Students at risk of dropping out get second chance through Operation Newstart
Megan Bailey, Cranbourne Leader
December 7, 2016 12:00am
WITH never-ending coverage of youth crime in the media programs like Operation Newstart are incredibly important.The nine-year-old initiative, which takes teens who have had run-ins with the law, at risk of dropping out of school, or struggling in other ways, and gives them a change to start over.Young people come to Operation Newstart after being referred by schools and the program takes eight students aged 13-15 years each term.
The program includes outdoor activities such as hiking, a rap recording session, drug and alcohol education, resume writing and job skills, CFA fire training, community activities, a trip to TAFE, family planning and sexual health, and a swimming and survival course.
Lead teacher Jimmy Seeary said the program had the funding it needed to run in 2017 but said demand was approximately twice as high as what the program could accommodate and funding was insecure.
“I think the biggest thing we see in the group is the ability to believe in themselves,” he said.
“They develop self-esteem, resilience, social abilities, the ability to work with others and the ability to communicate with adults.
“A lot of them are from broken homes and families that are dysfunctional; there may be drug use, criminal behaviour or parents might have passed away.
“We had a young lady who was really socially disengaged, she spent most of her time in her room, she was failing at school and self-harming. “We got her through the program; she was reluctant early in the program but then she got stronger. “We helped refer her to the Narre Warren learning centre and she’s been kicking goals ever since … she’s just got her L-plates and has done work experience at a vet clinic. “She’s hoping to become a vet nurse.”
One of the biggest challenges many young people in Casey face is run-ins with the justice system. Mr Seeary said the program used to have a used to be a full-time police contact supporting them but staff cuts had ended that three years ago.
“I think the relationship between young people and police that we were able to build when police were here; that has fallen away a lot,” he said.
The program costs an estimated $200,000 per year.
Narre Warren South state Labor MP Judith Graley said she advocated on the program’s behalf for 2017 funding. “We were successful and the Department for Education and Training is now working with the team to identify ways to make the program more sustainable over time,” she said. “I will continue to work with and support everyone at Operation Newstart Casey to ensure they can continue their fine work within our community.”
Inspector Craig Thomson said that Victoria Police Youth Resource Officers maintain a continued, more targeted involvement in Operation Newstart, delivering a presentation on crime, penalties and consequences to at-risk young people to deter them from involvement in criminal behaviour.
November 11 2016- Opertation Newstart Northern – We are halfway through the program! This week allowed us plenty of time for reflection, as well as some pretty hard physical exercise…..
We started the program off at Eltham YMCA again this week, where our trainer Jordan really gave us a great workout in a cycle class. Cycle is great as everyone can set their own pace and push their own individual limits. After this we took a bit of a break and did a mindfulness meditation exercise, before playing some team work games like blindfolded soccer. It was a fun active morning and everyone enjoyed themselves. From here we headed back over to Greensborough for our second headspace session. This week we had a more hands on session where we looked at different mindful activities before doing some mindful art. All the students participated positively and it was a nice relaxing afternoon with Liz from headspace.
Thursday and Friday of Week 4 was spent down at the beautiful Bancoora beach for surf camp! We had two really great surf sessions where everyone gave it their all and had some great successes (and some great wipeouts). The waves were a bit rougher on Thursday and it was a bit of a battle to catch good ones, however it was great practice and made it much easier to catch waves in the great conditions on Friday. While the surfing was the main highlight of the camp and a great learning experience around perseverance and commitment, we also had a lot of other positive moments together as a group. A few that really stood out to me were a really nice walk on the beach in the evening, games of pool, and everyone pitching in and helping cook meals together. We also had some really positive mid term ‘interviews’ with each individual student to check in on their progress on the program.
Big thanks to our surf instructors Kev & Gally, Mel for coming and joining us as a placement student, and all of our Newstart students for making it a really enjoyable camp!
Here it is- the fantastic Enhance Leadership Program 2016 Documentary entitled ‘Think Global Act Local’.
The students have worked hard to develop this over the last five weeks, interviewing various organisations and putting it all together in a single piece to raise awareness for youth homelessness, sustainability and Indigenous culture. They worked together with Baz, a great local filmmaker who shared many skills and tips on putting together this type of video project.
