New Intensive On Country trial tackles juvenile First Nation offenders

Minister for Education and Minister for Youth Justice The Honourable Di Farmer

An Intensive On Country Program trial for First Nations young people in contact with the youth justice system will be delivered by the Miles Government

  • The program will be available in a number of new locations providing intensive cultural and residential experience and build on current On Country program
  • Expressions of Interest now open for the Intensive On Country trial
  • The Miles Government is seeking expressions from of Interest from First Nations organisations, to deliver a new Intensive On Country trial program, for young Queenslanders engaged with the youth justice system.

    The Intensive On Country trial will provide a cultural and residential experience that expands on the current On Country program, which began in 2020.

    The Intensive On Country program will build on learnings from the current On Country initiative, including:

    • An intensive cultural and residential experience for longer periods and/or more often
    • education and training opportunities
    • family support, including support to improve protective factors and reduce risk factors
    • and in-home family support, to ensure parents and carers meet the daily living needs of young people and improve safety conditions

    Intensive On Country will provide young people an opportunity to reflect on their offending behaviour through cultural interventions while on country.

    As young people return to their homes the new initiative will support reconnection with education, family/kin, and employment opportunities.

    It will also deliver a wider range of wrap around supports to young people and their families, to deal with mental and physical health, substance misuse, relationship with social media.

    Young people will also be coached in practical life skills like cooking, cleaning, budgeting, getting bank accounts and identification, as well as accessing accommodation, providing them with the skills needed to break the cycle of offending.

    A mandatory requirement of the procurement process for the new program will be that the service is delivered by, or in partnership with, an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisation.

    The On Country program, designed and delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations, involves On Country camps, cultural activities, mentoring, and intensive case work support.

    • Early data indicates young people who participated in an On Country program, compared with those who did not, were less likely to reoffend 6 months after program completion (58 per cent compared with 64 per cent).
    • This was still the case 12 months after completion of the program (66 per cent compared with 73 per cent).
    • A significant improvement in behaviour, emotional regulation, effective communication, managing conflict, and family circumstances were also noted among program participants.

    Quotes attributable to Premier Steven Miles:

    “Our Government is committed to keeping Queenslanders safe and breaking the cycle of offending, especially with our young people.

    “There isn’t one simple solution to stopping all youth offending, but evidence tells us that on country programs have had some real success.

    “This program will provide First Nations young people with ‘on-country’ experiences and culturally informed interventions, while also providing connection and an opportunity to change offending behaviour.

    “We have heard from Mayor Hill and from Townsville locals about their plans for relocation programs and this EOI will be open to programs like that.

    “We’ve listened to elders and from community leaders, who believe they can deliver better on-country programs that can help young people to connect to country, to change the context that’s causing their offending, to take them away from the triggers of that offending and to give them intensive support to break that cycle.”

    Quotes attributable to Youth Justice Minister Di Farmer:

    “We are firmly committed to helping young people break the cycle of crime by giving them the opportunity to turn their lives around.

    “This is why we are investing heavily in intervention and diversionary programs around the state that are proven to be effective in reducing offending.

    “Our new initiative will build on from our current On Country program and provide a more intensive service to stop offending by helping young First Nations people to turn their lives.”

    /Public Release. View in full here.