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THE RIGHT TRACK: Students from Goonellabah Public School and Kadina High School help launch the Goonellabah Youth Protocol at LCC chambers with youth workers, council staff, police and councillors.
THE RIGHT TRACK: Students from Goonellabah Public School and Kadina High School help launch the Goonellabah Youth Protocol at LCC chambers with youth workers, council staff, police and councillors.

A NEW youth initiative to tackle anti-social behaviour in Goonellabah could be expanded to Lismore if successful.

 

The Goonellabah Youth Protocol was designed as part of the wider Goonellabah Community Plan passed by the council this month, with direct input from young people, community members, youth workers, police, council staff, businesses, sports clubs and local organisations.

It establishes a set of agreed guidelines for young people using public and private facilities in Goonellabah.

Lismore City Council youth and community development officer Lizette Twisleton said the protocol - in the form of posters, leaflets and a small booklet - would now be distributed to schools, businesses, police, security guards and youth services.

"The idea is to really discern between antisocial behaviour and criminal behaviour," she said.

"When antisocial behaviour is displayed a heavy-handed approach does not always help the situation and this really looks at how to communicate respectfully to young people in those scenarios.

"It also clearly identifies for young people different behaviours, reasonable expectations of community members and what are fair consequences.

"We want to bring everyone to a place where they can all be respectful of each other, and make our community safer and happier."

Police youth liaison officer, Senior Constable Struan Presgrave, said the involvement of young people set it apart from other attempts to resolve anti-social issues in Goonellabah and he believed it would make his job easier.

"We do have a Young Offenders Act to divert young people from the courts, but this is another tool in this area to prevent the kids from having interaction with the police in the wrong way," he said.

"We hope, through their own involvement in developing the protocols, that it can be a way to curb some of those habits or anti social behaviours that young people have picked up.

"It's about them having ownership and pride in their own community - especially if some of the kids stand up to those kids doing the wrong thing."

If successful Snr Const Presgrave hoped the Goonellabah Youth Protocol's format could be extended to other problem areas in the region.


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