Tyrone Walter says the Ngudjoong Billa program has put him on a better path.
He's recently completed the 20-week program and said it has helped him get his white card and feel a greater connection to his Aboriginal culture.
And now his eyes are set on joining the Army.
During its demonstration phase, The program has helped 73 young Aboriginal people reintegrate and transition out of the juvenile justice system.
All of those who completed the 20 week program did not re-offend during that time.
Started in 2017, and delivered in partnership between the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (SCMSAC) and the Department of Communities and Justice, the program provides a consistent support network for Aboriginal children exiting custody on the South Coast.
Those that need longer than 20 weeks are able to be re-referred into the program.
Tyrone thanked his caseworker Jordan Farrell for helping him get to where he was.
Prior to the program, Tyrone said he wasn't really connected with his culture at all.
"Ever since spending time with Jordan, I've learnt a lot about my culture," he said.
And Jordan said Tyrone had gained a lot of confidence from the program which had helped him with his mental health.
Jordan said Tyrone was lacking motivation at the start of the program because of his lifestyle choices with drugs and alcohol.
But through a slow and intensive approach with a particular focus on strengthening Tyrone's cultural identity and building his connections to family, community and country, Tyrone is now off drugs and has been for a while.
And as for Jordan, he just wants to help his community and prevent kids from re-offending.
"When I was younger I wasn't always a saint, I did some things I shouldn't have done. And I just don't want to see kids go through that system," he said.
"And some of them just need a voice and they just need that extra push. Some people write them off because they've done this and they've done that. But they're not bad kids, they've just made bad choices."
Jordan and other program staff devotes at least four hours per young person, per week, and can sometimes work for 30 hours a week just with one person.
He said he was fortunate his family helped him out when he was younger but for some young Aboriginal people, that network doesn't exist.
And that's why a program like Ngudjoong Billa was a necessity for young Aboriginals transitioning out of the juvenile justice system, said Jordan.
Wade Longbottom Executive Manager of Wellbing at SCMSAC said there need to be more preventative programs like the Ngudjoong Billa program as intensive programs can only be delivered to a small number of people at a time.
"The more opportunities out there for young people to engage with programs like this, the more success you're going to get because you're going to get less numbers of re-offending," he said.
Fortunately, the program is no longer in a demonstration project which means staff can put more resources into delivering outcomes than in collecting data and showing valuations.
And Wade said it's the caseworkers and kids who are the real stars of the program.
"I'm just in the background. It's people like Jordan, Tyrone and others that have worked on and in the program since 2017 that are doing all the work," he said.
Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said he was totally inspired and delighted to hear about the work that was being done to reduce recidivism by the Ngudjoong Billa program.
"I've been the Youth Justice Minister for a couple of years and I'm really proud of the fact that we've seen a 40 per cent reduction in kids in detention. Right now there are about 190 kids in detention and for some reason, people think that there are hundreds and hundreds of more kids in the system than there are," he said.
"But what we have focused on, and what I am passionate about as the Minister, is targeted early intervention and keeping young people out. This program right here is a great example of that.
"The good news is that we used to have 60 per cent of kids in the detention system who were Aboriginal. Today, it's about 37 per cent which is down a hell of a lot but there's still a long way to go when you think about the fact Aboriginal people are about two and a half per cent of the population."
Ngudjoong Billa is a language name for a permanent and reliable water source, a place of healing and renewal.