Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed has supported the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Carjacking and Home Invasion) Bill 2016 in Parliament. The legislation creates offences for carjacking and home invasion and increases penalties in a range of circumstances.
Speaking in support of the Bill she used the debate to highlight the desperate need to invest in early childhood programs.
“For some years the Greater Shepparton municipality, which is within my electorate, has been second only to the Latrobe municipality in its rate of crime per capita in regional Victoria,” Ms Sheed said.
“In the 12 months to March this year Greater Shepparton recorded 7868 offences. The rate is sadly climbing everywhere across the state except in the shires of Whitehorse and South Gippsland, according to the latest results released by the Crime Statistics Agency.
“Increased youth crime is certainly an issue within our communities.
“An October 2015 Jesuit Social Services report, An escalating problem: Responding to the increased remand of children in Victoria, states that in 2014–15 there was a 57 per cent increase in the number of children admitted to remand — from 112 to 176 — following the introduction of bail reforms.
“We have to ask ourselves as a society whether remand, youth detention and ultimately gaol is the answer we want for young people who are offending.
“We must have a vision for the future for those children who are very young now but who are very much at risk of being the next generation of offenders,” Ms Sheed said.
“Surely these incidents show that if we addressed family dysfunction and childhood trauma at an early age, we would be redirecting so many young people away from lives of criminal behaviour and detention.”
Ms Sheed highlighted the work of Shepparton’s Neighbourhood Safer Schools program.
“This initiative is connecting children to paediatric and other services through their schools and finding success through a form of trauma play therapy. At least 60 per cent of the children who have been assessed to date have shown significant developmental and behavioural problems associated with early childhood trauma. This trauma may be associated with family violence, refugee experiences or foetal alcohol syndrome,” she said.
However, Ms Sheed said there is also a need for more police on the ground in the Shepparton District electorate.
“A stronger police presence on our streets is required, but we also need to know we can call on police at our stations when required. The two-up rule has had a major impact on our regional stations and police services generally. There are stations left unattended for long hours.
We have a right to feel safe in our communities, whether it is walking through a shopping district, driving down the street or being in our own homes,” she said.
Sueanne McCumstie 0428 743 880│firstname.lastname@example.org