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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 237 asked in the Legislative Council on 18 March 2020 by Hon Robin Scott

Minister responding: Hon M.H. Roberts
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on

VOLATILE SUBSTANCE ABUSE — NEWMAN

237. Hon ROBIN SCOTT to the minister representing the Minister for Police:

Reports again today, this time in the town of Newman, suggest that the town is ''drowning under a wave of youth crime, with authorities warning children as young as 10 have been committing the crimes after sniffing dangerous chemicals''.

(1) What powers do ordinary Newman residents have when they witness someone sniffing solvents?

(2) Does the government believe its approach to handling the issue has been successful?

(3) Is the government considering making the solvent sniffing illegal; and, if not, why not?

Hon STEPHEN DAWSON replied:

I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question. The following answer has been provided to me by the Minister for Police.

(1) Residents of Newman are encouraged to contact Newman police if they witness a person sniffing solvents or have concerns for the welfare of a person.

(2) Any instance of volatile substance abuse is of concern. The government is working with local police, other agencies and the community to address the problem. Community awareness of the issue has been increased to limit the availability of these substances to young people. Local retailers have placed these substances behind the counter, and police have reminded the wider community not to have such items in plain sight in motor vehicles. The local police are actively involved in grassroots initiatives such as the Nightfields program—a collaborative partnership with the Newman Junior Football Club, the West Australian Football Commission and local businesses and volunteers. This program encourages children to become involved in sporting activities. Two major initiatives have been introduced to address youth offending and antisocial behaviour: the juvenile interagency management strategy and the Newman collective impact project. An amount of $7 million dollars has been injected into education initiatives designed to increase student attendance rates and provide better educational outcomes for Aboriginal students. This funding will result in the establishment of the position of Martu engagement coordinator at Newman Senior High School. The role of this position will be to ensure school, community and interagency support for students. The government has invested $1.3 million into the Jiji program. This is a program to improve speech, language and class behaviour in remote east Pilbara schools.

(3) No. Existing legislation allows police to apprehend people affected by intoxicating substances and seize intoxicants in their possession. It is an offence to sell or supply intoxicating substances to another, suspecting they will use the substance to become intoxicated.