Opinion: Agency collaboration critical in reducing youth crime

Published on 10 August 2022


By Harold Tracey

The WA State Government Cabinet visited Broome earlier this month and it was great to welcome Mark McGowan and his ministers to our town.

They did not come empty handed, with a swathe of funding announcements made for new and recurring initiatives in Broome during a whirlwind trip to the Kimberley.

However, in my opinion the most important State Government announcement of the last few years was made earlier in 2022 – with a $40.4 million commitment to address Kimberley Youth and Community Justice.

There is no hiding the fact that youth crime is a massive issue in Broome and across the Kimberley, with a collective response needed to make the required societal change.

Additional policing was provided back in February through Operation Regional Shield and is appreciated, but this is only a small part of the solution.

The funding announcement proposes an on-country residential facility for young offenders as an alternative to detention, the expansion of the Target 120 early intervention program and the development of ‘safe place’ accommodation for at-risk youth.

In principle these measures can have a meaningful positive impact on our community, but I am worried about how they will be rolled out and implemented.

Tackling youth crime is not solely a job for one agency or another – there needs to be buy-in and collaboration from the entire community and countless different organisations across the region.

Since the announcement on May 3, there have been no tangible updates and our community is growing impatient.

The current justice processes are not working, with reports of serial offenders being given a slap on the wrist and released back to the community to reoffend.

Others get sent to Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre in Perth, but this appears to do little to prevent future reoffending.

Families and residents across Broome and the Kimberley are at their wit’s end with youth crime – as a community we need change.

As such, I’d call on all State Government agencies to work more closely with the Shire and our community to ensure a collective buy-in that can deliver the outcomes we all crave.

Harold Tracey is Shire of Broome president.

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