Hundreds of protesters gathered in Brisbane’s Queens Park on Sunday and marched about 1.4km to the state parliament, calling for the government to take a tougher stance on youth crime.
Organised by the Crime and Justice Action Group, the rally follows a meeting between anti-crime advocates and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk where she said payouts for victims of serious crimes would increase from $10,000 to $120,000.
But anti-crime advocate Ben Cannon told Today on Friday advocates wanted the government to take a tougher stance on crime.
“Things where we haven‘t got there yet which we would have thought was simple is zero-tolerance – it’s a point we pushed for from the get-go,” he said.
“The government doesn‘t understand what that can look like in legislation, we said that’s their thing to fix and we know that’s what we want as a community.”
Youth crime has become a hot-button issue in the state following multiple examples of teenagers committing acts of serious crime.
Rally attendees on Sunday held up placards that read: “Youth crime out of control, Premier all talk no action” and wore shirts that read: “Voice for Victims”.
Townsville resident Karl Boevink spoke at the gathering from a wheelchair after he suffered a broken leg in a car crash in October.
Mr Boevink was hit by an allegedly stolen ute in Townsville that was carrying teenagers at the time.
On the same day as the rally, the government announced new laws to crack down on potential youth offenders.
The proposed laws would make it an offence to sell knives and other bladed items and replica firearms including gel blasters to juveniles.
Any person attempting to use false identification to purchase one of these items could also be charged with an offence.
Retailers will be required to display signage regarding the prohibition of sales to juveniles and have obligations requiring secure storage for certain other bladed items like machetes, axes, swords, sickles, daggers, double-edged blades and spears.
The new measures follow the introduction of Jack’s Law in March, which gives the police greater search powers for weapons.
Police Minister Mark Ryan said the new measures would go “hand-in-hand” with Jack’s Law to fight back crime.
“With 1600 offences detected as part of wanding operations so far, there’s no doubt Jack’s Law is playing a significant part in keeping Queenslanders safe,” he said.
Acting Commander Youth Crime Taskforce Paul Hart said the proposed laws would enhance the ability of police to stop knife crime “in its tracks”.
“It will allow officers to take action against those unlawfully selling weapons to young people, who may intend to use them to commit violent offences,” he said.
“The results from Jack’s Law speak for themselves, and with further legislation restricting young people’s access to weapons, we’re confident we can continue to enhance community safety.”