Queensland youth co-responder program hits two-year mark

By Anna Macdonald

May 23, 2022

cairns-court
The you co-responser initiative is in place in Cairns and Townsville, Moreton, Rockhampton and Logan. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Queensland’s youth co-responder team initiative has marked two years of operation, with the government naming it a success.

Under the program, police officers and youth justice workers make up teams to engage with young people in an effort to prevent youth crimes from being committed.

“We know every interaction a young person has with the co-responder team is an opportunity to build trust and find out what is happening in their lives and if they need extra support,” acting assistance commissioner Craig Hanlon said. 

Team leader of Cairn’s co-responder team Lily Palmer praised the initiative, labelling it an innovative approach to reducing youth crime.

“It allows us to build rapport with young people in a different way and provide support by connecting them and their families with community programs, sports clubs and other services that can meet their needs,” Palmer said.

The state government has allocated $43.2 million for youth justice programs, with $11.9 million allocated from the 2021-22 state budget to the co-responder initiative. 

Further south in Townsville, co-responder team leader Kym Musumeci said the teams are opportunities to divert youth attention away from crime to other available activities.

“Every time a co-responder engages with a young person, it’s an opportunity to check on their welfare and steer them away from poor choices,” Musumeci said.

“For example, if young people are gathering in groups and engaging in anti-social behaviour in public spaces, we’ll stop that situation by taking them home or to a safe place. And as we get to know young individuals, we’re in a good position to refer them to services where needed, such as family and youth support.”

The initiative is in place in Cairns and Townsville, as well as in Moreton, Rockhampton and Logan. 

There has been criticism of the program, with Queensland shadow minister for police Dale Last criticising the program for not reporting on the results of the interactions with the teams, only the number of interactions, as reported in the Townsville Bulletin

Other critics noted concerns the hardline approach to youth crime could put vulnerable children at risk, as previously reported in The Mandarin


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