As a young police Sergeant in 1998, I ran youth programs in Walgett on my days off to build rapport with local kids. I returned to Walgett last week, some 17 years later, joining NSW Governor David Hurley to open a new PCYC. Local police put particular importance on building relationships with the youth in these small communities and we cannot quantify the positive impact that this has on these young lives.
Often, just for young people to have someone in authority that they trust, can make a huge difference for them when times get rough. I know firsthand how invaluable our NSW Police Force’s influence can be on our young people – especially our regional youth living in isolated communities. This is the first to be on the same site as a school and well-placed to encourage students to foster a relationship with officers of the NSW Police Force when they are young to help reduce juvenile crime and ensure kids can have fun in a safe and secure place.
On the same day, we opened the $16 million Walgett Police Station. We all know that the bricks and mortar of the police station don't drive down crime and protect our community, but they give our police the workplace and facilities to be effective and efficient in their service.
I spent many of my younger days in the NSW Police Force in the Castlereagh LAC and I can tell you the old station was out-dated and in desperate need of redevelopment to better serve the community. We should appreciate the 41,000 square kilometres that the Castlereagh Local Area Command must protect over largely remote locations – and also the 356,000 square kilometres of the Barwon electorate which local Member of Parliament Kevin Humphries works so hard to deliver for. Barwon covers 45 per cent of the State – and is bigger than Germany. I know Kevin worked hard with Supt Bob Noble to bring this state-of-the-art station and the PCYC to the community.
Over the last four years, we have funded the completion of new and refurbished police stations from Coffs Harbour, to Raymond Terrace, Wyong, Moree, Parkes and now I’m proud to add Walgett to that list.