Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

Premier Chris Minns, flanked by two other ministers, senior police, and Australian Rugby League boss Peter V’landys, will be accompanying a contingent of NRL stars for an event in Moree on Wednesday.

Premier Minns will be joined by Police Minister Yasmin Catley, and While the exact schedule for the politicians is not yet confirmed, locals are unlikely to care as South Sydney Rabbitohs Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker, as well as Moree-born Pallamallawa girl Rhiannon Byers who plays for the Cronulla Sharks in the NRLW and her team mate Quincy Dodd, are expected at Boughton Oval from 11am for a rugby league skills session before a free barbecue lunch.

The event is to launch Project Pathfinder, an NRL initiative in collaboration with the NSW Police to help fight rising youth crime by showing at-risk regional children how they can have a successful future.

“It is aimed at helping Indigenous kids and helping them stay on the right track, and away from a life of crime,” V’landys said.

The mentoring program follows recent successful trips by Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker to a number of remote areas organised by youth crime officers. The pair also star in an educational video that is now being shown in several schools around the state, described as a key weapon in the arsenal of the NSW Police youth command, which works with juveniles in detention and helps them transition back into the community.

In the video, Mitchell talks about his work with police travelling around the country to dispel myths and breakdown stigma.

“This idea that Aboriginal people and police don’t get on in this country, I think that’s something that we need to break down in our communities,” he said.

The new Project Pathfinder is expected to expand on that work and provide access to more NRL players. Participants in the project will be paired up with mentors, given NRL merchandise and access to players who are living proof that smart choices can alter the course of their lives.

“[Project Pathfinder] shows them, just because they’re from the country, doesn’t mean their dreams and goals can’t be reached,” Rhiannon Byers told Moree Online News.

“I know that’s easier said than done but only you can prove everyone wrong, so keep going. The setbacks may feel major now, but they’re blessings in disguise. The harder you work adds fuel to the fire in your belly, and you will go out and show everyone the setbacks made you stronger, faster and fitter,” she said.

Moree continues to be the focal point in an increasing level of concern about youth crime in regional areas. Premier Chris Minns has already visited on the subject, and a package of measures has been announced to try and tackle the issue. An inquiry has also been launched into crime in regional areas.

Like what you’re reading? Support The New England Times by making a small donation today and help us keep delivering local news paywall-free. Donate now