House debates

Wednesday, 22 August 2018


La Trobe Electorate: Tour of Hope

7:44 pm

Photo of Jason WoodJason Wood (La Trobe, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise tonight to speak about a solution to the great concern in my electorate regarding youth crime and gang crime. Together with Pastor Larry Sebastian, from Casey City Church, and Mr Beram Kumar, chairman and CEO of Strategic Missions Partnerships Inc, I am working with the Tour of Hope project, where Brazilian soccer players come out to help disadvantaged kids. I've actually met the soccer players, and some are former Brazilian World Cup champions. They are so excited about helping young people, in particular our Sudanese youth. Many of these Brazilian soccer players, I was told through their interpreters, had very tough childhoods and they just want to give back. They go all around the world doing an amazing job.

I'm also working with Dr Thomas Edwards, who has been a senior lecturer in psychology, and Dr Cosimo Chiera on a proposal to facilitate behaviour change in at-risk youth through the development of hope, as people with high levels of hope also tend to demonstrate increased levels of wellbeing. This is most clearly seen through increased social competence and improved social support, which is much needed for our disadvantaged youth. The great thing about this is that I've known Pastor Larry Sebastian for many years, and I was able to team him up with Dr Edwards and his team.

We are working on a three-year proposal to assist migrant youth, but particularly Sudanese youth—we've had a lot of problems out in my electorate. It will be a fantastic project for our local area. This proposal outlines the opportunity to establish a soccer academy in the La Trobe electorate, which is home to one of Australia's most diverse and quickly growing populations. The growth, disposition and composition of this population, which comprises some of the neediest and most disenfranchised people groups, has seen a significant increase in antisocial behaviour and general disengagement from social norms. The wider public has expressed concerns for safety, and authorities struggle to meet the growing needs of these communities.

The soccer academy has the potential to counteract some of these issues through a social intervention spearheaded by the sport of soccer while enabling integrated and multipronged opportunities for engagement and support for those involved and their families. The migration committee, which is a joint committee—and I thank the member for Bonner, who is beside me, who is also on that committee—heard, when we were talking to various migrant youths and organisations around the country, how important soccer and sports are, especially in the Sudanese community. One of the things we learnt is that, when they play soccer, it's a team sport. They have to be at training on time and they have to work with their team. The big thing we learnt was the common language becomes English, which is so important to make sure that everyone who's migrated to Australia fits into Australian culture.

This preventative initiative would be a collaboration between several not-for-profit organisations and former professional Brazilian soccer players who are now coaches. Many of them have experienced poverty, worked in foreign countries and faced other barriers to success. However, each has overcome those barriers and played soccer at the highest levels of the game. This is all about giving young people hope. These players have a strong desire to give hope and improve the lives of young people through participation and learning skills of discipline and resilience. Working with other partners as well, this venture is so exciting.

Can I thank Larry Sebastian, for all the great work he's done within the community, and his church, Casey City Church. They have a fantastic youth program and they've teamed up with Tom, realising that, if they work with him, they can bring the science behind giving hope to these young people. I'm very excited about this project. We just have to make sure we deliver it, because it will make a difference to so many young lives in La Trobe.