ADJOURNMENT & RESPONSE | COMMUNITIES THAT CARE

Mr MELHEM (Western Metropolitan): My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Police, the Honourable Lisa Neville. Over the past few years Victoria has seen a decline in the number of young people committing crime with a further decline in the youth recidivism rate. This government’s priority has been to get more police onto the streets, continue our work to strengthen Victoria’s bail sentencing laws and bring in programs to turn young people away from a life of crime.

We also know that if you want to prevent crime you must address the factors that lead to the offending. The impact of poverty and inequity in relation to education, health care and access to jobs cannot be underestimated. The Andrews Labor government have a strong record in investing in these three areas because we know our community is stronger for it. Alternatively, when the Liberals were in government they abandoned students in trouble, leaving them to disengage and drop out of school. We will not do that, because we cannot just give up on our kids. The Andrews Labor government has invested over $100 million to help at-risk students stay in school and stay out of trouble, including specific programs to help teachers and schools deal with various behavioural issues of students so they stay engaged and avoid expulsion.

Factors that lead to young people offending are well documented and this government is responding, but one particular issue is a lack of connection to their community. There is a strong sense of solidarity in the western suburbs; we look after those who need our help. I am very familiar with the work of Communities that Care, an organisation that developed an evidence-based framework for engaging young people in their community. The Communities that Care program is a long-term, evidence-based prevention strategy to develop locally based initiatives that build healthy behaviour and social commitment among children and youth. It targets the local risk factors that can increase the likelihood of young people engaging in antisocial behaviour and crime or becoming victims of crime. This is about bringing together the community to support children at risk — kids who could turn to crime or be affected by it.

I welcome the Labor government’s commitment to the organisation in expanding the program in Victoria from five existing sites to eight. The action I seek from the minister is to fund an expansion of the program into Melbourne’s western suburbs so that we can utilise our solidarity and community to help our young people.

20 February 2018

Response:

Ms NEVILLE – I thank Mr Melham for his advocacy for community safety in Melbourne’s West. The Andrews Labor Government’s 2016-17 State Budget included $19.4 million of new funding to continue and expand the Community Crime Prevention Program. This included almost $1 million to expand the Communities That Care initiative across Victoria.

The available funding for Communities That Care includes support for three new sites which are now underway. I am proud to announce that one of the new sites is the Melbourne western suburb of Hobsons Bay. This program is now well underway with the establishment of a community board and the recruitment process underway for a coordinator.

Communities That Care is an evidence-based process aimed at building capacity within communities to improve the healthy development of children and young people.

Through this funding, the Government is supporting local community leaders to work together and build healthy behaviour and social commitment among children and young people.

29 March 2018