“I have matured a lot since I was 14. I have seen all of the affects spending time in custody has caused. I can’t live the rest of my life as a criminal.” – Anonymous.
Q: If you feel comfortable sharing with me, can you tell me a little bit about your first day in the precinct?
To be honest I was pretty scared. I was 14 when I got locked up. I was nervous because I had no idea what it would be like in custody.
Q: What did you think about having to go to school while detained in custody?
At the start it was just something to do. The teachers are different at Parkville College. They are nice and more flexible. The teachers here understand me. I like school here.
Q: Did you go to school on the outside?
I went to school, but I didn’t like it that much because teachers always told me off.
Q: Why did they tell you off?
They told me off for talking in class, for my uniform and other little things. That was part of the reason I left school.
Q: Are there any teachers at Parkville College that have helped you get to where you are today with your schooling?
All of my teachers have helped me. Drewy, Brig, Anthony, Tahnee and Nancy…everyone has helped in some way.
Q: Can you tell me about some of your proudest moments at Parkville College?
I’ve finished my year 10 and 11 in here. I’m pretty proud of that! I am the founder of the student council at the Parkville precinct and I’m about to launch my first album.
Q: You should be very proud of yourself! How did you come up with the idea for the student council?
Well, we didn’t really have a voice in here. If we had a problem, we didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. I wanted to change that.
Being in the student council was really good. I got to work closely with the (DHHS) Manager. He was always willing to sit with us and listen to what we had to say. If we had an idea, he would never just say no. It made me feel good because he actually cared.
Q: Can you tell me about some of the things you achieved as a council member?
We increased the item list of things us kids can buy, if we have good behaviour. We also got beanies to keep warm.
I also helped make a video for kids that haven’t been in custody before, that they can watch when they arrive at the precinct.
Q: I’ve seen that video; it’s very informative. I’m sure new kids in custody appreciate it very much. How did it all come about?
I spoke to the DHHS Manager. He helped me make it happen. I wanted to make the video because I know what it’s like to get locked up at a young age. Now, hopefully other kids won’t have to feel the same way as I did.
Q: It sounds like you’re a motivational leader for the young people detained in custody here. Can you tell me some of the strengths you have as a leader, and a person?
I think I am hardworking and determined. I want to do well and help others do well too. I try to come up with solutions. When I’m in tough situations I always try to reach a positive outcome.
I think I’m pretty caring and easy to get along with as well.
Q: I’ve heard some of your songs from your first album. What inspires you to write your lyrics?
My songs are about my experiences and my life. I don’t feel comfortable talking about my personal life to people, but I can do it through music. Music makes me feel good. It gives me a sense of freedom. I’d love to continue making music and inspire other young people like me.
Q: When does your album launch?
I think the launch concert is on the 26th of August. I had to write a proposal for the General Manager to make it happen. Once it was approved, my teachers Rachel, Anthony and Anne-Maree helped me put everything together. We’ve organised kids from other units to perform their music too. I think it will be a positive thing for everyone.
Q: In one of your songs, you talk about your family emigrating from Sudan to Australia. Do you think your upbringing has shaped you as a person?
Yeah. My upbringing and family have made me the person I am today. I am very proud of my background and my family.
“I was just a little kid when I moved to Australia.
Had an optimistic mind, ask my parents they’ll tell ya.
Everything was all good, but I missed the motherland.
If it wasn’t for Sudan I wouldn’t be who I am.
A really bright kid, with a bright destiny.
I wanna get a good job to support my family.”
“Wanna make my parents proud and wipe the tears off their face.
I remember what they told me when we came to this place.
You gotta work hard at school for the best destiny.
But that never sunk in among the criminality.”
Song: Now or Never.
Q: I know that you recently turned 18. I haven’t had the pleasure of knowing you long, how would you describe yourself now compared to your 14-year old self that first entered the precinct?
I have matured a lot since then. I was a kid. You have to change one day. I have seen all of the affects spending time in custody has caused. I can’t live the rest of my life as a criminal.
Q: I understand that you will be released quite soon. What’s next for you?
I’ve put a few things in place to help me on the outside. I want to finish my year 12 at the Flexible Learning Centre at Parkville College. I’m thinking I might do a pre-apprenticeship in tiling. I want to get my L’s and practice driving. I’ll be living with my mum and will stay tight with my family.
Q: I’m sure other young people would benefit from hearing about your experiences. What advice would you give to kids involved in crime?
Don’t do it! Don’t do crime. It will f*** up your life in the long run. Don’t get caught up in other people’s problems. You don’t want to be in custody, it’s not a good life. You have no freedom. You miss your family everyday. Go to school and keep your head down. You need an education.