West youth program at risk without urgent funds

A program working with at-risk western suburbs youth will fold without urgent financial support, according to its head.

Operation Newstart has assisted more than 2000 of the state’s most vulnerable young people, including almost 500 in the western suburbs.

Executive officer Phil Wheatley said the award-winning program was likely to disappear without urgent help from the state government and Victoria Police.

Last year, the then-Labor federal government allocated the program $300,000 from the National Crime Prevention Fund, but the offer was withdrawn by the new Coalition government.

In November, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright wrote to
Mr Wheatley informing him the police would also be pulling out of the program because of time commitments.

Opposition police spokesman and Williamstown MP Wade Noonan raised the matter in State Parliament, calling on Police Minister Kim Wells to meet with program leaders.

The minister’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

» onv.org.au