Kyzar Jing and Zoë Robinson left an impact as speakers at the Crime Prevention and Community Safety Conference at the Gunnedah Town Hall on Friday.

Mr Jing’s speech received a standing ovation after recounting his background and by doing so, he gave insight into what some young people face.

Witnessing domestic violence, experiencing homelessness, living in poverty and multiple other factors as a child, impacted his actions.

From starting out stealing small items to armed robberies as a teenager.

He knew we wanted to turn his life around after spending four-and-a-half years in custody.

Ms Robinson is an advocate for children and young people.

Her concern lies with stories about young people doing crime becoming sensationalised, which is problematic.

The Gunnedah Times spoke with Ms Robinson about those concerns.

“My encouragement and my hope for the media is that they spend more time with these young people who are in these situations to really understand their story and their background and as to why they are doing what they are doing,” she said.

“As we heard in [the] conference from this incredible young man, [Kyzar Jing], there are a lot of things that are going on for these young kids that led them into these lives,” Ms Robinson said.

She spoke about the incredible sense of community in small towns but if young people are excluded, they may try to find belonging elsewhere.

“Everyone knows everyone’s business and we often hear that from young people, that they will get into trouble or … people are going to talk about them,” she said.

“Young people are looking for belonging and people to spend time with.”

She mentioned how activities such as sport can be a powerful tool for belonging to young people, especially in small communities.

“Even if you are not doing really well but you turn up to sport you know you have a community. You know you have people who will make sure you are fed, clothed, you have the right things,” she said.

“If you start being excluded from school, sport, from all of that stuff, where do you go? You are going to try to find a different kind of community to join.”

Ms Robinson believes that taking the first step to find support can be difficult for anyone and there are multiple factors that may deter someone from seeking it.

She gave an example of how negative experiences with police or other law enforcement can deter people from reaching out to government-funded services.

“I think we have to create a variety of spaces where young people feel like they [are welcome],” Ms Robinson said. “We have got to make that access as easy as possible and it is going to take time.

“Sometimes it is not going to be the first time, second time, or 10th time. It might take a lot of time for that young person to come in, have a feed, feel comfortable, and slowly talk about all the things that are going on.”

The Gunnedah Times asked what advice she had for young people looking to take the first step for support.

She believes reaching out to a trusted friend is a good start.

“Seeing if they have any ideas or if they have had any support or saying you might be struggling a bit,” she said.

“Then it is trying to find that trusted person in the community and actually young people are pretty good at finding these people and sharing who is good in their community and why they feel respected, safe and trusted by. So ask each other. That is a really simple way to start.”

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