Karratha police launch first-of-its-kind youth dive program
A first in Australian policing program that engages at-risk youth through diving has started up in Karratha.
The Dive Education Program, launched last month, provides lessons in how to dive and the theory that goes with it to Karratha children aged 14 and older on the verge of entering the justice system.
Program leader, diver and Karratha police youth crime intervention officer First Class Constable Andy Goddard said the children involved were studying a formal scuba diving course that required them to undertake classroom sessions, confined water training at the Karratha Leisureplex pool, and open ocean dives to a maximum of 12m to earn a qualification that would enable them to dive anywhere in the world.
He said the program was an exciting incentive for at-risk children to go to school and avoid trouble, and had so far received an enthusiastic response.
“It’s been identified as being a great program because it covers so many variants in not only diving but in life and in learning as well,” he said.
“Diving is such a leveller, because yes, these kids may struggle in the classroom, but once they get under the water it doesn’t matter who they are or what they are or where they come from. It puts everyone on that same level because under the water we’re all the same.”
“It’s not a competitive contact sport and... it doesn’t matter who you are, anybody can do it.” ,
Karratha Senior High School and the Clontarf Academy have partnered with the program and six students are involved so far.
Pilbara Dive and Tours owner Natalie Callanan, who is the program’s dive instructor, said learning to dive opened up a host of professional and recreational opportunities for participants.
“With the scuba diver course they can dive anywhere in the world if they’re with a (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) professional, or they can keep going and do an open water course,” she said.
“We’re hoping ... some of these kids go on to do that, or even complete the rescue diver or master diver levels, which would be really exciting.”
“There are lots of other specialties they can do as well, and it does give them a lot of options for employment opportunities.”
The program has drawn interest from WA Police, with several other districts looking at rolling it out, and a handful of Pilbara organisations.
Pilbara District Police Superintendent Paul Coombes said youth offending was an issue for communities in the Pilbara as well as wider regional WA and praised the dive education program for providing a positive way for at-risk youth to engage with police and deter them from entering the justice system.
“Pilbara District Police will endorse this program as a priority and will look to develop it further throughout the District and potentially the State,” he said.
Once participants complete their open water course, they will be rewarded with a trip to Exmouth to dive the Navy Pier, widely regarded as one of the world’s best dive sites, and snorkel with whale sharks.
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