Agencies unite to guide youth
Wimmera people can help support the community’s most vulnerable and at-risk young people through a new crime prevention program specifically developed for the region.
Connecting the Service Puzzle involves 10 regional support agencies banding together to combat an increase in youth participatory crimes.
Wimmera Southern Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network executive officer Tim Shaw said the strategy was uniquely designed for the region.
He said the State Government identified Horsham as a top priority for a youth crime prevention grant after statistics revealed a rise in crime in the municipality.
Wimmera Southern Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network staff will be involved in the mentoring side of the program.
The organisation has sourced youth mentors for its MATES – Mentor Assist Target Engage Skills – program since 2010.
“Youth mentoring has a proven track record of reducing risky behaviour in adolescence,” Mr Shaw said.
“It provides support to vulnerable children and young adults and makes positive change by getting them to engage, and promotes individual achievement.”
Connecting the Service Puzzle leaders will source youth mentors through the MATES program, which is now running in more than 20 schools across the region.
“Connecting the Service Puzzle will allow us to build on the MATES Mentoring program and reach more at-risk young people than ever before by providing them with positive role models,” Mr Shaw said. “The partnership services are coming together just as the title suggests and mentoring is just one element of that support.”
Centre for Participation, Grampians Community Health, Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative, headspace Horsham, Horsham College – Alternative Pathways, Horsham Rural City Council, Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce, Wimmera Primary Care Partnership and Uniting Wimmera are also involved.
Wimmera Southern Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network project officer Vanessa O’loughlin said she was excited about being able to reach more at-risk young people.
“I love Horsham – it has this unique ability to pull together,” she said. “Right now, we need to be supporting our youth, particularly those who have been let down in other areas of their lives.”
Mrs O’loughlin encouraged community members to attend a mentoring information session to learn more about the MATES and Connecting the Service Puzzle programs.
The sessions will guide participants through the commitment required, along with expectations, training, benefits and policies.
“Attending a MATES information session does not indicate commitment,” she said.
“All potential mentors will be provided the respect and detail in order to make an informed choice towards participation.”
Sessions will be at WSMLLEN, Mallee Building, Federation University Horsham at 12.30pm and 5pm today and 12.30pm on February 21.
Mrs O’loughlin said interested people, including businesses with corporate volunteering, could call her or fellow project officer Mary Bysouth on 5381 0122 for more information.