28th April, Melbourne, 2014
Youth diversion service proven to break cycle of crime
Melbourne, 28 April 2014: Keeping young people out of the criminal justice system and providing support through the police diversion initiative, the Youth Support Service, has had a proven impact on reducing youth crime, according to Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS) research findings released today.
YSAS is a service provider of the Youth Support Service in Metro Melbourne and the Latrobe Valley. The latest outcomes from both service areas revealed:
- 89%(i) of young people who completed the Youth Support Service did not enter the criminal justice system. They had no further, or only positive, contact with police.
- 38%(ii) of participants had serious involvement with the justice system prior to engaging with the Youth Support Service. This was reduced to 14% after service involvement.
- 55%(iii) of young people experienced family conflict ‘very often’ prior to accessing the Youth Support Service. This was significantly reduced to 18% by the end of service involvement.
- Young people engaged in education, employment or training increased from 38% to 78%iv at service completion.
The Youth Support Service is the only early intervention service of its kind in the state, working with young people aged 10 -17 referred to the service by Victoria Police to address the underlying drivers of offending behaviour. The Youth Support Service is currently funded until 30 June 2014.
“The Youth Support Service is a powerful and proven example of the Government, police and community organisations working together to reach at risk young people when they first offend, preventing escalation to the criminal justice system and crisis services,” said Paul Bird, CEO of YSAS.
“YSAS has been able to support young people and their families at the earliest possible point of contact with the law. As a result, 89 per cent of young people we have worked with have not entered the criminal justice system. It’s a fantastic outcome for both the individuals involved and the wider community.”
If the Youth Support Service does not continue beyond 30 June, YSAS is concerned there will be no early intervention response to youth crime for police, placing an increased strain on court and statutory systems, as well as crisis services through the resultant increased number of young offenders. For vulnerable young people, a lack of an early intervention service like the Youth Support Service creates another barrier to reaching the right support at the right time.
“Young people with backgrounds of family violence, lack of education and substance misuse can currently connect with skilled Youth Support Service workers, who address individual needs based on evidence informed practice. Without this specialised support, in the justice system these young people could fall through the cracks.
“The continuation of the successful Youth Support Service will allow YSAS and other providers to continue to work with young people, families, police and Government sustainably into the future,” said Mr. Bird.
For further information on the Youth Support Service, visit YSAS.org.au.
Note to editors
A full report on outcomes of the Youth Support Service provided by YSAS is available on request.
To arrange an interview with Paul Bird, CEO of YSAS, please contact:
TEL +61 3 8412 8522
i History of contact with police 2 months post closure – n =141 young people
ii History of contact with police 6 months before and at end of service involvement – n= 301 young people
iii History of family conflict 6 months before and at end of service involvement – n= 301 young people
iv History of education and employment 6 months before and at end of service involvement – n= 301 young people
3,952 young people have been referred to the YSAS Youth Support Service between 28 April 2011 – 20 February 2014. YSAS provides a central intake function for metropolitan Melbourne with referrals for Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong and Hobsons Bay being triaged to the 20th Man Fund per contractual obligations with Department of Human Services. The Youth Support Service is funded by Department of Human Services as part of the Government’s Youth Crime Initiative.
The Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS) is a leading youth health agency that enables highly vulnerable young people with substance dependence and misuse issues, mental illness and social disconnection, to take control of their health and wellbeing.
For further information visit ysas.org.au
or contact the confidential 24 hour free YoDAA line: 1800 458 685.