Ministers with Boys To The Bush

At-risk young people in Bourke will have access to more targeted support, with the appointment of a Youth Action Meeting (YAM) Coordinator.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole and Minister for Regional Youth Ben Franklin today announced the new, specialised position, which would provide on-the-ground support to help address the needs of vulnerable young people in Bourke and surrounding towns.

Mr Toole said the position was trialled in Coffs Harbour and has had proven success in reducing the risk of recidivism for more than 60 per cent of young people involved in the program.

“The YAM model brings community groups, police and government agencies such as Maranguka and the Bourke Tribal Council together to deliver support and targeted programs for vulnerable youth, resulting in improved safety and wellbeing,” Mr Toole said.

“This coordinator will provide on-the-ground support to at-risk or disengaged youth in Bourke, Walgett, Brewarrina and Cobar, where they will listen to the concerns of young people in these communities and deliver tailored action plans.”

Minister for Regional Youth Ben Franklin said a three-day roadshow would also be held by Boys to the Bush, a not-for-profit charity that engages with some of the communities’ most vulnerable youth.

“Community information sessions, a school social day and a community dinner will be held as part of the roadshow, with the aim of integrating young people better into community life and providing them with a sense of purpose and belonging,” Mr Franklin said.

“This roadshow and the appointment of a Youth Action Meeting coordinator are just a few ways the Office for Regional Youth is providing tailored support to improve outcomes for young people in the regions and realise their full potential, and I can’t wait to see the benefits that will flow.”

Central North Police District Acting Superintendent Peter Atkins said the new resource would significantly assist police in identifying vulnerable young people who are at risk of becoming victims or offenders of crime.

“Having a dedicated resource to support the ongoing Youth Action Meetings will allow for potential at risk offenders or victims of crime to be identified early, and appropriate referrals to be made in a more strategic and coordinated way,” Acting Superintendent Atkins said.

“The ultimate goal is to see fewer young people caught up in criminal offending and engaged in more meaningful activities instead.”

Advocate for Children and Young People Zoe Robinson welcomed the expansion of the YAMs program and investment in the Boys to the Bush program.

“This recognition of the need for programs to support young people and the commitment from the NSW Government to provide that support is a positive step forward for young people in the area,” Ms Robinson said.

Boys to the Bush participant, 14-year-old Trae Wilson says he can’t wait for the initiative to come to Bourke.

“I love getting out of town, going fishing and connecting to the country. Boys to the Bush helps me connect with other kids and make new friends,” Mr Wilson said.