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National award for Victorian Police community youth program

Media Release

29 October 2009

A program which targets vulnerable youth in Melbourne's Frankston area has won national recognition at the 2009 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards (ACVPA).

The Frankston Police, Mission Australia and Community Youth Assist Program works with young people displaying anti-social behaviour and those in social and economic disadvantage. It aims to prevent young people from committing crimes and provide pathways to better education, health and employment.

It was one of two Victorian projects to receive a National Award presented by Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor at Parliament House in Canberra today.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Emmett Dunne said the program worked by developing action plans for the youth, their parents and youth workers to address the underlying behavioural and environmental causes of their problems.

"Youth Assist targets vulnerable youth between the ages of 8 and 17 who have been referred by police, schools, parents, doctors or other partner agencies and usually spend between three and 12 months in the program," Assistant Commissioner Dunne said.

"They sit down with our police youth resource officer, a youth transition worker funded by Mission Australia, and their parents to come up with an action plan to address their problems which can include such things as referrals for both youths and their parents to community support agencies.

"Progress with their action plans is then monitored to see if the young person is achieving their individual goals and establishing successful pathways for their future."

The program's diversion rate from the criminal justice system is nearly 15 percent, compared with the state average of four percent. Of the 188 graduates of the program to date, only six have re-offended.

Minister O'Connor said the program was one of two ACVPA projects organised by those in the police sector which demonstrate a contribution above and beyond day-to-day policing activities.

"The Youth Assist Program is an excellent example of cooperation between police, youth support agencies and parents to achieve the common goal of keeping young people out of the criminal justice system," Mr O'Connor said.

The ACVPA is a joint initiative of the Australian, State and Territory governments which rewards outstanding community-based projects that prevent or reduce crime and violence.

Eight ground-breaking projects involving young offenders and youth at risk, Indigenous communities, religious congregations, police and community health and safety organisations have won national recognition this year.

For more information about the Australian Community Violence Prevention Awards visit http://www.aic.gov.au/crime_community/acvpa.aspx

PROJECT OVERVIEW: FRANKSTON POLICE, MISSION AUSTRALIA AND COMMUNITY YOUTH ASSIST PROGRAM, VICTORIA

Frankston Police, Mission Australia and Community Youth Assist Program, Victoria

The program targets vulnerable youth 'at risk' as potential victims or offenders, displaying anti-social behaviour or in situations of social and economic disadvantage in Melbourne's Frankston area.

It aims to avert their involvement in the criminal justice system, reduce recidivism and provide pathways to education, health and employment by developing action plans for the youth, their parents and youth workers to address the underlying behavioural and environmental causes of their problems.

Key outcomes:

  • The rate of diversions from the criminal justice system increased from 4 to 14.8%
  • Of 188 program graduates, only six (3%) have re-offended