By Deborah Kennedy.
Like so many people, I’m often unaware of some of the great community programs underway around WA and tend to listen with one ear to news about them.
But my memory of one was jogged this week amid the political storm surrounding an apparent plan to remove serving police officers from the State’s Police Community Youth Centres.
Recently, I hosted an event which recognised and rewarded WA’s best public sector programs. They were all interesting but one stood out and, this week, was among those named as “at risk” of being axed, if the Police Commissioner pushed on with the plan.
Of course it all became a political bun fight and the wash up was that late yesterday the Commissioner announced he wasn’t bowing to any pressure but no police officers would be removed from the PCYCs; they’d simply stop doing the paper work.
The Premier had pre-empted him in Parliament, vowing police were staying and, of course, the Opposition was claiming it had forced the government’s hand.
Whatever the story, the program itself, “Weld To Life”, got lost, so I thought I’d mention what it does.
Basically, it takes young male criminals off the streets of Rockingham and Kwinana, gives them a trade in welding and, according to the statistics I saw, has had really good results since being set up in 2007.
The program, the brainchild of Rockingham police officer Tim Ellis, is now linked to Challenger TAFE, which pays for trainers to provide industry-accredited training. Meanwhile, BHP Nickelwest Kwinana pays for the workshops and computer rooms.
But here’s the bit that’s really interesting, according to the statistics, there’s been a steady drop in the burglary rate in the City of Rockingham since the program began, full time, in May 2008.
“Weld To Life” has won a national award as well as state awards and it claims that most of the children who’ve taken part have either undergone further training, returned to school or found work.
When I spoke to Senior Constable Ellis at the event he said he’s planning a similar program for young girls who’ve turned to crime…not welding but hospitality training.
I asked him whether the children found his uniform intimidating; they don’t and even if they do, tough. They’re learning respect.
So, it’s just one program that I’m aware of and I know there are countless other good ones out there which sometimes get forgotten, or lost in the politics of the day.
Read more: //www.smh.com.au/opinion/blogs/kennedys-counterpoint/welding-young-crims-to-a-future-20120516-1yrdt/#ixzz1vA6zTjOG