The Gold Coast is set to trial an innovative international program designed to reduce high-risk criminal youth offending and entice perpetrators to turn their back on crime.
Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard said on Friday that $227,000 had been earmarked to set up the first Youth Advocate Program (YAP) designed to enable local communities to deliver solutions to tackle local youth crime.
The trial – to be run by Life Without Barriers (LWB) – is one of eight projects in the state to be chosen through the Government’s $1.4 million Community Partnerships Grants initiative.
LWB is a leading national social purpose organisation dedicated to changing people’s lives for the better. It provides foster care, disability, aged care and other services and support to many Australian communities to help people live their best life.
Ms Linard said the pilot program was scheduled to start on the Gold Coast in September and would target high-risk repeat offenders aged 10 to 17, providing them with 15 hours of weekly support from an advocate over a six-to-nine month period.
“Young people will be referred via the Gold Coast Youth Justice Service Centre and then matched to a youth advocate,” she said. “Importantly, it will take an evidence-based approach and ensure supports are wrapped around young people.
“Youth advocates will tailor their approach to meet the current circumstances of individual young people, connecting them with services that are right for them and problem-solve alongside them.
“(LWB) is perfectly suited to operate this program on the Gold Coast, with their extensive experience and knowledge working with and alongside vulnerable youth.”
Ms Linard said YAP had been successfully delivering programs around the world for more than 45 years, including in the United States and Ireland, and had been shown to reduce the amount and severity of criminal reoffending, and successfully support young people to achieve their goals.
LWB Queensland Performance and Innovation Manager Chris Barlow said the YAP program was a “great fit for young people’’ who need help to break bad habits and cycles.
“This program with its focus on personal goals, mentoring, partnering with families and community has a ‘never give up’ approach, and will meet the needs of young people who need some extra help figuring out how to get the help and support they need to make better choices,” he said.
“We are also looking forward to working closely with our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Pasifika communities to build young people’s cultural identity, as we know this is so important for sustained success.”