NO COUNTRY: Government crime program ‘fizzles’
A million dollar program spruiked by the State Government to rehabilitate troubled children has sensationally "fizzled".
A source close to Townsville's "On Country" trial, which was sold as six to eight weeks working the land and learning about their heritage and culture, is actually only one or two, three-day trips to the bush.
The remaining part of the program is conducted in Townsville.
The Townsville Bulletin can reveal the program announced by Youth Minister Di Farmer earlier this year was watered down to a three-day trip on its inaugural run, with just two kids participating last week.
It's understood 13 were scheduled to go on the trip, but only two went to a farm in western Queensland.
The Bulletin was told the Youth Justice department were responsible for rounding up the participants for the trip.
The source said it was "a joke".
"How do they expect to help these kids in a few days?," the source said.
"This is far from what we expected … the government have completely back flipped.
"Their promise has fizzled."
Ms Farmer said in a statement yesterday that this was the proposed plan all along, and rest of the time would be spent on "supervision, education and training".
The $1.5 million On Country trial was awarded to Indigenous corporation, Gr8Motive, in July, and was a part of the government's five-point plan to combat crime announced in March.
Children could be referred to the program by police or the courts at the time of their sentence.
Ms Farmer said some young people referred to program have not yet attended, but are expected to soon.
"A young person referred to the program may attend two or three camps over eight weeks or may complete several individual camps over a longer period of time while undertaking education and/or training," she said.
"Importantly, Indigenous Elders and leaders are working intensively with young people, connecting them to culture but also guiding them to a better life that does not involve offending."
Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper, who sold the program as part of a five point plan to crack down on youth crime back in July, but yesterday said the program was the responsibility of an independent organisation.
"The On Country program is run by an independent organisation that went through a tender process to run the program," he said in a statement.
"The young people involved in the program come from a range of different circumstances and are not treated with a blanket approach.
"The program is a trial and the outcomes from it will continually be assessed and the program finetuned.
"This On Country camp is an aspect of the overall program, it is not the only part of it."
Gr8Motive CEO Chris Anderson could not be reached for comment.
Originally published as NO COUNTRY: Govt's crime program 'fizzles'