Training days in Singleton, Muswellbrook to recruit support people for youths in police custody

SIGN UP: Kurri Kurri Community Centre and Legal Aid NSW are rolling out training sessions across six LGAs including Singleton and Muswellbrook to recruit volunteer support people.
SIGN UP: Kurri Kurri Community Centre and Legal Aid NSW are rolling out training sessions across six LGAs including Singleton and Muswellbrook to recruit volunteer support people.

Hunter residents interested in acting as a supportive shoulder for a young person in police custody to lean on are being called upon to attend a training day in Muswellbrook and Singleton.

Kurri Kurri Community Centre and Legal Aid NSW are rolling out training for volunteer support people across six local government areas throughout winter in a bid to rebuild its ranks after being unable to recruit during 2020.

"We have been working with Legal Aid NSW for over a decade to provide training to volunteers to support young people who are in police custody," Will Doran, youth development officer from Kurri Kurri Community Centre, said.

"This will be the first training we have provided since 2019 due to COVID-19 and we are excited to be offering this training across six local government areas. There is potential for us to train up to 240 new volunteers for this very important support role."

The role of a support person is to make sure the young person in police custody understand the proceedings, ensure they are treated fairly and that their rights are respected.

Mr Doran said the role of the support person is an important one as young people are considered to be more vulnerable than others in a community when arrested.

Young people, those aged under 18, who are in police custody must be provided with a support person. For some young people, this may not be their parent or guardian.

Kurri Kurri Community Centre are developing a list of independent trained adults for each police station in Cessnock, East Maitland, Lake Macquarie, Muswellbrook, Newcastle and Singleton.

"We would love to train enthusiastic empathic local people who are interested in helping young people in Police stations in their area," Mr Doran said.

"Following the training, those who wish to sign up to volunteer would need to pass probity checks including a NSW Working with Children Check and a Federal Police Check. Following this process their contact details would be provided to the police stations they agree to volunteer with."

Registrations are being taken now for the Muswellbrook and Singleton training sessions. While attendance is free, spaces are limited and bookings are required.

The Singleton training sessions will be held at the Youth Venue on June 10 from 5pm-7pm and July 1 from 11am-1pm. The June 10 Muswellbrook session has reached capacity but spaces are available for the August 3 session which will be held at Upper Hunter Community Services off William Street from 5pm-7pm.