Youth program launched in Griffith - but council not happy

Griffith Mayor Dino Zappacosta has hit out at Fr Chris Riley of Youth off the Streets, which was launched in the NSW city at the weekend, over his alleged failure to involve the council in addressing youth violence issues.

The ABC reports that Fr Riley has put three youth workers on the streets of Griffith as a promise to the community after a fatal street assault on New Year's Day.

But the Mayor says the priest should work with Griffith City Council to address issues in the town.

Fr Riley's widely recognised Youth Off The Streets program was unveiled in Griffith at the weekend with a basketball play-off and music drawing large number of local young people.

The launch of the program in Griffith follows the death of Rankin Springs teenager Andrew Farrugia in a street assault on New Year's Day.

Fr Riley says he has made 10 visits to Griffith since the death trying to get this started.

According to Area News, in his speech on Saturday, Fr Riley pleaded with Griffith's adults to "re-engage" with local teens to help stop the flow of violence and anti-social behaviour on our streets.

"If adults just try harder to connect with kids, some of the problems will disappear automatically," Fr Riley said.

"Adults are disconnecting with kids and it's a problem right across the country."

Fr Riley said racial tensions and a yawning gap between rich and poor in Griffith were the other main causes behind the youth crime rate.

Bishop Power hits plan to shift tenants

In another story, Canberra Bishop Pat Power has spoken out against the ACT Government's new public housing reforms, saying that Canberra's most vulnerable citizens faced being uprooted from their homes.

The Canberra Times reports that Housing Minister John Hargreaves said yesterday that tenants in houses with more unoccupied bedrooms than they needed would be moved to "appropriate alternative housing".

Bishop Power said the reforms failed to guarantee security of tenure for many public housing tenants.

"In other words, if a family has broken up or diminished in size there is no longer the right to remain in what may have been a home for many years," he said.

Bishop Power called on the Government to live up to its proclaimed principles of social justice and restore security of tenure to the ACT's public tenants.

Priest asked to work with council to address youth woes (ABC Riverina, 24/4/07)
Plea for adults to connect with kids (Area News, 23/4/07)
Youth workers walk Griffith streets after program launch (ABC Sydney, 23/4/07)
Bishop hits plan to shift tenants (Canberra Times, 24/4/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Youth off the Streets
Griffith City Council

Youth advocate shares human rights award with broadcaster (CathNews, 8/12/06)
Media violence desensitises young people, says youth advocate (CathNews, 3/11/06)
Queen's Honour recipient says street kids are his incentive (CathNews, 13/6/06)
Experts seek to curb 'national epidemic' of child abuse (CathNews, 8/11/05)

26 Apr 2007