Giving Young People A More Attractive Option Than Crime

Thursday, 26 October 2017 at 12:50 am
Giving young people a more attractive option than crime
Giving young people a more attractive option than crime

There are many moments in a young person’s life that help set the direction for their
future, writes Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton.

Read this article by Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton
Published in the Herald Sun on October 25, 2107.

There are many moments in a young person’s life that help set the direction for their
future: the relief of hearing that you passed your last school exam, the excitement of
being offered that job over somebody else, that sense of mateship when you step
out on the sporting field for the big grand final.

But when you take this away and replace it with frustrations, rejection or a lack of
opportunity – what are you left with? There’s a good chance that it is feelings of
isolation, a lack of purpose or focus, or a lack of belonging.

It’s not surprising, then, when some young people decide to take the first step on the
very slippery slope to criminal offending.

Despite the youth crime rate being in slow decline, serious and repeat criminal
offending by our youth has been an issue that has presented challenges for Victoria
Police over the past two years.

We’ve had to develop a more sophisticated approach to enforcement that has
addressed a new style of offending. Young offenders today are more commonly
networked through mutual friends and social media, and they’re more mobile than
ever before.

Our statewide response as well as improved intelligence through our Monitoring and
Assessment Centre has allowed us to better address these challenges.

But we’ve also tried to better understand the issue of youth crime and why it is now
more visible in our society today, compared to in the past.

We’ve heard loud and clear from some young people that they feel “locked out” of
employment, training and education.

A lack of access to jobs with career prospects, training and education means our
youth consider street life more appealing than the regular working world.

It’s a universal human truth that we all want to know that we are valued, that we have
a purpose and that we matter. Access to education, employment and training plays
an important role in shaping a young person’s future.

This is why Victoria Police is hosting its second Youth Summit next week, this time
with a focus on ‘pathways to employment’.

It will bring together more than 200 experts from industry, academia, community,
government and non-government organisations to discuss ways to best support our
young people into meaningful employment.

We need to explore ways to give our youth opportunities that are more attractive
than crime.

The more we can keep young people engaged in education or employment and
connected to the community, the better their life outcomes will be.

We know solutions exist and there is a lot of goodwill in the community and amongst
employers, but this is often wasted through a lack of connectedness.

Our Youth Summit will connect employers, agencies and young people, and I’m
excited to see what it brings.

By providing clearer pathways for our youth to gain training and employment, we’re
giving them opportunities to gain that sense of belonging and achievement that we
all strive for.

We need to invest in our youth, support them in finding jobs they are passionate
about and give them the opportunity to get experience early. If we succeed, we know
it will reduce their interaction with the justice system.

This is particularly true for groups who face more barriers than others to finding
employment, including those from new and emerging communities.

The drivers of criminal offending are complex and to address them we need to take a
holistic approach involving the whole of our community.

That’s why it’s crucial for police to work in partnership with other government
agencies, and with industry and the community sector, to ensure young people feel
engaged, supported and valued by our community.

I certainly don’t have all the answers. We’re fortunate to be supported in this
endeavour by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to open up the
doors and remove barriers within the system.

On behalf of young people, we must commit to a course of action to build clearer
pathways to employment for young people.

Action is needed now so that we’re not responding to the same issues, or worse, in
the future. Let’s give our young people a chance to succeed.

Let’s give them the pathway to a brighter, more positive future.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton

The Chief Commissioner’s 2017 Youth Summit ‘Pathways to Employment’ will be
held at the MCG on Wednesday November 1.

Keep watching our social media channels for coverage of the event.