April 26, 2023

Back on track

The best way to reduce the likelihood of a young person coming into contact with the justice system is to help them build strong connections to family, community and education.

During the height of Covid lockdowns, Jay made a decision that would change his life.

“I was missing out on work, had just broke up with my girlfriend and I was just going through some troubles, you know? It was just a drunk idea and… yeah, I stuffed up.”

Jay’s ‘mistake’ cost him 14 months in jail. It could easily have been longer. On release, he returned home to live with his mum and two younger brothers.

“The house only had three bedrooms, so I shared a room with one of my brothers. He’s nine, so I was sharing just a bunk bed until I found something more suitable. I couldn’t imagine I’d be sleeping on a bunk bed at 20 years old. For three people, the space is ok but with another person it just wasn’t enough.”

Research shows that the best way to help divert young people from a cycle of contact with the justice system is to enable them to be close to family and involved in community, education and recreation. In Jay’s case, his own stable space could allow him to begin to forge his own path.

Jay was a good kid growing up. Always highly motivated, active and ‘a little bit OCD’ when it came to how he wanted to set things up. So when a Kids Under Cover studio was approved for the backyard of the family home, he could start to think more clearly about his future.

“I think I was getting a bit lazy,” he says. “I was stressing out a bit because I needed things set up the way I want them. I wasn’t really focused on my career… I think having your own space allows for more quality time. You know where you’re at, you can do your own things… I feel like you’re more comfortable with it. You just feel happier, you know?”

Jay continues to display a strong work ethic with a few irons in various fires – including helping manage a roof tiling business with his brother. He’s close to his family and takes on responsibility for their wellbeing. Since moving into his studio, he’s more driven, more positive and can better visualise a promising future.

“To have my own study and own space has enabled me to do more things and make better use of my time,” he said. “It’s given me more motivation to do more things. I’ve always had big dreams. I’m setting up a recruitment agency, working on a clothing brand and I’ve got my roof tiling. And once that’s all done, I’ll move on to other things.

So yeah, I reckon a lot has changed. Without the studio I wouldn’t be doing half the amount of work I’m doing now.”