District 201V2, Victoria, AUSTRALIA

Operation Newstart

Operation NEWSTART

Past President Paul Austin introduced our guest speaker Warwick Knuckey.
Warwick is a director of Operation Newstart (Geelong) a community support program for school students that have difficulties at school and deemed at risk to criminal behaviour.

Commenced this year, Operation Newstart (ON) is a partnership between DEECD, Police and Schools. Nine Geelong schools are in the program. A number of potential participants in the program (14yo - 17yo) are proposed by the schools upon which parents, teachers and the students are interviewed to determine the most appropriate to continue. Referrals can come from various sources including schools, parents, Police & DHS.

The aims of ON program are to:
* Improve behaviour generally;
* Reduce criminality;
* Improve engagement, particularly at school; and
* Improve awareness of and commitment to vocational pursuits.

Warwick showed a DVD by way of introduction to the program.

The program essentially is activity based, with most activities being outdoors. Activities are aimed at assisting students achieve their full potential. Main aims are to build self esteem, keep students out of the justice system and to keep them at the host school.

Three eight week programs are held each year, aligned with the three school semesters. Students attend 4 days per week (Tuesday to Friday) with the fifth day (Monday) attendance at the host school. Program group consists of 9 students, 1 teacher, 1 Police officer and part time youth worker.

Rendezvous each day is the Geelong Rail Station. Program includes adventure activities, camps, vocational orientation, personal development sessions and community projects. Students receive a certificate of achievement at the graduation ceremony.

Many community partners are involved including, Gordon TAFE, City of Greater Geelong, G-Force, Bendigo Bank, Shannon Park, Leisure Link and many local industries.

Schools contribute $7,000 per term which is half the cost of full funding. The balance of the funds required is provided by local charitable organisations. The Save the Children Fund provides the resources for a part time youth worker.

Warwick's presentation was very well received.

For further information, visit the Operation Newstart website: