A family’s holiday in Busselton was ruined when their teenage son was bashed and robbed by a group of children at the skate park last week.
The Quin family from Queensland had returned to the region to visit family over the holiday period when the unprovoked attack happened.
“We live on the Sunshine Coast now and nothing like this would happen there. If it did, it would be stamped out pretty quickly,” Mr Quin said.
“It is really unfortunate. My son was really excited to come to Busselton, where he was born, now he just wants to go home because he’s had enough.”
Mr Quin said his son was riding his BMX at the skate park in the afternoon of the attack when he was approached by a group of six teens.
After a brief conversation Mr Quin’s son put his headphones back in and continued to ride his bike when one of the children walked up to him and king hit him in the side of the head.
“They knocked his glasses off and stomped on them, then they started punching and laying into him,” he said.
Mr Quin was told by police it was more than likely the perpetrators would plead not guilty which would mean the family would have to return for a court hearing.
“It means my son would have to take time off work, fly over here from QLD and lose wages to come back.”
If they do not press charges he was told the group would likely be reprimanded and told not to go near the skate park without a responsible adult.
“Are their parents classed as responsible adults? It is not really much of a punishment and they know they can keep getting away with it and it just gets worse and worse unfortunately”, he said.
In another incident, a man in his 50s received facial injuries after he confronted a group of children who had smashed a bottle in front of his home on New Year’s Eve.
“These incidents are damaging to Busselton,” Mr Quin said.
WA Police response
A WA Police spokesperson said the incidents were not linked and both incidents had been reported to police. Investigations were ongoing.
The spokesperson said when incidents involved juveniles they were treated accordingly based on the seriousness of the offence and legislative requirements under The Young Offenders Act 1994.
The spokesperson said the outcomes of all investigations were determined by the availability of ‘prima facie’ evidence, meaning evidence is based on first impressions, or accepted as correct until proven otherwise.
Busselton Police are seeking witnesses who may have been in Hamilton Way, West Busselton between 10.10pm and 10.30pm on Monday, December 31.
“Witnesses should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at crimestopperswa.com.au,” the spokesperson said.
More resources needed to address troubled youth
Busselton resident Michelle Humble said there was a lack of resources to help troubled youth in the region.
Ms Humble said once her son hit puberty, he became violent at home, but the family fell through the cracks and did not receive the help they needed.
She said there were parents who tried “damn hard” to get the help they needed but there were not enough resources.
“Until your child is in the system, you need to be really affluent to access the services you need or just sit and wait, which is what I ended up having to do,” she said.
“It was as volatile as dealing with an ice addict or an alcoholic, it was really horrible and I sought some help for him through counselling.”
Ms Humble was advised to put her son through the mental health system, but decided against it because the court system showed leniency towards people with mental health issues.
“It is almost a get out of jail free card and I did not want my son having that as a backup. He knew what he had done was wrong and he had assaulted somebody,” she said.
Ms Humble said there was nothing else available to her family and there was next to nothing for children who needed help with anger management until they hit the justice system.
“There was nothing as a parent I could do,” she said.
Ms Humble said she believed a resource centre for children would benefit youth who were feeling frustrated or violent.
Continued push for a youth crime intervention officer to be based in Busselton
Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said it was time for the WA Government to stop brushing the Busselton community off and take action on this important issue.
Ms Mettam said the community were deeply concerned at the anti-social behaviour that was happening and it was not good enough that the government was ignoring it.
“We should not have to wait for a change of government to see an appropriate dedication of police youth resources to meet the growing needs in the Busselton and Capes region,” she said.
“Youth crime has made state news on a number of occasions in the last 12 months but we are yet to hear a commitment from this government to base at least one of the four youth crime intervention officers here in this city.
“It is simply not good enough.”
Ms Mettam said she would continue to lobby the police minister to commit at least one officer in Busselton and would not let up until this occurred.
Resources available in Busselton
City of Busselton director of community and commercial services Naomi Searle said while there were youth crime intervention officers dedicated to the South West, they were based in Bunbury.
Ms Searle said the city would welcome a youth crime intervention officer in Busselton.
She said a number of issues affecting youth remain unchanged, while some areas were improving.
“There is still a need for all levels of government and community to focus on the lack of collaboration between groups and agencies to identify gaps and work collectively to bridge them,” she said.
Areas which needed addressing Ms Searle said, were employment opportunities, access to training and development, drug, alcohol and health support services and transport.
Other areas included transport, crisis accommodation, positive parenting and role modelling and homelessness.
“The city has developed relationships and networks with members of the community, community groups, youth services and preventative health services,” she said.
“Funding to support organisations such as LAMP, Headspace and the newly established Youth Mental Health team based at the Busselton Health Campus has seen services being delivered to young people in Busselton, with the need for further support continuing.
“Crisis accommodation, affordable housing and homelessness continues to be priority issues that young people experience in our community.”
Fresh approach to child intervention
Busselton-based child protection advocate Martin Dearlove has just launched a new service, Childhood Essentials Inc.
Mr Dearlove worked in child protection for 11 years and is an advocate for children’s welfare, their long-term future and well-being.
He formed the organisation to help services access the latest research to improve outcomes for children aged up to 18 years.
Mr Dearlove said the service aimed to address any gaps in service provision.
”The incorporation will be community focused, specialising in evidenced-based research and practices and the evaluation of such programs and practices implemented alongside children and their families,” he said.
“Thus generating high quality evidenced-based practices and quantifying the impact and outcomes of such programs and practices that operate in the community for children.”