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Youth Partnership Project

Changing the story for young people in WA at risk of becoming caught up in the juvenile justice system.
 

Changing the story

‚ÄčThe Youth Partnership Project is about changing the story for young people in Western Australia who are at-risk of becoming caught up in the juvenile justice system. We want to prevent our young people ending up detention by reaching them with the right support at the right time.

We’re calling for a targeted and collaborative approach to youth services because what we have now is not working. We’re working with young people to co-design a new model that we believe will create change. And we’re bringing government departments, service providers and the community together to put this model into action.

Why changing the approach is so important

In 2017, Western Australia spent AUD $55 million on locking up young people in juvenile detention – one in four were from the south-east corridor of Perth.

This region has some of the highest incidents of youth crime, family violence and child neglect in Australia. Countless programs have been implemented to combat these problems, but the statistics show what we’re doing just isn't working. Too many young people aren’t receiving the support they need to stay out of detention and thrive in their community.

The Youth Partnership Project

The Youth Partnership Project is founded on the principle that if we can predict, we can prevent. We formed a collaboration of organisations committed to changing this story – government departments, local councils, schools, the police, community organisations and service providers, like health and social workers.

We consulted more than 500 people at 255 meetings, including police officers and teachers. We spoke to more than 160 young people to find out how we can help them better. We learned that early intervention services are needed to reach young people before they became involved in the justice system.

Together, we developed a system for change that includes focused collaboration, better information sharing and communication, more coordinated approach to youth work, genuine partnerships with young people and shared outcomes.

The partnership then worked with young people to co-design a model that could support them more effectively in their day-to-day lives. The result is the Youth Intervention Partnership Model, which is being piloted in Perth's south-east corridor in 2018.

The model identifies young people who need support, engages with their family and seeks consent from everyone involved. It then connects the young person with youth workers in an intensive program, assesses their needs and develops a plan to help that young person overcome challenges and be the best version of themselves.

Learn more about how the Youth Partnership Project works.

How we know we’re making a difference

A recent independent evaluation of the Youth Intervention Partnership found that, as a result of this project, local services are starting to work in a more flexible, client-centred and efficient way.

Programs are directing more appropriate support to the right young people. And policy-makers and service providers now recognise the value of using shared definitions and data to better support young people with complex needs.

The Youth Partnership Project is funded by the Western Australian Police, and the Departments of Communities, Sport and Cultural Industries and Education. Save the Children is the backbone organisation for the project.

Ashton’s story

Ashton Kealy, who works with the Youth Partnership Project supported by Save the Children in Western Australia knows early intervention works. The Youth Partnership Project connects children aged 8-14, and their families more holistically, with services that can support them with educational engagement, emotional regulation, and life skills. 

She often sees children who come from challenging backgrounds, who may look as if they’re acting out. “These children may have low verbal comprehension skills, low emotional regulation; and they’re in survival mode a lot of the time,” she says. “And that can present itself as behavioural issues.” The Youth Partnership Project takes a collaborative approach to help get kids back on track. “We know it’s worked,” notes Kealy. “We can see kids who have been through so much complexity in the decade they have been alive, who are now testing at normal cognitive and emotional levels. They’re sitting in mainstream classrooms with no inkling of their previous problematic behavior”. 

Jack’s story

Ten-year-old Jack* was angry. So angry he would hit out at school, at home, at anyone. “When he was at primary school, he was just totally disruptive,” says Joanna*, his carer. “He wouldn’t listen to the teachers, he used to run around the classroom ripping all the kids’ work off the wall and climbing on the roof.”

He even attacked Joanna. “He was angry all the time. He just about destroyed my house. Every door in the house is smashed, one window, he punched the glass on my big china cabinet. He actually attacked me a few times; just totally out of control.”

Through the Youth Partnership Project, Jack began to get the one-on-one attention he needed to uncover why he was so angry. He’s now much happier, according to both him and his carer. “This program has been helpful for my anger, I’m getting better at controlling it. It has helped me to listen and learn ways to calm down. Mum is happy that I’m not getting suspended and I’m proud of myself.” 

The change, Jack says, has been remarkable. “I’m proud I’m getting better every day, I’m nicer and more positive. You teach me sports I’m good at and just being here with all of you makes me happy.”

*Name has been changed

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