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Pacific project cools down youth offending hotspot

MEDIA RELEASE - ALCOHOL ADVISORY COUNCIL

For immediate use - 8 May 2008, 2.30pm

Pacific project cools down youth offending hotspot

A South Auckland youth project is helping to reform up to 80 percent of the area's young offenders every year, delegates at the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC) Pacific Spirit conference were told today.

The Genesis Youth Project has successfully helped Pacific and Maori youth offenders out of a life of crime, and back into school and work.

A collaboration of 13 police officers, social workers and youth workers have been supporting young offenders and their families in Mangere and South Auckland for the past seven years.

Genesis Project manager, Rob Woodley, says it's all about addressing the underlying issues.

"In order to help the offenders, we have to get root of their problems. We have a great councillor on board who helps some offenders through issues such as drug and alcohol addiction," he says.

"The youth workers are signposts for young people, providing them with choices that will lead them onto a positive pathway. Genesis has a good mixture of Samoan, Tongan and Maori young people who have experienced a little of what these young people face.”"

The project offers a literacy tutoring programme and actively helps young people back into employment or schooling.

"We've found that every year 70 to 80 percent of our project participants are not re-offending," says Mr Woodley.

"We’re also planting seeds to prevent future offending with a lot of pro-active work in schools around the area.

"Our youth workers will mentor and support young people who are at risk of offending or becoming gang affiliated, by intervening early and stopping problems before they escalate.

"The area we're working in is a hotspot for youth crime and the Genesis team is committed to providing better options, choices and activities for young people to give them a brighter future."

ENDS

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