State Labor Member for Narre Warren South Judith Graley called on the Napthine Government to reinstate Victorian police officers as facilitators in Operation Newstart in Parliament yesterday.

Ms Graley said that over the past six years Operation Newstart Casey had helped over 200 students from ten local schools reengage with the education system and most importantly their local community.

“It is incredibly disappointing that Victoria Police have been forced to withdraw from this outstanding program in 2014,”

“This decision has undoubtedly been brought about by the cuts and under resourcing that has become such a hallmark of this short-sighted and callous government,”

“Without police involvement, which has been crucial in establishing strong and positive relationship with students, this program faces an uncertain future,”

“Local schools, sponsors and the team at Operation Newstart Casey must now decide whether they can proceed with a vastly modified and much smaller program or scrap it altogether.”

Ms Graley said that the Minister for Police and Emergency Services must immediately intervene and take action to ensure Victoria Police can continue their involvement in Operation Newstart.

“This program has had an extraordinary impact on the lives of hundreds of our most at risk and vulnerable young people,”

“They weren`t just left to slip through the cracks, they found mentors and friends that provided the support and assistance they needed to get their lives back on track,”

“The exceptional work of Senior Constable Tracey Atkins, Chairperson Ross Miller, James Seeary and rest of the team at Operation Newstart Casey must be allowed to continue in 2014,”

“It’s not too late Minister, stop playing the grinch and ensure that this program receives the support it needs to continue its fine work in the coming years.”