About us

What we do

Operation Newstart addresses the needs of students at risk in the middle years of their secondary schooling.

Operation Newstart is an innovative re-engagement program for young people aged 14 -16 attending Victorian Government Secondary schools who are at significant educational risk. Many are at risk of expulsion, have failed to attend school regularly and are at risk of not completing their secondary education.

Using a combination of experiential learning, wilderness therapy, family group work, mediation, counselling and community interconnectedness, our goal is to prevent students from disengaging prematurely from their families and schools and to prepare pathways to further education and employment.

A key feature is small group work (maximum of 8 or 9 students) under the direction of highly skilled professionals who provide a multi-layered intervention focusing on the young person’s relationship with self, family, school and community.

Programs run for a full school term, with students attending their home school for two days each week, and the program for the remaining three days. 

Why we do it


Those who disengage early from school tend to be significantly more disadvantaged in later life with:

  • Increased likelihood of experiencing unemployment


  • Lowered lifelong income


  • Poorer outcomes in health, accommodation and social status


  • Greater risk of offending behaviour


  • Greater suspectibility to the influences of drug and alcohol misuse


  • Homelesness and anti-social behaviour.

How we do it


We re-engage young people with their families, schools and their communities. We do this by assisting them to recognise their strengths and helping them to build their resilience, respect for themselves and others and building their self-esteem through achievement. Go to Your Say to see what students, parents, teachers and other professionals say.

Programs run for a school term, with students attending school for 1-2 days weekly and Operation Newstart for 3-4 days. Eight students enter each program working alongside a teacher/coordinator and other professionals.

Each program provides a multi-layered intervention, focusing on the young person’s relationship with self, family, school and community. Activities engage students in a proven process of change utilising experiential, vocational and therapeutic activities which include:


  • Outdoor adventure based activities

  • Work place visits,

  • Community service

  • Skill-based activities

  • Therapeutic group work with parent involvement

Respected contemporary research demonstrates substantial improvements in emotional symptoms, conduct and peer problems, hyperactivity, and pro-social behaviour.