Home Safe program extended to keep kids safe and off the streets

  • Current Northbridge Home Safe trial extended to June 2025
  • Initial trial period saw a decline in youth custody incidents
  • Collaborative partnership between the Department of Communities, WA Police Force, Nyoongar Outreach Services and Mission Australia

A program keeping unaccompanied kids off the streets of Northbridge at night and diverting them away from the youth justice system has been extended for two more years by the Cook Government.

Commenced in October last year, the Home Safe trial coincided with a 38 per cent reduction in incidents involving children and young people engaging with WA Police in the precinct once fully operational.

The initiative restricts children under the age of 16 from being alone in Northbridge after 10pm. It is designed to help young people to return home or to a safe place, and divert them from contact with the justice system while also providing them with access to support.

Over the course of the six-month trial period, 804 young people engaged with providers a total of 2,770 times. The average age of children involved was 14-and-a-half, with the youngest just 9 years old.

A key element to the trial was a partnership between the Department of Communities, WA Police, Nyoongar Outreach Services, and Mission Australia, which supported additional transport to take young people to a safe residence, or to the YouthBeat facility, as well as culturally sensitive assistance for Aboriginal children and young people and their families.

Today’s announcement follows positive feedback from the partners in particular, the benefits of the increased presence of the Nyoongar Outreach Services and the improved cultural safety this brought to support Aboriginal children and young people.

The collaborative partnership is also enabling multi-agency case management for children and young people present in Northbridge as an important part of the service.

The trial extension is supported by a $935,000 investment over two years, with a view to further evaluating the program.

As stated by Community Services Minister Sabine Winton:

“Children shouldn’t be alone on the streets at night, especially in an entertainment precinct like Northbridge where they might be at risk.

“The early feedback of the Home Safe trial is promising, and I’m so proud to be able to extend the trial until June 2025, giving a longer period for evaluation and enhancement.

“In addition to supporting children and young people to a safe and secure place to spend the night, the program also helps identify at-risk children and young people to ensure they have wrap-around supports and services suitable to their circumstances.

“Our Government is committed to giving children and young people every opportunity to be the best they can be.

“This program complements a wide range of early intervention, prevention and diversion measures implemented by this Government to continue our successful efforts to divert at risk youth away from custody and detention.”

As stated by Police Minister Paul Papalia:

“The WA Police Force does an excellent job engaging with at-risk youth, especially when they are found on the streets late at night, but young people shouldn’t be roaming entertainment precincts unaccompanied.

“Home Safe helps ensure more children spend the night with appropriate shelter and a bed to sleep in.

“It also frees up frontline officers for policing, which in turn makes our community safer.”

/Public Release. View in full here.