Men's Outreach Service crucial to engaging the disengaged

Written on the 22 June 2016 by Jael Napper

Men's Outreach Service crucial to engaging the disengaged

The KDC's Blueprint places a high priority in economic engagement of Aboriginal people as a crucial step of progressing the region.  A major challenge to this being those who are lost between two worlds and steering them toward a life clear of being caught in the legal system, and a life where the individual is given purpose and self esteem.

Peter Mitchell has been the CEO of the Men's Outreach Centre since 2008.  If there's anyone in Broome who understands the challenges of engaging the disengaged, it's he.

"We have 18 staff, most of whom are assigned to the Re-Entry Program to avoid recidivism," Peter said.

Twelve months prior to release from prison, Peter's staff will engage with prisoners from the Broome and Derby prisons to get them ready for the outside world. 

Recidivism means "the tendency for a convicted criminal to re-offend".  Men's Outreach will remain by the side of these released prisoners one year beyond their release to ensure they have the best opportunity of creating a better life for themselves and their families.

Established in 2001, Men's Outreach was conceived as a spin-off from the Women's Refuge who identified the lack of support for men in domestic situations. Often these men have come from abusive upbringings, and had nowhere to turn for support with their own psychological and sociological challenges.

Since then the service has grown to become a lynch pin in the community service of Broome.  Their spin off programs include the Lifecycle Program where they collect derelict bikes to be refurbished by prisoners to near new condition.  The bikes are then delivered to communities which are in-turn offered as incentive to children.  

Then there's the Men and Families Relationships Program which offers counselling aimed at men who are struggling to understand their role as a man in the family unit.  This is kindly supported by the Broome shire, and capable of so much more with further funding.

Recently Men's Outreach also established 'Alive and Kicking', a suicide prevention program.

But the apple in the eye of the Men's Outreach Service (and the most underfunded) is the 'Drop In Service'.  It offers a 'men only' retreat where those who just want to 'be' and not 'be judged' can find a secure alcohol-free zone with comradery from others in similar situations.  The Drop In Service provides a free breakfast every Thursday to ensure the nutrition of these men is kept, a service which complements Centacare who provide a breakfast every other day.

Men who find themselves at the men's Outreach garden are provided a pathway to help for those who seek it through Milliya Rumurra rehabilitation.

Peter has been in Broome for 26 years, previously in the job network field and with Kularri and child protection services. 

"It's important for the business community in Broome to understand the extent of current services how we're addressing social issues in Broome," Peter says. 

The Drop In program costs the Outreach Service circa $60,000 per year in wages and food, a considerable commitment for a non profit entity. 

"We welcome anyone to volunteer their time and lend a hand to our efforts.  Certainly there's a great need in our community for such a service and the more people who take part, the more results we'll see."

Businesses are encouraged to consider lending a hand to the Men's Outreach Service through in-kind food donations and encouraging staff to volunteer.

For further information contact Peter Mitchell or James Carpenter on 91922767.

Author:Jael Napper

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