A program in Lake Macquarie has led to a significant drop in youth crime rates.
Over the past 18 months, a collective of locally responsive youth agencies have come together to take part in a Cardiff Collaborative Community Project.
Funded by the NSW Department of Justice and managed by local, not-for-profit agency Community Activities Lake Macquarie (CALM), the project supported the wellbeing of young people at risk of entering the Juvenile Justice System.
It has delivered more than 20 separate programs aimed at curbing antisocial behaviour and reducing youth crime in the northern region of Lake Macquarie.
With a 63% drop in stealing offences and an 81% decline in street offences, the program has been deemed a great success.
The program also created a stronger sense of safety within the community, which, according to local surveys, rose by more than 50%.
CALM Program Coordinator Bradley Dunn said the programs had made a real difference to participants’ lives.
“Most importantly, we have seen some real stories of success and change from young people who have participated in the program,” he said.
One young participant said it really helped them progress.
“I was a really bad kid at the start of the year, and I just improved,” he said.
“I enjoyed the company of the policemen and they always spoke to me and I could talk to them.”
The initiative engaged with more than 700 young people and 2,000 community members, delivering a range of programs that supported their needs and interests.
Police involvement in youth incidents has dropped from 503 to 368 during this program and it has been heavily backed by NSW Police Superintendent and Local Area Commander, Danny Sullivan.
Since its launch in July 2018, the program has provided opportunities for positive social cohesion and skill development through engagement in sport, art, music, and social programs.
These skills-based programs are highly sought after for those who find it difficult to engage in mainstream school.
The programs have given young people the opportunity to learn coping mechanisms and resilience while growing leadership skills and developing employability and entrepreneurial skills.
While funding for the program has ended, collaborative partners continue to work together to support young people in Lake Macquarie.
“The value of locally responsive organisations committed to working collaboratively cannot be underestimated in the success of this project,” CALM Chief Executive Sheena Harvey said.
Go to the CALM website for more information about its programs.