26 Jan 24-7 Youth Worker is new youth justice worker
Brad Raukawa remembers the moment his life changed for the better.
He was walking out of a court room after around his 10th appearance in front of a judge as a youth. He decided he never wanted to go back there, and he didn’t.
It wasn’t easy, but with determination and the help of a friend who became a mentor he still maintains contact with to this day, he got there.
Now, he’s hoping to mentor other troubled youth. Raukawa is the new youth justice worker at Safer Ashburton, a new role created to help deal with what has been a growing youth crime problem in Ashburton.
For the past seven years Raukawa has been working in youth ministry through the Ashburton New Life Church. Working with young people is his passion.
“I just knew that there was more to their story than you see in the court house. I felt like I could play a part because I’d been in that situation before, because I was a court kid,” Raukawa said.
“Most of the boys I deal with are me as a kid. I find my communication with them is very natural because I’m able to approach them the way I wished I’d been approached.”
His role goes further than just working with the youths themselves.
“My role is about supporting the young person to make better decisions, but also working with the whanau and helping them to support their tamariki as well,” Raukawa said.
Safer Ashburton had contract funding through Oranga Tamariki for low level intervention work with youths on the cusp of offending, but more – like that offered in cities – was needed, Safer Ashburton manager Kevin Clifford said.
“Over the past 18 months we’ve had a higher level of offending then you might anticipate for a rural community and so the staff with Oranga Tamariki had been pushing for some time for the funding wing of their organisation to put some of those contracts in the Ashburton area.”
That funding came through late last year.
“The young people that come to us will either have had a [family group conference] or a court plan, or have an existing court plan, and it might have things around who they can associate with, courses they must engage in and activities they must do like counselling for drugs and alcohol, and anger,” Clifford said.
Clifford said for many people, making an appointment and sticking to it was easy. But that wasn’t the case for everyone. Raukawa planned to be a key person helping troubled youths to reduce the chaos in their lives, and challenge them on their behaviour.
By Erin Tasker
Excerpt taken from: Stuff