Urgent Help
IS THIS AN EMERGENCY? Are you or others in danger? Do you need an ambulance or the police? 24 HOURS
Lifeline 24 hour phone line for crisis support and suicide prevention. 24 HOURS
13YARN 24 hour crisis phone line support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 24 HOURS

State Government fails to renew funding to key youth crime prevention program

Up to 330 young people per year who come into contact with police will be denied access to an effective program that can turn them away from crime and toward a better future.

Despite a recent rise in youth crime and concerns about community safety, the State Government did not renew funding for 11 Youth Support Service (YSS) positions in the recent Victorian Budget. This will have the most impact in Melbourne’s west and north, where many high-profile youth crime incidents have occurred in the last 12 months.

YSS, run by the Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS), has been lauded by police and crime prevention experts for its success in supporting young people aged 10 to 17 who have been the subject of police interventions, helping them to change direction and engage more positively with their families and communities.

YSAS is calling on the State Government to urgently reconsider the decision, which will result in the program losing $1.85 million in funding and almost one-third of its workforce. 

“With youth crime the highest it has been in a decade, now is not the time to be reducing programs that have been proven to reduce youth crime in Melbourne,” YSAS CEO Andrew Bruun said. 

He said that when the program was initially expanded in 2020, the government indicated it was in response to a growing community need for crime prevention work with young people, rather than as a specific pandemic response. As such, YSAS believes the funding should be ongoing.

“Full funding for the Youth Support Service must be restored to keep vulnerable communities safe and help at-risk young people get the support they need to move away from crime,” Bruun said.

“The government has been serious about reducing rates of youth crime and changing course now will come at great cost to our community over the long term, socially and financially.”

Almost half of the positions defunded are in Melbourne’s west, where there is currently a waitlist of 54 young people. 

YSS West Youth and Family Worker Tracy Courtney is currently trying to find alternative options for the young people she is working with.

“The work I do is flexible and tailored to each young person based on their unique lives, strengths, and goals,” Courtney said.

“We work on re-engaging with school, strengthening connections with family and friends, finding a job or developing a new positive hobby. Without this support, I really worry for these young people who are already facing significant disadvantage and adversity.”

YSAS expects the demand for YSS to increase significantly in Victoria when the age of criminal responsibility rises to 12 later this year, and to 14 in 2027.

County Court reserve judge and former head of the Youth Parole Board Michael Bourke said early intervention is essential.

“Often the young people who end up in youth detention have a background of child protection from the age of 10, and that’s when the risk of them moving into a criminal or an anti-social environment arises,” Bourke said.

Bruun said YSS is one of the few programs that currently works with 10 and 11-year-olds. 

“YSS is perfectly placed to help these young people, but we need proper government funding to do that.”

Since 2011, the YSS program has engaged over 10,600 young people. Evaluations by Swinburne University’s Centre for Forensic Behavioural Sciences and KPMG have found the program successfully reduces young people’s engagement with police and the youth justice system.

Talent available for interview:

Andrew Bruun, YSAS CEO

Michael Bourke, reserve County Court judge and former head of the Youth Parole Board, YSAS board member

Contact: Beth Gibson, YSAS Storytelling Lead, 0417 053 032

The latest from YSAS

Media Release  

YSAS welcomes the Allan government’s Statewide Action Plan to reduce alcohol-related harm, including the appointment of Victoria’s first Chief Addiction Advisor.

YSAS CEO Andrew Bruun said the plan demonstrates the government’s commitment to making evidence-based harm reduction policy and treatment available to those who most need it.

“A targeted,…

Media Release  

Young people with lived experience of drug and alcohol-related harm are disappointed the Victorian government won’t create a safe injecting service in Melbourne’s CBD.

YSAS practitioners, addiction medicine specialists and experts with lived and living experience have supported the life-saving North Richmond supervised safe injecting service since its inception in 2018.


John Albrecht has fundraised for febfast each year for 15 years, often raising over $10,000. Here are his top tips for boosting your fundraising efforts.

When it comes to charity fundraisers – think febfast, Run for the Kids etc. – it’s often the money-raising bit that’s the hardest. We diligently…


Daniel Robinson Croft is a lived and living experience Youth Peer Advocate at Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS), Australia’s largest youth-specific community service organisation focussed on youth alcohol and other drugs, mental health and youth services. Daniel frequently volunteers for various harm reduction services within Victoria and is a community campaigner for…


This opinion piece was featured on ABC Health & Wellbeing on 11 February 2023.

What if I told you I’d found a tablet that could make you sleep better, think clearer, concentrate longer, run faster, and help your immune system?

That doing one simple thing could bring such a…

Media Release  

One week into the month-long national fundraiser febfast over 2,000 participants have signed up to take a break from alcohol, go sugar-free of give up another vice. In the midst of Australia’s cost-of-living crisis it’s never been a more important time to support charities experiencing the double pinch of…

Media Release  

National fundraiser febfast has begun— where Aussies ditch booze, sugar or another vice to improve their health and raise funds for young people facing addiction.

To mark the beginning of febfast, CEO of VicHealth Dr Sandro Demaio is available to talk about the scientific health benefits…


Official 2024 febfast Australia Ambassadors Sarah Bunnell and David Andrew from Naked Life Spirits share their secrets and tips for cutting back or switching sober for 29 days this February to raise funds for YSAS services and programs.

In the heart of Melbourne’s vibrant scene, amidst trendy…