Welding saving a town from crime spree – Welders Program Wins

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.

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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

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