Redland City Mayor Karen Williams is applauding the success of a now 4-year-old local program that aims to invest in the region’s youth.
Being run by the Queensland Police Service from the Lions Club Jeffrey & Geraldine Underhill Community Centre at Capalaba, Project Booyah began in 2012 to help disengaged young people develop the necessary life skills to make better choices and start a career path to build their self-esteem.
“Redland City’s youth are an important part of our community and they are the leaders of tomorrow,” Mayor Williams says.
“Council is committed to helping our young people earn and learn and be resilient members of our community, aims that are outlined in the recently released Redlands Youth Strategy 2015-2020.”
Education and community initiative Project Booyah is literally changing lives in the Redlands.
Currently 10 local teenagers are participating in Project Booyah in the hope to complete vocational education and gain a job after dropping out of high school.
Fifteen-year-old Alexandra Hills automotive trainee Brandon Cunningham shared his experience of completing Project Booyah, run by the Queensland Police Service, with the 10 new starters this term.
“I was feeling pretty depressed after being suspended from school for fighting and soon after that I started Project Booyah,” Brandon said.
“The police officers helped me get through and helped me find opportunities.
“I did a Certificate II in hospitality and then a Certificate II in construction.
“This year I’m doing a Certificate II in automotive through the Australian Industry Trade College, involving four to five week blocks of TAFE and then two weeks of work experience.
“My life is much happier now and I am more successful.”
Acting Inspector and Project Booyah Manager Ian Frame said he commenced the project after it dawned on him he was ‘locking up’ a kid who had done an armed robbery, whose father was in prison for serious offences.
“We had to change this cycle. I thought about it and realised education and building up the teenager’s resilience and self-esteem with mentoring by passionate police officers was the key to encouraging better behaviour.”
Today Project Booyah is run in nine locations across Queensland and is assisting about 85 teenagers.
The program has an amazing success rate: 86 per cent of young people who start the program complete it, the majority of participants end up with a job and criminal offending reduces by 67 per cent.
Project Booyah is funded by the Queensland Early Intervention Police Program and Skilling Queenslanders for Work.
Acting Inspector Frame said he is currently looking to supplement the program’s funding with sponsorship from the private sector.
“This is an excellent program for the corporate sector to be aligned with as it is encouraging the very same ethics and skills needed for a successful workplace,” he said.
“Plus due to the one-on-one training and mentorship with young people the program offers, it would allow suitable businesses to directly connect with young workers.”