Minister for Juvenile Justice Graham West was shocked when Father Chris Riley from Youth of the Streets rang him this week.
Together they had worked successfully towards an innovative plan to build four bail houses to keep young offenders out of detention while they await trial.
Mr West had fought hard to get agreement from his government colleagues for the houses, as part of his over-arching desire to assist the disadvantaged. But something was wrong, very wrong.
The Department of Commerce had dumped the project without informing the minister and it was only when Father Riley rang that he heard the news.
‘He had believed he had won the fight in terms of funding and he was shocked when I called him and said he knew nothing about it,’ Father Riley told the Sydney Morning Herald.
So distressed was Mr West that he rang Premier Christina Keneally and resigned, later saying he had been thinking about the decision for some time.
‘I’ve been fighting juvenile justice ministers and the law and order agenda for 20 years and finally in Graham we had a minister with real vision,” he said.
”I wonder where this government is going when it stamps on people such as Graham, who is a good man who got it right.”
Mr West, a devout Catholic, entered politics out of a desire to pursue social justice – let’s hope he gets another opportunity to pursue this agenda.
Eternity Christian Church Campbelltown is working tirelessly in NSW juvenile justice centres and no doubt will be sad to Mr West go. He visited and commended they’re homework centre ar Reiby juvenile justice centre. PH