Pastor Pete giving lost boys a lifeline
NICHOLAS is a 19 year old Casino man who has found himself in and out of juvenile justice in his lifetime, but now is trying to change.
"I was sick of sitting doing nothing, I was mowing lawns but there wasn't much work," Nicholas said.
While spending time at Acmena Juvenile Justice System in Grafton he met Pastor Pete Boughey and became involved in his fledgeling Pathways to Employment program.
"This program has been a life saver as it's hard to find a job around here," he said.
"I've learnt about wood working and even just getting up early and going to work, it's a good thing knowing I have a job."
Young men who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law are often left to their own devices after serving time, according to juvenile justice chaplain Pastor Pete.
"They end up going back into juvenile justice as there doesn't seem to be much for them to do once they've done their time," he said.
For this reason Rev Boughey developed the program to help young offenders, who have served their time, do meaningful work that will eventually help them become skilled and find permanent employment.
"I have been developing this program for the past four years but it only kicked off three months ago," he said.
Pastor Pete currently has three young lads working with him, making wooden toys and cutting rags for Lifeline, but is hoping to find more contract work for them to do.
"We've got orders happening and some help with marketing," he said.
"We've got funding for six months to pay wages."
Saving taxpayers $6m
Aaron, 18 had a similar story, not knowing what to do once he had served his time.
"I was mucking up with the boys," he said.
"Now I am making new friends and talking to people and at the end of the week I get my pay."
Pastor Pete said the repeat offender rate at Acmena is around 75%.
"It costs the government $600,000 to keep one boy in detention a year," he said.
"If this program can keep at least 10 boys out of detention for one year, that's a saving of $6 million."
Currently the program is located in Casino and Pastor Pete said they are looking for larger premises.