Violence among Australian youth of African descent: Is peer mentoring the answer? commentary on initial findings of ‘stop the violence programme’ in Western Australia
Services for Science and Education
School of Arts and Humanities
Recent episodes of violence among Australian youth of African descent have been a concern for politicians, the police, policymakers and the African communities in the country. In Western Australia, the police and African communities have been searching for ways to reduce and prevent the recent spate of violence among Australian youth of African descent. This exploratory evaluative case study presents preliminary findings on the nature of violence committed by Australian youth of African descent and examines the impact of the ‘Stop the Violence Programme’, a pilot youth mentoring initiative for creating awareness among African youth in Western Australia about crime prevention. In Phase One of the programme, 18 young people were trained and resourced as local champions to mentor their peers on preventing antisocial behaviours. The study found three main forms of violence occurring among these youth: inter-African country violence, same-nationality ethnic conflicts and leave-my- territory fights. Post-training focus groups also revealed that many of the mentors have gained increased awareness of behaviours that constitute a crime in Australia. Initial findings suggest that prevention, rather than punishment, may prove a more successful approach to mitigating future violence, and that African youth can communicate positive conflict resolution to their communities.