Youth workers and police officers will target and prevent youth offending in Melbourne’s north-west and south as part of a 12-month pilot program funded by the Andrews Labor Government.

Member for Dandenong, Gabrielle Williams, welcomed the announcement that will see a police officer paired with a youth worker every night in the Greater Dandenong and Casey areas.

The $1.7 million Embedded Youth Outreach Program pilot is part of the Community Safety Statement 2018-19 and will see Youth Support and Advocacy Service youth workers working with police to identify what services will assist at-risk young people, and they’ll also make and case manage referrals.

The program will operate outside business hours when police most commonly encounter at-risk young people. It will not only prevent offending but also hold young people to account for their actions and send a clear message, through the Government’s strong sentencing reforms, that criminal behaviour will not be tolerated.

The program was funded in the 2018-19 Budget as part of a $15 million whole-of-government initiative to target youth offending and is in addition to 42 new Youth Specialist Officers, currently rolling out in local communities across Victoria, to divert young people from a life of crime.

There are also more than 90 full-time Youth Resource Officers and Proactive Policing positions operating across Victoria, and $16 million Youth Crime Prevention Grants, helping to address offending behaviour and recidivism by young people.

The Labor Government is also driving down youth offending through establishing Multi-Agency Panels, which bring together schools, community organisations, police and government departments.

These panels have assisted more than 160 young people in Wyndham, Melton, Brimbank and Dandenong areas. Victoria Police’s Operation Wayward and Operation Regnant has made over 700 arrests in the past 14 months to crackdown on youth offending.

These programs are part of the Labor Government’s continued investment in police which has seen more than $2 billion provided for 3,135 additional police officers, new powers, equipment and additional measures to hold young offenders to account.