Sutherland PCYC celebrates 50 year history of youth crime prevention

Five decades marked: Sutherland PCYC Youth Case Manager Senior Constable Michelle Druery, director Geoff Gooch, Michael Chebl, Dave Stewart and Bernadette Andrikis. Picture: John Veage.
Five decades marked: Sutherland PCYC Youth Case Manager Senior Constable Michelle Druery, director Geoff Gooch, Michael Chebl, Dave Stewart and Bernadette Andrikis. Picture: John Veage.

One of the largest youth organisations in Australia is marking a major milestone this year.

Sutherland Police Citizens Youth Clubs (PCYC) is turning 50.

PCYC NSW was established in 1937 by Police Commissioner William John MacKay. It was a partnership forged with the community via Rotary to provide young people with a safe and positive alternative to the streets.

The organisation now operates more than 60 clubs and centres across the state, with more than 100,000 members and more than 140 different activities.

At the age of 19, Commissioner Mackay followed his father into the city of Glasgow's police force. He moved to Australia in 1910 and joined the force, travelling overseas with the brief of reviewing the methods of combating crime.

In England, he found a Police Boys Club that gave young people an opportunity to overcome some of the disabilities of their tough environment.

He later visited Germany and Italy, and then the US, where he reviewed youth movements including the Police Athletic League. He took the best of these schemes and, at a Sydney Rotary Club lunch, assembled Rotarians for their support.

The Rotarian responded and held a drive for funds to launch the first Police Boys Club.

They secured an agreement that a disused police lock-up at Woolloomooloo would become the first police boy's club, with the government paying for the cost of converting the buildings, and Rotary responsible for the cost of equipment, libraries and furniture.

In March 1937, Commissioner Mackay wrote to the Metropolitan Superintendent, about four boys age 10 to 16 years of age, convicted of breaking, entering and stealing in the Balmain division.

"Where four boys of the age of these lads are on the one day charged with such a serious offence... it appears to me that it is time the Police department took some steps to dissuade them from malpractices of this nature by encouraging them to indulge in sporting and club activities," he wrote.

By August 1937, the Balmain Police Citizens Boys Club was established. By 1940, there were 16 Police Boys Clubs operating throughout NSW. PCYC NSW opened its doors to girls not long after.

A clipping from the Sutherland Shire Leader ahead of the Sutherland PCYC opening.

A clipping from the Sutherland Shire Leader ahead of the Sutherland PCYC opening.

Sutherland PCYC opened in May 1969, and had gone through a few name changes.

In 1971, the band was launched, alongside weights, gymnastics and mini-bikes. This was followed by Jolly Jumbuks Kindy Gym in the 1980s.

A decade later, the Sutherland Community Aid Panel was formed prior to the Young Offenders Act. In 1995, Sutherland PCYC opened the shire's first Skatebowl, funded by the council.

One of its key work experience programs, established in 1997, is now called FitForService.

In 2000, it started the Traffic Offender Program partnering with Probation and Parole this program is now the Traffic Offender Intervention Program running at most PCYC's across the state.

Four years later, a new program called 'Survive the Drive' was launched, and now this 'Safer Driver Program' is linked to the RMS, offering young drivers education in exchange for hours in their log books.

Cultural diversity is also embraced, with the 2006 'Ride the Wave of Respect' program. Also for the past 19 years, the Graffiti Removal and Intervention Program (GRIP) aims to educate youth about graffiti offences.

This year, #RISEUP and Sutherland PCYC also run Fit For Life, Fit For Change and Fit To Strive.

PCYC NSW chief executive Dominic Teakle says he is very proud of the amazing work and community outreach undertaken by PCYC Sutherland across its 50 years.

"It's a wonderful achievement. The club has continued to adapt to the changing needs of the community and it plays a vital role in the lives of many Sutherland families, empowering young people to be the best they can be," he said.

"We know it has a great future and we are committed to its continued role as an active, empowering and engaging centre for young people in the area."

The celebration at Waratah Park on Rawson Avenue, Sutherland, begins from 4pm-6pm on October 17.

There will be a free sausage sizzle, a NSW Fire and Rescue truck, police car and dog handler, and a cartwheels and gymnastics session.

Then from 6pm-8pm there is a 'past and present' celebration with presentations, historic photos and memorabilia on display, alongside entertainment including a brass band, plus finger foot and refreshments.

RSVP to Senior Constable Michelle Druery: drue1mic@police.nsw.gov.au or Senior Constable Bernadette Andrikis: andr2ber@police.nsw.gov.au

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