New funding from the Department of Justice and Community Safety will help the Les Twentyman Foundation reduce the number of children and young people at risk of entering with the Victorian justice system.

With Victoria’s youth in need of support at levels not seen in decades, the Les Twentyman Foundation has received a $490,000 funding boost from the Department of Justice and Community Services for their Youth Support Service (YSS) program.

Chief Executive Officer of the Les Twentyman Foundation, Renee Hancock, said that it’s great to see the Victorian Government building on the success of the YSS program in partnership with community organisations.

“It’s been a great success story at the Les Twentyman Foundation, with three in four of the kids not engaging further with the justice system while they are working with us,” said Ms Hancock.

The funding, which was announced by the Minister for Youth Justice, The Hon Natalie Hutchins MP, will allow the Les Twentyman Foundation to expand its services in the local government areas of Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong and Moonee Valley with a focus on reaching young people from culturally diverse backgrounds.

“This much needed support which will further build on our relationships with police to help reduce youth offending, but also to provide critical services to young Victorians who have often experienced significant trauma, abuse and neglect,” she said.

“We know that young people who have experienced their first contact with police have complex needs such as mental health issues, experiences of family violence or a history of drug and alcohol abuse.

“This funding recognises the need for early intervention to ensure that young people have the opportunity to create a brighter future for themselves and their families,” she said.

Australia’s most well renowned youth worker and founder of the Les Twentyman Foundation, Les Twentyman OAM, says this new investment will help to respond to increased demand for services due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

“The demands on our youth workers are at levels that we have not seen before, things were stretched pre-pandemic, with too many children and young people falling through the cracks. This investment will help these young Victorians, many in their early teens, to avoid ongoing contact with the criminal justice system, ensuring that our communities are safe places for everyone,” said Mr Twentyman.