WA Police and Community Youth Centres (PCYC) has been “revived” according to its CEO John Gillespie, as he prepares to leave the organisation.
In an exclusive interview with Western Perspective, Mr Gillespie, known to many as “Jock”, said he and organisation had achieved what he wanted it to, claiming it was now back from the position it was when he joined the organisation five years ago.
“I think we’ve got real stability,” Mr Gillespie said.
“We’ve got the right people in place, the right managers in place, I think we’re ready to move.”
“That’s a sense of satisfaction, real satisfaction.”
Mr Gillespie said PCYC WA was in a position of requiring serious change when became CEO in 2013.
“I think one of the biggest things is when you come into an organisation that requires a lot of change and a lot of cultural change too,” he said.
He described the biggest challenges as the shifting of police officers away from the organisation and a need for direction.
“We had a quick, a rapid recruitment of civilian staff coming into the organisation,” Mr Gillespie said.
“There was a lack of knowledge in terms of how to run centres, more or less too there was a lack of governance or more importantly policy or procedure within the organisation.”
“We had to determine straight away, I think the first three weeks coming into the organisation was identify there was no real policy in place, we identify there’s a need for strategy.”
However, he acknowledged the way new staff had welcomed the challenge.
“I’m proud of the way that our people have are embraced the actual principles of PCYC,” he said.
“They’ve actually come in and actually embraced what we need to do, they actually understand where we have to go and more importantly, most of them are passionate if not all are very passionate about young people and what their needs are and trying to make a difference.”
Mr Gillespie believes there are still challenges with PCYC’s development being “a slow build up,” the focus still remaining on young people.
He said there were still issues involving children, particularly in regional areas.
“They’ve got poor education, some of them can’t even read or write or read or write partially, they don’t have a driver’s licence, they don’t have any goals set in their life,” he said.
“Some go back to a household where they’re not, the parents or the guardians aren’t very supportive or they go back to a family that’s got some generational issues,” he said.
“You look at some of those remote areas, this all comes back around to alcohol abuse, drug abuse, child abuse.”
He believed PCYC’s programs including “Safe Spaces”, a beginner course to work out youth issues driver education course “Drive to the Future” were helping make a difference.
“We’ve had some young people who really feel they’ve been downtrodden, they’ve had no opportunity to do anything like that,” Mr Gillespie said.
“One young couple actually had a young baby and at the end of Drive to the Future, they both came out with their drivers licence and they were ecstatic about that because they had actually achieved something.”
Mr Gillespie said the time working in the organisation would not be forgotten
“I’m going to miss working with people and just seeing what’s happening at the centres,” he said.
Tributes have flowed for Mr Gillespie, with many believing he will be missed.
“He’s devoted most of his life to serving others in the community, he’s put a lot of effort into the community, so I suppose it’s time for a bit of me time,” Police Minister Michelle Roberts said.
Mr Gillespie said he is ready to step away when the time comes in July.
“I’m looking at some semi-retirement here,” he said.
“Get some get-me-back time.”