Police and Civil Liberties Council at a loss in how to deal with rampant indigenous youth crime:
Petford Farm program should be reinstated, demands Federal Member Warren Entsch
by Casey Briggs, ABC and Cairns News
A police operation to photograph and question unsupervised children on the streets of Mount Isa is illegal and should be stopped, according to civil libertarians.
Queensland’s Civil Liberties Council will ask the state’s privacy commissioner to investigate the operation, as politicians suggest the initiative could be expanded to other regional cities.
As part of Operation Tucson, children wandering the streets in the north-west Queensland mining town are being stopped, photographed, and in some cases driven home by Queensland Police Service (QPS) officers.
Officers record the child’s name, address, clothing and where they are going.
Queensland Civil Liberties Council vice-president Terry O’Gorman said he will send a submission to the Privacy Commissioner tomorrow morning, asking them to investigate.
“Police do not have the power, and should not have the power, to willy-nilly walk down the street, take photographs of people and put them on the major Queensland Police Service database,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“Stopping children, particularly Aboriginal juveniles, in the street at 2 o’clock in the afternoon simply to ask them what they’re doing is beyond the law, it’s illegal and it should be stopped.
“It’s also very bad for juvenile and police community relations.”
Mr O’Gorman is concerned about how the photographs will be used by the QPS.
“They must be being put on a police database: that’s the equivalent of these youths, many of whom have never committed a criminal offence, having a criminal record,” he said.
In the three weeks the operation has been running, officers have stopped children 500 times.
Queensland Police said the photographs will be kept confidential, and won’t be shared with other agencies or bodies.
“We respect the rights of individuals, and most times people are very supportive and cooperative of what we do,” said Acting Assistant Commissioner Kev Guteridge.
“We’ll try and link [the data] back to other offences that may have been reported to identify those people as either offenders in other offences, or more importantly clear their name if they weren’t responsible.”
“We’re out there trying to protect the community — if there was anything sinister involved we certainly wouldn’t be involved in that.”
Meanwhile the Member for Leichardt, Warren Entsch has called on the State Government to reinstate the highly successful Petford Farm program which operated west of Cairns for three decades.
Petford Farm program developer Geoff Guest OAM, over 30 years has successfully rehabilitated more than 3000 youths and older visitors with his ground breaking program which breaks the substance abuse cycle.
Former Labor Premier Anna Bligh withdrew funding for the Petford facility 10 years ago because she believed Mr Guest and wife Norma’s methods were too harsh.
The Petford program has long been supported by Professor Ernest Hunter, former head of the Indigenous Mental Health faculty at James Cook University because of its effectiveness, which does not rely on the use of prescription drugs such as Ritalin or other behavioural suppressants.
Member for Kennedy Bob Katter and Mt Isa MP Robbie Katter have both called for relocation sentencing incorporating the Petford program.
On the weekend Mr Guest said he would be prepared to advise any new rehabilitation facility about adopting his program.
Calls to expand Mt Isa operation
It comes as two far north Queensland MPs back the idea of running an interception operation in Cairns similar to that of Mt Isa.
Federal Government Liberal MP Warren Entsch said the operation in Mount Isa “makes a lot of sense”.
“I don’t know how you can justify children as young as eight years old roaming the streets at 10 o’clock at night … other than they’re there for mischief, or their parents can’t control them,” he said.
There is growing community concern in Cairns over car thefts, with a record 767 cars stolen in the past year.
Cowards with guns shoot defenceless cattle and horses
Cattle and horse stealing have been plaguing long-time grazier, landowner and renowned horseman Geoff Guest OAM who runs Petford Farm along the Petford Irvinebank Road, 33 klm west of Dimbulah.
A month ago two cows were shot in the driveway of his homestead, situated some 60 metres from the road.
About the same time three horses were shot, wounded and left to die in his paddock. Helicopters buzz the property regularly, which Mr Guest, 90, believes are looking for his cattle and horses.
Some time ago Mr Guest was monitoring on his two way radio, illegal night time mustering by thieves with cattle dogs.
“I heard them on the radio talking about catching cattle. It was very clear so they must have been quite close,” Mr Guest said.
“Judging from their conversation they were catching my branded and unbranded weaners and loading them on a small truck then taking them somewhere close to be killed and then selling the meat.
“Fortunately I was able to record most of their conversations on my phone and I have given all this information and a bit more I have been told to a private investigator.
“Today a helicopter flew up Emu Creek and over the paddocks looking for my cattle and horses, but I now have a warning system in place that alerts some local people that illegal mustering is going on, and they can be on the property in a short time to deal with it.
“I have legal people assisting my group who will get these people into court real quickly.
“When they shot the cows one night they were in a direct line with the house and bullets could have easily hit the place.
“I got one of my military supporters to recover the projectiles from the dead cows and he sent them off for ballistic testing.”
Up to 15 black teenagers hit a man with a bicycle, then punched and kicked him unconscious in the early hours of Sunday morning in the Cairns suburb of Woree.
