Concerns for youth in care

COMMUNITY Services NSW has defended the difficult role that a private Coffs Harbour service plays in accommodating and supervising young people with “extremely high needs.”

Questions were asked about the supervision provided by the local non-government fee-for-service agency looking after young people under the parental responsibility of the Community Services Minister after a 15-year-old ward of the state allegedly went on a “pointless” early morning crime spree, smashing shopfront windows.

Police said the incident was the latest in a long list of crimes committed by youth “in care” locally.

Most concerning they said was the fact that the teenager handed himself in at the police station in an extremely intoxicated state on Wednesday at 3.30am.

The boy has been charged with malicious damage and will appear in the Coffs Harbour Children Courts.

It’s alleged he smashed plate glass windows and doors in Park Ave earlier that morning.

A spokesperson for the department said the incident was under review.

“Sadly, many of the young people living at this service come from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds where they may have been subject to abuse or neglect, or family environments characterised by alcohol and drug problems, mental health issues or financial stress.

“As a result, many of the young people display challenging behaviours which can cause them to behave anti-socially. However, this accommodation service is not a detention centre, and young people cannot be locked up.

“We are aware that the young people present particular supervision challenges to the service, and Community Services staff have been working closely with staff from the service, as well as police, to improve how they work with young people,” she said.

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