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:
- Empower incarcerated males with problem-solving skills by discussing everyday contextual examples they may face, so they may overcome any obstacles
- Build confidence around existing pro-social strengths, to challenge pro-criminal tendencies that may lead them off-track
- Empower young males to develop goal-oriented behaviour that is both holistic and realistic; homing in on accountability and responsibility for their choices
- Engage young incarcerated males by utilising role models to deliver workshops
- 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.