Youth Insearch Funding

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SpeakersLynn The Hon Charlie

Page: 10732

    The Hon. C. J. S. LYNN [10.29 p.m.]: I seek some rather urgent financial assistance for Youth Insearch, an organisation about which I have spoken a number of times in this House. I have been approached by Mr Ron Barr to see whether we can work with the Government to get some urgent funding that is required to help Youth Insearch meet the increasing demands being placed on its services. To date those demands have come, in particular, from young people in crisis in rural New South Wales. Youth Insearch was established in 1985 by Ron Barr in Riverstone. Since that time he has put 22,000 young Australians through that program, with some outstanding results. The mission statement for his organisation is as follows:
        To empower young people to take responsibility for their lives, by giving them the opportunity and skills to develop their self esteem and play a positive role in society.

    Over the years, because of publicity that this organisation has received, Ron Barr has been given a number of donations. Every month a benefactor puts an amount into his bank account and he has been provided with a property at Yarramundi. In more recent years, Dicksons stockbrokers conducted a major fund-raising effort, with organisations like Harvey Norman coming on board, and they bought the Kurrajong health farm. Youth Insearch is having trouble establishing that farm. It has been experiencing some difficulties with the sale of Yarramundi because of concerns expressed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. That has placed the organisation in a bit of a quandary.

    Youth Insearch has been doing a lot of work in Tamworth, and there is much more demand for its services. Since 1995 it has really been operating pretty much without either Federal or State government assistance, although the old Newnes prison has been made available to it. However, Youth Insearch is still responsible for the maintenance of the prison camp, including the expensive repair of asbestos water pipes. Youth Insearch needs about $200,000 to be able to continue to operate. A lot of people are referred to it by various agencies. I quote from a letter written by John Aquilina in April this year:
        The programs which Youth Insearch conduct are very much in line with the findings and determinations of the Drug Summit which you organised last year.

    I think John Aquilina was referring to John Della Bosca. The letter continues:
        Youth Insearch receives substantial referrals from my department, the Department of Health, the Department of Community Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice. The work which Youth Insearch staff conduct with these adolescents is to a large degree at no cost to Government.

    Mal Macpherson, a senior magistrate based in Tamworth, sent Ron Barr a letter in which he quoted $70,000 per annum to keep a child in custody. The letter states:
        If we only turned around 10 young people at each Youth Insearch camp who were involved in criminal activity and assuming the average custodial sentence being 6 months, the saving to Government would be $350,000.00. Multiply this by 20 camps per annum equals $7 million dollars.

    And that, of course, is in savings to the Government. The letter continues:
        This of course does not take into account the numerous other issues addressed at a Youth Insearch camp.

    In addition, Youth Insearch conducts specific courses, for example suicide prevention courses and so forth. The letter then states:
        Another alarming statistic at Youth Insearch camps, is that of the 22,000 who have participated, less than 200 had not used drugs. Also, 66% of those 22,000 had been involved in some form of criminal activity and of those 66%, 97% gave up crime after their first or second camp.
    This organisation has a real need for financial assistance. I am sure that people from all sides of politics would support the wonderful work that Ron Barr is doing. However, because of demands on his services he needs real financial help. I would appreciate it if the Government took this request on board and saw fit to give him whatever help it can to keep this organisation running.