It takes a village

Gisborne Leading Senior Constable Jason Azzopardi could not stand by as he saw the impact of issues like bullying, mental illness, substance abuse and family violence on youth in his community.
To help young people avoid becoming victims or offenders, he created not-for-profit youth engagement program KidzFlip, and was recently recognised for his work as a finalist for Victoria’s Local Hero in the Victorian Australia of the Year awards.
“I saw a need to bring the community together as a collective to address youth issues in Macedon Ranges,” LSC Azzopardi told the Express.
KidzFlip engages with young people having trouble at home or school and links youth to training, education or other support services to help turn their lives around.
As Macedon Ranges youth resources officer, LSC Azzopardi reached out to key stakeholders from local services and formed a committee three years ago with people from a range of backgrounds working with youth.
“Things that I see in my job that are not a police problem can now be addressed from a community perspective. It takes a village to bring up a child and that is what we are trying to do,” LSC Azzopardi said.
“We target the ‘at risk’ children that come to our attention and provide external opportunities for them to participate in. My motivation is just to provide safety and respect within the community.”
The program has been rewarding for LSC Azzopardi and all who have been involved. It has grown to include an adult role model program with Gisborne Men’s Shed and a gym program, which have been particularly successful.
As for the future of the KidzFlip program, LSC Azzopardi said he wanted to see youth eventually take committee positions and help to drive the programs.

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