PCYC Youth Development Programs
Police & Community Youth Club’s are not for profit community based organizations, that are a partnership between Tasmania Police and community to provide early intervention for young people in the following target groups: 1) Youth at Risk of entering or re-entering the Youth Justice System 2) Youth at Risk due to being disadvantaged, disengaged or vulnerable youth or due to facing other barriers to a positive futures 3) Youth at Risk of poor health outcomes for example, due to a sedentary lifestyle; or poor leisure choices (eg drugs/alcohol); or other barriers to recreational fitness. Since 1946, Tasmania Police have recognised the value of young people learning to recreate in addressing the above early intervention priorities so highly that it funds a permanent Police Officer position to oversee our Youth at Risk programs, and provides a building and assists with some infrastructure costs. All other program and staffing costs must be raised by PCYC’s activities, fundraising and community partnerships.
PCYC’s response to HIGH YOUTH OFFENDING in TASMANIA
In May 2013 the ABS statistics indicated that Tasmania had the highest rate of youth offense in all of Australia, up against some very heavy contenders. At this time a group of government and community stakeholders were gathered by TL3’s Partnership Brokers, a Federal Government program skilled in addressing the reasons young people were not transitioning from education onto further/higher education or work. The group convened included the Education Department (Learning Services North), Community Youth Justice, Tasmania Police (Inspector Richard Cowling and PCYC), Child Protection (Dept of Health), TasTAFE, Ashley (Detention Centre) School, DHHS Children and Youth Services, Save the Children Bail Support Program, Launceston City Council, NJL Youth Connections, WhiteLion, City Mission, Colony 47, Centrelink and later the group also sort the support of YADAS (Young Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Service), Anglicare and Relationships Australia/Reconnect and Mission Australia to provide services as needed. Over a 9 month period the group initiated a detailed discussion around the overarching issues of youth offending including poverty, poor role models, peer groups, addictions, educational disengagement, lack of social and recreational options, mental health and so on. There were multiple issues, but stakeholders agreed unanimously that attending school, further education and training, or finding work has proven globally as the most successful method of reducing recidivism (repeat offending). The main gap identified was that, once young people dropped out of school and spent a couple of years on the street, it was extremely difficult for them to re-engage with education or training. Parents and youth workers did not have the teaching skills to be able to fast track this learning, the areas of deficit were often broad, time was an issue, and the young people sometimes had previous bad experiences around formal learning or being at school. Many young people had poor experiences and low levels of success at school, and were reticent to re-engage with formal education programs. If young people realised they were on a poor pathway and wanted to reengage with education their “catching up” options were limited or non-existent which in turn limited their future life options. Their parents usually did not have the advanced education skills required to catch them up, youth workers had limited time and it was not their core role, education facilities were limited as to their capacity to reengage young people who were no longer enrolled in school, Police Early Intervention could see capacity in young people but referral points were limited, Community Youth Justice knew that for many young people reengagement with education was their best rehabilitation, not punishment. But there was no education bridging conduit available. The need for a “learning re-engagement stepping stone” which could fit into the education system prior to attempting engagement with mainstream education was needed. Flexible, alternative learning or training options was identified as a gap. At this time, PCYC Launceston partnered TasTAFE, and Save the Children (STC) Bail Support Program Youth Workers to provide flexible learning hub which provided work skills, life skills and personal development with embedded foundations bridging and learning to re-engage young people, who are in (or at risk of entering) the youth justice system, with their education, training or career pathway. Initially called Pathfinder, the program is now called Project Booyah. More below. AFFECT ON COMMUNITY If a young person is on a trajectory towards a Youth Detention Centre or Prison, due to current or future predicted offending, there is a major impact on their own lives, but there is also a major impact on our wider community in regards to the fallout that youth offending creates, and the associated domino effect. For example, if a young person steals then burns a car which is not ensured, this can see a father losing their job and their family entering hardship. In turn, children of a family living in poverty or hardship are likely to have health, education and other issues as the families’ priorities change in their effort to etch out an existence. This in turn affects whole of community.
