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WA youth welding program wins anti-crime award

Media Release

29 October 2009

A unique welding program to reduce youth crime has won national recognition at the 2009 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards (ACVPA) along with seven other ground-breaking projects.

The Weld To Life program, established in March 2007 by the Rockingham Police and Community Youth Centre (PCYC), engages local teenage boys who were committing offences in an intensive work-ready training program to reduce offending behaviour.

Weld To Life was one of two Western Australian projects which received a National Certificate and cash award of $15,000, presented by Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor at Parliament House in Canberra today.

Western Australia Police Senior Constable Tim Ellis, manager of the program, said it teaches valuable skills through hands-on activity, mentoring and structured education, giving at-risk youth from the Rockingham and Kwinana areas an opportunity to experience a career in the metal trades.

"The program gives these repeat offenders an interesting and constructive focus and has resulted in a five-fold reduction in absenteeism and 83 percent reduction in offences committed by students," Senior Constable Ellis said.

"Weld To Life has seen 80 percent of its graduates go into further training, gain employment or return to school. Young people go into the program as 'law breakers' and come out with skills to make a tangible contribution to their local community."

The program has enabled boys aged 12-17 from around the state to get their lives back on track and prepare them for the workforce and has been made possible with the support of dedicated PCYC volunteers and staff and generous sponsorship.

Support has come from BHP Billiton Nickel West Kwinana Refinery, Challenger TAFE Rockingham, Lottery West, WA's Office of Crime Prevention, Department of Corrective Services and Department of Education, Rockingham Kwinana Development Office and WA Police.

Minister O'Connor said the program's impressive results illustrate how local business, community, government and not-for-profit organisations can work in partnership to assist young offenders to develop important life skills and move away from criminal activity.

"Community support is essential to ensure the success of programs like 'Weld To Life', but what is more important is the successful outcome of a brighter future for the young people that graduate from them," 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: THE WELD TO LIFE PROGRAM, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The Weld To Life Program, Western Australia

The program is a highly successful intervention strategy for young people who have committed an offence or are at risk of offending. It aims to reduce offending behaviour among youth in the Rockingham/Kwinana area through an intensive work-ready training program.

Participants are often repeat offenders, referred by their schools, parents, or juvenile justice and child protection agencies. The nine-month program teaches valuable skills through hands-on activity, mentoring and structured education to allow young people to experience a career in the metals trades.

Key outcomes:

  • Five-fold reduction in absenteeism
  • 83% reduction in offences committed by students
  • 80% of graduated participants in further training, employed or back at school

Media contacts: Scott Kelleher 0418 159525, Caterina Giugovaz 0418 221798.
For detail on the awards visit www.aic.gov.au/crime_community/acvpa.aspx