19th December 2019
New figures released today by the Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) showing a spike in crime among young people in Victoria demonstrate an urgent need for investment in family interventions to stop the cycle of offending, as well as a strategy for addressing youth unemployment in regional areas.
Anglicare Victoria CEO Paul McDonald said the common denominator in youth crime is family. The struggles many parents face with mental health, financial stress, alcohol and drug problems and more make it harder to create a stable environment to raise their kids.
Mr McDonald said: “There are solutions which have been shown to make a big difference in reducing youth crime through interventions at the family level. What we’re currently lacking is the necessary scale to make a noticeable difference to these headline crime figures.
“Investing in therapeutic prevention approaches will save the state money in the long run by helping to turn young people’s lives around and keeping them out of the justice and welfare system as adults. The time to make a difference is before they enter the justice system rather than putting on more police to lock them up after they become offenders,” he said.
Anglicare Victoria is helping almost 50 families through an Australian-first, the Functional Family Therapy – Youth Justice program. The trial is supported by $3.2 million in funding from Ben Carroll, Minister for Youth Justice. With a 40-year history of reducing reoffending internationally, the program helps to keep young people in the family home rather than being remanded in custody or entering the out-of-home care system.
The CSA statistics also show high levels of offending in regional areas such as Shepparton and Mildura. Mr McDonald said it is no coincidence that Shepparton has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Victoria (17.5 per cent) as well as one of the higher youth crime rates. An employment strategy for young people in regional areas would create more job opportunities and reduce crime rates in the years ahead, he said.
To coordinate an interview with Paul McDonald, CEO of Anglicare Victoria, please contact Mark Bretherton, Media and Advocacy Manager at Anglicare Victoria:
E: firstname.lastname@example.org or P: 0419 035 117