Bikie gang recruitment tricks revealed in exit program
Outlaw motorcycle members now have a government-backed exit strategy to renounce their allegiance, including counselling and support to tackle any drug and alcohol issues.
Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan MP said the "Exit Program" was an Australian first and would assist former outlaw motorcycle gang (OMCG) members wanting a new and crime-free life.
"This is about helping gang members transform their lives and turn their backs on gangs. it's the first program of this type in the southern hemisphere," Mr Ryan said.
"It's about connecting ex-gang members with community services."
The Exit Program was the initiative of the Queensland Police Service and Queensland Corrective Services and had been tailored to assist adult ex-gang members, he said.
It includes support services for drug and alcohol issues, employment and training, mentoring, family relationships and mental health, with a pilot program already under way.
"The exit program is already under way," Mr Ryan said.
"Several ex-gang members are already participating in the Brisbane pilot."
Detective Superintendent Roger Lowe said the program was mapping individuals who had declared they wanted to renounce their OMCG membership.
He said Queensland was the only state that tracked members who wanted to quit, and there were potentially hundreds of badges and ex-member waiting for help.
"We've accumulated 260 members who have formally come forward and said 'I want to leave, please identify me as a former gang member'," Superintendent Lowe said.
"In addition we have 300 individuals we map as ex-gang members."
Mr Ryan commended the police for their innovative thinking in deterring gang recruitment while staying tough on OMCG activity.
"Police are continuing to use the Queensland government's tough laws to target and disrupt criminal networks and OMCG offenders," Mr Ryan said.
"Now, through the Exit Program and the prevention videos, police are expanding their focus on exposing the truth of gang membership delivered by ex-gang members themselves and providing a pathway from gangs.
"It is an opportunity for gang members to change the course of their life and their families."
The Exit Program comes as a report shows OMCGs are recruiting younger men more prone to violence, drawn to the gangster image and wanting to get rich quickly.
The Australian Institute of Criminology has released a study, based on two reports, that reveals the changing culture within outlaw motorcycle gangs and the effects on members and the support they need to exit a club.
The reports were drawn from 39 interviews with former Queensland OMCG members and suggested the need for a government-funded exit strategy, similar to Denmark, that provided housing, employment and education support.
Queensland Police also released two videos that reveal the truth about associating with OMCGs, as told by former gang members and families.
One video includes former Gold Coast Titan Dan Kilian, an ex-bikie who is supporting the Exit Program.
Kilian's video, titled The Dan Kilian Story, shows dramatic footage of his arrest and him being marched towards the watch house and an interview with him and his mother.
"I'm Dan Kilian, I am 24 years old. I played under 20s for the Gold Coast Titans and Newcastle Knights," he says in the video.
"I'm a former nominee of the Rebels motorcycle club. I spent two years and two months in prison."
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said these personal accounts exposed the reality of life inside these criminal networks and the devastating impacts on families.
"Police regularly see the terrible personal outcomes for people drawn into these gangs, and those featured in the video chose to participate because they want to highlight to others the effect gang membership has had on their health, families and future," Ms Carroll said.
"What the research tells us is more than half of those interviewed joined an OMCG following a significant life event or crisis, seeking camaraderie, but were instead met with a life of violence and crime and felt like there was no way out.
"For many ex-gang members, staying out of gangs and criminal activity is influenced by a range of factors and motivators, which individuals find difficult."
Originally published as Bikie gang recruitment tricks revealed in exit program