GRATEFUL: Byron Youth Service staff member Lindy Lou Smith, President of the BYS Board Lyn McCormick, Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW Ben Franklin, Attorney General Mark Speakman.
GRATEFUL: Byron Youth Service staff member Lindy Lou Smith, President of the BYS Board Lyn McCormick, Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW Ben Franklin, Attorney General Mark Speakman.

$250k grant for youth

BYRON Youth Service has welcomed the $250,000 Community Safety Fund grant from the NSW Government.

The grant will help the youth services provider to deliver an innovative First Offenders' Program, a crime prevention program targeting young offenders aged 12-17 years.

The Byron Shire First Offenders' Program is diversionary and aims to keep young people out of the juvenile justice system and detention.

A four-step approach to working with young offenders will be used, including early intervention in schools, community "pop up” support systems during festivals and at popular "hang out” spots, case management and restorative circles.

The funding was announced last week by Attorney General Mark Speakman and Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW Ben Franklin.

Mr Franklin said the Byron Young First Offenders Program will take on anti-social behaviour at crime hotspots during festivals and schoolies season, as well as educate school students about appropriate behaviour.

"The program will offer restorative justice circles for first time offenders referred by police, schools or youth workers to help build on the offender's positive relationships, repair harm caused by the offence and address negative behaviours,” Franklin

said.

"It will also target first time offenders who have committed drug and alcohol offences, disorderly conduct, non-domestic violence related assault or intimidation, stalking and harassment.

Mr Franklin said the funding will allow Byron Youth Service to take advantage of their existing relationships in the region with high schools, community organisations and local police officers.

"Byron Youth Service is a well-known organisation in the Northern Rivers with a strong track record in the community helping vulnerable young people get back on track,” he said.

From years of experience with young people, Byron Youth Service staff know that when young people feel connected and valued they are less likely to behave in negative ways.

Mr Speakman said the program aims to curb youth offending through early intervention in schools, community pop-up youth services, restorative justice circles for first offenders and intensive case management support for youth at risk of reoffending.

"The program improves safety within the Byron Community through a multi-faceted approach to guiding low-level offenders and at-risk young people towards useful and fulfilling lives,” Mr Speakman

said.

The Byron Shire First Offenders' Program will work in collaboration with NSW police and local schools and will be "hitting the ground running” in early 2019.


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