Dad making a difference

HE may have no money, limited education and went off track himself as a young person but that will not stop proactive parent Jon Dalton from doing whatever he can to get young offenders on the right path.

John has been bringing troubled youth together a few times each week to toss a football around at Yeppoon Showgrounds where he has provided a safe space for young people to come and talk about their problems and the choices they make.

Jon said that is just the beginning of what he wants to do moving forward.

“We have heard a lot of talk about different areas that could be improved to stop these young offenders from doing the wrong thing, but we are yet to see anything real happen right here on the Capricorn Coast,” Mr Dalton said.

“We need to have a dedicated youth space reopened in Yeppoon with youth service providers here who live and operate from the Capricorn Coast.

“There is a lot going on in Rockhampton and service providers doing what they can to help the ongoing situation of juvenile offenders there but very little of that service makes its way to the Coast.

“We have an alternative learning space here in Yeppoon, but you have to be 14 to attend and unfortunately many of these young people are younger.

“We need to be talking to young people who have become disengaged from school, home and community to find out what they believe they need to help them make better choices.”

Mr Dalton said he has spoken to a couple of the Aboriginal Elders, service providers and walked the street talking to business owners, some of whom have had their businesses broken into, damaged and had stock stolen by juvenile offenders.

“I know some people believe the town has been held to ransom, these young people need to know how to make better decisions and we need more programs to help them change their behaviour as well as programs to help parents better manage their children,” he said.

“We have the opportunity to create something here that can be used in other communities, we are not alone with this problem.

“It’s not just indigenous kids committing these crimes, this is a whole community and I want to see something set up for all children who have disengaged and are making poor decisions as well as those who are in danger of going that way.”

Whisk Owner Andy Ireland has spoken at length to Mr Dalton and is determined to help him make change.

“Jon is a parent who wants his own children and all their friends to make better choices. He is doing all the leg work to improve the situation which is admirable,” Mr Ireland said.

“I have spoken to my family; our staff and others and we made the decision to lend a hand.

“Along with some staff members, we will be going down to the showgrounds and tossing the football around with Jon and the young people who have lost their way.

“We will also be helping Jon to fundraise for equipment and resources to offer more help by holding regular sausage sizzles in the Whisk carpark and holding fundraisers in store.

“I have spoken to our Events Manager Nicole and we will be helping Jon with food, ideas for fundraising and being available to talk to these young people if they need someone to listen.”

Mr Ireland said he is calling on other people who would like to lend a hand either with physical activities or fundraisers to pop into Whisk and have a chat.

“As a community, we can make a difference.”