Stockland Police Beat: Part of a youth crime solution?
DEVELOPING a range of measures to support the region's at-risk youth, including the establishment of a community leaders group, are being explored in discussions between multiple agencies and community leaders in Rockhampton.
Last Thursday, Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke invited close to 40 community leaders, representatives from community groups, police and State Government agencies to a meeting to work on positive strategies to support the region's at-risk youth.
Mr O'Rourke said it was important to help "our kids" find the right path in life so that they make better choices.
He said developing good strong mentors for youth, along with organisations and agencies working together would help to deliver positive outcomes.
"I was heartened by the commitment of everyone present to tackling these issues. This was not a one-off meeting, we will continue working together to help our kids and keep our community safe," Mr O'Rourke said.
"It's a big, complex task with terrific support from community leaders in policing, mental health, youth support, education, housing, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Wellbeing and Support Services, Alcohol and Other Drugs Service but there is a strong desire to work together and I'll be keeping everyone updated on successful outcomes."
Mr O'Rourke said one of the central issues discussed was the need for at risk youth to have somewhere to call home, to have support and love that inspired a positive pathway for their future and how community leaders could work together to make this happen.
Recent discussions have centred around the establishment of a Police Beat at Stockland following the launch of an e-petition by a concerned community member.
The petition currently has 1,373 signatures.
Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan said the allocation of police resources to establish a Police Beat in Stockland would be decided by Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll - free from political interference.
Mr O'Rourke agreed saying police were the experts in resource allocation and he trusted the Police Commissioner to make decisions in the best interests of the community.
A QPS spokesperson confirmed senior police had attended the community leaders forum focusing on youth justice issues.
"This forum was an opportunity to work collaboratively with other stakeholders on solutions to address youth crime issues, including at Stockland," the spokesperson said.
"The QPS is committed to further engagement and action to ensure the safety of the Rockhampton community.
"Police in Rockhampton review crime daily and can direct resources in response to and in prevention of crime occurring across the whole community, including local shopping centres such as Stockland Rockhampton."
The spokesperson confirmed that police were working closely with Stockland management and other agencies to ensure the best possible service was being provided to that centre.
"Decisions on the allocation of resources are made based on the needs relevant to the community and are made utilising a range of data," they said.
"There are no timelines regarding a decision as it is a live assessment process, with decisions based on substantiated information which provides a sustainable outcome for the whole community."
Also in attendance at the meeting, new Stockland Rockhampton centre manager Elysia Billingham expressed an openness and willingness to better understand and address the youth justice issues as they related to the shopping centre.
"Stockland attended the recent community leaders forum which provided a platform for key community stakeholders to connect in working together for the provision of support services to youths and families at risk," Ms Billingham said.
"We are pleased to be a part of this forum and are committed to working alongside the extended group of support providers within the region."
She said Stockland had expanded its security team to reflect the diversification of the community.
"Our security provider has been actively working with the team training, up-skilling and educating all guards to ensure their competence in managing the broad variety of scenarios they face, with a particular focus on youth anti-social behaviour," she said.
"We continue to support QPS in their decisions for how best to manage crime within Rockhampton, and appreciate their increased presence within the centre.
"We are also working closely with retailers in understanding and responding to their concerns, with many of the recent changes being positively received."
Mr O'Rourke urged anyone wanting to get involved in youth mentoring initiatives to contact his office on 4994 2100.
To add your name to the petition for a Stockland Police Beat, visit here.