Child therapy specialist Stephanie Holmes is working with Rocky's Child Protection Investigation Unit in the kids at risk project.
Child therapy specialist Stephanie Holmes is working with Rocky's Child Protection Investigation Unit in the kids at risk project. Chris Ison

Stephanie wants to save our kids

A THIRD of Rockhampton's kids are at risk of self-harm, suicide or involvement in crime or anti-social behaviour, says a child therapy specialist brought to the city to run a new program to rescue dysfunctional young people and reduce a rocketing crime rate.

Stephanie Holmes's assessment of the size of the task ahead makes frightening reading for parents. In a typical Rockhampton classroom up to 10 pupils will fall victim to the seedier and scary side of life, she says.

And it's her job to be the hub of a co-ordinated response to identify potential problem youngsters early, before they begin a downward spiral of crime, substance misuse, violence, homelessness and mental health issues.

The new program will focus on Rockhampton, Capricorn Coast, Woorabinda and Mount Morgan in response to concerns that youth crime is escalating out of control.

CRYPAR - which stands for Co-ordinated Response to Young People at Risk - has been a success in Brisbane and this is the first extension into regional Queensland.

“Essentially it's a referral process that allows police officers to refer young people to an agency that can assist them with their identified issue,” said Stephanie, who will work with young children and adults up to 25.

“There is a lot of domestic violence, substance misuse, truancy and youth crime in this community and the program's aim is to stop the cycle by intervening swiftly before problems get out of hand.

“I think one in three kids is at risk of becoming a criminal or suffering a breakdown. There are a lot of children whose parents don't seem to care what happens.

"Bad parenting is the root cause of a lot of the problems, from gangs of youngsters loitering and getting involved in petty crime to child pregnancy, runaways and poor performance at school.”

But she says that a good 90% of children can be turned around with the help of grassroots intervention.

Every child that is suspended or excluded from school, or picked up by police for truancy or petty crime, will be referred to the program.

Stephanie's role will be to ensure 15 different agencies share information so none of the young people at risk fall through the cracks in the system.

The program will be officially launched at the Rockhampton PCYC on November 6, between 9am and 11am.

“I would like anyone with an interest in youth crime, anti-social behaviour and child protection, to be involved in the launch,” she said.

Stephanie can be contacted via holmes.stephaniej@police.qld.gov.au

CRYPAR will work with young people who:

• Loiter in gangs

• Are suspended or expelled from school

• Are accused of bullying

• Play truant

• Get involved in vandalism or petty crime

• Are suspected of substance misuse

• Are at risk of self harm

• Suffer depression

• Victims of child abuse or domestic violence

• Have behavioural issues


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