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In July 2014, seven Pacific Islander young offenders supervised by Juvenile Justice had the unique opportunity to spend time with the 2014 Super Rugby Champions, the NSW Waratahs, to talk about getting their lives back on track.
The young men met with Waratahs players Tatafu Polota Nau, Wycliff Palu, Sekope Kepu and Will Skelton, who all come from similar cultural backgrounds. The young men also attended a training session and took part in a skill drill session alongside their idols, followed by a tour of the stadium and Q&A with the players.
The session was part of Juvenile Justice's Pasefika Revisited – Islands Of Change (PRIOC) program developed by Blacktown Juvenile Justice Community Services. NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice Mr Brad Hazzard also attended the day and spoke about the benefits of linking young offenders with community organisations through sport.
Juvenile Justice Chief Executive Valda Rusis said it's important to link young offenders with programs that meet their cultural needs.
"For these young Pacific Islander men to be able to meet with successful high profile sporting role models, and to get the opportunity to talk with them and share their stories is a really valuable experience," Ms Rusis said.
"Evidence shows that linking young offenders with community organisations can help them desist from crime, and this is particularly true with community sporting groups.
"Juvenile Justice staff work hard to connect our clients with their culture and strive to address the many contributing factors to youth reoffending."