Balga: Whitelion Youth Agency to continue supporting young offenders

(L-R)  Ian Gowing, Janine Freeman MLA, Mike Dixon, Shane Ninyette, Minister Michelle Roberts, Stephen Whitticase and Jayden.
(L-R) Ian Gowing, Janine Freeman MLA, Mike Dixon, Shane Ninyette, Minister Michelle Roberts, Stephen Whitticase and Jayden.

WHITELION Youth Agency in Balga will roll out a continued support program for 28 prolific and priority offenders in the Mirrabooka, Scarborough and Ballajura Police districts on June 1.

The State Government granted the agency with $316,764 in funding for its Deadly Diversions program on May 28.

The program offers individualised support, mentoring and social engagement activities in order to address the root cause of offending and crime prevention.

It will be reviewed after 12 months with an option for further funding until 2021.

Whitelion state manager Mike Dixon said the agency worked with young people in within the Balga, Mirrabooka, Koondoola and Girrawheen areas for 40 years.

“In 2014, Whitelion were approached by WA Police to intervene as there were a number of local youth identified as prolific and priority offenders whose high volume offending were of major concern and stress for the local community,” he said.

“A pilot version of Deadly Diversions specific to the Mirrabooka Police District enabled Whitelion staff to provide intensive support services to the identified young people which resulted in a dramatic decline in their offending.

“Through demonstrated cost savings to Government and improved outcomes for individual people, Whitelion were able to acquire a three-year capacity to continue the Deadly Diversions service in the Mirrabooka Police District as well as extend to the Scarborough Police District.”

Mr Dixon said the program supported young offenders and provided assistance to their siblings and parents to address related barriers across the family unit.

“The majority of Deadly Diversions youth have grown up in generationally entrenched cycles of poverty and disadvantage where criminal activity was ever apparent,” he said.

“Youth repeat offenders often come from broken families, have disconnected from education at an early age, hold limited hopes and aspirations, and lack structure within their lives due to their chaotic ‘home’ environments.

“Without an adequate sense of belonging, these young people seek comfort in drugs, alcohol and like minded peers to cope with the stressors of their daily lives.”

He said the community benefited from reduced crime and antisocial behaviour as targeted youth were engaged within a relevant support service which met their needs.

Police Minister Michelle Roberts said a small number of persistent offenders were responsible for committing a significant percentage of crime.

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