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Focus on crime prevention and early intervention needed

Director of UnitingCare Queensland Anne Cross
UnitingCare Queensland has today joined the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church and the Queensland Council of Social Service to oppose the construction of a new prison precinct in South East Queensland.

The Director of UnitingCare Queensland, Anne Cross, says providing assistance to families and children in need gives UnitingCare a deep understanding of the importance of providing access to social support, education and rehabilitation to reduce crime

“We encourage the State Government to look at the reasons for the continuing and dramatic growth in prisoner numbers,” says Anne. “And we encourage them do more to address the causes of crime. While other states and countries invest in programs to prevent crime and reduce prison numbers we seem content to build more beds.

“Every dollar spent on prisons leaves less money for investment in children, health and education. Our work with Queensland families is supported by growing international evidence that focussing on early intervention opens up opportunities for children and young people and reduces involvement in crime.”

Ms Cross said that a new study by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy identifies programs which contribute to lower rates of crime and re-offending, reduces the future need for prison beds and saves tax payers money.

“A key finding of the study is the dramatic social and economic returns from a range of innovative programs targeted at juvenile offenders and children from struggling families,” says Anne. “The message for Queensland is that we can reduce trauma, and improve community safety, by a holistic approach to investing in families and children.

“A key goal is to prevent young people from having contact with the juvenile justice system. If we can break this cycle there will be no need to accommodate a 90 per cent increase in prisoner numbers over the next decade.

“UnitingCare Queensland is keen to offer our understanding and experience to the state government in order to develop a holistic and effective approach to crime prevention and rehabilitation which will benefit all members of our community.”

UnitingCare Queensland is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit organisations and the community service arm of the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church. In 2005, its service agencies including Lifeline Community Care, Crossroads, Blue Care and Uniting HealthCare, assisted 1 in 5 Queensland families.

Photo : Director of UnitingCare Queensland Anne Cross