Operation Newstart addresses the special needs of students at risk in the middle years of their secondary schooling.

Operation Newstart is an innovative re-engagement program for young people aged 14 -16 attending Victorian State Secondary schools who are at significant educational risk.

Using a combination of experiential learning, wilderness therapy, family group work, mediation, counselling and community interconnectedness, our goal is to prevent students from disengaging prematurely from their families and from schools and to prepare pathways to further education and employment.

A key feature is the small group work (maximum of 8 or 9 students per program) under the direction of highly skilled teachers, social workers and youth workers who provide a multi-layered intervention focusing on the young person’s relationship with self, family, school and community.

Operation Newstart programs are located in Geelong, Flemington, Narre Warren, Dandenong and Collingwood. Each program runs for a full school term, with students attending their home school for two days each week, and the program for the remaining three days.

Sixty two Victorian State Secondary Colleges referred students into an Operation Newstart program in 2018.

Why we do it:

Early school disengagement often leads to lifelong difficulties that may include:

1. Increased likelihood of experiencing unemployment
2. Lowered lifelong income
3. Poorer outcomes in health, accommodation (homelessness) and social status
4. Greater risk of offending behaviour
5. Greater susceptibility to the influences of drug and alcohol misuse
6. Anti-social behaviour

How we do it:

We encourage students to  recognise their strengths and help them build resilience, respect for themselves and others and enhance self-esteem through achievement. Go to Your Say to see what students, parents, teachers and other professionals say.

Each program provides a multi-layered intervention, focusing on the young person’s relationship with self, family, school and community. Activities include:

• outdoor/adventure-based activities,
• work place visits,
• community service
• skill-based activities
• therapeutic group work with parent involvement.

Respected contemporary research demonstrates substantial improvements in emotional symptoms, conduct and peer problems, hyperactivity, and pro-social behaviour. (Please have a quick look at our reading list for further information.)