Last week, a snippet came to me via the QLS media reports, which went largely unnoticed everywhere else. It was a blurb for the ABC Southern Queensland News, and it went as follows:
The Murgon Business and Development Association has dropped demands for a curfew in the town after analysing the newest youth crime rates. President Leo Geraghty presented a petition calling for a night youth curfew in Murgon with 400 signatures to Queensland Parliament six weeks ago. He says the curfew is no longer needed because of the success of targeted youth engagement programs.
The curfew was initially proposed because an understandably frustrated community wanted an answer to high youth crime rates in their town. It isn’t a new idea and it is fair to say that curfews have a fairly poor record when it comes to cleaning up crime. Usually what happens is that the kids committing the crimes simply have an additional charge of breaking curfew added to their rap sheet.
What happened in Murgon, however, is that community-based youth engagement programs, addressing the causes of the crimes, have had an impact. This is a great result and an example of a community coming to a good solution by looking at the facts, not the emotion. The people of Murgon should be congratulated for their excellent work—and the rest of the state can learn from this case.
Outcomes like this drive QLS to advocate for logical, evidence-based solutions and oppose the ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key’ style of justice. Initiatives like restorative justice conferencing, and the specialist Murri Court and Drug and Alcohol Court, have enjoyed great success in curbing crime. They turn at-risk youths into contributing members of society. I applaud the sterling efforts of the people of Murgon.
It has been a pretty busy week for me and for QLS in general. I had the pleasure of meeting with other law society presidents and CEOs in Darwin, for some planning and information exchange, as well as the chance for a collegial catch-up. The chance to network and build professional friendships should never be missed, because those links are invaluable. Certainly, working together with other law societies in the push for good law and good lawyers is a worthy endeavour; we are greater than the sum of our parts!
Speaking of collegiality, the Society’s signature series—the Modern Advocate Lecture Series—was held in Cairns last week, with many of the local practising group turning out to hear Justice Henry speak. It is always humbling to see leading lights from the judiciary giving back to the profession and being so generous with their time. Justice Henry has my heartfelt thanks for presenting this lecture in the series.
Cairns also hosted latest Solicitor Advocates Course, with 16 local practitioners taking part. The course is an excellent way for solicitors to sharpen their advocacy skills as our side of the profession increases its presence in courts of every stripe. For those interested, the follow-up to the foundations level course will be run in Brisbane on 30–31 August.
As we approach the half-way point of what has already been a busy year, we need to keep in mind that this can be a pretty stressful time. The end of the financial year often brings with it concerns about budgets, performance reviews and the pressures of getting tax returns and other financial matters together. In short, it is a time when our already stressful profession can get a bit crazy.
We always need to be vigilant about our mental and emotional health, and that of our colleagues. At this time of year the need becomes acute. So keep an eye on yourselves, each other and watch out for anyone who might be silently struggling. It doesn’t need to be RUOK Day to ask someone if they are OK. Even if it leads to an uncomfortable conversation, it is better that than staying silent until something drastic happens.
Until next time, take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Bill Potts, QLS President