The Good Day program on 7 News

Utility Creative, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, has developed, written and facilitated the Choices for Boys program for over three years. The success of the program has called for its expansion, with the development of an equivalent for girls, Live No Fear, young women’s program.

Operating within the same group of programs, Utility Creative have developed a workshop for young men within the Victorian prison system. ‘A Good Day’ program aims to deliver an evidence-based workshop that equips young incarcerated males with the confidence to engage in pro-social ‘goal-setting’ behaviour now, thus endeavouring to decrease their risk of reoffending within prison, and providing resilience in addressing conflict and reducing recidivism.

The average national rate at which young people are placed in custody in Australia is 31 in every 100,000; in Victoria, 9 in every 100,000. Victoria’s low numbers can be attributed to the methods of our justice system, where greater emphasis is placed on diversionary and preventative programs. This means that rather than incarceration, if deemed appropriate, an alleged offender will participate in community work, drug counselling, or one of another range of rehabilitation measures.

Victoria is also unique in Australia in providing a dual track custodial sentencing option for young people aged 18-20 in the Senior Youth Justice system rather than the adult prison system. This provides an alternative to prison and helps to prevent lower risk offenders from entering the adult system.

The ‘A Good Day’ workshop has been developed using evidence-based techniques that aim to:

  1. Empower incarcerated males with problem-solving skills by discussing everyday contextual examples they may face, so they may overcome any obstacles
  2. Build confidence around existing pro-social strengths, to challenge pro-criminal tendencies that may lead them off-track
  3. Empower young males to develop goal-oriented behaviour that is both holistic and realistic; homing in on accountability and responsibility for their choices
  4. Engage young incarcerated males by utilising role models to deliver workshops
  5. Educate young incarcerated males on brain development and how this affects reactive and proactive control abilities

To date ‘A Good Day’ has been facilitated by myself and middleweight boxing champion Sam Soliman in several Victoria prisons. Recently, Channel 7 aired an exclusive on our program during a session at the Metropolitan Remand Centre.

A message packing punch

Utility Creative approached Department of Justice with an idea to develop an interactive program to teach young males about making the right choices in life.

The challenge was to devise a program to be rolled out in secondary schools in areas with high rates of youth violence that would engage the target audience and provide them with genuine insight into their decision-making.

The team collaborated with adolescent psychologists to write the program that consists of a range of audio and visual material including an interactive game facilitated by guest boxers such as Sam Soliman and AFL players Dane Swan. The program helps young males understand their critical life-stage, and the difference between good, bad and ugly choices within the context of consequences.

Since its launch, the Choices program has been rolled out into over thirty schools statewide. The program has evaluated positively with the majority of participants showing significant improvement in their awareness of the consequences of their actions. As a result the program has received three rounds of funding and additional programs have been developed based on the Choices model to target adolescent females and Koori males.

The program gained outside interest from the Collingwood and Western Bulldogs football clubs with Brownlow Medallist Dane Swan and Daniel Cross guest facilitating a number of sessions. The program was the theme of a Collingwood/Geelong clash at the MCG with Dane Swan featuring on the cover of the AFL Record for an article on the importance of good decision-making.

In addition the program has received press numerous times in the Herald Sun and The Age newspapers and on Fox Footy.

During a session last week John Silvester, crime reporter from The Age wrote an exclusive on our two crime prevention programs for the Department of Justice.

Read the article here.