A second chance at work for young offenders

Young offenders in Bendigo will soon be given a second chance at turning their life around through employment under a new program being rolled out this month.

Employment services provider CVGT’s Second Chance program is aimed at helping find work for disadvantaged job seekers aged between 17 and 24, who are before the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court.

CVGT southern region general manager Stephen Dunn said magistrates in Bendigo had welcomed the program’s focus on harm-minimisation and preventing young people from becoming trapped in a cycle of offending.

“What I mean by that is not having someone going through the court system over and over again but rather to get them outside of that and being able to get them standing on their own two feet and be able to move forward and have a happy and fulfilling life,” he said.

“They say that’s a real plus and there’s a lot of research around to say that once a young person is in gainful employment they are less likely to want to commit another offence.”

Mr Dunn said Bendigo businesses had also embraced the program but admitted the fact the young people were before the court was “not the first conversation we have with them”.

“What we want to do is actually present to them a person, in this case a young person, that is committed to wanting to find a job which gives them fulfillment,” he said.

“The program we’re running is voluntary, it’s not compulsory, which is another plus because the participants that go into the program actually enter the program because they want something different out of their life and that’s a big plus when you present before any employer because you’re presenting someone who’s motivated – they may have had some struggles in their life but they’re willing to overcome that to move forward.”

CVGT Australia acting deputy chief executive officer Vaughan Adams said the program had been specially designed to offer an alternative employment activity for young people before the courts.

“The new Second Chance Bendigo program will allow CVGT to take another important step in helping young people in securing and maintaining gainful, sustainable and ongoing employment,” he said.

“Experience in similar programs has identified that one of the most reliable pathways out of disadvantage and strengthening community connectedness is through having a job.”

Mr Adams said CVGT had employed two new staff members to work with up to 40 young people expected to participate in the program in Bendigo.

“Our staff will work closely with participants to build their capability, skills and confidence and become gainfully employed,” he said.

“Once employed through Second Chance Bendigo, CVGT staff will stay in touch to ensure employment is working out.”