NEW England police are leading the charge to create a new program aimed at re-engaging troubled kids in Armidale to put them back on the right track.
Fairfax Media can reveal the initiative which will centre on a morning boxing session with mentors but have far-wider influences for local teenagers, and hopefully turn them away from a life of crime.
The catalyst for action comes after one-on-one talks with a string of teenagers who have been arrested in Armidale for crimes such as property offences, robberies and assaults.
The revolving door of juveniles into police custody and the court system pointed to one common theme – a drug addiction.
“Young Aboriginal boys with drug issues, particularly those experimenting with ice, were over represented,” New England Inspector Roger Best said.
Young Aboriginal boys with drug issues, particularly those experimenting with ice, were over represented.New England Inspector Roger Best
He led a contingent of local officers on a tour of similar programs in Sydney and the Central Coast.
At the Redfern program, called Clean Slate Without Prejudice, human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs and NSW governor David Hurley are regular faces, along with a list of mentors who engage with the kids.
It was created by Superintendent Luke Freudenstein with about 10 kids, and now as many as three buses with mentors collect kids three times-a-week for sessions.
Now New England police are searching for a group of mentors to hopefully kickstart the program in July out of the Armidale PCYC.
It will involve an hour of boxing, a breakfast club, then classes to boost education and learn life skills before school.
“We will help administer to that, police play a role in trying to get troubled kids back on track, however it will be driven by the community. It is clear in Redfern that the success is driven by the community coming together,” Inspector Best said.
“The key is having role models and having positive influences on these kids, because some of them haven’t had that in their lives.
“A mentor would help to bring the teenagers to the boxing program twice a week and lead the early intervention program and tackle the root cause of the offending, boosting their relationships with community members.”
Several community groups have been approached to participate, but the initiative will need the backing of business to get off the ground.
“We would be calling for sponsorship and partnerships from the business community because obviously there is a significant cost in getting it up and running,” Inspector Best said. “The boxing is about learning self discipline and building community spirit.”
A mentor would help to bring the teenagers to the boxing program twice a week and lead the early intervention program and tackle the root cause of the offending, boosting their relationships with community members.New England Inspector Roger Best