Voller calls for more after-hours youth services

Posted February 28, 2017 19:17:53

Dylan Voller is a name that sparks a reaction from almost everyone in Central Australia and some think he should be locked in gaol for life for the crimes he has committed in Alice Springs.

Others think he is the symbol of a broken system — a boy who had a chance but who was so damaged by his experiences in detention from an early age that he was essentially unable to stay away from crime.

Mr Voller was catapulted onto the national stage when his image was broadcast as part of the Don Dale episode on Four Corners.

It was him in the spit hood and restraint chair, one of the key reasons the Royal Commission into juvenile detention was launched.

Life in BushMob

Weeks ago Mr Voller was released from prison and ordered to attend the BushMob rehabilitation facility, run by former Northern Territory Australian of the Year Will McGregor.

At that point, his lawyer Peter O'Brien asked the media to keep their distance from his client to allow him to rehabilitate.

However, early on Tuesday, Mr Voller approached ABC Local Radio for an opportunity to share his story.

He said life was as normal as it could be at BushMob where he has support to settle back into the community.

The facility's primary goal is helping at-risk young people develop self-respect, trust, courage and skills away from drugs, crime and grog.

During the day he is kept busy with activities and has even secured a job. He declined an invitation to divulge where he will be working but is hopeful he can change the opinion of those who think he should still be in prison.

Mr Voller is confident he is not going to let down the community or more importantly, himself.

"[After BushMob] I'm going to continue working and I'm going to move in with my brother and sister-in-law and just keep going with life," he said.

Improving relationships between youth and police

Mr Voller said he felt engagement between police and young people needed to be better.

"I was down at the youth centre the other night where I take a couple of other YPs (youth patrol) to the disco and the police were there on their Segways telling some young people not to go in there," he said.

"To me, that's appalling as that's the only thing that's going to get them off the streets and now they're just kicking them back out onto the street to walk around.

"They should be welcoming them in there and sitting them down and talking to them about which road they are going down if they keep misbehaving."

One thing on Mr Voller's mind is the plight of one of his former prison mates.

Rather than discuss his own treatment in juvenile detention and prison Mr Voller was eager to talk about a campaign to pardon Zak Grieve.

Grieve is serving a mandatory life sentence for the murder of Ray Niceforo in Katherine in October 2011.

Niceforo's murder was described as the first contract killing in Northern Territory history, but Mr Voller said Grieve should be freed.

"He's the most kind-hearted bloke, he didn't do it, and he's pretty much given up hope on the justice system and buckling down and doing his time, but he shouldn't have to, because he didn't do anything."

More after hours youth services

According to Northern Territory crime statistics, break-ins to commercial businesses have increased over a 12-month period, adding to speculation that crime is peaking, especially over the recent summer months.

Subsequently, youth advocates are calling for more after-hours services to keep bored and disengaged youth off the street.

"I've never broken into a house or [done a] business crime at all," Mr Voller said.

"I just believe there needs to be more stuff to get kids off the street, more youth programs, possibly even like BushMob."

He suggested a 24-hour centre with beds where young people could sleep overnight and have access to night counsellors who could drop them off at school the next morning.

Mr Voller said his life would be vastly different if an after-hours service existed.

"I believe I wouldn't have ended up in gaol where I was if I had more support and more people that I could trust and talk to," he said.

"Not just a little caseworker who would just see you for five minutes and go; someone who I could actually talk to."

Pressure to succeed

Kirra Voller is not only Mr Voller's sister but has also been a vocal advocate for his release from prison.

She said she could not believe he was finally home and had faith his experience would change the system and community attitudes forever.

"I'm just slowly adjusting now. He came to my son's first birthday party, so I guess that was the first real big thing that hit me — he's home, he's part of the family again," she said.

"For a long time, he's been in Darwin as well which is 1,500 kilometres away. We [didn't] get up there often to visit him so it's been just phone call."

Ms Voller conceded there was a lot at stake for her brother.

"There is a lot of pressure on him at the moment, but I guess he's ready for it and he's an adult now," she said.

"He knows when he needs space and when he needs something and I guess that's another thing that he's learning.

"This is his first chance to grow. It's all new to him [and] as it comes, he's going to accept it and I guess, grow with it."

Motivation to be community role model

Mr Voller is confident that he will not re-offend and end up back in prison any time soon and wants to be a role model to the youth of Alice Springs.

"I've split [from] the people that I used to hang around with [and am] looking forward to [meeting] new people and positive people to be around," he said.

"Also, I've got positive support [in] people like Joey Williams and old welfare workers. Stuff like that keeps me on the ground.

"I've also been going to the gym with an old Don Dale worker who was pretty good to me. He's helping me to stay out of trouble and [I'm] just being around my family and sister-in-law and keeping busy."

Mr Voller said he had been overwhelmed by the public's response.

"Up in town, I've had people come up [and] pretty much give me a hug and support me and it also motivates me to do the right thing," he said.

"I have all the young kids up here yelling out my name and coming up and saying hello...there's been a lot of support, old and young.

"It motivates me to help them so they can have it better than what I did and not go to gaol and have to put up with it."

Topics:youth, royal-commissions, community-and-society, indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander, law-crime-and-justice, alice-springs-0870

Read more http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-28/dylan-voller-calls-for-more-youth-after-hours-services-in-alice/8310970