news.com.au tells the stories of two inmates at Frank Baxter and how the ‘Stand As One’ program is helping them change their lives
At last count the average daily number of young people in custody was 315 (according to the Department of Juvenile Justice 2013-14 figures). Juvenile Justice Centres in NSW had a total of 3,684 admissions that year and more than half of those handed a detention order for up to 12 months were reoffenders.
The mentor: Justin
For Justin, it’s weird being back. Three years after his release, the now 22-year-old realises getting locked up here was actually “the best thing that ever happened to me”.
“After you’re here a while, you just realise pretty quick that you can’t change it and it’s how you make it,” he says now.
He had his eye on getting out and not coming back, so signed up to a mentor program. He’s now become a mentor himself, which is what brings him back to Frank Baxter.
The mentee: Shaun
Now 19, he has only a month left to serve and has joined the centre’s Stand as One program, started by the SHINE for Kids charity, where mentors like Justin help young offenders assimilate back into the community when they get out.
Lined up in traditional dress or coated with tribal markings, Shaun is among a group of teens waiting nervously to take the stage in the centre’s gym to perform cultural dances they’ve been practising.
It’s the program’s fifth anniversary and its participants are celebrating its success by showcasing some of what it offers.
“We always love performing, but the cultural stuff and the dancing is just one thing that you get to learn while you’re here, I’m more focused on getting a job and not coming back,” says Shaun.
With the help of his mentor, he plans to make sure he finds a way out, secures housing on the Central Coast close to support and away from the crowd he came from, and replaces his obsession with alcohol with his love of cooking.
“I don’t want to reoffend, I just want to have more in my life and maybe I want to later get into counselling or something. The people who do that here are the people I respect more than anyone.”
This text is a series of excerpts from the news.com.au article
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