THE growing trend of using phones and social media to encourage violence has been condemned by Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan, who on Wednesday backed the Chronicle's #HandsOff campaign.
Attending the community crime forum led by Hinkler MP Keith Pitt, Mr Keenan said the event was more of a "listening exercise" than anything, designed to give the government a better idea of what was working in the fight against crime and what wasn't.
Like many low socio-economic areas, Hervey Bay and Maryborough were seen to harbour criminal activity often linked to financial hardship, domestic violence, marital breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse, and declining school attendance, he said.
Better mentoring of youths and the expansion of programs like Operation Hard Yakka were among the options floated to combat anti-social behaviour.
The increasing dangerous relationship with "insidious" drugs like methamphetamines, which Mr Keenan recognised was particularly prevalent in regional communities, and the ongoing efforts of the State Government in targeting the gangs who distributed them, were discussed.
Mr Keenan said the Coalition Government's $50 million Safer Streets Program had been set up with the view that "only safe communities can be strong and prosperous, and the best way to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour is to prevent it from happening."