‘Why young crims should be sent bush to work’
PUTTING young criminals to work on a farm and off the streets is just the kick up the backside they need, an Alice River grazier believes.
Geoff and Vicki Toomby run the Ultimate Rural Training Centre at Wonderland Station and want young offenders to come to the property to learn skills to help gain employment and break the cycle of reoffending.
Last month Townsville was under siege by a group of young property offenders who terrorised the city in stolen cars prompting fresh calls for juvenile offenders to be sent to the bush to work.
Mr Toomby believes sending at-risk youths and those who have committed offences to his property would help to break the cycle of offending.
The young people would be offered a range of training programs that includes a Certificate III in rural operations.
Mr Toomby previously hosted at-risk juveniles from youth justice programs but claims a change in funding by the State Government forced the centre to stop due to growing expenses.
He is currently looking at grants to fund the program, which would include incorporating ex-defence personnel to help out.
"We've had kids out of Cleveland (Youth Detention Centre) that have now been out in the industry two and three years in a job, and they would never have had that chance if they stayed where they were," Mr Toomby said.
Mr Toomby said that the initiative taught the youths life skills and respect.
He said the program would also provide a means to pay back the victims of crime.
"They should be made to pay for another car, or come to here, do a course (and be) put in a job until they pay for that car," Mr Toomby said.
Traeger MP Robbie Katter, whose party has proposed the Relocation Sentencing Program, which would see children convicted of crimes sent to properties to work, said Mr Toomby's plan could link with their policy.
"We are advocating a large institutional facility … that would then facilitate getting kids into programs like Geoff Toomby's," he said.
Mr Katter said there were a lot of programs out there that wouldn't offer a fraction of the Ultimate Rural Training Centre.
"There's all these life lessons for a start, but they also learn the value of work … and there are opportunities for them," he said.
"Kids at that age, they need something to do. They need to keep their hands busy they need to be active. It (the program) ticks so many boxes."
Training and Skills Development Minister Shannon Fentiman said in July the State Government expanded free TAFE to anyone who had been in contact with the Youth Justice system.
"Under this free initiative there are over 170 courses on offer for free - including Certificate III in rural operations," she said.
Mr Toomby last week met with Herbert MP Phil Thompson and discussed the ongoing issue of youth crime.
"This is about getting these young criminals into some hard work, some manual labour as well as learning so that once completed they can go out and get a job," he said.