The McGowan Government has announced the expansion of its Target 120 early intervention program to Geraldton, Rockingham and Midland.
Target 120 is a $20.4 million initiative targeting young people who are at risk of becoming repeat juvenile offenders.
The program was developed in 2017 as an early intervention strategy for at-risk young people aged between 10 and 14, to help turn their lives around and improve family and community safety.
Its community youth workers interact closely with young people to develop individualised support plans, which identify a participant’s goals, set them on a path to achieving those goals and – in turn – reduce their offending.
By working across agencies, the initiative tackles various factors that can increase a young person’s likelihood of offending, including substance abuse, poor attendance at school, lack of housing, domestic violence, trauma and mental health issues.
It also helps to create safer and more connected communities by linking at-risk young people and their families to services and supports that meet their individual needs, diverting them away from antisocial and offending behaviour.
At a community level, this reduces demand on police and justice services.
Target 120 was introduced in Bunbury and Armadale in 2018, and subsequently expanded to Kununurra, Kalgoorlie, Mirrabooka and Albany.
In those sites, it has assisted young people with a recent history of offending behaviour to significantly reduce – and in many cases avoid – further involvement with the justice system.
Overall, 62 per cent of participants have had no contact with police since joining the program.
Geraldton, Rockingham and Midland are the latest sites to join the program, which now has 58 active participants across Western Australia.
The Target 120 team has already started working with 10 participants aged between 11 and 15 years in Geraldton, and there has been a 95 per cent reduction in contacts with police and 99 per cent reduction in offences in relation to these young people to date.
In Rockingham, so far there has been a 96 per cent reduction in contacts with police for participants, while the number of offences has dropped 98 per cent.
The young people engaged in Midland have recorded an 85 per cent decrease in contacts with police, as well as a 90 per cent reduction in offences.
The State Government has committed $20.4 million over four years to implement Target 120 – a McGowan Government election commitment – across 11 metropolitan and regional sites.
As stated by Community Services Minister Simone McGurk:
“Target 120 looks at young offenders as individuals – not as a group – and finds ways to reduce a young person’s likelihood of reoffending.
“The departments of Communities, Education, Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, Health and Justice and WA Police all work together to help potential reoffenders to engage in education, training, employment, social and recreational activities and other community-based supports.
“By focusing on a young person’s needs, strengths and family circumstances, and building meaningful relationships with participants, this program is already producing results.
“Target 120 has already made a difference in a number of areas by working with their most at-risk young people to help them become valued members of their communities.
“This latest expansion is a positive investment in the future of these young people, as well as the broader Geraldton, Rockingham and Midland communities.”