Early intervention and rehabilitation is essential to young people in crisis and one of the areas this is most crucial is in crime prevention.
The research is overwhelming: in Australia, juvenile offenders are 91% likely to be charged with a crime as an adult†. The most serious and persistent of adult offenders have been detained as juveniles with half of them having served at least one term of imprisonment in adult correctional facilities.
With such a high risk of juvenile offenders going on to commit crimes as adults, it’s easy to judge them as “a lost cause”, to give up on them and “lock them up and throw away the key”.
But a court support program Youth Off The Streets has implemented is proving a success in rehabilitating first-time young offenders and giving them a second chance at life.
The program, currently being run in Sydney’s West, helps young offenders who have little or no family support to navigate the legal system. The program aims to provide structured support with access to our counsellors and mentors. Our trained youth workers also attend court appearances with the young people who have come into our care.
Ngapera Paki, the Manager of our Koch Centre for Youth and Learning in Sydney’s West, notes what a difference the program makes to kids who haven’t made the best choices in life.
“The program allows the Koch team to provide assistance and advocacy to young offenders. These kids can also participate in the centre’s activities for young people and their families. Our door is always open to them.”
The results so far have shown remarkable success: 43% of young people in our program have reoffended compared to the national average of 82%‡. This result speaks to the dedication of both our staff and the young people themselves who are determined to turn their lives around.
The program also has positive impacts on the community as a whole by lowering crime rates and making our streets safer.
†Source: study by the Australian Institute of Criminology. ‡According to Young People returning to sentenced youth justice supervision 2016–17. Juvenile Justice series no. 22. Cat. no. JUV 127. Canberra: AIHW. *Name changed to protect the privacy of our young people.