Tasmania Police awarded for using MST Institute youth program

Posted by MST Services

May 28, 2024 12:46:48 PM

Tasmania Police has been recognised for its implementation of a program aimed at diverting at-risk youth from repeat offending.

The organisation received a prestigious certificate for implementing the Multisystemic Therapy (MST) program, which strives to change how young people function in their homes, at school, and within their neighbourhoods. The program also aims to promote positive behaviours and at the same time decrease antisocial behaviour.

The program launched in Northern Tasmania in November 2022 with one practitioner, with more staff joining in 2023.

Katie Knights, team leader for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), said their practitioners have small caseloads of about four to six families.

"They then work extensively within that ecology with the family and young people," she said.

"It is about providing that sort of holistic approach from the ecology for that young person and their family. So it's extremely beneficial."

The team leader said there has been a lot of positive feedback from her team from the youth participating in the programs and many parents feel empowered by the process.

Kayla Kerrison, clinical supervisor for the MST program in the North, said parents and young people have recognised how much the therapist supports them in redirecting away from certain behaviours.

"It also changed their view of what it's like to work with police."

"This relationship allows us to present police to the family in a supportive light and to have [Acting Sergeant Skye Thompson] or the team turn up gives the youth the feeling that this is a safe police officer they can go to in the future if they need to," she said.

Acting Sergeant Thompson, who is involved in the Youth Crime Intervention Unit in the North, said: "It feels wonderful that we've been able to establish this relationship [with MST] because it assists us greatly with what we're trying to do."

"I'm really honoured that we've been recognised. Our team has worked really hard, and Kayla is a wonderful person to work with. So, the relationship has been easy to form, and we hope to maintain it."

‘Changing Lives’

Acting Sergeant Thompson said early interventions such as MST make a massive difference in a young person's life and are ultimately "life changing."

"We're looking at the risk factors that come before young people commit crime, and that's allowing us to then refer them to MST, who can do the work that stops the path to crime," she said.

In terms of MST's impact on reducing crime, the Acting Sergeant said, "It's looking very positive at the moment with the work that we're all putting in. It's like everything you do. You may not see the results for some time."

"We're grateful for the relationship [with MST]. It's a very easy one. And it's been wonderful that MST has fallen under CAMHS because that provides us with an authentic avenue to share information and make it work really well."

Acting Commander Inspector Nathan Johnston also participated in the award ceremony and said it was essential to recognise the collaboration between MST and Tasmania Police.

He said he particularly wanted to support Acting Sergeant Thompson's team's efforts in youth crime intervention.

"It's about the great work in collaborating and identifying youth that will suit and fit the criteria needed to work with a health professional to try and provide that holistic approach to youth intervention rather than our traditional method of policing, which is court-based," Acting Commander Johnston said.

"This program and Youth Crime [Intervention Unit] have done really well linking appropriate candidates with the programme, which has had some really good results."

By Hugh Bohane
Updated May 11 2024 – 8:58am,
First published May 10 2024 – 4:30pm


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MST is an evidence-based alternative to incarceration or severe system consequences due to serious externalizing, anti-social, and criminal behaviors. MST effectively treats young people and their families by utilizing a built-in suite of interventions within the home, school, and community settings. Treatment is tailored to the family and individual strengths and needs, which could include but is not limited to the following types of therapies: Family Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Drug and Alcohol Treatment, Mental Health Services, Peer Ecology Assessment and Intervention, Trauma-informed treatment, and Educational/ Vocational Support.

Topics: Multisystemic Therapy, cultural responsiveness, evidence-based, Agencies and Administrators