Youth charged with crimes in Katherine will be offered community work programs as a new court sentencing option.
The NT Government today unveiled a $5 million Back on Track youth diversion program aimed at problem youth between 8-17 years old.
The new program will be delivered in Katherine although it’s not yet ready and expects to operational by the middle of next year.
Problem youth have been blamed for much of the rise in petty crime in the town.
Youth crime was the biggest subject raised at a public meeting earlier in the year.
Courts are given more sentencing and diversion options with the program, called Back on Track.
The program will service all at-risk children and young people, and will be designed to ensure they understand the consequences of their actions.
Groups around the Territory will be asked to apply for funding to run the program.
The Government will ensure that the options put forward are placed in front of the courts as viable options to sentence or divert young people running up against the law.
Those submitting their interest to be part of the Back on Track program will need to show that their work will contribute to
- Young people repairing the harm they caused by their offending by working in the community.
- Young people being taught skills to become productive members of the community.
- Young people participating in victim offending conferencing and undertaking agreed actions to provide restitution to victims of crime.
The program will have strong links to the business community to find employment opportunities for young people during the program (and ongoing).
The program will address at-risk behaviour, consequences and restitution, life skills and cultural connection, family capacity and responsibility, re-engagement with education, training and employment opportunities.
The program will target two age groups:
Target Group 1: 14-17 years
The program will engage up to 60 young Territorians (annually) that are at risk of entering the youth justice system and will include individual support and mentoring through training and employment.
Target Group 2: 8-13 years
The program will engage up to 25 children and young people (annually) across the Territory who are engaging in bad behaviour that places them at risk of entering the youth justice system. The program will also focus on building family capacity and responsibility for young people to re-engage them back into mainstream education.
The $5 million Back on Track program will be delivered by a youth service provider(s) in partnership with the NT Government. The provider(s) will contribute to the co-design and delivery of the program.
The Back on Track program is expected to be operational mid-2019.
Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield said: “People who do the wrong thing must face the consequences because all Territorians have the right to be safe.
“But we need to make sure young people get back on the right track – not become lifelong criminals.
“Putting kids who are at risk of offending Back on Track is the way to do this. While those who pose a serious risk to the safety of Territorians will still face detention, Back on Track will give us a better chance at breaking the cycle of crime so we can create a safer Territory.
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