Fund­ing for our kids goes beg­ging

LET­TER TO THE ED­I­TOR

Kalgoorlie Miner - - OPINION -

I read with in­ter­est the re­cent story in the Kal­go­or­lie Miner about the lack of fund­ing pro­vided to sup­port a Youth Drop-in Cen­tre in Kal­go­or­lie.

The ar­ti­cle in­stead com­pared the funds pro­vided to the Po­lice and Com­mu­nity Youth Cen­tre in Kal­go­or­lie as a suc­cess­ful al­ter­na­tive.

The PCYC has al­ways been a main­stay of the Kal­go­or­lie and other re­gional com­mu­ni­ties.

In the last two decades, its fund­ing has been sub­ject to the va­garies of chang­ing po­lice com­mis­sion­ers’ strate­gic views: Is com­mu­nity polic­ing valu­able? Is early in­ter­ven­tion re­ally part of mod­ern-day polic­ing?

What value is there in al­low­ing of­fi­cers to de­velop long-term re­la­tion­ships in the com­mu­nity — move them on ev­ery three years in­stead.

Each new com­mis­sioner comes in with a new view and ef­fec­tively re­duces fund­ing and re­sources, and in turn the value of the pro­gram.

Re­gional Aus­tralia has long been cry­ing out for fur­ther boost­ing of the PCYC.

In re­sponse to the re­cent tragic events in Kal­go­or­lie, where the lo­cal Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity have felt un­fairly treated, com­mu­nity lead­ers gal­vanised, met, held a fo­rum and sur­veyed the lo­cal youth. They took ac­tion. They pro­vided our gov­ern­ments at all lev­els with doc­u­ments in a for­mat they can un­der­stand and work with, which clearly stated the youth of this com­mu­nity des­per­ately needed a place to go as an al­ter­na­tive to walk­ing the streets.

Bear­ing in mind, be­ing at home can be more un­safe than be­ing on the streets.

While the wheels of change turn slowly and po­lit­i­cal cy­cles re­volve ever more quickly, Gov­ern­ment did what Gov­ern­ment does — and that is to cherry pick what they want to re­spond to from the re­ports, while ig­nor­ing the long-term, costly find­ings.

Yes, our PCYC needed funds, and it’s a great way to im­prove the re­la­tion­ships be­tween kids and po­lice.

But by chan­nelling the funds there, only af­ter such a sig­nif­i­cant event, is our Gov­ern­ment ac­knowl­edg­ing its own fail­ure in pre­vi­ous fund­ing rounds?

Is our Gov­ern­ment ac­knowl­edg­ing its own con­tri­bu­tion to the po­si­tion this com­mu­nity now finds it­self in?

And what hap­pens when a new com­mis­sioner is ap­pointed who doesn’t see the value in the pro­gram? How gen­uine is this Gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to com­mu­nity en­gage­ment, when they are pro­vided with clear, ev­i­dence-based, com­mu­nity-sup­ported and driven, ar­tic­u­late re­ports on what is re­quired, they chose to ig­nore the fo­rum out­comes?

It’s no won­der our com­mu­nity is dis­il­lu­sioned.

When they en­gage with the process, they are told their in­put is not val­ued.

It’s no won­der we strug­gle for real en­gage­ment and gen­uine change.

Two years later, those kids who are on the streets in the mid­dle of the night still have nowhere safe to go, and the wider com­mu­nity con­tin­ues to judge.

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