Just last week I was invited to Parliament House to accept a Certificate of Merit as part of the 2013 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards. Sponsored by heads of Government and the Standing Council on Police and Emergency management as a joint Australian-state/ territory initiative, the annual awards recognize and reward projects that demonstrate good practice and outcomes that effectively work to reduce crime.

Pacific Youth Reconnection Project wins Crime and Violence Prevention Merit Award
Pacific Youth Reconnection Project wins Crime and Violence Prevention Merit Award Image: Yvonne Carrillo–Huffman
© Australian Museum

On behalf of the Pacific Youth Reconnection Project (PYRP) team, Yvonne Carrillo-Huffman and I attended the event and accepted this award. Hundreds of applicants from all of the country were considered. Our PYRP was one of the five projects recognized for achievements in NSW.

The feedback from key organisations, Government members and NSW Police officials in attendance was extremely positive. They were amazed by our commitment to addressing real social issues in Pacifica communities.

Our PYRP began in 2009 in response to Juvenile Justice Staff interested in accessing the Pacific Cultural Collections to promote greater cultural awareness amongst marginalized Pacific youth. Over the years the project has evolved thanks to grant funding received from both the Vincent Fairfax Family and Australian Museum Foundations.

In 2012, the project expanded to include my position as Pacific Youth Worker and later Collections Officer Logan Metcalfe - who was seconded to work on the project from Public Programs – to promote greater cultural awareness through our collections and outreach initiatives with Pacific Youth and their respective communities.

The continued success of this project speaks volumes of the commitment, passion and knowledge of the team, in particular Cultural Collections Manager Dion Peita and Branch Head Dr. Scott Mitchell. Thank you to the PYRP Reference group, who participated and informed the project aims.

Thank you also to the Juvenile Justice centres, Frank Baxter, Reiby and Juniperina, the Juvenile Justice Community Service Centres in Blacktown, Petersham and Fairfield, the staff at Juvenile Justice head office, the NSW Council for Pacific Communities and the Community organisations, South West Multicultural and Community Centres, Mission Australia’s-South West Youth and Peer Education, Blacktown Youth Services Association, Samoa Victims Support Group, Fiji Youth Initiatives (FYI), Save the Children – Pacific Youth Mentoring Project, University of Western Sydney’s Pacifika Achievement to Higher Education, and Casula Powerhouse Art Centre.

My position is funded by the Vincent Fairfax Foundation and Australian Museum Foundation.