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New Programme For Young Offenders

June 14 2002

Youth Affairs Minister Laila Harré has announced funding for a new youth development programme aimed at reducing reoffending and improving the employment and training prospects of young offenders aged 15 to 17.

Speaking at a Conservation Corps graduation ceremony in Devonport today, Laila Harré said the programme would be modelled on the successful Youth Service Corps programme.

This is a youth development programme that has an excellent record of helping young people unsuited to the mainstream education system or deemed at risk of long-term unemployment into training and education.

The Specialist Youth Service Corps is part of the recently announced Youth Offending Strategy, and targets medium to high risk young offenders.

“The primary goal of the Specialist Youth Service Corps will be to reduce re-offending, and it will do this by boosting the self-esteem and education and training prospects of young people who are already in contact with the youth justice system,” Laila Harré said.

“It aims to minimise the chance of a young person progressing to the adult justice system by developing their social skills, encouraging self-discipline, building coping skills and motivation. This programme will also help strengthen the young person’s connections with the positive influences in their family and the wider community.”

Eight projects will be delivered from January 2003 at a cost of $572,000, creating places for 80 young people.

This will grow to 16 in 2003/2004, and funding for these projects will be ongoing.

Youth Affairs will have an ongoing role in administering, monitoring and evaluating the programmes.

Laila Harré said the Specialist Youth Service Corps is evidence of the Labour-Alliance Coalition’s commitment to the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa, which was launched in February.

“Youth development is about giving our young people the personal and practical skills they need to make healthy choices. This programme is about giving young people we know to be at risk real alternatives, in this case real alternatives to offending,” she said.

“Rather than writing these kids off, the youth development approach recognises that every young person has potential but some need more help than others to realise this. Next year, thanks to this programme, 80 more young New Zealanders will have that chance.”

Photo opportunity: Laila Harré will be announcing details of the Specialist Youth Service Corps in Devonport today at a graduation ceremony for young people who have completed a Youth Corps programme with the NZ School of Outdoor Studies.

Ends


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