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Project to prevent anti-social behaviour by young children shows promising results

Media Release

14 September 2006

Media release from Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator the Hon Chris Ellison

No. E81/06

The Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, today released the Australian Institute of Criminology paper entitled The Pathways to Prevention project: Doing developmental prevention in a disadvantaged community at the International Crime Prevention Colloquium in Canberra.

"This is a very important project that trials early intervention programmes for young children and their families living in a disadvantaged area of Brisbane," Senator Ellison said.

"The evidence supports the widespread use of interventions during the transition to school, and works with young families, schools and communities to prevent anti-social behaviour, reduce later involvement in crime and increase opportunities for young people later in life.

"With a focus on children aged four to six years, the project emphasises the importance of strengthening communication and social skills, and has resulted in improvements in language skills for both boys and girls, and a significant improvement in boys' behaviour and their readiness for school.

"Relationships between families and schools also improved, as did relationships between parents and children who were regularly involved in the family support program," Senator Ellison said.

A partnership between Mission Australia and Griffith University, the project seeks to involve family, school and the community in a range of interventions including:

  • individual support for both adults and children;
  • behaviour management programs for parents;
  • early childhood initiatives such as playgroups;
  • programs to link families with schools; and
  • other broad-based community development initiatives.

Although there are many promising family support and prevention programs in Australia, few have been evaluated.

"We now have empirical evidence that developmental crime prevention can achieve positive results in disadvantaged community settings. The careful monitoring of this project and the dissemination of results can inform the development and implementation of similar services and approaches across Australia. Importantly, longer term tracking will indicate whether these effects continue into adolescence," Senator Ellison said.