Wednesday, 13 September 2006
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Ellison. Will the minister inform the Senate of measures being implemented by the Commonwealth government to address the problem of crime and the fear of crime?
I thank Senator Fierravanti-Wells for what is an important question, one dealing with crime prevention. We have strong measures for law enforcement, but it is essential that we look at preventing crime and look at the reasons for the rate of crime that we have in Australia. This $64 million program is one which targets communities. We have always said that there is no better way to deal with a problem in the community than to resource that community to come up with a solution to the problem that it has within its own area, and that is what this program does. The National Community Crime Prevention Program is designed across a range of measures—whether it is the community safety stream, the community partnerships stream, the Indigenous stream or the security related stream—to assist those communities who want to help themselves in reducing crime.
I must say that there was great interest expressed in this program when I attended a function last night, the commencement of the colloquium of the International Centre for Crime Prevention being held in Australia, the first for this region. Great interest was expressed in the way we were doing this. We have announced 86 grants in the first two rounds and we are in the process of announcing the grants in the third round, and I hope to have that completed in the very near future, and we will go on to the fourth round and call for applications. I would urge all senators to look to their own communities to see if there is anyone that they think could benefit from a program such as this.
I have visited a number of these programs around the country which have targeted young people at risk, especially where there is potential for drug abuse. To give you an example, a project that was assisted—Warilla Pride Incorporated, just south of Wollongong—targets young people who are chronic truants in danger of leaving school at an early age and falling foul of the law. What we are looking at there is how we can deal with tutoring and providing mentoring for these young people, so that they do not embark on a lifestyle of offending, and even trying to steer them back into the education stream so that they can fulfil their lives and make a useful contribution to the community.
It is very important that we do that at that early intervention stage, and we have done that with people even younger than that, at primary schools, with an antibullying initiative. We are increasingly seeing evidence that we need to target children at an age even younger than we thought before, and we are doing this in relation to drug education programs and also in relation to behavioural problems. That is why targeting bullying at primary school is so important, because it can lead to antisocial behaviour later in life.
This program has great support across Australia; wherever I travel, I see that people have responded to this in a very positive fashion. What does inspire me is the great work being done by many Australians working in a voluntary capacity in areas such as crime prevention. I urge all senators here to take advantage of this program which offers great benefits to the community