Children deserve to have hope for future
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.