Supporting youth during police interviews when their parent or guardian is unavailable has been a turning point in many of these young person’s lives, according to Stawell volunteer Kate Van Dyck.
Ms Van Dyck is a trained Independent Person through the Youth Referral and Independent Person Program (YRIPP) and helps support young people in police interviews when their parents or guardians are absent.
She has been a volunteer for two years and said the opportunity to help these young people made her smile.
“The best thing about the YRIPP program is the opportunity to support young people who may not have their own healthy personal support networks, and the chance to work with the local police and understand their demanding roles,” she said.
“Most of the young people I have supported have seemed grateful that someone is there for them and that it appears someone is concerned for their wellbeing – The majority have reacted very well and thanked me.”
Ms Van Dyck has even been approached by these young people later on in life, and they still remember the support she provided them with.
“They have told me how they have made changes in their life,” she said.
“There has been the odd occasion that a young person has declined to co-operate and it has taken some time to gain their confidence, but these are very rare occasions.” YRIPP also provided resources for police and parents, and facilitated access to a free 24-hour legal advice line run by Victoria Legal Aid.
This service can be accessed by any young person in police custody.
YRIPP services more than 150 police stations throughout Victoria, including Stawell, Horsham and Ararat, and currently hosts over 300 volunteers who support more than 3,500 young people in police custody each year.
The program is currently seeking volunteers to join its ranks in the Wimmera and Northern Grampians Regions. Residents interested in volunteering with YRIPP can call 03 9340 3777 or visit www.yripp.org.au for more information.