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Young car theft offenders do a complete U-Turn.



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Media Release

SENATOR THE HON. CHRISTOPHER ELLISON

Minister for Justice and Customs

Senator for Western Australia

E183/03 15 December 2003

Young car theft offenders do a complete U-Turn

The Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Hon Chris Ellison, has today lauded a group of young car theft offenders in Tasmania for graduating from the U-Turn program, a crime prevention program aimed at diverting young people from motor vehicle theft.

Nine young participants in the fourth U-Turn course to be conducted in Tasmania were recognised at a graduation ceremony in Hobart, each receiving a Certificate 1 in Automotive (a nationally recognised qualification), and a U-Turn tool box for their achievement.

Senator Ellison said the Australian Government had invested $200,000 in the Tasmanian pilot of the U-Turn Program - which has been in operation for nearly a year and is being implemented by the Tasmania Police Department and Mission Australia - as part of its $1.345 million contribution to the U-Turn Program across Australia.

The first priority of the U-Turn Program targets young people with a history of repeat car theft offences. The Program also targets those young people who are at risk of offending.

The Australian Government and its funding partner, the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council, are also undertaking pilot projects in Western Australia and Queensland. Additional funds have been provided for a further pilot project in New South Wales and a comprehensive evaluation of the U-Turn Program will also be conducted.

The U-Turn Program utilises the interest of young people in cars and mechanics as a way of encouraging their participation in the program.

Senator Ellison said the program also offers training in literacy and numeracy, recreational activities, links to employment, work experience and education. Intensive case management and mentoring, both throughout and after the program, will help the young people stop re-offending in the long-term.

“The U-Turn Program aims to give young people some positive, practical alternatives that enable them to continue to enjoy being around cars, while at the same time offering the opportunity to learn a trade.

“It is a great initiative that will have significant benefits for the young people involved and for the whole community through reduced crime rates and insurance premiums.”

Australia has one of the highest rates of motor vehicle theft in the world which is estimated to cost the community about $1 billion each year. Seventy-five per cent of vehicles are stolen by young people who use the cars to go ‘joy-riding’ or to commit another crime. A small percentage of young people who commit car theft will go on to become repeat offenders or become involved in other types of criminal activity.

The Australian Government’s contribution to the joint project is funded under the National Crime Prevention Program. In the 2003-04 Budget the Australian Government committed a further $4 million to the Program, bringing the total contribution since 1997 to $38 million.

Media Inquiries: Simon Troeth (02) 6277 7260/(0439) 300 335

http://www.ag.gov.au/www/justiceministerHome.nsf