Local govts working with youth services to connect at-risk youth and get them back on track

Local govts working with youth services to connect at-risk youth and get them back on track
Local govts working with youth services to connect at-risk youth and get them back on track
Local govts working with youth services to connect at-risk youth and get them back on track

FORTY-ONE per cent of high school students in Belmont miss more than one month of school a year.

City of South Perth has the highest disproportion of Aboriginal young people detained in the region, and the Town of Victoria Park has 81 young people at severe educational risk.

These are just a few of the statistics in a new report from the Youth Partnership Project (YPP), which aims to change the story for young people by connecting at-risk youth with the right service at the right time.

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While the City has one of the smallest youth populations, the proportion of young people disengaged from education or in the justice system in Belmont ranks equal or a close second to Armadale, with the highest rate in the area.

YPP research shows a quarter of all receptions to Banksia Hill Detention Centre facility are from the South Eastern Corridor of Perth, and despite high expenditure on corrective services, one in two of these detained young people return to the justice system within two years.

“Just today, today alone, we’ve spent $130,000 on locking up West Australian young people,” YPP manager and manager of Place-Based Strategies for Save the Children Australia Karina Chicote said at the report launch.

“And we will spend that tomorrow and the day after, until by the end of this year, we would have spent $48 million just on locking up young people… What we are doing isn’t quite working.”

Ms Chicote said the figures indicate the current system is flawed, but the data shows youth at risk can be identified and assisted.

“We know that we can predict the next young people who are going to end up in our detention centres. The fact that we can predict that is not good enough. If you can predict who they’re going to be, then surely together, we can actually prevent that path,” Ms Chicote said.

The YPP, steered by Save the Children Australia, established the Armadale Youth Intervention Partnership (AYIP) to assist young people at risk of offending in the area with early, targeted support.

Local brothers Jake and Brody participated in the 2016 AYIP January School Holiday Program, and have since been named the City of Armadale’s Young Citizens of the Year and returned to the program to become mentors.

Federal Member for Burt Matt Keogh told the Southern Gazette AYIP was a crucial proof of concept for similar programs.

“We can change the story of the results we’re seeing, of too many young people going into juvenile detention again and again, instead of getting their lives on track,” Mr Keogh said.

“I really hope that the impact of this report is that it provides government with the necessary evidence to say funding these programs, and indeed expanding these programs, is worthy, and you’ll get the benefit not just for the individual, not just for the community, but also to the budget bottom line.”