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Federal Budget 2022: Successful Kimberley Youth Engagement Program to expand into Pilbara

Jane MurphyBroome Advertiser
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivers the budget at Parliament House.
Camera IconTreasurer Josh Frydenberg delivers the budget at Parliament House. Credit: Martin Ollman/Getty Images

The future of young Indigenous offenders looks a little brighter with the 2022 Federal Budget allocating funding for the expansion of the Youth Engagement Program (YEP-K) into the Kimberley and Pilbara.

The program — which provides case management, mentoring and education assistance to young Aboriginal people who come into contact with the justice system — is set to receive $2 million over the next two years to expand into the Pilbara and increase capacity in the Kimberley.

A Department of Justice spokesperson said the Kimberley program had experienced early success and the expansion would enable more young Indigenous offenders access to culturally-competent and individualised support.

“During the first 12 months of YEP-K’s operation, the majority of young people supported by the program did not reoffend,” the spokesperson said.

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“The expansion of this program will provide invaluable culturally and locally-based understandings to inform a broader strategy to address Aboriginal young people’s involvement with the criminal justice system.”

The Youth Engagement Program is delivered by the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA as part of the Kimberley Juvenile Justice Project and provides case management, mentoring, court support and advocacy services to young offenders.

“Staff have had early success building strong cultural connections with the families of young offenders,” a spokesperson said.

“This rapport has led to the identification of areas of critical need, including volatile substance abuse, mental health issues and self-harm risks.

“It has also allowed staff to find more appropriate placements for young people whose current residence is facing significant instability.”

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