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Federal funding boost for Curtin project to help at-risk youth

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A Curtin University youth crime prevention project will receive almost $1.5 million in federal funding announced today by Federal Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Karen Andrews MP, at the University’s new Exchange precinct on its Bentley campus.

The project, led by Associate Professor Rosanna Rooney from Curtin’s School of Population Health, is a partnership between educational institutions, Western Australia Police and multicultural services that aims to design and pilot a range of interventions for at-risk youth aged between 12 and 24 in WA.

Minister Andrews said the project was a worthy recipient of the Safer Communities – Early Intervention grant.

“The Safer Communities Fund invests in a range of programs to ensure that everyone can go about their lives free from violence, harassment and anti-social behaviour,” Minister Andrews said.

“No two communities are the same, and no two solutions will be either – but by empowering local groups to make a real difference in their community, we’re helping to keep everyone safe and secure.”

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne welcomed the announcement and said the project was focused on achieving real and positive outcomes for vulnerable young people.

“This funding will enable Associate Professor Rooney, her team and partners to develop, test and evaluate a range of strategies to improve the mental health and well-being of at-risk young people, as well as reduce criminality or recidivism, and increase their uptake of educational and employment pathways,” Professor Hayne said.

“Importantly this project will take into account young people’s own lived experience, through mentoring and support workshops, to understand what strategies work and what elements can help those at risk to turn their lives around.”

Associate Professor Rosanna Rooney said the grant would ensure the project could continue in its comprehensive size and scope.

“With this funding we are more able to address some important complex causes and maintaining factors contributing to youth becoming entrenched in the criminal justice system,” Associate Professor Rooney said.

“This funding will hopefully allow us to achieve more sustainable outcomes that benefit at-risk youth themselves and achieve genuinely safer communities.”

The Curtin-led project will focus on Western Australia, which has the second highest youth offending rate for “acts intended to cause injury” (460.7 per 100,000 compared to 385.2 per 100,000 nationally; ABS 2021). If successful, it will serve as a model that can be utilised in other parts of Australia.

The project will involve 1,000 youth aged between 12 and 24-years-old over 28 months, and will be undertaken at five suburban WA locations in Bentley, Mirrabooka, Fremantle, Hamilton Hill and East Perth.

Other Curtin partners of the project include the School of Education, with Associate Professor Sender Dovchin and Professor Rhonda Oliver leading the educational workshops, and Curtin Law School.

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