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Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Page: 6187

Ms LIVERMORE (4:12 PM) —Today I want to bring to the attention of the House the shocking state of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and child abuse that is increasingly becoming part of our daily lives in Central Queensland. I use the word ‘shocking’, but readers of our local newspaper, the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, would not be shocked, because reports of these incidents are routine and merely reflect what people see in the community or even in their families.

Today’s Morning Bulletin reports a woman being threatened with a knife while she waited at a bus stop on a major suburban street. The offender in this case is apparently a child aged between 12 and 14 years of age. Also in today’s paper are reports that police are looking for two children who stole glue from our local Supercheap Auto shop. The knife attack that I referred to occurred not far from where an 82-year-old woman was bashed, raped and murdered by a teenager while in her back garden at 8 am on Australia Day earlier this year. To add to some of these reports, we also have examples of a drug-affected 16-year-old stealing cars and injuring others while the car was in his control, and a gang of children smashing into a hotel and stealing alcohol.

These are just some examples, and they are summed up in statistics that show that in Queensland the average rate of offending for juveniles is 4.8 per cent. In contrast to that, in Rockhampton the rate for juvenile offending is 10.7 per cent, more than double the state average. This has been the case for about three years now. Woorabinda, which is near Rockhampton, is even higher than that at 13.3 per cent. Coupled with this, there has been a sharp rise in the number of reports to our child safety authorities indicating concern for the welfare of children. Those child safety concern reports have leapt from 3,700 in 2005-06 to 9,000 in 2008-09. I could go on all day quoting statistics and incidences from local news reports, but enough is enough.

One Indigenous woman of my acquaintance has five sons aged between 24 and 38. All are addicted to drugs, alcohol and gambling. She and her husband now care for most of their grandchildren. In an echo of the experience in the Northern Territory, this woman begs us: ‘You must stop giving our sons money.’ I agree with her. I have therefore today written to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and to the Prime Minister asking that the minister act under the welfare reforms that were passed yesterday to introduce income management to Central Queensland and help save our children who are calling out for us to protect them.