After a long wait, Walgett’s PCYC has finally opened its doors, giving local youth a place for after-school activities as well as the chance to connect with police and each other.
- Local kids were consulted throughout the process of building the PCYC
- Activities manager Jodi-Ann Hunt says developing respect between young people and police is essential
- It’s hoped surrounding communities and visitors will be drawn to Walgett to check out the facilities
The $6 million centre is one of the biggest buildings in town, replacing the current demountable building that served as the youth centre for 15 years.
PCYC manager Amanda Cheal said getting the kids involved had been the focus since the beginning.
“They’ve been consulted throughout the whole process,” she said.
Rock walls and gyms help to attract visitors, but activities officer Jodi-Ann Hunt says what the centre really offers is a chance for police and the mostly Aboriginal young people to forge healthy relationships.
“The kids will call the police by their first names,” she said.
“But you can’t expect that respect and it’s the same for everyone — even me, as an Aboriginal lady, a local person, I’ve got to gain that respect as well.”
PCYC chief executive Dominic Teakle said fostering relationships was the main goal.
“The whole purpose is to actually normalise that association with police,” he said.
“They understand they really there to protect them and help them.
‘Centre pin’ policing
New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Mick Willing, a regular visitor of the Dubbo PCYC in his youth, could not agree more.
“The relationship with the community is at the forefront of what we do with regional policing,” he said.
“A police officer can be the centre pin of community cohesion in regional NSW, and that sense of civic leadership that policing brings is really, really important.”
It is not only Walgett’s youth who will benefit from the new centre — it has opened up a range of opportunities for everyone in town.
“There’s also the chance for the older ones that like to come along and help out, to eventually volunteer as activity officers to be employed,” Ms Hunt said.