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MASSIVE MURRAY PADDLE, KOORI YOUTH AND POLICE FORM

NINE Wimmera teenagers took part in the four day Massive Murray Paddle from Yarrawonga to Swan Hill with police and Koori justice workers from Wednesday to Sunday last week.

The five day event aims to give Koori teenagers and law enforcement representatives the chance to bond during a challenging weekend along the Murray River.

Children come from across the state, including four from Horsham, to take part in the paddle.

Barengi Gadjin Land Council cultural officer Allan McDonald took part in the 2015 paddle. He said it was great for the teenagers to see police out of uniform and in a different environment.

“It shows the community police officers are human as well,” he said.

“Seeing policemen and women in uniform is a different kettle of fish to seeing them outside their job.
“The kids learn they are humans as well as their own individuals.”

The paddle doesn’t just benefit the children either, with the police having the chance to get to know them.

Mr McDonald said the barriers between police and young Koori teenagers were broken down during the five day experience.

“The young kids get in the boat with the police and older Koori community members,” he said.

“It breaks down the barriers between police and shows they are just like anyone else.

“They learn police can have a joke and muck around. Sometimes they do form good friendships with the officers and keep in contact after the paddle.”

The children who take part come from a diverse range of backgrounds, whether have experienced trouble with the law or not.

A key lesson they are taught is why police act they way they do and why these actions are required.

The conversation includes discussing the reasons behind police procedure and explaining why their actions aren’t personal, but instead part of how law enforcement operates.

“The huge conversation we have with the kids who were having trouble with the law is explaining why police do what they do,” Mr McDonald said.

“It is about telling them, it is not personal, it is how they have to act because the can’t make short cuts.”

source:http://www.mailtimes.com.au/story/3535753/blue-brothers-unified/

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