Cost of lost youth

JUS­TICE SYS­TEM ‘FLAWED’ – RE­PORT

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - FRONT PAGE - Jessica War­riner

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

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

They are just a few of the statis­tics in a new re­port from the Youth Part­ner­ship Pro­gram (YPP), which aims to con­nect at-risk youth with the right ser­vice at the right time.

While the City of Bel­mont 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, which has the high­est rate in the area.

YPP re­search showed that a quar­ter of all re­cep­tions to Banksia Hill De­ten­tion Cen­tre fa­cil­ity were from the south­east­ern cor­ri­dor of Perth and de­spite high ex­pen­di­ture on cor­rec­tive ser­vices, one in two of these de­tained young peo­ple re­turned to the jus­tice sys­tem within two years.

“Just to­day, to­day alone, we’ve spent $130,000 on lock­ing up West Aus­tralian young peo­ple,” Karina Chicote, YPP man­ager and man­ager of place-based strate­gies for Save the Chil­dren Aus­tralia, 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 these fig­ures in­di­cated the cur­rent sys­tem was flawed but youth at risk could be iden­ti­fied and as­sisted.

“We know that we can pre­dict the next young peo­ple who are go­ing to end up in our de­ten­tion cen­tres,” she said.

“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.”

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. They have since been named the City of Ar­madale’s Young Cit­i­zens of the Year and re­turned to the pro­gram to be­come men­tors.

Burt MHR Matt Keogh said 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.”

Burt MHR Matt Keogh and YPP man­ager Karina Chicote.

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