Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Evaluation of Young Offenders Pilot Program

An evaluation of the Coalition Government’s Young Offenders Pilot Program shows that with flexible, intensive and co-ordinated support, the prospects for young offenders are considerably enhanced Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, said today.

“Young offenders represent one of the most disadvantaged groups of young people in our community. A young offender typically has limited schooling, low literacy, substance abuse problems, low self esteem, homelessness, family breakdown, unemployment and poverty.

“The results of the pilot program are very impressive. Participation in education, training and employment improved for the 395 participants from 26 per cent on entry to the program to 71 per cent on exit. Only 10 per cent of those on juvenile justice orders were breached for non-compliance or re-offending whilst involved with the program.

“The key to the pilot’s success was its flexible approach to get these young people back on track. Young offenders and their families were provided targetted financial, emotional and practical support.

“A support worker served as a single point of contact and was able to assess the young person’s need, develop a plan, refer the young person on to appropriate services and where appropriate, directly provide services.

“All pilots took a different approach. The range of supports provided were as diverse as arranging locations for young people to do their community service, attending court with the young person and explaining the court procedures and orders to the family, to providing food vouchers to the family and advice to some young people on hygiene and grooming.

“While juvenile justice and services to young offenders are State and Territory Government responsibilities, the Federal Government has sought to assist them in this area. Rather than forever treating young offenders as criminals, support needs to be provided to help them make something of their lives.

“The pilot program and findings of the evaluation report have produced good practice examples and should prove useful to States and Territories in developing their own servicing options for young offenders,” Mr Anthony said.

Mr Anthony said the report will be on the agenda for discussion with relevant State and Territory Ministers at the next Community Services Ministers’ Advisory Council (CSMAC) meeting in October.