the state and will join the eight teams already in operation.
"We're already seeing early evidence that these programs are working but we need to give them time," Ms Farmer said.
"I understand the Mount Isa team is already having a positive impact as they find solutions for young people who are in crisis or on the verge of getting into trouble with the law," she said.
"Young people need to be held accountable if they commit crimes, but they also need to know that help is available and that they can make positive choices."
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