John Anderson and Sue Gordon are behind the youth court pilot project which will be introduced at a Toowoomba school next year.
John Anderson and Sue Gordon are behind the youth court pilot project which will be introduced at a Toowoomba school next year. Bev Lacey

Push for youth courts in schools

TWO Toowoomba people are behind an ambitious push to introduce youth courts into Queensland schools as a way of identifying and helping at-risk students.

For two years, Sue Gordon and Josh Anderson have developed the youth court project which will be piloted for the first time at a Toowoomba high school next year.

In an Australian first, the project will see a replica court established at the school, with all the students involved undertaking training that will enable them to rotate through the different roles of magistrate, juror, advocate and clerk.

Those students will then be asked to adjudicate cases involving peers who have admitted to breaking school rules, and determine appropriate disciplinary actions.

But the focus of the youth court is not on punishment - it aims to look at the cause of the student's behaviour and ways to address it.

The idea for this system came to Ms Gordon while observing youth courts in action in New York.

Ms Gordon says the figures from New York are proof the program can work in Australia, with 88% of people involved in the program going on to secure jobs or further studies.

"If we can get anywhere near those statistics the government should look at rolling out the plan across the state," she said.


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