A $1.7 million pilot program designed to cut youth crime will team youth workers and police in Wyndham, Hobsons Bay and Maribyrnong for the next 12 months.
Minister for Police Lisa Neville visited Werribee last Wednesday to announce funding for the pilot, the Embedded Youth Outreach Project (EYOP), which will also run in Greater Dandenong, Casey and Cardinia.
In the west, youth workers from the Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS) will work alongside police from 4pm every night.
Victoria Police north-west metro region Superintendent Therese Fitzgerald said they would engage with youth at police stations and in the community, to provide support and referrals for issues such as family relationships, alcohol or drug abuse, unemployment, mental health and disengagement from school.
Superintendent Fitzgerald said people aged 12 to 24 were the “largest contributors to crime” in the area.
Leading Senior Constable Julie Prenc and YSAS youth worker Emma Norgate have teamed up to work with Wyndham’s young people.
Ms Norgate said in the past week, she and Leading Senior Constable Prenc had done a lot of proactive work.
“That can really help bridge that gap between authority and the young people,” she said.
She said the EYOP team hoped to engage with young people when they first came into contact with police.
“Quite often that’s a time where we can do some really good work with them,” she said.
Leading Senior Constable Prenc said working with Ms Norgate had been “a good eye-opener” in learning about how drugs and alcohol could affect a young person.