The Leader of the South Sudanese Community of Victoria (SSV), Kot Monoah, is taking action to help prevent crime by young Australians of African background in general and South Sudanese in particular.
“We need a Community Led Crime Prevention Initiative. It is important for us to ensure that we are part of the solution to criminal activities in our communities. These kids need help and the bad publicity that often comes from the reporting of crime by African youths affects us all “, stated Kot Monoah.
South Sudanese community meeting in Melbourne (Photo: Kot Monoah)
” It is important that we don’t just complaint about what is happening. We know these young people and it is easier to connect with them and help guide them to spend their time, skills and energy more usefully. We must act now, there is no time to waste”
As part of this new initiative, the SSCV has recently started recruiting community volunteers and some of them are already in action and are patrolling local shopping centres where young people are hanging out and causing nuisance or concern to traders, security officers other members of the public. Kot is appealing on the South Sudanese community, as well as the broader African Community to join the volunteer team and provide assistance in their local area.
Kot Monoah, Chairperson of the South Sudanese Community of Victoria
Despite the program having started only few days ago, but already there are encouraging signs of success. Kot says that a few days ago, he received a call from the security team of the Woodgrove Shopping Centre in Melton area (Melbourne West) regarding a group of 12 young people whose behaviours in the centre were causing some concerns. Immediately after the call he contacted John Garang Kondit, a volunteer of the program who lives in the area and he was able to go the centre and safely and successfully move off the youth males without any incident.
The next day, three young male with an Ethiopian background and one islander youth stole some some chocolate from the same supermarket in Melton and John Garang Kondit was again on the scene very quickly after being alerted. Although the young men ran away, Kot says his team is seeking to obtain CCTV footage from the centre and use their community connections to identify these youth offenders and work with their parents and relatives, as well as law enforcement agents to help prevent further incidents.
As a sign of determination to bring change in this area, Kot says his group is considering raising funds from his community to help meet some of the needs of this program, including covering fuel cost for volunteers to travel to different sites and whenever necessary provide petty cash to young people who are hanging around shopping centres and help them use their time more wisely. SSV leadership is also seeking to identify any ring leaders or other adults who may be influencing these troubled teens in engaging in anti-social and criminal behaviours.
As schools re-opens at the end January, Kot says that it can be expected that more young people will be congregating in places such as fast food restaurants, shopping centres, train stations and other similar places and more volunteers will be required to help achieve any meaningful outcome in helping troubled young people in the community. The SSCV leadership is determined to take action despite the limited resources available and it expects that different stakeholders will join its efforts to help these young kids in the community.