An informal question and answer session set up by the Social Engagement and Community Empowerment Project (SEACEP) working group was hosted at Gunida Gunyah earlier this month.

The group continues to focus on key issues faced in community service’s deliveries and addressing topics related to improvement.

The working group campaigned against youth crime for community safety during November, using the slogan “just because youth can, doesn’t mean youth should”.

The campaign recognised the forces that may be behind youth turning to crime, with many perpetrators having deeper issues in their personal lives.

SEACEP believes this, topped with the lack of services accommodating youth, can heighten the issue.

The question and answer session correlated to youth crime and Inspector Michael Wurth from Gunnedah Police Station was present to address the subject.

People attending the session were treated to a barbecue lunch along with resources regarding youth crime.

SEACEP’s Wade Natty was at the event and after witnessing how people engaged with the sessions, he believes there is a real opportunity to connect with police.

“You do not see a lot of police come and talk to the community like that so I am just glad that Inspector Wurth took the time out of his day to come down and chat with everyone,” he said.

“I think it is a good idea, community [members] can get answers. Some people said they have been making reports and things like that but it looks like nothing has happened.

“So it is a good opportunity for police to give feedback to the community.

“There were a few elders [at the event]. Elders are our most vulnerable people in our community.

“It is probably a little reassuring for them to understand what is happening in the background.

“I am glad they got some of the answers they are looking for as well.”

Inspector Wurth said he came to the question and answer session without an agenda and instead addressed what the people were concerned about within the community.

He touched on subjects related to drugs and the harm they cause, how to gain information and how to pass it along to the police and primarily Crime Stoppers.

He also spoke about the surge in youth crime in Gunnedah, which he stated, was not the only place with this issue.

“Most rural remote areas have suffered from youth crime or youth-related crime so we spoke in general terms of that,” Inspector Wurth said.

He mentioned that coming to terms with that means communities and services need to provide leadership in the community, alternatives to committing crime and to find ways to identify with youth.

He stated that the issues revolving around youth crime may come from mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, family life, education and/or employment.

“Let us look at all of those things and work in collaboration with each other to give alternatives to youth to give them … direction, some mentorship and some leadership,” he said.

“But with those youth and youths, [they need to] take responsibility and accountability for that as well as being involved in that.”

He said understanding and implementing actions will hopefully reduce youth crime overtime and produce better outcomes for them, their families and the community however, there had to be ongoing collaboration to see results.

Inspector Wurth told the Gunnedah Times that there had been a number of breaking and entering offences in the days leading up to the event.

“So even though that has significantly dropped off over the last couple of months, I just urge people do not to be complacent in their property security,” he said.

“It is not as if you have to live in a dungeon, it is just take those reasonable steps to make sure your property is secure.”

Making sure to not leave keys in the vehicle, not leaving it unlocked, making sure doors and windows are secure and having camera systems installed if possible were all preventative measures he mentioned.

He took the opportunity to mention if a security camera has detected something noteworthy to ring the police.

The Gunnedah Times mentioned to Inspector Wurth there was interest from the group for more question and answer sessions in the future.

Inspector Wurth cannot always be available but stated he was happy to be contacted by a community group.

“Wherever I can, I will, but let me know what you want me to talk about so I can research it more, get information,” he said.

“Specialist police are available around youth crime, around domestic violence … they can provide more expertise.”

To order photos from this page click here