Senior Constables Sally Treacey and Craig Skene are familiar faces doing crucial work to break down barriers between law enforcers, young people at risk of running off the rails and community members keen to see crime cut.
At Dubbo's Police Community and Youth Club (PCYC), the pair work with a dedicated and diverse bunch of people passionate about helping young people reach their full potential.
To learn more about just some of the work local police are doing to help vulnerable members of our community we sat down for a chat with Senior Constable Skene.
Why did you want to do this job?
I wanted to do something of a positive nature within policing. General duties guys are very busy with reactive policing, whatever is demanded of their time. I wanted to do something proactive to see if I could make a difference and the opportunity came up to work with youth so I pursued it.
How do the people you work with come into contact with PCYC?
A whole multitude of ways. We get referrals to us from schools, from police, from parents who hear about what we're doing. A lot of counsellors within the schools and kids themselves.
Can you tell us about some of the work the PCYC does?
Fit for Life is a breakfast program where we pick up kids as young as 8 through to about 17. We pick them up from their homes in the morning, bring them back to the club, cook them some breakfast whilst they are doing a physical activity. Then we sit down, have some breakfast and drop them to their school. We get great support through Woolworths Riverdale who provide us with groceries to feed the kids, Little Big Dairy give us the milk for their hot chocolates and their cereals and the Village Hot Bake provide bread. Without them we would struggle to make it happen. We also have a number of police from the Orana Mid-Western Police District who come and help us out. There's a newly formed team around there who help us do our breakfast program on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and we support their Friday night activities which we're now doing at the club.
I used my upbringing to make me a better person, not a bitter person - that's what we try to pass on to a lot of the kids we work with.Senior Constable Craig Skene.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday is our Fit for Work young adult program. That program was developed for young people who are looking to get into the workforce but are somewhat disengaged from school. This is an alternative opportunity for them, they still go to school on Monday and Friday. But they come here and we've got a very well qualified trainer Corrie Taylor, that works with them full-time. And Sam is a youth worker, he's also our boxing trainer here and he does fitness work with the young people.
On Friday night we run youth activities which run through to about midnight.
What's the feedback like?
We've got some kids who are ringing us up if the bus is late so that's pleasing to hear. They love coming here. We pack lunches for some of them. They're very grateful and they look forward to it. We relate a lot to each other. I used my upbringing to make me a better person, not a bitter person and that's what we try to pass on to a lot of the kids we work with.
What was your upbringing like?
I went through a couple of broken homes and a few issues. We moved a lot in my early years. I changed high schools and I just couldn't fit in moving to the country. I was disengaged from school before completing anything. It wasn't until later in life - when I decided I wanted to be a police officer - I actually didn't have a piece of paper with my name on it. I actually returned to TAFE as 30-something-year-old to attain some sort of a qualification. It was a bit of a wake-up call.
What potential do you see in the young people you work with?
Some of the kids have amazing athletic abilities...their natural ball skills are amazing. You see some people who are very soft hearted and when we see them working with other kids they've got an amazing sense of empathy. There's a huge amount of talent, that sadly a lot of these young people don't get the opportunity to pursue.
Police are often feared and criticised. How does the PCYC address this?
With social media these days, it's very easy to get a poor view of policing and I think the ability for us to interact with young people at a level where there's no negativity - that actually gives them the opportunity to see that police are real people. We have uniformed police that drop in when they're doing general duties. We had them here Friday night and it was great to see so many young people interacting with uniformed police who just dropped in for a bit of a yarn to see how everyone was going.
We'd be over the moon if there was no crime and we didn't have to lock anybody up. We don't like it when we're doing things like supermarket walk-throughs and we hear parents saying to their little toddlers 'here come the police, behave yourself or they'll take you away'. We're the people these toddlers need to run to if they need us, whether they're lost or whatever.
Do you think young people in Dubbo would attend the PCYC more if they had more opportunities to do so?
Possibly. It all comes back to financial support and the ability to run the programs. We've had some great supporters that have come on board and without those people our work is not possible. I'm sure there is the ability, and probably the call, to run more programs more often but it comes down to the dollars and cents.