Making Tracks welcomed Barrier Police for Coffee with the Coppas this week – a fortnightly friendly gathering where local police get the opportunity to chat with kids disengaged from school in a relaxed, creative environment on Duff St.
Supporting 12 to 17-year-old youth in the Broken Hill community, the Making Tracks team got together with Barrier Police Superintendent, David Cooper, and his team to bridge the divide in communication between young people and police.
We dropped in on Thursday to find out more about the program.
When we arrived, CEO of Making Tracks, Julie Gill, was showing Superintendent, David Cooper, and his team artwork the young people were either working on or had completed since they last sat down together for a cuppa. They explained why this fortnightly gathering is so important for both the police and the young people.
“I reached out to Jules some time ago about having an informal relationship with the kids where the cops come here, like we are now, have a yarn and a cuppa, and try to break down some of the stereotypes and barriers,” said Supt Cooper.
“I’m really passionate about our youth but this program isn’t about me, it’s about my team who are out and about each shift getting to know the young people around Broken Hill,” he said. “Some kids start off a little bit standoff’ish with us here, so I offer to meet with their parents for a cuppa and a chat too.
“Ideally, when any of us see these kids around town, we want them all to feel comfortable enough to come up to police and have a chat about whatever’s on their mind,” said Supt Cooper.
“A few of the kids came for a tour of the police station recently, which was great. I get a lot out of having a chat and a laugh with these kids, so I really look forward to catching up with them and the Making Tracks team each fortnight. It would be great to see more kids join Jules and the team out here.”
Ms Gill said the young people have responded positively to the program and it’s allowed them to get to know the police officers and have a few laughs over a cuppa.
“Some of the young people who were the most resistant to coming along at first, are now encouraging others to join them with the police,” said Ms Gill.
While standing around having a chat, a ‘coppa’ called Ronnie rolled up in a highway patrol vehicle, coming over to the young people with Supt Cooper jokingly telling one of them, “Hey Jazzy, just so you know, he’s a highway patrol officer so he’s not like 100% real policeman.”
Ronnie called over Jazzy and the lads for a tour of the highway patrol car, letting them push buttons to lights and sirens, and encouraging them to give the PA system a good workout too. Ronnie showed off the speed detection device, UHF radio, ballistic vests, spikes, and all the gear – much to the delight of the kids.
As an incorporated association with an experienced team committed to the health and wellbeing of local youth, Making Tracks says their mission is to inspire and empower disengaged youth, daring them to dream, believe, and achieve.
With several happy customers now accessing the Making Tracks garden maintenance services, their new social venture is thriving. To book services at highly competitive rates, give Jules a call on 0487 434 208.
For more information about Making Tracks, visit: makingtracks.org.au/