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'Mail' Newspaper Articles

Focal Point (for publishing—23/02/10)


Last week, as it was for many of the weeks past, we were bombarded with stories of our youth running amuck. Before I go on I want to say that as I sat at the computer to write this article I was determined not to sound like an old grump who continually talks about the good old days and bags the younger generation. So here goes. Sure, there have been some horrific stories like the one where the thirteen-year-old boy stabbed a twelve-year-old boy at his own school. Then there was a ‘party boy’ and his party attending mates who trashed a street, frightening the neighbours, and smashed a beer bottle on a police car windscreen. Then they were defended by ‘party boy’s’ mum who said, in effect, ‘They’re all good kids and I don’t mind if they’re sitting and drinking and there was a hint of, well, if the police hadn’t have turned up they wouldn’t have got what they got. What’s the big deal?’ Enough of the ‘bad and the ugly’, now for the good stuff. I attended the Black Saturday Memorial Service at Marysville and noted many young people soberly dressed and acting with respect. Two teenage girls were on stage playing flute and violin as background music while many from the crowd laid flowers on the alter. Then there was the young fellow who wrote a beautiful poem in the Mountain Cattleman’s annual magazine. He wrote of attending his ninth ‘Get Together’ with his dad, and he was only eleven. He wrote with insight well above his years about the privilege to meet with the greats of the High Country and finished his poem with what he hoped to do with his experience.
“I’ll show my world with pride.
Tradition and heritage is a part of me to strive,
The Man from Snowy River,
The gathering of the ‘Cracks’
I salute you”.
I’m an unashamed ‘horsey’ and last weekend I went to the Alexandra races with the express purpose of seeing the feature of the ‘Light Horse’. They were the theme of the day with races named after theatres of war and heroes of the time. I hung around the horse stalls and chatted with the guys and girls and watched them parade. Of course I was interested in the gear those original brave men carried on their courageous Waler horses, but I got the most pleasure out of chatting with the young riders. The squad of fourteen was made up of some crusty old veterans, some middle of the road men who shared their time around these events but over half were under twenty. Here were great young people living out the memories of Australian history. I spoke after with a mate about the cost in time that must have been involved for these young people. After all they had come across from Creswick to be there. I understand that when I was a youth times were different, but I had many leaders to follow and how I enjoyed following good men. On farm holidays I had to be the farmer at all times and in all activities eager to learn and not miss a trick. I saw many young men led well by good teaching leaders with regard to hunting safety and practices. In essence, they were being taught responsibility by example. Last week in our local men’s group, ‘A Few Good Men’, we threw around the subject, ‘Who’s Leading Who?’ The challenge was two fold. Firstly, are we leading anybody and secondly do we have anyone to follow? This is particularly important when it comes to youth. Who is leading them? Let’s hope we can keep a glass half full approach to the contribution our young people make to our society and feed that approach by seeking out the ‘good ones’ and encouraging them. It’s all too easy to feel swamped by the daily dose of bad news in which the ‘bad and the ugly’ sides of some of our youth is displayed.

Graeme Dawson B.Min. Grad.Dip.CC.
Co-ordinator Focal Point & Valley Care Counsellor & Manager
Valley Care Counselling Service 0409 517273
Inter-church comment


Focal Point Yarra Valley 2009