The man, 36, had left a local hotel and was walking towards his car when he was directly approached by the gang of youths.
Senior Constable Russell Parker of Cairns Police said the man had been unconscious for about 10 minutes and when he came to, discovered his phone, wallet and car keys had been stolen.
Constable Parker said his car was taken for a joy ride by the indigenous youths but later recovered.
Police have called for public assistance to find the culprits. As previously reported in Cairns News gangs of roaming, largely indigenous criminals have placed a stain on Cairns as a safe tourist destination.
Police have long complained that after putting in hundreds of man hours looking for youthful criminals in the past, their able efforts are normally diffused by the Magistrates Court.
Successive State Governments have watered down punishment for young criminals and the Labor Government shut down boot camps.
Indigenous health advocate, Geoff Guest OAM, told Cairns News he has had outstanding success with youth and adult drug and alcohol rehabilitation over 30 years.
The renowned Petford Farm, west of Dimbulah, has successfully seen more than 3000 patients pass through its gates.
Many former residents of Petford Farm, now the Guest Centre, return after 20 or more years to pay homage to Mr Guest for turning their lives around.
The Guest program, based on horse training and riding, has been acknowledged by health professionals as the best substance abuse rehabilitation course in Australia.
Mr Guest said he has not admitted troubled youth to the program for a number of years, instead concentrating on healthy nutrition for Aboriginal communities, a strategy he believes should prevent the need for extensive rehab programs.
Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, has called on the State Government to introduce healthy eating programs across the north, particularly at Kowanyama where three children attempt suicide each week.
Mr Guest, aged 90, is a seemingly ageless philanthropist, who has dedicated much of his life to helping others.
Media organisations and newspapers are cowering under threat of prosecution by the Anti-discrimination Commission should they identify the ethnic origin of criminals when reporting their misdeeds. So much for the abortive attempt to rehabilitate Section 18c.
It matters not to the racist zealots of the loathed Anti-discrimination Commission that young Aborigines are by far the main perpetrators of rampant, serious assaults and other crime in the Cairns area.
Some white criminals exist but tourists bearing the brunt of robbery, assault and battery are taking home stories that a visit to Cairns is just not worth it.
If you go out at night, or now it seems even in broad daylight you are likely to be assaulted.
Worse still the average age and gender of assailants has shocked hardened policemen on the beat.
In the past week a 37 year old Japanese tourist was approached by three youths and asked for cigarettes but when he refused he was bashed with a tree branch. The juveniles then tried to steal his back pack without success. Paramedics arrived to find the man suffering “serious bleeding.”
Three of the four 13 year old muggers, some or all of indigenous appearance, have been caught and since charged but will be dealt with under the juvenile justice act. Police are still looking for the fourth offender.
Unravelling this media-speak means they will be given a stern lecture perhaps by a Magistrate and released into the custody of their parents or carers, who should have made them stay home and taught them how to respect others in the first place, instead of wandering the streets in the early hours of the morning.
Meanwhile a tourist remains seriously injured and is no doubt harbouring vicious intent against the hundreds of wandering, Aboriginal and white kids in street gangs who push pedestrians off the footpath because the Aborigines proclaim ‘white bastards’ are trespassing on their land.
In a separate and unrelated incident, a 19 year old female was taken to hospital after she was allegedly attacked by three youths during an attempted robbery in the Cairns CBD.
The trio demanded her phone but was punched and kicked unconscious when she refused to hand it over.
A Manoora boy and Bentley Park girl, both aged 12, and a 16 year old girl from Mooroobool, have been charged by police.
Police are frustrated by the Magistrates Court being unable to address the youthful crime wave across the region. The ALP can take responsibility for diluting existing laws and for failing to introduce harsher penalties to curb escalating youth crime.
At least 80 motor vehicles a month are being stolen throughout the Cairns and Tablelands district and police are discovering to their horror that some thieves who led them on car chases have been as young as 12.
In years gone by, courts would give young troublemakers two options in sentencing. One was to attend a state detention facility that provided much better facilities and tucker than that at home, or to undertake a period of attendance at the renowned Petford Farm rehabilitation centre, run by indigenous couple, Geoff and Norma Guest since the late 1970’s.
Located on a remote cattle and horse property 30 klms west of Dimbulah, the facility can claim outstanding success with more than 3000 attendees over a 30 year period.
Health authorities have boasted a 70 per cent non-recidivism success rate with Aboriginal and white youth after completing the Guest courses. Many adults also passed through the drug and alcohol rehabilitation program developed by Geoff Guest OAM. His wife Norma passed away last year after a long illness.
The Petford Wellness group in more recent times, rather than taking troubled boarders, has been developing a rehabilitation curriculum for implementation into Aboriginal communities, with the notion of prevention rather than cure.
Mr Guest wants to train trainers so they can instruct intending mothers, mothers and children about proper nutrition, removal of sugar from diets and food preparation methods. He believes in the adage, ‘we are what we eat.’
