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community justice group workers cleaning up the goondiwindi town common

Council supports Care Goondiwindi in new project to clean up Town Common through Community Justice Group program

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Goondiwindi Regional Council is working together with Care Goondiwindi to reduce recidivism through a court diversion program that will engage repeat offenders to clean up and rejuvenate the Goondiwindi Town Common.

Care Goondiwindi approached Council to request the use of the Town Common as the location for a new three-year Community Justice Group (CJG) program that is now ready to begin. The program will engage 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. By learning new skills, receiving training and developing a strong work ethic, participants will be better equipped for success outside the program.

Care Goondiwindi will receive funding from the Department of Justice and Attorney General towards the project over the next three years through the Courts Innovation Program. The funding is targeted to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people going through Queensland’s justice system.

In addition, the program is also registered as a work and development order project with the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) and is open to anyone in the community to assist with reducing SPER debt. Anyone who would like to participate should contact Care Goondiwindi directly on 07 46 700 700 or info@caregoondiwindi.org.au.

Tracy MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer of Care Goondiwindi, 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,” Ms MacDonald said.

“The project was forged out of the assessment from the Care Goondiwindi Community Justice Group,” said Jason Scott, CJG Coordinator and Project Supervisor. They looked at recidivism and decided the Town Common would be a good location to give back to the community - and possibly grant some skills and education whilst healing the country.”

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

Councillor Susie Kelly, who holds Council’s portfolio for rural services, said Council was happy to allow access to the Town Common and hoped the project would have a collective benefit for the community.

“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,” Cr Kelly said. “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. Repeat offending is clearly a hot topic at the moment, and I’m very pleased that we have the skills and experience of Care Goondiwindi on board in this program to help mentor key target groups - especially young men in particular.

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

“The Council have been amazing throughout the planning and deployment stage of this program,” Ms MacDonald added. “Stakeholder group involvement in this project is essential and will ensure a comprehensive and environmentally sensitive approach.”

13th May 2021 at 12:00 AM