26 September 2023

Youngsters’ Justice program expanded

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The Department of Communities and Justice is to extend an early intervention program aimed at keeping children and teens out of the criminal justice system.

Announcing that Youth Justice NSW will receive funding for the extension, Minister for Police, Paul Toole said its Youth on Track program provided support for 10- to 17-year-olds at risk of long-term involvement in the criminal justice system.

“This is about giving young people who’ve had a brush with the law the tools to stop them re-offending – and we know it works,” Mr Toole said.

“Since its inception in 2013, the program has supported more than 350 young offenders each year to reduce their risk of reoffending and halved their contact with police,” he said.

“The extension will help even more young people right across the state, whether they live in Bingara or Blacktown, get their lives back on track.”

Mr Toole said Youth Justice case managers worked closely with young people and their families to identify triggers and support young people with behavioural and mental health issues.

Minister for Families and Communities, Natasha Maclaren-Jones said the extension would allow more children and teens across the State to benefit from the program.

“When a young person comes into contact with the criminal justice system, it is imperative we do everything we can to turn their life around,” Mrs Maclaren-Jones said.

“By intervening early and providing young people with the support they need using a multi-agency approach, we can engage them in education, mental health services, family supports, and behaviour change that help to significantly reduce their risk of reoffending.”

She said Youth on Track operated in the Hunter, Coffs Harbour, Central West, Mid North Coast, New England, Blacktown and Riverina areas.

The Minister said referrals to the program were made by police and schools, as well as a range of family support, health and justice services providers.

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