Three years after volunteering with high school students on a youth leadership program, former police officer Reg Mahoney has seen a nice little trend appearing.
The retired assistant NSW Police Commissioner has witnessed more students take on leadership roles - with some even joining the police force.
For his community service, Mr Mahoney, of Gymea Bay, has won not only the Senior Volunteer of the Year award from The Centre of Volunteering, but also the 2023 Regional Volunteer of the Year for the southern Sydney region, and is now in the running to win the state award in December.
Mr Mahoney works with Gymea Community Aid and has notched up 57 years of community and public service. Among his achievements, introducing a child protection program in NSW (1985-2008) called the Protective Behaviours Program. The ex-commander of Hurstville and Miranda/Cronulla police stations also became a volunteer for the 'anti-violence movement 'Enough is Enough'.
Since 2020 he has been a member of Compact Alliance funded through Multicultural NSW, a program facilitated through the Gymea Community Aid Centre.
It's titled 'Empowering Youth to Inspire Change', and Mr Mahoney provides the training and facilitation of leadership workshops for year 9 and year 10 students in five high schools and one community group within St George and Sutherland Shire.
"It's satisfying to be recognised," Mr Mahoney said. "Inspiring change is so critical at the moment particularly coming out of COVID-19 lockdowns, Ukraine and Russia...there's not a lot of good news that children have seen.
"This program is about building emotional resilience through practical advice and understanding the values of each school. It's nice to go back to schools to volunteer and support the children."
He has delivered two days of leadership to 199 youth ambassadors, and has committed to another two years with the project.
"We ask teachers to identify students who they think have the potential, and already in the three years we've been running, five of children who have been on our program have become school captains, and two joining the police," he said. "Feedback has been excellent and we have more schools lined up for our third year."
Want more local news? Sign up for your free weekly newsletter.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.