Now aged 90, the intrepid Geoff Guest still breaks in horses, which have played an integral part of his outstanding rehabilitation process.
The Queensland Labor Party recently ruled against the state’s youth boot camp apparatus, in effect the Guest legacy, claiming it was too hard on participants and ineffectual.
The crime wave apologists of the socialist Labor and Greens will continue to flay Far Northern tourism with their unauthorised United Nations Human Rights obligations, causing visitors to condemn destinations such as Cairns, being dangerous and a hazard to their itineraries. – contributed
This letter was submitted to the Cairns Post two weeks ago but not published. The Cairns Post, Rupert Murdoch’s Far Northern newspaper propaganda unit, has an editorial policy of not publishing anything detrimental to the district’s large sugar cane growing and refining industry, never mind that nearly every nutritionist and medical doctor will warn that sugar consumption is dangerous to health. Northern icon and health advocate Geoff Guest, OAM, has told night clubbers to eat some food which would help stabilise their low blood sugar levels after consuming large amounts of alcohol. If clubs provided food late at night Mr Guest believes it would help stem violence.
Letter to the Editor
Comments by health professional Lolita Hunter in the Cairns Post, about indigenous health problems in communities does not go to the core of the problem.
It’s no good shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. The problems start with the old saying, “you are what you eat.”
Geoff Guest OAM with Professor Ernest Hunter, Cairns Mental Health Unit, discuss addictions and rehabilitation at an Atherton seminar in 2015
My 40 years of research at Petford Wellness Association working closely with Professor Ernest Hunter of the Cairns Mental Health Unit in recent years clearly show that food cravings are mostly caused by eating sugar.
A can of well-known soft drink and a chocolate bar for breakfast leads to immense problems such as diabetes, heart and psychological problems.
After rehabilitating 4000 adults and youths over 30 years I have discovered that a highly refined carbohydrate diet, excess sugar and a low fibre diet start the cravings.
The cravings lead to more sugar, alcohol and then drugs. If alcohol is unavailable drugs will do.
I have read a lot of hype from club goers about the changes to the lock out laws.
The doctors and ambulance officers agree with trying to reduce alcohol-related violence but we should stem the cause. So do I.
Night club patrons should have food before they leave the club because after hours of alcohol consumption their blood sugar levels are normally quite low which can cause confusion, anger and aggressiveness.
I heard my local Member Shane Knuth mention the need for food in clubs and he is quite right.
At least any troublesome clubbers might reduce their anger by eating good food and keep their fists to themselves.
Geoff Guest OAM
The introduction of white flour, sugar and refined foods to Aboriginal communities many decades ago, triggered the onset of the health and welfare crisis being experienced across Far North Queensland today.
A seminar for health professionals at Atherton hosted by the Petford Wellness Association on Sunday heard indigenous health expert Adjunct Professor Ernest Hunter of the Public Health and Tropical Medicine faculty at James Cook University discussing the generational effect of alcohol and illicit drugs on unborn babies.
While the government is looking at removing or refining Alcohol Management Plans put in place by the previous Labor Government, Prof Hunter said any alcohol consumption in communities is dangerous especially for pregnant mothers.
“Alcohol was introduced by the state government years ago to solve financial problems for communities which were partly funded by the sales of alcohol through community social clubs,” Prof Hunter said.
“At the end of the day communities have to make their own decisions about alcohol.
“But the community must be separated from the economics of alcohol use if the promotion of a healthier lifestyle results in a spin-off from alcohol sales. ”
He said there was no silver bullet to remedy the decades of alcohol and now substance abuse but proper nutrition and removal of sugar from diets was necessary for a long term solution.
“At one particular community the average cost per person of marijuana purchases is $7000 a year,” he said.
Prof Hunter said there were similar problems on the Tablelands with disengaged youth, and diet programs should be developed to enable the large numbers of unemployed school leavers to become fit for work.
“Originally the introduction of flour and processed food took Aboriginal Australia from relying on traditional hunting to becoming a ration and welfare dependent society.”
Vegetable gardens that were once the norm at all communities had since vanished making them entirely dependent on supermarket food.
He stressed the need for highly skilled food trainers to begin a home visit program to provide the necessary food sourcing and meal preparation skills.
Responding to a question about the recent job losses and upheaval in communities due to the state government shut-down of two proposed major mining projects on the Peninsula, he said making proper jobs available is a great motivator which gave people much incentive to improve their lot.
“Loss of jobs is a loss of freedom,” he said.
Some welfare initiatives had begun to show results but had been undermined by well-intentioned government programs in the past.
“The solution is not more government funding,” he added
Petford Wellness Association nutrition advisor Rebecca Bell and chairman Geoff Guest OAM discuss preventative methods for alcohol and substance abuse in indigenous communities with Adjunct Professor Ernest Hunter of the Public Health and Tropical Medicine faculty, JCU.