Operation Newstart South Eastern is an innovative outdoors/adventure based intervention program working with students deemed to be at “significant educational risk”. This refers to and includes students who have failed to attend school regularly over a significant period of time and/or who are at risk of school expulsion, and/or at risk of not successfully completing their secondary education. The program is targeted at young people aged between 14 to 16 years of age from our 19 feeder schools.
Operation Newstart South Eastern functions as an Alternative Settings Program and is a collaborative partnership between the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), Southern Metropolitan Region, (Dandenong High School), Victoria Police, The Department of Human Services (DHS) and the South East Local Learning and Employment Network (SELLEN). Additional resources have been generously provided by a variety of other government and non-government agencies, as well as individuals and organisations within the public and private sectors.
The group work program provides a multi-layered intervention, which focuses on the young person’s relationship with self, family, school, broader systems and community. Activities are used to creatively engage the young person in a process of change and include; outdoor/adventure based activities, vocational orientation and TAFE taster visits, problem-solving skills-based activities, and therapeutic group work with parent and community involvement. All these various activities are set in the broader context of Family and Narrative Therapy.
The program runs for seven weeks with the students attending Operation Newstart South Eastern four days each week, and returning to their base school for the fifth day. Eight students enter the program and work with a Teacher facilitator, Police Officer, Youth Worker and different facilitators in a variety of workshops. Student/parent workshops are an integral part of the program, with student/parent follow-up occurring over a twelve-month period after completion of the program.
Details of supervising staff:
Declan Denneny, Teacher Facilitator – Department of Education and Early Childhood Development – DEECD
Senior Constable Gordon Exner, Police Facilitator – Victoria Police (Dandenong Branch)
Ricardo Rojas – Youth Worker – Department of Education and Early Childhood Development – DEECD
Adventure activities to be undertaken or that may be offered to students throughout the program:
Swimming, Snorkelling and Surfing
Low Ropes Course
Cross Country Skiing
Indoor Rock Climbing
High Ropes Course
White water-rafting and canoeing
Mountain Bike Riding
Other activities undertaken or that may be offered to students throughout the program:
Police component; Police Academy visit, Dandenong Police station visit, Dandenong Court visit, Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre visit.
Life Skills component; Level 1 First Aid certificate, CFA Fire Awareness certificate, Chisholm TAFE Tasters, Resume writing
Community Service component; Dandenong Council’s Bushland Team, Waverly Industries and Myuna Farm.
Upon completion of the program students participate in a Graduation ceremony. The Graduation is attended by family, teachers, school support staff, Senior Police, and a variety of VIP guests to help celebrate the achievements of the entire student group.
Operation Newstart website link: