Backing a suite of Aboriginal-led youth programs would provide the best platform to help at-risk youths and families turn their lives around, the head of a major pastoral diversion plan says.

KRED Enterprises’ Marlamanu project was singled out in May among projects being considered under the WA Government’s $15m plan to build an on-country residential facility for at-risk youths by early 2023.

The project would see young offenders diverted from Banksia Hill to work Kimberley Agriculture and Pastoral Company’s Myroodah Station with Aboriginal-led health, cultural, and educational services on hand for support.

KRED chief executive Damien Parriman said Marlamanu would provide structured station and management activities and education programs.

“What we are seeing at the moment is kids returning from Banksia Hill and a large number of them just reengage in the activities which got them sent there in the first place,” he said.

“If we can create an environment from them where they are learning practical and lifestyle skills and improving their numeracy and literacy, we would hope to see those skills put to good use following completion of the program.”

Mr Parriman said he was keen to see other youth diversion programs from groups such as Nyamba Buru Yawuru, Nirrimbuk and MG Corporation funded too in order to work together to help at-risk children.

“The crisis we are seeing needs a holistic approach instead of throwing all the eggs in one basket,” he said.

“This program will target a particular cohort, other programs different cohorts.

“We want to be able to empower families and reignite that family unity to make sure these issues are addressed before they reach the detention phase.”

Kimberley MLA Divina D’Anna did not respond by time of publication.

At the time of the announcement on May 3, Ms D’Anna said the State Government had listened to the community’s concerns.

“We need to focus on empowering young people and their families and providing culturally appropriate solutions for the community,” she said.

“I’m passionate about helping young people to understand what they can achieve with the right support, education and guidance – and today’s announcement is an important step forward.”

Several other organisations with proposals were contacted, but did not respond by time of publication.