Notre Dame academic and student help reduce youth crime through fitness

(L-R) Mayor Marrickville Council Jo Haylen, Aline Smith & Hermani Trevadi

12 February 2014

The University of Notre Dame Australia is helping to breathe life into a community initiative that aims to reduce crime and inspire better health among the youth of Marrickville.

Senior Lecturer in Notre Dame’s School of Medicine on the Sydney Campus, Dr Aline Smith, and third year Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery student, Hemani Trivedi, are both involved in the Marrickville Souths Breakfast and Fitness Pilot Project.

The Project aims to tackle the high rate of Aboriginal youth engaging in at-risk behaviours which has led to a high level of juvenile crime committed in Marrickville South, as reported by local police, and will see youth participate in the fitness program twice a week for nine weeks.

“The project will see Aboriginal youth become involved in a morning fitness program followed by breakfast and transport straight to school,” Dr Smith says.

“The aim is to provide young Aboriginal people with opportunities to participate in regular exercise, access healthy meals, engage with local services and role models, and receive assistance to attend school.

“Lack of regular school attendance is a major contributor escalating the risk of Aboriginal youth becoming disengaged and isolated from the wider community.”

Dr Smith helped to launch the program on 30 January 2014 by presenting a gift donation of $13,640 to help with the cost of resources, catering and transport, on behalf of the members and Board of the Central Sydney GP Network (CSGPN).

Assessment of the fitness levels of the youth both before and after the program, as well as school attendance data, will be collated and used to determine the success of the program.

“Collecting both qualitative and quantitative data will be important in this project to see if it is successful in making a difference to the physical fitness and general well-being of the participants,” says Dr Smith.

Hemani attended the launch and assisted in conducting health checks of the youth participating in the program as part of her five week GP clinical placement at The Village Medical Practice, Summer Hill.

Clinical placements are an integral part of the Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery at Notre Dame with students spending their third and fourth years at one of Notre Dame’s clinical schools and completing terms in a number of areas of medical practice including general surgery, paediatrics, psychiatry, emergency medicine and general practice.

The Marrickville Souths Breakfast and Fitness Pilot Project is coordinated by Marrickville Council.

Hannah Guilfoyle: Tel (02) 8204 4141;