Why youth boot camps do not work: RMIT Professor

IS $15,352 too much to save a young person from a life of crime?

That's the question being asked of the Palaszczuk government following the announcement youth justice boot camps would be shut down across Queensland due to their high cost.

During a parliamentary budget estimates committee in Brisbane last week, Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said the cost of the former LNP government's approach to youth crime had blown out from a $2million trial to $16.7million.

Ms D'Ath tabled a report that found the boot camp cost per youth was $15,352 in Rockhampton, substantially more than youth detention ($999), and did not deliver the intended results on repeat offending or community engagement.

The Morning Bulletin yesterday sought the opinion of RMIT University Adjunct Professor Peter Norden on boot camps.

Prof Norden, who works in the university's School of Global, Social and Urban Studies, has more than 40 years' experience with young offenders and has been a key player in the introduction of successful programs tackling this issue.

He said boot camps, though popular with politicians wanting to look tough on crime, were not the solution.

Once people scratched the surface they would see any intervention needed to be more "holistic" in scope and focused on connecting a young person with the community.

This connection, accommodation and the prospect of employment were central factors.

Prof Norden said many young offenders lacked the presence of a positive role model in their life.

While he recognised there would be some success stories from boot camps, he said an objective view would clearly show the Queensland Government should look towards successful programs, such as the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre in Victoria, for the future.


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