Cairns is the car stealing capital – 767 stolen in 2017 and 38 cars stolen in March 2018
Nearly 100 Cairns region residents fed up with spiralling juvenile crime, unanimously passed a resolution at a meeting in Woree on Saturday instructing the State Government to immediately implement the renowned Petford Farm Rehabilitation Program.
Founder of the program, Geoff Guest OAM, 91, explained to the audience how over 35 years he had successfully transformed more than 3000 troubled youths and adults into a stable lifestyle by offering a holistic solution to substance and alcohol abuse.
He said the transition to normality could not be achieved without incorporating the families of offenders, teaching them proper nutrition and that diet was as important as a loving family environment to break the cycle of anti-social behaviour and re-offending.
“At Petford over the years we taught the kids self-respect and how to respect others and by teaching them horsemanship, fencing, cattle work and tidying up after themselves then cooking at night,” Mr Guest said.
“My late wife Norma made sure there was always a good meal after a day’s work and there was no need to rely on sugar hits from soft drinks or alcohol to keep going.”
Supporting Mr Guest were Member for Kennedy Bob Katter, Member for Leichardt Warren Entsch and State Member for Hill Shane Knuth.
The former Member for Mulgrave Naomi Wilson was present and also backed Mr Guest’s strategy.
Attila Feher-Holan, the founder of the neighbourhood watch group Cairns Knights, chaired the meeting and was scathing of the four local Labor Party state politicians who did not show up.
“The disrespect shown to constituents by the Labor members has not gone unnoticed and I ask if they have any intention at all of stopping the terrible crime wave local people are experiencing,” Mr Feher-Holan said.
“I personally asked Cynthia Lui, Michael Healy, Craig Crawford and Curtis Pitt if they would attend a meeting to help fix this awful problem but only Michael Healy accepted then pulled out after the government discovered he was coming.”
Long-time Petford supporter Professor Ernest Hunter, formerly Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service and Adjunct Professor at James Cook University, explained how the Petford Program had been so successful.
“One can’t work without the other and Geoff Guest incorporated a strict health and diet regime with a remote location and did not rely on any pharmaceutical drugs or more conventional methods of rehabilitation,” Professor Hunter said.
Member for Kennedy Bob Katter told the meeting how he had sought advice from different Aboriginal groups when formulating his Relocation Sentencing policy which allows Magistrates to sentence young offenders to a remote rehabilitation facility instead of going to jail.
“What happens is amateur criminals go to detention or jail and come out as professionals,” Mr Katter said.
“Jail for young offenders is not the answer.”
Mr Guest said he had been asked by Innisfail and Townsville residents to stage further meetings because of the high crime rates in their communities.-contributed
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.