Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

The NSW Government will invest $13.4 million for a targeted response in Moree to address crime, support young people and improve community safety.

This will act as a pilot program, and if the approach proves successful will inform actions to address similar concerns in other regional communities.

“I have travelled to many regions since coming into government, including Moree.” said NSW Premier Chris Minns.

“I’ve spoken to mayors, police area commanders and local communities who have said we need to do more when it comes to crime rates, so that’s what we’re doing.”

“We know there is no easy solution but the reforms we are announcing today look at the big picture at a whole-of-community level, to really intervene and help prevent crime and give young people a chance at life.”

“We will not leave regional communities behind, and we will ensure regional communities are safe and appealing places to work, live and raise a family.”

“We need to work across government – police, schools, mental health – and importantly in partnership with community leaders, Aboriginal organisations and NGOs.”

Initiatives will include:

  • Additional judicial resources for Local (and Children’s) Court jurisdictions(including associated Legal Aid, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Police costs)for 6 monthsand additional Aboriginal Legal Service funding.
  • A new $8.75 million bail accommodation and support service in Moree for young people, to be co-designed by Government and community stakeholders. This will provide police and courts with more options to put a young person on bail with higher confidence that they will not reoffend. 
  • Young Aboriginal people would be linked to Indigenous organisations, elders, cultural and family supports from their own communities with skilled, qualified, trained and consistent staff on site 24/7 providing child-safe care.
  • An Action Plan within 6 months to optimise service delivery in Moree to ensure that services provide maximum benefit to the Moree community, including much better coordination, accountability and improving the availability of night-time and out of hours services and youth places.
  • Out of hours activities, to be delivered in partnership with the Moree Plains Shire Council and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations– including potential subsidised entry and extended hours at facilities such as the Moree LGA pools, the Moree Sports Health Arts and Education Academy (SHAE) and the PCYC.
  • Continuing NSW Police Force (NSWPF) operations in the Moree area to meet community needs. This includes continuing to surge operational resources. In addition, the Youth Command will continue Operation Youth Safe which combines education and early intervention to at risk children.

“We are taking action to work in Moree with community organisations and optimise service delivery through better coordination and improving the availability of night-time and out of hours services for local youth.” said Minister for Regional NSW Tara Moriarty.

“This is a significant funding announcement but most importantly a really considered plan of programs that, when implemented together, will help tackle crime and support young people across multiple regional communities.”

Moree Mayor, Mark Johnson is open to having Moree a pilot for the trial of these diversion strategies.

“Crime is not the future, and a positive life should be the life they choose to lead” said Mayor Johnson.

More funding for the regions

The funding is part of the State Government’s announcement today of a $26.2 million package of reforms and initiatives to support community safety and wellbeing, particularly in regional NSW, with a focus on strengthening early intervention and prevention programs for young people.

Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research shows that crime rates in regional NSW remain higher than in metro areas.

There are also reports of an emerging phenomenon of offenders posting recordings of their offending behaviour on social media, particularly in relation to motor vehicle offending.

This type of ‘performance crime’ may encourage others, specifically young people, to engage in similar criminal behaviour.

It is clear the current status quo is not working for young people who are re-offending and being caught up in this cycle, and it’s not working for those communities who don’t feel safe.

“These initiatives are about making sure we strike a balance between public safety and giving our young people every opportunity in life.” said Minister for Youth Justice, Jihad Dib.

“Intervention is critical, and these initiatives will build on the efforts of Youth Justice to divert young people from the criminal justice system.”

“It’s crucial that we identify opportunities where Youth Justice, police and the legal system can work together to achieve better outcomes for communities, and I look forward to seeing how this reform progresses.”  

The Reforms

The reforms announced today aim to address the increased rate of offending and community safety concerns through three key elements:

  1. Legislative Reform

The NSW Government will introduce considered legislative changes to strengthen bail laws and introduce a new offence for disseminating material to advertise an offender’s involvement in or the commission of targeted serious offences.

  • Amending the Bail Act: The NSW Government will amend the Bail Act 2013 to include a temporary additional bail test for young people between 14 and 18 charged with committing certain serious break and enter offences or motor vehicle theft offences while on bail for the same offences.

This means that a bail authority such as police, magistrates and judges will need to have a high degree of confidence that the young person will not commit a further serious indictable offence while on bail.

This approach is a targeted and measured change that is designed to stop specific offending behaviour by certain young people who repeatedly engage in serious break and enter and motor theft offences.

The amendments will be subject to a 12-month sunset clause so that any future action or changes can be made with evidence to assess the efficacy of the new laws.

  • A new offence for “posting and boasting”: The NSW Government will introduce legislation that will create a new offence in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) imposing an additional penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment for people who commit motor vehicle theft or break and enter offences and share material to advertise their involvement in this criminal behaviour. 

This new provision will be the subject of a statutory review that will take place 2 years after it commences.

2. Broader regional crime prevention initiatives

    The NSW Government will invest $12.9 million to fund a new range of state-wide regional crime prevention initiatives including:

    • Expansion of Youth Action Meetings (YAMs) in nine Police Districts.
    • Expansion of the Safe Aboriginal Youth Patrol Program (SAY) to an additional five Closing the Gap (CTG) priority locations (to be determined in consultation with communities), reducing the risk of young Aboriginal people being victims of crime, and the risk they will become persons of interest in relation to a crime.
    • The Government will also continue the roll out of $7.5 million in Justice Reinvestment grants with grant funding available to recipients as early as June 2024.

    3. A place-based response in Moree: as described above.

    These reforms will help protect the community and significantly lift support for young people and disadvantaged communities and were informed by months of engagement with regional communities across NSW.