New recruits: Senior Sergeant Craig Stevens and Senior Constable Margaret McDonald are building relationships between police and young people in Geelong's north
New recruits: Senior Sergeant Craig Stevens and Senior Constable Margaret McDonald are building relationships between police and young people in Geelong's north

Breaking Barriers

Friday, 1 June 2018

A new program is breaking down cultural barriers and building relationships between Victoria Police and young people in Geelong's north.

New Recruits - Youth Connections brings together Victoria Police and young people from Afghani, Iranian, Karen, Pakistani and Burmese backgrounds to address challenges faced by new and emerging communities

Corio Police commander, Senior Sergeant Craig Stevens and multicultural liaison officer, Leading Senior Constable Margaret McDonald lead the program for Victoria Police.

Police hold informal education sessions at the City’s fOrT Youth Centre to educate the boys and their parents on topics such as career direction, positive relationships, understanding the law, policing, and parenting in western society.

New Recruits - Youth Connections is funded by Victoria Police, and the Multicultural Affairs and Social Cohesion Division of the Department of Premier and Cabinet and delivered with the City's fOrT Youth Centre, North Geelong Secondary College and Northern Bay College.

Senior Sergeant Craig Stevens - Corio Police:

Officers take young people to football matches, hiking, camping, rock-climbing and had competed against each other in a fitness test at the police academy.
It's a great way to break down barriers between police and CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) communities, whose interactions with police have typically been limited or poor.
We saw an opportunity to work closely with young people at-risk of becoming disengaged, and their families to better understand the issues they face.
Challenges such as staying in school, remaining connected to the community, cultural differences and difficult family environments could result in young people turning to crime.
We know that once young people are disengaged from school, they risk losing support networks, becoming more at-risk of committing crimes.
The program gives young people a sense of belonging and access to positive role models. Some of them are now even interested in becoming police officers themselves.

Danielle Parker - Youth Team Leader, Chair of Geelong's Multicultural Youth Network:

New Recruits addressed key community concerns such as feeling safe, lack of understanding of policing as well as some antisocial behaviours in the community.
The program has resulted in increased attendance at school, better choices around friendship groups and an awareness of certain choices leading to negative pathways.