Youth support program to help ‘prolific offenders’ get lives back on track

By Melissa Coade

August 2, 2022

WA's parliament house
A new pilot program will help young offenders turn their lives around. (AAP Image/Adam Gartrell)

A WA Department of Communities community youth officer will be responsible for the rollout of an early intervention pilot program intended to help young offenders turn their lives around. 

The pilot will support young people from Broome who have served or are serving time in juvenile justice detention, in addition to providing in-home support services to help parents develop parenting skills promoting healthy child development.

Community services minister Simone McGurk said addressing the root causes of offending among young people was critical to finding ways to empower them to turn their lives around.

“There are a range of risk factors we know lead to a young person’s susceptibility to offending — such as abuse, neglect, exposure to violence, family conflict, negative peer influences and poor engagement at school,” the minister said. 

The $700,000 pilot will initially offer culturally appropriate support services to 10 program participants, tailored to their individual needs.

An Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACOO) will lead the program’s family support component, and will also have input into the design of the program and the delivery of the service.

McGurk said the government was working hard to prevent young people from entering the criminal justice system.

“The WA government is spending more than $31 million to expand its successful Target 120 program to help at-risk children, with around half of all participants having no further contact with police.

“By developing Target 120 Plus, we are boosting supports for young people who have already had contact with the justice system, and ultimately helping to build safer communities,” she said.

The pilot complements the Target 120 early intervention initiative. Young people at high risk of becoming repeat offenders can undertake the program, which works with a small cohort to reduce criminal offending and other associated behaviours. 

Since 2018 the government has spent $20.4 million implementing Target 120. A further $11.1 million was recently pledged to expand the program to nine sites across the state, including in Broome, Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing and Derby. 

Target 120 has been operating in Kununurra, led by the MG Corporation, with nearly half of all participants successfully avoiding reoffending since completing the program.

Local Kimberley representative Divina D’Anna said she hoped extra intensive support would help young offenders turn their lives around.

“The best outcome for these young people is to be safely supported in the community so they can be close to their families, their culture and their country,” D’Anna said.


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