We hope you enjoy!
iLead Western 2016 Term 3 program
Springvale Park Special Developmental School – Letter of Thanks to iLead students post community project at Blackwood Outdoor Education Special School.
“We were so grateful to have young people like yourselves working with our students and giving them the opportunity to be their best. You were outstanding role models, always happy, encouraging and chatting with our students which made them feel comfortable and accepted. As you experienced first-hand, it was a huge ask in assisting them to attempt the high ropes – way out of their comfort zone! And yes, we are so proud of them all especially (student) who demonstrated such determination to complete the whole course.”
Statements from a letter of thanks written by a parent of an iLead student post this program
“At face value the time table for the course contained some outstanding opportunities that have created strong and positive memories and friendships that will serve student well for life. What he has learnt though, goes well beyond that.
Student noted how you guys skilfully used a less hands on approach sometimes, thus allowing the group to work things out for themselves, developing skills in communication, negotiation and delegation and learning to take the initiative for themselves.
He has become keenly aware that his confidence in his own ability is actually a tool he can use to help others to grow and take the initiative themselves and doing that is both productive and enjoyable.
He has already noted that when times are tough or motivation may wain he is able to draw strength from his time with you and dig a little deeper to pull through.”
29th July 2016 – National Centre Against Bullying Conference – At the invitation of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, Operation Newstart attended the NATIONAL CENTRE AGAINST BULLYING Conference at the Crown Conference Centre on July 29th. It was a wonderful experience and Summer Robinson, a Graduate of Operation Newstart Northern’s Enhance Program (2015) represented her school, Diamond Valley Secondary College, on a Youth Forum discussing the views of young people about bullying, its causes, its consequences and solutions. Retired Family Court Judge, Alistair Nicholson and Walter Micak, father of Alannah and Madeline who lost their lives at Port Arthur twenty years ago, spoke eloquently about the subject, posing a series of resolutions for future action. Our conviction here at Operation Newstart is that early intervention makes all the difference; this too was the key learning that came out of this outstanding conference. Well done Brendon, Jane and the team at Northern for their intervention; the partnership they have formed with the Alannah & Madeline Foundation goes from strength to strength.
18th July 2016 – Strategic Planning – Ian Claridge facilitated a strategic planning workshop on 18th July at Operation Newstart Casey HQ. It was a great day with participation from all program managers and support staff. Thanks also to the members of the Board who came along and provided important insights. Wide ranging discussions and debate centred around the establishment of revised priorities to assist us going forward over the next few years. A follow up workshop is scheduled for August 22nd at Travancore School, when a range of strategies can be examined and implementation considered. Thanks Ian and all who contributed.
21st June 2016 – Meeting at Parliament House with local Members of Parliament – Minister for Transport, Luke Donnellan, Judith Graley and Minister for Education and Emergency Services, James Merlino and Gabby Williams – operation Newstart Casey on Twitter
16th June 2016 – Another Generous Donation to Support Operation Newstart Programs
10th May 2016 – check out Operation Newstart Northern Blog – Hume Program Week Two
18th March 2016 – Link to Operation Newstart Northern Graduation
1st March 2016 – Operation Newstart Western – A couple of highlights of the ONW program so far have been surfing, learning hospitality skills at the William Angliss TAFE, and of course finishing our Great Ocean Walk. We have also decided upon a set of Trademark behaviours that we hold each other accountable for.
23rd February 2016 – Operation Newstart Western students checking out the views on the Great Ocean Walk. It was a challenging 3 day hike, which made getting to the end even better!
16th February 2016– Check out Operation Newstart Northern Blog and updated website.
23rd December 2015 – Awarded $20,000.00 by the City of Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation – to support the ongoing commitment to evaluating everything we do. Internationally recognised Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires are completed by all Operation Newstart participants, parents and teachers. Dr. Anthony Carlsson at the Royal Children’s Hospital Mental Health Unit is currently evaluating this data.
