Young people in Moree will soon have the opportunity to participate in a variety of cultural activities at night as an alternative to roaming the streets when a new program is established at Miyay Birray.
Minister for Police Troy Grant and Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall were in Moree on Wednesday, along with Western Region Police Commander Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie, to announce $243,522 in funding for Miyay Birray to establish the Night Culture program.
The new program, which has been in the works for a number of years, will provide a safe place for young people to go at night, where they can participate in a range of activities including art, music, dance and more.
“It’s really great,” Miyay Birray CEO Darrel Smith said of the funding.
“It opens our service up to the community for those after hours times, so kids have another option for something to do at night instead of roaming the streets.
“Last year we had over 700 charges against youth in our community which is way too much, so we need to do something about that and we need to make sure our kids have opportunities and choices to make their own way in life.”
The Night Culture program will work in conjunction with Beyond Empathy and Miyay Birray’s Street Beat bus, which picks up kids on the street every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and takes them home.
On average, the Street Beat picks up 1,000 kids every six months.
Now, those kids will have the option to go to Night Culture, where they can have fun and learn new skills.
“Kids are going to come home with language, art, singing, and dance skills that they can then pass onto their older brothers and sisters, as well as parents,” Mr Smith said.
The funding, from the NSW Government Community Safety Fund, will allow Miyay Birray to cover the costs of running the program which includes employing additional staff and getting professional artists in to run the various activities.
Local volunteers and Aboriginal elders will also be involved in the program.
“We want to involve elders in the program and make it family-orientated,” Mr Smith said.
While the program will offer young people a deep understanding of indigenous culture, Mr Smith said children from all cultural backgrounds will be welcomed.
Mr Grant said the NSW government is passionate about working with local communities to create unique solutions that will make a difference in preventing and combating crime.
“Whenever you tackle crime, the traditional way of relying on the police to be there for all reasons and all occasions isn’t the only way we can reduce crime and anti-social behaviour,” he said.
“The police do an outstanding job but there needs to be a whole of government and a whole of community effort in doing this.
“Over $240,000 is being granted to this group to do some fantastic work diverting young people from criminal behaviour to try to build up rapport, build up their worth to make sure they’re positive members of this community and not get into a life of crime and / or anti-social behaviour.”
Barwon Local Area Commander Superintendent Paul McDonald said youth crime is an issue in Moree and he is confident this program will go a long way in helping to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.
“Youth crime arises out of a range of issues – boredom, lack of supervision and lack of engagement with kids from various agencies,” he said.
“It also depends on their age – younger kids tend to be involved in petty crime or crimes of opportunity but as they get older that progresses into more serious crimes. This program is about tapping into that younger age bracket and giving them positive influences rather than negative ones.”
Mr Smith is hopeful that the program will get underway as soon as possible, with recruitment to begin immediately. Initially it will run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.