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Operation Newstart South East (ONSE)

Educational Purpose of the Newstart Program

Operation Newstart VictoriaOperation 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 16 feeder schools.

Operation Newstart South Eastern functions as an Alternative Settings Program and is a collaborative partnership between the Department of Education and Training (DET), Southern Metropolitan Region, (Dandenong High School), Victoria Police, and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). 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 eight weeks with the students attending Operation Newstart South Eastern three days each week, and returning to their base school. Eight students enter the program and work with a Teacher Facilitator and Social Worker and different facilitators in a variety of workshops. Student/parent follow-up occurs over a twelve-month period after completion of the program.

Supervising Staff

Declan D - Teacher at Newstart

Declan Denneny
Teacher Facilitator – Department of Education and Training – DET

Jessica R - Youth Worker at Newstart

Jessica Rogers
Youth Worker


The following adventure activities may be undertaken or offered to students throughout the program:

Swimming, Snorkelling and Surfing
Initiative Activities
Low Ropes Course
Cross Country Skiing
Indoor Rock Climbing
High Ropes Course
White water-rafting
Mountain Bike Riding
Horse Riding

Other activities undertaken or that may be offered to students throughout the program:

Pathways component – CPR 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, Police, and a variety of VIP guests to help celebrate the achievements of the entire student group.

Operation Newstart website link: