Farm-hand course steers young people away from crime

Minister for Children and Youth Justice and Minister for Multicultural Affairs The Honourable Leanne Linard

A group of Townsville teens in the youth justice system is being given the essential skills they need to swap offending for a life on the land.

For the past six weeks, the Palaszczuk Government’s Transition to Success (T2S) program has partnered with TAFE to deliver a farm-hand course to 10 young people, covering areas such as farm machinery operation and weed and pest control.

Minister for Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs, Leanne Linard, who visited Townsville today, said it was the first time the TAFE had offered the course.

“Young people in T2S have often experienced difficulty with mainstream education, so this course represents a big step forward for them and gives them the entry-level skills they need to be a farm labourer,” Ms Linard said.

“This has meant learning how to safely operate tractors, front-end loaders and other machinery, how to safely use chemicals to manage pest and weeds, and how to revegetate land.

“And importantly, the skills can be used in a range of industries, whether it be agriculture, horticulture, or land management, meaning they can apply them anywhere from a rural property to city gardens or national park.

“Many young people who come through T2S love working with their hands, so it’s fantastic to see them have a solid foundation they can now build upon.”

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said programs like T2S were important in helping kids turn their lives around.

“Programs like this are about breaking the cycle of youth crime and giving young people the skills, they need to improve their prospects,” Mr Stewart said.

Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said T2S and the new course were about giving young offenders a stronger foundation for them to get back into school, further training, or a job.

“Intervention is a key part of stopping people reoffending and the T2S program has a proven record of helping do this,” Mr Harper said.

Member for Mundingburra Les Walker said having partnerships between TAFE and T2S was important.

“This is about everyone working together to try and change the lives of these young people,” he said.

The rural operations course has been funded by the Queensland Government’s Job Trainer Fund, which supports job seekers, school leavers and young people to access skills and training.

In the lead up to the course, the group of young people also engaged in equine therapy and received cultural mentoring from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.

Minister Linard said the Palaszczuk Government will hold young offenders to account which is why the Palaszczuk Government now has the toughest laws in the country when it comes to youth justice.

“Community safety is paramount which is why these news laws are so important,” Minister Linard said.

“The introduction of a presumption against bail for serious repeat offenders is a key part of the changes which were brought in by the government.”

“The changes mean more young offenders have been remanded in detention.”

“We must also give young people the chance to stay out of trouble and out of the youth justice system. T2S works to reduce risk factors linked to youth offending, such as disengagement from education, training, and employment, while also improving social skills and behaviours,’ she said.

Ms Linard said 76 full accredited certificates had been achieved by young people through the Townsville T2S program since it began in 2016.

A state-wide evaluation of the program in 2018 found more than two-thirds of graduates did not offend within 12 months of completion.

T2S currently operates in 20 locations throughout Queensland, with hundreds of young people achieving qualifications in construction, horticulture and landscaping, engineering, hospitality, and business.

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