The Queensland Labor Government has terminated a trial of youth boot camps, scrapping the controversial law and order initiative by the former Newman LNP Government.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath revealed today the cost of the trial had skyrocketed to $16.7 million and had failed to cut repeat offending.
Consequently, she had directed her department not to renew existing contracts for the camps which were due to expire over the next two months.
Ms D’Ath said an independent evaluation by KPMG found the average daily cost to keep a young person at one of the camps, Lincoln Springs west of Ingham, was $2350 a day, compared with $999 for youth detention.
“Aside from the shameful waste, it has shattered the myth on which the trial was based – youth boot camps do not break the cycle of offending,” she said.
“The latest data shows that of the 74 young people in the Sentenced Youth Boot Camp program, 47 – or 63.5 per cent – have reoffended. That’s no different to other forms of detention.
“There is simply no justification to put more money into programs that are failing to address reoffending.”
In April, a Queensland Audit Office report identified major cost blowouts, poor planning and a lack of documentation around tenders for the boot camps.
As a key election commitment in 2012, the LNP Government promised to toughen up the juvenile justice system by introducing the boot camps, arguing they were an alternative to traditional detention.
Early intervention camps were subsequently set up on the Gold, Fraser and Sunshine Coasts as well as Rockhampton.
A sentenced camp was established for Cairns and Townsville.
But boot camps weren’t the only juvenile justice measure ushered in by the LNP.
Spurred on by a high youth crime rate, especially in North Queensland, the then Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie introduced new laws lifting the requirement that juvenile offenders be jailed as a last resort as well as allowing publication of young offenders names and their criminal records.
Mrs D’Ath said the Palaszczuk Government had already moved to build a youth justice system that addressed the cause of offending, ensured young people were held responsible for their behaviour and used the benefits of rehabilitation to build stronger communities.
This included the reinstatement of court-referred youth justice conferencing through the allocation of $23.6 million over four years, she said.