By LAURA WAKELY
A PROGRAM bringing young offenders from
the West face-to-face with the trauma they can inflict has stopped 93 per cent of them re-offending.
The Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth (PARTY) program takes offenders aged 18-25 years old from the Sunshine Magistrates’ Court for a day to The Alfred hospital.
But this is no field trip.
The groups are confronted with horror stories from paramedics, surgeons speak about the hurt experienced in the trauma centre and patients reveal the grim reality of living life in a broken body.
“We (health professionals) see the daily impact of the bad choices that these young offenders are making,” PARTY program manager Jen Thompson said.
“We’re the ones who have to put them and their victims back together.”
Ms Thompson said the program first began in Canada 25 years ago. In 2009, a program in Perth began taking young offenders, capturing the attention of Sunshine Magistrate Noreen Toohey, Brimbank Police, Youth Junction in Sunshine and The Alfred.
Since then, 346 young offenders, usually on charges for drink-driving, hooning or assault have attended the PARTY pilot in Melbourne.
Youth Junction general manager Karen Hart said the organisation follows up on their progress three, six, nine and 12 months on from the program.
Of the 231 that have completed 12 months, 93 per cent have not re-offended.
“In the pre-PARTY session (held a week before the trip to The Alfred) they’re quite cocksure, they’ve got a bit of an arrogant attitude, they think they’re untouchable,” Ms Hart said.
Ms Hart said PARTY was a “shock tactic”, with some offenders being physically sick and fainting during the day.
“The change and transformation is unbelievable for most of them,” Ms Hart said. “It really is making a difference to people’s lives.”
To find out more or donate to the PARTY program visit www.partymelbourne.net.au
By LAURA WAKELY