Challenger claims Premier's Award win
A prestigious WA Premier's Award has been awarded to Challenger Institute of Technology, the WA Police and the Rockingham Police and Community Youth Centre (PCYC) for their joint Weld to Life program.
This top honour was awarded in the Strengthening Families and Communities category with the innovative program also being runner up overall Premier's Award winner across the public sector, receiving a special Commendation for Innovation.
The course which comprises a Challenger Institute Wider Opportunities for Work (WOW) qualification with an embedded Certificate I in Engineering is delivered to young offenders through hands-on-training in a supported environment.
The program was launched in 2007 due to a rise in crime by juveniles in the Rockingham and Kwinana area.
Senior Constable Tim Ellis designed the intensive training program to engage some of the youth committing crimes, and in doing so, has reduced offending behaviour.
"The success of this program has been phenomenal. 80% of participants have pursued further training and there's been a significant reduction in re-offending.
"Of the seven programs run from April 2008 to May 2010, offending behaviour by the 72 students enrolled was reduced by more than 90%, even after 12 months of completing the course," Senior Constable Ellis continued.
"Participants go from being law breakers to contributing members of the community. This program is proof that by training young people and occupying their time in productive activity, they can be steered away from destructive behaviour."
Challenger Institute CEO Liz Harris believes that offenders accomplish a real sense of achievement and an opportunity to contribute to the community through further training and employment.
"To our knowledge, Weld to Life is the only program of its kind in Australia that gives participants an opportunity to graduate with welding trade skills and provides a pathway for offenders to gain further education and employment opportunities," Ms Harris continued.
"The program also successfully addresses the skills shortages in the state by up-skilling disengaged youth in an industry area with a high demand for labour.
"Being one of only six category winners at the Premier's Awards is a great honour and testament to the dedicated and committed Challenger staff who help so many people change their lives through education, providing a pathway to a better future."
Participants are often repeat offenders. They are trained by qualified Challenger Institute of Technology lecturers at the Rockingham PCYC in a purpose-built welding workshop.
The students produce practical welding products of value to the community, such as a wheelchair ramp for the Disabled Association. Upon completion, participants achieve a Challenger Institute Certificate I in Wider Opportunities for Work, a Certificate I in Engineering and a St John's Ambulance First Aid Certificate.
The success of the program has been well received by industry, with sponsorship and support from BHP Billiton Nickel West Kwinana, Department of Education, Office of Crime Prevention, Corrective Services, Lotterywest, Jandakot Airport Holdings, SGIO and Bunnings.
Six state government agencies and related organisations won awards at the 16th annual Premier's Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management last Monday night, hosted by Premier Colin Barnett.
The category Strengthening Families and Communities recognises projects that seek to nurture the potential of families, young people, seniors and communities to encourage better standards of living, health, safety and social justice.