Hundreds of young people have benefited from a $1.7 million pilot program designed to cut youth crime in Wyndham, Hobsons Bay and Maribyrnong.
The state government last year allocated funding for Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS) workers to work with police across the three municipalities for 12 months.
The Embedded Youth Outreach Project (EYOP) was launched to engage with people aged 12 to 24 who come into contact with police to provide support over issues such as family relationships, alcohol or drug abuse, unemployment and mental health.
Senior Sergeant Jason Forster, speaking to Star Weekly earlier this month, said EYOP workers had assisted more than 400 young people in the west. He said the figure included young people who were victims of crime, homeless and reported as missing, as well as young offenders.
“No one night is the same,” he said.
“Sometimes we deal with young people who are victims of robberies, young people who are missing or who are considered as missing but they can’t go home due to circumstances at home.”
Youth worker Emma Norgate said that under the EYOP model, most young people who came into contact with police would have a face-to-face talk with a youth worker.
She said that before EYOP began, these young people would usually only talk to a youth worker over the phone about 24 to 48 hours after coming into contact with police.
Ms Norgate and Senior Sergeant Forster said the aim of EYOP was to help young people get help to change their lives or living situations – and in the process help reduce youth crime.