I was at Urban Conversations last night in downtown Melbourne (614 hosted) with Judge Jennifer Coate speaking.

Jennifer is currently the State Coroner for Victoria. She is the first woman to ever hold this position. Before taking on this role, Jennifer was the President of the Melbourne Childrens Court, a person of great passion and intellect and she spoke on, "Justice and the city". It was quite fascinating to hear her speak of her work on youth justice (keeping youth under 18 out of jail as much as possible) and many other fascinating things about her work (particularly the hard situations of children coming before the court).

We were all struck deeply however, by her final comments - prompted by a brilliant question from General Eva Burrows... 'what's the thing that makes the most difference?' - Judge Jennifer said it was without a doubt, love, compassion, kindness, community, inclusion and relationships... she encouraged the Salvos to do what we do best and keep creating those relationships with the 'excluded'. She said that a high risk youth offender who finds a positive community decreases their risk of re-offending by 30% just by joining it. I'm thinking to myself... more Lord - enable us to be available for more... she also stated that 80% of the re-offenders (high risk of constant offending) were kids who had been removed from their own homes... she said good foster homes are urgently needed...

so, by way of reminder:
1. be friends with an excluded young person (maybe that homework club volunteering in a rough part of town is worth it after all?)
2. be a foster parent (hard reality - incredibly impacting change).
3. create an inclusive community (stop hanging out with everyone you already know - find some people who need new friends).

JUST thinking really.