YOUTH OPERATIONS CENTRE
Most of PCYC’s Youth Development Programs are housed in our refurbished Youth Operations Centre (YOC). After many years of operating in sub-standard facilities, the refurbishment of the old Alexander Racquet Factory’s office areas was completed in 2016. This was undertaken in consultation and with approval of the heritage council. It now has offices for Save the Children Youth Workers and Bail Support Program, Club Police Officer/s as well as a kitchen for life skills development and classroom area. YOC FUNDING: The refurbishment of the Youth Operations area was funded by: Coalition Government National Stronger Regions Fund $69,956 State Government funding administered by Tasmanian Association of Police and Citizens Youth Club $94,200 including asbestos removal.
PCYC now coordinates Project Booyah at PCYC. Booyah is a flexible learning program which helps young people to address their barriers to educational engagement and supports them to transition to further education or work. By leveraging resources in partnership we can provide a highly effective and professional but low cost education gap-bridging program for young people aged 15yo to 19yo.
- TasTafe delivers project based literacy & numeracy training that aims to get their skills to a point that they can pass the L&N standards that are now required to attend TasTAFE.
- Save The Children Youth Workers support young people to address some of the issues and barriers to reengagement.
- PCYC provides recreational diversion approach to helping young people find better and healthier pursuits for their leisure time, which would also provide an outlet for frustration, and build physical, emotional and mental resilience. For example: some young people may only have seen disappointment and frustration at home dealt with via anger, aggression or violence will only have this in their response-toolbox when they get disappointed or frustrated at school. But they are not usually given alternative tools nor taught how and when to use them. By undertaking challenges in the weight gym, on the indoor rock-wall, in boxing, and in the bush that put young people under pressure, we can teach them better ways to react and handle these pressures. We then watch this translate to the classroom as we prepare them for transition to their next life challenge. The results have been remarkable as we watch young boys undergo a metamorphosis to manhood which has seen them addressing the heads of government departments, proud, happy and with a positive future firmly in their sites.
These young people then either transition to TasTAFE Foundations and further theses skills while exploring potential future courses at TasTAFE, OR they transition to work or work skills training. Project Booyah provides us with excellent assessment tools and other benefits. PCYC now takes two intakes a year of around 10 young people. Bigger groups are not feasible with the level of support required and group dynamics are paramount to success. Project Booyah was previously known at Launceston PCYC as “Pathfinder”. PROJECT BOOYAH FUNDING:
- WD Booth Foundation seed funded the program (then known as Pathfinder) at $5000 per year (2013-2017) and in recognition of the program’s ongoing value have now committed funding $5000 per year for the next 3 years (2018-2021). This is a highly affordable program delivering excellent intervention solutions.
- Project Booyah was developed by Queensland PCYC and they support PCYC’s in Tasmania with resources, measurement tools and more to provide arguably the most highly recognised and successful early intervention, multi-agency program in Australia.
- In recognition of the success of (Pathfinder and) Project Booyah in others states, the Tasmanian State Government have funded the secondment of our Launceston PCYC Police Officer, Senior Constable Ross McIvor, to roll out this program in 2 other regions. His position will be now be permanently filled by Officers from Tasmania Police’s Early Intervention Unit.
