Agen­cies unite to guide youth

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

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.

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