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Youth Offenders, Lock em up, send em away or try something different?

Serious and violent young offender are the most common talking point in the news and politically at the moment in the Top end. Due to the current Royal commission and several shocking revelations the news has polarized our community.

There is an old saying, it doesn't matter how thin you slice it there are always 2 sides to any story and both sides have strong political and financial agenda's. The most common form of youth offenses however are actually property crimes. The cost to the public both privately and commercially is horrendous. The cost to Council is asphyxiating future investment/s.

The current political and legal response is to utilize custody as the appropriate sentence. Prior and since the announcement of the Royal commission there has been more emphasis on "The bush mob" an out of town youth program and currently investigation is on trespass and long term banishment. The latest trespass alternatives basically assigns the youth to be either removed from Darwin to go to Alice springs or Vice versa. On occasion whereby family members are in other states there have been discussions engaged on sending the problem youths inter-state.

In essence we have 3 current solutions

- "Lock em up" with other kids from similar and more desperate circumstances.

- send em away to a youth camp whereby they interact with other youths from similar and more desperate circumstances in a different environment

- send them away.

It is obvious based on the media releases of information and video that the offenders are more proportionately identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait islander, but very few of these kids have any attachment or cultural inheritance apart from knowing about 50% or less of a bastardized form of their traditional languages.

These children have and are losing their cultural identity and at the same time are being programmed by family and society with an expectation that they will either be a constant burden, a long grasser, or some other form of vulnerable victim. This directly results in an impulsive need to alter their mental states to avoid depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts which leads to drugs, vandalism and other anti-social behavior.

Regardless of colour, these kids and they are kids are not just youth offenders or violent attackers they are children with a multitude of problems ranging from education and mental development, health problems, sexual and physical abuse and drug addictions.

Just as we pride ourselves on the advancements we have had in technology we have made phenomenal advancements in mental conditioning but where we casually discuss Billions of dollars in data-cabling to download a TV show in real time or faster, Federal, State and local governments have eviscerated our education and social welfare programs over the last 20 years.

What we are doing is basically burdening our children with higher incarceration, mental and physical health costs and at the same time reducing the productivity of generations to come. We owe our children more than that, we owe ourselves more than that.

So with a multitude of problems their is a need for a multitude of solutions.

In essence however it is about-

1. determining the current need/s of those children, educating them on the costs and benefits of those needs.

2. Through communication and counsel create enough personal leverage and self determination to alter the activities in order to meet those needs in an acceptable way.

3. Provide adequate support and opportunities to fill those positive alternative activities, be they sports, education, interaction or contribution.

4.Provide a safe and secure environment to prosper.

The Darwin City Council has an important part to play in this by providing access to public facilities and working in conjunction with Government departments both federal and local.

Progressive solutions that councils both nationally and internationally have been involved in are recreation Centres, location curfews, access to community volunteer programs, employment workforce development and the provisions of facilities for expo's, attractions and events.

By providing progressive solutions the community can benefit in lower costs and greater returns from public policies including

- Criminal and juvenile Justice

- preschool to year 12 and Early education

- child welfare

- substance abuse

- mental health

- public health

- public assistance

- employment and workforce development

- health care

- general prevention

- higher education

- Public safety and security

It all takes work but if there is one thing the Territory is known for is our Attitude, we play Hard, work Hard and get stuff done!

Remember if you have a need for change and want to help me help you, please share your voice and vote for Sam Wilks this coming August.

Note :

Written and Authorized by Sam Wilks. The views included may not be those of others mentioned in the article but are those of Sam Wilks. If you have other idea’s feel free to comment below. Idea’s and differing opinion is recognition of a free and just democratic society. A Society I am happy to live in. Please however try not to be abusive or discriminative, you may be. But if I feel that your opinion may be harmful or is reported as being harmful, I will delete it.

Sam Wilks

0402 152 929

PO Box 40441

Casuarina NT 0810

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