At-risk youth in the Orana district are expected to have a brighter future thanks to the launch of a groundbreaking program.
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Western Region acting assistant commissioner Superintendent Peter McKenna launched Project Walwaay on Wednesday.
It was developed to ensure Aboriginal youth, identified as being at risk of entering the criminal justice system, receive the full support they require to stay on the right side of the law.
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Superintendent McKenna, who is the Project Walwaay leader, said the idea of the program came after he reviewed the statistics of over representation of Aboriginal youth going through the justice system.
I have kids too, and I think we all want our kids to have the same opportunities and the brightest futures regardless of their situation- Western Region Acting Assistant Commissioner Peter McKenna
"I have kids too, and I think we all want our kids to have the same opportunities and the brightest futures regardless of their situation," he said.
The new initiative is a referral pathway to the Indigenous Recruitment Our Way Delivery Program. It includes dedicated fun nights at the Dubbo PCYC, sporting programs throughout the week and a connection between Aboriginal youths and elders who will act as mentors.
Superintendent McKenna said the team, including volunteers, wanted to work on the program because "they care about the greater community."
"Our team doesn't look at what these kids are doing as much as why they're doing it. They look to the root of the cause," he said.
"Two years ago when I first started here compared to now are worlds apart. We (the police) actually have a relationship with our youth now. We're seeing kids come up and speak to us now as opposed to being scared of us."
The Project Walwaay leader said the Orana Mid Western Police wanted to support Dubbo's Aboriginal youth.
"We want to be there for these kids throughout their journey, for us it's not about forgetting them. It's about giving them every chance we can to help get them back on track and show them we care about our community."
Project Walwaay is supported by the NSW Police Force, PCYC, Aboriginal Lands Council, Aboriginal Legal Services, Aboriginal elders and community members and other government and non-government agencies.
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