PETROL sniffing, angel dust and wanton criminal behavior - it's not The Bronx, it's Yamba - voted Australia's Number One tourist town in 2009.
In presiding over the case of a 15-year-old girl facing multiple serious assault charges at Maclean Local Court today, Magistrate David Heilpern has called for urgent action to be taken on the issue of substance abuse and criminality amongst Yamba's youth.
"There are more young people who appear before me from Yamba and immediate surrounds than from Grafton, Maclean and Ballina put together," Mr Heilpern said in his 27 paragraph judgement.
The girl at the centre of the case, referred to in the judgement as DI (not her real initials), is facing charges on two separate assaults of tourists - one a 13-year-old girl who was stomped in the face before her wallet was stolen and the other, a 20-year-old university student who was smashed in the head with a piece of wood while laying face down on Pippi Beach, Yamba.
"Whilst this young person has made some dreadful choices, the court cannot ignore the utter failure of the safety nets which normally apply to young people in modern Australia," Mr Heilpern says in the latter part of the judgement.
"How tragic it is that it is only now, in a custodial environment, that DI has been properly assessed and evaluated. She has been utterly failed by the health, welfare, education, justice, family and community support systems that are meant to stop things getting to this point."
"This is the second JJ (Juvenile Justice) report I have read in recent days disclosing petrol sniffing and the use of angel dust with cannabis by very young people in Yamba.
"Angel Dust otherwise known as PCP is the common name for phencyclidine. The effects can include violence, self-harm and psychosis. Petrol sniffing leads to irreversible brain damage.
"Those agencies tasked with the prevention of crime and supporting young people ought take note that this type of abuse is occurring, and urgently take action, not just for the benefit of the young people involved, but also for the community as a whole."
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