Australia is a world-leader in preventing crimes committed against and by youth. In 1937, an unused Police Station in Sydney was set up as a centre for youth activities. The simple initiative to give young people something to do and somewhere to do it has grown to an Australian-wide youth development organisation known as Police Community Youth Clubs (PCYC). In NSW alone there are over 61,000 participants involved in 159 different locations.
Each Police Citizens Youth Club offers facilities, equipment and transport to organise a variety of Sports and Art programs such as gymnastics, wrestling, boxing, indoor soccer, taekwondo, karate, judo, baton-twirling, netball, basketball, football, mini-bikes, and break dancing. All of the community are welcome to join in the activities, although the focus is on attracting ‘at risk’ youth to become involved. Membership is only $5 per year for juniors and $10 for Adults.
The success of these centres is due to strong community support and active involvement by the Australian Police. The benefits of Police Community Youth Clubs are increased communication and understanding between police and the community, the availability of quality youth programs, and a reduction of involvement of young people in dangerous and anti-social or criminal activities.
The Bankstown Police Community Youth Club has a successful group of Youth involved in a Break Dance performance that combines Indonesian Dance. They are touring Australia to perform their act.
The North Queensland Cape Indigenous Police Community Youth Club is addressing youth boredom in the Aboriginal Community by providing sport and recreation activities. The community has found activities like these to be successful:
basketball, volleyball, football and cricket
youth empowerment programs
team building camps
art and craft.
Police Community Youth Clubs participate in Australia’s most successful youth culture event, the annual Rock Eisteddfod challenge. Groups from 10 - 140 children choose a theme and prepare an eight minute performance piece set to music. The Sutherland Police Community Youth Club entry was very successful in 2005.
In Australia it is very difficult to raise a family without both parents working, so families appreciate the availability of holiday and after school activities. Many Police Community Youth Club centres offer Out of School Hours Care from 2.30 - 6 pm for children aged 5 - 12 yrs. Children are supervised while they participate in sports, games, arts and crafts. School holidays can be very boring times for youth. Police Community Youth Clubs offers daily activities and excursions during school holidays. The fees for these activities are reasonable; maybe $4 for 9am - 3pm day.
Youth who have been involved in criminal activity may be referred to a Police Community Youth Club program by the legal system. Repeat offences are much less likely after the 9 month program. The programs co-ordinated by the Police Community Youth Clubs teach participants how to deal with anger management, violence, sex, relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, and self esteem issues. They also provide training and employment assistance.
The Police Community Youth Club in Hobart Tasmania is responding to their community needs by holding ‘Teen Vacation Programs’. The program addresses special needs including eating and behavioural disorders, delayed development, and chronic asthma. Healthy lifestyles and behaviours are modelled and taught. Group excursions are organised to Hobart’s entertainment events. There is a balanced provision of entertainment fun and education in the program.
The Police Community Youth Club in Taree NSW has initiated an outreach program called ‘Street Beat’. The idea for this project was presented as part of a Taree Crime Prevention Strategy in 2000. ‘Street Beat’ is a patrol of the Taree CBD area on Fridays and Saturday nights. The aim is to develop positive relationships with young people in the area and provide transport from the streets back to a safe place, perhaps their home or the Police Community Youth Club where there are supervised activities. The local Police support this project and refer to this a major contributing factor to a decrease in Taree youth’s involvement in criminal and anti-social behaviour.