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Northern beaches youth crime: At risk youth targeted by StreetWork

AT RISK: Each week StreetWork youth services manager Tom Dent leads a team that helps youth at risk in the northern beaches. Picture: Geoff Jones
AT RISK: Each week StreetWork youth services manager Tom Dent leads a team that helps youth at risk in the northern beaches. Picture: Geoff Jones

ACCUSATIONS and a lack of support are leaving young people with nowhere to turn in the northern beaches, StreetWork youth services manager Tom Dent says.

Reports of anti-social behaviour and youth sub-cultures have lit up fears in the community, with one northern beaches councillor calling for an increased police presence.

Each month, more than 100 people aged 11-18 years are assisted by StreetWork in the northern beaches, with many at risk of: disengaging from school, criminal involvement or arrests, drugs and alcohol, mental health, suicide, self harm and homelessness.

StreetWork's youth workers are called to police stations and schools to support young people due to criminal activity, non-attendance at school, AVOs, fights at home and behavioural issues.

"We are there because the parent has refused to be the support person for the young person," Mr Dent said. "If that kind of situation repeats that's a young person whose going to be at greater and greater risk.

There will always be new youth movements and sub-cultures that seem scary.

StreetWork youth services manager Tom Dent

"Often it's a young person who is constantly being told they're no good, that they're a waste of time, a waste of taxpayers money, they're doing the wrong thing. They're being pushed away from the help and the love that they need to get things on the right track."

Mr Dent said there is a lack of understanding around youth issues and that sub-cultures, such as eshay gangs, are not new.

HERE TO HELP: Youth worker Tom Dent with fellow youth case workers Chrissy Gabor and Jerrick Bautista. Picture: Geoff Jones .

HERE TO HELP: Youth worker Tom Dent with fellow youth case workers Chrissy Gabor and Jerrick Bautista. Picture: Geoff Jones .

"There will always be new youth movements and sub-cultures that seem scary to the generation before," he said. "The finger's definitely point to the young people at somehow being at fault when obviously there's something around the framework and the structure around that young person that's failing at some point."

Mr Dent said young people need achievement in positive areas, reinforcement and a sense of belonging in positive groups and activities, and that there is an "amazing lack of youth centres" in the Beaches to help with this.

"There could easily be three youth centres taking in lots of young people and doing lots of great work," he said.

StreetWork conducts one-on-one mentoring that's goal focused to help a young person that is vulnerable or at risk.

"Our goal is to build a very genuine and real connection with that young person and to help them reflect on the options they have, the potential they have," Mr Dent said.

StreetWork encourages young people to get engaged in activities or pathways at a youth centre, or in sport or fitness.

  • Is youth crime an issue in your area? Let us know by emailing editor@northernbeachesreview.com.au

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