Chil­dren de­serve to have hope for fu­ture

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - DAN KNOWLES

THE chil­dren of Cher­bourg have beau­ti­ful smiles and a heart­break­ing fu­ture.

As the chil­dren of “kids hav­ing kids”, they are star­ing ng down the bar­rel of a life with- out jobs, lit­tle hope and, too o of­ten, time in jail.

It’s pos­si­ble to look at an adult and think they have ru­ined their own life, that they are re­spon­si­ble for r where they find them- selves.

With chil­dren, it’s a dif- fer­ent story.

They shouldn’t be six x years old and tak­ing refuge e in the street in near-zero o tem­per­a­tures like they do o in Cher­bourg, hud­dled d around a fire be­cause they y would rather be there e than at risk in their own n homes.

They shouldn’t be skip­ping school, too em­bar­rassed to go be­cause they don’t have shoes.

They shouldn’t be left to their own de­vices, prey to any­one with an aerosol, drugs, petrol or booze to of­fer them a tem­po­rary, but ul­ti­mately dev­as­tat­ing, es­cape from their ex­is­tence.

They shouldn’t be ig­nored, gnored, d, ne­glected, un­seen and for­got- ten.

Cher­bourg is not in the e mid­dle of nowhere. From m Bris­bane’s north, it can take longer to get to By­ron Bay.

It is sur­rounded by beau­ti­ful coun­try­side, a few hours from the state’s cap­i­tal.

Yet it holds the sad ti­tle of Aus­tralia’s most dis­ad­van­taged town, wracked by job­less­ness and youth crime.

It’s no good say­ing the po­lice can sort it out.

Sure, there’s a time for a search war­rant and a raid to show any­one prey­ing on the com­mu­nity it’s not on. But you can’t ar­rest your way out of a prob­lem like Cher­bourg.

The chal­lenge is not find­ing the crime and charg­ing the crim­i­nal – the clear-up rates from crime are among some of the best in the state.

It’s stop­ping those crimes from be­ing com­mit­ted in the first place. The el­ders say it is only bring­ing back pride in cul­ture that can do it.

They are beg­ging for sup­port for a “heal­ing cen­tre” where they can stop the cy­cle, turn the lives of chil­dren and young adults around, give them the tough love they need, and the love they may never have been shown.

And they want jobs, be­cause that’s what will stop the smiles of kids turn­ing into those adults who have lost hope.

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