Source: (2000) Paper presented at the Reducing Criminality: Partnerships and Best Practice conference. Perth, 31 July – 1 August 2000. Canberra, Australia: Australian Institute of Criminology.

Effective community crime prevention requires the support of state and local governments, in partnership with local police, business, and community interests. By harnessing the energies espoused in community concerns and the potential of positive outcomes, the incidence and encouragement of local offending can be reduced. Mackay’s Youth Employment and Training Initiative (YETI) took a group of known young offenders, who were leaders in a local youth ‘gang’, and invited them to exchange their criminal activities for employment. In the initial four- month trial project, it used only the resources available in the local community. Seven participants were successful in obtaining permanent work, and in the ensuing year, the incidence of crime in the suburb from which they came was considerably reduced. With the assistance of a Queensland Government grant, YETI has since been replicated across Mackay, and shows an 80% success rate in taking disadvantaged young people, previously involved in or vulnerable to crime, into employment. This paper explores factors behind YETI’s success – in values which afford respect and dignity to every person, in working with a youth sub-culture, in the community commitment to make a difference, in building business support, and in a remarkable group of young people who have so much to contribute, if given the chance.

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