OUR NEW TRAINING CAFÉ: Good2Go
In Queensland PCYC’s delivering Project Booyah have access to cafe’s where young people, who are struggling to develop or understand work skills, can be trained in retail service, food handling and coffee barista skills. This also teaches them the “soft skills” of employment and provides them a nurtured skills-training placement where they can make their first mistakes, so these are less likely to occur when they get their first job. The level of training was so good that the PCYC’s have a partnership with a local coffee shop chain who will then employ the young people if they are of suitable employment quality. PCYC Launceston is currently developing a training cafe called GOOD2GO (Good Coffee | Great Cause). Once established this project will also create a new income stream for PCYC, to help subsidise our youth at risk programs in the future. This project will be available for eligible Project Booyah participants, but may also take in young people aged 13 to 19yo (and up to 24yo in special circumstances) who are unemployed; have barriers to employment;;or have barriers which won’t allow them to transition directly into a VET pathway. We are particularly keen to help young people who are in/have been in the foster care system, are being raised by grandparents (or kinship carersr), or who are on hardship bursaries, to gain practical experience and support which will help them land their first casual work or permanent job. GOOD2GO FUNDING SUPPORT TO DATE: * $51, 175 Tasmanian Community Fund – building infrastructure * $16500 Community Support Levy – equipment * $16,000 Merridew Foundation – equipment * $5000 Vos Foundation = seating,digital noticeboards and staff tshirts * 5000 A playground near the cafe has been funded “In loving memory of Robert (Bob) Bradshaw (29/7/1951 – 16/5/2017), a long-serving, well-respected and loyal employee of the Vos Group.” Equipment includes a double group head commercial espresso machine, coffee grinder/dump, milk-fridge, food fridge, freezer, food display cabinets, dry-store shelving, dishwasher, crockery, cutlery and other tools. While PCYC will aim to fund the cafe trainer we will initially only be able provide training for a limited number of hours each week until we grow. However we are currently seeking funding for a full-time (or 25hrs+) trainer for the cafe! Someone who can change young people’s lives AND also make /teach great coffee!
MOBILE ACTIVITY CENTRE (MAC): Recreational Outreach Program
There is convincing evidence that if you teach young people to recreate you will not only reduce crimes of boredom and other sorts of youth offending due to anger and frustration issues, you will also improve their personal health by introducing them to healthier leisure time pursuits (as opposed to alcohol, drugs and other non-active recreation like television) and mental health benefits. Tasmania Police are so convinced of this that they support PCYC’s as a fulltime early intervention conduit. However the geographical areas that these pursuits are most needed, for example, low socio-economic areas and rural and remote communities often have little or no recreational infrastructure. It is well recognised that lack of recreational opportunities will increase youth crime. The old adage “the devil will find evil work for idle hands” is well founded. The MAC provides recreational outreach for some of our most disadvantaged communities by providing opportunities for young people to learn to recreate with little or no equipment in places like Rocherlea/Mayfield, Ravenswood, and GeorgeTown on a regular basis. We would also like to be able to travel to Waverley. The great attendance we see is testimony to how the community values the MAC Program which is run by ex-police officer, Mark Brown. The MAC is also a referral point for our PCYC early intervention programs and other referral services as required. MAC FUNDING: The MAC runs at a loss of around $15,000 per year ($5000 x 3 areas serviced) and is difficult for PCYC Launceston to sustain until we can develop more income streams (like our Cafe). We are now seeking community partners to help sponsor this community recreational intervention program. STILL NEEDED: $10,000 to $15,000 per year to operate our current MAC program for 3 years while we seek community partners. The Merridew Foundation is a supporter of the MAC program.
