Program helping youth onto positive paths
THE Byron Shire Young First Offenders Project is an innovative Byron Youth Service response to keeping young people and the community safe. The project supports people aged 12-17 to stay out of trouble and make good decisions through education, intervention and one-to-one support.
Restorative Pathways is an 18-month pilot project now in its second year.
BYS youth worker Lindy Lou Smith said the organisation was hopeful to extend the program beyond July.
“This Restorative Pathways suite of activities is delivered in partnership with Byron Bay police, schools, government and the community,” she said.
“BYS has delivered early intervention workshops to more than 500 students in two local primary schools and four high schools over the last 12 months.
“These workshops have supported young people to see that it is OK to stand up and that they don’t have to bow down to peer pressure.”
BYS has delivered pop-up “chill zones” at festivals in partnership with Byron Underage Drinking and Drug Initiative. That initiative has given more than 4000 young people a safe place to access help, first aid, water and advice around intoxication.
“Community pop-ups have assisted young people to raise their standards and rise above their problems,” Ms Smith said.
“BYS has also supported more than 100 community members to be involved in Restorative Circles for first offenders. These circles have assisted young people to talk through problems with family and victims. The process has guided youth to let go of old behaviours so that new, healthier ways can come in and empathy is built. More than 60 youth have participated in these circles.”
Another 60 at-risk youth have been guided to part from negative patterns of behaviour.
“These young people have been given support to address court related matters, Juvenile Justice, health services, drug and alcohol counselling and access school and employment services,” Ms Smith said.
“Caseworkers have also been able to build good relationships with young people experiencing homelessness, offering assistance with life skills, personal care, food, toiletries, transport, emotional support and referrals to other services. In these times of uncertainty, now more than ever, it is reassuring to know that there is support for our young people when they get into trouble.”
Have concerns for the welfare of a young person? Phone BYS on 02 6685 7777.