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Woonona East students help launch program with canoe construction

141019 Fit Together Still 32

The Woonona East students and the completed canoe at the launch today

A GROUP of Woonona East Public School students took part in the launch of the Fit Together program today (Monday) at the Wollongong Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC).

The program is part of the NSW Police Force Commissioner’s RISEUP strategy, which kicked off today (Monday) and runs for the length of the school term.

Fit Together is a co-designed program developed with each local community to prevent and reduce reoffending, as well as encourage positive relationships between local police and the Aboriginal community.

Fit Together aims to instil confidence, increase self-esteem and help Aboriginal youth reach their full potential, and is aimed at youth aged 10-17 years.

Southern Region Commander and corporate spokesperson for Aboriginal engagement, Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Craner said locally run programs make a huge difference to the lives of young people.

“We’ve heard some great success stories since the launch of the Commissioner’s RISEUP strategy, and by bringing together police, PCYC, other government industries we believe we can provide a fantastic support network,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Craner said.

“We are very privileged to have an enthusiastic police force and officers that really feel passionate about engaging with these young people.”

Youth and Crime Prevention Commander, Superintendent Mark Wall said the programs ultimately aim to provide support and opportunities for young people to succeed.

“The partnership between police and PCYC is instrumental in building positive relationships and breaking down any barriers that may exist between police and young people,” Superintendent Wall said.

“As an organisation we are looking forward to working closely with these young people throughout term four.”

Police were joined by Aboriginal Elders, PCYC staff, Transport for NSW (Maritime Division) staff and program participants to celebrate the launch of the program at Wollongong PCYC.

The Maritime Division of Transport for NSW is getting on board with day one of the program, providing materials to build a bark canoe as part of the first session. A group of students from Woonona East Public School were invited to attend to assist with building the canoe.

Transport for NSW General Manager for Service Delivery and Education, Maritime Division, Natalie McLean said the canoe building is part of the organisation’s diversity and inclusion program, promoting Aboriginal culture and the engagement of youth in regional areas.

“The Aboriginal community are overrepresented in boating fatalities throughout NSW, so this project is really about promoting boating safety throughout this community,” Ms McLean said.

“The building of bark canoes forms a strong part of Maritime’s Aboriginal engagement program as a sign of respecting traditional ways, and we are proud to have the Aboriginal community with us today as the Elders pass down the beautiful tradition of boat building to the younger generation.”

The bark canoe will be presented to the NSW Police Force Commissioner at the end of the program.

Across the fourth school term, police and PCYC staff will deliver a suite of programs in Wollongong, including Fit Together (Bulli PCYC) and Fit For Life (Wollongong PCYC).

For more information on police and PCYC programs visit https://www.pcycnsw.org.au/programs/police-programs/

About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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