Police, justice join forces with university to reduce youth reoffending at Wollongong

A collaboration between police, the justice system and a university is set to make a positive impact on youth crime rates.

In mid-2018, police officers from Wollongong and Lake Illawarra Police Districts partnered with Youth Justice NSW and students from the University of Wollongong to develop innovative solutions to reduce the risk of reoffending by young people and reduce the number of young people breaching Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs).

As part of their university studies, a group of students from the University of Wollongong (UOW) were tasked with finding solutions to reduce reoffending, as well as ensuring young people and their carers understood conditions of AVOs and the support services available to them.

The student cohort were given a brief and linked up with a children’s court magistrate to enable a better understanding of the justice system.

The students presented their findings and recommendations to a panel of senior police and Youth Justice from the Illawarra/Shoalhaven Taskforce to Reduce Domestic Violence Reoffending in August 2019.

Their recommendations included a story board style AVO, a mentoring program for juvenile AVO offenders and an application that would provide young people with access to support services, enhance their understanding of AVO conditions and provide advice and support to their parents and carers.

Over the past 12 months, the students have continued to work on developing a mobile phone application for support services. The app, called YAVOS, will provide valuable support for young people and their families.

The app, which will be presented to police and justice today (Friday 25 September 2020), is expected to be implemented in the near future.

Southern Region Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Dean Smith, said the impact of domestic and family violence is devastating for the entire community.

“For youth who are involved in these incidents as victims or offenders, it is critical that there are appropriate support services and information to assist them,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

“We are thrilled with how well the partnership with the university has been going. The work by the students on the development of the app and information packages allows us to better connect with our youth and provide them with the tools and information they need to make better decisions, as well as providing a level of support during difficult times.”

“We believe a collaboration of this nature can make a significant difference in reducing reoffending rates among our young people.”

Area Manager for Youth Justice Wollongong, Paul Cram, praised the work of police, justice and the University of Wollongong.

“Youth Justice look forward to the implementation of this app which will greatly assist the work we do with both perpetrators and victims of domestic and family violence in the youth cohort,” Mr Cram said.

“This would not have been possible without our ongoing partnership with the University of Wollongong and we thank and congratulate them for their outstanding contribution.”

Following the presentation, students will be presented with a certificate of appreciation from the NSW Police Force and Youth Justice.

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