PCYC’s Club Officers are part of Tasmania Police’s Early Intervention Unit. As part of their work they were aware that many young offenders had early disengagement from school as an early indicator of issues that set them on a track towards offending. While PCYC’s other intervention programs were achieving good outcomes, the club wanted to explore the potential of working with young people even earlier to develop positive self-perception and resilience as well as building peer and adult-mentor support around them. It is hoped that by intervening earlier, many of these young people will never be tempted to offend. Of course it is always hard to measure the outputs of preventative actions. Many of these young people may never have offended but regardless of this they would undoubtedly benefit from the additional support to stay in school and positive interaction with our Club Officers. Early in 2017 PCYC Club Officers Skye Thompson and David Simpson along with Club Manager Kath Hawkins identified and consulted with a number of key agencies to research what they would ideally put in place to help keep these young people on good life trajectories. Agencies included: Department of Education (Learning Servcies), RADAR, Youth Justice, CAMHS, DHHS Youth Health Team, local high schools and LIttle BIrds co-founder Kylie Aldred. Finally we spoke to Year 10 students to find out the strategies and skills they possessed that had allowed them not to disengage. Most identified that one good friend that could always debrief them and keep them positive as a key support. The school observed that often the young people disengaged did not have a positive, close peer network to support them. Andrew Fuller from Resilience Australia had identified that most young people turned to their peers for support in times of adversity. In remote communities he had worked with young people to skill them in what to do if people turned to them for support. This model made sense. By skilling young people to be able to support each other, they could also learn self-support realizations and skills. And so ASCENT evolved. PCYC is very fortunate to have the support of the Merridew Foundation to employ Kylea Aldred, a skilled facilitator in this area, one day a week. ASCENT stands for Achieve Strength, Courage, Empowerment, and Nurture Together. In July 2017 PCYC Club Officer, Skye Thompson and Kylea Aldred began an empowerment and resilience program with young people at a local high school. Students attend the program with a senior staff member from the school. The program embeds self-awareness / self esteem building, and new understandings to build resilience and strengthen personal resolve into a variety of challenging recreational activities each week. This includes activities like Weight Gym, Boxing, Indoor and Outdoor Rock Climbing, Taiko Drumming, Trampoline and more. These activities also aim to help participants find a positive, physical leisure time pursuits they enjoy. Exercise is proven reduce stress and anxiety, as well as being more successful that medication in low to medium cases of depression…. so why wouldn’t we help EVERYONE to find something physical they love to do? ASCENT teaches young people how to support other people who may be struggling, and what to do if that is you! At the end of the 8 week ASCENT program, participants are given a 12 month PCYC membership and invited to join the Operation Resilience program which incorporates the activities below and has access to some great youth support workers and mentors. While this program has been developed in consultation with local schools, agencies that work with young people at risk and young people themselves. If you have any information, thoughts or feedback please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Operation Resilience is a physical activity program for young people aged 13 to 19 years old. It was originally started by Club Officer Ross McIvor who ran a high intensity interval training (think boot camp) style 90 minute session that saw around 24 young people as well as a number of youth support agency mentors attend the club twice a week. From this evolved Iron Disciples; a mentored Weight Training support group for the same age group. From Term 4 in 2017 PCYC will trial expanding Operation Resilience even further by including other drop in activities immediately after school like Taiko Drumming, Yoga, Indoor Rockwall Adrenalin Challenges and Boxing. During these sessions PCYC will invite youth support agencies and health agency workers to attend as partners in this program. This will increase their capacity to ensure young people know about their services and also provide a soft entry point / contact point. From Term 4, 2017 PCYC we welcome HEADSPACE and the DHHS YOUTH HEALTH TEAM youth support staff who will join us in Op Res. This aims to help spread knowledge of the services available to young people as well as providing a warm referral or soft entry point to this expanded access model. Op Res sessions aim to push young people past their preconceived limits to teach the building of resilience in times of crisis, trauma or challenge. The sessions are instructed by a Fitness or Strength & Conditioning Instructor and Youth Mentors. Where ever possible our Club Police Officer is in attendance.This allows young people to develop healthy recreation and leisure time skills, develop good relations with police and also allows a number of youth mentors or youth workers an opportunity to build relationships with their clients. More info is available at: www.pcyclaunceston.org.au/opres
PCYC partners the WHEELS4WORK program by providing a secure base for their cars. Wheels for Work have a number of mentors that assist Learner Driver’s to complete their supervised hours. PCYC recognises that for many young people having a drivers licence is essential for travelling to work, or as a requirement of their work. Current public transport infrastructure means that it is not possible to travel from Ravenswood to Youngtown, for example, to start a job by 9am. However many young people do not have support to be able to complete the (approx) 80 hours required to complete their L1 & L2 supervised driving hours. If you are interested in becoming a mentor OR learning to drive, please phone WHEELS4WORK on mobile: 0409 138 322 or email: email@example.com