by Mickey Kavera – EM TV, Port Moresby
Rehabilitating troubled youths is not an easy task; but the Victorian Police in Australia have, for the past nine years, taken youths along the Kokoda Trek to change their outlook on life.
After about eight days of trekking their journey of walking the Kokoda comes to an end. These youths brought to PNG have had some issues with police in Australia.
Program Coordinator, Nigel Howard, has seen how the Kokoda experience has tremendously changed the youths over the nine years.
“We’ll take between 3-5 years for the kids we have taken on track to actually gain the full benefit of the experience. Those kids we took on the early years, we’re seeing those benefits now come out; where those kids are finished school, gone onto to tertiary institutions or gone into full employment,” said Nigel.
Known as the Victorian Police CopKoda Program, it was initially meant only for the police personnel. However, the Victorian police saw this as an effective tool in engaging with their youths.
So far they have taken over 150 youths on this program to allow them to appreciate life.
“They’ve got access to a lot of things regarded as life essentials and they come over here and they might think their doing it hard in Australia. They come here and they realize how lucky they are,” Nigel added.
The CopKoda Program has also given back to the local community in PNG by funding the Dacaville Multi Skilled School at Laloki outside Port Moresby.
The Victorian Police hopes to work closely with the school to improve the education level of kids in the Laloki and surrounding areas.