By Kelly Yates
SEVEN youths from the City of Casey graduated from Operation Newstart last Friday, during a celebration at the council offices in Narre Warren.
The event, with parents, friends and local dignitaries, marked the second intake of graduating students from the youth program.
Operation Newstart is a program aimed at students aged 14 to 16 years, who have become disengaged from the education system or are at risk of offending or re-offending.
The program was launched back in April and is a joint initiative between Victoria Police, Uniting Care and the Department of Education and Training.
The intensive eight-week program takes the students beyond their comfort zone, enabling them to develop important life, social and physical skills through adventure activities, vocational orientation, personal development and community projects.
The graduates received a portfolio including qualifications such as level one first aid, a bronze level certificate from Scope and a certificate of appreciation for voluntary work.
Operation Newstart Casey has been initiated by Leading Senior Constable Christine Atherton and teacher James Seeary.
Sen Const Atherton said the students had gained a new enthusiasm for learning.
“Many of the students have gained a more defined direction and have developed strategies to help them address their behaviour,” she said.
Graduate Dean Little, a Narre Warren South P-12 student, said the program helped improve his patience and concentration skills.
The Year 9 student, who once disliked school, said he wanted to complete VCE and begin an apprenticeship.
By Kelly Yates