Police Minister Bob Wiese today praised the work of five groups of both police and community based organisations for winning national recognition in their efforts to reduce violent crime in Western Australia.
At the presentation of the 1996 Australian Violence Prevention Awards, Mr Wiese said the State winners had faced daunting competition from 104 submissions from throughout Australia.
The national awards acknowledge projects which assist in the prevention or reduction of violence in the community and the joint Commonwealth/State initiative carries a total prize pool of $100,000.
Mr Wiese said all the groups were fully supported in their work by the WA Police Service and it was crucial for the police and community organisations to tackle violent crime through a unified approach.
"It is pleasing that projects which aim to prevent violence and cut down on crime finally get the recognition and the financial assistance they so richly deserve for helping to safeguard our community," he said.
Recognised as WA's regional winner at the awards was the School Volunteer Program. It is the second year in a row the program has won the award for outstanding achievement and organisers were presented with a cheque for $5000.
Mr Wiese said the School Volunteer Program had achieved significant results in reducing domestic and school violence through the counselling of students by senior volunteers. Since it began operating in April 1994 more than 600 senior volunteers had assisted nearly 1500 school children in 43 senior high schools throughout the State. Two WA senior high schools were commended by the judges for their specialised work at dealing with student problems. Leonora District High School and Governor Stirling Senior High School were both presented with a cheque for $2000 and a certificate of merit.
Mr Wiese said the work at Leonora District High School centred on gender issues and for two years a committee had been developing strategies to foster better relations between female and male students.
He said the intervention program at the Governor Stirling Senior High School reduced violence by providing severely alienated students with positive role models for dealing with conflict.
"Students are provided with strategies for problem solving and results show improved school attendance, increased literacy /numeracy skills and better personal controls for managing anger," Mr Wiese said.
Dealing specifically with youth problems at school also won recognition and a certificate of merit from the judges for the WA Police Service's School Based Program which had been operating for nearly nine years.
Mr Wiese said there were 30 officers in the unit who assisted more than 115,000 students throughout the State each year. While the officers were permanently based at 35 senior high schools they also attended 175 primary schools.
He said the innovative program encouraged students to develop a positive attitude towards police and the law by education, role models and providing support networks.
"The police do assist students with problems such as truancy and bullying at the school, but they also help students to learn about their civic rights and responsibilities in the wider community," Mr Wiese said. The South West Family Contact Centre in Bunbury was highly commended for its role in reducing domestic conflict. The centre has been operating for more than two years and has provided assistance for more than 40 families where the parents have separated.
"Safety is the primary issue of this contact centre and the assistant's role is to provide a safe environment for children to see both parents or to protect the vulnerable parent from possible confrontation, " Mr Wiese said.
The Minister said the violence prevention awards were important recognition for people who were prepared to make a positive move at making their community a safe place to live.
"Many of the people involved in these volunteer groups work tirelessly in their efforts to help others and I congratulate them on their dedicated contribution to such a worthwhile cause," Mr Wiese said.
Media contact: Mark Thompson on 322 2311