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Fresh Start reforms delivering positive results

Hon Chester Borrows
Associate Minister of Social Development

13 December 2012 Media Statement
Fresh Start reforms delivering positive results

The Government’s Fresh Start reforms are having a positive impact on youth offending, Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows says.

Child, Youth and Family today released an update report on the seven key policy changes included in Fresh Start.

“Fresh Start is about getting smarter in how we deal with young offenders. While it is still early days, these results are an encouraging indication that we’re on the right track,” Mr Borrows says.

“The reality is we are dealing with some very troubled young people. There is no magic wand we can wave that will instantly fix their problems.

“However, the report shows youth justice family group conference referrals are down 12 per cent in two years, which indicates Fresh Start is making a difference.”

The Fresh Start youth justice reforms were announced in 2009, with supporting legislative change in October 2010. The reforms targeted serious and persistent youth offending through:
• Amending the Youth Court jurisdiction to include serious offending by 12 and 13 year olds.
• Extending the maximum length of Youth Court orders.
• Introducing Military-Style Activity (MAC) Camps for the most serious young offenders.
• Increasing the provision of supported bail, including a wider geographical coverage.
• Increased parenting education for parents of young offenders, and for young offenders who are themselves parents.
• Increased mentoring placements for young offenders.
• Increased Alcohol and Other Drug treatment placements for young offenders.

“The update released today shows a 63 per cent drop in young people transferred from the Youth Court to the District Court in two years – down from 61 transfers in 2009/10 to 23 in 2011/12. This means serious young offenders are getting the appropriate intervention without being put into the adult system.

There were a total of 57 young people who attended the six MACs held between October 2010 and October 2012, with 49 completing the course.

Of the 31 young people who completed and left a MAC prior to April 2012, 39 per cent had not reoffended in the first six months after finishing the camp, and of those who did reoffend 63 per cent did so less seriously and 63 per cent less frequently than in the six months prior to attending the camp.

“The total number of violent offences committed across this group of 31 young people has also fallen by 52 per cent,” Mr Borrows says.

“MACs are the last ditch attempt to turn these kids around and stop them heading to adult prison and a life of crime.”

MACs are different to the Limited Services Volunteer (LSV) courses. LSV is a voluntary, six-week course for 18-25 year olds and is targeted to young people who’ve been on a benefit for longer than six months. It helps them gain the skills and confidence they need to get a job.

Mr Borrows says the mentoring programmes are also making a difference.

“As mentoring is part of larger Youth Court orders, it is harder to measure their effectiveness. However, the feedback we are getting from youth justice providers is mentoring is essential in providing positive role models for these young people and connecting them back into their communities.

“With a total of 1373 young people receiving mentoring under Fresh Start since its inception, well in excess of the 300 places each year originally envisaged, the uptake certainly supports this as a worthwhile investment.”

Mr Borrows also noted areas for further improvement identified in the report.

“We need to continue to learn and make improvements to our youth justice programmes. The Youth Crime Action Plan which is currently under development will provide an important vehicle to do just that,” Mr Borrows says

The full report, Fresh Start Reforms in Operation to 31 October 2012, can be found here. Previous updates on Fresh Start, as well as further information on the programme, can be found at www.beehive.govt.nz or www.cyf.govt.nz.


Note to Eds: Fresh Start Reforms in Operation to 31 October 2012 report from Child, Youth and Family is attached.


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