Mayor says it's time to rally wider community for troubled kids
Mayor says it's time to rally wider community for troubled kids Madura McCormack

Mayor robbed, moved by plight of youth crims

IT IS up to Mackay residents to step in and help the broken, impoverished children driving the scourge of youth crime in town. This, from Mayor Greg Williamson, who last week became part of a growing community of people falling victim to youth crime.

The Magistrates' hands are tied by the youth justice system, and the police are demoralised because they put in so much work to clean up the effects of this youth crime, the mayor said. "There's a serious underlying social problem that we as a community need to try and address... we need to start talking about it."

Mr Williamson's own home was burgled last Wednesday night by a group of young offenders who escaped in his red Jeep.

The car was found totalled the next day.

But rather than be enraged, Mr Williamson was clearly saddened and moved, and started asking questions about the background of the juvenile who was ultimately charged.

And what he found out was hard to hear.

"I feel very sorry for the kids that are causing so much grief for our community, and I'm particularly sorry for the kid that burgled our home and totalled our car," he said. "I just wish that young person had had a better upbringing.

"Now that I know what I know, I know she didn't," he said.

Speaking with community leaders and police, Mr Williamson believes prison will make things worse.

"I know everybody will just want to say, lock 'em up, but that is clearly not the answer," he said. "As the police will tell you, they will just get out of the youth justice system as better criminals. There has to be an answer as to how we as a community can offer some help, and that's what I'd like to do."

He plans to bring the topic to the next meeting of Mackay's Domestic And Family Violence Task Force.

Queensland Police data reveals the number of offences committed by young people in Mackay has risen seven per cent since 2015.

A total of 1235 crimes were committed by children in Mackay in 2017.