Publication date: Wednesday, 11 October 2017
Minimum-security inmates from Oberon Correctional Centre are sharing their stories with local teenagers and educating them on the dangers associated with alcohol-related crime.
The PARC (Prevention of Alcohol Related Crime) program, was developed by NSW Police officers attached to Youth Command in response to a number of alcohol-related issues involving young people in the Central West several years ago.
The program aims to show the effect that alcohol and alcohol-related crime can have on young people’s lives and the community, and is run out of Bathurst and Lithgow PCYC’s.
The unique collaboration, which uses resources and mentors from the NSW Police Youth Command and Corrective Services NSW, was developed to assist teenagers in building their self-esteem, confidence, self-belief, and trust to set them on a positive path.
Oberon Correctional Centre Manger of Security Dale Ashcroft said hearing inmates speak about their experiences often had the greatest impact with the young participants.
“When the inmates talk to the kids about their own story and what prison is like, it really cuts through,” Mr Ashcroft said.
“Hearing firsthand from others who made mistakes helps them think about their behaviour.”
Senior Constable Rikki Bowden from Bathurst PCYC said the four-day program aimed to provide 12 to 17 year-olds with improved life skills to deter them from becoming victims of crime or becoming involved in breaking the law.
“Young people often don’t appreciate how they can significantly impact their future through a single poor choice made while drinking,” Senior Constable Bowden said.
“Now in its sixth year, the program equips teens with new skills so they make better choices while also giving them the confidence to resist peer pressure and avoid finding themselves in difficult situations in the first place.”
The program concludes with a risk-taking session, albeit a positive one, on a high ropes course more than 15 metres off the ground, which gives participants an opportunity to try out their new problem-solving skills through teamwork and trust-building activities.
Oberon Manager of Offender Services and Programs Julian Anderson said the PARC program showed how correctional centres can be more than just a place of incarceration.
“CSNSW can play an important role in the prevention of crime by helping young people learn from the mistakes of others,” Mr Anderson said.
“Participating in the program also enables inmates to reflect and take ownership of their own poor choices and this plays an important role in reducing their chances reoffending.
“Corrective Services and Police officers deal with the consequences of poor decisions on a daily basis and if we can help prevent criminal activity from happening in the first place everyone in the community will be better off.”