Award-winning program marks final graduation for ACT region participants

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James*, 15, hadn’t attended regular schooling for almost a year before his Mum referred him to the Canberra Police Community Youth Club Inc. (Canberra PCYC) ‘Project Booyah’ program. James had seen a close family member go through the program and gain a Certificate II qualification and new interest in continuing his studies towards a trade skills apprenticeship. Police visits to the home had decreased.

Twenty-weeks after commencing Project Booyah, James reflected on his achievements of a Certificate II qualification through CIT, positive new outlook, and continuing discussions on his next vocational pathway. “One thing I learnt from Booyah was that if you try your best at something you’ll always finish it” said James. “I now enjoy getting up of a morning and coming to Booyah,” James said, “I wasn’t sure if I would have been able to keep up with the work but once you put your head down and do your work, you can achieve a lot.”

For Canberra PCYC Executive Manager Cheryl O’Donnell, Monday’s graduation ceremony will mark the completion of the current funding for Project Booyah in the ACT region. “We’ve seen young people turn their life around through Project Booyah,” said Ms O’Donnell “over 80% of participants haven’t had an offence against their name since completing the program. To see young people who’ve become disengaged from education return to school, or continue their studies through CIT, has shown us just how successful Project Booyah is at giving kids that second chance to succeed.”

Project Booyah was first developed by the Queensland Police Service, and in 2016 received the Gold Award at the 2016 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards (ACVPA). Project Booyah centres on collaborative early intervention for at-risk young people, bringing together government, community, education and police to achieve positive change.

“We know the importance of educational outcomes in improving employment options for young people” said Ms O’Donnell, “when combined with trade skills, ongoing case management, social skills training, as just some of the inclusions in Project Booyah, we can be confident that these young people have every opportunity to reach their long-term goals.”

The final invitation-only Project Booyah graduation will be held on Monday 9 April.

*Name, age, and relationship have been changed.