The Courier-Mail

SHAME

These kids should be at home in bed. Instead they haunt a town living in fear

- PETER MICHAEL

A CURFEW is to be considered in a Queensland town under siege by gangs of bored children being allowed to roam all night by their drug-addicted parents.

Crisis talks will be held today in Mount Isa, where kids as young as six have been blamed for an explosion in crimes - including vandalism and robberies. Mount Isa Mayor Tony McGrady said: "It's terrible to think, but these young children feel more secure wandering the streets at night than they do at home.”

Dozens of extra police have been rostered on to maintain order. One group of kids ques- tioned by police on Saturday night explained they were out because: “It’s party night. They (our parents) don’t care.”

MOUNT ISA is a town under siege, with gangs of drug-affected children as young as six roaming the streets, committing crimes including break and enters, vandalism, rock throwing and acts of violence in the mining town.

Frightened locals have called for a night curfew to stem the flood of what they say is ice-fuelled violence as Police Commission­er Ian Stewart flies into Mount Isa today for crisis talks on soaring youth crime rates.

Aboriginal elders, youth workers and police say dysfunctio­nal families already grappling with substance abuse are the latest flashpoint in the ice age as the cheap, readily available illicit drug floods into bush towns. Community members s a y children have been left to fend for themselves, as adults succumb to the ice scourge, on top of other illicit drug abuse and sniffing.

Mount launched Isa police have a public safety crackdown with an extra 20 specialist officers questionin­g children wandering the streets at night, after a 10year-old boy allegedly torched the Pioneer police beat and destroyed a police vehicle two weeks ago.

Kalkadoon tribal elder Joan Hogan said an out-ofcontrol gang tore apart her home, smashed a car window, and bashed her sons with a metal rake and chairs in a violent home invasion two weeks ago.

“Life is hard enough with all the problems we’ve got with grog and gunga,’’ the 68year-old, mother-of-seven, said. “But these littlies get their hands on whatever they can – petrol, superglue, Rexona – and get up to mischief.

“We try talking to them, but especially the teenagers who move on to the harder stuff, they can get violent.’’

Nearly 1200 Mount Isa locals have signed a petition calling for a night curfew to make the streets safe, after reports of houses, cars, people and pets being pelted with rocks and bottles, break-ins and street violence.

“Where are the parents?,’’ wrote local Lesley Harrison.

“I’m sick of kids roaming the streets at 2am, drunk wandering through yards trying to break into cars.’’

Mona Aboriginal Corpor-

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