POLICE AND COMMUNITY YOUTH CLUBS
The Hon. SARAH MITCHELL:
My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Will the Minister inform the House of the benefits of the funding for Police and Community Youth Clubs provided by this Government?
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER:
I thank the honourable member for a very good question. She would no doubt be very familiar with the value of Police and Community Youth Clubs [PCYC]. While Police and Community Youth Clubs is a public charitable company that is independent of the New South Wales Government and the NSW Police Force, the PCYC program is jointly delivered by Police and Community Youth Clubs and the New South Wales police. To show our support for the good work of Police and Community Youth Clubs, the Government has committed to providing them with $20.25 million over four years to revitalise clubs across the State.
This will include funding to put towards the construction of eight new clubs, upgrade three existing clubs, carry out priority maintenance works, including the removal of hazardous asbestos roofing, and develop new crime prevention programs. The advertisement for expressions of interest for new clubs was released in August 2011. The advertisement specified the Government's commitment to allocating two police officers and one civilian manager for each new club. Local councils will have until the end of October 2011 to develop proposals for new clubs. I encourage councils that do not already have a local police and community youth club to actively consider putting in an expression of interest. A fair number of councils have already come forward. By all reports it is going to be a competitive process.
Our $20.25 million four-year funding boost will allow Police and Community Youth Clubs and police to keep doing their important job of preventing even more young people from entering a life of crime. The PCYC program's core function is to provide support services to youth at risk and to reduce juvenile crime and antisocial behaviour. Police and Community Youth Clubs also offer a wide range of activities to young people, somewhere safe and somewhere to be with friends and have fun. But it is somewhere kids have to comply with standards of dress, standards of language and standards of behaviour. It is somewhere young people want to be, but there are rules. Young people can learn to be leaders through their involvement with Police and Community Youth Clubs. A wide range of sporting activities, music programs, homework clubs and life skills and self-development programs give kids a chance to become leaders and feel good about themselves.
I visited the Police and Community Youth Club at Coffs Harbour whilst in Opposition and was absolutely amazed at the interaction with the Salvation Army when I walked in. They see kids and families at risk. There is a room to the right-hand side where kids can learn computer skills, how to answer a phone and send a fax. They can get skills to get a job. At Liverpool there is a music studio where kids from different ethnic communities put down their own music and enjoy the best that their music has to offer. Guess what? Other kids from that local area get a taste and an understanding of music from other cultures in Sydney and New South Wales. It is a place where people come together and enjoy the best things about being young but do so in a safe environment. It is a place where there is a police officer who is a friend—someone that you build a relationship with. The interaction with the police officer is not out on the street; kids build a relationship with an adult they can trust who is not going to abuse them or interfere with them. They can go to a safe place and start to get their life back together.
It is not about Police and Community Youth Clubs as some would remember from the 1950s and 1960s, which were limited purely to boxing and those sorts of activities. Sure, some still participate in that, but in this day and age the Police and Community Youth Clubs are about teaching kids life skills. It is about ensuring there are positive adult influences that involve the New South Wales Police Force. We are committed to it. It is one of the most positive things that I spoke about in Opposition and it is one of the most positive things that I intend to drive as Minister for Police in this State.