26th January 2016 – City of Casey Australia Day Awards- – Congratulations to Jimmy Seeary, Program Manager and Sage Collie, Youth Worker, both with Operation Newstart Casey for their nominations for City of Casey Australia Day Awards (2016). Both were individual nominees, and Sage went on to receive a Highly Commended citation in the Young Citizen category for her 900 hours of volunteer service to Operation Newstart. Jimmy’s commendation was for City of Casey Non-Resident of the Year. It was a great evening. Ross Miller (Chairman) and Phil Wheatley (Executive Officer) both attended the awards presentation, supporting Jimmy and Sage.
Sage’s citation reads: The social impact of Sage Collie’s contribution to Operation Newstart Casey, an innovative program to re-engage young people in education, has been significant particularly to the many young students participating in the program with whom she has left an everlasting impression. She uses her skills and creativity to make personal portfolios for every student and also a graduation film. Sage’s commitment extends beyond this program and she also volunteers on weekends with children with disabilities. Sage is highly commended for this important work which she undertakes with a generous and caring nature, being a shining example and inspiration to others.
4th January 2016 – Welcome to 2016 – Ready for another year of striving, resilience and success – click to see update of Operation Newstart Casey’s selection criteria
1st November 2015 – City of Hume Continues Support – Operation Newstart Partnership Grant Recipient
Check Out the latest from Operation Newstart Northern
19th October 2015 – Protective Factors Associated with Youth and Resilience – Cultures of Co-operation, A sense of connectedness to family, Good relationships with an adult outside the family, Having someone outside your family that believes in you, Development of special talents/hobbies and a zest for life… to read more go to p.15 Prevention and People Centred Policing.
10th September 2015 – Follow Operation Newstart Casey on Twitter – https://twitter.com/ONCasey
Local Government – a key supporter of Operation Newstart in prevention – see Nillumbik Council Community Grants
Operation Newstart Inspires Interstate Partnership with Police Click for link to Pathfinder program
22nd June 2015 – Freemasons Victoria presents cheque for $36,000.00. Director of the Freemasons Foundation Victoria Ltd., RWBro. Frank Fordyce saw first-hand how the Program benefits these children, when he visited Dandenong High School last week to present a cheque for $36,000.
“Each and every one of these children has grown enormously having completed the Program. They now have the skills and maturity to keep learning in a class environment, when before, they may have lost all motivation,” he said.Click for full story
16th February 2015 – Latest Operation Newstart Facilitators Meeting Minutes ONV Minutes 16 02 15
Reflection on 2014 and snippets of what is to come in 2015
What a year! Operation Newstart programs have supported 168 young people whose need has been as great as ever. Five programs continue to offer these important services throughout Victoria.
Recent successes include:
– The Department of Human Services (Vic) will support us through its ENGAGE Program for the next three years.
– Operation Newstart Casey, Operation Newstart Northern and Operation Newstart South Eastern will each receive $30,000.00 annually to let these programs engage professionals to work with our highly trained and experienced facilitators to provide successful programs in 2015-2017.
– Youth workers with an interest in adolescent mental health and experience in working with troubled youth are being recruited over the next three months.
The partnership with DHS is vital; not just for the much needed financial support, but because it reflects a common purpose to work collaboratively on behalf of young people and their families at every opportunity.
In Geelong, the Percy Baxter Foundation has generously provided $35,000.00 per year for the next three years to provide staffing support for Operation Newstart Geelong. Special thanks to Cameron McNaughton, a “Newstart Champion” who advocates for programs like ours in Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula.
We are also grateful for significantly improved support from local governments in the past year; the City of Hume will provide $10,000.00 in 2015 for Operation Newstart Northern, which has also received a grant of $5,000.00 from the City of Yarra. The Casey Cardinia Foundation has granted Operation Newstart Casey $5,000.00 to enable rent on the premises in Narre Warren. This is enormously appreciated by Jimmy and his team, as the old primary school building which houses the program and all its equipment provides an ideal base for local youth. A special thank you to Cr. Amanda Stapleton who has been a terrific supporter at Council and within the local community for many years.
In applying for Local Government Community Grants, I refer to a survey of 460 young people in the City of Yarra, who were consulted on matters that are important to them. They want to:
– have their voices heard
– be happy and healthy
– have fun
– feel good about themselves
– be respected
– get an education and feel supported at their local school
– feel safe in their communities
– have equal opportunities
– get a job
– be able to express themselves
– have strong and healthy family relationships
– live in an environmentally safe and aware community
– be listened to, supported and welcomed
While doubtless we would all want this wish-list for all our children, many thousands of young people in Victoria do not have these wants satisfied.
7th October 2014 – Victoria Government Funding Support for Operation Newstart programs
On October 7th, Minister for Youth, Ryan Smith attended a ceremony held at the HQ Operation Newstart Casey to announce that the Victorian government was granting $90,000.00 per year for 3 years (a total grant of $270,000) to assist in the future staffing of Operation Newstart programs. The event was attended by Brad Battin, Member for Gembrook and in his earlier life, a Victoria Police Facilitator to Operation Newstart South Eastern. Brad and Minister Smith encouraged the recent graduates who attended to keep looking for opportunities to improve their outlook on life, to remain in education as long as possible and to seek help within their local communities. Also attending were Amanda Stapleton, Deputy Mayor of the City of Casey and Susan Serey who is contesting a local seat in the Victorian Parliament at the coming elections.
Recent strong community support to restore the level of police involvement in Operation Newstart programs directed to Victoria Police Command
6th October 2014 – Mayor of Mornington Peninsula Shire, Councillor Antonella Celli, calls for reinstatement of Victoria Police Facilitators into all Operation Newstart Programs
– “I am writing in support of Operation Newstart and the need for a full time Victorian Police Member to be allocated to each site to facilitate the program. The Mornington Peninsula Shire community has, over the past 20 years, benefitted from a close working relationship between Victoria Police, schools, community agencies and the Shire.
Activities such as, the Program for Underage Drinking Diversion and Linkages (PUDDAL), ROPES, Operation Newstart, Mornington Peninsula Secondary College Police Youth Core Band, Southern Peninsula Swans Reclink Football, Blue Light and MP Schoolies, all of which, are facilitated by Victoria Police and partnering groups, have significantly improved the health and well being of young people within our community. They have also been widely recognised by the broader community as having positive impact and outcomes.
Integral to the success of these and other youth related initiatives has been the presence of Victoria Police Members in either facilitating or assisting in programs.
Operation Newstart commenced at Mount Erin Secondary College in 1997. The Mornington Peninsula Shire actively participated in the working group that drafted the Operation Newstart Program during 1995/96. A large number of young people from the Mornington Peninsula were engaged and transformed by the program over its years of operation. The suspension/closure of the Frankston Operation Newstart program has been a great loss for our community.
The mentoring provided by Victorian Police members to vulnerable young people engaged in Operation Newstart assisted them in becoming resilient and competent individuals. Operation Newstart also give Police and community groups an opportunity to form relationships, understand each other and built trust.
Operation Newstart is closely aligned with strategic priorities of Victoria Police, which include the importance of community partnerships and engagement with young people.”
The Victoria Police Blueprint 2012 – 2015 – Year 3
P1 Take a collaborative and responsive approach to building relationships and communicating with stakeholders to better understand their priorities.
P2 Ensure that each stakeholder group:
– is regularly consulted about their expectations of Victoria Police and what they can contribute
– is regularly updated on progress and issues identified
– has two-way communication channels with Victoria Police.
P3 Ensure that Victoria Police communicates progress against key stakeholder concerns.
P4 Ensure the needs of specific communities of interest remain a focus, such as the indigenous, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI), multicultural, mental health and disability, seniors, youth and new and emerging communities portfolios.
P5 Build trust, confidence and satisfaction in the integrity and performance of Victoria Police.
P8 Build police capability to increase focus on proactive and crime prevention responsibilities.
1. That Council officers and Operation Newstart Casey Program leaders meet with the Local Area Commander, Inspector Paul Breen, The Hon. Kim Wells, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, The Hon. Edward O’Donohue MLC, Minister for Eastern Victorian Region, Minister for Liquor and Gambling Regulation, Minister for Corrections and Minister for Crime Prevention and members of Victoria Police’s Priority Community Division, Community Liaison Officers, Youth Resources Officers and Crime Prevention Officers to meet for talks.
2. That the talks at this meeting centre on the reasons why police involvement in the Operation Newstart program was ceased.
3. That these talks determine what changes can be made to the program to get the results the police would expect to get form being involved in the Operation Newstart program.
4. That a set of Operation Newstart key performance indicators be developed with Victoria Police to justify their involvement.
5. That a trial of the Operation Newstart program be conducted in Casey that meets the required program and set of outcomes by Victoria Police, Newstart Leaders and Council.
6. That if the Casey Newstart program is successful the prospect of reintroducing the Newstart program with Victoria Police involvement state-wide be explored.
7. That interested Councillors be invited to attend this meeting.
City of Casey Council Minutes 2nd September 2014
See the latest comments by a participant (posted on 9th July 2014) who completed the Operation Newstart Southern (Frankston) in 1999. Make up your own mind as to whether this is another powerful demonstration of why police officers should stay involved as mentors and facilitators in Operation Newstart programs. Send any comments to Operation Newstart Victoria Executive Officer – email@example.com or call – Tel 0408 334 889, 03 9345 6053; Operation Newstart Participant Survey Response 148
25th June 2014: $72,000.00 donation from the Freemasons Victoria Board of Benevolence
Freemasons Victoria’s Board of Benevolence recently donated $72,000 towards Operation Newstart, a program that promotes good mental health practices and helps troubled teenagers get back on the right path.
Phil Wheatley, Operation Newstart’s Chief Executive said that the injection of funds would allow a youth worker to be employed for the next two terms in each of the five programs operation throughout Victoria.
“It’s critical and I can’t stress enough how important the partnership is between Freemasons Victoria and Operation Newstart”, Mr Wheatley said.
Frank Fordyce, Chair of the Freemasons Victoria Board of Benevolence said that when he heard that the program had recently lost much needed funding, he approached the board with the request.
“The Board unanimously decided that it would make this contribution to ensure this valuable program continued”, Frank said.
Click for further details
01-06-2014: Casey to write to Victorian politicians seeking reinstatement of police in ONV
The City of Casey resolved to write to the Victorian Premier, the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, the Shadow Minister and Local MPs seeking their support to have Victoria reinstate police officers as part Operation Newstart programs.
City of Casey-Operation Newstart-030614pdf
01-06-2014: Hampton Park College principal slams withdrawal of ONV grant
Hampton Park Secondary College principal David Finnerty slams Federal Government’s withdrawal of $300,000 given by Labor last August to Operation Newstart for troubled youths – Leader Newspaper Group – Click here for full details
18-05-2014: Latest Participants’ Survey
Latest Participants’ Survey – Response 145 – A clear, concise and compelling case why Operation Newstart programs are valued by local communities, including local police – Participants Survey – Response 145
03-05-2014: Geelong Advertiser Article
Police fear surge in youth crime and deaths after axe falls on life-changing Operation Newstart program
Commentary Geelong Advertiser – Inspector John Thexton
28th February 2014 – Geelong Advertiser Editorial – Youth Need Our Backing
Whenever decisions to stop funding or support are made, it is imperative that careful consideration is given to the consequences.It is not just a line item in a budget. It is not just a saving anaccountant can deliver on a balance sheet.It comes at a cost. Operation Newstart is a good program, it is well run and it gets results.It’s time for a pause on the cost-cutting and a commitment to keeping the program going — because it works.
21st February 2014 – Program for western suburbs youth at risk
Operation Newstart has assisted more than 2000 of the state’s most vulnerable young people, including almost 500 in the western suburbs. Executive officer Phil Wheatley told the Weekly Review the award-winning program was likely to disappear without urgent help from the state government and Victoria Police.
Opposition police spokesman and Williamstown MP Wade Noonan raised the matter in State Parliament, calling on Police Minister Kim Wells to meet with program leaders. “Many of the secondary school-aged young people who have benefited from this program have been described as gifted, but through a variety of circumstances they have fallen on hard times and dabbled in crime, drugs, alcohol or other antisocial behaviours,” Mr Noonan said. “As such, many drop out of school and potentially consign themselves to lives lacking hope or direction. That is why Operation Newstart matters to them.”
18th February 2014 – Shadow Minister for Police & Emergency Services call for help for disengaged teenagers – reported in the Bendigo Advertiser on Monday 17th February
“The reason police have done that is because they want to shift those resources to frontline policing.”
“While every community appreciates and acknowledges the importance of frontline policing, I think most communities would also appreciate that where crime can be prevented through well-targeted programs that those investments are worth making.”
YOU can help go to Help ONV
21-02-2014: Werribee Businesswomen Supports ONV
One of Werribee’s mostly highly regarded businesswomen has blasted the decision to withdraw police support
– Great effort by Samantha, Casey Graduate & James Seeray Casey Teacher Facilitator on Channel 7 News on 19th February. Great encouragement to us all to speak up. What you have to say matters and is being heard. Have your say on Operation Newstart Victoria Facebook page.
4th February 2014 – Brad Battin M.P.raises Operation Newstart in the Victorian Parliament
Mr BATTIN (Gembrook)—Congratulations, Deputy Speaker; what a great elevation for you. I wish you all the best.
I rise today to support the Operation Newstart program in the south-east. I understand that some opposite may like to use this program to score political points, but I do this as a passionate supporter of the program and as the original facilitator of the then south-east, now Dandenong program. Victoria Police has supported this program since its inception in Frankston as a marine-style program to assist youth at risk. Over time the expansion of the program has seen more land-based physically and mentally challenging activities to give young people the tools for the challenges in life.
In the south-east we have seen the results for young people and their mental health, we have seen the issues surrounding disengagement and we have seen concern for youth with no goals. I understand Victoria Police makes these operational decisions, and I support the work its members do in the community. I request that, as this decision will affect the future of young people in a challenging world, Victoria Police consider the program on its merits.
The program has had in-depth analyses by the Royal Children’s Hospital and other organisations which prove this is an effective program with tangible results. I will continue to talk about the program. I have personally seen the changes in the lives of young people, and I support the committee and local-level facilitators who strive to make the lives of young people in the growth corridor better.
When we were in the program we never forgot that the young minds we were working with were our future. They will be the people who ensure that we have a vibrant future. It is important to work with them and guide them on the path they want to take, and I assure you that not one participant wanted to follow a pattern of crime or disengagement, but many did want to get the tools and learn to be the person they wanted to be in the future.
Latest Youtube: – Operation Newstart Geelong Graduates tackling the Kokoda Track Sept 2013 – sponsored by members of the Geelong community to further develop Graduates resilience. Aired on Channel and Narrated by Channel Nine Reporter Laura Turner.
27th November 2013 – Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright wrote to Operation Newstart Victoria stating, “it is with much regret I must formally advise of our organisational imperative to withdraw the dedicated full time and part time commitment of Victoria Police members to the delivery of this program.”
While we are disappointed that Victoria Police has made this decision, we thank them for the 15 years of wonderful service they have delivered to Victorian youth through their participation, and partnership, in Operation Newstart. We have their assurance that at the local level, there will be many opportunities for Victoria Police to continue assisting our programs, albeit without direct staffing.
The good news is that five Operation Newstart programs will commence the first term in 2014,
Operation Newstart Western (servicing Melbourne’s western suburbs)
Operation Newstart Northern (servicing Melbourne’s northern suburbs)
Operation Newstart South Eastern (servicing schools in Greater Dandenong)
Operation Newstart Casey (servicing schools in the City of Casey)
Operation Newstart Geelong (servicing schools in Greater Geelong).
Two other programs (Frankston and Bendigo) have had to be suspended for the time being, and we will all work assiduously to bring them back on-line as soon as resources become available. We understand that the need is just as great in these regions.
More than 150 young Victorians will graduate from this proven program in 2014. When you consider the ripple effect this has, hundreds of young people, their classmates, friends, family and the broader community will be beneficiaries.
Previous articles about Operation Newstart