A POLICE-LED program to engage at-risk teenagers has received a $7.4 million boost over five years from the Palaszczuk government.
In Redlands, Project Booyah operates from Capalaba PCYC, working closely with schools, organisations, TAFE and businesses.
Byron Richards, who took part in the program last year, said he had developed a sense of mateship with the friends he made during the twice-weekly sessions held for one semester.
“It is a spectacular program that I would recommend to anyone who needs it,” he said.
“Going into it, I didn’t know what to expect, but once I was taking part, I didn’t want to leave.”
TJ Heremia, 16, is taking part this semester and said he had been motivated by Booyah to finish school.
“We set goals and mine is to improve my education,” he said. “Booyah has made me want to achieve something.”
Redlands co-ordinator Constable Jarrett Usher said they helped teenagers to find positive pathways, either at school or through other avenues, and have the skills and knowledge the needed.
“The teenagers seem to have more of an understanding that there is more to life after school,” he said.
“The program generally changes attitudes about criminal behaviour and drug use and the teenagers show a bit more maturity.”
Constable Usher said one teenager who had been very opposed to attending the program was one of those who had benefited.
“His parents said they had seen a big improvement in his behaviour and his attitude and approach to them.”
A spokesperson for Police Minister Mark Ryan said the program run at nine locations state-wide sought to address the teenagers disengagement with family, community and education, and reduce offending.
“Project Booyah has already had great success, including an overall reduction in offending by participants, graduates successfully engaging in further education, and/or gaining employment outcomes after participating in the Booyah program,” the spokesperson said.
During the 20-week program the 10 participants do a TAFE course and job readiness activities, go on fun outings, enjoy a wilderness adventure and learn about decision-making and goal-setting.
Project Booyah won the gold award in the police-led category of the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards and the QPS Commissioner’s award for excellence last year.
Constable Usher said they took referrals for the program.
Some participants attend school as well as the two-day a week program.
Constable Usher also called for businesses to support the program by providing opportunities to the teenagers in the program.
“We would appreciate support to help them re-engage through work experience, for example,” he said.
For information, go in person to Redlands PCYC on the corner of Mount Cotton and Degen roads, Capalaba or visit projectbooyah.com.au