A PLANE ticket overseas is the next step in a Tamworth man's fight to "shift the dial" on youth justice.
Connor Haddad is preparing for his first semester at the University College London after he was awarded a prestigious scholarship for his work in shaping public policy.
The proud Anaiwan man kicked off his academic career when he first stepped into the classroom at St Edward's Primary School before graduating from McCarthy Catholic College in 2013.
He headed north to complete a Bachelor of Communication at The University of Queensland and has been working in the public policy sector ever since.
Mr Haddad told the Leader his work in public policy had sparked a passion for youth justice.
The 27-year-old said through mentoring and working with Aboriginal youth he'd noticed a tension between policy, and who it was meant to help.
"Community safety is always something that gets people very passionate, and often people think the best way to respond is to punish," Mr Haddad said.
"From the work I've done and the programs I've evaluated ... it's not the best approach."
Mr Haddad said therapeutic, and culturally informed practices were the way to get the best results.
He said recent rhetoric around youth crime was something that had lit the fire in him to help spark change.
This passion has earned Mr Haddad an academic scholarship from The Aurora Education Foundation to help him complete further studies.
In September, Mr Haddad will fly across the globe to study a Master of Public Administration in Public Policy and Public Value at the University College London.
He said studying abroad was something he had always wanted to do, but he was glad he took the time to work first and find out where his interest lay.
Mr Haddad said although he didn't expect to be awarded the scholarship, he had big dreams for what he wanted to do with the knowledge he will gain.
"I know I'll come straight back," he told the Leader.
"My passion lies with helping my people and facilitating the best outcomes we can possibly get for our mob - that's a non-negotiable for me."
Mr Haddad said when he returned he hoped to work "closer to the coalface" in a bid to change the way policy was shaped.
"The end goal would be an executive leadership in the public sector," he said.
"Something where I can really shift the dial, and be able yo make decisions."
Mr Haddad is one of the seven scholars who have been chosen for the $800,000 worth of scholarships from the Aurora Education Foundation.
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