The Topic on Gold Coasters Lips is Young People

27 Mar | '2023

Angie Bell MP
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education
Shadow Minister for Youth
Federal Member for Moncrieff

The Topic on Gold Coasters Lips is Young People


25 March 2023

Almost 2500 Gold Coasters in the last year reportedly suffered from out-of-control car theft and associated crimes, including my own household. As youth offences continue to make headlines, we have finally seen common sense prevail and an embarrassing backflip from the Queensland Labor government to implement LNP juvenile justice reform measures.

The new legislation will apply to 10- to 17-year-olds and makes breach of bail a crime for children, creates a new aggravating factor for alleged car thieves who post footage of their offending on social media, and tightens bail laws for more charges.

These measures, however, will ultimately send more young people away from the community to learn how to be career criminals and most likely not be rehabilitated in the detention system. There is no plan from the state or federal government to help empower young people to make better decisions that positively impact their lives before they go down the wrong path.

This gaping hole in policy is a tragedy for the next generation of young Australians and Gold Coasters.

Whilst our community overwhelmingly supports tougher measures to curb youth crime, I also advocate for early intervention programs for young people as part of the solution for those children at risk of offending and entering the juvenile justice system.

Most come from broken families, do not have positive role models to learn from and suffer from mental health conditions, homelessness and a lack of family and community connections. They often have nowhere to belong and no one to turn when the going gets tough.

One such proven youth intervention program worthy of the highest accolades is Men of Business (MOB) Academy in Southport. Initially, the youth mentor program was delivered in a park as a physical fitness program and then in schools reaching 2000 young boys over the last decade. With seed funding from Gold Coast men of business, Marco Renai and Jason Sessarago then created MOB’s ground-breaking independent school that focuses on building better men through teaching respect, life skills, and the values of community. The program has seen 456 boys who would otherwise have been expelled and possibly turned to crime, change their life’s course and graduate high school, attain their driver’s licence, and truly belong to a community that supports them, long after graduation day.

I join with MOB Academy and others who passionately believe in our youth because they represent the future, and they deserve our attention, guidance, and support.

That’s why last weekend as Patron of the inaugural 2023 Gold Coast IMPACT Youth Summit, I was thrilled to host 189 young people from 23 schools and over 20 community groups, universities, and businesses to deliver new opportunities for our young people aged 15-24.

The IMPACT Summit, like MOB Academy, was funded entirely by community philanthropy and the major partner Sea World Foundation and was delivered by well-known and outstanding Gold Coaster, Karen Phillips and her events team.

For young people, magic happened in this forum which was designed for youth about youth. It was meaningful and life changing for those who attended and participated in activities that broadened their horizons and inspired them through a range of speakers who shared their life experiences and challenges.

Young people known as IMPACTERS, left the two-day summit beaming with new-found inspiration and enthusiasm, filled with hope and opportunity.

We can better support our youth through offering more platforms like MOB and IMPACT to help them connect with their interests, abilities and passions in a way that is relevant and dynamic in today’s challenging environment. The need is for more flexible models that fit individuals from all cultures, identities, and abilities and teach them to work to make good choices that positively impact their families and their communities to build a brighter future.

The state government would do well to look at delivering some positive programs for youth as part of the solution for the next generation of juvenile crime. Consideration should be given to the best use of the $220 million moribund taxpayer asset that is the Wellcamp facility in Toowoomba as an alternative location to house and educate young people who are off the rails. Overcrowded detention centres and prisons will produce hardened criminals that cost our society more in the long term.


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