Tuesday February 24, 2015
Tanya Davies MP, State Member for Mulgoa today attended the first Pacifica Cultural Day for 2015 at Cobham Juvenile Justice Centre in Werrington. The event was aimed at addressing the specific needs of Pacific Islander young offenders through cultural education, role modelling and mentoring.
Tanya Davies said a key step in tackling youth offending is identifying cultural issues that can help young people desist from crime.
The Pacifica event included presentations by UFC fighters Dylan Andrews & James Te Huna on fitness and role modelling, the Matavai Cultural Arts Centre MENTOA program which encouraged self-esteem along with responsibility, respect, strength, perseverance and honour, and sessions with Juvenile Justice Pacific Islander caseworkers addressing Pacific Islander stereotypes and breaking the cycle of crime.
NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice Brad Hazzard commended Cobham on this important initiative.
“Over 20% of the detainee population at Cobham is from a Pacific Islander background, including Samoan, Tongan and Cook Islander,” Tanya Davies said.
“We know that culture can play a big part in helping young people desist from crime, and Cobham have pulled together a strong group of role models to ensure all these boys’ cultural needs are met.
“Cobham regularly hosts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Middle Eastern cultural days also, and marks occasions like NAIDOC Week, Australia Day and Harmony Day with awareness raising events for detainees and staff” said Tanya Davies.
When the detainees were asked at the conclusion of presentation by the UFC fighters what the most important message they had learned from the day, the most common answer was ‘respect for others’.
Cobham’s Pacifica event is complemented in the community by the Juvenile Justice’s Pasefika Revisited – Islands Of Change (PRIOC) program. The eight week program is aimed at engaging Pacific Islander community clients while addressing their offending behaviours, often linked to drug and alcohol abuse.
Cobham Juvenile Justice Centre is the principal remand centre in NSW for males aged 15 years and over. The centre accommodates up to 105 young people and is located at Werrington in Western Sydney. It was opened in June 1980. The young people are predominately from the Sydney metropolitan area. The centre offers a range of health, educational and spiritual services to the young people in custody.