At risk youth in Town Common clean up

Article image - At risk youth in Town Common clean up Cr Susie Kelly and Care Goondiwindi inspect the Goondiwindi Town Common prior to the start of the CJG program. Photo courtesy Care Goondiwindi.

Goondiwindi Regional Council, Queensland, is working with Care Goondiwindi to reduce recidivism through a court diversion program engaging repeat offenders to clean up and rejuvenate the Goondiwindi Town Common.

Care Goondiwindi will use the Town Common for a new three year Community Justice Group (CJG) program that will involve around sixteen young or vulnerable offenders each year.

Participants will work under the supervision of the CJG Coordinator in a scheduled work program to help regenerate the Common by cleaning up noxious weeds and rubbish at the site.

The project will focus on about 25 acres in the south-western corner of the Town Common in the first stage, targeting noxious weeds such as Harrisia Cactus, Mimosa and African Boxthorn, as well as cleaning up flood debris and any commercial or domestic rubbish.
Council staff will assist with technical advice on noxious weed control where required.

Councillor Susie Kelly said, “Over the life of this project, we hope to see continued environmental regeneration at the Town Common, with cleaner riverbanks and healthier waterways and a reduction in invasive weeds.

“This is an opportunity to better our environment and rejuvenate the Common, especially after recent wet weather and flooding have caused some significant damage.

“At the same time, this project aims to reduce re-offending in the community by creating a pathway to more productive outcomes.

“While skills-based programs are traditionally focused around arts and culture, this unique program offers participants a practical opportunity to learn.

“Participants can gain and retain essential life skills in a structured environment on the land that has significant cultural significance for them, and from which they will hopefully have pride, and in turn will enable further work in land management or outdoor employment.”

Chief Executive Officer of Care Goondiwindi, Tracy MacDonald said the program was about using land care and mentorship to break the cycle of reoffending.

“In a nutshell, this project is about establishing a reconnection to land and country, with shared benefits to the community as a whole.

“The Council have been amazing throughout the planning and deployment stage of this program.

“Stakeholder group involvement in this project is essential and will ensure a comprehensive and environmentally sensitive approach.”

By learning new skills, receiving training and developing a strong work ethic, participants will be better equipped for success outside the program.