Fighting for the young

Fighting for the young

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Armadale’s Jamie Barr is in line for a top community service award. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

Warm grub in the morning, a positive support group and a clear direction in life is key to getting troubled Armadale youths on the right path.

That is the ethos that has propelled Armadale’s Jamie Barr into the finals in a top community service award.

Mr Barr is a finalist in the 2018 Community Services Excellence Awards, a statewide event for workers and volunteers in WA’s community services.

Mr Barr is one of four finalists in the new-for-2018 Above and Beyond category, which recognises an individual surpassing expectation in their work.

As a finalist he will also automatically go into the running for West Australian of the Year.

Mr Barr was nominated for his work as Armadale Youth Intervention Partnership coordinator, where he has played a major role in bringing local groups together to develop solutions to social issues among young people.

These include struggling education, drugs and crime.

Mr Barr and the AYIP have worked with 71 groups from across Armadale including the YMCA, Hope Community Services, Save the Children and Armadale Police to come up with ways to provide support to young people – 93 per cent of which are Aboriginal Australians.

Leaving home in the morning with a proper preparation for a day at school is their current focus.

“We pick kids up, we provide a nutritious breakfast, get them to school on time and guide them through the day,” he said.

“We work on small goals, discipline measures, goals for life and home and work on the challenges in terms of being more productive at home and at school.”

He said the program was delivering results, with one child’s literacy test scores in particular increasing by more than 20 times in nine months.

“We look at a young person, where they come from and the complexities of their lives,” he said.

“Many times children have learning difficulties that haven’t been diagnosed, and they often struggle to engage in the classroom.

“We want to provide support services to provide help before they disengage.”

While he was nominated for an individual award, Mr Barr said the successes of the program were down to a large group of people and organisations and not just one person.

“Children in Armadale are some of the most vulnerable in the state and we have an opportunity to really make a difference,” he said.

“There’s enough children in jail and that’s something that needs to be addressed quickly.

“Rather than doing the same thing over and over again we need to try something new.”