At-risk youth take plunge

By Charlotte Wooldridge | posted on November 27, 2020

AN AQUATIC initiative has been brought to Albany after its success in the Pilbara, seeing at-risk kids participate in the Great Southern Youth Scuba Training Program.

In a collaboration between the City of Albany, Albany Police and WorkLink, two students are trialling the program which uses ocean diving to engage at-risk Aboriginal youths to utilise the tourism industry as a career pathway.

Albany Police Youth Policing Officer Senior Constable Stuart Rogers said he was excited to finally get the project off the ground, after facing delays due to COVID-19.

“The program was started by another Youth Policing Officer up in Karratha/Hedland,” he said.

“His background was a British Navy Diver and he joined the police and thought there was an opportunity to engage the kids up there.

“He did a presentation about two years ago and I thought it was a good program, it was different and offered something to the kids that they couldn’t get anywhere else.”

Senior Constable Rogers said the program combines a physical activity with classroom learning in a unique way.

While the program’s pilot scheme is currently only running with two boys, Senior Constable Rogers said he has hopes the program will expand next year to incorporate a girls-only class.

“That’s been the success story up north with the girl’s academy. They’ve been bowled over with the attendance and engagement of girls,” he said.

“There’s a lot that goes on for boys, and because they’re always at risk of getting in trouble they throw money at them, whereas the girls fly under the radar; they’re very good at being invisible and missing out.”

The students involved are awarded an introduction to scuba certificate at the end of the program.

“It’s just another one of the tools I can use to get the kids back into school and engaging in some sort of education and therefore not getting into crime,” Senior Constable Rogers said.

“They’ll also get something out of it personally; they’ll learn about themselves, they’ll push their personal boundaries and they will get something to put on their job applications.

“They might not become a full-time scuba diver working on oil rigs, I don’t expect them to do that.

“But they can show that they’ve done something which requires a buddy system, learnt about safety and taken on responsibility.”