EVERYONE deserves a second chance, but especially young people who have run foul of the justice system during their short lives.
That is why the appropriately named “Second Chance” project, an initiative led by job agency CVGT Australia, is so vitally important.
The program, which will run in Bendigo, is designed to prevent people aged between 10 and 24 who have had brushes with the law from reoffending.
Contrary to what many people might think, it is not only “bad” people who break the law. There are numerous contributing factors – such as poverty, homelessness, unemployment, illness, lack of education and drug addiction – as to why someone could find themselves in front of a judge.
The responsibility that we, as a society, have is to not only punish them and provide a deterrent to others, but put in place support mechanisms to ensure offenders do not become repeat offenders.
It has long been recognised that once someone gets trapped in a cycle of crime, it is very difficult – often borderline impossible for many people – to break out of it.
When we are young and impressionable we all have a tendency to adopt the behaviours of those whose company we keep.
If someone in their formative years is surrounded by criminals, it makes sense that those destructive influences will rub off.
A criminal record is like an anchor around the neck of even those with the most genuine aspirations of getting themselves on the straight and narrow.
It is a big ask for any employer to look twice at a applicant who has demonstrated poor judgement in the past, no matter what they have done since to turn their lives around. That is why it is so important for participants in the program to have CVGT, which will be working closely with several other local organisations, advocating on their behalf.
The Second Chance initiative will work with about 40 young people with the aim of getting at least 30 of them into the workplace and keeping 20 of those in jobs for a minimum of 26 weeks. It is hoped that by providing these people with structure, purpose and financial security, they can leave behind their past indiscretions.
Sometimes a second chance is all someone needs and those in this program should grab it with both hands, because there may not be a third.
- Ross Tyson, deputy editor