An initiative that aims to put young offenders on a more promising, law-abiding path in life has received a $200,000 state government grant.
The Second Chance project, led by job agency CVGT Australia, will support young people who have had contact with the youth justice system with employment, education and health, addressing factors that often lead to reoffending such as homelessness, drug and alcohol issues, and unemployment.
Bendigo Community Health Services, Haven; Home, Safe, Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative, Anglicare, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and St John of God Bendigo are also involved in the initiative.
The project will work with 40 young people aged 10 to 24, with the aim of getting at least 30 into jobs and 20 of those kept in those jobs for at least 26 weeks.
CVGT has also committed $75,000 to the project, which is expected to kick off in September.
CVGT chief executive officer Paul Green said the company had been working with the justice system and offenders for a number of years, with one program in particular finding success in connecting offenders with employment, giving them financial security, connection to community and a sense of pride.
Mr Green said the company had identified issues in the Bendigo area and decided to implement a similar initiative here.
The project was also beneficial because there was a shortage of young people putting their hands up for traineeships and apprenticeships, he said, so it helped fill these positions.
Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards said the program was important because it took a co-operative approach to providing integrated support for young people.
She said there needed to be intervention in issues that led to crime.Department of Justice and Regulation community services general manager, Tom Wills, said not only would the initiative have positive social impacts, but would be beneficial from an economic standpoint, because of the costs associated with incarceration.