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Queensland has been named the crime capital of Australia.

According to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 58,479 assaults and 49,490 break-ins occurred in 2023. At least 18,210 car thefts took place.

JUNE 30, 2024


Margaret Strelow attacks state government disbandment of youth crime committee


A former mayor and longstanding community member has described the state government’s premature disbandment of a youth crime committee as ‘pathetic’.

Kerri-Anne MesnerSenior Reporter




3 min read

April 18, 2024 - 7:53PM

The panel and crowd at the Rockhampton hearing of the Youth Justice Reform Select Committee.

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A former mayor and longstanding community member has described the state government’s premature disbandment of a youth crime committee as ‘pathetic’.

The state government disbanded the Youth Justice Reform Select Committee, which had held regional forums to hear about issues around youth crime, including one in Rockhampton in February.

The move was blamed on an irrevocable breakdown in relations between the LNP and Labor MPs on the committee – a stalemate which had caused delays in the interim report being published.

The bipartisan youth crime inquiry was launched by former Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in September last year amid growing pressures on the state government to do more on youth offending.

The seven-member committee was chaired by independent Noosa MP Sandy Bolton, with an even split of three Labor and three LNP MPs.

It was the first parliamentary committee to be independently chaired in more than two decades, receiving more than 200 submissions and holding 25 public hearings.

The committee was due to table a hefty interim report on March 28 but received deadline extensions to April 12 amid growing disagreements between Labor and the LNP over what should be included in the document.

Former Rockhampton mayor and current independent candidate for the state seat of Rockhampton Margaret Strelow was one of the 200 people or organisations to lodge submissions.

“It’s pathetic that such an important topic continues to be a plaything of the major parties,” she said, after the committee was disbanded.

Margaret Strelow

“The committee was given a pretence at independence but we can see clearly now that it was still mired in party games.

“I made a submission to the committee in good faith, and had hoped that the matter could be treated with maturity.

“Queenslanders need our politicians to be the grown-ups.

“Meanwhile we have victims who want to be able to sleep at night.”

An angry mob of more than 100 people roamed the streets in May last year between residences in suburbs of Rockhampton as they tried to take a recent “crime wave” into their own hands.

The chaotic event was sparked after Torin O’Brien, who ran for One Nation in the seat of Rockhampton in the 2020 state election, made a Facebook appeal for information about the identity of alleged thieves who recently broke into his sister’s Wandal home.

Months later, shaken families shared their holiday horror after teen thieves snuck into their caravans and took off with two luxury cars – including a $350k super ute which was dumped, sparking a scary search in the notorious Fitzroy River.

Mrs Strelow’s submission to the committee:

As a former mayor of the city of Rockhampton and later as mayor of the broader Rockhampton region, I write this submission based on both personal experience and the stories shared by members of our community.

Over my 16 years in office, I have witnessed the evolving landscape of crime, particularly concerning youth crime, and it has never been as concerning as it is now. I want

to emphasise that this is not a media exaggeration; it is a harsh reality faced by our residents on a daily basis.

I have personally heard accounts from individuals, such as a woman whom I have known for years, who was left shaken after a terrifying encounter with youths attempting to break into her home.

Another recounted the trauma of having her car broken into, leaving emotional scars that still persist.

Community gatherings have become platforms for sharing such distressing experiences, highlighting the pervasive fear and insecurity felt by many.

The emergence of social media groups dedicated to monitoring suspicious activities in our neighbourhoods underscores the extent of the problem.

Residents regularly exchange information about the movements of young individuals engaged in criminal behaviour, with stolen cars becoming an all too common occurrence within our communities.

This pattern is not unique to Rockhampton itself; similar issues have been reported in neighbouring areas like Gracemere.

It is worth noting that both Rockhampton and Gracemere have state-run residential care homes, which seem to coincide with the areas bearing the brunt of criminal activities.

This raises concerns about the placement of repeat offenders in these facilities, which are embedded within residential communities.

Recent discussions about relocating repeat offenders to regional areas as a solution only compound our worries.

We reject the notion of using regional communities as dumping grounds for urban crime problems.

Our communities deserve respect and support from the government in addressing these pressing issues.'

We cannot continue to endure the negative impacts of crime while solutions are sought elsewhere.

I urge policymakers to consider alternative approaches that prioritise community safety and wellbeing, rather than merely shifting the problem from one area to another. Rockhampton and its surrounding regions have had enough, and it is t ime for meaningful action to address these challenges.



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