RELEASED: April 24, 2022
Social Futures has welcomed the NSW Government announcement to extend the highly successful Youth Justice NSW early intervention program, Youth on Track.
The government has committed $9 million to extending the program until December 2023, ensuring that young people continue to be supported.
Social Futures delivers the program on the Mid-North Coast.
Some 30 young people, aged from 10 to 17 years, from the Coffs Harbour and Grafton areas have completed a program in the past year to break away from a cycle of offending and learn how to make positive life choices.
The Youth on Track program for at-risk young people was developed by multiple NSW agencies, including the police and the Departments of Communities and Justice, and Health. It is delivered in northern NSW by community services organisation, Social Futures.
Social Futures chief strategy officer Katrina Luckie said young people, who have had contact with the justice system, are referred to the program.
“The average age of participant is around 14 years,” Ms Luckie said. “Often the young person has had a formal warning from police or been charged with an offence or the courts have placed them on a conditional release order in the community.
“Young people are often vulnerable to offending if they have social connections to other young people with a history of offending.
“Often these are young people facing family challenges in unsettled living arrangements. They also may have become disengaged from education and have difficulties finding or maintaining work, and that can lead to drug and alcohol use. Their offending is usually connected to these factors.”
Ms Luckie said the program was holistic and sought to improve multiple aspects of the young person’s life including personal relationships, housing, education and/or work.
She said the young people who completed the program had improved their lives, with many securing jobs and and more young people were now coming on board.
The program operates in the Myall Lakes as well as in the Hunter, Central West, Mid North Coast, New England, Blacktown, Riverina and Coffs Harbour areas.
Referrals to the program are made by police, schools and a range of family support services, health and justice services providers.
Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services, Natasha Maclaren-Jones said the scheme has been extremely successful since its inception in 2013, supporting over 350 young offenders each year to reduce their risk of reoffending and reduce their contact with police by half.
“The key to this program’s success is that each young person is allocated a case manager and each case plan is targeted to the needs of each individual young person.
“This program really empowers young people to avoid re-offending, make positive decisions and take control of their lives,” Mrs Maclaren Jones said.
Case managers work closely with young people and their families, identifying triggers and supporting those with behavioural and mental health issues.