Townsville District Pony Club president Mel Matthews with young offenders doing community service. Picture: Evan Morgan
Townsville District Pony Club president Mel Matthews with young offenders doing community service. Picture: Evan Morgan

Court-ordered community service helping troubled kids

YOUTH offenders have completed thousands of court-enforced community service orders across the Townsville region, including helping a Townsville pony club get back into shape after the floods.

The Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women revealed young offenders had undertaken 3985 hours of community service in the 2018-19 financial year in Townsville and surrounding local council areas.

An 18-year-old boy, who has so far completed half of his court ordered 60 hours of community service, said he felt the program had helped him mature and learn life skills. The teen first entered the youth justice system when he was 14 and had never been sentenced to imprisonment at Cleveland Youth Detention Centre.

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An aspiring mechanic, the teen said he was working hard to make amends.

"I choose myself to not go to jail, to stay out in the free world and look for a job," he said. "(Community service) has been good for me."

The teen's community service includes doing work at the Townsville District Pony Club in Idalia, which was badly damaged during the February floods.

President Mel Matthews said the club was "overwhelmed" after the floods and needed help removing debris and repairing the grounds.

Ms Matthews said the club decided to continue working with young offenders after the flood clean-up as the experience had been positive.

Mundingburra MP Coralee O'Rourke said the program aligned with Major General Stuart Smith's recommendations to tackle youth crime.

"The program is about holding young people to account and allowing them to give back to the community," she said.

"It's about understanding, one, that there are consequences to your actions but two you can become a productive citizen of our society."


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