PCYC: Take the Plunge

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

The Canberra Police Community Youth Club, or PCYC, provides services for young people and their families across the ACT. They currently run recreational-based early intervention programs, such as Project Booyah, which incorporate adventure-based learning with social development, skills training, mentoring, case work, literacy and numeracy education, and vocational qualifications. They also provide crime prevention and reduction programs and youth crime diversion programs for vulnerable young people.

I rise today to thank Executive Manager Cheryl O’Donnell and her capable and enthusiastic staff for all that they do to help young people in our community. I have frequently been a guest at the PCYC and have seen firsthand the innovative and caring ways they work with youth to help them get their lives back on track. For example, 80 per cent of those who complete the Project Booyah program do not reoffend.

This program receives funding from the Commonwealth Government, and as announced by Senator Seselja last week, has been awarded enough money to run again in 2019. Many other PCYC programs, however, are partially or fully dependent on funds that can be raised locally. So when Cheryl asked me to help with their fundraiser this year, I had to say yes.

But to be perfectly honest, Madam Speaker, it took me awhile to say yes. You see, the fundraiser was called the PCYC Plunge, and it consisted of abseiling down Lovett Tower, currently Canberra’s tallest building. And I strongly suspect that there is no one in this chamber who hates heights more than I do. But as I said, it’s impossible to say no to the PCYC and the good things they do, so I signed up.

And because I like to share adventures with others, I decided to sponsor two additional participants. I did this by inviting entrants to describe in 50 words or fewer what they had overcome in their youth that they never thought they could. It was my hope that these contributions would help inspire some of the PCYC youth, and I am pleased that selected submissions will be published as a compilation for this purpose.

PCYC staff read all the submissions and then picked two winners to join us on the day for a 93-metre-high descent down the tower. One winner was an experienced adrenalin junkie, but, like me, the other winner was terrified of heights. She was there, however, to celebrate a life filled with overcoming challenges. Having been removed from her birth parents, she grew up in a foster family here in the ACT. Along the way, she had been helped by many others, and she brought two of these special people with her to the Plunge: the chaplain from her school and a youth worker from Woden Community Service.

I have to admit that, when I stood on the top of Lovett Tower and looked down, I had to remind myself that I was doing this for the kids. Thankfully, I had great support at the top, and this gave me the tools needed to successfully complete the abseil. I don’t think I have ever been more grateful to find my feet on solid ground, though it took some time for my legs to stop shaking. What a thrill!

Madam speaker, I am personally grateful to good people like school chaplains and youth workers who help make life easier for young people who find themselves in complicated situations. I am likewise grateful for all the people who donated in support of my plunge, and for all those who contribute funds to the PCYC to help keep their programs running. Lastly, I again thank the people at PCYC for all that they do to strengthen our community by caring for and strengthening our youth. Like the support I found on the top of Lovett Tower, the staff at PCYC are there for kids who find themselves facing very difficult challenges in life: abuse, violence, drugs, criminal behaviour and so forth.

Madam Speaker, I encourage all Canberrans to support Canberra PCYC and other organisations engaged in this important work of giving young people the tools they need for life.

Thank you.

#Youth #Community #Adjournment

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