Off the streets and into education
A new program aims to nip youth crime in the bud and keep young Queenslanders on track.
Jake’ was 21, unemployed and in and out of trouble with the police in Townsville. His future looked bleak until his case manager suggested a government program to get him off the streets and into education.
The suggestion came at the right time for Jake.
‘It was something different and I wanted a change.’
He joined Transition 2 Success (T2S) a 15-week course touted as a new approach to youth justice giving young offenders or those at risk of offending the chance to make a fresh start.
‘I’ve got a car and a certificate and a job. I’m proud of myself. I can’t imagine going back to that old life.’ Jake, participant, T2S
Peter Laity, Senior Transition Officer, Transition 2 Success at Townsville North Youth Justice Service Centre, spends time getting to know each young person at the start of the three stage program and understanding what drives them. Jake made an impression on him when they first met.
‘We talked about how the T2S program could give Jake the opportunity to have some power over what he wants to do and ways we could help him if he wanted to get into work.
‘I needed to understand what his needs were. He has a good work ethic. He always responded when I contacted him, his communication was good, he could express what he wanted. He is very employable.’
What Jake didn’t have was work experience or exposure to the kinds of jobs that might suit him. And the idea of going back to school was daunting.
‘I was nervous on the first day because I thought it would be like school. I left school when I was 15. And I didn’t do too good at school. But it was different. You had responsibility for what you did. You had more choice. It felt good.’
After the initial stage of identifying the needs of each participant, the program focuses on teaching life skills such as identifying and managing emotions and behaviour, teamwork and communication.
‘It was good to be with people in the same situation as me. I made some good mates. And it was good learning how to manage our emotions.’
Pathways to formal training
In the final stage participants undertake formal training. Young people have graduated from T2S with a range of certificates, including construction, hospitality, foundation skills, automotive, and resources and infrastructure.
For Jake trying out different kinds of work through a variety of job tasters at TAFE was eye-opening. ‘I tried barbering and hospitality but I liked the eco-tourism work best.
‘The most useful thing was developing good work habits, learning how to keep motivated and trying work in different industries.’
‘Exposing Jake to different industries educated him about what he did and didn’t like,’ says Peter.
Jake is also persistent. Having decided he wanted to work for a refrigeration company Jake rang the employer every week to see if any positions had become available. He eventually landed an interview and his first job.
Jake’s an example of how young people make positive changes through the program and the educational opportunities it offers, Peter says.
‘I’m proud of Jake’s hard work and determination. He’s changed a lot. He set himself big goals and achieved them.’
Jake agrees he’s changed. ‘The course rehabilitated me. I can’t see myself going back to crime. Now I want to study mines and machinery so I can get into mine operations work.’
‘I feel my future’s pretty good, it’s under control. I’ve got a car and a job and I’m saving for a house deposit.’
Transition 2 Success evaluation
A 2018 report found:
• The completion rate for young people enrolled in the T2S program is 81%.
• T2S successfully engages young people, with 95% going on to engage in education, employment or training.
• T2S graduates have lower levels of reoffending. Less than half of T2S participants with an offending history reoffended within 6 months of completing their course, compared with 59% of the comparison group. The overall reoffending rate for all T2S graduates was 25%.