Funding for our kids goes begging
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
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.