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Budget 2003: Health, education assessments

Budget 2003: Health, education assessments to aid Family Group Conferences

Substantial funding aimed at identifying and addressing the causes of offending by young people has been announced by Justice Minister Phil announced today.

Funding of $4.62 million, spread over four years, has been set aside in this year's Budget for education and health assessments for high-risk young offenders appearing at Family Group Conferences.

“Family Group Conferences (FGCs) are a critical intervention point for young offenders," Mr Goff said.

"Too often, however, the FGCs have been making decisions without sufficient information to ensure that their decisions are the most appropriate ones, and that they will be effective.

"The availability of education and health assessments for the young offender will help make the conferences more effective by identifying underlying problems which are often associated with repeat offending.

“The assessments will be for youngsters identified as most likely to engage in serious and persistent offending. Effective intervention is therefore likely to have significant impact on overall offending levels.

“Attendance and success at school is a strong factor in stopping offending. Many high-risk youngsters, however, are unlikely to be attending or achieving in the education system, having been suspended or excluded from school.

“Education assessments will be carried out with children aged between 10 and 14, who are attending their first Family Group Conference and have been identified as having significant education problems.

“The emphasis is on younger children because early offending is an indicator of those at risk of going on to life-long offending. This is the group that is also most open to change or intervention. “Health problems are also a factor with many high-risk young offenders. These include mental health disorders, drug and alcohol abuse or dependence, ADHD, conduct disorders, undiagnosed intellectual disability, or physical health difficulties such as eyesight or hearing difficulties.

“All of those issues can impact on offending behaviour, and the assessments will identify what action is needed to address any health issues a young offender may have.

"As with the education assessments, a health assessment resulting in an appropriate intervention could have a significant impact on reducing a youngster’s likelihood of re-offending," Mr Goff said.

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