No answers for CQ public why youth lit Cobraball fire

THE public may never know why a Capricorn Coast youth lit a fire that ended up destroying 41 structures including 15 homes and 12,000 hectares of vegetation.

However, some of the fire victims may have a chance to express themselves to the teenager through the restorative justice process.

Police announced last Thursday they had dealt with a 16-year-old male in relation to this fire which started on November 9 at 12.30pm.

The Morning Bulletin today confirmed the teen had been placed on a Restorative Justice Order - which can only be handed out by police if the offender has no criminal history and admits guilt.

He has not been charged with any offences.

Meanwhile, two teens accused of lighting a fire that ripped through a Sunshine Coast suburb, forcing mass evacuations, have been charged but no media outlet will be able to report the court process.

Under Queensland law, Children's Court matters are held before a magistrate in closed court unless permission is given to the media to attend.

Media can be given entry only if the court believes it would not prejudice the child's interests. That is on top of laws making it an offence to identify children in the proceedings.

Six media organisations applied for access to the Children's Court to cover the committal hearing of a 14-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl accused of deliberately lighting a fire on September 9 that destroyed or damaged homes at Peregian Beach, charged with endangering particular property by fire.

While the victims of that fire won't get answers this week, they could get answers if the children are ordered to stand trial in the District Court at a date to be set - most likely in six months to a year's time.

Meanwhile, Livingtone Shire fire victims could get some answers before Christmas if the restorative justice process is enacted quickly.

Many juvenile offenders who have been subject to the restorative justice process that have been sentenced in the Rockhampton District Court have had either face-to-face meetings with victims, or had a victim impact statement read to them, as part of the process.

According to the Queensland Government website about the orders, a Restorative Justice Order is a process used in response to criminal behaviour and examines the impact on society: the harm caused to victims, family relationships and the community.

The purpose is to provide a safe environment where everyone involved can talk about what happened and what needs to happen to start to making things right.

In April, Youth Justice minister Di Farmer said: "Of the young people who go through Transition 2 Success programs or restorative justice conferencing, almost 6 out of 10 don't go on to reoffend."

The Children's Court of Queensland Annual Report 2017-18 showed of those offenders and victims that participated in the restorative justice process, 97 per cent resulted in an agreement and 95 per cent who responded to a sat­isfaction survey were satisfied with the process and the outcome.

Queensland wide, the program received 2273 referrals in 2017-18 compared to 2110 in 2016-17.

A total of 1617 referrals were conferenced in 2017-18 compared to 1378 conferences in 2016-17.



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