Kids given a helping hand
BUNDABERG Police launched a landmark program yesterday that aims to keep children out of the juvenile justice system and get them the help they need.
Superintendent Anne Macdonald dubbed the Fast program, which partners the police with non-government agencies such as the Salvation Army, as the “most important” project launched in Queensland for years.
Under the program, police will refer families in need of assistance to services that can offer intervention.
In doing so, officers aim to reduce the numbers of children entering the juvenile justice system and child safety services, and improve the wellbeing of the region's families.
The program has already helped 30 people in its first couple of weeks prior to launching officially.
The program came about after being suggested by Detective Senior Sergeant Lyndal Wiggins and senior crime prevention liaison officer Sue Rewald.
Det Snr Sgt Wiggins saw a need for the program after seeing a similar project introduced in Brisbane.
“The services were always there, but we just needed the link to get the families there,” she said.
“The biggest difference will be when families are in crisis, they will get the right kind of help and get it quick.”
The program is specifically Bundaberg based and 80 per cent of district police are trained for it, with others to follow in coming weeks.
“We see too many children who are sexual assault victims, or who have substance abuse, parent-teenager conflicts, mental health issues,” Supt Macdonald said.
“Children are the most important members of the community and they need to be protected. With all these agencies working with us, the children and victims are getting the protection they need.”
Salvation Army Tom Quinn Community Centre community support worker Jody Schneider said the program would also help people on the streets who were unaware of help available.
“If there is a homeless issue, the police will be on the ground and they can refer them to us,” she said.
Peirson Services manager Sean McCartney said Fast would help his organisation prevent child abuse and family problems.
“It has the potential to highlight families which are heading into crisis. We can get in there with police referrals and we have got an early opportunity to prevent further fracturing in the family and rebuild the relationships,” he said.