On Country programs

In March 2020, the Queensland Government announced a pilot of On Country programs to focus on 10 to 17-year-old repeat offenders and those with high and complex needs. The pilot sites are:

  • Cairns
  • Mount Isa
  • Townsville.

The announcement came after petitions and proposals from communities across North Queensland for On Country services. The government committed about $5.6 million to pilot the programs.

International and domestic literature suggests that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designed and led justice programs consistently outperform those that are externally developed. They can significantly reduce the rate of offending.

On Country programs aim to:

  • reduce rates of offending and reoffending
  • strengthen young people’s cultural and spiritual connections to land, sea and sky – Country – through the active efforts and participation of local community leaders, Elders and Traditional Owners
  • strengthen family relationships and connections with the community while promoting positive self-identity
  • re-engage young people with education, training and employment
  • refer young people and families to other support services in the local community.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations will deliver and design the pilot programs. They will offer an immersive On Country experience and intensive case work support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people referred to the program over a period of 6 to 8 weeks.

Contracts to deliver the pilot programs were awarded after an open tender process. The programs will be delivered by:

  • Cairns – Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation
  • Mount Isa – Mona Aboriginal Corporation
  • Townsville - Gr8Motive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation.