The Queensland Police Service (QPS) has announced the state-wide expansion of a new engagement program for school-aged youth.
After a successful trial with 600 students on the Gold Coast, the School Respect program will roll out across the state to help youth who are exhibiting behavioural issues and are potentially disengaging from their education.
QPS plans to train a new cohort of school-based police officers, police citizen youth centre officers, and school support officers to carry out the program over the next 18 months.
Experts have shown that early intervention is critical when it comes to addressing behavioural issues in vulnerable young people.
“By reaching them at this stage in their lives, we have the best possible chance of helping them understand the consequences of disengaging from their education and encouraging them to make better choices,” QPS State Manager for Youth Programs Michael Volk said.
The initiative was inspired by the success of QPS’ Project Booyah, a youth mentoring program that utilises adventure-based learning, leadership skills, decision making/problem solving exercises, resilience training, policing strategies, and family inclusive principles to help young people “make better life choices.”
“Building positive relationships with both the police and the community is a really important part of Project Booyah’s success and will form an important part of the School Respect program, too,” Volk said.
Meanwhile, Minister for Police and Corrective Services Mark Ryan said that the Queensland government supported the expansion of effective youth engagement strategies such as Project Booyah and the School Respect Program.
“The Queensland Government has supported the QPS and the delivery of the Booyah program for many years,” Ryan said. “The Booyah program has proven to be incredibly effective engaging with young people and helping them connect back into their communities with evaluation of the program finding that many did not go on to commit crime in the years following completion of the program.”
“We are looking forward to the rollout of the School Respect program and seeing the positive impact it is sure to make in many young lives,” he concluded.